Abby Johnson is a well-known name in the pro-life world. The former director of a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas, Johnson ultimately walked away after witnessing in person the horrors of an ultrasound-guided abortion procedure.
Since leaving Planned Parenthood, Johnson has used her position to educate those who may not fully understand the gruesome procedure they openly support and to help abortion clinic workers leave the industry and find life-affirming work elsewhere.
The Daily Wire had the opportunity to speak with Johnson about her time at Planned Parenthood, the philosophical journey which resulted in her leaving the abortion giant, and her current advocacy against abortion.
DW: You worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years. How did you begin working for them?
JOHNSON: I got involved with them in college. I didn’t really know anything about them, nor did I grow up knowing anything about the organization. I grew up in a home where we didn’t really talk about abortion or anything like that. So, when I went to college, and was introduced to Planned Parenthood as this awesome, benevolent organization for women, it sounded good to me.
I first got involved as a volunteer, and then once I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, they hired me and I just kept getting promoted, and eventually became the director of the facility where I worked in Bryan-College Station, Texas.
DW: What caused you to leave Planned Parenthood?
JOHNSON: There were several reasons. Things were really, I don’t know, kind of turning upside down for me in 2009. That year out of Houston, my affiliate was building the largest abortion facility in the Western Hemisphere, which is now currently open. And the plan was to perform abortions through six months of pregnancy, which was problematic for me because I had always believed that abortion past the point of viability or close to the point of viability is wrong. That was one thing that was problematic.
That summer, we ran out of funding, which was common every summer, and we were basically told that we were not to give any discounts to patients who might have, you know, qualified for funding, but we were out of it. I remember bringing that up at a meeting with my boss. I said something like, “We’re a non-profit and we’re a charitable organization, we should be trying to help these women with annual exams or birth control,” and I remember her looking at me and saying, “Abby, being non-profit is a tax status, not a business status.” And that just really went against everything I thought we were doing there.
Then in August of that year, I was instructed to double our abortion quota – the certain number of abortions that we had to sell to women who came into our clinic. And then ultimately, I ended up leaving in October after witnessing a live, ultrasound-guided abortion procedure in which I saw a 13-week-old baby in the womb fight and struggle for his life against the abortion instruments. I knew then that there was humanity in the womb, and that abortion took the life of this human being, and I knew that I was on the wrong side of this debate.
So I decided then that I was going to leave and get another job. When I decided to leave, I went to a local pro-life group in town and asked them if they could possibly help me find another job with their contacts. When Planned Parenthood found out that I had gone to this pro-life group, they actually sued me and tried to get a permanent gag order against me so that I wouldn’t be able to talk about what I had seen at the clinic and things that I knew. The lawsuit failed, obviously, and I’ve been speaking out ever since, and just sharing my experiences.
DW: Was it the pro-life group that got you involved in the anti-abortion movement?
JOHNSON: Well, no. What got me into the pro-life movement was Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit. When I left Planned Parenthood, I didn’t necessarily consider myself a pro-life person, but this pro-life group had told me they would help me find a job if I ever wanted to leave.
I had never intended on speaking out about my story or anything I’d experienced, but when Planned Parenthood sent the press release out, you know, all of a sudden I was getting calls from Fox and various other outlets to come and be on their television shows. So I had to start really figuring out what I believed. After my experiences, and seeing what abortion not only did to the unborn child but also did to these women and families, I knew that being pro-life was the only acceptable position for me to take.
DW: What do you believe most people think abortion is?
JOHNSON: People generally think that abortion is a very easy, sterile, bloodless procedure – like if I want to go have a wart burned off my hand – it’s just simple, painless. There’s no blood; there’s nothing gross about; it’s all very contained. I think that’s generally what people believe about abortion when I talk to people who are pro-choice or who maybe aren’t very educated about the procedure. That seems to be the sentiment. It’s just a simple procedure. Why would you want to take that away from someone? But abortion is really none of those things.
You know, even the way the abortion industry has framed the language is nefarious. They don’t even really say “abortion” anymore; they say “termination.” They’re trying to really soften up the language so that people don’t really think about what it is. They talk about it like some other dinky procedure that you would go in and out of a medical office to have performed.
DW: What do you think is the most effective means by which you can speak to someone and convince them that what they believe in is wrong?
JOHNSON: I’m a religious person, I’m Catholic, but if I’m talking to someone who’s pro-choice, I never really bring up my religion. Ten times out of ten, they will bring up religion before I will.
I’ll just talk to them really about science, when life begins, and what science says and what biology says. I think that pro-choicers would do themselves a favor to just be honest, and to say, you know, yes, we know that abortion is taking the life of a human being, and we’re okay with that. Because ultimately, when I have conversations with people, that’s what they end up concluding, but it takes a while to get there.
Initially, they’ll say, “Well, it’s not even a human being,” and then you say, “Yes, of course that’s a human being – that’s the species. What is it? A cat? A dog? No, it’s human.” You get them on that, and then they’ll say, “Well, okay, it’s human, but it’s not really life,” and then you explain to them the scientific definition of life and ask them if it fits that definition. Then they’ll say, “Well, yeah, I guess it does.” Okay. So, if it is a human being that’s alive, your honest answer is that you’re okay with taking that life through abortion? And they sort of have to admit that, “Yeah, I guess I am.”
I don’t really feel like it’s my job to convince people, but I do feel like it is my job to help them find the truth of what they actually believe because our society has watered down abortion to the point where people don’t even really know what it is, and they don’t even really know what’s happening inside the womb. People don’t really know what the product of abortion is, that the only way to have a successful abortion is by taking the life of a human being inside the uterus. So, you know, getting them to the point where they have to look honestly at these things is key; to face what you believe and then make a decision – is this really what I want to continue to believe?
But we haven’t been using honest terms; we haven’t been using honest language when we talk about abortion, and when the media talks about abortion, and so people don’t really know what it is. So, I think that helping people come to that realization is one of the most important things that we, as pro-lifers, should be doing.
DW: Do you think that using abortion victim photography in a one-on-one setting is an effective means through which pro-choice individuals can see the reality of abortion?
JOHNSON: I think it can be, but I also would never use it without obtaining consent before I showed them the images. So, I think in a one-on-one setting, it can be effective.
DW: Is there any one thing you want the pro-choice individuals of America to know that maybe you we haven’t talked about?
JOHNSON: I think abortion is really one of the most divisive issues of our time, and I don’t think either side does themselves any favors when they characterize the other with really broad brushstrokes.
So, you know, what I always encourage the pro-life movement to do is to listen to those who have stories, listen to those who have been affected by abortion, who maybe are telling you that they don’t regret their abortion – they need to be heard as well. We need to be listening to their stories; we need to be listening to their voices. I would say the same to pro-choicers, that they need to be listening to the stories of abortion, of men who grieve the loss of fatherhood. They need to listen to the stories of those of us who have worked in the abortion industry that are speaking the truth and saying, “Roe v. Wade is not doing what it promised it would do.” And now, you know, instead of women becoming free and liberated and fighting “the patriarchy,” we now have become the oppressors against our own children – and that’s not freedom; that’s not liberation.
Johnson also mentioned that she started a non-profit in 2012 called “And Then There Were None,” which “reaches out to abortion clinic workers in order to give them a choice to leave the abortion industry and find life-affirming work.”
We have a comprehensive program that includes legal assistance, financial assistance, emotional support, and spiritual support – if needed, if desired – and we have a healing program for them. So far, we have helped 460 abortion workers leave their jobs and find a new line of work and find healing after their time in the industry. We’ve also helped seven full-time abortion doctors leave their jobs and find work in areas that are defending life.
The Daily Wire would like to thank Abby Johnson for speaking with us about such an incredibly important topic. For more information on her non-profit group, visit AbortionWorker.com.