In her new memoir, Unplanned
(Ignatius, 288 pages, hardcover), Abby Johnson shares her long journey from pro-choice advocacy to pro-life heroism. It was while Abby was attending college that she was confronted with this topic, forced to decide where she stood. Abby began talking with a woman from Planned Parenthood who used appealing rhetoric to attract Abby to the organization. Abby truly cared about women and wanted to help them, and eventually came to believe that “access to a safe, proven, legal medical procedure (abortion) is critical for caring for women in crisis."
She believed Planned Parenthood's rallying cries which claimed to “make abortions rare”, and volunteered her time at a local clinic. Over the years, she climbed the corporate ladder and was eventually promoted to be Director of the local Planned Parenthood facility.
The working environment grated on Abby, however. She heard protesters outside of her clinic almost every day. Some were grim—dressed all in black and exposing gruesome pictures of aborted babies—while others quietly interceded through prayerful vigil. It was primarily through interactions with those in prayer that Abby slowly came to recognize the lies promoted by Planned Parenthood.
Like St. Paul, Abby experienced a profound conversion in her perception of abortion. In Unplanned
she describes how “the scales began to fall from my eyes.” An ultrasound-guided abortion, which the book’s opening chapter describes in gut-wrenching detail, was the final straw, leading her to leave her job and join the Coalition for Life
members who had been praying for her and her clients since Abby's first day on the job.
Though I’m someone who finds reading difficult, it was hard for me to put this book down. Abby does a great job of drawing you in and making you feel like you are experiencing her difficult decisions and emotions along with her. Through the help of a professional writer, Abby’s voice is breezy and informal; as I read the book, I felt like I was a dear friend, listening to her journey over coffee.
My one caveat with Unplanned
is that after finishing I felt like Abby’s journey didn't resolve. Earlier in the book, Abby told of her struggle to find a regular church to attend. She found a pro-life church that seemed to be a good match, but Abby and her husband were denied membership because of her work with Planned Parenthood.
The Johnson's continued to search and wound up at a pro-choice Episcopal church. Once Abby resigned from her position at Planned Parenthood, and her new pro-life stance caught the attention of local and national media, she found herself unwelcome at this new church, too, which left her once more searching for a religious home. Where did she end up? Unplanned
doesn’t provide an answer.
Since faith played such a critical part in her transformation, it would have helped for the book to finish this storyline. It wasn’t until reading an interview with Our Sunday Visitor
that I discovered the answer to this quandary, as Abby revealed that her and her husband are preparing to enter the Catholic Church.
, supporters of life will be reinvigorated while supporters of abortion will be confronted with troubling truth. Abby’s memoir exposes the motives, lies, and horrors of America’s largest abortion provider, yet reveals the beautiful conversion that occurs when God’s grace penetrates the cracks of a disturbed heart.