Change of Heart

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line

The name Abby Johnson has become a household world in pro-life circles. When she quit her job as the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic, and was promptly sued by Planned Parenthood higher ups, the story made national news. She has appeared on television and radio shows and at numerous pro-life events, where she has appropriately received a hero’s welcome.

Last year, Abby revealed the full story of her conversion in Unplanned, which was produced by a historic Catholic–Protestant publisher partnership. Even for those already familiar with Abby’s story, the book is well worth reading cover to cover. Its fresh, forthright look at the experiences that can lead a woman to choose abortion, promote abortion, and then miraculously have a change of heart is both illuminating and inspiring.

For eight years Abby Johnson worked for a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, where she eventually became the director. When she assisted with an ultrasound-guided abortion in September 2009, she watched a thirteen-week-old baby being vacuumed out of its mother’s womb: “For the briefest moment, it looked as if the baby were being wrung like a dish cloth, twirled and squeezed. And then the little body crumpled and began disappearing…. The last thing I saw was the tiny, perfectly formed backbone sucked into the tube.”

In an instant Abby Johnson realized that she had been lying to herself: abortion does not remove a formless blob of tissue but kills a tiny, helpless human being. Looking down at the teary woman lying before her, she recognized another truth: abortion robs a mother of her child.

Abby’s conscience was awakened, and she resolved to end her involvement with abortion. One month later, she resigned from her position at Planned Parenthood and became a pro life activist, volunteering for the local Coalition for Life and the national 40 Days for Life campaign, the groups she credits with her change of heart.

Many abortion providers, especially the doctors and nurses, know the truth about what they do, and yet they remain unmoved. What set Abby Johnson apart from the others who performed that fateful abortion?

In addition to whatever grace Abby had received from her Christian upbringing, from her first day as a Planned Parenthood volunteer escort, she was befriended by pro-life sidewalk counselors whose kindness and concern Abby believed were genuine.

Abby did not believe this about all of the pro-lifers who regularly assembled outside the Bryan clinic. There was a man dressed as the Grim Reaper, as well as a woman carrying a gory photo of an aborted baby. Didn’t they realize that their tactics would more likely distress than dissuade a woman in a crisis? Abby wondered. Good intentions, bad choices, she ascribed to them.

Eventually she would admit that the descriptive phrase applied to herself as well. The more the local pro-lifers, under the growing influence of the Coalition for Life, adopted considerate and prayerful strategies, including the 40 Days for Life campaign, the more open and sympathetic to the pro-life side Abby became. “I was loved from one side onto the other,” she explains in Unplanned. But love moved in the other direction, too. Abby showed her pro-life opponents kindness and respect; she even provided umbrellas and water bottles to sidewalk counselors on particularly hot days.

Abby also demonstrated sincere concern for the women who came to Planned Parenthood for help. She saw herself not as an abortion promoter but as a reproductive healthcare giver trying to reduce abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies. While she defended early abortions as necessary for some women, she opposed late-term ones, and she remained unaware of the inconsistency until her eyes were opened by the ultrasound machine.

As a result of the goodwill Abby has shown on both sides of the abortion battle and the amazing chronicle of her conversion in Unplanned, hers has not been the only heart to soften. Some pro-life activists have now come to see their pro-abortion enemies in a new light—good intentions, bad choices—and they have stepped up their efforts to be present outside of abortion clinics and to pray for everyone inside.


[Complete information on this book may be obtained at the website of Ignatius Press (ignatius.com) or Tyndale House Publishers (tyndale.com).]

 

Author: Life Legal

The Life Legal Defense Foundation is a non-profit law firm that specializes in the defense of vulnerable human life, especially life in the womb.