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Abby Johnson Issues Pro-Life Challenge

Johnson is the author of unPLANNED, which tells her story from Planned Parenthood director to Pro-life advocate.

Posted:  2011-04-26  

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STEUBENVILLE, OH—"If you are not working actively to end abortion, you are complicit in the act of abortion," said former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson at Franciscan University of Steubenville's "Night for Life."

"I'm not talking about praying at home, or going to the adoration chapel. Do you think I'd be here on this stage without people witnessing and praying in front of my abortion clinic in public?"

Johnson drew national attention in 2009 when she left Planned Parenthood and became a pro-life advocate, only to face attempts to silence her through litigation.  Her story became the best-selling book, unPLANNED, and led Johnson into a new life as a pro-life advocate, speaking to audiences around the world to rally support for the cause of life.  Johnson came into the Catholic Church this Easter. 

She headlined the "Night for Life," bringing the crowd to a hushed silence when she recalled the ultrasound-guided abortion that rocked the foundations of her world.

"They don't do ultrasound-guided abortions inside Planned Parenthood.  They say it's because it takes an extra five minutes," Johnson told the crowd.  "I think they don't do it because it exposes the truth.  I told people as an abortion counselor that the fetus doesn't feel anything until 28 weeks.  I had to believe that lie.  I couldn't allow myself to know the truth."

Johnson got involved in pro-choice activism in college after having two abortions herself, followed by an eight-year stint working for Planned Parenthood.  In 2009, working as director of an abortion clinic in Bryan, Texas, she was called in by a visiting abortionist to operate the ultrasound during an abortion.  What she saw changed her mind, her career, and her life.

Abby Johnson Speaks

"I knew what I saw on that ultrasound was true.  I knew that the movements of that child told me it knew its life was in danger," Johnson said.  "We use the word 'choice' instead of using the word 'murder.'  We use the word 'choice' instead of the word 'killing.'  It doesn't make sense, but that's what we do in our society.  I saw that ultrasound, and watched that child struggle and fight to save his life.  I watched the child be dismembered inside his mother's womb.  I saw those limbs tumble and turn and get sucked down that tube.  But he had no chance.  He had no choice."

Johnson quit her job and "crossed the fence" to join the pro-lifers praying and witnessing outside the very clinic she'd managed.

"I think the most important thing you'll do for the pro-life movement is be a witness outside an abortion clinic," said Johnson.  "It's scary, but you do it anyway.  My four-year-old daughter goes with me and prays outside the abortion clinic where I used to work.  If she can do it with me, everyone here can do it."

And, Johnson explained, it's God who gets her through her life after her pro-life conversion.  "If he can forgive a sinner like me, he can forgive anybody.  Because of how much I've been forgiven, I know how much I need him.  I have to cling to him and cling to his forgiveness and cling to his mercy or I'd just fall apart."

She challenged the enthusiastic crowd of students and area residents to pour themselves out in the fight for life.

"For eight years of my life, I was ashamed to tell people where I worked.  Now when people ask me what I do, I am proud to tell them I stand up for life," Johnson said.  "We have got to be proud to be pro-life."

Emceed by Brother John Paoletti, MIC, president of the Franciscan University Students for Life (SfL) club, the evening included musical performances by students and members of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, as well as a video about the efforts of SfL, showing the sort of abuse and intimidation pro-life witnesses can expect outside Pittsburgh's abortion clinics.

"When you come back from working [for the cause of life] and you've got spit in your face and curse words ringing in your ears, you know you're working for Jesus Christ," said Brother Paoletti.

For more on Johnson's story, see

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