An Interview With Abby Johnson
Lent is a grace filled season for conversion, which prepares us to receive Jesus at Easter. One woman’s dramatic story captures the essence of Lent and captivates our attention. Her name is Abby Johnson. She went from a career at Planned Parenthood to a staunch pro-life advocate overnight. She has appeared on numerous television programs and has traveled around the country sharing her testimony. Abby is also the author of the best selling book “unPlanned”.
Denise: Thank you, Abby for being with us in this interview.
I’d like to get right to the heart of your story and start with the day that changed your life. You were working on an ultrasound guided abortion when you actually saw an abortion procedure being done for the first time. Tell us about that day and explain to us exactly what you witnessed.
Abby: The doctor said to me, “just hold the probe in place during the procedure so I can see what I’m doing.” The cannula—a straw shaped instrument attached to the end of the suction tube---had been inserted into the uterus and was nearing the baby’s side. It looked like an invader, out of place. Wrong. It just looked wrong. The next movement was the sudden jerk of a tiny foot as the baby started kicking, as if it were trying to move away from the probing invader. As the cannula pressed its side, the baby began struggling to turn and twist away. It seemed clear to me that it could feel the cannula, and it did not like what it was feeling. The cannula was already being rotated by the doctor, and now I could see the tiny body violently twisting with it. For the briefest moment the baby looked as if it were being wrung like a dishcloth, twirled and squeezed. And then it crumpled and began disappearing into the cannula before my eyes. The last thing I saw was the tiny, perfectly formed backbone sucked into the tube, and then it was gone.
What happened to you immediately after seeing that procedure?
I knew that I had to leave Planned Parenthood. I knew that I could not continue to stay and spread the lies that they had been creating for so many years.
Planned Parenthood, in their own words, states: “Pro-choice means supporting access to all reproductive options whether its motherhood, contraception, abortion or adoption”. However, their statistics show that for every one adoption referral they perform 62 abortions. That’s certainly not the unbiased ratio that’s suggested in their statement. Does Planned Parenthood encourage women to have abortions?
Yes. They have to coerce women into having abortions. There is no information available concerning prenatal care, fetal development or adoption. They are not concerned in providing that, because those services do not increase their bottom line.
Planned Parenthood claims that only 3% of their business is abortion. They further claim to provide vital medical care including mammograms, STD tests, and ultrasounds for women who otherwise might not receive these services. Are these statements true?
While Planned Parenthood says abortions make up just 3 percent of its services, I found they used an sleight of hand, unbundling family planning services so each patient shows anywhere from five to 20 "visits" per appointment (12 packs of birth control would show up as 12 individual visits). It does the opposite for abortion visits, bundling them together so each appointment shows as one visit. This skews the numbers. You have an overwhelming number of "visits" for family planning compared to abortion, even though you may have seen the same number of patients.
Does Planned Parenthood prey on low income women, and if so, how?
They have placed 76% of their clinics in low income and minority areas. They have special health educators designed to go into low income areas and convince women and men that PP is the only place they can go for healthcare in their area.
Most of us have seen the videos produced by Live Action exposing Planned Parenthood in their concealment of underage women and human trafficking crimes. Were you aware of this illegal activity, and were you also encouraged to “work” the system?
We weren’t given any specifics on how to necessarily work the system. But it is common for PP clinics to cover up child sexual abuse.
With all the media attention lately, it seems that the truth is finally being discovered about Planned Parenthood. What’s at stake for them right now and how important is it for them to keep up appearances?
It is extremely important for them to keep their government funding. They cannot keep their clinics open without it. They need for this political battle to appear as an attack on women…instead of what it really is…an attack on Planned Parenthood and their poor quality of health care.
Spiritually speaking, did you ever feel the presence of evil or experience any struggle in your life when you were working at Planned Parenthood?
No. I didn’t feel it while I was there. I now see how evil was pervasive in my life. I am able to see how my thoughts, actions, speech and so many other things were completely taken over by evil.
Would you say that prayer vigils outside of clinics are effective?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t be here today, fighting in this movement, if people hadn’t been outside of my clinic. When people are outside of clinics, it is reminding the workers and clients that there is something morally objectionable about what they are doing inside of that building. We also have to be a public witness to our communities. Being outside abortion clinics helps bring about that awareness.
Some pro-life advocates have, shall we say, a less than Christian approach in defending life. Did you ever witness that yourself and if so, what effect did it have on you and your co-workers?
We did have a group of very angry protestors outside of our clinic. They only invigorated our movement. When people would be hostile towards us and our clients, it would make us feel very protective of our clients. It almost helped to form a sort of camaraderie with our clients. They were harassing our clients and we were saving them. It also did not serve the “Christian” population very well. It made Christians seem judgmental, harsh, mean, condemning and hateful. The patients and the workers saw that…there was little chance of conversion.
Eighty-five percent of our country’s population consider themselves to be Christian; yet its “legal” to kill children. In your experience, what would you attribute this to; and. what advice would you give to pro-life advocates so their message will be more effective?
I believe abortion has been legal for 38 years because of apathy. Our churches aren’t frequently talking about abortion. Our churches don’t have ministries for women who might be considering abortion, or may have already chosen abortion. We are fighting a spiritual battle…and unfortunately, many of our churches are part of the problem.
What would you like to say to Christians who don’t actively take part in the pro-life movement simply because they think others are doing it?
There is a place for everyone in this movement. My 4 year old daughter prays with me outside of the abortion clinic. Everyone should be involved. There really is no excuse. One day, we will stand in front of Christ and He will ask us what we did for the “least of these.” I hope we all have an answer.
With your change of heart came not only a change in employment but also a change of faith. You and your husband are being received into the Catholic Church this Easter. You were formally members of the Episcopal Church and were asked to stop attending services because of your pro-life activity. What did you feel when they asked you to leave? Did you see it coming?
I felt very sad and betrayed by them. This was our faith community…people who we loved. But on the other hand, we had started to attend there because of their liberal views, so it made sense. It was still very hurtful.
Tell us about your journey home to the Catholic Church.
We are very excited about becoming part of the Catholic Church. After we left the Episcopal Church, we went searching for a different church home. After attending our first Mass in the Catholic Church, we knew we were home. In particular, I think I have always longed for a relationship with our Blessed Mother. I can see this even as a child. Being able to fulfill that devotion has truly completed my faith.
It’s beautiful to see how God is working in your life. When you gave up a job that took away the body and blood of a human being, He replaced that with The Body and Blood of Jesus.
Thank you again, Abby for your time and all your good work. May Our Lord bless you and Our Lady wrap her mantle of protection around you. I am so happy and excited that very soon you will be brought into The Church. You will be in my prayers and I would also ask the Western Province to pray for you as well.
God Bless you,
In Jesus and St. Dominic,
Denise Harvey, Vice President
Lay Provincial Council, Western Dominican Province
I would encourage everyone who can to pick up a copy of Abby’s book. It’s a fascinating story that unmasks all the lies about abortion and reveals the truth. You will also be supporting Abby and her mission to end abortion in this country. I would also encourage you to get involved with “40 days for life” which is underway now. The 40 days for life folks pray, fast and hold peaceful vigils outside abortion clinics. I’ve become more and more convinced that abortion is the greatest threat to peace and safety in our country. The first chapter of unPlanned can be read at the publisher's web site:
Abby Johnson holds a B.S. in psychology from Texas A&M University and an M.A. in counseling from Sam Houston State University. She was hired by Planned Parenthood in 2005 and was later promoted to health center director. Abby ran both the family planning and abortion programs. In 2009 she left Planned Parenthood and joined the local Coalition for Life as a volunteer. She now serves as Chief Research Strategist for Live Action and works on projects with the national 40 Days for Life campaign.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Interview with Abby Johnson
The March-April issue of "Truth Be Told" contains an original interview by Denise Harvey with Abby Johnson, author of "UnPlanned". It is reproduced here in full.