Focus on the Family Broadcast

Overcoming Abortion and Becoming a Force for Life

Overcoming Abortion and Becoming a Force for Life

Abby Johnson shares how a series of small compromises, over several years, almost derailed her life. As a teenager, Abby sought the attention of men, which resulted in her first pregnancy and abortion. Believing that Planned Parenthood helped poor women get real health care, she became a model employee of her local center, until she witnessed an ultrasound-guided abortion. She was devastated. Abby encourages her audience to be counter-cultural and boldly fight for the lives of pre-born children.
Original Air Date: June 11, 2024


Dr. Abby Johnson: And once I was in, that was it. Once I was in, the enemies started having control of my mind and my heart. I started justifying things that I knew were wrong.

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John Fuller: That’s Dr. Abby Johnson reflecting on her time working at an abortion facility. We’ll hear more from her today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Today, Abby will share with us a deeply personal look at how a series of seemingly small compromises, uh, led her to her first abortion when she was in college, and how she was lured into working for Planned Parenthood. If you have children or grandchildren in their teen years, you’ll definitely want to keep listening. Abby Johnson has a PhD in counseling and she’s a very well-respected author and speaker in the pro-life community. She is the founder of two organizations, Pro-Love Ministries, which helps connect pro-life organizations with the resources they need, and one that helps abortion staffers transition out of the abortion industry called And Then There Were None, which has helped over 600 workers-

John: Hm.

Jim: … leave the abortion industry. Abby is married to Doug. They have eight children, and they live in Texas.

John: Here’s Abby Johnson speaking at Liberty University just a few months after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court Dobbs decision in 2022. And if you have smaller children nearby, uh, you might want to use your earbuds or listen later via our podcast or download the Focus app for your smartphone.

Abby: I grew up knowing the Lord and loving Him and serving Him and, and doing all of those things. Right? I remember my parents saying something about abortion when I was growing up. I remember them saying something about being pro-life. But it was a different time. It… The late 70s, early 80s, nobody was standing up and shouting their abortion, right? Women were not standing up at a podium and proud of the fact that they had killed their children.

No women were wearing T-shirts saying things like, “I’ve had an abortion.” It was a time where anything involving sexuality was still considered taboo. And people, they still had a filter back then, so not everything that came into the head came out of the mouth. So, it was really a different time, and I think my parents just believed, you know, we have taught Abby the biblical pathway to marriage, which is abstinence until marriage, and certainly she’s gonna follow that and she’s gonna do everything that we have taught her to do.

And so, abortion’s never gonna be on the table, so we don’t need to talk about something so unpleasant with our little girl. And so, we didn’t talk about it. And I went to college at Texas A&M University, and I, uh, got involved with a guy who was eight years older than me. And that relationship escalated very quickly. It escalated physically very quickly. And I remember taking my first pregnancy test ever, and then I took like six more of them.

And they were all positive. And I went to, uh, my boyfriend’s apartment and I said, uh, “I’m pregnant.” And he said, “Oh, don’t worry.” He said, “I know exactly what to do. I know where to take you. I’ve taken other girls there before.” And I would like to tell you that I said, “Wow, you’re a big jerk, and this is a big red flag and I’m leaving.” But I didn’t.

I was like, “Okay. Where do we go?” And we made an appointment at an abortion clinic, and we drove to Houston, and he dropped me off at the curb. I went in alone. And I don’t remember a whole lot about that day. I do remember going into a group counseling session… counseling. I’m using that pretty loosely. But I, I remember we watched a video, and there was a, a woman there, one of the staff members, and she was sort of laughing at us, I guess ’cause we looked nervous.

And she said, “Oh girls, don’t be nervous.” She said, “I’ve done this nine times. You’re gonna be fine.” And you know, that did make me feel better because I thought, oh, I’m only doing this once. And if she’s done it nine times and she’s okay, then I’m gonna be okay doing it one time. I remember next being in the, in the actual procedure room, lying on the table. I remember it being excruciatingly painful. And then I remember waking up in the recovery room and a staff member came over. She stood me up. She got me dressed right in front of everyone.

They gave me two Saltine crackers and a little plastic cup of tap water, and they sent me out the door. I remember asking if I could wait in the lobby for my boyfriend to come pick me up, and they said no, I had to wait outside on the curb. And so I did. He eventually picked me up and we drove home in silence. And I remember thinking, gosh, I’m so glad that’s over. I was relieved. I d- I didn’t have this regret. I didn’t have all of this angst inside of me. I just remember thinking this is the biggest crisis I’ve ever faced in my life, and now it’s over, and I don’t have to tell my parents, and nobody’s ever gonna know.

And you know, I didn’t really want to have an abortion, but my dad’s a deacon in the church, and my mom plays the piano every Sunday morning, and they would be really, really embarrassed to know that their daughter who was unmarried was pregnant. And I don’t want to cause any embarrassment, and I don’t want to be embarrassed, and I’m really ashamed of what I’ve done. And I mean, my gosh, I’m a good Christian kid, and I, I was on birth control. And so, good Christian kids on birth control aren’t supposed to get pregnant. That’s supposed to hide our sin, right?

And I got caught. And so, this is just gonna fix it. And now nobody has to be embarrassed, and nobody’s gonna know, and I’ll just hide it. And then a year later, I was walking around on campus and I met a woman who was with Planned Parenthood, and she started talking to me. I didn’t have my first abortion at a Planned Parenthood. And she started talking to me about all of the amazing things that Planned Parenthood does for women, and how they’re just this benefactor to the masses, and how low-income women would have nowhere else to go for healthcare if it wasn’t for Planned Parenthood.

And I thought, well gosh, that sounds good. I mean, who doesn’t want to help women? Who doesn’t want to liberate women? Who doesn’t want to empower women? I mean, I do. And then she started talking about abortion, and how if we didn’t have safe and legal abortion, women are gonna be forced to go to these dirty, filthy clinics and they’re gonna die. And I thought about the fact that I had just had an abortion the year before.

And if I don’t help women have access to the same service that I just had access to a year before, then what am I? I’m just a big hypocrite. (laughs) And so, I signed up. And I, I went to work there that first day. And once I was in, that was it. Once I was in, the enemies started having control of my mind and my heart. I started justifying things that I knew were wrong. I started believing things that I knew were wrong. In fact, I didn’t even tell my parents that I was working at Planned Parenthood for an entire year and a half.

I hid it from them because I knew they wouldn’t approve. And then, a year after working there, I had another unplanned pregnancy, but this time, it was easy to choose abortion because I was working and dealing with abortion every single day. So I had another abortion. Wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t think of it as a baby. I didn’t, I didn’t care.

And then all of a sudden, eight years had gone by, and now I’m running the clinic where I once started as just a volunteer. Eight years had gone by. Eight years. I had aborted two of my children. I had taught. I had gone in to public schools a- public and private schools. I had, I had taught graphic sex education to children starting in kindergarten, teaching young children about things they should never know in kindergarten, trying to normalize sexual behavior in elementary school. That had been part of my job at Planned Parenthood.

Eight years had gone by, and, and I had helped to facilitate over 22,000 abortions. And I, I really didn’t even know how it had gotten to that point. It just happened in the blink of an eye. But then it all changed one day when I was asked to go in and assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion. Ultrasounds are not usually used during an abortion. Abortions are typically done in a blind manner.

But I was asked to come in and assist. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nurse. I was an administrator. But in the abortion industry, they don’t care. You just have to be a warm body and you have to be willing, and I was willing to come in and assist, and I stood there holding that ultrasound probe in place. We did the measurement. The baby was 13 weeks along. At 13 weeks, everything is perfectly formed on a baby, arms, legs, fingers, toes. Heart has been beating since 21 days post-conception.

Brain waves are functioning. Every single internal organ that we sit here with today in our bodies is fully formed on a 13-week-old baby in the womb. That baby just needs more time to grow.

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and that’s Dr. Abby Johnson. And, uh, she shares more fascinating details of her story in her book Unplanned, and we can send that out to you for a gift of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family today. Uh, when you donate, we’ll also include a free audio download of this entire presentation with extra content. Donate and request those resources at, or call for details, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459.

Let’s go ahead and return now to more from Abby Johnson. And as we said earlier, parents, if you have small children nearby, you’ll want to reach for your earbuds or listen later on the Focus on the Family app.

Abby: And I stood there looking at that ultrasound screen, not really knowing what I was about to see because I recognized that what I was looking at on that ultrasound screen really did look like a baby. Now, I knew it wasn’t, because I have been taught abortion science. And abortion science teaches us that a pregnancy only becomes a baby if that mother decides that the pregnancy is wanted.

And if a mother decides that that pregnancy is not wanted, then that pregnancy is magically not a baby. And this woman was here for an abortion. So even though it looked like a baby and it, it was formed just like a baby, it couldn’t be a baby because it was not wanted. Even though it was a human being, even though it was alive, even though I could see its heart beating, even though scientifically it had every single characteristic of an unborn child, I knew it could not be because of abortion science.

And I stood there looking at that ultrasound screen, looking at that monitor, and I watched as the suction tube began going into the uterus of that woman. The suction wasn’t yet turned on. And as soon as that suction tube touched the side of that baby, that baby jumped. It was as if he woke up. 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 for him to go.

When the doctor had everything in the right position, he asked the technician to turn on the suction machine, and I watched this tiny, perfectly formed human being be torn into pieces by the power of that suction machine. I knew in that moment that what I saw in just those few seconds was not choice. It was not reproductive justice. It was not justice of any kind. It was certainly not healthcare. I knew that what I had witnessed in those moments was murder, murder of an innocent human being in the womb.

And I knew I could never participate in that again. I want to be clear with you today, because you are young and you are vulnerable to our society. Our society today is trying to use you. They are trying to use your compassion. They are trying to guide you in the wrong direction. They are trying to say things to you like, “Well, abortion is the compassionate choice for women.” They are trying to use these exceptional cases. They’re trying to say, “Well, what about this case,” or, “What about that case,” or, “What about this,” or, “What about that?”

I’m gonna be really honest with you right now. The what abouts don’t matter, because at the end of the what about is an innocent human being in the womb that deserves to live each and every time. And our society will abuse you as young people. They will misguide you as young people each and every time. That’s exactly what happened to me. I was a compassionate person. I was a person who was seeking justice, but they perverted that sense of justice that was inside of me, and they used it against the innocent human being that I should have been trying to protect.

I know this is a Christian school. I, I know I’m not… But I’m not naïve enough to believe that there aren’t people here who have had abortions, that have participated in abortion, that have paid for an abortion, that have driven your friend to have abortions. And a lot of times, we focus on this particular sin of abortion. Let me tell you something. There are many sins that lead up to the sin of abortion.

I didn’t go to bed one night this good Christian kid and wake up working in an abortion clinic. That’s not the way it happened. I didn’t come home from youth group on a Wednesday night and start working in the abortion clinic on Thursday, ’cause that’s not the way that sin works. Sin comes into your life one compromise, one justification, one lie at a time. It creeps in slowly, a little bit at a time.

You know how it started for me? It did… It didn’t even start by me having sex with my boyfriend. That wasn’t even how it started. You know how it started for me? Immodesty. And I’m not just talking about immodesty in the stuff I wore. I mean, yeah, there was that too. But it was immodesty in language, immodesty in behavior, and immodesty in dress. That led to a desire for attention, because I started getting attention from men, and men that lacked virtue started giving me attention that I wanted.

Men who, who didn’t want to uphold my virtue started giving me attention that I wanted, so then I started craving that more and more. And then, that did lead to sexual immorality, and then I wanted that more and more because then that gave me more attention, and then that led to my first unplanned pregnancy, and then that unplanned pregnancy led me to walking into the door of an abortion clinic, which led to me working there, which led to my second unplanned pregnancy, which led to my second abortion, which led to eight years of me working in the abortion industry, which led to me facilitating over 22,000 abortions.

It happened just a little bit at a time. You may be looking at me saying, “That could never happen to me. I could never have an abortion. I would never have an abortion. I would never work in an abortion clinic.” Let me tell you something, guys. You are all just one sin away from walking down the path that I walked down, and it is not the path that you want. You don’t want this story, guys. You know what you want your story to be?

You want your story to be this. I don’t, I don’t know anything about committing all those sins because my life has always been following the path of Jesus Christ. That’s what you want your life to be. But if you’ve already gone down those paths, let me tell you something. It’s never too late to make a U-turn in your life. I wish I had made a U-turn in my life. I wish I had made a U-turn before I had that first positive pregnancy test.

I wish I would have had somebody speaking into my life, ministering into my life, telling me, “Abby, you can turn this around.” You don’t have to be getting the attention that you’re craving from men. You don’t have to be doing that. I wish somebody would have told me, “Abby, it’s okay to be counter-cultural. You don’t have to be liked by everybody.”

When I left Planned Parenthood, they sued me. They took me to court. They had all these high-powered attorneys from Houston and New York and all this kind of crazy stuff. I walked in with my little small town attorney who was doing this for free, because I didn’t have any money, and I could have walked into that courtroom full of fear, but you know what? I walked in with my head held high because I knew that on that other side of the courtroom, they were working for the enemy.

And I knew that on our side, me and my little small town attorney, we were working for the Lord. And I had nothing to fear. And we stared down the enemy of Planned Parenthood and we won. And when you are on the side of life, when you are on the side of Jesus Christ, you will always win. Yes, we have seen victory. Yes, we have seen Roe overturned. Yes, we have seen all of these good things happen, but guys, this is not the end. This is the beginning.

Now is the time for us to stand up now more than ever. Now is the time for you… We, we… Sometimes we, we go, “Oh, w- we’re waiting for the cavalry to come and rescue us.” You are the cavalry. It is you. We’re waiting for you. Women my age are not out there having abortions. It’s women your age. It’s your peers. It’s people that you know. We need you out there in front of those abortion clinics. We need you out here volunteering at these pregnancy resource centers.

We need you on social media talking about life. We need you out here. I can’t end abortion on my own. I will not end abortion on my own. It’s gonna take all of you to help us do it. God says that we are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Don’t be scared. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about who likes you. Who cares? Who cares? At the end of your life, you are not going to be… Look around. At the end of your life, you’re not gonna be face to face with any of these people.

At the end of your life, you are going to be face to face with the one true God, and He is not going to ask you how many friends you had on Instagram, but I believe He will ask you what you did for the least of these. (laughs) And by God, you better have an answer. Do something. Do it now. Be unafraid. Thank you all so much and God bless you.

John: And with that very clear and strong call to action, we come to the end of a presentation from Dr. Abby Johnson given at Liberty University in the fall of 2022.

Jim: Wow, John. Uh, what a powerful presentation from Abby, and her goals for those college students line up directly with how we are hoping to inspire our audience at SeeLife ’24 coming up this Saturday, our speakers including Benjamin Watson and his wife Kirsten. Uh, they will challenge you to get involved in the pro-life movement at the local level. Uh, that’s where we can be very effective in saving pre-born children and supporting these, uh, young mothers who are overwhelmed by their circumstances.

And you can still participate in SeeLife ’24. Just visit our webpage to learn more. Another way for you to have an impact is to donate to our Option Ultrasound program here at Focus on the Family. Uh, for over 20 years, we have helped save over 500,000 babies from abortion by introducing those mothers to, uh, the baby in their womb through the visual impact of an ultrasound. Uh, we have found that over 50% of abortion-minded women will choose life once they see their child on that screen. A donation of $60 can help save one baby. And right now, special friends of the ministry who believe in life are offering to match your donation dollar for dollar so that your gift will have twice the impact.

And when you make a donation of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of Abby Johnson’s autobiography called Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Lifeline. It has a lot more detail of her story than what we were able to share today.

Uh, let me also add that if Abby’s story brought up some issues for you, please give us a call. Our caring staff would be honored to hear your story and pray for you. And if needed, we can have one of our, uh, caring Christian counselors give you a call back. That’s a free service that we have provided for over 40 years with the help of our donors. So please let us know if we can help.

John: Yeah. Reach out to us. Uh, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. And if you’d like to learn more about SeeLife ’24 or get a copy of Abby’s book Unplanned, uh, you can call us or stop by And I’ll mention that Abby’s book was recently updated to cover the latest in Abby’s journey and in the news and in ever-changing legislation. Next time, Gary Thomas explains how wives can influence their husbands in positive ways.


Gary Thomas: You don’t want to get to the point where “Our marriage will be better when you get your act together.” It’s always got to be the both and- “I’ll improve my marriage when I improve me.”

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