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How Abby Johnson Went from Planned Parenthood Director to Pro-Life Champion

Cari Jean resides in North Dakota, where she works as a freelance writer and blogs at Faith's Mom's Blog.

Abby Johnson grew up in a loving, Christian home in a small town in Texas. Those in her family and church were staunchly pro-life and even though Abby said she was as well, it wasn't something she thought about very often. She said the emphasis was always put on abstinence and she figured as long as she stayed abstinent, she would never have to think about having an abortion.

Years later in college, Abby did get pregnant (even though she was using contraceptives) not once but twice and both times she aborted her babies. How could this happen? How could someone who grew up in a pro-life family and church and one who professed at one time to be pro-life end up having two abortions?

Abby Johnson and Shawn Carney, Coalition for Life Director

Abby Johnson and Shawn Carney, Coalition for Life Director

Sucked in By Planned Parenthood

When Abby was a junior in college, a hot pink booth at a volunteer fair caught her attention. Being from a small town, she didn't know anything about Planned Parenthood or abortion clinics. When Abby told the lady behind the Planned Parenthood booth she was pro-life, she was told that Planned Parenthood was there to save lives, not to take them and that if abortion was illegal, thousands of women would die from back-alley abortions. She also told Abby that they helped women and young girls by offering pregnancy exams for free.

Abby was hooked and although she agreed to begin volunteer work at Planned Parenthood, she did not tell anyone in her family. Years later she knew to "never trust a decision you don't want your mother to know about."

By being involved in Planned Parenthood, she felt that she was taking a role in the women's reproductive movement which helped her justify having two abortions.

Her first pregnancy happened in the year 2000. She said she didn't know what else to do and after having the surgical abortion, she told herself that it was just a normal medical procedure. She tried to put it as far back in her mind as she could. As a result, she didn't talk to anyone and told herself it would never happen again..

In 2003, she got pregnant again which affected her greatly. She felt like a complete failure. This time, she used the abortion drug RU486. She said it was the worst experience of her life as she suffered physically for eight weeks with hemorrhaging and other complications.

The Goal to Reduce Abortions

In 2005, Abby became a paid employee of Planned Parenthood in Bryan/College Station, Texas and some things began to not make sense to her. She knew that many of the women who came in to have abortions had been using contraception. This made her wonder about Planned Parenthood's goal to expand contraception because it didn't seem to be reducing the number of abortions.

Also, even though Planned Parenthood claimed they wanted to reduce the number of abortions, they told their employees they needed to increase their monthly quota of clients seeking surgical abortions. They were also to offer the drug, RU486 several times a week to increase medical abortions.

While in management, Abby learned that their family planning budget was in the hole but the abortion budget was always in the black. They were never concerend about the family planning budget because they knew they could always fall back on their abortion budget. When Abby found out they could not give out free exams, she questioned it because she thought they were a nonprofit oraganization. In response, they told her nonprofit was just a tax status.

Abby also learned that it was Planned Paretnhood's goal to turn all of the Planned Parenthood clinics that did not offer abortions into abortion-providing clincs.

Abby said the more she learned about Planned Parenthood, all of her initial thoughts about the organization were slowly going out the door.

One Fall Day

One fall day in 2009, Abby, who was now the director of the Planned Parenthood clinic and 2008's "employee of the year," was asked to assist for the first time ever in an abortion. The procedure was to be guided by ultrasound, which is rarely done. All she had to do was hold the probe over the woman's stomach. She saw the the 13-week old baby on the screen and she had a sudden flashback of when she saw her own daughter's picture on ultrasound at 12 weeks.

Abby said she felt very uneasy and had to talk herself into all the things she believed about abortion and about its necessity. As the abortion began to take place, she saw the tiny baby in the womb try to move away and recoil from the instrument that was trying to take its life. Then, when everything was in place and there was no escape for the tiny being, the suction was turned on and moments later the screen went black. She knew in an instant her life was about to change.

Like this woman at an anti-abortion rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, Abby Johnson deeply regrets both of her abortions.

Like this woman at an anti-abortion rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, Abby Johnson deeply regrets both of her abortions.


Just days after assisting with the abortion, Abby resigned from Planned Parenthood. Two weeks later, they tried to lure her back by offering her more money but she knew she could never go back. Instead of just disappearing from the radar, however, Abby went to the office of Coalition for Life, a pro-life organization that had often sent people to pray in front of her clinic during their 40 Days for Life campaigns. In fact, Abby's clinic was the first Planned Parenthood clinic that a 40 Days of Life campaign was held in 2004.

A total of six 40 Days for Life campaigns were conducted outside Abby's workplace before she experienced her profound conversion during the Fall 2009 campaign.

When Planned Parenthood realized Abby had changed sides, they immediately tried to put a restraining order on her so she couldn't talk to anyone about her experience at Planned Parenthood. Abby said it was strange to her that for an organization who said they were all about people making choices, they did not respect her choice to become pro-life.

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Planned Parenthood was miraculously defeated in the lawsuit which made it possible for Abby Johnson to tell her story, which can be found in her book, Unplanned.

Source: My source for the information contained in this article comes from a live telecast that was held on January 10, 2011 to help promote Abby's book, Unplanned.


Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on August 22, 2011:

marauder2ii - just for the record, I never said I was anti-contraceptive - I am on a contraceptive because if I got pregnant it would be detrimental to my health. Having said that because of my pro-life stance if I did happen to get pregnant, I would not terminate the pregnancy.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on August 22, 2011:

Captainausume - yes, we are all welcome to our own opinions. Nothing I can say will change that so I'll just leave it there.

marauder2ii on August 16, 2011:

Let's look at this from some simple numbers.

The CDC reports mortality rates of mothers who carry a child to term and mothers who have an abortion.

The long and short of it is child birth carries with it significantly higher rates of mortality than abortion. Unless you can personally take that risk of mortality away from that person I see no rational reason as to why you should risk the life of somebody.

Making abortion Illegal would force women who get pregnant, using contraception or otherwise, to turn to home made abortions. Be it from starvation, coat hangar abortions, overdosing on medications. In effect it would raise the cost of healthcare in this country astronomically.

You'd be treating women for attempted suicide, depression, drug overdoses, injuries from home abortions, stabilization for women who starved themselves to induce a miscarriage. The list goes on.

The most cost effective, and the most rational response to an anti-abortion stance is to encourage an open discourse on sexual health. Discuss sex not as something taboo and wrong, but as something normal which contains risks. New legislation will make many forms of birth control free for women. And we should not villify the sexually active, nor should we stigmatize people who use contraception. If anything we should celebrate them as the people who are doing EXACTLY what both sides would agree is best.

If you are pro-life and anti-contraception, you need to re-examine why you think that's an acceptable stance.

Captainausume from New Jersey on August 16, 2011:

Look, you are welcome to your own opinion as to whether abortion is right or wrong. But, bluntly, this story just screams propaganda. The whole section of the story where the fetus was "running away"is a commonly used guilt tactic to make anyone who is "pro-choice" feel like a monster. The term "pro-life" is propaganda within itself. It's a manipulation. It suggests that anyone who believes in keeping abortion as an option is "pro-death."

An abortion quota? Really? How can anyone possibly believe that? Like I said, I am not here to tell people that they can't be against abortion. But do people really have to lie to get people to see their side?

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on April 26, 2011:

caltex - thanks for your comment. I agree that people need to know the Truth about Planned Parenthood.

caltex on April 25, 2011:

Great hub! Thanks for writing about it. People need to know what exactly Planned Parenthood is and the reason why it should be defunded.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on April 17, 2011:

izettl - thanks for your comment. I understand how you feel and I think there are many who feel the way you do. What I don't agree with is women who get an abortion because they view their unborn child as some sort of inconvenience - why not have the baby then give it up for adoption? There are many things about abortion that I just don't understand.

L Izett from The Great Northwest on April 15, 2011:

well written hub. I have my ups and downs about Planned Parenthood. Part of me thinks there are women in desperate situations that will get an abortion illegally (if that were the case) and may die from bad or unhealthy procedures. This has always been a tough topic for me to fall solely on one side or the other, but this story and hub was great. a lot of people can pick a side if they haven't been in these women's shoes. I just can't see the black or white on it.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on April 13, 2011:

rachellrobinson - thanks so much for your comment. The problem is that the abortion industry doesn't think of these unborn babies as "lives." Intead they choose to think of them as just masses of tissue and flesh, nothing else.

Rachel Woodruff from Southwest Missouri on April 09, 2011:

Cari: This was interesting. I read a couple excerpts from her book, trying to determine whether or not I wanted to buy it. One of the things that really got to me is that she said the attempted to schedule 35 abortions in one clinic. That they only did abortions on Saturdays but in a typical Saturday they did 35 abortions. Too me I wonder why anyone wouldn't step back and think that is 35 lives that were taken on one Saturday

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 26, 2011:

I have tried to research this topic and the only place I find the kind of information you listed in your comment are on pro-choice or feminist websites that would of course want to make Abby Johnson look like a liar.

1. Maybe Planned Parenthood was able to cover up their medical records or falsify them in some way. My question is why did they have a restraining order against her if they had nothing to hide?

2. She was not opposed to abortion the day after she saw the ultrasound take place. She was still struggling with being pro-choice/pro-life. In her live webcast she stresses that she did not conform right away that she did not suddenly become pro-life - that it was a process for her.

3. Maybe she had slipping job performance because she wasn't confident that she was doing the right thing..who knows...and who knows why she didn't mention this on FB? And like I said before, her conversion wasn't so instant.

Why not ask? on January 20, 2011:

One doesn't have to work somewhere to learn FACTS.

1. The clinic's legally required reporting forms have been viewed and there was no such abortion on the date claimed. Research!

2. She gave a radio interview THE DAY AFTER her supposed conversion advocating her clinic and criticizing the protesters. Strange for someone so suddenly opposed to abortion, don't you think? Listen to it instead of swallowing the Kool-Aid.

3. Read her Facebook posts from the night she quit AFTER BEING REPRIMANDED for slipping performance. Why didn't she ever mention the abortion or sudden moral crisis? How about because she hadn't figured out yet that she could use the situation to her advantage? That "instant" conversion doesn't seem so profound after all.

Wake up. She's capitalizing on her sudden celebrity in the prolife moneymaking movement and her story is a sham. People's blind adulation for an opportunist who has conveniently fit into a dream role is almost more pathetic than the opportunist herself. She, at least knows to give the people what they want and she is happily satisfying those who want to believe in the message, even if the story is fiction.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 19, 2011:

How do you know the abortion she claimed to have witnessed never occurred? Do you work at that Planned Parenthood clinic?

Why not ask? on January 18, 2011:

It's in the post. Try the second sentence again.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 17, 2011:

Why not ask? - why do you think her story is fabricated and full of lies?

Why not ask? on January 17, 2011:

Except her story is fabricated, full of lies and now she's making money from it. It should seem suspicious to all that a soon to be fired employee decided to switch sides and that the abortion she claimed to have witnessed never occurred. Please educate yourselves with FACTS instead of emotional fiction with an agenda.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 14, 2011:

2besure - And may God can continue to illuminate His light on all areas of darkness.

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on January 14, 2011:

Amen, from darkness to light!

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 14, 2011:

Hello, hello - thanks again for your comment and your kind words.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on January 14, 2011:

A wonderful real-life story, brilliantly written.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 12, 2011:

Josh - WOW! Thanks so much for your comment. I wish the whole world would hear this story - it is so powerful and proof of the Holy Spirit at work in people's lives.

Josh Rokolekai from Suva, Fiji Islands on January 12, 2011:

Thanks Cari for a powerful story well told. The world needs more stories like this. You are definitely making the world a better place so keep it up girl.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 12, 2011:

HealthyHanna - I pray that her book becomes a best-seller and that the truth would be revealed to all who work in this revolting industry. Thanks so much for your comment.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 12, 2011:

Karen - thank you so much for your support of this hub. I haven't gotten the book yet but I want to read the whole thing. If we listened to the telecast we were able to download the first chapter for free. She goes into more detail about what it was like seeing the abortion via ultrasound. It is sad and disgusting what abortion doctors are doing. I cannot understand how they do not have a conscience about it. We need to continue to pray for all of those in this horrible industry.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 12, 2011:

prairieprincess - I cannot imagine seeing what she saw via ultrasound during an abortion. Just hearing about it moved me to tears. I'm sure that image will be forever in her mind but she will be able to fight stronger because of it. Thanks so much for your comment.

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 12, 2011:

Pamela - the word definitely needs to get out about Planned Parenthood - they are an organization full of lies and trying so hard to bury the truth. With God, truth will always be revealed. Thanks for your comment!

Cari Jean (author) from Bismarck, ND on January 12, 2011:

DeBorrah - thank you so much for your comment! It is truly amazing how God can give people such an incredible chage of heart! Abby's parents prayed for her the whole time she was at Planned Parenthood. It took like 8 years but their prayers were answered! I just love this story because it totally glorifies God and how awesome He truly is!

HealthyHanna from Utah on January 12, 2011:

Good to hear Abby Johnson's story again. Abortion is not so much in the news anymore, but one we all need to recommittto

Karen Metz from Michigan on January 12, 2011:

Cari, I really enjoyed this women's story! think should hear it. Thank you for making it into a hub. I am going to look into reading her book and I will post your hub on facebook.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on January 11, 2011:

Cari, very moving story. And thank the LORD for this beautiful angel who can now speak out the truth in love. I think anyone that had to help with an abortion would have second thoughts about their pro-choice philosophy!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 11, 2011:

Cari, That is a story that needs to be told. They sure misrepresent themselves. God Bless.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on January 11, 2011:

Cari Jean, Beautiful presentation! What an interesting story! In the end after all she went through the LORD worked it all out for GOOD! I am sure her amazing testimony will help many others... "Through Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors!" The LORD opened her spiritual eyes... "The TRUTH sets you FREE!" Praise GOD! To GOD BE THE GLORY!

Thank you for sharing, In HIS Love, Grace, Joy, Pece & Blessings!

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