BOOK REVIEW: News Weekly
UNPLANNED, by Abby Johnson with Cindy Lambert
, February 19, 2011
Abortion-provider has second thoughts
by Abby Johnson,
with Cindy Lambert
(Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House)
Reviewed by Steven W. Mosher
I know something about dramatic conversions to the pro-life cause. I experienced one myself some years ago in a Chinese abortion clinic. I had never really thought about what an abortion entailed until I witnessed one with my own eyes. But I could not ignore the result - a dead baby and a mother deeply wounded in both body and spirit - and I turned away in horror.
Abby Johnson's epiphany occurred in similar circumstances, although she was not, as I had been, an innocent bystander to this crime against humanity. Rather she was the long-time director of a Planned Parenthood clinic which, over the course of her tenure, had done thousands of abortions. Abby, in fact, had scheduled the abortion that changed her life.
She had joined Planned Parenthood as a college student because she had been led to believe that the organisation was dedicated to helping women in crisis. She believed them when they told her that they wanted to make abortion rare. She repeated their lies when she told naÃ¯ve young women that what was growing in their wombs was not a baby, but just a foetus, little more than a clump of cells, or a ball of tissue.
But as she went from being a volunteer to full-time employee, she learned that a key goal of the organisation was to make as much money as possible by performing as many abortions as possible. Instead of helping to make abortions rare, as she had believed, she realised to her dismay that she was helping to make them more common.
Then came the day when she herself was asked to assist with an abortion, holding an ultrasound probe to allow the abortionist a clear view of his tiny target. What came up on the screen was an entire, perfect profile of a baby at 13 weeks.
As the doctor inserted the suction cannula, she saw the baby begin struggling to turn and twist away. But there was no escape.
As she writes, "For the briefest moment it looked like the baby was being wrung like a dishcloth, twirled and squeezed. And then the little body crumpled and began disappearing into the cannula before my eyes. The last thing I saw was the tiny, perfectly formed backbone sucked into the tube, and then everything was gone."
Abby was devastated by what she had seen. And she swore to herself that she would never again support abortion.
Perhaps her story would have ended there, were it not for the friendships she had formed with the pro-lifers who had long held prayer vigils outside her clinic. These compassionate prayer warriors had long interceded not just for the women who visited the clinic and their unborn children, but for the clinic personnel as well.
It is thus no accident that when Abby walked out of her Planned Parenthood office she went directly over to the office of the local 40 Days for Life director, Shawn Carney, and that he and other pro-lifers helped her transition from abortion advocate to helping women and saving lives.
The story of Abby's conversion, which was years in the making, is nothing short of miraculous. I was reminded in the telling of how Human Life International founder Father Paul Marx befriended abortion pioneer Bernard Nathanson, a friendship which greatly aided Dr Nathanson in his long spiritual journey from the atheism of his youth to his final confirmation in the Catholic faith. (I understand that Abby and her husband have left the Episcopal Church over its pro-abortion stance, and are receiving instruction in the Catholic Church.)
If you are tempted to despair over America's continuing embrace of abortion, consider the moral courage of Abby Johnson and those who stood with her, and be reminded that all things are possible with God. UnPlanned is a story of God's grace and redemption that should be read by every one determined to build a Culture of Life.
Steven W. Mosher is president of the Population Research Institute (PRI). This book review is reproduced with the PRI's permission. Website: www.pop.org