Abby Johnson

Confessions of a former Planned Parenthood director

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To any woman I convinced to have an abortion, I am sorry. I am sorry that we did not tell you the truth about abortion. But please know that healing is possible.

I talked her into getting an abortion. And then I ran into her at the store.

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I used to have a standard line that I would ask people if I thought I recognized them. “Do I look familiar to you?” I would ask. I used to ask that question at least once a week, but I haven’t asked anyone that in at least four years.  

Four years ago, I saw a woman in a store and I knew that I recognized her.  I could tell that she recognized me, too, because every time we would pass each other she would give me a little smile. 

Finally, I just asked, “Do I look familiar to you?”

She started laughing and said that I did, but she could not figure out where she had seen me before.  As soon as she started talking, I knew. She had sat across from me at my desk at Planned Parenthood. I had talked her into getting an abortion. I remembered her story vividly. She was crying. I was reassuring her, saying things like, “Just because a decision makes us cry, doesn’t mean it’s not the right decision.”

I remember that I was trying to get her out of my office. We had been talking for at least 45 minutes and that was way over my 15 minute maximum for “counseling.” I knew I must have a stack of charts waiting in my box outside. I finally pulled out the final card to hurry this thing along. I told her, “If you don’t have the abortion today, you won’t be able to come back to us for at least a week and it will be more expensive. You don’t want that, do you?”

Reluctantly she said that she was ready to go back for the abortion. Good. My job was done. Every line was signed and every box was checked. 

I am sorry. I am sorry that we did not tell you the truth about abortion. I am sorry that you were deceived by people who you thought you could trust. I am sorry that we didn’t listen to you when you cried in our offices. 

I was now, once again, staring this young woman in the face. I had left Planned Parenthood. I was pro-life. I was sorry that I had done that to her. But what do I say now? I panicked and said, “Well, who knows? Maybe I will see you around again.” I rushed off, feeling ashamed.

I really hoped that would never happen again. But, it did. Several times. Each time, I would look into the woman’s eyes and walk the other way. How could I face these women? My sin was staring at me when I looked at them. I didn’t want to look at that sin. It was too real. 

After a while, it happened less and less. We moved to a different town for my work and I rarely saw people that I recognized from the clinic. And even if I did, I was more confident now. I was okay to tell them who I was and how I knew them. I was now quick to apologize for my part in their abortion. The more I healed, the easier it became. 

About six months ago, I received an email that I wasn’t expecting. My confidence was shaken in just a few seconds. A young woman had come to my clinic when she was just 16. Admittedly, I did not remember her. She told me her story through a message and I was heartbroken for her. She had gotten hooked on drugs, dealt with very serious depression and even attempted suicide after her abortion.

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She blamed me. “You told me I would feel fine after my abortion,” she said. I told her she wouldn’t have any regrets. But she did. She told me that I was the cause of her pain. And while I read her email, I felt that pain. I also felt that shame that I hadn’t experienced in several years. 

I probably read her email at least fifty times. Honestly, I thought about just deleting it…pretending that I hadn’t ever received it. But I knew I couldn’t do that. I had to respond. I had to apologize. After pondering about my response for two days, I finally sat down to write.

I took the blame. I apologized at least ten times in my first response. I didn’t make any excuses. I didn’t justify my words or actions. I just apologized, over and over again. And then I offered help. This young woman, who was now in her early twenties, needed healing. We have now had several conversations through email and phone. I was able to get her connected to a post-abortive healing ministry in her area. She is a different person. And because of her honesty, I am a different person. 

I recently asked a few former abortion clinic workers a question. “If you could go back and say something to a woman who had an abortion in your clinic, what would you say?” The responses were somewhat varied, but all had the same theme. They would tell these women that they were sorry. They would apologize for lying, for misleading them. 

So here is that apology to any post-abortive woman reading this right now. I am sorry. I am sorry that we did not tell you the truth about abortion. I am sorry that you were deceived by people who you thought you could trust. I am sorry that we didn’t listen to you when you cried in our offices. I’m sorry that you were treated like a number and not the beautiful person that you are. I’m sorry for the pain you felt. I’m sorry for any regret that you felt or continue to feel because of our dishonesty. 

As much as I wish I could, I can’t change the past. I can’t change the poor decisions that we have all made. But I can let you know that there are many of us who care about your healing. You don’t have to live with regret, pain and shame. If you haven’t yet, please take that first step and find help. Call your local pro-life group and ask about resources in your area. I have found freedom and healing from my past. You can find that freedom, too.

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About a week after getting the first injection, I started getting these debilitating headaches. And I mean, they were really BAD. Shutterstock

How my life changed forever after I got the Depo Provera birth control injection

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By Abby Johnson

I had been putting off this visit for quite some time. I guess I really didn’t want to even think about it, and figured that maybe if I ignored it, it would just go away. Unfortunately, that isn’t reality.

So I sat there on the exam table answering questions about our presidents, reading letters off a card to check my vision, and listing off my health history for the past five years (that was the last time I saw a neurologist).

Are you willing to lose your vision in order to prevent pregnancy? Are you willing to develop osteoporosis in your 20s because of your “need” to be on birth control? Are you willing to have a stroke at 30? 

I got married to Doug in 2005. I knew that we wanted to delay having children for a while, and I had tried pretty much every hormonal birth control method under the sun. I had not, however, gotten the Depo Provera birth control injection. It seemed like a pretty worry-free method. You only have to get a shot once every three months and most women didn’t even have a period on it. It sounded pretty good to me. I received my first injection just a few months before our wedding date.

About a week after getting the first injection, I started getting these debilitating headaches. And I mean, they were really BAD. I could hardly work. It was interfering with my job, my sleep, pretty much everything. After about of week of this, I made an appointment with my family doctor. I told her about my symptoms and she totally blew me off, saying, “Well, some people just get bad headaches.” Um, no they don’t…not like this.

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My mom suggested that maybe it had something to do with my vision. I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist looking for an answer. It was time for my annual eye checkup anyway, so I just kind of figured that my vision must have changed. As soon as he sat down and pulled his fancy eye looker machine up to my face, he backed away from it, switched the light on and asked, “Have you been having really bad headaches?” Why yes I have. I knew it. Mom was right. My vision must have changed.

Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:

Doctor: “Your optic nerves aren’t pulsing. You will need to be seen by a neurologist immediately.”
Me: “A neurologist? Why? Don’t I just need a different contact lens prescription?”
Doctor: “No. This has nothing to do with your vision really, except that if they continue to lay dormant, you can go blind. Many times this means that your spinal pressure is very high, which could mean that there is a tumor in the brain.”
Me: “A tumor?”
Doctor: blah, blah, muffled sound, blah, blah (I heard nothing he said after the word “tumor”).

I suddenly felt hot and sick to my stomach. A brain tumor? Possible brain surgery? They will have to shave my head. I will look terrible bald. Am I going to die from this?

About three days later I was sitting in a neurologist’s office. A couple days after that, I was getting my first lumbar puncture. About a week after that, I was getting my first MRI. Then came another lumbar puncture and another MRI.

The results were all in and they had a diagnosis: Pseudotumor Cerebri, otherwise known as Intercranial Hypertension. Basically, I have increased spinal fluid pressure because of swelling in my brain. I also have reduced vein size because of the swelling. I would be on medication the rest of my life. And if I wasn’t diligent about taking my medication, my spinal pressure would become high resulting in debilitating headaches…and/or I will go blind…or anything in between.

I thought for a long time that my headaches must have been related to my Depo Provera use, but I didn’t have that confirmation until I was diagnosed. My neurologist told me that he very often saw this condition manifest after women took hormonal birth control…particularly birth control containing progestin. So I had to deal with the fact that because I was so desperate not to get pregnant, I put something in my body that gave me a life-long disorder, and could make me go blind.

I MEDICATED A PROBLEM THAT WASN’T THERE AND NOW I TRULY DO LIVE WITH THAT CONSEQUENCE EVERYDAY.

Like I said in part two of this series, when we use birth control we are taking medication in order to “fix” something that isn’t broken. I had done just that and now I was living with putting the pieces back together. Now I do have something to fix…something I never would have dealt with if I had never taken hormonal birth control.

I live everyday with the reality that I could permanently lose my vision. I live with very serious headaches, even though I am on daily medication. A medication, by the way, that costs me almost $500.00 per month.

The sad part is that I am not alone. We know the risks of birth control and yet we continue to pump it into our system as if we have no choice. So here are my two questions, ladies.

IS IT WORTH IT? HOW MUCH ARE YOU WILLING TO RISK?

Are you willing to lose your vision in order to prevent pregnancy? Are you willing to develop osteoporosis in your 20s because of your “need” to be on birth control? Are you willing to have a stroke at 30? Are you willing to increase your risk of cancer by 30 percent? Are you willing to develop deadly blood clots because you just can’t be a mom right now? Are you willing to risk a hysterectomy because that IUD looks so appealing? Are you willing to have a heart attack just so you can “fix” your unbroken fertility? If you are a married woman, are you willing to completely lose the desire to have sex with your husband?

How much are you willing to risk? The good news is that you don’t have to risk a thing in order to space your children and avoid pregnancy. There are other, natural options available that give you control over your body. Birth control does exactly the opposite of what its name implies. It doesn’t control birth. It doesn’t control anything. It actually takes your control away.

If you want to truly stand up for women’s reproductive rights, then stand against birth control. Because nothing says anti-woman more than birth control. Any drug that is pushed upon women in order to simply prevent a natural part of a woman’s cycle is one that needs to be outright rejected.

For more information about your other fertility options, please visit www.iusenfp.com or www.naturalwomanhood.org.

If you have been diagnosed with PTC after taking hormonal birth control and would like to talk to an attorney about your situation, please visit http://www.schmidtlaw.com/pseudotumor-cerebri-lawsuit/. Getting these dangerous drugs off the market is one of the best things we can do for the safety of women. Thousands of women, including myself, have now come forward in hopes to do just that.

This was initially supposed to be a three part series, but because of the overwhelming response I have received, I decided to add one more article.

Stay tuned for Part Four: Tell me how birth control prevents abortions again? 
 

Read the other two parts of this series:

Part 1: All the pro-life facts about hormonal contraception (that you probably don’t want to hear)

Part 2: Ladies: we deserve better than hormonal birth control

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Ladies: we deserve better than hormonal birth control

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By Abby Johnson

This is the best we can get?

Women of today have been convinced that our fertility is broken. And so, because it is broken, we have to fix it with a birth control pill. We think that being able to conceive is a burden or a problem. So we “fix” something that isn’t broken.

In no other case is this considered a good idea. You don’t spend time trying to fix something that is working properly. That’s counterproductive. If I took the time to take apart a car that was brand new and had no mechanical problems, that would be silly. Not only would it be a complete waste of time, but I would be setting myself up to break something that was in complete working order before I started my project.

Using Natural Family Planning has really been a no-brainer for me and my husband. As pro-life activists, we don’t want to use methods that could abort our children. And as a woman, I have no desire to use methods that could give me cancer!

This is what women have done to our bodies. By “fixing” something that isn’t broken, we have created even more problems for ourselves. We take birth control to “fix” our fully functioning fertility, and by doing that have seen a dramatic increase in breast and reproductive cancers. That doesn’t even make sense when you think about it.

Full disclosure here: I was on some sort of birth control method for 15 years. I have physically suffered because of those methods, including an extended period of infertility. And not to be a downer, but I’m literally just waiting for the day when I will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only do I have family history staring me in the face, but I increased my own risks by using hormonal birth control for 15 years and having two abortions.

Take a look at this article. Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast surgical oncologist and co-founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, says “medical textbooks attest to a 30 percent increase in cancer risk.” She also talks about the well-known fact that the World Health Organization classified hormonal birth control as a Class One Carcinogen. What else is a Class One Carcinogen? Here are a few: arsenic, asbestos, ionizing radiation, formaldehyde, and tobacco. So, all of these things are admittedly as dangerous as hormonal birth control, yet birth control is widely accepted. Look at all of the “quit smoking” campaigns that are out there. Yet, birth control is just as dangerous as tobacco and the only thing you see about birth control on television are the ads encouraging women to take it. Why the discrepancy?

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Simple. Because pregnancy is looked upon as a disease…something that must be “treated.” But women who can get pregnant are not broken. Their bodies are working in the way they were intended to work. So why put cancer-causing pills into your body to fix something that works?

“But Abby, I HAVE to take birth control. I have xyz problem.” You can fill in the blank; Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis, irregular periods, hemorrhagic bleeding during menses.

First, you need to know that you do not have to take birth control. Birth control does not “fix” anything. It only masks an underlying problem that ultimately needs to be treated. Birth control will not treat the problem. And honestly, it’s going to compound your problem…you have PCOS? Great! Let’s take birth control and add some cancer to it.  

Ladies, we deserve better. And the good news is that if you have these problems, they can actually be treated with something called NaPro Technology. You can learn more about it here. There are many NaPro trained doctors all over the country. If there isn’t one in your area, there are several who will actually see you as a patient remotely. They can order labs, test hormones and get you on a path to true healing even if you live in a different state. NaPro has also been a blessing to thousands of couples struggling with infertility. You can find a physician here. You can also find out more information about treating these problems naturally at this website.

There is truly never a reason to take hormonal birth control. Besides the fact that every hormonal method has the ability to abort an already conceived child, it is dangerous for those who take it. There are natural ways to space your children. You can learn more about these methods at this website here and this one here.

Using Natural Family Planning has really been a no-brainer for me and my husband. As pro-life activists, we don’t want to use methods that could abort our children. And as a woman, I have no desire to use methods that could give me cancer! My family history is going against me…I don’t need to add anything to make it worse.

Now, is Natural Family Planning always the easiest thing to do? Honestly, no. But is it 100% worth it? Absolutely. It takes some time to learn. There can be some minimal cost. But I would never go back to artificially altering my hormones and my fertility. I know that I deserve better than what hormonal options can give me.

Do better for your body. Do better for your marriage. Look into Natural Family Planning.

This is part two of my three part series regarding hormonal contraception. You can find part one here.

Part three: My Trip to the Neurologist. 

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As pro-lifers, this is information that we simply can’t ignore…no matter how much it affects our current lifestyle.

All the pro-life facts about hormonal contraception (that you probably don’t want to hear) - Part I

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By Abby Johnson
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I’m just going to go ahead and let you know that this article is going to probably anger a lot of people. But I am a truth teller, and sometimes truth hurts. And as pro-lifers, this is information that we simply can’t ignore…no matter how much it affects our current lifestyle.

This is the first of a three-part piece on hormonal contraception. I hope you will read all three parts and share this factual information with people who may not know these truths.

The pro-life mantra has always been “Life Begins at Conception.” But do we really believe that? Do we really believe that life begins at that amazing moment of conception? Or do we actually believe that it begins at implantation? You may think that is a silly question. ‘Of COURSE pro-lifers believe that life begins at conception! Hello?! We have been saying that for years!’

Well, then here’s the kicker. If you believe that life begins at conception, then you MUST unequivocally oppose hormonal contraception. Here’s why. Hormonal contraception does not always prevent ovulation. In fact, many studies done by the birth control manufacturers themselves state that only about half of women using their methods actually cease ovulating.

Hmm. So how do these methods work if you are still ovulating at least half the time? Simple. These methods have a backup plan. Hormonal methods also work to thin the lining of the endometrium (uterine wall) so that a newly conceived human being (life begins at conception, right?) cannot implant on the uterine wall. Because the baby has nowhere to implant, they are spontaneously aborted.

Don’t believe me? View the screenshots of the information that comes directly from the manufacturers, or follow the links:

Nuvaring – Vaginal Ring

OrthoEvra – “The Patch”

Mirena – Hormonal IUD

Paragard – Copper IUD (cause that sounds safe!)

OrthoTriCyclen Lo – Birth Control Pills, otherwise known as Combined Oral Contraceptives

Depo Provera – “The Shot”

Implanon – Three year birth control method inserted in arm (yikes!)

Progestin Only Pill – “The Minipill”

Will sexually active women abort their babies every cycle? Probably not. But you may. You don’t know, and that’s the scary (and morally troubling) part.

Let’s say that a demolition company was going to use a wrecking ball to destroy an old school. When the supervisor of the company asks the principal if they made sure to clear the building, the principal says, “We most likely did. We aren’t 100% sure, but we are pretty confident.” Would that be acceptable? Would you be willing to push that button that releases that wrecking ball? Would you be willing to risk that there may or may not be life in that building?

If you take hormonal contraception and you are sexually active, then you are releasing that wrecking ball every month.

Luckily, there is a way to space pregnancies without the potential loss of life. It’s called Natural Family Planning. There are MANY different methods and sometimes it takes trying a couple before you find the right one for you. I recommend visiting www.iusenfp.com to explore the various methods out there.

And just in case you are one of those people who say, “I have to take birth control because of xyz health condition,” you actually don’t. I’m going to write another article on this, but I will tell you that by taking birth control, you are masking the problem, not solving it. NFP and NaPro technology can actually FIX the problem. You can find more information at www.fertilitycare.org.

Ladies, we have been force fed the idea that we must fix our unbroken fertility…and that our fertility solely falls on our shoulders. But here’s the reality. Fertility should be shared between a husband and wife. You don’t get pregnant on your own. NFP is a beautiful way to help you share in that gift. It’s worth your time to check it out.

Stay tuned for: Part II: If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It. 

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The recovery room was silent. There was no noise except for muffled cries and the pump of a blood pressure cuff. Every woman was on her own. Laughter had faded. Their faces were stained with tears.

My abortion clinic was a happy, laughter-filled place…except for this one room

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By Abby Johnson

People always ask me what it was like to work inside an abortion clinic. They want to know what the atmosphere was like. Was it a sad place? Did people walk around with tears in their eyes? Was it a somber environment? Was it quiet?

It was not a sad place. Why would it be? We didn’t think we were doing anything wrong. We didn’t see that there was anything to be sad about. We joked around with the patients. We enjoyed our work. We talked to them about their weekend plans while the doctor performed their abortion. It was a loud place. A place of laughter, conversation, and a false sense of joy.

Our patients would form a camaraderie of sorts in the waiting rooms. They would share stories about their families, their jobs, school, and yes, their previous abortions. They would reassure our first-time patients. They would pray together. They would share videos on the Internet. They were bonded by their similar experiences.

“Women’s reproductive rights.” The right to be violated. The right to be abused. The right to be taken advantage of. The right to be used. 

You could hear laughter and cheerful voices in every room. Well, every room but one. The recovery room was silent. There was no noise except for muffled cries and the pump of a blood pressure cuff. The camaraderie that was once alive was no longer present. Every woman was on her own. Laughter had faded. Their faces were stained with tears. Reality had set in. They were faced with the fact that where there had once been life, there was now emptiness…in their wombs and in their hearts.

Once they were in our recovery room, they had twenty minutes to pull themselves together. They needed to use that time to justify why their abortion was acceptable. They had to convince themselves that it wasn’t a baby. Twenty minutes to make their abortion acceptable in their minds and hearts. Twenty minutes to forget. Twenty minutes to stuff their feelings of regret and sadness deep inside their soul.

After their twenty minutes were up, we would give them a package of crackers and a small cup of apple juice. We would hand them a brown paper bag that included antibiotics for potential infection, condoms they wouldn’t use, a pack of birth control pills that we knew they wouldn’t take, and a sheet of paper that instructed them to go to the hospital if they had any serious complications. We would also give them a “survey” so they could score the “service” they received from us that day. We would watch them slowly walk out. They would walk out to their boyfriends, husbands, or friends a changed person. There were no more smiles. No conversation. No hugs. No sense of relief. They walked in as strong women, but they walked out broken.

There was no follow-up from us. We had done our job. We had collected their money. Whatever happened to them after they left our parking lot was of no consequence to us. We prided ourselves on being a savior to these women. We were problem-solvers. And with a little luck, we would see them again. They wouldn’t have “learned their lesson.” They would need our “help” again. And we would be there, arms and cash drawers open and ready.

“Women’s reproductive rights.” The right to be violated. The right to be abused. The right to be taken advantage of. The right to be used. There is no choice in abortion. A woman’s freedom of choice is removed as soon as she walks in that abortion facility. She becomes a number, a statistic, a line item on a budget sheet.

Equal rights for women. I agree with that concept. But we will never be free, we will never obtain equality until we stop letting ourselves become pawns of the abortion industry. Our freedom depends on our rejection of abortion.

I am a woman’s advocate. I stand against abortion. 

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Abby Johnson

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Abby Johnson is the former director of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Bryan, Texas. After witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion, Abby converted to the pro-life cause. She is now a leading defender of the unborn. Since leaving Planned Parenthood, Abby has founded a non-profit called And Then There Were None, which specializes in reaching out to men and women in the abortion industry, and providing them with the spiritual, financial, and logistical help that they need to exit the industry. 

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