Abby Johnson's story is certainly captivating. The former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas nabbed headlines when she became one of the most prominent pro-life voices in America. Just four years later, her startling tale has been told through numerous media outlets and through her book, "unPLANNED."
Last week, she spoke with TheBlaze about her personal evolution and the quest she is on through her "Exodus 2013" (also known as National Leave the Abortion Industry Day) effort to help others like her escape the abortion industry.
HOW JOHNSON ENDED UP AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD
In an interview with TheBlaze, Johnson detailed how she went from an unsuspecting college student to a volunteer at her local Planned parenthood. Eight years later, she found herself directing the very clinic she started at during her undergraduate years.
Photo Credit: AbbyJohnson.com
"I got involved as a college student. I didn't know much -- I didn't know anything," she said of her Planned Parenthood knowledge.
It all started when a recruiter told her all about the services that the organization offers women. Johnson, captivated by what seemed to be a wonderful operation, ended up entering the fray.
"I was easily suckered into believing the talking points and what they had to say," she told TheBlaze. "I started volunteering with them, ended up getting hired after I graduated college. And I was there for 8 years."
Ironically, Johnson came from a strong, pro-life family. Considering this fact, it took her more than a year to admit to her parents that she was working for Planned Parenthood.
When she finally told them, they made it clear that they didn't agree with the organization's abortion stance and the actions associated with it. Still, she continued her employment there.
What might shock some conservative Christians is that Johnson described herself as having strong Christian views at the time, despite her work with the organization.
"I went to church every Sunday that I worked at Planned Parenthood," she said, noting that her chosen house of worship was an Episcopalian church that defended abortion rights.
HER EXIT FROM THE INDUSTRY
It wasn't until 2009, that Johnson felt horrified and compelled to leave her position at the clinic. The exact moment, she claims, came when she was asked to assist in an abortion. This apparently was atypical, as she was the clinic's director and not a medical professional, however the office was short-staffed, so she stepped into the role.
"The defining moment for me leaving was assisting and witnessing a live ultrasound abortion procedure and seeing a 13-week old child struggle for his life inside his mother's womb," Johnson recalled. "It was really shocking for me to witness that mainly because I had been told by Planned Parenthood that the fetus didn't have any sensory development until [later]."
The pro-life advocate claims she was "in a state of shock" and that she instantaneously felt betrayed. At the same time, she remembers feeling like a liar, as she, too, had told thousands of women that fetuses wouldn't feel pain or struggle.
"I looked at myself and said, 'I'm part of the problem' -- and I had been a part of the problem for eight years," she said.
Photo Credit: Abby Johnson
Within a week, Johnson left her position as director and she almost instantly started a partnership with a pro-life organization. At first, she said that she assumed her peers at the clinic would understand that her change-of-heart was nothing personal. After all, she had apparently been heralded as a wonderful employee and she was working with some of her closest friends.
Unfortunately, this simply wasn't the case.
She claims Planned Parenthood took her to court over confidentiality concerns and that these friends and co-workers quickly turned on her.
"We went to court a couple weeks later and it was devastating for me because I watched my two closest friends take the stand and testify against me," she said. "My supervisor and people I had cared about very much...but you can't sue somebody for having a change in their values."
Inevitably, Johnson said that the legal battle was thrown out and that she subsequently decided to found her own organization to help other individuals escape the abortion industry.
Her resulting group, And Then There Were None (ATTWN), has already successfully helped 47 people not only escape this industry, but also re-start their lives in new careers.
HOW SHE'S HELPING OTHERS ESCAPE THE INDUSTRY
Johnson quickly observed that one of the biggest challenges one faces when realizing that he or she no longer wants to be a part of the abortion complex is the need for financial assistance and employment. Often times, people can't leave even when they want to, because they simply can't afford to.
As a result of her work with ATTWN, the former clinic director is now bridging a gap to do what no other organization has done before: Help these individuals reboot their personal and professional lives.
"We have four streams of support that we help them with," she said of her ATTWN work.
In addition to emotional support (Johnson said many of these individuals have "experienced things the general public will never see or experience"), financial assistance is granted. This latter help is given to help those in need of transitionary funds while they seek new employment. Also, networking opportunities and spiritual and legal support are offered.
Watch Johnson speak directly to these workers, below:
On April 8, Johnson will take her work to the next level, launching National Leave the Abortion Industry Day. Here's how the initiative is described on its official web site:
Monday, April 8 is Day of Exodus 2013. Simply put, it is the day of the year that abortion clinic workers who are ready to quit their jobs do so, in exodus.
Whatever led you to work in the abortion industry, please realize that this isn’t your full potential. If you feel bound to your job in an abortion clinic (whether it’s financial struggles, pressure from friends or family, a sense of obligation from an abortion in your past, or anything else) you don’t have to feel trapped in your work at an abortion clinic any more.
During your transition out of the abortion industry, And Then There Were None will help you find new job opportunities in your area. During that time, we will provide you with financial assistance to make sure your rent and bills are paid, food is on the table, and gas is in your car while you job hunt. We can provide you with free legal representation if you must take any kind of legal action against your former employer. We are here to support you emotionally during and after your transition, and we will help you locate a spiritual director if you want one.
Surely, this isn't going to be well-received by groups like Planned Parenthood, but Johnson said the word is already spreading throughout the pro-life community. And, she said that clinics opposed to her efforts are generally fairly good at assisting in advertising efforts like National Leave the Abortion Industry Day (also known as Exodus 2013).
These groups e-mail employees and put out alerts for them to avoid Johnson, which inevitably leads some to seek her out (particularly those looking to exit the industry).
"We're really excited. Again, Planned Parenthood has done an excellent job of promoting the event for us," she said. "Some of their supporters have created a coutner event on Facebook that promotes our event."
You can find out more about the April 8 event here.
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