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Watching an Abortion left Abby Johnson “stunned, shaken” and “frozen in disbelief”

by | May 6, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

We’ve written a number of stories about Abby Johnson, who formerly directed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, the most recent being just two days ago ( Read here).

Imagine my pleasure when I learned today that Abby would be speaking at the National Right to Life Convention in Jacksonville, Florida (see Part One).

I thought it would be helpful to reprint part of my first response to her extraordinary book, “unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line.” If you have already purchased Abby’s book, I hope this review will inspire you to pick up a copy for yourself, and another for a friend.


“unplanned,” written by Abby Johnson, formerly a director of a Texas Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, is an almost classic road-to-Damascus conversion story.

In this case the blinding light was actually witnessing an abortion which left Johnson “stunned, shaken” and “frozen in disbelief.” Let me talk about just one component that leaps out at even the most casual reader.

Johnson is driven by an immense sense of betrayal and guilt over her role in parroting (however sincerely) the company line.

You read her story of how she was recruited at a campus volunteer fair by a Planned Parenthood smoothie and you understand (because Johnson and her co-writer Cindy Lambert are so gifted) that the PPFA recruiter knew exactly what buttons to push, what ideals to appeal to.

As she reflects back, Johnson writes of a younger, more naïve self, “I imagine I was standing there with my mouth hanging open.”By extension you come to appreciate how seductive the language would be to any unwary potential recruit.

But even a quick look at “unplanned” would not be complete if I didn’t offer an excerpt from the riveting section early in the book about the transformative event in her life: Johnson’s unexpected direct involvement in an ultrasound abortion. When you read it (I was almost mesmerized), you understand why the scales fell from Johnson’’s eyes.

(By way of background, the cannula she describes is a hollow plastic tube that is attached to a suction machine by a flexible hose. “Grace” is Johnson’s daughter.)

She writes,

“The cannula was already being rotated by the doctor, and I now I could see the tiny body violently twisting with it. For the briefest moment it looked as if the baby were being wrung like a dishcloth, twirled and squeezed. And then the little body crumpled and began disappearing into the cannula before my eyes. The last thing I saw was the tiny, perfectly formed backbone sucked into the tube, and then everything was gone. And the uterus was empty. Totally empty. …….

“The image of the tiny body, mangled and sucked away, was replaying in my mind, and with the image of Grace’s first ultrasound——how she’d been about the same size.

“ ……[Thinking back to an argument she’d had with her husband] And now it hit me like a lightening bolt: He was right! What was in this woman’s womb wasn’t just tissue, just cells. That was a human baby——fighting for life! A battle that was lost in the blink of an eye. What I have told people for years, what I’ve believed and taught and defended, is a lie.”

Can you imagine how Johnson felt?

Categories: Pro-Lifers