Abby Johnson: Human Faces Behind Abortion


There are human faces and emotions behind abortion — and not just the women who have them or the babies whose lives are extinguished. There are real people who often struggle silently behind every abortion.

These are people who check in the women at the clinic, who do the ultrasounds to see the baby on the screen, who draw blood and take vitals before the abortion is done, who piece together parts of the baby in a lab after the abortion.

I was one of these women for eight years at Planned Parenthood.

What have these lives been like since last June, when the Dobbs decision came down from the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade was overturned?

An infinite pit of turmoil does not even begin to describe it.

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When I worked at Planned Parenthood, we had contingent plans in case Roe was ever overturned, but no one really took them seriously. We didn’t think it would happen.

I walked out of my job as clinic director in October 2009, a long time before the abortion industry had to face the reality of severe restrictions on their money-making procedure.

So when Roe fell, it did send many clinics into a tailspin, and they had to react fast.

Several states had trigger laws that automatically outlawed abortion if Roe was ever overturned, and other states had varying degrees of banning abortion, which meant that clinic staff were immediately put under pressure to conform quickly and find ways to follow current law while still turning a profit.

While most abortion clinic workers go into the job with a sense of hope that they will be helping women, many are shocked when they come to find out that’s not how it is.

I run the only ministry in the country that helps abortion workers to leave their jobs and not only find hope and healing but also find other women who have been through similar situations.

Finding others who have had to see and do things that no one else will ever understand is valuable and empowering.

Since last May, when the Dobbs decision was leaked, we have helped more than two dozen people who worked in abortion clinics quit their jobs, and another 15 are on the verge of walking out.

The stories we have heard in this particular time period are sobering.

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One worker from California joined us in April. She only worked in the clinic, which would do abortions up to 18 weeks, a short time until she realized that her perception of abortion was warped. She knew there would be abortions done there, but she assumed maybe two or three scattered throughout a day — not two whole days dedicated to 30 abortions a day. She told us that she realized the “3 percent was a lie.” This is referring to Planned Parenthood’s commonly stated figure that only 3 percent of its work is abortions.

One of our workers quit her job in a Washington state clinic in March. This particular clinic is licensed to do abortions up to 13.6 weeks, and surgical abortions would be done two days a week. But when Texas banned abortion after six weeks, she said they added a third day to handle the influx of women, which meant they were commonly doing up to about 16 abortions per day. Again, her perception of abortion drastically changed.

And another woman was a licensed RN at a hospital in Illinois that was close to the Missouri border. As a labor and delivery nurse, she was shocked to learn in February that her hospital would be bringing an abortion doctor from Missouri to do elective abortions on its L&D floor because he could no longer do abortions in Missouri. She left before the abortions started as she could not fathom being in an environment that both delivered babies and terminated their lives.

When we think of abortion, it’s often how the woman, her baby and her family are affected. But the adverse effects of abortion go so far beyond those individuals.

We have polled our abortion workers who have left the industry, more than 650 of them, and many struggle with depression, broken marriages, substance abuse and thoughts of self-harm.

I’m hoping and praying for the day when abortion will be unthinkable and no one will have to see women break down in the clinic recovery rooms or put together pieces of a broken baby.

The horror behind those closed doors of abortion clinics is real, and people who work in clinics deserve compassion and a way out of those doors forever.

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Abby Johnson is the CEO and founder of And Then There Were None.
Abby Johnson worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years, working her way up through the ranks to become the clinic director in Bryan, Texas. She was Planned Parenthood's employee of the year in 2008 but she walked away from her job after witnessing the abortion of a 13-week-old fetus during an ultrasound-guided abortion. She left Planned Parenthood and instantly became a national news headline for her defection, which led to a pro-life speaking career. In 2012, she founded And Then There Were None, the only ministry in the nation that helps abortion workers leave their jobs and find new ones out of the industry. To date, she has helped over 550 abortion workers quit. She also founded ProLove Ministries and LoveLine in the fall of 2019. Her bestselling book, "Unplanned," was made into a feature film that debuted in theaters nationwide March 2019 under the same name, and she is the host of the podcast "Politely Rude." She and her husband, Doug, have eight children.