When Abby Johnson quit her Planned Parenthood career, she didn't expect to receive more criticism from people in the pro-life camp than from those who are pro-choice.
After watching an ultrasound abortion that left her deeply agitated, Johnson took an unexpected turn when she left her job as director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, in October 2009. She immediately joined forces with Coalition for Life, whose members she had watch protest the clinic during the eight years she worked and volunteered there.
But crossing to the other side of the abortion divide was disappointing in some ways Johnson did not expect. The pro-life community does not focus on community, she says, at least not like the pro-choice community. There, everyone is united behind the common goal of keeping abortion legal, she says.
From Johnson's perspective, pro-life activists and policy groups spend too much time bickering over details like whether to protest using graphic signs depicting photos of aborted babies. She says she has been ridiculed for her opposition to engaging in any type of illegal activity or using violence.
The infighting has been her biggest surprise since joining the pro-life movement, she says.
"There are all these different facets of the movement [that] just argue constantly and that has been really disheartening for me," Johnson says. "People ask me if I've been hit hard by pro-choicers, and I say no, I've been hit hard by pro-lifers."
Despite her criticism of some pro-life groups and centers, Johnson offers praise for the 40 Days for Life campaign—an around-the-clock silent protest outside abortion clinics. She watched the first campaign take place at her own clinic in Bryan in 2007 and now holds up the silent ...