Abby Johnson, who worked as a Planned Parenthood clinic director in Bryan, TX before allegedly having a change of heart and becoming an anti-choice activist, will be speaking at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver next month.
Johnson is lauded as a hero by anti-abortion activists, and acts as a mouthpiece for the anti-abortion movement to smear Planned Parenthood.
Johnson now runs her own organization, And Then There Were None, which urges abortion clinic workers to quit their jobs.
Johnson says the radical transformation in her views on abortion took place after she witnessed a surgical abortion on an ultrasound at the clinic where she worked, an experience she claims caused a crisis of conscience for her.
She also claims her change of heart can be partly attributed to being pressured to increase the number of abortions performed at the clinic due to financial woes, a claim that’s been strongly refuted by Planned Parenthood.
But as multiple news outlets have found over the years, key aspects of her story don’t add up.
Investigative reporting by Texas Monthly’s Nate Blakeslee reveals major discrepancies between Johnson’s timeline of her alleged conversion and Planned Parenthood records that were obtained by the magazine:
“Johnson has said in countless interviews and in her memoir that she observed a thirteen-week fetus being pulled to pieces on an ultrasound monitor, something that, as an administrator rather than a medical professional, she had never seen before. But the clinic gave Texas Monthly records for the date in question that undermine her account. First, the records don’t list any patient beyond ten weeks’ gestation. Further, they reflect that the only African American patient—as Johnson has described the woman whose procedure she observed—was just six weeks pregnant, meaning there would have been no fetus to see on the ultrasound, only an embryo, and no medical need for an ultrasound to be used in the first place.”
Blakeslee goes on to explain that while it’s perfectly reasonable that Johnson would have seen such an event take place, and that it would be reasonable to simply mix up the date, Johnson has never suggested that she got the date wrong, but rather claims that the records have been falsified by Planned Parenthood.
The Texas Monthly report also found that Johnson has changed her story over the years, specifically when it comes to details of what tasks she performed as clinic director.
Then there was an interview in the Texas Observer with Johnson’s close friend Laura Kaminczak, also an employee of Planned Parenthood. Kaminczak refuted Johnson’s story, calling her “completely opportunistic” and explaining that Johnson had a bone to pick with her boss after she was reprimanded for exchanging inappropriate emails with Kaminczak.
Kaminczak told the Texas Observer that Johnson called her a couple of weeks before her alleged conversion and suggested financial reasons for joining Coalition for Life, the anti-abortion organization that protested outside the clinic where she worked:
“She called me two weeks before this whole thing broke,” Kaminczak said, “and she told me she was thinking about going to the coalition. She had been having serious money problems—she’d been talking about bankruptcy—and she told me that Shawn [Carney] had promised her $3,000 speaking gigs if she came over.”
Johnson isn’t the only anti-choice activist scheduled to speak at WCS this year. The conference will also feature Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, a Christian conservative organization that promotes anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ views.
The Western Conservative Summit is set for July 12-13 at the Colorado Convention Center. The annual event, which is put on by the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University’s conservative think tank, is one of the nation’s largest gatherings of conservatives, and aims “to celebrate and advance faith, family, and freedom for our future.”