Abby Johnson: Ex-Planned Parenthood clinic director deserves $3 million court award in wrongful-firing case

Long hours, unsupportive supervisors, morally questionable work, and a lack of family leave policies would likely drive most employees to be disgruntled. But it’s one thing to be unhappy in a job; it’s a completely different endeavor to go public with a lawsuit against an infamous organization with high-powered attorneys and friends in very high places.

Yet, that’s what a woman in Arizona, who had worked at Planned Parenthood for 17 years eventually rising to the position of director of three clinics, did recently. She reported everything from multiple violations of company policy to actual incidents of breaking the law and she was fired because of those reports.

Last month, a unanimous jury of her peers in Arizona found that Planned Parenthood wrongfully terminated her and awarded Mayra Rodriguez the vast sum of $3 million.


Planned Parenthood called her a disgruntled employee. That’s what they called me, too, when I left the nonprofit 10 years ago after assisting an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old fetus and for the first time, could not deny that life existed in the womb.

That’s what they’ve called numerous other employees who left after deciding they could no longer work for Planned Parenthood and participate in abortions.

Planned Parenthood isn’t necessarily wrong to call us disgruntled. Everyone has bad days at work or times where the pressure is especially burdensome. But those feelings of unhappiness rarely lead to the kind of newsworthy headlines generated after Planned Parenthood employees jump ship. Why is that?

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One, Planned Parenthood has a long record of trying to skirt the law and getting caught. They’ve been fined millions of dollars for defrauding taxpayers in the Medicaid system and overbilling the government.

The nonprofit isn’t known for its squeaky clean abortion clinics either. In Delaware in 2013, a whistleblower nurse went public with health code violations she witnessed like failure to sterilize equipment, untrained staff, and "meat-market style, assembly-line abortions."

The Planned Parenthood in Missouri that has been the focus of recent media attention for being the last abortion clinic in the state, has had numerous health and safety violations like using expired medications, injecting more than one patient with single-dose meds to save money, and failure to sterilize equipment.


In 2018, a New York Times bombshell report revealed the hypocrisy of Planned Parenthood’s maternity leave policies (of which there aren’t many) and discrimination against pregnant employees versus their constant rhetoric of empowering women.

I was interviewed for the piece, as were a couple of other former Planned Parenthood directors who came through my ministry, And Then There Were None, but we didn’t make it into the story, even though we experienced much of the same discrimination.

When I was pregnant and working at Planned Parenthood in Texas, I was repeatedly told the clinic would be happy to “take care it” -- my baby -- so I could continue working without the inconvenience of having an infant.

I’ve helped over 525 abortion workers leave their jobs and yes, I’d say many were disgruntled, but for very good reasons. 

Even when I took time off after the birth of my oldest daughter, the clinic called me several times about work-related matters, taking zero consideration of my needs as a new mother.

Would that kind of treatment have led a Planned Parenthood employee to be deemed “disgruntled”? Likely.

Working in the abortion industry is a tough job. Many former workers I have helped find other jobs or accompanied on healing retreats have told me they worked long hours for little pay, that they were asked to do jobs where they had no previous qualifications to perform -- like conducting ultrasounds or drawing blood. I’ve heard this over and over again.

I’ve helped over 525 abortion workers leave their jobs and yes, I’d say many were disgruntled, but for very good reasons.

What other profession leads women to put together the parts of an aborted baby in a lab to make sure the abortion was complete? It’s heartbreaking to listen to former workers describe what they were forced to do, what Planned Parenthood demanded they tell women, and what ended up haunting them for years. And when these workers had the courage to report transgressions to the proper authorities and boards, like Mayra Rodriguez did, Planned Parenthood retaliated.


Both Mayra and I were named Planned Parenthood "employee of the year" the year before we left our jobs. We were stars at the nonprofit but when we learned the truth about what Planned Parenthood did to women, our stars faded quickly and we became liabilities and “disgruntled employees.”

Planned Parenthood isn’t about empowering women. If it were, abortion would not be an option for their patients. Their maternity leave policies would be second to none. Their clinics would be clean and professional. They wouldn’t defraud taxpayers. Maybe then they wouldn’t have so many disgruntled employees.