The following is written by Justine Worden, the Service Chair of the Georgetown Right to Life group on campus.
On Wednesday evening, April 20th, at Georgetown University, after a day of protests, peaceful presences, and a ‘nonpartisan’-speaking-event-turned-political-rally, Georgetown Right to Life (RTL) welcomed Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood (PP) clinic director, now pro-life activist and speaker. Abby left Planned Parenthood in 2009 after assisting and watching an ultra-sound guided abortion, and has since joined the pro-life movement by spreading the word about the reality of the abortion industry, assisting abortion clinic workers who wish to leave the industry, and simply sharing her story.
Wednesday’s event was especially beautiful, given that it took place in the Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, Georgetown’s main chapel on campus. Although RTL is not a religiously affiliated organization, it was appropriate to have the event in the Chapel, as Johnson’s talk takes a profoundly, and beautifully Catholic tone. In light of the mockery made of not only Catholic teaching on abortion, sex, marriage, and love throughout the day, but also pro-life students, it was comforting for many to hear Johnson share her story in that manner and in that particular setting.
Johnson’s talk, a look into her experiences working for and leaving PP, was deeply personal, thoroughly honest, and utterly moving. In the early stages of the talk, she discussed her childhood: Johnson recounted growing up in a pro-life, faithful home, but never openly discussing abortion with her family. Addressing a question she often receives about how a woman with her upbringing found herself working for PP, she answered, “It happened a little bit at a time, because that’s how sin works in our lives.”
After sharing with attendees the reality of PP’s abortion protocol as she experienced it and the truth behind PP’s abortion quotas and bias towards abortion, Johnson spoke more in depth on her experiences leaving PP. One of the most moving segments of the talk was her addressing the universal possibility of conversion. After watching the ultrasound-guided abortion, Johnson told the audience, she reluctantly went to the pregnancy help organization (PRC) next-door to the clinic she ran at the time. Johnson says the PRC volunteers were extremely compassionate, kind, and accepting of both her past and her future.
Given that she was so deeply involved in PP, in a managerial position, and a staunch defender of the pro-choice position, Johnson says, the PRC volunteers were likely to have thought that she would never change her position on abortion. However, Johnson showed us through her story that “no one is beyond the power of conversion,” as she told audience members. Johnson went on to share with attendees her firm belief that not only will she see the end to legalized abortion in the U.S. in her lifetime, but also her belief that one day she will not be presenting on what it means to leave PP, but rather Cecile Richards. At this, Johnson received an ovation and quite a few ‘Amen’s. She said once again, “Friends, no one is beyond conversion.”
After a day of vitriolic volleying of statistics, confrontational conversations among classmates, and what was clearly designed to be a Planned Parenthood rally rather than an opportunity for ‘open discourse,’ Abby Johnson countered Cecile Richards in the most beautiful way possible.
Johnson, as always, approached her talk on Wednesday with love in her heart, her heart on her sleeve, and her arms open wide to embrace Georgetown’s pro-life community in honesty and compassion.