Ex-Planned Parenthood Director: We Won't Help Women Seeking Abortion by 'Screaming at Them'

(Photo: The Christian Post/Samuel Smith)Activists hold up signs warning participants of graphic pictures of what abortion does to human fetuses that were displayed on large screens a long the path of the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 22, 2016.

A former Planned Parenthood clinic director has warned pro-life protesters that they will not convince pro-choice women to join them "by screaming at them."

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who left the national abortion provider in 2009, wrote in an opinion piece published by The Federalist on Monday that she would have left the abortion industry sooner had it not been for the vicious personal attacks leveled against her.

"... a man who frequently harassed us and our patients had sent a letter to the neighborhood where my parents lived, comparing me to a child molester and telling everyone that I killed children. It even had a picture of my face on it and a very derogatory comment about my physical appearance," recalled Johnson.

Expand | Collapse
(Photo: The Christian Post)Abby Johnson, author of Unplanned and former director at a Planned Parenthood clinic, speaks at the first-ever National Pro-Life Youth Rally in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011.

"I remembered the times I had seen my pro-life acquaintance talking to this man on the sidewalk. Were they friends? They seemed to be. How could I trust her if she was friends with that guy? I decided that I couldn't."

Johnson explained that it's important to know how people outside of the pro-life movement perceive the cause and that over-the-top activism outside of clinics does not work.

"I do not believe we will ever win hearts through intimidation or illegal tactics. We won't be able to help women if we scare them," continued Johnson. "I have seen women literally run into the abortion facility because someone was yelling Bible verses at them or pushing a graphic image in their faces. I recognized that they saw us, the abortion clinic, as a safe haven."

Now the head of a ministry called And Then There Were None, Johnson wrote about her experience of leaving the abortion industry in the 2014 book Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line.

While some pro-life groups refrain from aggressive protests and inflammatory imagery, others embrace the strategy as beneficial.

In comments emailed to The Christian Post last month, Created Equal National Director Mark Harrington said that while his group's displays of graphic images — including photos of aborted babies — might incite anger, "it's in no way the only reaction we see."

"Some are shocked into silence, others express horror that these images are real, and others are struck by deep sadness. Many confess that they had 'no idea abortion looked like that,'" said Harrington, drawing a parallel to 1960s civil rights activism.

"The tension present at Dr. King's demonstrations was a result of racism, not the tactic of nonviolent disobedience. Likewise, the tension present at Created Equal's activities is a result of the ageism that lies under the surface. When we bring this grisly truth out into the open, the tension that has long been ignored is finally revealed."

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook