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A Review of Unplanned. By Abby Johnson.

Feb 4, 2011

SaltRiver, 2010. (Available in Australia at Koorong Books)

In this illuminating and moving volume we get an inside look at the world of Planned Parenthood, and how one woman eventually had to walk away from a lucrative career with it. We also get a personal look at the confused messages women are getting on the abortion issue.

It is primarily a conversion story: a conversion from death to life; from lies to truth; from darkness to light; from bondage to freedom; from doubt to faith. It tells the story of how God was at work in the life of one abortion worker, drawing her to himself, and to life.

Image of Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line (Focus on the Family Books)
Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line (Focus on the Family Books) by Abby Johnson Amazon logo

We discover a woman from a conservative, church-going home who thought the work she was doing was somehow honouring to God. We encounter a woman who grew more and more opposed to the very thing her career was involved in – taking the life of innocent human beings.

In this book she recounts how mentally and morally confused she was, and how she tried to live with these various inconsistencies. But she discovered that she was living a lie. Her contradictory beliefs and her stifled emotions were keeping her from finding truth.

She really did think she was helping women, and in fact opposed late-term abortions. But she fell for the lies that abortions simply “solved a problem” – removing an unwanted pregnancy. Given that she had two abortions herself, she needed justification for all this.

So she naively fell for the propaganda and linguistic gymnastics promoted by Planned Parenthood. While in college she started to do volunteer work for them, and soon worked as a paid employee. She was so committed to her job that before long she was a director of a clinic in Texas.

Incredibly, she married a pro-life Christian, and even attended church during this time. But she had co-workers who claimed to be Christians, and she eventually joined a denomination that officially supported the pro-choice ideology. But numerous episodes along the way slowly penetrated the lies she had believed, and the mask she was wearing.

One was the love and attention she received from her “enemies”: pro-lifers who daily prayed outside her clinic. Many befriended her, loved her, and prayed for her. One pro-life woman was especially influential, and a hand-written card saying she was praying for her made a lasting impression on her.

The Coalition for Life 40 Days for Life campaign actually first took place outside her clinic. It was one of the hottest summers on record, but every hour for 40 days at least two people were praying around the clock outside her clinic. Such dedication and zeal was both puzzling but inviting.

Also, looking for the first time at an ultrasound photo of one of the babies she aborted years earlier had a profound impact on her, resulting in a “wave of unexpected remorse”. Moreover she encountered numerous women who experienced deep grief and remorse over their abortions, often for years.

In late 2006 she gave birth to her first child, Grace. Having your own child around, while counselling other women to be willing to abort theirs, also took its toll. And complications with women having medical abortions (eg., RU-486), also began to gnaw at her.

Then there was the grieving nun who prayed outside her clinic. “She fell to her knees and wept with such grief, such genuine personal pain, that I couldn’t help but think to myself, She feels something far deeper than I ever will. She is honestly pained. This is real for her – this grief at knowing that client had an abortion. A sense of shame washed over me.”

She could not get this out of her mind: “How many other people cry outside my workplace because of the work I am doing?” It was to be a haunting question.

Troubles at work also were part of this process of discovery. A major aspect of this was how Planned Parenthood was making it clear that their real interest was not helping women – it was the bottom line. Making money through abortion was becoming the main focus, and of course the later the abortion, the more money was made.

When she was told her own clinic must start performing late-term abortions, she really was sent into a moral daze. All she got from her superiors when she complained that this was a nonprofit was the terse reply, “Abby, nonprofit is a tax status, not a business status”. She was ordered to get her priorities straight and get her revenue up.

The last straw was when she finally had to participate in an actual abortion. Strange as it may seem, for the eight years of her work there, she had not actually witnessed one. But when she was asked to help out, she got the shock of her life.

She held the ultrasound while the doctor joked “Beam me up, Scotty” as he rotated the cannula, a straw-shaped instrument attached to the end of a suction tube. She 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.”

She realised that she had “just participated in a death. A death. Not a medical procedure. Not a surgical solution to a life problem. Not the valiant step of a woman exercising her right to make medical choices about her own body. The death of a helpless baby, a baby violently ripped away from the safety of the womb, sucked away to be discarded as biohazard waste.”

All this burst her bubble, or rather, her steel cage that she had erected around herself. All the secrets, and guilt, and angst that she bottled up for years were now starting to pour forth. The scales fell from her eyes as she realised she had been believing lies and living a lie.

She realised that she was just as culpable in the deaths of countless babies. “I’d presented confused, anxious, and panicked women with their options – parent, abort, or adopt – as if we were discussing menu options.” She knew then and there that she had to get out of this career of death.

She went to the Coalition for Life offices and poured out her story while weeping uncontrollably. The stunned pro-lifers whom she had mocked and harassed for the last eight years at first did not know what to make of it all. But they loved her, comforted her, and told her they would help her in any way they could, such as finding new employment.

Of course this change of heart was considered treasonous by Planned Parenthood and the pro-death camp. They lied about her, abused her, and took legal action against her. Her pro-choice church also showed its true colours, making it clear that she was no longer wanted.

But God used all this to help spread her story, and numerous women were touched and blessed by her brave stance. Media coverage was widespread, and many women saved their babies because of her powerful testimony. And women still are today as a result of this very important book.

Everyone needs to read this story, and then pass it on to others. It is an inspiring and riveting account of the most pressing moral struggle of our age. It is a story of hope, of grace, of forgiveness, and of new beginnings. That a God of love and grace can forgive, transform and use a woman with so much blood on her hands is simply remarkable.

Simply to read the closing words is worth the price of the book. Abby now often stands on the other side of the fence, outside her old clinic, telling scared young women, “Hi, I’m Abby Johnson, and I used to run this clinic. We can help you”.

[1314 words]

26 Responses to A Review of Unplanned. By Abby Johnson.

  • Planned Barrenhood doesn’t seem to be getting too good a run at the moment. Not only has Johnson blown the lid on their so-called care for women, but very recently Republicans in Congress have called to completely defund this evil organization. $300,000,000 a year of taxpayers money – in a country supposed setup for people to engage in life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness – to kill children.

    The defunding may actually gain serious traction now – Lila Rose of Live Action films has produced a video filmed covertly in a New Jersey PP clinic in the last few weeks with undercover investigators posing as a pimp and a prostitute. They told the staffer that they engage in sex trafficking of minors and the staffer gave them advice on the best ways to avoid legal entanglements in getting abortions, STD checks and continuing in their trade.

    When the video got published on YouTube and various blogs, PP and their supporters put their foot in it multiple times by attempting damage control.

    They claimed the video was misleading because it was edited.
    …so Rose released the unedited video.
    Nope, unedited video shows the same situation.

    They claimed that the worker reported the couple
    …but apparently the report was only made after PP caught wind of the fact that they had been exposed
    …and it doesn’t explain why the worker has now been sacked

    They claim the incident is isolated and not representative of PP.
    …but Rose has now released a second video from a PP clinic in Virginia.
    (and I suspect it won’t end there – something like James O’Keefe and the ACORN videos)

    My favourite statement I read on one blog about this despicable organization was this:
    “You would almost get the impression that folks who kill babies for a living can’t be trusted with mountains of other people’s money.”

    Although I would’ve ended the sentence at ‘trusted’.

    You’ll find lots more at the moment at:
    http://www.jillstanek.com/
    and
    http://bigjournalism.com/

    Of course, the complicity of the mainstream media to scramble to protect PP and attack Lila Rose – even as they effectively prop up child trafficking – has gone well beyond bias and into the realm of total deception. People really do need to consider where they get their news from.

    Mark Rabich

  • G’day Bill,

    I was deeply moved as i read this your latest post. Thank you for drawing this book to my attention. It’s the other side of abortion, and the other side of the pro-lifers that the MSM don’t portray. They want to make the abortionists look like the nice guys and the pro-lifers look like murderous fanatics. Goodonya, again, and always.

    Andrew Campbell

  • Bill I was very moved reading your review. Human life is so miraculous, yet so trashed in the womb. The QLD premier has been held up as hero in her role with floods and cyclones and emphatic need to focus on preserving life as the absolute highest priority. All commendable, but should we not expect our leaders to have an equally public voice for the unborn who are being destroyed in this way daily. My applause is somewhat subdued when such a double standard exists at the highest political levels.
    Jamie Bowman

  • Abby Johnson is preparing to enter the Catholic Church. According to this article – http://www.catholic-sf.org/news_select.php?newsid=22&id=58048 – it will happen within a few months.
    Fr John Flynn

  • My family and I witness weekly (praying, singing, counselling, handing out leaflets) outside a baby slaughterhouse in East Melbourne.

    We join with the Catholics who have maintained a presence there six mornings a week for 20 years. Their group provides whatever support is necessary for the women to save the lives of their babies, and in that time have direct evidence of saving hundreds of babies’ lives (with almost certainly many more thousands saved which they don’t know about).

    But this work could be so much more effective if we had more people involved (particularly Protestants – as we are the only ones!). If we are to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ I can see few better ways than being involved in this sort of work – combining saving babies’ lives, evangelism to the broken mothers and staff, and showing the world that Christians really do live our lives consistently with what we teach.

    If you can join us for one hour on a weekday morning (even just once), please contact me (through Bill) I’d love to hear from you.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Well done Mansel. Yes I hope many more do join you. What you are doing is invaluable. Bless you and keep up the good work.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hello Bill,

    Is there any research available on the impact of the reforms to Victoria’s abortion laws in 2008?

    Ross McPhee

  • Hi Bill. I really hope this book gets a wide coverage but reading your post above, it struck me that it’s always by revelation that God delivers us from the delusions that satan places upon us. And if our hearts are so closed to God, so unwilling to hear what He has to say, it’s difficult for His Spirit to pierce into that. It all comes back to we, the church, breaking the bonds of wickedness by prophetic intercession and, of course, by what you do which is to get the message out there to the multitudes who don’t even think about the bonds that need to be broken.
    Very moving about the Catholic nun weeping outside the clinic. Now that is travail of the soul.
    Dee Graf

  • Thanks Ross

    I just spotted this on the Net moments ago: “The Royal Women’s Hospital reported a 600% increase in the number of late term abortions being performed since the law was passed.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Dee

    Yes quite right, As this book makes clear, it is ultimately a godly presence coupled with persistent prayer and spiritual warfare that ultimately will break these bondages and set these people free. The abortion industry is really straight out of the pit of hell, so a spiritual response is needed first and foremost.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I am a father of 4 and as I look at my children, it sickens me to image them not being here due to them being aborted.

    I know of a few people longing for an adoption and as such I looked up the statistics on abortion and adoption. I found this article by Children by Choice:

    “Adoption is no longer a common occurrence in Australian society. There has been a substantial decline in the number of adoptions since the early 1970’s. In 1971-72 there were 9798 adoptions, which declined to 1052 in 1991-92. In 2005-06 there were 576 adoptions in Australia. Of these adoptions:

    •73% of adoptions were ‘intercountry’ adoptions (children from overseas countries, which is generally arranged by the relevant state government agency),
    •16% were ‘known’ child adoptions i.e. children adopted by step-parents, carers or other relatives,
    •10% were local placement adoptions i.e. adoption of children of Australian birth or permanent residency where there was no previous contact or relationship with the adoptive parents”

    So in the year 2005/06 there were 150 local (Australian) adoptions, of which only 57 were outside of people they knew. And around 75,000 abortions (from the parliament library 2004/05). And around 260,000 births (Australian birth statistics 2005). Many people have chosen to give their babies Death over Life….

    So I read up on the process for putting your child up for adoption. I read it with the mindset of “I don’t want this child”, I was left dismayed. It is so much harder and more complicated to put a child up for adoption and it can only be done 30days after birth (Qld) and with counseling. This left me wondering, if the clinics that call themselves pro-choice were to make money out of adoptions, how much would those numbers change? And if adoption laws were changed to allow a child to be put up for adoption pre-birth (although this raises a few questions in itself) how much more would those numbers change.

    I know adoption has its own problems, but far better these then to terminate 99.8% of unwanted pregnancies.

    Mark Lambert

  • http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/god-at-work-in-every-womb

    I was just listening to the above sermon by John Piper this morning. We need to pray for those who have been involved in it like Abby to turn to Jesus. God bless this ministry.
    Merle Jaraba

  • I am having a dilemma about reading this book. I am a passionate pro-lifer, and I will willingly engage anyone in a discussion about the numerous reasons I am against abortion in ANY circumstance (even the oft-touted ‘rape or incest’ situation), but I struggle a bit when it comes to actually reading about abortion procedures. Perhaps it’s because my own children are still so young, but I just can’t handle reading or thinking about the actual procedure. You describe a brief part like this in your review (which I quasi-skipped…). Is there much discussion of the actual procedure in the book?
    Katie Donovan

  • Thanks Katie

    Actually what I mention in my review is about the extent of graphic descriptions in the book. So you should have no problems with it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • It would have been easy for people to give up on Abby as a hopeless case looking from the outside. Yet your review of her book shows that God was working on her for years before she turned to him.

    Let us pray for those involved in this insidious industry that God will work on their hearts and not judge anyone as unsavable even as we cry out for the abortion mills to be shut down and the killing to end.

    Kylie Anderson

  • You are quite right Kylie.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • So you can give your child up without a waiting period and counselling but you can kill your baby without a waiting period or counselling.

    Victoria’s abortion laws are horrendous and don’t show any love for mother or baby.

    Kylie Anderson

  • That’s tragic.
    Ross McPhee

  • Things keep going from bad to worse for Planned Parenthood:

    http://www.lifenews.com/2011/02/08/new-video-has-new-york-planned-parenthood-helping-sex-traffickers/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • See also this article. http://patriotpost.us/opinion/l-brent-bozell/2011/02/09/planned-parenthood-spiked/

    “The same gaggle of broadcast TV watchdogs that has mustered endless outrage over the notion that the Catholic Church would fail to alert authorities about sexual abuse of minors is utterly uninterested in the sexual abuse of minors when someone more pleasing to secular progressives — like that abortion factory Planned Parenthood — is caught on camera.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • If anyone is pro-life, Bill has mentioned in another place a new website to be aware of: http://www.humanrightsforunbornchildren.com/
    They have a petition going, but I know there are only 16 signatures so far. You can find it under the ‘Get Involved’ link.
    Annette Nestor

  • Thanks Annette/Bill, just signed this! Now 19.
    Jamie Bowman

  • Hi Bill, I just finished reading this book yesterday so I avoided reading your blog about it until now.

    This book was a real eye-opener and almost drove me to tears on a few occasions.

    While it was a difficult read at times, it was definitely a worthwhile read. I will be trying to lend my copy out so others can be touched by the story.

    Mario Del Giudice

  • Bill,
    I am sure you are thrilled to learn that Abby Johnson will visit Australia in early July as guest of Right to Life Australia.
    We will be taking her to as many Capitals as we can squeeze in as well as a Mega event in Albury NSW.
    Promotion material with dates and venues will be forwarded soon!

    Regards
    Mary Lou Corboy, Secretary RTLA

  • Thanks Mary Lou
    Yes I certainly plan to attend, and hope to bring many folks with me.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Her Australian schedule can be seen here:

    http://lifenetwork.org.au/_blog/Latest_News/post/Abby_Johnson_in_Australia!/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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