John Fuller: Abby Johnson worked with the Texas Planned Parenthood Clinic for eight years before she came face to face with the stark reality of what she was doing as she described on the last edition of Focus on the Family.
Abby Johnson: I knew standing there, holding that ultrasound probe and ha - I had one hand on the ultrasound probe and - and the other hand on this woman’s belly. And - and just feeling that there was once life there, and now there wasn’t, and knowing that my hand had been a part of that and - and just feeling this grief for this woman that I had taken part in her lost motherhood, and just thinking, “You know, what am I doing? How - how have I done this for so long?” You know, “How have I not seen the reality of this?”
End of Excerpt
John: Well that eye-opening, heart-wrenching discovery by Abby was likely due to the number of people who were praying for her to see the truth about the abortion business. I’m John Fuller, and your host is Focus President Jim Daly. It’s possible you didn’t hear the first part of this incredible story, and if that’s the case, get the download or a CD from us at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim Daly: John, Abby’s story is one of the most amazing redemption stories that I’ve heard. God reached down into her heart when she was a director of Planned Parenthood at College Station. She’s now the founder of Then There Were None, a ministry that has helped over 430 workers in the abortion business leave that industry.
And I mentioned this last time, there’s a new movie about her story in theaters, starting tonight called,. Be aware that it’s R-rated because of the few graphic and disturbing scenes related to abortion. And it’s an irony to me, and I said this last time, that a 15-year-old girl can get an abortion without her parents’ consent, but she can’t go to this movie. And uh, you know, because you have to be with a parent or guardian. That’s crazy. We thought this would be a good time to share our conversation with Abby Johnson and Shawn Carney once again.
John: Yeah, and Shawn is the founder and CEO of the 40 Days for Life prayer events, which are held around the country. And he’s gonna set the stage for us as he tells what he and some others were doing when Abby’s heart began to change.
Shawn Carney: We were in the middle of a 40 Days for Life campaign, just this...
Shawn: ...in the fall of 2009. And we were on Day, I guess five or six when this happened to Abby and it was a few days later uh, when she physically walked into our offices, which is conveniently located right next door...
John: Real close, yes.
Shawn: ...uh, to the Planned Parenthood clinic. And so, when she came over uh, she was in tears and I’ll never forget, you know, walking into my office and - and I had had a meeting and one of my staff members came in and said, “Abby is here.” And um, I only know one Abby in my whole life...
Shawn: ...and it was the director of Planned Parenthood.
John: And so what goes through your mind and heart at that moment?
Shawn: A - a lot of different things.
John: I mean, fear?
Shawn: Uh, fear, uh, did somebody do something at the clinic, you know? Are we in trouble? What did I do? Um, and then, you know, uh, the staff member said, “She’s crying and - and she wants to leave.” And immediately, I - I began getting worried for Abby, because knowing her, it didn’t surprise me. I had seen some changes in Abby over the last year or so. I’ve seen her conscience bothering her, se - uh, seen her interacting with volunteers on a very casual basis, which is a “no-no” for Planned Parenthood workers typically.
And it didn’t surprise me. It made me worried for her and thinking, “If Abby is coming to us, she really did have a change of heart. She really did have a conversion. She’s going to be passionate about that conversion,” ‘cause she’s a passionate person. I knew that from being on the other side of the fence. And Planned Parenthood is going to come after her in some form or fashion and I need to have it together.
John: So she came into the office and - and what happened?
Shawn: Well, we were all sitting there and - and we talked to her. Uh, she simply just started talking. She was crying. If you look at her as you - as I did when I walked into the room, she was sitting on our counseling couch, and she was sobbing and you knew that this was genuine instantly. And I knew exactly what we were about to hear, which was something had happened. And I think that was the first question that I asked is, “What happened?”
Jim: Abby, before you went over to Shawn’s ministry, you also witnessed some things at the clinic that concerned you. I think the economy had...
Jim: ...kind of plagued the clinic. They were down in their revenue and a directive came out that they wanted to see more abortions done to raise the revenue and that kind of shocked you. Is that fair?
Abby: Mmhmm, yeah. With the down-turning economy, you know, a lot of businesses were hurting uh, financially. And Planned Parenthood was not excluded from that. And uh, they would say, you know, “We really need to increase our abortions. Thank goodness for our abortion numbers,” you know, “Just keep the abortions coming in. That’s what’s saving us.”
Jim: So that added to your doubt about what the true motive was here? It wasn’t maybe necessarily to help women. It was to generate...
Abby: Right and I mean, if Planned Parenthood is ever in the media, you know, what do they always say? “We’re about prevention, prevention,” but that’s not what I was hearing uh, from the higher ups.
Jim: Again, a contradiction.
Jim: They’re - they need the revenue. And Abby, between the time that you saw the ultrasound, your change of heart, your tears that night, your thoughts of your 3-year-old daughter, Grace, it took several weeks for you to come to conclusion that you could leave. Tell us about that moment.
Abby: Yeah. Um, I had decided when I went home that day, I - you know, told my husband, “I don’t want to work here anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore.” Um, he was very supportive. He really was never on the Planned Parenthood bandwagon. Uh, so he was - he was glad that I wanted to leave. And for some reason, I thought that I would be able to get a job in two weeks. I thought that was rational. And um, I thought, you know, “I’ve got two weeks until we’re gonna be doing surgical abortions again.” So that was my timeline to get out and find another job. Uh, things were pretty tense with my supervisor and I. Uh, you know, I would question her about her motives for expanding abortion services.
Jim: For the first time?
Abby: Mmhmm and uh, she didn’t like that. She didn’t want me to question her and uh, so things were not very good. The relationship was not very good between uh, my supervisor and I. And that just kind of confirmed, you know, the doubts that I was already having. Um, and so, um, first week went by. It was pretty uneventful. A weekend came; Monday came. I felt like there was a clock ticking um, because I thought, “Okay, it’s Monday and you know, Saturday’s gonna be here. I still don’t have a job. I don’t have any interviews.” I mean, you know, “I’ve gotta get out of here.” And I just thought, you know, I was prayin’. I just thought, “What am I gonna do?” You know, “Where am I gonna go?”
Jim: And what did you do?
Abby: I looked out the window and I saw two women uh, praying outside of the facility. And it was just like God was shouting at me, you know, “Go to them.” And I thought, “Really? Okay.” So uh...
John: Not what...
Jim: You got up...
John: ...you would have expected.
Jim: But you got up...
Abby: I got up.
Jim: ...and you went...?
Abby: I got up and I went and I got in my car. I could’ve walked there, but that would’ve looked a little suspicious. So I got in my car and I went over to their house and uh, I called them and uh, you know, said, “This is Abby with Planned Parenthood. I’m in your parking lot. Uh, do you have a back entrance?”
Abby: And you know, they put me on hold for a minute, I think to catch their breath. And uh, and they said, “Yeah, come on in.” And so I went in and...
Jim: Shawn, that moment when you walked in, you mentioned a moment ago, Abby’s in crying. Here you’re a man of faith. You’ve built this outreach to clinics doing abortion. What are you thinking of at that time? What were the words that you spoke that gave Abby hope?
Shawn: Well, first the words that came into my head were, “With God, all things are possible. This is happening right now. And so, I need to have faith. This happens.” And I remember asking her, “What happened?” And as she was telling us the story and she was telling all the things that, you know, led to, you know, her coming over to the house, I asked her, “What - what now? What do you want to do?” And I’ll never forget her saying, “I just want out. I want out.”
And it was a true conversion. It - it’s not the way it always happens, especially in these circumstances with a clinic, you know, a pro-life group right next to an - an abortion clinic, that the director walks out and leaves, but it happens. And I think that we have to have the faith that it can happen. This is - this is a basic story right out of the Gospel. And we act so sophisticated when it comes to abortion, that, “You have your opinion; I have mine. We don’t need to talk about it. We’re not gonna change each other’s minds.” And that’s all nonsense. Uh, this happens and it happens because of a witness to truth and truth always converts hearts.
Jim: Shawn, that is really well-said. And Abby, you’re talking right now through this Focus on the Family radio program to a woman who might not know the Lord, or she may know the Lord and she’s where you used to be, where you could justify an abortion, even in your faith. Speak to that woman who’s conflicted about that. What would you say to her if she were sitting right here in front of us right now?
Abby: I would say that I’ve learned, you know, through all of this and - and through prayer and through Christ, that when something is right, it doesn’t need to be justified, that when something is true, it doesn’t have to be rationalized. Um, and that’s something that’s very hard for us to come to terms with, because I - I think in our society, we want to justify what we want to be true.
Um, but it’s just - it’s - that’s so simple and it - it may sound simple-minded, but it’s - that has - has really come into focus for me. And I - I try to think of a lot of different examples, you know, people are in adulterous relationships and people, you know, cheat on their taxes and, you know, things like that and they say, “Well, I’m doing it because this, this and this.” If something is wrong, we have to justify it. Abortion is wrong and so we always have to find a justification for it.”
Jim: The care of the woman.
Abby: That’s right and you can’t go into an abortion facility and hear an abortionist, hear a - a clinic worker talk about the baby and the needs of the baby, because they can’t. And they have basically said that if a woman finds herself in a crisis pregnancy, then the strong thing to do is to terminate that pregnancy, which is ridiculous to me. Um...
Jim: Except it earns us revenue.
Abby: Yeah, well, right. Um, you know, I mean, I’m a woman. I was made to be maternal. I was made to be a mother and for me to say that I couldn’t - I’m not strong enough to carry a pregnancy that was unplanned is offensive to me as a woman. Um, but that’s what Planned Parenthood would have you believe, that the strong decision is to have an abortion if you find yourself in the situation of a crisis pregnancy.
John: This is Focus on the Family, and we’re listening to Abby Johnson. And you can get her book,, when you stop by our website. We’ll also have details there about See Life Clearly, our national campaign to protect preborn babies. The special site is focusonthefamily.com/prolife. Focusonthefamily.com/prolife.
Let’s go ahead and continue with the program.
Jim: Let me ask you about Roe v. Wade, obviously the landmark decision that brought abortion to the forefront for this nation. Some have suggested that it will be very difficult to overturn that. One of the things that I’ve thought about is, make it irrelevant. We want women to choose life.
Jim: And want it to become repugnant for a woman, as you just said, to do anything else - to choose death for their baby. We need to create a culture of life in this country that no matter your political persuasion that we see that murdering a baby is not acceptable in a culture like America. Would you agree with that?
Abby: Absolutely. You know, Roe v. Wade, to me, is irrelevant, because Roe v. Wade, if it gets overturned, that doesn’t mean abortion is illegal. That means it goes back to the states. So maybe in Texas it would be illegal, but in states like California and states like New York, it’s still gonna be legal. And so it’s not creating that culture of life. You know, it’s - I was talking to this guy and he was talking about uh, this - this is a pro-life guy. And he was talking about how he thought it was acceptable to harass doctors in a community to the point where they would want to leave the community and open their abortion practice somewhere else. And I said, “Well, what’s the point? It’s not changing hearts and minds. It’s not giving him that compassion so that he sees what he’s doing is wrong.”
Jim: It’s just transferring the problem.
Abby: It’s just transferring the problem. Overturning Roe v. Wade is not fixing the problem at all.
Jim: Just moving...
Abby: It’s not changing...
Jim: ...a woman from one state to another.
Abby: That’s right. It’s not changing hearts and minds. It’s not changing our culture of death into a culture of life.
Jim: It’s important to have that motivation. But I do think - I do think creating a culture of life is far more important as the Christian community. Shawn, do you - do you see it that way? You’re working in it.
Shawn: Absolutely, and as Christians, oftentimes, we don’t have the luxury of waiting on a President to eventually appoint judges that will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade. We have to be, first and foremost, concerned about the woman who’s considering an abortion today and who is scheduled to have that abortion tomorrow and what can we do uh, to give her a practical solutions, but also be a witness at the most crucial moment in the life of her baby and the most crucial decision she’ll ever make in her life. And that’s why we go physically to pray in front of the most controversial place in their community. And God blesses that decision.
Jim: Abby, can I do something here?
Jim: I asked for this earlier. I just want to read you a list of people who prayed specifically for you when you were directing the Planned Parenthood clinic: Linda Henry, Dave and Mary Phillips, Doug and Bee Williams, Dick and Mulda Burns, Terry and Joanne Browning, Denise Doss, Wanda Wagner, Carl and Judy Hudson, James and Sandy Rackley, Pastor Doug Evans and his wife, Becky, Mary Brainen, Maxine Galloway, Barry and Becky Phillips, Pastor Hurtless and his wife, Francis, Deanne White, uh, Doug and Angie Galloway, Steve and Carol. I mean, the list goes on and on, people praying for you. How does that make you feel?
Abby: Well, if you would have asked me when I worked at Planned Parenthood, I would have said, “Well, why are they praying for me, because I’m doing a good thing.” Um, it’s very humbling um, to know that these people had me in constant prayer. I mean, I know, I know everybody that you just spoke of um, on the list and - and I know that they did have me in daily prayer. I know that they were praying for my conversion away from abortion. And it’s prayers from people like them, it’s prayers from, you know, people with the Coalition um, you know, people all across the nation that are praying for clinic workers, praying for an end to abortion, that - that ultimately, creates these conversions. Um, I think that, you know, it’s important to remember to pray for clinic workers. Uh, you know, I think a lot of times when we go out to the abortion facilities, we really only focus on the women and their babies. Um, you know, we want to, you know, portray these clinic workers as evil people and um, people that we want to hate, people that we want to make the enemy. Uh, you know, a lot of - most of the people that work in this abortion industry are good people and they’re - they’re there. They’re misguided.
Jim: They are blinded. Tell me about the conversation with the two co-workers though. They came to you and said...
Abby: Yeah, I came to them after I had talked with the Coalition and - that day on October 5th - and had told them about my conversation and really just wanted to talk to them about it. Didn’t expect them to also say, “Hey, I - I want out, too.” I just wanted to let them know uh, you know, they were friends of mine. I just wanted to kind of keep them in the loop and let them know that I was gonna be leaving.
Um, and then, I was very surprised to hear both of them say, you know, “Do you think they could help me, as well? I would like to get out.” And so I was very excited and uh, you know, the Coalition was trying to help them find another job, as well.
Jim: Spiritually speaking, it’s interesting that you use that language, “getting out.” I mean, it’s as if they’re trapped by what they see and what they’re doing, the philosophy of what they’re doing, but God is setting you and hopefully, those others “free” from that “trap” of abortion.
Abby: They are trapped. Um, you know, I don’t think that - people don’t really - maybe they don’t want to - but they don’t really see clinic workers as victims, but they are victims. Uh, they are victims to the abortion industry. When people would mention wanting to leave the abortion industry, uh, wanting to get another job, maybe a better-paying job, you know, just wanting to get out and - and I remember hearing and - and then saying myself, “Well, you know, you’re gonna have a hard time finding another job, uh, because you’ve worked in abortion.”
Jim: That it’s a stigma and not a...
Jim: ...a resume builder.
Abby: Right, right.
Abby: ...and so, that - that traps them there.
Abby: And they believe it.
Jim: Shawn, I’m thinking of the New Testament. I’m thinking of the - of the disciples walking along. What you’re saying, Abby, sounds so much like Paul. He’s appealing at Mars Hill to a culture that doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t know these things, and he’s trying to reason with them to say, “It’s in your heart.”
Jim: “Know what’s in your heart.” And Abby, you have done a beautiful job of expressing that feeling of the heart, God tugging at your heart, you knowing it’s wrong. Shawn, fill in that blank as someone walking today, like an Apostle Paul. I know that may make you feel uncomfortable, but you’re doing that. You’re standing in this gap, where people are literally not sane. They’re killing our country’s children and you’re trying to shake them into sanity. Help me understand that.
Shawn: Our culture is dying and abortion is the foundation of that process and we have to go to where the abortions actually happen. We just can’t say this is awful and it’s evil or we need to vote against it or we need to do this. We have to look at the spiritual consequences of it and know that the solution is spiritual and that the grace will be sufficient, as Paul says. And - and go to where the pain is. And I think that if we go alone, we’ll fall on our face. Uh, but if we go - if we take Christ out there, if we get out of His way, He will work miracles. And that was out attitude, is to - almost a missionary attitude. It’s the nature of the church to be missionaries. And when we go, He - He works miracles with the babies that are saved, with the clinic workers that - that leave, with the people that go out themselves and pray. This isn’t an easy thing to do. And there are many other things you could be doing. Uh, but when we make a decision to face our culture where it is dying, we will win that battle because of Calvary.
Jim: And Shawn, you don’t do it with anger.
Shawn: Right. We do it with joy, because joy softens the heart and when we’re praying, we are strengthened by that prayer. And when we go out there - and Abby saw it - we’re not crazy people. We’re not radical people. We’re not religious zealots. We’re just trying to be faithful. And when we go out there, we have the joy of Christ. We have the peace of Christ. Then His love and mercy can penetrate the walls of an abortion facility.
Jim: Abby, in Romans, the book of Romans 2:4, there’s a verse I’d like you to react to. In there, it says, “Do you have contempt for the kindness of God, not knowing that His kindness and His long-suffering leads one to repentance?” Do you feel that?
Jim: Do you agree with that? Did kindness work where anger and costumes on the sidewalk of the clinic and angry signs and angry attitude from the Christian community did not penetrate your heart? But kindness, as expressed from Shawn and the group that would come and pray in those vigils for 40 days in the rain, in the sunshine, maybe even in the snow, that penetrated your heart?
Abby: I - you know, I - I - one thing that I always say is that I’m here now on this side because they were there. I’m here because compassion was there. Um, I’m not here because they were yelling at me. I’m not here because they were condemning me. Um, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable to go to them if that would’ve been the case.
Jim: They built a bridge for you to come to their conclusion, which is God is real; God protects life.
Abby: Right. And if there is anger in your heart, then you don’t belong on the sidewalk outside of an abortion facility, um, because there is enough anger on the inside to go around.
Jim: Wow, that is well said.
Abby: It does - there does not need to be anger on that sidewalk. There only needs to be love and compassion and empathy for the workers and the women that are going in there and - and the men.
Jim: And the knowledge of the truth.
Jim: That’s important. Abby Johnson and Shawn Carney, what an uplifting story. Out of disaster and utter devastation, rises something beautiful. And I want to just say thank you. I want to encourage listeners to call Focus on the Family. If you need help, if you want to talk to a friend, a counselor here at Focus, just call us. That’s what we’re here for. And I want to say to both of you, thank you for your courage from both perspectives today. Abby, while you were there as a director of Planned Parenthood. Shawn, as you were there praying in the 40 Day vigil and had this surprise land right in your lobby. And what a beautiful story of God’s redemption. Thank you for sharing it.
Abby: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Shawn: Thank you, Jim.
John: Well after hearing this conversation on Focus on the Family, I imagine - I hope - that you’ve been inspired to take action, to do something, to help save preborn babies and to help their moms - the women - who need to be encouraged to keep their child. Please, give to our See Life Clearly campaign, because with your gift of $60 or more, a baby’s life will saved.
Jim: It’s amazing, John, but true. Think of it. Just $60 to save a baby through placement of ultrasound machines in pregnancy clinics. Um, when you give today, your donation’s going to be matched as well. So this is in thanks to some generous friends who will match that gift. You can pledge $60, or a different amount, every month, which is terrific. Or you can make a one-time gift. And we’ll thank you by sending a copy of Abby’s great book,, which again, tells more of her story.
Then, finally, join us for a special event in Times Square. We’re calling it Alive from New York. This event will feature many guest speakers, inspirational music, and much more. The keynote is going to be live, 4D ultrasounds, right there on the big screen, of third trimester babies. Uh, that’s in Times Square on Saturday, May 4th.
John: Yeah, we do hope you can join us. We’ve got details about registering to attend the event online at our special site, focusonthefamily.com/prolife. Or you can call us if you have questions. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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