FRIENDLY-faced Abby Johnson makes no apologies about demand-ing people of faith stand up for the life of the unborn.
The American pro-life advocate was in Brisbane late last month to encourage exactly that.
“I don’t care if you are pro-life in here,” she said to young people and religious gathered at Faith on Tap at the Pineapple Hotel, Kangaroo Point, on June 27.
“I care if you are pro-life out there – because that’s where it matters.”
The young mum was passionate about how prayer for the unborn can make a difference.
“Every day an abortion clinic is open without someone saying a prayer outside, the clinic may as well have a big banner that says, ‘This abortion clinic is open with the permission of the Christian church’.
“That’s the reality of what we are dealing with.
“We can’t legislate morality … our culture is one where we have embraced abortion on demand … (and) it’s clear we have to stand up for the sanctity of human life.”
Abby herself hasn’t always stood up for such sanctity, however, despite growing up in a “Christian home”.
This is another poignant sharing she offers with devotion to change others’ perspectives.
“At 20 I had my first abortion … and I remember my mind being blank (about what to do about the pregnancy),” she said.
“I went to the guy I was with and said, ‘What do we do now?’ … He knew … and I had the abortion.
“I just shut that door, shut that box.”
Throughout those college years “very vulnerable” Abby became further influenced by the pro-choice voices around her – particularly of a United States movement called Planned Parenthood.
“The majority of women having abortions are college women,” she said. “So there are Planned Parenthood (in the college environment) and there you are, free – away from your parents – and you have all the answers.
“Here’s this organisation affirming everything you knew anyway … (like) it’s your body and it’s your rights … (and) your parents don’t know and you need to take responsibility for you and your health.
“College-age women get sucked into the rhetoric and that’s what happened to me.”
Post-abortion and after attaining therapist qualifications, Abby also “got sucked into” working for Planned Parenthood (US), what she describes as the “only billion-dollar not-for-profit” organisation in existence.
“For eight years of my life I worked at Planned Parenthood – the leading advisor on abortion policy (in America),” she said.
“Saturdays were our busiest day … I remember we’d do 30 to 40 (abortions).”
Despite those numbers and speaking openly about having to “count $15-20,000 in cash on such days”, Abby was told the organisation “had to double” its abortion “numbers”.
It was August 2008.
“It didn’t make sense,” she said of when her questioning began. “(Instead) I thought it was about providing education … about providing contraception to the masses … We wanted to prevent them from having abortions.
“When I asked my supervisor (for clarification) I was told I needed to get my priorities straight because that’s how we were going to make our money.”
Within such a scripted response, straight-talking Abby, along with all Planned Parent-hood (United States) employees, were told what to say to the many questions posed pre-abortion.
One such question often presenting itself she said was, “Will my baby feel this?”
“I was told to say that the foetus has no sensory development until 28 weeks gestation,” Abby said of her scripted response.
“I’d given that answer thousands of times … I had to believe it, I did believe it.”
But assisting for an ultrasound-guided abortion, unqualified, in September 2009 dramatically opened her eyes.
“I wasn’t certified to do ultrasounds but they (Planned Parenthood) didn’t care,” Abby said.
“We recognised the baby was 13 weeks.
“I see the instrument go into the uterus and probe beside the child and I see this child start to move away and flee to the other side of the uterus, struggling.
“I was seeing something very different to what I had been telling so many others.
“I knew I had been lying and that I had betrayed so many people.”
Wanting to flee that environment, Abby turned to pro-lifers stationed, praying, outside the clinic.
“They always said they would help if I ever wanted to leave,” she said. “They could tell from my messiness that I needed help and they took me in and I left (Planned Parenthood) the next day.”
In November 2009, Abby said the organisation attempted to “gag” her in a court of law, adding, “They didn’t want me to do things like this (speak out).” The case was dismissed and the mother of a four-year-old daughter has been fighting the pro-life fight ever since.
In doing so she has dedicated her life work to being an international advocate for life (Right to Life Australia sponsored her visit) and “is no longer embarrassed” about her work.
Abby has also published a book about her experiences, Unplanned, a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, the courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation.
“I stand up for the sanctity of human life and I am proud to say that,” Abby said.
“We should be proud to take our convictions out there. “People have to hear the truth.
“Somebody out there is waiting to hear the message of life from every single one of you.”
A Baptist, Abby, together with her husband and daughter, will soon officially be members of the Catholic Church.
“We’re very excited about becoming Catholic,” Abby said, in between presentations in Brisbane.
“The first time we went to Mass (in the Catholic tradition) we felt like that was home.
“Something had been missing but now we feel very connected to the worship and we have many Catholic, pro-life friends.”
More Catholic friendships have certainly been secured during the visit Down Under, joining Abby in her pursuit to sing the pro-life tune.
“People here are so friendly,” she said.
“I thought that people didn’t get friendlier in Texas but I think that might be inaccurate.”
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