Abby Johnson: Planned Parenthood isn’t about health care, it’s about abortion – That’s why I quit

I am not prone to shedding tears or being overly emotional. I prefer to use my innate sarcasm and wit instead of crying when emotion hits harder than I expect. But when I read Dr. Leana Wen’s tweet about being shoved out of Planned Parenthood, where she served as president, I cried.

Tears seemed like an appropriate response as I stood in solidarity with Wen. I was reminded of my own loss of security and friendships when I left Planned Parenthood 10 years ago.

While I never rose to become president of Planned Parenthood, I was on track to a high position in the nonprofit when I started thinking that my own philosophy wasn’t the same as my employer’s.


I became director of the clinic I started out volunteering for and stayed on for eight years. Like Wen, I became aware of the abortion-centric mentality of Planned Parenthood and wasn’t comfortable with it. It took me a lot longer than Wen to figure that out. She came to the conclusion mere months after signing on as president of the organization.

I left after I assisted in the ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old fetus and realized humanity in the womb existed – humanity that I had shoved aside for years. But when I left, I also left all my “friends” behind, the people in the clinic I worked with daily, my supervisors, and even my pro-choice church family.

It was hard. I imagine Wen is experiencing similar feelings of betrayal. I know exactly what that betrayal feels like. I know exactly what kind of “secret meetings” Wen was referring to when she tweeted out she was leaving Planned Parenthood.

Perhaps Wen didn’t leave because of a profound conversion, but she did make it clear she left because Planned Parenthood has too many problems that she can’t ignore. And that is amazing. As a doctor, I’m sure the rose-colored glasses were ripped off pretty quickly once she was inside. And now she’s out.

What I didn’t realize was that the people I saw all the time at the fence outside my Planned Parenthood office were silent prayer warriors, praying for my conversion and my departure from the abortion giant. I joined them when I walked out and soon came to learn that it wasn’t only the Coalition for Life in Texas that was praying for me, but a whole network of people who were begging God to change hearts. Hearts like mine.

Once I started telling my story, I began to meet more and more people who couldn’t wait to tell me that they had been praying for me. Some for years.

At first, it was a little disconcerting and surreal. I didn’t even know these people, yet, here I was, a living breathing answer to their prayers. But once I began to find more of my own healing and experienced a conversion and a deeper understanding within my own spiritual life, I got it. I started praying for my former boss, Cecile Richards, then-president of Planned Parenthood.

I had admired and respected Richards when I worked at Planned Parenthood. I enjoyed being with her and felt like I had learned a lot from her. So I prayed for her to quit.

My conversion was God’s victory. What a victory it would be if God pulled on Cecile’s heart the same way He did mine. And I prayed for that, day after day, after I left Planned Parenthood.

When Richards resigned, I felt defeated because it seemed she had not experienced the same conversion I had. I felt like God wasn’t listening to me. Doesn’t everyone of faith feel like that at some point in their lives?

I was sad because I wanted Richards to have the same freedom I did: that moment when you walk out the door and you know you’ll never look back.

Of course, God’s timing isn’t our timing. There is still time for Richards’ conversion. But what about Wen?

Because Wen is a physician, many of our former abortion workers that I now work with through And Then There Were None paid particular attention to what she was saying about Planned Parenthood. We were interested in knowing how she would react once she was exposed to the group’s constant mantra of pushing abortion over all else. Would she visit clinics and sit in on abortions or perform them herself?

Wen knows what real health care is and perhaps doesn’t put abortion in that category. With Planned Parenthood’s terrible track record of failed clinic inspections, a good doctor is not what the group is looking for. Forget health care, this is about abortion, which to Planned Parenthood is a political issue.

Many of our former workers started praying for Wen’s conversion the moment it was announced she would be president of Planned Parenthood. I started praying for her conversion too. If we profess to be Christians, we have to act as such.

Degrading memes and snarky responses to Wen’s sudden departure won’t help her. She recently suffered a miscarriage, which she discussed publicly only a few weeks ago. And now she’s lost her job.

At a time when Wen’s co-workers should be supporting her healing, they simply disregarded her recent loss and expected her to soldier on. Wen needs a community that will surround her and care for her right now in her time of need.

I don’t expect that Wen is pro-life or even anything that resembles pro-life. I wasn’t either when I first walked away from Planned Parenthood.


But the chance for a real conversion is so much greater now that Wen is away from that organization. And when that moment does come, I am ready. I am ready to chat with her for hours, to hear her story, to grieve with her, and to mourn the loss of her own child. I am here, arms open.

It’s my prayer that her moment of clarity comes quickly. And when it does, she will need a safe place to land. I urge the pro-life movement to be sure we are that place.