As with so many debates in our culture, the discussion around abortion can often become an ‘us vs. them’ dynamic. This type of thinking can lead us to view those on the other side of the debate as monsters to be defeated rather than people with whom we can share the truth in charity.
But when it comes to the abortion debate, Abby Johnson is able to cut through the ‘us vs. them’ dynamic, because no matter which side of the debate you are on, she has been both an ‘us’ and a ‘them.’ Johnson spent eight years working for Planned Parenthood, rising through the ranks to eventually become a clinic director. But one day she witnessed an abortion that changed her life forever.
Speaking recently on Morning Air®, Johnson told host John Harper about the day she became pro-life inside the very Planned Parenthood clinic she was running.
“I was asked to participate in an ultrasound-guided abortion procedure. Which is uncommon. Ultrasounds are generally not used during the abortion procedure itself,” Johnson explained. “And I watched in horror as a 13-week-old baby fought and struggled for his life against the abortion instrument. I knew that there was humanity in the womb, and that what I had seen was the taking of an innocent human life. I realized I was on the wrong side of this debate, and so I ended up leaving.”
But going from pro-choice to pro-life wasn’t easy. Johnson shared the difficulties she encountered on her journey out of Planned Parenthood. She said, “I was so shaken by what I had seen, but also just really confused. I realized that the whole eight years of what I had been doing with my life was a lie. I believed the lie, I had spoken lies to women who had come into the clinic, and so it was definitely a time when I had to evaluate what my next step was going to be. And that was scary.”
But it was not just emotional and mental troubles that Johnson had to overcome. Her journey to becoming pro-life also came with legal troubles.
“When I left Planned Parenthood and they found out I had gone to the Coalition for Life, and I was no longer in support of abortion, they actually took me to court trying to get a gag order against me,” Johnson said. “So that I wouldn’t be able to share my story and talk about my experiences. So we went to court, but that obviously failed. They were really just trying to sue me for becoming pro-life, and that doesn’t stand up in court.”
“I think they were trying to set an example to other employees to scare them,” she continued. “To say, if you leave us and you speak out against us, this will be you. They are all about intimidation of their employees, and I think that was just a way to not only intimidate me, but also to use me as an example to the current employees they had.”
Despite the difficulties she faced in leaving Planned Parenthood, Johnson doesn’t view those who still work in the abortion industry as the enemy. In fact, to make the transition out of Planned Parenthood easier for those who come after her, Johnson started the organization And Then There Were None. This organization helps support abortion workers financially, spiritually, and emotionally as they make the transition out of the abortion industry.
And because Planned Parenthood was not successful in securing a gag order on Johnson, she has been able to share her story with the world through her book unPLANNED and through the upcoming movie Unplanned, which will open in theaters March 29.
Johnson opened up about what it was like to watch a film that told her story, both the good and the bad. She said, “In the film, I think there are a few moments that are very hard to watch. There’s a scene that shows my own medication abortion, and I think that’s going to be very difficult for people to watch.”
“It was a very vulnerable moment for me,” she said. “I just kept having to remind myself that I’m doing this to glorify the Lord. Because it is hard to see your greatest sins lived out on a big screen for everyone to see. But the hope is that this is going to save lives. And that’s worth that feeling of vulnerability. Just knowing that I’m doing this for the Lord, and I hope He’s going to use this in a big way. … I see all the time how God can take the worst part of who were were, our worst sins, and use them for His glory. And that’s always my prayer.”
Listen to the full conversation with Abby Johnson below: