Abortion may be one of the most hotly debated topics in America, but it’s a word that not many people can readily — and accurately — define. The abortion industry uses vague terms like “choice,” “autonomy,” “reproductive rights” or “reproductive health,” “essentially a miscarriage,” and “gently emptying the uterus” to cloud the conversation. In a discussion of abortion, we are told to consider only the mother and her choice. The other party is only a “product of conception” or an “undifferentiated mass of uterine matter.”
Equally vague is our language about the way abortions are performed, which we hardly ever hear described in medical terms. That is why the recently released film Unplanned is so important. Seeing the truth about abortion will change people’s minds on the procedure and society’s view of this heinous human-rights abuse. It did for us.
Unplanned tells the story of a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who comes face to face with the reality of abortion. That director was me. I worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years but, mid-career, I began to have misgivings. I saw that Planned Parenthood was willing to fire employees if they did not meet their abortion quotas and that there were monetary bonuses for directors who did meet the quotas. I saw how that lent itself to the pressuring and manipulation of pregnant women in our clinics.
I reached the breaking point on September 26, 2009, when a doctor asked me to help with an ultrasound-guided abortion. I had never seen one performed. I watched in horror as a 13-week-old baby fought for its life . . . and lost. An abortion doctor connected one end of tubing to a suction machine and inserted the other end into the pregnant woman lying in front of us. “Beam me up, Scotty,” the abortionist said, and the machine turned on. I saw the tiny baby began to squirm.
I remember it so clearly. The suction machine used in an “aspiration (D&C) abortion” has ten to 20 times the force of a household vacuum cleaner. For the briefest moment, the baby looked as if it were being wrung like a dishcloth, twirled and squeezed. And then it crumpled and began disappearing into the tubing before my eyes. The last thing I saw was the tiny, perfectly formed backbone sucked into the tube, and then it was gone. And the uterus was empty. Totally empty. After that, the abortionist used a sharp metal device called a curette to remove the baby’s remains from the mother’s uterus and completed the abortion.
I knew then that I had to expose the truth about Planned Parenthood and the violent death from which the group profits. My life would never be the same. I left Planned Parenthood and soon after started a group called And Then There Were None to provide counseling and clear action steps for those seeking to leave the abortion industry. Now I travel the country speaking the truth about Planned Parenthood and encouraging Americans to call for an end to government support of this unsavory organization, which has been implicated in potentially criminal behavior.
Abby is not the only woman whose life was changed by witnessing the harsh reality of abortion. As a young girl, I saw a photograph of an aborted baby, only ten weeks old, in a pro-life book tucked away on my family’s bookshelf. That image stuck with me. I saw the image of tiny arms and legs, torn apart by a powerful suction abortion, and I remember thinking, “Is this real?”
I soon found that it was indeed real, and worse, that the baby pictured there was one of the millions killed in similar ways. I knew I had to do something to make sure as many people as possible knew the truth about abortion.
But that turned out to be difficult. The abortion industry has a vested interest in keeping the gory details about abortion under wraps. In an effort to document what goes on behind Planned Parenthood’s doors, I began working as an undercover investigative journalist, bringing the grim reality of the abortion industry to light by recording conversations with clinic workers. I actually earned a reputation among Planned Parenthood staff; I learned later that while still working as a clinic director, Abby Johnson had a poster of me up in her clinic, warning front-office staff to be on the lookout for me. (An “unplanned” friendship formed when she left and now we work together to end abortion.)
I was able to expose Planned Parenthood staff engaging in illegal and dangerous activity, including aiding and abetting child-sex traffickers, failing to report sexual abuse of underage girls, and lying to women about their preborn child’s development — all in order to perform abortions and procure the money that comes with them, at the expense of the women involved. My non-profit, Live Action, has exposed Planned Parenthood committing sex-selective abortions, accepting racially motivated donations that target black women and babies, and discussing how they’d leave babies born alive after abortions to die. I have seen inside these abortion facilities, and it changed my life to see how they treat women. That’s exactly what you’ll see in Unplanned — the stark reality of what happens behind closed doors. Even after all this, Planned Parenthood continues to receive our taxpayer dollars and claims to be a respectable organization.
Telling the Truth
Society’s best chance at ending the abuse of abortion and the abuse that surrounds abortion is to eradicate the idea that abortion is harmless. That takes education and a glimpse into how and where the abuse takes place. Live Action shared a medically accurate video detailing the most common abortion procedures and showed it to people in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. For many of the viewers who described themselves as “pro-choice,” the video was “eye-opening” and “distressing.” When people watch what happens as an abortionist tears a baby limb from limb during an abortion, what Abby Johnson and I saw at a younger age, viewers respond that abortion should not be legal, that these videos should be shown in educational settings, and that our country’s leaders should all be required to know the facts of abortion.
The truth is there, a preborn child is a human life, and abortion horrifically destroys that human life. Films like Unplanned and groups like And Then There Were None and Live Action make that truth available to millions. That is an essential service to the global conversation about abortion. How can we adequately discuss a topic about which we know nothing? Every American has a responsibility to be informed about abortion, as the discourse will surely continue. See the film. Watch the videos. And, knowing the truth, enter the conversation boldly.
Abby Johnson is the founder and director of And Then There Were None and author of Unplanned and The Walls are Talking. You can follow her on Twitter at @abbyjohnson. Lila Rose is the founder and president of Live Action. You can follow her on Twitter at @lilagracerose.