Former abortion clinic worker Kathy Sparks Lesnoff recounts how she got involved in the abortion industry, the toll it took on her personal life, and how today she helps women choose life for their pre-born babies. (Part 2 of 2)
Kathy Sparks Lesnoff: There are three types of abortion clinic workers. There’s the one type who gets in it and stays in it forever. Then you have the second type of abortion clinic worker, which would be Jenny. She didn’t know why everything in her life was falling apart, the kids were in rebellion, the husband was getting ready to leave her, but she just had to quit that abortion clinic. Then you have the third type of worker - myself - who has an encounter with a very real presence of Jesus Christ.
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John Fuller: So what do you do if you’re working in the abortion industry, but you’ve just become a believer in Jesus Christ? You’ll hear how Kathy Sparks dealt with that question on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, last time we heard Kathy’s candid and rather graphic account of what it’s like to work in an abortion clinic. Most people will never get that behind the scenes view of a facility like that. And it’s very interesting to hear the differences between an abortion clinic where the primary motivation is making money versus a pregnancy resource center, where the primary motivation is to save a life and give that pregnant young woman a variety of options and resources. I was struck by that in Kathy’s description last time, and I gotta tell ya, as more and more states consider legislation to expand abortion rights right up until the baby’s due date, we want you to know exactly what we’re up against - the murder of innocent children.
John: Yeah, this is really a stark moment, I think, in our history, and it really is time for us to stand up collectively for life, and if you missed part one of Kathy’s presentation yesterday, get in touch. We have that available on CD. You can also get the free download or listen on the app while you go. All the links at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And as we get rolling let me just remind you, we’re dealing with another sensitive matter here, so some of the content isn’t going to be appropriate for younger children. With that, here’s Kathy Sparks on Focus on the Family.
Kathy: I was brought up in a Catholic home and it’s amazing, because the Catholics were the very forerunners of the pro-life movement. And so my mother taught me right from wrong. I was very pro-life. I felt like abortion should be illegal, et cetera. Then what happened was I left my home and I went away to college - a secular university - and I became a radical feminist. I just left that covering of my parents and was on my own and boy, did I go on my own. In the process of my college experience, I was becoming - studying to become a nurse - a registered nurse. I wanted to actually work in labor and delivery.
So in the midst of all that, I met my husband, we were married, and a short time after that, became pregnant with our oldest daughter, Shannon. It’s amazing, too, because I went to the doctor and he confirmed the pregnancy. I was literally in shock, because we were - you know how the student loan deal goes? Thousands of dollars in debt and I did not wanna have a baby.
He looked right at me and he said, “Well, Mrs. Sparks, it’s obvious that you’re not excited about this pregnancy.” He said, “So, we can schedule you an appointment to have an abortion next Tuesday evening.” He said, “We’ll take care of this. Nobody has to know and that way your husband you can plan to have your children at the right time.”
Now it’s amazing, because as pro-choice as I was, I remember driving down the highway thinking, “Married people have children,” and so, I just decided to go ahead and carry the baby to term and I’m very thankful, because that’s our oldest daughter, who has given us the one granddaughter, who’s 2-years-old and she’s pregnant, so we count the second one, who is six weeks along in the womb. Okay.
So - but that cut my college experience short, because all of sudden, Mike and I were looking at even more debt, a new baby and so, we decided I’d go ahead and finish that semester of college, but after she was born - she was born early summer - then I would have to get a job. So a friend of mine told me about an opening at the abortion clinic in Granite City. They hired me and it’s amazing because God knew the very end of my story, because even though they hired me to assist the doctors during the abortion procedure, they trained me and allowed me to witness every single area of the abortion clinic.
So, I’m just going to tell you just a few things about some key areas in the abortion industry. We were trained that if the girl called and she was upset or anxious, then we were to squeeze her in and work her in that day. Now, realize that we did abortions six days a week at that time. We did a minimum of 40, with 60 on a Saturday. Every single day we worked late and we would do as many as 10 extra abortions every day. Now the reason that we would this is because we did not want one of three things to happen. First of all, we did not want them to change their mind and decide not to abort. The second thing, we certainly did not want them to have their parents find out, thus changing their mind for them. And last, but not least, we did not want them to go across the river into the Saint Louis area and obtain an abortion at one of the five abortion clinics in Saint Louis. And in fact, when I worked at the abortion clinic, one of the first questions we would ask, if she sounded very upset and anxious, is “Do you have the money?” And if she had the money, then we would schedule her for the abortion for that day. If she did not, we would suggest different ways, different people that she could actually ask to get the money and then we would tell her to call us back when she had the money.
Now counseling, I believe, is one of the most important aspects of the abortion industry. And in fact, years later, I found out that 99 out of every 100 girls would go ahead and abort after counseling in an abortion clinic. What they’re trained to do is sit down with this young girl or this woman who’s facing a crisis pregnancy, and they would ask them a lot of open-ended questions. And they would find out where the pressure point was, but instead of relieving it, as we do at our pregnancy centers, they would magnify it. So if the girl was talking - one particular counseling session I remember very vividly - the girl was talking about she had no money. She didn’t know where she was going to be able to get the money for labor and delivery. She didn’t know how she could raise the child. The father of the baby wasn’t involved. This counselor started talking to her about how much money it costs to have a baby. And in fact, she said, “Even shoes at Buster Brown are $28.” I’ll never forget it. So by the time that that girl was finished with her counseling session, she was sure she had to go ahead and have that abortion.
The other thing I’d like to mention about counseling is when they explain the abortion procedure, they have a - what we know as a fetal model, but the different is they have the Fallopian tubes and the uterus and the cervix, but there’s no baby inside. So they talk about how “the cervix will be gently dilated, the contents will be evacuated, and the whole procedure will be done in five to eight minutes.” Just that simple. After the counseling session is finished, you go wait your turn, and then you go in for your abortion procedure.
Now, in the meantime, God was allowing a lot of things to happen in my life. Not only was - here I was killing babies every single day, but our marriage was getting very, very bad. Mike had decided that we needed to get a divorce. I just couldn’t believe it. I felt rejected. I mean, I was driving back home that night. It was a muggy, hot, July evening and I was just weeping.
And I decided that night that I would take my life. And in fact, I even considered running the car off the bridge and into the river, but then I didn’t want to kill Shannon, because I figured she hadn’t done anything. So I got home and at that time, Mike worked midnights, so he was at work. I gave Shannon her last bottle and kissed her good-bye and put her to bed. I made sure she was sleeping and then I went to get Mike’s off-duty revolver, which he used to keep on top of the refrigerator. I got it and I sat in our little recliner. And that’s where I was. So I put the gun up to my head, and then I pulled the trigger. And the first miracle that happened on that July 28th is that God sovereignly and supernaturally stopped the gun from going off. Now I have to tell you that a suicidal person is not real excited about not being able to complete the job. I’m looking at the gun and I’m thinking, “I am such a failure.”
So I put the gun down on the table and I’m like crying, just hysterical. I go to the telephone. I decided to call Mike’s mom up. Now, it’s funny because this is how you talk to a completely hysterical, suicidal woman. “Kathy, put the gun away. Get the baby and come over here.” And she begins to share with me what it is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Now you know, my training as a young child, I believed in God and I believed in Jesus. But I had never received that gift of salvation for my own. I didn’t own it myself. I had not been born again. And so, I thought, “Well.” She said, “Kathy, here you are trying to kill yourself. Why not give the Lord an opportunity to live His life through you?” Now that was different. So we held hands and I just prayed that little sinner’s prayer and I repeated after her. The second miracle that happened that night was the depression that actually had led to try to take my life was instantly gone. I came home that night - 11:30 at night. Mike comes home on a break. So he comes in and he’s just being ugly, like he always was. And I was peacefully and quietly and contently sitting at our dining room table. You know, it’s amazing, because before I loved to challenge. And if he even began an argument, I was right there in the ring. I love it. It was a challenge to me.
But something very different had taken place. Even though I hadn’t really had knowledge greatly of what had happened to me, I just knew I just kind of made this commitment to the Lord. So he was just badgering me and I remember him saying to me, “Now Kathy, tomorrow we go to the lawyer’s office at 9:30 and we go before the judge at 10 and it’ll be over and five after.” I looked up at him and I hadn’t even thought about and I just found these words coming out of my mouth: “Mike, I’m not going to get the divorce. If you want to get the divorce, you’re going to have to do it by yourself.”
And with that, he blew up really big. It’s amazing; for the first time in our married existence of all of a little over year, he’s cussing at me and I’m just sitting there, a “peace that surpassed all understanding.” It was all around me. It’s funny, because we laugh about it now, because he remembers looking at me, saying, “Oh look how holy you are.”
He did not know just how holy I had become. I didn’t really either yet, but he leaves. He slams the door and our picture over our couch falls off the walls and I just turned the lights off and I went down the hallway and I went to sleep.
Now at that time, they worked - the police officers worked 9 at night till 5 in the morning. He came home; he slept for 2 and a half hours; he got up. He decides he’s going to go to his mom’s house. So he goes over to his mom’s house - not realizing I beat him to the punch - and he’s going to get a little bit of comfort there from Mom, the old dear.
Instead of finding comfort there, she’s sitting on the same porch and she looks and she says, “Mike, wait right here; I’ll be right back.” She goes inside; she comes outside; she goes inside, comes out and gives him this little red King James Version of the Bible that she’d bought for him when she had committed her life to the Lord seven years previously. She’d bought all the kids a Bible, but unfortunately, at that time, none of them would read it. And she said, “You know, honey,” she said, “every answer to your problems are in this book.”
And so, he takes this Bible and for the next three weeks - as God as my witness - Paul said that - every single minute I looked at him, he had his Bible, and he was readin’ it. He took it to work with him. He would come home; he read it. Now he wasn’t talking to me, but I didn’t care. Remember, I was in that happy place. And so, not a word. Not, “You’re ugly; I hate you,” nothing. He wouldn’t say a single word to me, but I was just going about my little happy everyday experience. And going into the abortion clinic, mind you, every single day. “Thank you, Jesus, your grace is sufficient.” And His mercy is new every day, because it covered me in those weeks that followed. But you know my husband got saved when he got to John 3:16 and he read it like this, “For God so loved Mike Sparks, that He gave his only begotten son so that if just Mike would believe, he’d live eternally, it was God the Father.” So, Mike gave his heart to Christ in the squad car.
He comes home that next day and I’m happily folding laundry and he said, “Kathy,” he said, “I have something to talk to you about.” He said, “Last night I gave my heart to the Lord in the squad car.” And I just sat and looked at him. I was just beaming. He goes, “Now you know,” he has this little red Bible, he said, “I don’t love you.” And he said, “And I know you don’t love me.” He said, “But I believe Jesus Christ can give us a love for one another.” So, that was the first time Mike and I prayed together as husband and wife, just committed everything to the Lord.
And the next day I go into the abortion clinic; two things I notice instantly. The first thing was it was freezing cold. I was - I have never in my life since been that cold and I couldn’t get warm. The second thing, simultaneously that I experienced was a terrible foul odor.
John: You’re listening to Kathy Sparks as she spoke at a fundraiser for a pregnancy resource center, and if her story is motivating you to get involved in the pro-life movement, let me invite you to join Focus on the Family. Give us a call. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/prolife. Let’s go ahead and return now to Kathy Sparks on Focus on the Family.
End of Program Note
Kathy: So, you know, it was funny nobody else could smell it. Nobody else was cold and so, one of - one of the abortions that morning, I went and put the lady up on the table and realized she was a very average-built woman. And I - when I got her up on the table, she had a belly. And I thought, you know, very quickly - you’re thinking this quickly, “That couldn’t be a baby.” So, I did her blood pressure and took all - did her vitals and did the chart and opened up the tray and did the Betadine. The doctor walked in and he does a pelvic exam and he sits on his little stool and he looks up at me and he mouths to me, “Very big.” So he called for the registered nurse. We actually could give this woman a drug called Sublimaze, which is somewhat of a relaxing drug. Sometimes, if they were 14, 15 weeks along in the pregnancy, one injection of Sublimaze. This woman ended up getting three. She was 23 weeks into her pregnancy.
They began to dilate the cervix. The water broke and I couldn’t move. I just sat there and watched as this woman was actually on the table for 55 minutes. They were able - it was a perfectly formed little baby boy when the abortion was complete. They were able to sever one arm and one leg off this little boy and I took the tray into the clean-up room and what had happened is, God had completely removed the veil and I could see that I was killing babies.
And in fact, I completely broke down. I just began crying and weeping over this little baby boy that was laying on this tray. And the recovery nurse knew I wasn’t coming out. She walked in and she saw I was just weeping over this little baby. And she went and got the director of the abortion clinic, who walks into the clean-up room and walks over to me. And she puts her hands on my shoulders and she begins to rebuke me.
And she said to me, “My God, Kathy, pull yourself together. You’re a professional.” And I said, “That baby was 23 weeks.” And then she said to me, “Where did you get your medical degree?” She took the little boy, put him down into the toilet to the sewers of Granite City.” Somehow all I remember in that moment was saying to her, “I can no longer work procedure. I’ll work clean up.” And she said, “Fine.” And so the worker for the clean-up room went in and - and did procedure and I just washed trays for the rest of the day.
That night I went home, shared it with Mike, the whole thing, and Mike said, “Kath,” he gave me some real wise counsel. “You need to pray about this.” We were thousands of dollars in debt and I guess he kind of skimmed over that place where it says that “God provides all your needs according to His riches in glory,” because we had lots of debt and didn’t know how we were going to make it without another job. And so, that night I prayed, and I prayed a very simple prayer. I said, “Lord, if You want me to quit this abortion clinic, I will, but please speak to me, just so I know that’s what You want me to do.”
Next day, I went into the abortion clinic. Same freezing cold and same horrible odor, but I knew then, as I know now, that God was allowing me to sense and to feel evil. So, I went in, just told them I wasn’t working procedure, went into the clean-up room and the director of the abortion clinic, 10 o’clock in the morning, walks into the clean-up room, comes in, shuts the door behind herself. Only this time her attitude was completely different; she was very troubled. She said, “Kathy, I had the most bizarre thing happen to me last night. I had a dream.” She said, “In fact, I think it was dream. It was so real that I actually sat up in the middle of my bed in the middle of the night and wondered, had you told me this or had I dreamt it?” And I said, “What was it?”
She said, “I dreamt that you came into my office and told me you had to quit this place because of your religion.” And she said it just like that. Now let me tell you that I hadn’t told anybody I had become a Christian. You know how you grow in that a little bit. So I knew then that God had given her a dream for me and that I was to quit that place. And it most definitely was because of my religion.
Now, this is how the enemy works. She came back later that afternoon and she offered me a whole lot more money to stay and work tubal ligations. I said, “I have to quit. I can’t stay and have any part of this abortion clinic,” so I quit.
Now it’s kind of amazing, yes, we did go to church. Went to a wonderful little church and-… and got real involved in a local church in our area. And - but really, we didn’t do anything with the knowledge I had. I mean, they did all kinds of illegal activities. But you know, our ways are not God’s ways. His ways are higher than our ways, Isaiah 55, one of my favorite Scriptures, very important to me. And so, really, probably because we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, God probably knew - of course He did - that it was a really, really big spiritual arena and that host of wickedness in the abortion movement. And so, to protect me, He kept me from that.
And we grew for about five years. To make a long story shorter, God crossed our paths with five other people. My husband and I got - gave my husband a dream, because old men dream dreams. He’s five years older than me. So he had a dream that we were gonna be involved in this pregnancy center thing and at that point, we hadn’t even heard of a birthright. And - and Mike typed this thing out and he said, “Kathy, we’re gonna be offering pregnancy tests and maternity clothes and baby beds and car seats. And we are even gonna have pregnant women live with us.” And we’ve had three pregnant women live with us, in fact, through their whole pregnancies in the course of the years. And he said, “But you know, Kathy, the greatest thing that we’re gonna offer them is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” And he said, “Women are gonna choose to carry their babies to term. They’re gonna give their hearts to Christ. God showed it to me in this dream.”
Well, in the meantime, here I was, you know, traveling, just sharing my testimony in right-to-life groups. And now let me just tell you that it was and has been the most exciting time in my whole life. I am very, very privileged to be able to be involved in a pregnancy center ministry. And even as this young couple brought this baby up, I just started crying, the awesomeness of what God does through this ministry - it just astounds me. It continually astounds me and I’m very excited to be a part of it.
As I leave tonight, I want to leave you with three thoughts. The first thought is, if there is someone here who has had an abortion in your past, sometimes the enemy would like to bring some unnecessary condemnation upon you as a result of my testimony. Please do not allow the enemy to do that. If you’ve repented and asked God to forgive you, you know then, He has. He did not go to the cross to die for most of our sins, but for every one of them. “There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Okay, so just hang onto that.
The second thought is, it’s very, very important as Christians and pro-life people, to pray for our abortion providers. We have to understand that God’s plan in His Word is that He says He would desire that all men would come to know Him and that no one would depart from the earth apart from knowing Him. So we know that we could pray according to His will if we would but just pray for their salvation.
Mike and I took that very seriously. We began praying for four people in the abortion clinic. Three and a half years later, not quite four years, we happened to be at church and somebody said there were visitors. We walked to the back of the church and who stood there but the director of education, at that time, and her husband, of the abortion clinic. They had gotten born again, gotten out of the abortion clinic. And what’s amazing is, all these years God has used them in amazing ways. They were unable to have children and they have been full-time missionaries, just going from Greece to - they have been just everywhere, Guatemala many, many times, and building homes, sharing the gospel. God had a plan for them.
Blowing up the abortion clinics is not the answer. Can I hear an amen?
Kathy: Okay, I have a hard time seeing Jesus lighting the little wick of a bomb, thank you very much. And I’m really thankful that nobody blew up that clinic when I was there, because God had a plan for me. So I wanna leave that thought and challenge. It also keeps us humble, as we pray for them. It changes our hearts, as we pray for them.
The third thing is, the most exciting thing that’s happening today in this community with this pregnancy center is the ultrasound machine. As of January the 11th, we have become a full-fledged uh, medical facility. Just since January the 11th. Let me share two quick things. One is the very first client that we scanned was very abortion-minded. And you know what was amazing? When we put that wand on her belly, and we started scanning, that baby performed just like the baby you saw on the screen, and she began crying. She looked at her boyfriend, because, of course, we encouraged him to come along. It was the father of the baby and she said, “It’s a baby. It’s a baby.” And she just kept saying, “It’s a baby. It has arms. It has legs,” and she was bawling. So by the time they had left, they had made the decision to carry that little baby to term. And it was at that moment that I decided that if we didn’t do one more scan, that that $28,000 machine was worth every single penny.
Also, I would tell you that out of 36 clients that we’ve scanned, only one that was abortion-minded chose abortion - only one. So it’s an exciting thing that you’re moving in this direction of - of becoming medical. It will definitely bring the clients in. Sure, they won’t - they won’t choose abortion and that’s the most - that’s wonderful, but the greatest thing they’re gonna be able to hear is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
John: We’ve been listening to Kathy Sparks speaking at a Pregnancy Resource center fundraising event.
Jim: And like we said last time, I know the odds are that we’re speaking to both men and women who have an abortion in their past. I get it. I hope you found forgiveness through our Lord, Jesus Christ, and if you haven’t, I wanna encourage you to call and speak to one of our counselors here. That’s step one.
Also, you can be like Kathy. You can use that experience to be a voice for life. Before she became a Christian, Kathy assisted doctors in many abortions, but she has spent the last 32 years working to save lives. She’s the president and CEO of Mosaic Pregnancy and Health Centers which she founded with her husband, Mike, in 1987. I had the opportunity to meet them several years ago, and they were so excited about expanding to two offices: one in Granite City and one in Bellville, Illinois. Plus, they had retrofitted an RV to create a mobile medical unit to reach women in four nearby communities. Sadly, Mike died six years ago after a long battle with cancer. He was 61. Kathy has since remarried and now goes by Kathy Lesnoff.
John: Mmhmm. Jim, and before we came into the studio, you mentioned that you had an email from Kathy that you wanted to share with our listeners.
Jim: Yes! Um, regarding that mobile medical unit that they created from an RV, she wrote, “We’re so blessed to have been a recipient of a portable ultrasound machine from Focus on the Family specifically for our mobile unit.” And in all caps she wrote, “THANK YOU, AGAIN! Between our mobile unit and our offices, we consistently see that over 95% of our abortion vulnerable clients choose life for their unborn babies. When they can see their baby moving inside them, this technology is a literal life saver.” Folks, I want to say that again. Over 95% of abortion vulnerable clients change their mind when a woman can actually see the baby inside her own body. Something changes. She comes to that realization that this is a child, not a blob of tissue.
John: Yeah Jim, I know of a college student who found herself pregnant and was dead set on having an abortion, but she had an ultrasound, and I’m told the baby was dancing in her womb during that procedure. She said immediately, “I have to keep this baby.”
Jim: If you’d like to see more ultrasound units placed in pregnancy resource centers, especially in the states that are trying to expand abortion rights, please, make a donation today. It only, uh takes $60 to save a baby’s life. Join us in this important effort to counter the troubling tide that is sweeping across America. And right now, generous friends of this ministry are offering to match your donation dollar for dollar. So your donation of $60 to save one baby’s life becomes $120 to save 2 babies. Here’s something that I find fascinating, we’ve consistently been told by both workers and clients alike that when a woman gets an ultrasound at an abortion clinic, usually to determine the gestational age of the baby, the nurse will turn the screen away so the woman can’t even see it. Why do you suppose they do that? Because they know if that pregnant mother sees that child on the screen, they may not go forward with the abortion.
It’s that simple, and that’s why we’re planning a big pro-life event in New York City. Right there in Times Square on May 4th. We’re gonna show the world what a baby looks like in the womb, especially in that third trimester with a 4D ultrasound right on the big screen. And we’re hoping those images of a live baby in the womb will be broadcast around the world through TV news and social media. It will be an amazing event with inspirational music and pro-life speakers, and we would love to see you there. And if you can attend, please pray for this event. We’re calling it, “Alive from New York.” We’re hoping it will make a huge impact on people who may have been on the fence about the abortion debate. Let’s be people who proclaim life.
John: Yeah I know our staff would really appreciate your prayers for us, this is a big undertaking. We are stepping up faith though, and we’re putting everything we have into this effort, praying God will bless. So thank you again for praying.
Well, we’ve heard so much today about the power of that ultrasound image, and I hope you’ve been inspired to give today and to take advantage of that opportunity to have your $60 gift be doubled and for that to save two babies’ lives. Donate at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY - 800-232-6459. And of course, we’ve been saying this for several weeks now, but please, make your voice heard at the least by signing the petition we have online. We’re gonna take several hundred thousand signatures to the White House and to Congress to say we believe in the value of life. Look for the link to “A Declaration for Life” at our webpage.
Next time we’re gonna hear from pastor Tim McConnell, and he’ll be sharing stories about pursuing true joy.
Tim McConnell: The heart of a relationship with Jesus is joy because of what God the Father has done through Jesus Christ to bring us into an eternal relationship with Him.
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