The success of the movie “Unplanned” has taken many people by surprise—and today, my friend, Abby Johnson is joining me to discuss the advances in the fight for life and the struggle that we still face as we strive to make abortion not just illegal—but unthinkable.
- Pro-Life Women Conference
- ATTWN (And Then There Were None)
- Unplanned, watch the trailer here
- Abby Johnson, website
Join us at MomStrong International for our newest Bible Study and Scripture Writing!
Abby Johnson, founder and director of And Then There Were None
Abby Johnson worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years, working her way up through the ranks to become the clinic director a clinic in Bryan, Texas. She was Planned Parenthood’s Employee of the Year in 2008 but she walked away from her job after witnessing the abortion of a 13-week-old fetus during an ultrasound-guided abortion. She left Planned Parenthood and instantly became a national news headline for her defection, which led to a pro-life speaking career. In 2012, she founded And Then There Were None, the only ministry in the nation that helps abortion workers leave their jobs and find new ones out of the industry. To date, she has helped nearly 500 abortion workers quit. Her bestselling book, Unplanned, is being made into a feature film, which will be released on March 29th under the same name. She and her husband, Doug, have seven children, with their eighth due in June 2019.
Hey everybody. This is Heidi St. John, welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad you guys have joined me today. Today is Friday, May 10th—episode number 746. And as promised, my guest Abby Johnson is on the podcast with me today. We’re going to talk a little bit more about the movie Unplanned and the fight for life here in the United States.
Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right everybody—so thank you so much for tuning in today. We’ve been talking about this now for quite a while—and the pro-life movement, you guys have heard me say, I believe gaining momentum largely because of ultrasound technology and because of brave men and women who have chosen to step in the gap for the unborn around the world. And Abby Johnson has got to be at the front of this movement right now. I am thrilled because she’s taken time out of her busy schedule—and it is busy—to join me today. Abby is the founder and director of And Then There Were None.
If you haven’t heard her story—she used to work for Planned Parenthood for eight years and worked her way up through the ranks to become a clinic director in Bryan, Texas. And she was Planned Parenthood’s employee of the year in 2008, but walked away after witnessing the abortion of a 13 week old fetus during an ultrasound guided abortion. Abby is the voice behind the best selling book Unplanned, which has now been made into a feature film. And she’s just doing amazing things for the Lord and for the cause of the unborn child. She and her husband Doug have seven children, with their eighth due in in June. So Abby Johnson, welcome to the podcast.
[Abby] Thank you. Thank you so much for having me on.
[Heidi] I’m so happy that you took the time. You are incredibly busy right now doing amazing things for the Lord, and you’re gonna have a baby here pretty quick, woman.
[Abby] I know, I know! My due date June 1st—so yeah, I’m hoping sometime around that time.
[Heidi] I know. And now, most of most of the people that I know have seen your little guy on ultrasound, right?
[Abby] Yes yes. It was so amazing. And that was actually the first 3-D that we had had of this baby—so everybody got to see the baby at the same time that we did.
[Heidi] That’s amazing. And it was really—it was kind of amazing to watch. I’ve read several articles that said that when that baby’s heartbeat was heard in Times Square that you could’ve heard a pin drop. That the protesters stop. Is that true? Because I wasn’t there. But that the protesting stopped. People were quiet and just listening.
[Abby] Yes. And I mean, like Times Square is just like loud anyway. Right? If you’re going to stay in a hotel in Times Square—good luck getting any sleep, right?
[Heidi] You’re not gonna sleep.
[Abby] It’s just like busy all the time. It’s loud all the time. And there were quite a few protesters there, of course New York—and they have like drums and it was loud. They were loud. But as soon as the baby’s ultrasound image came up on the screen it was like—so silent. I mean it was like, you could hear nothing. It was almost eerie because it was so quiet in Times Square.
[Heidi] That’s amazing.
[Abby] And then you just heard like this really loud, like heartbeat. And it was amazing. It was just—it was really cool. Somebody said it was like the Holy Spirit just, in that moment, descended over Times Square. And that’s how it felt. There was just silence and everybody was fixated on the life of this child.
[Heidi] Wow. Well it’s an amazing testimony. You know, my husband and I are always saying that the argument for abortions are getting weaker, and weaker, and weaker—because we’ve made so many medical advances. Because of technology, like ultrasound, and you cannot deny the humanity of an unborn baby when you see a silhouette and hear a beating heart.
[Abby] Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And it was so weird because like, later on Twitter—I saw somebody a pro-lifer was talking about the ultrasound and there was somebody, an abortion supporter, that came on there that was like—this is just so weird and gross. And I’m like—What is weird and gross about, like a heartbeat—of a baby. I don’t know, I just think like that, you know in Scripture it talks about good will be called evil and evil will be called good. And sometimes people who are wrapped up in that sort of evil in their lives—like they are physically repulsed by God’s truth. And I feel like what we proclaim that day was God’s truth. That there is life in the womb and that these children are His creation. And so, that would be gross and repulsive to them if they are standing against God.
[Heidi] Yeah that’s totally right. And we’re coming up with every kind of excuse in the world for abortion right now. I know that you heard, like I did, John Rogers—who’s a Democrat out of Alabama—trying to defend abortion in the state of Alabama. He was saying that some kids are wanted and some kids are not wanted. So you can kill him now or kill him later. And I heard this just outcry from people. But I told my husband—I’m kind of glad they’re showing themselves for who they really are when. When you heard that—what was your what was your first response to that?
[Abby] Yeah. You know honestly, I was so flabbergasted by what he said. I mean the media was asking me for a response and I was like—y’all are gonna have to give me a minute because I like have to process what this man actually just said. Like I need to think about the words that just came out of his mouth because it was just so vile. And I just started thinking, though, like I was I was really—just sort of praying about it. And I was thinking, and I just thought—you know, this is the society that we’re living in.
We’re living in this throwaway culture where we are basically saying if you’re unwanted you’re not valuable. And instead what we should be doing is saying—you are wanted, there is someone who wants you, there is someone who loves you. And we should be accompanying each other and living life with each other. Not simply saying: life is hard, you should be killed.
And I just look at that societal impact of this throwaway culture that we’re living in with high suicide rates—particularly among young people—because people don’t feel loved, they don’t feel wanted. It’s that sort of rhetoric that makes them feel that way.
[Heidi] And so damaging. It’s so damaging to our children, it’s so damaging when we’re telling our children, right, —that they came from an ape, that they’ve evolved. We have been devaluing life for many years in the culture right now. And then we took abortion and we made it a political issue, instead of a moral issue. And I was talking with my friend Sam Sabo on her radio show about this the other day, and she was asking the question—when did abortion become political? And I thought she was so wise. She said the reason it’s become political is because the church has been told not to get into politics. And if you make it a political issue—they can shut you up. Now it’s a political—and sort of now it’s a political football. When you look at abortion and you see how how political and how polarizing it’s become, what is your response to that for the for the Christian who’s looking at that saying—I just don’t know if I’m going to tip toe into that. I don’t know. I don’t want to get involved in politics. What do you say to that to that person, to those parents?
[Abby] You know, for me—I mean abortion is not a political issue. Unfortunately it has become that since many people see it that way. I guess because it is the abortion laws that dictate the right to an abortion in our country. But that’s when I really just try to bring it back and help people understand that, you know, our end goal as people of faith—as people who support life—our end goal has to be to make abortion unthinkable, not just to make abortion illegal. And when you think about it that way, and you and you think about the support that we should be providing, that the church should be providing to those in need—particularly those who are going through crisis pregnancy, those who are struggling with their children , whatever it may be—it really puts the responsibility back on us and it takes it away from the government. And that’s where I feel like these sorts of issues should lie. I feel like they should lie within the churches and within our communities.
[Heidi] I had a friend who said to me many years ago—that if the church was doing its job, if the church would get off the bench and get onto the battlefield and get involved—we wouldn’t need so many of these social programs that we’re touting right now. It’s because people who know the Lord, and who know His Word, and want to serve God—have really, in many ways, moved away from the discussion and that’s certainly been the case here in Portland, Oregon where I am from. And I feel like we’re seeing, I hope and I love to hear what you think about this—I have felt now for at least a couple of years—and Unplanned is just pushed it way out there—that the wind is really at the back of the pro-life movement right now. And that the Holy Spirit is really moving in the church, particularly in this area. Are you seeing that too? Please tell me it’s not just me. Please tell me that you see it.
[Abby] Yeah it’s been interesting to see because, even at the political level, it’s been interesting to see how how brazen the abortion community has been has become. I mean when I worked at Planned Parenthood ten years ago, abortion was still something that we talked about as needing to be safe, legal, and rare—right? But now it’s like — everybody shout your abortion, and everybody be proud of your abortion, and wear T-shirts. I feel like we’ve seen this huge shift and it’s almost like they’re just sort of doubling down.I mean, they can’t like defend what they’re doing anymore so they’re just gonna act like they’re super proud of it. But there’s definitely been, definitely definitely definitely, been a shift.
[Heidi] Yeah I think so, and really I mean—I saw, I was reading a news article the other day where they’d set up crosses and there were women like stepping on the crosses, and shouting about how they’d had abortions. And I I looked at my daughter, my 27 year old daughter, and I just said—I never imagined that I would live in a time when we were literally proud of killing children. And I feel like that’s where we are now.
[Abby] Yeah, it’s totally where we are. It’s interesting, I was talking to a friend of mine and she said people who are pro-choice— it’s like they become illogical just to prove their point. And I was like—oh my gosh you’re so right because like, I’ve talked to people before in person and you know, on social media—and it’s like they become just insane when they start trying to defend abortion. So like I’ll start comparing it to slavery or something, and they will literally say—well you know, it was the slave owners choice whether they wanted… and I’m like—you would never say that…
[Heidi] Oh my goodness!
[Abby] … you would never say that in any other conversation. But because you are so hell bent on defending abortion, you’re willing to now say slavery was OK. I mean it’s like, it’s so illogical.
[Heidi] Yeah. And you can see it is a spirit of confusion behind it. It is so demonic in nature that the enemy would go after a generation, and now two generations, three generations of children—to keep them from ever having their voices heard. And I love that you said—I heard one time that someone was talking about unwanted children and you so rightly said: there are no unwanted children. Can you explain that to people who are listening? Because when you said that, I was like—Oh my word that should be the bumper sticker on every car. There are no unwanted children. How do you know that that’s true?
[Abby] Well first of all, every person created is created in the image of God. And He doesn’t make junk. He doesn’t make things that are unwanted. And so every single one of us is wanted and loved by our Heavenly Father. So that just sort of you know a given. But when we look at just the numbers, just the sheer numbers, there were two hundred thousand people waiting to adopt children in our country. There are, I live in Texas, there are adoption agencies that have actually had to close because they have so many families waiting to adopt and they have zero babies for them to take. And I mean, that just goes to show like—there are people not really wanting these children, but we live now in such a throwaway culture, that we don’t even see that the only way that someone is seen as valuable is if they are wanted, and that such a lie. Because we are all wanted, desperately, by our Heavenly Father. And we are all one desperately by someone who wants to make that child a part of their family.
[Heidi] It’s so important. I think if we could shift the conversation, I wonder what would happen if instead of our government sending money to Planned Parenthood—if they started sending money to adoption agencies, to people who are wanting to adopt. I mean when, since when did it become so so expensive and so difficult?I’ve talked to many friends here in my area and around the country where I’m speaking—that say how expensive it was for them to get into the adoption agencies. And yet here we’re throwing all this money at Planned Parenthood ,which all they’re doing is murdering children.I wonder what would happen if we took that money and we started saying—Hey, we’re gonna start helping these moms bring their babies to term, and give them life, and put them in homes where they are wanted, and loved, and desperately prayed for.
[Abby] Oh my gosh —So adoption is expensive. We’re an adoptive family. It is expensive. I didn’t even mind paying the 20 thousand dollars to adopt a child because I was getting a child. Right? We didn’t have 20 thousand dollars burning a hole in our pocket, but you know what? We figured it out. We made it work. God made a way for us. But here’s the thing, we’ve got two hundred thousand couples that have the money available to adopt a child. Like can we start incentivizing something for these women—because it’s the laws that are making the choices to have an abortion. I’m like, can we provide mental health benefits for them to help them through the adoption process? Can we incentivize, some sort of tax break?—I don’t know what the solution is. I’m like—if we’re spending half a billion dollars and sending that to Planned Parenthood, I can think of a gazillion different ways that we can increase adoptions and decrease the adoption stereotype in our country. And I just, I mean—I don’t understand why we keep funneling money to an organization that wants to destroy children when there are so many other options available to help people decide to parent, or place for adoption, or whatever it may be. I feel like we need to be utilizing that resource and taking the money away from organizations that kill… and giving it to life.
[Heidi] Absolutely. That’s absolutely right. And honestly, if we’re going to really look at the situation for what it is—we are complicit in that. We’re complicit in it every time we vote people into office who say that they don’t care, or it doesn’t matter, or we’re going to keep funding because abortion is health care—which we know it isn’t. Abortion is not health care—it makes me crazy everytime I see those bumper stickers and those billboards—and instead, start saying hey, let’s incentivize moms who are in these situations so that they say—hey, not only are they going to help me but I actually feel valuable in this situation. I feel like I’m getting the support that I need. Because so often they’re just not getting it.
And so we see these moms who are hurting—and the other thing I loved about your message is that you’re saying, so often behind these women who are going for abortions and they feel like they don’t have any other choice—they are in so much pain. They’re hurting. And we need to say—hey, you’re loved. Your loved.
And that one of the best ways we can do that is to get involved in the pro-life movement.
For the parents who are listening to this right now and they’re saying—hey, I want to get off the bench—a big theme of my podcast for listeners is always to say get off the bench and get onto the battlefield. Get off the sidelines and onto the front lines. We need your voice. We need your encouragement we need your support.
When you talk to people who say—I want to help, I just don’t know where to start—point those parents, lots of teens listen to this podcast, point them in the right direction. How can people get off the bench and onto the battlefield of this issue in the culture right now?
[Abby] Well first of all they need to know what resources are available to women in their community. They need to know how to search for pregnancy resource centers. You need to know where the pregnancy resource centers are in your community. You need to go visit with them. You need to go listen to the services that they offer. Go do a tour of their building. They would love to have you come by one day. Know what is available, what they can provide, how they can help women who find themselves in a crisis. Know where your local adoption agencies are. Know the pro-life doctors in your community. That’s huge because you don’t want to send a woman who’s scared and feeling vulnerable to some doctor you looked up on Google who may be pro-choice—and then encourages her to have an abortion. Because women listen to their doctors. They trust doctors. So we need to be sure that we are supporting pro-life physicians in our own community, that we’re supporting hospitals that support life. So I mean we need to know what the resources are. That’s a huge part of….Well it’s a big gap, honestly, in the pro-life movement. We’re just not educated. And I’ve told people it’s like, you know, we are in a war, right? We are in a spiritual battle right now. And it’s like, there would be no let instance where like—let’s say the United States was going to war—and we had no plan. And so-and-so said—who’s our enemy? And we’d say—oh we don’t know. We haven’t really looked him up. We don’t really know anything about that.
That would be ridiculous, okay. Like, you have to know the strategy of your opponent. You have to know your opponent. Know where your local abortion clinics are. Know when they’re open. Know how far along they do abortions. Know where they refer to. And so then you can be better equipped to then intercede, and intervene, and reach those women and get them into life affirming places.
I mean we’re just sort of doing this, like we’re just like flying by the seat of our pants. And that’s so irresponsible. So we need to actually know our resources and what’s available. Know where your local WIC office is. Know how women in your community are able to sign up for state Medicaid benefits for prenatal care. Like, know it. Know where those resources are. Also, there are so many abortion clinics around the country. We need you standing and praying for those clinics. You don’t have to say anything. In fact if you’re not trained on what to say—please don’t say anything, because you could really mess it up. But just, you know, go out there and pray.
One of the most powerful statistics I heard from the last Planned Parenthood conference I ever went to — I went into a session that was called Anti-Choice Harassment. So that’s of course those lessons that go out to the clinic. And what they said was, that they had done some data compiling and they had found that the typical no-show rate for an abortion appointment—so women who have abortion appointments but then just don’t show up—is around 20%. But what they also found was that when there are people standing outside peacefully praying in front of those, the no-show rate goes up to as high as 75%. That is huge.
[Heidi] No kidding.
[Heidi] That is crazy!
[Abby] Yeah. And so, go out there. Pray. I think it’s because we are showing these women that there is something morally objectionable about what they’re doing. We are sort of like an outward sign of their inward conscience. And I can’t tell you how many times—women I’ve been standing out there praying or sidewalk counseling—and women have approached me and said: oh my gosh, I prayed the entire way over here that God would show me a sign that I shouldn’t be doing this. And I walked up and you guys were here and that’s my sign.
So I mean, just you being there saves lives. I mean that should be enough motivation for all of us to go and just stand and pray. It’s so simple, it’s so easy.
[Heidi] And it’s just so powerful, and it’s a reminder like what you said. I mean the Bible says in Ephesians 6 that this isn’t a flesh and blood battle. We’re literally fighting with the enemy of our soul right now. And that prayer is powerful. I think sometimes we forget how powerful it is, and just that reminder that hey—you guys just going out there. I mean 75%! Abby, that is nuts. I had never heard that. Never heard that before. That’s amazing. It really is.
[Abby] Yea! It really is!
[Heidi] So, I got to ask you because everybody is going to want to know. The success of Unplanned in terms of changing hearts and minds and what the Lord is doing through your story and your willingness—basically to expose Planned Parenthood for the evil wicked organization that it is—have you been, I mean honestly how blown away are you by what by what God is allowing you to do through your story of working for Planned Parenthood, and and seeing an ultrasound guided abortion? I tried to put myself in your shoes and I just can’t even do it. And yet here the Lord is doing something amazing. How’s that playing out in your life? I really want to know.
[Abby] Yeah, I mean it’s been definitely crazy to see all of this happen. I mean, I don’t know—I guess I just I didn’t know what the impact would be. I was like—are people really going to go watch this movie? You know, I just didn’t know. I mean it’s been so crazy just to see the response and the lives that have been changed has been really incredible. We’re getting messages all the time from people who went and saw the film, they walked in pro-choice—they walked out pro-life. And we’re getting stories every day of women who are considering abortion and they went to go see the film just to check it out—and now they’ve made a decision for life for their babies. I mean, I thought like maybe a hundred people would go see it, right? So you just don’t know how powerful God can use our testimony. I mean he really wants to use our testimonies and our stories if we’ll let Him. And it’s just been really an honor to see the impact.
[Heidi] It’s amazing because you could have let the enemy silence your witness, right? You could have taken on the shame, taken on all of that condemnation that comes from the enemy. But instead, you let the Holy Spirit make you—really a mouthpiece, and a voice that’s having an incredible impact. I’m just—I don’t even know you girl, and I’m just so proud of you! I’m so proud of you! Every time I see what you’re doing, I’m like—that woman is on fire! She is straight fire! I just think it’s amazing. You have a pro-life women’s conference coming up in June, right? Are you going to be there? Don’t you have to have a baby at some point?
[Abby] Yeah, I’m totally going to be there. I’m bringing the baby. So I’m driving. It’s only like seven hours. So I’m loaded up and driving.
[Heidi] Driving with a newborn.
[Abby] Yes, driving with a newborn.
[Heidi] I got to tell you, Abby. So I speak for a living. And I’m on the road—like we’ve been on the road with our kids for 15 years. And I had a newborn with me, speaking at an event—and I just got done nursing her and I went to kind of pat her back, I was gonna burp her, and then get up on the stage. I was gonna give her to a mom who wanted to hold her and she spit up on me! Like I’m not even kidding. She’s just spit up on me and it went like down my shirt, into my shoes. It was like a catastrophe of a spit up explosion, right?— extravaganza. And I looked at the moms and I was like—I’ve got spit up in my shoes, you guys mind if I take them off? Yeah—It’s like it’s like a mom song, you know like a spit up song.
So I’m so excited for you! How can women find out about your pro-life women’s conference in June?
[Abby] Yeah. So easy—they can go to ProLifeWomen.com. So I started this conference five years ago. I could not believe that in all these years of trying to end abortion, we had never assembled as pro-life women and said—Hey like, you know—What can we do here? How can we assemble? How can we strategize? How can we network together? So then I’m like, I’m trying to decide what I’m going to call the conference. Like, am I going to call it something like trendy, you know, or whatever? But I have to have a domain name it go with the with the name of the conference. And so, I’m like—well I don’t know, I guess I could just be boring call it Pro-Life Women’s Conference. But I thought well, I mean, what would be open? I mena, surely Pro-Life Woman won’t be open. But I happen to go online to check it—and it was open! Like ProLifeWomen.con was open. And I thought—OK, this is the exact reason why we are still floundering about in the movement and cannot get it together.
I mean the fact that Pro-Life Women was open on namechief.com is like insane to me. And I was like—this is it. Like the media has been directing this narrative for so long that— you know, in order to be a woman you have to support abortion. And that is a lie. And so it’s such a powerful thing, all these women coming together from all over the country. We’ve even had people we had women from like Africa, from Australia. I mean it’s like worldwide—they’re coming together. They’re getting to know each other. They’re making lifelong friendships. They’re partnering on projects together. I mean it’s so incredible.
And that is what the abortion movement is really good at. They’re really good at coming together and strategizing. And so we have to do the same sort of thing. And this is the first conference of its kind that actually does that. And I have a friend who, we are on completely different sides of the spectrum regarding politics, and she works for BuzzFeed. And she ended up coming to the conference.
[Heidi] Oh wow!
[Abby] Yeah, she wanted to write a story about the conference. And she wrote this really awesome like beautiful article.
[Heidi] I bet she did.
[Abby] Yeah well she did a great job.
[Heidi] That is awesome!
[Abby] And then of course her like, pro-choice readers were super mad at her for writing like this glowing article. So anyway, she comes to the conference. She looks around. She looks me she goes—Abby, if this is what the pro-life movement looked like everywhere, everybody would be pro-life. It’s so beautiful, it’s so empowering, it’s so uplifting. She was like—everybody would be pro-life. And I thought that’s the highest compliment I think I’ve ever received for this conference because she is not pro-life. But she recognizes the beauty of women coming together to tackle this very important issue.
[Heidi] That is amazing. That’s amazing. Abby Johnson, you are amazing. You really are. I’m so—I just feel so honored to be able to talk with you and let your voice come out on the platform that the Lord has given to me. And I just hope that anybody who’s listening who is anywhere near, will come to your Pro-Life Women’s Conference. What a great name Pro-Life Women’s Conference in June. It’s in New Orleans. You guys, Abby is going to be there with her baby—what could be better than that?
So if you guys want more information on the Pro-Life Women’s Conference you can find it in the show notes today about Abby’s ministry: And Then There Were None. I will link back to all things Abby Johnson and Unplanned in the show notes today. Abby you are a precious, amazing woman. Thank you so much for joining me on the show today.
[Abby] Thank you so much for having me.
[Heidi] So you guys, if you want more information about Abby Johnson—please click on the show notes. Just go to HeidiStJohn.com/podcast, and they’ll be available for you. Also the transcription will be available as well.
If you haven’t joined us for a monthly Bible Study you can do that right now at MomStrongInternational.com. Thanks for listening everybody, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
Write to Heidi:
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682