Former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson is leaving the Episcopal Church for the Catholic Church to distance herself from the pro-choice agenda.
Johnson, along with her husband, Doug, and 4-year-old daughter, are in the process of joining the Catholic Church in Bryan, Texas. Her decision was fueled by her Episcopal church’s reaction to her conversion from pro-choice to pro-life.
“They weren’t all that supportive of her decision to leave Planned Parenthood,” said Shawn Carney, campaign director for 40 Days for Life, to The Christian Post. Carney was the first person Johnson reached out to from the pro-life movement after she rejected the pro-choice stance. She is also attending the Catholic Church that Carney had attended while living in Texas.
Johnson, raised a Baptist, and her husband are completing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults to join St. Thomas Aquinas.
In her recently released book, Unplanned, Johnson shares that she often felt conflicted about working with Planned Parenthood. As a result, she joined St. Francis Episcopal Church in College Station, which she describes as “very open-minded about abortion” in a promotional video for her book.
Many of the attendees at the church “had really accepted abortion” and “a lot of them were donors to Planned Parenthood,” she says.
On the St. Francis Episcopal website, there is no mention of the church’s abortion stance. The Episcopal Church affirms that the church formally objects to partial-birth abortion and the use of the fetus for medical purposes, and past conventions regard abortion as “a tragic dimension.”
But The Episcopal Church also affirms that it honors individuals’ rights to make an informed decision about abortion. The church is featured among the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s list of pro-choice church bodies.
Also on the list are the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Methodist Church, and the United Church of Christ. These mainline denominations hold that life is sacred yet profess a pro-choice stance allowing abortion in the event of “severe physical or mental deformity” and encouraging respect for a woman’s choice.
Carney said Johnson regards the process of leaving The Episcopal Church as “just another point in her journey after leaving Planned Parenthood.”
Johnson, a former director at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, decided to leave after witnessing an abortion through an ultrasound monitor.
After a month of agonizing, Johnson went to Carney’s office for help. Carney said that he and Johnson stay in regular contact. Johnson’s connection to Carney and the 40 Days for Life campaign may also be a reason why she has chosen the Catholic faith because several evangelical and Protestant denominations also hold pro-life stances.
“Many people from the pro-life movement are Catholic and she started going to mass and went to a few Catholic events and masses and fell in love with that liturgy,” shared Carney.
The Catholic liturgy or order of service consists of many songs, readings, a short homily or sermon and Eucharist or communion.
Johnson told the Catholic San Francisco news that, “The more we started learning about the beliefs of the church and the Eucharist and everything, it seemed like this was what had been missing our whole lives.”
According to Carney, Johnson and her husband are “halfway” through the process of joining the Catholic Church. Carney and another woman are sponsoring them through the process.
Johnson released her book, Unplanned, earlier this month. She is a scheduled speaker at the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco on Saturday.