Abby Johnson is a Hypocrite When it Comes to Abortion

abby johnson anti abortion hypocrite

Evangelical and Roman Catholic blogs and news sites are buzzing with posts about the anti-abortion movie “Unplanned.” Starring Abby Johnson, a former clinic director for Planned Parenthood, the movie supposedly reveals the deep, dark, evil agenda of those who are pro-choice. According to the movie, Johnson had a come-to-Jesus moment and left Planned Parenthood after seeing an ultrasound of 13-week fetus and concluding that it was a baby. Anti-abortionists have turned Johnson into their latest saint, but as the following excerpt from Texas Monthly will show, her story contains omissions, contradictions, and outright lies. Nate Blakeslee writes:

As it happens, the discrepancy between Johnson’s account and Planned Parenthood’s records is just one of many problems with her story. Johnson describes my piece as the “sole source for every other abortion-supporting website to try and debunk my story.” This is flattering but far from true. My report followed on the heels of an account from the online magazine Salon, which was the first to report on an alternative reason Johnson may have quit her job: She had been disciplined by her boss shortly before she had her alleged conversion experience. Johnson, who was in her late twenties when she became clinic director, had been placed on a “performance improvement plan,” a fact she did not deny when I interviewed her not long after the Salon report came out. Johnson claimed she had fallen out of favor because she was resisting pressure to increase the number of abortions the clinic performed (a claim Planned Parenthood denies) and that she was never afraid she was going to be fired. But Salon discovered another curious fact. Johnson did not show up at the offices of the local anti-abortion organization, led by an activist named Shawn Carney, until nine days after she says she had her crisis of conscience. Oddly, she gave a local radio interview attacking Carney’s organization the day after she says she witnessed the disturbing ultrasound. (Johnson told me back in 2009 that she was still struggling with how to handle her crisis of conscience and wanted to keep up appearances.)

Then there was the Texas Observer story, which came out shortly after mine. Observer reporter Saul Elbein managed to land an interview with Johnson’s close friend Laura Kaminczak, who had remained tight with Johnson since college and who had been an assistant director at another Planned Parenthood clinic. The interview is more devastating to Johnson’s credibility than any set of records could ever be. Kaminczak knew all about Johnson’s troubles at work because she had the same troubles herself. She told the Observer that an email exchange between the two friends—one that discussed their respective coworkers in a highly inappropriate fashion—was discovered by one of Kaminczak’s subordinates, who took it up the chain of command. Kaminczak was fired, and Johnson was required to begin reporting to her own boss on a weekly basis.

According to Kaminczak, Johnson was upset, and she lashed out in a way calculated to cause the most harm she possibly could. “This whole thing is really just about a disgruntled employee,” Kaminczak told the Observer. “That’s all. It’s all just her way of getting back at [her boss].” Kaminczak said that Johnson did in fact mention seeing an abortion performed on an ultrasound not long before she quit but that she wasn’t at all upset about it. In fact, Johnson said the clinic’s increased use of ultrasound was likely to result in more effective procedures that were easier on the patient. There was certainly no description, replete with gruesome details, like the one she would later give. That story, Kaminczak said, was “bullshit.”

Johnson’s decision to join the Coalition for Life, the same anti-abortion group that had picketed her clinic for years, was “completely opportunistic,” Kaminczak told the Observer.

“She called me two weeks before this whole thing broke,” Kaminczak said, “and she told me she was thinking about going to the coalition. She had been having serious money problems—she’d been talking about bankruptcy—and she told me that Shawn [Carney] had promised her $3,000 speaking gigs if she came over.”

When Elbein questioned Johnson about Kaminczak’s account, she didn’t deny that the email exchange had occurred, but she insisted that it was not why she had been disciplined, and she denied having told her friend that she was considering declaring bankruptcy.

Johnson did go public with her story and was booked on Bill O’Reilly’s show shortly thereafter. From there the story of the converted clinic director began snowballing and never stopped—despite the investigative reporting done by myself and others.

Much as she did with Texas Monthly, Johnson has dismissed the Texas Observer, which has a long history of award-winning reporting, as a “liberal publication.” (Full disclosure: I worked there sixteen years ago.) But Elbein’s reporting speaks for itself. Kaminczak, who had, after all, just been fired by Planned Parenthood, had no incentive to come to her former employer’s defense. Nor did she have anything to gain by talking to the Observer; sometimes people just tell the truth because it is in their nature to do so.

And sometimes it is not. If you don’t want to believe Johnson’s close friend, how about Johnson herself? As I reported in my original story, Johnson’s own contemporaneous account on Facebook of her decision to leave the clinic does not line up well with the story she began telling publicly a month later. This is what she wrote on the night she quit:

Alright. Here’s the deal. I have been doing the work of two full time people for two years. Then, after I have been working my whole big butt off for them and prioritizing that company over my family, my friends and pretty much everything else in my life, they have the nerve to tell me that my job performance is “slipping.” WHAT???!!! That is crazy. Anyone that knows me knows how committed I was to that job. They obviously do not value me at all. So, I’m out and I feel really great about it!

Johnson never mentioned being pressured to increase abortions, witnessing the ultrasound-guided procedure, or suffering a moral crisis.

I confronted Johnson with these posts in the winter of 2009 in an interview at the offices of the Coalition for Life, which was just down the street from the clinic. Johnson sat on a couch with a cushion in her lap, not far from where she had sat when she told her conversion story for the very first time, to her erstwhile adversary Shawn Carney. He was perched nearby as I questioned Johnson, nodding supportively. Johnson told me, in essence, that the Facebook account was a cover story she cooked up until she could figure out what she really wanted to say.

One of Johnson’s conflicting explanations for why she left has to be false. How are we supposed to judge whether or not Johnson is telling the truth now? Well, in addition to the discrepancies outlined above, she also told me that abortions were performed by a for-profit company at Planned Parenthood (they are not), that local anti-abortion activists had never threatened physical violence (they had), and that she never made plans to go public with her story (she did).

And, of course, there are the records of the procedures performed—or not performed—on that fateful day in Bryan. Johnson seems to feel the version held by the Department of State Health Services—the ones the agency has refused to share with reporters—will vindicate her account. Unless the department changes its current policy, we may never know. But a person could be forgiven for asking if the release of the records would really change anything. If you view Abby Johnson’s story as an inspiring parable of redemption, there’s likely very little that would change your mind. Likewise, if you don’t think the government—or anyone else—should be telling women not to have abortions, are you really going to go see this movie?

The Abby Johnson story is a rabbit hole. I, for one, am climbing out. Enjoy the film.

Johnson, a Baptist-turned-Lutheran-turned-Episcopalian-turned Catholic, had two abortion herself before giving birth to her daughter. Johnson and her husband have seven children.

13 week fetus

13 week fetus


Recently, Johnson was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe in punishing women who seek to have abortion services.”  When asked if she supports abolishing abortion in Texas, Johnson replied, “Of course. But I don’t support bills that criminalize women.” Johnson believes women who have abortions are “victims,” not criminals. And therein is revealed the hypocrisy of Abby Johnson and many of her fellow anti-abortion zealots. If life begins at fertilization and abortion is murder, then those who materially participate in aborting a fetus are guilty of capital murder. Johnson wants abortion doctors prosecuted for murder, but not the women having the abortions. Of course, she has to believe this due to her own abortions. To say that women should be prosecuted for murdering their “babies” means that Johnson, herself, should be arrested and charged with a capital crime; a crime, by the way, that carries the death penalty in Texas.

In Texas, you don’t have to actually pull the trigger to be charged with murder. If you materially participate in a murder, in the eyes of the law you are just as guilty as the person who snuffed out a person’s life. If, as anti-abortionist say, abortion is murder, then everyone who participates in the procedure: doctor, nurse, clinic staff, and patient, are guilty of homicide. Is this not the logical conclusion of believing life begins at conception? Why do anti-abortionists such as Johnson refuse to own this fact? The same goes for anti-abortionists who make exceptions for rape and incest. The only rationally sound anti-abortion — I refuse to use the term pro-life since most pro-lifers are only concerned with the pre-born — position is one that outlaws and criminalizes abortion regardless of the reason.

Let me conclude this post with one further observation about the “abortion is murder” position. If it is God who opens and closes the womb, and Jesus holds in his hand the keys to life and death, doesn’t this make the Christian God the greatest abortionist and murderer since Adam and Eve got off the Ark? Far more inseminated eggs/fetuses are miscarried than are aborted. Who is culpable for these miscarriages? Damn, theology is a bitch, isn’t it? God alone is to blame for miscarriages, thus he is the greatest abortionist of all time. And if this is true, shouldn’t God be arrested, charged with murder, and executed? Most Evangelical anti-abortionists are pro-death penalty. These immoral hypocrites believe serial killers, mass murderers, and abortion doctors should be executed. Fine, but shouldn’t God face the same punishment? Or are his “murders” somehow different from those committed by mere mortals? Perhaps it is time for God to be strapped to a gurney and given a lethal injection. If abortion is murder, how can Evangelicals arrive at any other conclusion but this one?

Other posts on abortion

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Abortion and the Religious Right

Quote of the Day: Why Women Have Abortions After 24 Weeks by Dr. Jen Gunter

Quote of the Day: The Facts About Late-Term Abortions by Dr. Jen Gunter

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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  1. ObstacleChick

    Don’t forget the (supposed) worldwide flood story and the (supposed) conquest of Canaan where God murdered the unborn and the born in the former and ordered his army to murder all in the latter. Oh that’s right, evangelicals like to leave out uncomfortable details such as those.

    1. Hugh D. Young

      It’s called ‘Divine Command Theory’…….Gawwd is ALWAYS right no matter how he behaves. Atheist Activist Matt Dillahunty has a very good video presentation about this on YouToob.

  2. Troy

    I’m inclined to give her a pass on her hypocrisy. Doesn’t really matter if it is her being a disgruntled employee or had some sort of ultrasound revelation. It is more likely than not that she is sincere.
    The movie itself isn’t going to be all that widely viewed. Oh and the recent congressional testimony by one of the producers that nearly 100 planned parenthood techs resigned is pure b.s similarly to the movie. (The entire movie’s purpose is to incite and will not have any cross examination of its thesis and will no doubt be fast and loose with facts, because there is no reason for accuracy or integrity.)

    The notion that if a pro-life law is passed it would exempt the potential mother as a “victim” is laughable. Not only that the law will extend its tentacles to include women who have spontaneous miscarriages. It’s already been done in the U.S. and is common in countries that outlaw abortion.
    When Trump was asked about it, he had to walk back his original assertion that there would be punishment for women. Not sure why they do this, but Trump was right for once…if abortion is outlawed, it’ll be a crime to provide one or arrange for one. As a recent proposed Texas law clearly indicates, the more south you get, the more draconian the law will be (yes the punishment was ironically death).

  3. marfin

    Leaving Christianity and atheism out of it , in the UK a baby was born premature at a weight of 12 oz and has survived and is now doing fine, does this not tells us something .When a woman has a miscarriage she is usually very upset and we sympathise with her but if she has an abortion its somehow different , does the act change the nature of the life that ended.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      It tells us medical technology has greatly improved. That said, 90-96 percent of such births end with the fetus dying. Pretty poor average, even for God.

      1. Brian Vanderlip

        Ha! You humanists! You assume that because God decides 90-96% die that HIS average is low! It is exactly as HE wants it. And exactly reflects that religions following such delusion prefer the misery doled out by it. God’s average is impeccable, perfect, just what the doctor ordered. Now, where did I leave that hair-shirt?

  4. Karen the rock whisperer

    It speaks to the authoritarian mindset that people who want something to stop, immediately declare that it should be outlawed. History teaches us that outlawing abortion simply leads to back-alley abortions, just as Prohibition was the parent of speakeasies. Better to understand why women want those abortions, and deal with the triggering factors. If the US were a nation that promoted birth control for people not wanting to make babies, that would help.
    If the country supported its poor, provided uniformly good medical care to everyone (including birth control), assisted pregnant women with the immediate hits to income that happen during and after pregnancy, I think the abortion rate would plummet. One area where abortion rates wouldn’t plummet would be late-term abortions–because those are either medically necessary or involve the abortion of a fetus so malformed that it would live for a very short time after birth.

    But noooo, who cares about the parents? Certainly not the forced-birth people. We can’t possibly provide for our people in the US, that would be Evil and Against God’s Plan! We absolutely mustn’t allow late-term abortions, that’s a BAAAYYYBBBEEEEE being aborted! Who cares if the mother dies, that’s God’s will!

    I am so tired of this BS.

  5. JW

    638,000 abortions in 2015. Yet according to the CDC, only 131,000 annually babies are born with some kind of birth defect, most not life threatening. That means over 500,000 abortions are just birth control. And statistically, only 1,000 pregnancies annually result in the mother’s death. Explain 500,000 abortions. Laziness? Ambivalence? Recklessly irresponsible? When the parents, and society in general value their precious status quo more than the life of a baby, this is what happens.

    1. Grammar Gramma

      No woman has to explain to you why she has an abortion. Who are you to judge? Every woman should be entitled to determine what happens to her own body without interference from holier-than-thou people such as you! Who are you to say that a woman who does not know how she is going to feed and house the children she already has should have another one? Who are you to say that a woman who has mental or physical difficulties should bring to term a pregnancy she doesn’t want and cannot handle? Who are you to say that ANY woman should have to have a child she doesn’t want? What happens to a woman’s pregnancy should be strictly between her and her doctor, without interference from Congress or from busy-bodies such as you!

    2. Becky Wiren

      People like you cry about the unborn but are perfectly happy if living children are hungry, or in a camp at the border without their needs being taken care of. Spare me your pity for those who haven’t been born.

    3. JW

      Given all the environmental, resource, and other problems that over-population is causing, one wonders why some desire that there be even more people. Explain this bizarre urge to fill the world with 500,000 more people. Ignorance? Ambivalence? Reckless irresponsibility? A perverse desire to see their own starving friends and family eat one another? When one blindly adopts a principle and pushes it upon others without understanding their situation nor fully considering the potential impacts, this is what happens.

      (Aside: it’s quite easy and even lazy to criticize others when you don’t know their circumstances, but I’m more than happy to criticize YOU, Evil-JW, on your attitude alone!)

    4. Sylver

      I can explain abortion in three words.


      When you were throwing out all these numbers did you take the opportunity to comprehend them? Did you take the opportunity to look at them within their socio-economic context?

      Okay, allow me to throw out some information in the form of numbers to you now:

      Did you know that there are 44 million people in this country that are uninsured? So what does that mean exactly, well in terms of contraceptives like coils which cost little to nothing for the insured, the uninsured have to pay $1,300 for the procedure. If you are living in poverty are you really going to be able to afford that? It might explain why 75% of all abortions are people who come from low-income status. There is a correlation between poverty and abortion and this is pretty telling stuff.

      Did you know that not everyone can take the pill whether it be genetics or intolerances there are several women who simply cannot take the pill or similar contraceptives? That leaves them in a state of having to abstain from sexual activities and adult life experiences when they shouldn’t have to.

      Condoms only work when applied properly and 15%-20% of the time they are not applied properly.

      Education is garbage in this country. We teach abstinence in this country and the evidence suggests to us that teaching abstinence doesn’t work. America’s unhealthy relationship with sex education is a problem and when compared to other countries that have healthier attitudes they incidentally have lower abortion rates.

      Religion shames women all the time for having sex before marriage, treating women like they are chewed up gum for having sex before marriage. Some religious communities have rigorous and very uncomfortable interviews for young women all of the time. Purity culture can be very damaging in that regard and let’s face it there is a reason 62% of women who have an abortion are affiliated with religion in some form or other. I should point you in the direction of the Transformed Wife, Morgan and Paul, Biblical Gender Roles, and Girl Defined as examples of how religion plays a part in telling women what their roles and their lives should look like in very dangerous ways.

      Contraception deserts. We don’t talk about it, but more than 19 million women live in regions where there’s little to no access to health centers and in order to have control over your reproductive outcomes you must first have access. This is in America btw.

      So let’s talk about what is going on globally.

      In developed countries, abortion is actually on the decline, more so in countries where contraceptives are pushed and pushed and pushed. Accessible to everyone. Not shamed by religious morons like the Transformed Wife. What does the research tell us, it tells us when contraceptives are accessible, affordable, and widely used abortions go down. The information I provided above shows how we fall behind a lot of other countries, especially European countries, in that regard.

      What we also know is that abortions increase the most under two restrictive categories 1. only to save the mothers life and 2. banned outright. That’s right, the more restrictions you put on abortion the greater the increase you see in abortion, it’s funny how that works, but restricting and banning abortion has been shown time and time again that it doesn’t stop or decrease abortion it gives it a bit of an increase and it makes it more dangerous. So instead of 34 to 1,000 women having an abortion, you get an increase of 37 to 1,000 women having an abortion.

      Now let’s look at North America with its somewhat liberal laws on abortion compared to Latin America with its horribly restrictive laws on abortion.

      In NA the abortion rate is 17 per 1,000 women.
      In LA the abortion rate is 44 per 1,000 women.

      What’s lazy, ambivalent, and irresponsible is throwing out numbers that look impressive without understanding context. Also, I don’t consider a fetus or an embryo to be a baby. I also think a fetus or an embryo has about as much claim over a mother’s body as I have to your internal organs. If all life is precious then would you be willing to sacrifice your internal organs to me without consent, by law, if I demanded access to your organs? It’s a different story then, isn’t it?

  6. Nancy

    I held their hands, hugged them, went to appointments. Supporting my friends in our younger years when they found themselves facing unwanted pregnancies. Afterward, they went on with their lives, some married, some had families. One even became a pro-abortion activist, encouraging other woman to make the choice she did. It only took her 23 years to have the breakdown that all of the others had. Finally, finally, she opened the floodgates of regret and grief.
    Never had an abortion myself, won’t judge. Not my place. All I know is that my friends who did have one, regretted it the rest of their lives. Some are grandmothers now. Some were never able to get pregnant again.

    1. Grammar Gramma

      Isn’t it funny that the statement “I won’t judge,” is almost always followed by a judgmental statement.

    2. Sylver

      And your story is entirely anecdotal and applies only to the people you know and not to the overall population. Do some women regret having an abortion, yes, but for every woman who regrets it there’s a woman who believes it was the right choice. Anecdotal fallacy, it’s a fallacy because anecdotes are relative not facts.

  7. Brian

    Hey, it’s worse than that, if the anti-abortionists read their bibles they’d know that their “god”, unlike the pro-choice people, is actually pro abortion:

    “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah[c] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

    “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”
    “‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”
    “‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the Lord and bring it to the altar. The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial[e] offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.”

    This is about the only passage in the bible mentioning abortions, and not only is yhwh condoning abortions, but in certain circumstances, he is demanding them.


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