The founder of the first abortion clinic in Mississippi and one-time staunch abortion advocate, described the series of events that led to her conversion to pro-life at a Knights of Columbus-sponsored breakfast in LaPlace.
In 1975, gynecologist Dr. Beverly McMillan moved to Jackson, Mississippi with her husband and 3 sons. She wasn’t thrilled with the move but her husband had been transferred there.
McMillan had spent her internship in Chicago treating patients with infections from illegal abortions.
So it seemed natural to her to offer abortions at her practice in Jackson since they were now legal. She became the first doctor to give abortions in Mississippi.
Over the next several years, she would perform hundreds of abortions.
“By the end of the first year, everything was going well,” recalled the gynecologist. “Business was thriving.
“The problem was, I was so depressed, I could hardly stand it.”
Then two things happened that changed her life: she made a Christian friend, and she bought the book, A Purpose-Driven Life.
“The minute I met Barbara she and I hit it off,” said McMillan. “After 10 minutes, I knew she was a Christian – and she knew I was a heathen!”
McMillan found out later that Barbara was horrified when she found out her new doctor friend performed abortions.
“Barbara called her ‘prayer-warrior friend’ and made a covenant to pray for me,” said McMillan.
The doctor became more and more uncomfortable performing abortions until one day something happened that made her stop.
“Part of the abortion process is when I would take the suction cloth out of the machine, bring it over to the sink and make sure I got all the right parts,” she said of the nightmarish procedure.
“If not, I would have to go back and suction more or else the woman would be back 48 hours later with an infection.
“One day, an associate wanted to see me do this and I happened to be performing an abortion on a 12-week-old fetus.
“I thought to myself, ‘This will be good because the fetus is big enough to see all of the parts clearly.
“You could see that the fetus was a little boy and sitting apart (from the body, torn off) was a little arm with a perfectly-formed little bicep muscle.
“It reminded me of my son when he flexed his arm. And I thought, ‘What am I doing? Five minutes ago that was all complete …’”
This started the doctor’s conversion to the pro-life advocate and speaker she is today.
Although the Tennessee native was brought up Catholic, she left the Church when she was 19.
“God didn’t seem as real as my friends, so I abandoned him and became a member of the NOW (National Organization for Women) generation,” she said.
McMillan didn’t go to church for the next 14 years. A big part of her conversion came when she was finally able to recite verse No. 7 in the Purpose-Driven Life.
A stopping point in the book for McMillan was a verse in Chapter 1. She was required to say 10 times a day, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
She said: “I am the type of person who can’t eat my eggs until I finish my grits, so I couldn’t read the rest of the book until I said this.”
Not an easy thing for a person who had kicked Christ out of her life.
“Then one day in the car I said, ‘Okay, I’ll say the thing! I don’t give in to spiritual things easily but as soon as I said it I KNEW there was someone in the car with me – over my right shoulder.
“I said that verse hundreds of times that day.”
McMillan continued to repeat the verse often from that time on, and she attributes her conversion to pro-life to those repetitions.
“While abortion is a grave sin, it’s not an unforgivable sin,” said McMillan, who has worked to close abortion clinics ever since her conversion.
Today, only one abortion clinic is left in Mississippi.
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