I hope many of you have already bought your copies of Abby Johnson’s book, Unplanned, and are reading it right now. I ordered my copy online and finished it within two days of receiving it. I could not put this book down. Johnson’s book reeks of honesty, conflict, but most importantly, love.
I was already familiar with Johnson’s story when I started reading the book, but that knowledge could not have prepared me for the brutal sincerity of her words. Johnson had an abortion a year before deciding to become a volunteer for Planned Parenthood, a decision she made in a large part owing to her own abortion. She had another abortion a few years later. For Johnson, abortion had become “a simple and normal reality in life,” due in part to her work escorting women to and from their abortions at Planned Parenthood.
Johnson speaks at length about the unconditional love and compassion the Coalition for Life volunteers showed her each and every day. She recounts how they prayed for her, no strings attached, for eight long years. They did not pray that she would “quit killing babies” or that she would leave Planned Parenthood. They simply prayed for her and for whatever she might need at that time.
In fact, the power of prayer, both directly and indirectly, was a pivotal influence on Johnson’s heart and led to her choose life. The first 40 Days for Life Campaign began at her clinic in Bryan, TX in 2004. Johnson wrote how she was very relieved when the campaign ended which struck her as odd. “I was relieved that a prayer campaign was ending. Wasn’t there something wrong with that?”
I truly wonder what would happen if every person who worked at Planned Parenthood were to read this book. Do the employees and volunteers there experience the same struggles Johnson did? Did they get involved for the same reason, to help women in crisis? I hope that this book finds its way into their hands, and is able to touch their hearts.
Johnson’s book is beautifully, painfully honest, as is evidenced in my personal favorite passage of Unplanned:
“When I’m asked today what someone might have said to get me to change my mind about having either abortion, I tell them it would be this: ‘What do you think would disappoint your parents most? To find out that you’d gotten pregnant, or to learn that you had taken the life of their grandchild?’ Looking back, I realize my fear of talking with my parents about my crisis pregnancies was really irrational.”
Perhaps we can take a page out of Johnson’s book and spend an hour a month praying in front of an abortion clinic. We must show everyone who enters – employees, volunteers, and clients – that they are loved and that we are praying for them. It may take years before their eyes are opened, but we must not lose hope.