Recently a controversy exploded as a result of a comment that Abby Johnson made in which she alluded to the fact that certain exceptions—rape, incest and life of the mother—represented a very small percentage of overall abortions. Abby was referring to an anti-abortion bill in the Texas legislature and, because of the comments she made, it was alleged that she is not totally pro-life.
Some called her vicious names, while others tried to work with her behind the scenes in order to help her see the error in her support for the flawed legislation. It is those who ravaged her verbally who hurt her the most, in my humble opinion, not because she was right in her comment, but because she needed to hear privately why she was in error. Thank God, some people did communicate with Abby privately.
Needless to say we, too, are sorry that she mistakenly spoke in defense of a flawed piece of legislation, but her words speak volumes about the need for those of us who embrace principle to act on it first and foremost in privacy. In public we can stick to the principle, without ever attacking a person. The end result of this verbal warfare is a commentary Abby wrote, which we reprint below.
I have always found the Hyde amendment to be interesting. We used to have an ongoing joke in the clinic. Pro-lifers were against abortion in “cases of rape, incest and me.” I heard that so many times. “Well, I have always been against abortion, but now it has happened to me.” It always seemed to me that the Hyde amendment allowed pro-lifers to not be so pro-life. No tax money for abortion…well, maybe for some. Children are valuable and should be protected…well, most of them. Yet, you rarely see pro-lifers up in arms about the Hyde amendment. Actually, they don’t usually talk about it at all. Many pro-lifers are happy to think that their tax money is not going to pay for abortion…well, not many of them anyway.
Recently, a woman released a video of me and a pro-life Senator from Texas. She said she released it with the intention of bringing attention to rape exceptions in pro-life legislation. What has transpired has been a terrible onslaught of name calling and division against me. I have been called things such as “lying wh**e,” “baby killer,” “pro-choice,” “lying skank,” “money grubbing b**ch,” among other things that I won’t repeat…all of these things from misguided pro-lifers. My Christianity has been called into question and now there is even a man desperate to have criminal charges brought against me. All because of one video and one unfortunate statement. I was wrong not to stand up publicly against the exception put in the bill.
I was wrong to act like the small percentage of rape conceived children didn’t matter. That is simply not how I feel. They do matter. I made a statement that was in poor judgment and I apologize for it. While I worked hard at the Capital to ensure no exceptions would be made into law, I should have stood my ground publicly. I should have said that I would not support a bill that had exceptions. I should have said that this bill was unacceptable as long as exceptions were included. I should have given a voice to that 1 percent instead of victimizing them even further.
I have heard people say, “Let’s get what we can and we’ll come back for the exceptions later.” I used to say that. But what I have realized is that never actually happens. When have we ever gone back for the exceptions? When have we ever gone back for that 1 percent? Never. What happens is that we get a bill passed that includes MOST and then we forget about the others…we can’t allow ourselves to forget. We have to include ALL right from the beginning. We can’t say it is a “pro-life victory” if any are left out. We have to challenge these politicians. We have to keep them honest and hold them accountable. If they are pro-life, then they can’t bow to the pro-choice exception. If they do, we need to expose them. These elected officials speak for us. If they say they are pro-life and we believe them to be, then we must hold them to it.
I do NOT believe there is ever an acceptable reason to abort a child…no matter what…rape, incest, fetal abnormality, lack of money, nothing! I would never be for an exception. I believe ALL life should be cherished and preserved from conception until natural death. I will never be able to remove the memory of that 13 week child being murdered right in front of my eyes. I PRAY that I never forget. While that image haunts me, it is a constant reminder of what we are fighting for…the right to life for ALL children. That image in my mind keeps me humble. It is a reminder of why I fight for life and how I got to this side of the “fence.” I am no hero. I am a sinner. I am a repentant sinner.
Even though my words were poorly chosen, my intentions have also been grossly misconstrued and there is so much anger being thrown at me. I always expect it…it just hurts more when it is from people who are supposed to be on your “team.” When you stand up in the name of Christ, Satan works overtime…that is, I believe, what is taking place now.
I am in incrementalist. I don’t believe it has to be all or nothing. I saw incremental legislation work against us while I worked at Planned Parenthood. I know this legislation does decrease the number of abortions. I will be for any incremental legislation as long as all children are being protected. Overturning Roe v. Wade is incremental…it doesn’t outlaw abortion. Defunding Planned Parenthood is incremental…it doesn’t affect abortion directly at all. All abortion legislation is incremental. Affecting abortion numbers in any way is important and key for me. I will continue to fight for the protection of ALL children.
I believe in ultrasound legislation. I think a woman seeing an ultrasound before an abortion is vital. She deserves to see her child. She deserves to make a fully informed choice. Ultrasounds are important to me because they have affected my life in a very personal way. An ultrasound changed my heart, my mind, my spirit, my soul. An ultrasound totally rocked my world. I believe in ultrasound legislation! I know it will save children from abortion. Pregnancy centers report that, on average, 80% of abortion vulnerable women choose life after viewing their child and listening to the heartbeat during an ultrasound. Are we going to save all of these children? Sadly, no. And that is why I am so committed to groups like 40 Days for Life and why I believe so strongly in pregnancy resource centers. I am a sidewalk counselor so I can be a voice and help change the mind of a woman walking in to abort her child…at that very last minute. I am there to pray for her conversion…until the very last second.
We will never legislate abortion away. Overturning Roe v. Wade won’t do it, personhood won’t do it, and ultrasound legislation won’t do it either. It’s more than legislation. I truly believe that. No, I am not for exceptions. How could I be? I believe all live is valuable. I have been at the Texas Capital fighting to remove the exception…because I think it is wrong. However, I believe ultrasound legislation is right. I vow to work harder to ensure no exceptions are ever put in legislation.
What has happened here is unfortunate. A small group of people have taken a video and my words, misconstrued them, and have now accused me publicly of still supporting choice. When the video was posted, no one came to me privately, in a spirit of love of genuineness to discuss the situation. But redemption has come. I have been able to talk and develop a relationship with a woman who is a leader in the pro-life movement and who was also conceived in rape. We have been able to discuss this in a loving manner. I have been able to appreciate her perspective and learn much from it.
While we may not agree on every argument or every detail in the pro-life movement, we are able to discuss it and dialogue with respect for each other. That type of relationship is invaluable. We both agree this situation was not handled correctly. But, what is done is done. We cannot undo it. While we may not always agree on different tactics or methods…our goals are the same. We want to save the lives of children and protect women, men and families from abortion. It is shameful that we tear down our own. We need unity in this movement, not division. The pro-choice movement is one of the most united in our country. They support each other. They build each other up. Why can’t we do the same? Why do we allow them to win? Why can’t we link arms and support each other in this movement? No, we may not agree on everything…but that is okay. We all want to end abortion. We all want to save the lives of children. We all want to save women and families from the tragedy of abortion. Let’s work together to make that happen.
I will continue to fight for the lives of these children…ALL of them. Many, many blessings to all of you!
Abby, we apologize for those in our pro-life family who pretend to be God when dealing with human beings. Every single one of us is a sinner; and together we are serving a God who is the only one to judge our actions. Thanks be to Him that you have seen why exceptions for abortion are always wrong.