Abby Johnson (activist)
Abby Johnson at Spanish Anti-Abortion organization HazteOir in 2015.
|Born||July 10, 1980|
|Known for||Anti-abortion activism|
Abby Johnson (born July 10, 1980) is an American anti-abortion activist who previously worked at Planned Parenthood as a clinic director, but resigned in October 2009. She states that she resigned after watching an abortion on ultrasound. Her memoir, Unplanned, was made into the 2019 movie of the same name.
Johnson grew up in Rockdale, Texas, and graduated from Rockdale High School. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in psychology from Texas A&M University and Master of Arts in counseling from Sam Houston State University.
Work at Planned Parenthood
Although raised in a conservative family opposed to abortion, Johnson began volunteering for Planned Parenthood after seeing their booth at a volunteer fair at her college. She says she had not heard of the group before and did not know they performed abortions, and Planned Parenthood told her they wanted to reduce the number of abortions. Johnson volunteered in 2001, and progressed to the position of community services director. Identifying as "extremely pro-choice," she worked at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas for eight years, escorting women into the clinic from their cars and eventually working as director of the clinic. Johnson regularly encountered activists from Coalition for Life (now known as 40 Days for Life), a local anti-abortion group who demonstrated at the clinic's fence, and described extensive harassment of clinic staff by anti-abortion activists. Describing death threats against herself and her family, she stated: "It's very scary, this group of people that claim to be these peaceful prayer warriors, or whatever they call themselves, it's kind of ironic that some of them would be sending death threats." The Planned Parenthood clinic named Johnson employee of the year in 2008.
Johnson says that in September 2009, she was called in to assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion at 13 weeks gestation. She said she was disconcerted to see how similar the ultrasound image looked to her own daughter's. Johnson, who previously believed fetuses could not feel anything while being aborted, says she saw the fetus squirming and twisting to avoid the vacuum tube used for the abortion.
"For the briefest moment," she wrote in her memoir, Unplanned, "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."
Johnson continued working at the clinic for 9 more days, but soon met with Shawn Carney, leader of the local anti-abortion group Coalition for Life, with whom she was well acquainted after his years of activism against Planned Parenthood. She told him she could no longer continue assisting women in getting abortions. She resigned on October 6, 2009.
Johnson said after her resignation that her bosses had pressured her to increase profits by performing more and more abortions at the clinic. Johnson conceded that she could not produce any written orders to prove her allegations and estimated the clinic profited $350 on every abortion.
Johnson's description of her conversion has been questioned. Planned Parenthood stated that its records do not show any ultrasound-guided abortions performed on the date Johnson says she witnessed the procedure, and the physician who performed abortions at the Bryan clinic stated that Johnson had never been asked to assist in an abortion. Although Johnson said the abortion was of a 13-week-old fetus, records from the Bryan clinic show no such abortions performed on the date in question. In response, Johnson stated that the data Planned Parenthood gave to the media was not the official "Induced Abortion Reporting" forms sent to the Texas Department of Health, and that even those official forms do not document the use of an ultrasound guide. She attributes the lack of records for a 13-week-old fetus abortion to Planned Parenthood's poor-recordkeeping and possible manipulation of records, and notes that the organization has not directly attempted to disprove that the event happened, including when they sued her in court.
According to a court petition filed by Planned Parenthood, Johnson was put on a "performance improvement plan" four days before her resignation. The petition says that following this she was seen "removing items" from the clinic and copying "confidential files" and had given the résumé, home address, and phone number of an abortion provider to Coalition for Life. Planned Parenthood was granted a temporary restraining order against Johnson and Coalition for Life after Johnson's resignation. The order was lifted by a court a week later. Johnson herself says the "performance improvement plan" was due to her reluctance to increase the number of abortions performed at her facility. Johnson also denies the accusations that she removed, copied, or distributed any confidential information and said in her book that her attorney disproved them at the time that the temporary restraining order was lifted.
Johnson's story received national coverage starting in November 2009, at which point she was embraced by the anti-abortion movement and compared to Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in 1973. McCorvey joined the anti-abortion movement in 1995.
Soon after her resignation, Johnson began volunteering with the Coalition for Life, which regularly prayed outside her former clinic.
Johnson has since adopted the consistent life ethic, opposing not just abortion—in all cases—but also the death penalty and euthanasia. She affirms natural family planning over the use of any form of artificial birth control.
Johnson is the author of two books. Unplanned, released in January 2011, details her work at Planned Parenthood and her conversion to abortion opposition; the book is the basis for a film which was released in March 2019. The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories, released in 2016, recounts stories of former abortion workers that have come through her ministry.
Johnson runs an anti-abortion ministry, And Then There Were None (ATTWN). The organization seeks to help abortion clinic workers leave the industry. ATTWN was founded in 2012.
Johnson was raised as a Southern Baptist, but left the church because it objected to her work at Planned Parenthood. She and her husband Doug, who was raised Lutheran, stopped attending church altogether for two years before joining the Episcopal Church, which has one of the most liberal stances on abortion of any Mainline Protestant denomination. After she went public with her conversion to the anti-abortion position, Johnson said she felt unwelcome at this church. She and her husband converted to Catholicism in 2012.
- Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line. Colorado Springs: SaltRiver/Focus on the Family. 2010.
- Adapted into a 2019 movie
- The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2016. ISBN 978-1-58617-797-3. OCLC 936344831.
- "They Say It's Your Birthday". Abby Johnson. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- "Author Biography: Abby Johnson". Tyndale House Publishers.
- Drake, Tim. "What Abby Johnson Saw at Planned Parenthood". National Catholic Register. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Abrams, Joseph (November 2, 2009). "Planned Parenthood Director Quits After Watching Abortion on Ultrasound". Fox News. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
- Clark-Flory, Tracy (Nov 3, 2009). "The conversion of a pro-choice warrior". Salon.com. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- Mann, Benjamin. "Abby Johnson reveals details of pro-life turnaround and Catholic conversion". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Johnson, Abby (2011). Unplanned. SaltRiver. ISBN 978-1-4143-3939-9.
- Blakeslee, Nate (February 2010). "The Convert". Texas Monthly. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
The Bryan clinic reported performing fifteen surgical abortions on September 26. Johnson has consistently said that the patient in question was thirteen weeks pregnant, which is plausible, since thirteen weeks is right at the cusp of when physicians will consider using an ultrasound to assist with the procedure. Yet none of the patients listed on the report for that day were thirteen weeks pregnant; in fact, none were beyond ten weeks.
- Johnson, Abby (April 8, 2019). "I Really Did See An Ultrasound-Guided Abortion That Made Me Pro-Life". The Federalist. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
- "Injunction Against Ex-Central Texas Planned Parenthood Director Lifted". Kwtx.com. 2009-11-11. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- Dorning, Anne-Marie (2009-11-05). "Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Joins Pro-Life Group". ABC News. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Allen, Nick (2009-11-02). "Planned Parenthood leader resigns after watching abortion ultrasound". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Abby Johnson (August 5, 2014). "Frequently Asked Questions". Facebook.
- "Abby Johnson. Consistent" (PDF). wix.com. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- Nolasco, Stephanie (2019-02-25). "Pro-life activist Abby Johnson reacts to R rating for anti-abortion film: 'We are pushing the boundaries'". Fox News. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
- Bourne, Lisa (January 31, 2019), "WATCH: Trailer released for 'Unplanned' movie about Abby Johnson's pro-life conversion", LifeSiteNews
- "AbortionWorker". abortionworker.com. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- Green, Emma (January 16, 2017). These Pro-Lifers Are Headed to the Women's March on Washington: Is there room in the movement for people who morally object to abortion?, The Atlantic. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- "The Anti-Abortion Women Who Still Marched".
- "Thanks for stopping by". AbbyJohnson.org. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
- Duin, Julia (2009-11-13). "Former clinic director: Church chilly to my pro-life turn". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- "Abby Johnson – Former Baptist and Episcopalian". The Coming Home Network. 2019-01-22.
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