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Choices fundraising gala: How a former Planned Parenthood clinic director says she became an anti-abortion activist
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Abby Johnson, anti-abortion activist and former Planned Parenthood clinic director, presented as the keynote speaker during Choices Pregnancy Care Center's annual gala on Aug. 18, 2020. - photo by Kelsey Podo

Standing before around 300 people Tuesday, Aug. 18, at Christ Place Church’s auditorium in Oakwood, Abby Johnson called Choices Pregnancy Care Center staff “heroes” for their fight to protect unborn children during the pandemic.  

“When our churches were too scared to be open, and everybody else was too scared to be open,” said Johnson, national anti-abortion activist and former clinic director of Planned Parenthood, during Choices’ annual gala. “Who was out here on the front line? Your staff at Choices.” 

The annual event was socially distanced inside the 2,000-person capacity auditorium and was also live-streamed. 

Lee Koz, executive director of Choices, said the faith-based nonprofit is a crisis pregnancy center that provides low-cost STD testing and free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests. The group of staff and advocates also offer post-abortion support classes, maternity education and referrals to adopting agencies. 

Choices currently has locations in Gainesville and Flowery Branch. Through the money raised at last year’s gala, Koz said the nonprofit was able to move its former South Hall facility to a building in Flowery Branch’s Robson Crossing shopping center. 

This year, he said the vision moving forward is bolder.  

“We want to open up another mothership in Gainesville,” he said. “We already have a little clinic in Gainesville, but we want to expand that out into a full-fledged clinical center.” 

As the keynote speaker of Choices’ annual gala fundraiser, Johnson shared her journey from growing up in a Southern Baptist home, to working for Planned Parenthood for eight years, to becoming an anti-abortion advocate who will speak next week at the 2020 Republican National Convention. 

During her time with Planned Parenthood, Johnson said she rose through the organization’s ranks and became a clinic director.  

Over 11 years ago she said her views completely shifted. While participating in the clinic’s budget meeting in Aug. 2009, Johnson said the staff was instructed to double their abortion quota. 

“I had believed for the past eight years that our goal at Planned Parenthood was to keep abortions safe, legal and rare,” she said. “And that had to be true because that was the public face that we had said to the media.” 

Around a month later, Johnson said she was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion in a 13-week pregnancy and in that moment, she said realized what she had dedicated nearly a decade to.  

Johnson said a transformation occurred, and she left Planned Parenthood to advocate against abortion. 

“In order for an abortion to be deemed successful, a unique and individual human being must be killed,” she said. “That is the antithesis of safety, and that is why abortion can never be considered health care.” 

Johnson encouraged the crowd on Tuesday to not only fight to make abortion illegal but fight to make it “unthinkable.” 

“We want to make abortion unthinkable, so that when a woman is in a crisis, she never thinks about darkening the door of an abortion facility,” Johnson said. “So that she knows there is hope, there is help, there is safety, right here.” 

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