Former occupation: Abortionist
Place: Jackson, Mississippi, USA
Dr. Beverly McMillan was not a reluctant participant in abortion. She was a radical feminist who was all in favor of it. She grew up in a conservative Christian home in East Tennessee. As she prepared for medical school she abandoned her conservative upbringing, and adopted the values of the world around her. Dr. McMillan eventually went on to open the largest abortion mill in the state of Mississippi. She stopped doing abortions in 1978 and she and her husband are both very active in the pro-life movement.
"I knew pretty early that I wanted to be a physician and when I was 18 I left my little town in East Tennessee to go off to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to begin my pre-medical training. I thought I was ready to take on the world! I soon found out, however, that the world I had just entered was a lot different than what I'd grown up in. It was a very anti-Christian atmosphere and I knew I was going to have to make a decision about what I was going to do with my life. Was I going to live by the rules I was brought up with, or was I going to live with the NOW generation?
Like a lot of young college people, I looked around and the world surrounding me seemed a lot more real and a lot more fun than what was going on back home. I made a decision as a 19-year-old sophomore that I was going to live the way of the world. I remember going to church one last time and my parting prayer was, God, if you're real, I hope you come back and get me some day. So long. And I didn't step foot inside a church for another 14 years.
Exposure to Back Alley Abortion
Upon completing medical school and my internship, I decided to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. Now this was in the late 1960's, and I had not encountered abortion at all in my medical school training or my internship. It wasn't until I went off to do my residency at Cook County Hospital, that I came face-to-face with abortion.
I'm afraid that I made my decision to be an abortionist way back in 1969 in Chicago. I had to spend six weeks of my six months on a ward called the Infected OB Ward. I had this idea in my mind that we would probably be taking care of women coming from the surgery wards where my fellow residents had maybe done C-Sections and they had messed them up.
But that first night on call, I found out where my patients were really coming from. As soon as the sun went down, the elevator started coming up from the Emergency Room depositing women on our doorstep. All these women had very similar situations. They were all bleeding, running a fever, and had a tender enlarged uterus. I was puzzled, but kept working. I just basically tried to shuffle through to get them in bed and stabilized and keep up with the elevator. About halfway through that evening it finally hit me that these women were coming from the back alley abortion mills in Chicago.
Offering Women "Real Help"
The year, as I said, was 1969, four years before abortion was legalized. Every night I was on call some 15 to 25 women would come in and we would take these women back, one at a time, to a little treatment room where, without any anesthesia at all, we would have to do another D&C and we would have to scrape out whatever infected tissue the abortionist had left in. It was a pretty brutal situation.
I remember that at the end of the six weeks, I was very angry. It occurred to me that if women were so desperate about an unwanted pregnancy that they were willing to go to some back alley and put their life on the line, I was ready for the medical profession to start offering a little real help to these women and show a little social responsibility.
In 1973, when the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down, I had finished my residency training and went into private practice with another physician in a little town just outside of Lexington. We went out and bought a suction abortion machine and we started doing first trimester abortions in our office.
First Abortion Clinic in Mississippi
In 1974, after being in private practice about two years, my husband presented me with the news that we were moving to Jackson, Mississippi. I got re-organized and opened up my private practice of obstetrics and gynecology in January 1975. Business was very slow. I didn't know anybody in town; the referrals were few and far between. In that entire year, I think I delivered six babies. Needless to say, it was a real difficult year for me until that Spring.
In the Spring of 1975 I met a group of concerned citizens and clergy who had banded together for the express purpose of opening up the first abortion clinic in the City of Jackson, not only would it be the first abortion clinic in Jackson but for the entire state of Mississippi. Women in Mississippi were having to travel to Alabama, Tennessee or Louisiana to get an abortion. This group had done their homework well. They had lined up a place, nurses, counselors, and equipment, but they could not find anyone willing to be called the local abortionist.
So here was somebody new in town. They came to me and asked me if I would consider it. Initially I said, no, thank you. But as time went on it really started to bother me because I knew that the reason I had turned them down was because I was just afraid. I really did think that legal abortion was a good thing for women. So I did finally accept their offer, and in the fall of 1975, I gained the dubious distinction of opening up that first abortion clinic in Jackson, Mississippi.
Unhappy Despite Worldly Success
By 1976, things looked like they were going pretty well for me. My private office was busy enough that I was operating in the black and the abortion clinic was so busy that I couldn't do all the procedures myself; I had to get some other folks to help me out and do the operations. I had a nice car, a nice house, I had three healthy little boys, and all the clothes I could want. In fact, I realized that everything that I ever wanted to accomplish when I left eastern Tennessee I had pretty much accomplished.
The confounding part to me at that point was that if my life was going so well, if it were such a bowl of cherries, why was I in the pits, as Erma Bombeck says. I was so depressed that by January, I couldn't stand it. I didn't know what was wrong, thoughts of suicide were beginning to cross my mind and that had never happened before.
A Substitute for Christ?
So being an intellectual type, I decided I just needed something to get my head straightened out. I went out to a secular book store and stumbled across the book entitled The Power of Positive Thinking, by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. I thought, this sounds like a good book. I've got a lot of things to be positive about, I just need to get my attitude right.
So I bought the book and I took it home and started reading it. I read the introduction and the preface and the table of contents, and it sounded pretty good. I read chapter one, and it was about people just like me; they didn't want to get up in the morning; they didn't know what the meaning of life was; they were depressed all the time. I thought, yes, this is the right book. At the end of the chapter Dr. Peale had a list of ten things to do to start getting your positive attitude in shape. I was going down the list and reached #7, and it said: Affirm ten times a day, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Well, I choked. I thought, what kind of trash did I pick up in this bookstore?
Well I was able to do everything on that list of ten, except that #7. I carried that book around with me for a week and a-half trying to find something to substitute for that verse, just something that would be acceptable to my heart.
One miserable Monday morning I was driving to work (and for those of you who don't know about Mississippi in February, it's the monsoon season and it's always cold, gray, and rainy) and wouldn't you know it, that Norman Vincent Peale book was sitting on the car seat right beside me. There I was, I was pulling into the doctors' parking lot at Baptist Hospital and I finally just gave up and said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
I was unprepared for what happened next. I'm kind of a cool person, and don't have a lot of emotional ups and downs. God usually doesn't deal with me through emotional blitzes, but this was a big emotional blitz. I was not alone in that car. I felt the presence of someone coming up over the back seat of my car and grasping my right shoulder, the hand of heaven. He was just right there in the car with me and, oh, my goodness! Well, I got the car parked (that was a major accomplishment), and put my makeup back on because I was crying out of joy. I must have said that verse a hundred times that day, not just ten times.
Holy Spirit Slowly at Work
I finished reading the book. And at the end of it, Dr Peale had two other suggestions: He suggested reading the Bible every day and to engage in some Christian fellowship. So I went out and bought a Bible and started reading the New Testament. As for the Christian fellowship, I thought back over my friends and acquaintances and realized there was only one person that I knew was a Christian. So I decided to spend more time with my friend, Barbara.
Well, I began noticing that something strange was happening during my nights on call at the abortion facility. What had been very easy for me to do up till this time started to become harder and harder to do. I didn't understand why because nothing that I was reading in the New Testament said Thou Shalt Not Commit Abortions. But it was the Holy Spirit starting to work on me.
I've heard other people talk about their experiences in coming out of the abortion situations and my situation seems to be very similar. It doesn't happen all at once. There's a miracle recorded in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus heals a blind man. When the man is brought to the Lord, he's absolutely stone blind; doesn't see a thing. I think that was me before the experience in the car. After Jesus met the man, He took some spit, touched his eyes, and asked him what he saw. And he said I see men walking around but they look like trees. He was seeing something but he wasn't seeing very clearly. It took a second touch from the Lord before that man was able to see well.
One of the things that was starting to bother me was, after I would do the suction D&C procedure, I would then go over to the suction bottle and go outside the room to a sink where I would personally pick through it with a forceps. I would have to identify the four extremities, the spine, the skull and the placenta. If I didn't find that, I would have to go back and scrape and suction some more, or else my patients would be showing up in 48 or 72 hours, just like those women at Cook County with an infected incomplete abortion. Standing at that sink, I guess I just started seeing these bodies for the first time. I don't know what I did before that. I think I just counted. Blood didn't make me sick. I could handle all the guts and gore of medicine. But I started seeing this for the first time and it started bothering me.
Really Seeing Abortion for the First Time
I remember one afternoon in particular, a very attractive young woman who was the day-to-day manager of the clinic came up to the sink one day while I was getting ready to go through my little procedure, and she said, would you let me see? I've never really seen what you look at in the sink. I said, sure, and I started showing her what happened to be about a twelve-week abortion. That day as I was showing her, I remember very clearly seeing an arm and seeing the deltoid muscle, and it struck me how beautiful this was. The thought just engorged my mind: Here is this beautiful piece of human flesh, what are you doing? So for a number of months I just directed medicine.
I eventually started going to church and, sitting under the preaching of the Gospel and really hearing it for the first time, God began impressing me with a number of things, one of which was that He wanted me to get baptized as a believer and publicly identify with what He had done in my life. God was just impressing on my heart that I was not to come into the church and bring the abortion clinic with me and sully the holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ. So in the fall of 1978, by the grace of God, I got baptized in my church and I resigned from the abortion clinic.
The Lord's Second Healing Touch
It wasn't until 1980 that I got my second touch from the Lord. This was four years after my conversion experience. I got invited to a Pro-Life meeting where Dr. Paul Fowler from Reformed Theological Center was organizing Jackson's first Right-to-Life group. He needed a group of physicians to give some moral support, knowledge and expertise to the Right-to-Life group and I was invited to a brown bag luncheonette just to rap about abortion.
It was there in that meeting with fellow believers, fellow physicians, who knew much more about the Scripture than I did, that I had my eyes opened up to what God thought about unborn human life. My medical knowledge also began to be filtered through the Scriptures. One of the things I left that meeting with that day was a conviction about IUDs. A family practice doctor told me (the expert, the gynecologist) that IUDs were mini-abortions. Conception takes place in the fallopian tube and implantation inside the uterus and that an IUD certainly doesn't stop fertilisation.
He was right! And I tell you, it was harder for me to quit putting in IUDs than it was to quit doing abortions. When you quit doing abortions you get lots of pats on the back; people say, nice kid! You're cleaning up your act. When you stop putting in IUDs people aren't so receptive and say you're a "kook."
Making Public Confession
In addition to working with the Right-to-Life, I started sharing my story locally and wherever the Lord opened doors about how I had been lead out of the abortion business. My pastor, a very wise man, has said very wisely that private sins require private confession and repentance. Public sins require public confession and repentance. So I don't mind sharing about the sin of abortion in my life."