Published November 02, 2009
The former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in southeast Texas says she had a "change of heart" after watching an abortion last month — and she quit her job and joined a pro-life group in praying outside the facility.
Abby Johnson, 29, used to escort women from their cars to the clinic in the eight years she volunteered and worked for Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas. But she says she knew it was time to leave after she watched a fetus "crumple" as it was vacuumed out of a patient's uterus in September.
'When I was working at Planned Parenthood I was extremely pro-choice," Johnson told FoxNews.com. But after seeing the internal workings of the procedure for the first time on an ultrasound monitor, "I would say there was a definite conversion in my heart ... a spiritual conversion."
Johnson said she became disillusioned with her job after her bosses pressured her for months to increase profits by performing more and more abortions, which cost patients between $505 and $695.
"Every meeting that we had was, 'We don't have enough money, we don't have enough money — we've got to keep these abortions coming,'" Johnson told FoxNews.com. "It's a very lucrative business and that's why they want to increase numbers."
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood told FoxNews.com that it offers a range of services at it 850 health centers nationwide, providing pregnancy tests, vaccinations and women's health services, "including wellness exams, breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraception, and STD testing and treatment."
"Planned Parenthood's focus is on prevention," wrote Diane Quest, the group's National Media Director. "Nationwide, more than 90% of the health care Planned Parenthood affiliates provide is preventive in nature," explaining that a "core component the organization's mission is to help women plan healthy pregnancies and prevent unintended pregnancies."
But Johnson said her bosses told her to change her "priorities" and focus on abortions, which she said made money for the office at a time when the recession has left them hurting.
"For them there's not a lot of money in education," she said. "There's as not as much money in family planning as there is abortion."
Without a doctor in residence, she said, her clinic offered abortions only two days a month, but the doctor could perform 30 to 40 procedures on each day he was there. Johnson estimated that each abortion could net the branch about $350, adding up to more than $10,000 a month.
"The majority of the money was going to the facility," she said.
Johnson said she never got any orders to increase profits in e-mails or letters, and had no way to prove her allegations about practices at the Bryan branch. She told FoxNews.com that pressure came in personal interactions with her regional manager from the larger Houston office.
But she said she got involved with the clinic "to help women and ... [do] the right thing," and the idea of raking in cash seemed to go against what she felt was the mission of the 93-year-old organization.
"Ideally my goal as the facility's director is that your abortion numbers don't increase," because "you're providing so much family planning and so much education that there is not a demand for abortion services.
"But that was not their goal," she said.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood refused to answer questions about Johnson's accusations, but released a statement noting that a district court had issued a temporary restraining order against the former branch director and against the Coalition for Life, an anti-abortion group with which Johnson is now affiliated.
"We regret being forced to turn to the courts to protect the safety and confidentiality of our clients and staff, however, in this instance it is absolutely necessary," said spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla.
It is unclear what made Planned Parenthood seek the restraining order. Johnson said she did not intend to release any sensitive information about her former patients at the clinic.
A hearing is set for Nov. 10 to determine whether a judge will order an injunction against Johnson and the Coalition for Life, which has led protests outside the clinic and joined her in a prayer vigil there last month.
Johnson hasn't found a job since she quit on Oct. 6, but she said she's enjoying the time off to be with her 3-year-old daughter.
"It's been great just to spend some time at home and get a break," she said.