October 4, 2013

Respect Life Month

From abortion facility director to pro-life advocate—Abby Johnson’s journey of faith

Abby Johnson, author of unPlanned and former director of a Planned Parenthood facility who turned pro-life four years ago after witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion, was the keynote speaker at Right to Life of Indianapolis’ 31st Celebrate Life dinner, held at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, on Sept. 17. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Abby Johnson, author of unPlanned and former director of a Planned Parenthood facility who turned pro-life four years ago after witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion, was the keynote speaker at Right to Life of Indianapolis’ 31st Celebrate Life dinner, held at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, on Sept. 17. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

(Editor’s note: Due to the graphic nature of portions of this article regarding a witnessed abortion and general operations at Planned Parenthood, adults may want to review its contents before sharing it with children.)

By Natalie Hoefer

Abby Johnson was the director of a Planned Parenthood facility, a woman who herself had undergone two abortions.

After years in the abortion industry, her life changed instantly when she witnessed, live through an ultrasound, the abortion of a 13-week-old unborn baby in October of 2009.

In that moment, her heart changed from the culture of death to the culture of life.

Johnson shared her story at Right to Life of Indianapolis’ 31st Celebrate Life dinner in Indianapolis on Sept. 17.

Through excerpts from her interview with The Criterion and during her keynote address, Johnson’s story unfolds in her own words.

It ranges from the horror of what actually happens at Planned Parenthood facilities to the exodus of many working in the abortion industry, from her observation of how apathy has seeped into churches to her mission to rally Christians to do more than just pray for abortion’s end—to “look evil in the face and say, ‘No more!’ ”

‘I was a good kid growing up’

“I was raised in [the Baptist] church, was a good kid growing up. … I wonder how I went from that person to being a person who laid on an abortion table—not once but twice—to take the lives of my unborn children. I can only say it happened bit by bit, because that’s the way that Satan works.

“When I was approached by a woman on my college campus, ‘Hey what do you know about Planned Parenthood?,’ I really didn’t know anything. When she told me that abortion was only 3 percent of what they did, I didn’t know that equals 334,000 babies a year.”

‘Up to 40-50 abortions a day’

“Most [abortion physicians] have a full-time practice doing something else. They just come in one day a week and perform abortions. They take home about $3,000-$4,000 in a day.

“Inside of every abortion center, ultrasounds are always used. They only do that to determine how far along a woman is in her pregnancy, so they know how much to charge her for the abortion.

“Our goal inside of the abortion room is to do three things in five minutes—the ultrasound, sedation and abortion, because we were doing up to 40-50 abortions a day with one physician.

“They take a suction tube hooked up to a suction machine, and they insert that into the woman’s womb, and they blindly poke around in the woman’s uterus until they think they got enough tissue and blood in a glass jar.

“A technician inside the abortion center would then piece the parts of the baby back together. We had to ensure that we had gotten everything out.

“We would take the remains and put it in a plastic bag, and we would put it inside of a freezer that we called ‘the nursery.’

“Once a week, a medical waste company would come and take the children to a place where they were incinerated.”

‘I just stood … [as he] was murdered’

“It was a normal day. We had a visiting physician from out of town.

“The doctor said he used the ultrasound so that he could, in his words, ‘visualize his target.’ And so I thought, ‘That sounds like a smart idea. This will be a good opportunity for me.’

“We did the measurements, and found that the child was at 13 weeks gestation. Everything that you and I have, a child at 13 weeks also has, they’re just very small.

“The number one question I got asked was this: Will my baby feel this? Our scripted response was: No, the fetus has no sensory development until 28 weeks.’

“Yet I watched the suction tube go right up to the side of this child [of 13 weeks gestation], and when it touched his side, he jumped. And he began to flail his arms and legs as if he was trying to move away from that abortion instrument. But there was nowhere to go.

“I remember hearing the woman on the table crying. And I remember wanting to sit her up and say, ‘Look what is happening to your baby! He is in desperate need of your protection!’ But I didn’t. I remember wanting to yell out, ‘Stop! You’re hurting him!’ But I didn’t. The doctor said, ‘Beam me up, Scotty.’ And the suction was turned on.

“I think people make the assumption that seeing a child be torn apart in its mother’s womb would be the worst part. But I knew what the aftermath looked like.

“The worst part [for me] was that I just stood there. What kind of mom just stands there and watches another woman’s child be murdered right in front of her face and doesn’t do anything? Me. I was that kind of mom.”

‘Apathy is the worst in our churches’

“I don’t believe for a second that abortion has been legal for over 40 years in this country because of Planned Parenthood or lobbyists. I believe abortion has been legal for so many years for one reason, and that is apathy.

“I believe apathy is the worst in our churches. Of women who seek and obtain abortion services, 72 percent come from our churches.

“The U.S. has one of the lowest replacement rates in the world because we bought into the lie that children are cumbersome and a burden. We don’t see them as a gift and a blessing.

“I do feel like momentum is picking up in a way that I haven’t seen since I’ve been out [of the abortion industry]. I definitely think we’re on a winning path right now.

“We’re gaining ground in the legislative fight. We now have more than three times the amount of pregnancy centers than abortion centers in our country.”

‘God was always reaching out to me’

“[Last year] I started a ministry called ‘And Then There Were None’ for former abortion clinic workers, people like myself.

“We assist these workers in getting out of the industry once they have had a change of heart. We help them with the spiritual and emotional struggles they face.

“We’ve had 81 come to us since June of 2012.

“The majority of workers that have come to us have been practicing Catholics. Getting them to a point where they are back in the confessional, receiving that forgiveness, getting active in the Church, relearning what the Church teaches—it’s beautiful.

“My mom says I was born Catholic. I used to watch EWTN [Eternal Word Television Network] when I was a child. I would watch Mother Angelica, and I would put a towel over my head and pretend to be a nun—me, a Baptist kid!

“Even while I worked at Planned Parenthood, I felt like God was always reaching out to me, particularly through Mary.

“The first time [my husband and I] went to Mass, we both knew this was home for us.

“I learned about the Church teaching not just on abortion, but on contraception and the family. I thought, ‘This is more than being pro-life—it’s about growing families.’

“We both came into the Church together [on] Easter of 2012.”

‘It’s on us—the body of Christ’

“[It is essential] that we all find our place in the movement, and that we all act on our conviction.

“Of course, we need to pray, that’s essential. But if we have an active prayer life, then we should be called to move that prayer into action.

“We see so much hate on the other side of the movement and untruths that they’re coming out with. We just have to correct and clarify and move forward with God’s help.

“I believe wholeheartedly that abortion could end overnight if people of faith would unite together, look evil in the face and say ‘No more!’ It’s on us—the body of Christ! Now is the time!”

(For more information on Johnson’s ministry, “And Then There Were None,” log on to www.attwn.org. To purchase a copy or for more information on her book unPlanned, log on to www.unplannedthebook.com. )

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