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.
Early life and work
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. Although raised in a conservative family opposed to abortion, Johnson began volunteering for Planned Parenthood in 2001 after seeing their booth at a volunteer fair at her college.
Identifying as "extremely pro-choice," Johnson 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 which demonstrated at the clinic's fence, and described extensive harassment of clinic staff by anti-abortion activists. Johnson described death threats from anti-abortion activists against her and her family, stating: "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.
Resignation from Planned Parenthood
Johnson, in her description of her resignation from Planned Parenthood, says that in September 2009 she was called to assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion at thirteen weeks of gestation. She said she was disconcerted to see how similar the ultrasound image looked to her own daughter's, and said that she saw the fetus squirming and twisting to avoid the vacuum tube used for the abortion. Johnson continued working at the clinic for nine more days, but soon met with Shawn Carney, leader of the local anti-abortion group Coalition for Life, and 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 evidence to support her allegations, and an article on Salon.com questioned Johnson's statements regarding financial incentives for abortions.
Johnson's description of her conversion has been questioned. Planned Parenthood's records do not show any ultrasound-guided abortions performed on the date when Johnson claimed to have witnessed the procedure, and the physician at the Bryan clinic stated that Johnson had never been asked to assist in an abortion. Johnson argued that this discrepancy was due to Planned Parenthood's poor recordkeeping and possible manipulation of records.[dubious ]
In court filings, Planned Parenthood noted that Johnson was put on a "performance improvement plan" four days before her resignation, and that she was then seen "removing items" from the clinic and copying "confidential files" and gave the 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, and the order was lifted by a court a week later. Johnson herself claimed that 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 claimed 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 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), which lobbies abortion-clinic workers to leave the industry and which provides money and counseling for those who do. Johnson attended the 2017 Women's March, a massive protest against newly inaugurated President Donald Trump, in January 2017.
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 with the same name.
- 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 March 29, 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 July 14, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- Abrams, Joseph (November 2, 2009). "Planned Parenthood Director Quits After Watching Abortion on Ultrasound". Fox News. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
- Clark-Flory, Tracy (November 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 July 2, 2011.
- 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. November 11, 2009. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- Johnson, Abby (2011). Unplanned. SaltRiver. ISBN 978-1-4143-3939-9.
- Dorning, Anne-Marie (November 5, 2009). "Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Joins Pro-Life Group". ABC News. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- Allen, Nick (November 2, 2009). "Planned Parenthood leader resigns after watching abortion ultrasound". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- Nolasco, Stephanie (February 25, 2019). "Pro-life activist Abby Johnson reacts to R rating for anti-abortion film: 'We are pushing the boundaries'". Fox News. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
- McCammon, Sarah (January 11, 2018). "The Anti-Abortion Group That's Urging Clinic Workers to Quit Their Jobs". NPR.org. Retrieved September 8, 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 April 7, 2019.
- Duin, Julia (November 13, 2009). "Former clinic director: Church chilly to my pro-life turn". The Washington Times. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- "Abby Johnson – Former Baptist and Episcopalian". The Coming Home Network. January 22, 2019.
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