Abby Johnson, the center of the film “Unplanned,” which tells of the former Planned Parenthood director’s departure from the abortion industry, is generating questions and opposition as she has outlined on social media that she does not believe that mothers who take their unborn children to be killed by abortionists should be punished at all — a position that some say is “pro-choice” and does not afford the unborn the same protections under the law as born children.
Johnson, a Roman Catholic and Texas resident who had two abortions herself, opposed the bill recently put forward in Texas that would have removed an exemption from the law for “conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child,” characterizing those behind the legislation as “extremists.”
“I don’t believe in punishing women who seek to have abortion services,” a photograph shared on Saturday by Johnson’s And Then There Were None organization states.
“This shouldn’t even have to be said. We are better than this,” text above the photo opines, followed by the hashtags “prolife” and “prowoman.”
As of press time, the post had over 700 likes, and only 7 dissenters.
Johnson was among those who opposed a bill before the Texas legislature that would have not only made it illegal for abortionists to kill the unborn, but also for the mother to use means to personally murder the child herself. She stated that “women have never been considered criminals for seeking abortion.”
One screenshot being shared online by those who are disappointed in Johnson shows a woman asking, “Do you support abolishing abortion in Texas?”
“Of course,” Johnson replied. “But I don’t support bills that criminalize women.”
She outlined in other responses that she believes “[w]omen are secondary victims to abortion” and “we have never punished victims,” but that the abortionists should solely be the ones facing prosecution as “they are the abusers” of the mothers.
“If a bill was put forward that punished providers and not women, then I would put my full support behind it,” Johnson said.
However, some have contended that Johnson’s views are not a pro-life position, as exempting women from any penalty would leave abortion legal for self-abortions, and would simply shift the act culturally from being committed by abortionists to those carried out at home by a child’s own mother.
“So, a mom killing a newborn would be sentenced for murder, but a mom killing an unborn child shouldn’t be tried for murder. Wow, that’s a bastion of consistency right there,” one commenter wrote.
CURRENT TEXAS LAW
Current Texas criminal homicide law includes the following exceptions, “This chapter does not apply to the death of an unborn child if the conduct charged is (1) conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child; (2) a lawful medical procedure performed by a physician or other licensed health care provider with the requisite consent, if the death of the unborn child was the intended result of the procedure … ”
Under House Bill 896, the law would have been amended to instead read, “Notwithstanding any other law, this chapter applies to the death of an unborn child regardless of whether the conduct charged is (1) conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child; (2) a procedure performed by a physician or other licensed health care provider …”
A number of residents who testified in support the bill on April 8 notated that there is inequity in current Texas law, such as that a man would be prosecuted for slipping a pill into a pregnant woman’s drink, but that same woman would face no charges if she placed the pill in her own drink.
“These exceptions where a mother can do something a father can’t do, [they need to be removed],” a police officer declared during the hearing. “A father, if he doesn’t want to accept responsibility of his child and slips pills into a drink, and takes the life of his child, that’s capital murder. A mother, [if] she slips a pill [and] doesn’t want to accept responsibility — down her throat, takes the life of an individual, it’s fine, pat on the back.”
“In law enforcement, how can we say this is just?” he asked. “Our hands our tied where we’re forced to be unjust in our dealings.”
One woman stated that years ago, mothers carried out DIY coat-hanger abortions because they knew would not be charged for committing the act.
“In 1973, before Roe v. Wade, abortion was illegal, except that a mother could not be prosecuted. This caused the coat-hanger abortions, because it was illegal for the doctors but not the mother, and they thought they should get away with this,” she said. “HB 896 is rightly not retroactive.”
“[I]f you believe that the unborn are made in the image of God, then the mother should be held accountable under the law, whether she murders the baby 12 weeks after it’s born or 12 weeks in utero,” another woman testified. “I am a woman, and women are equal to men under the law, whether we are the victims, whether we are the perpetrators, whether we are the mothers. Let us have equality before the law.”
However, Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, the chair of the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, decided not to allow the bill to advance out of the committee because it “subjects women who undergo abortions to criminal liability and even the possibility of the death penalty.”
According to reports, prior to Roe v. Wade, “back alley abortions” were a mix of self-abortions and illegal secret operations. Women would often conduct their own attempts to kill the child, such as with coat hangers, feathers, and other blunt objects, as well as other methods, and then would seek out a clandestine doctor or nurse willing to operate illegally if their own numerous attempts were unsuccessful.
One woman “described taking ergotrate, then castor oil, then squatting in scalding hot water, then drinking Everclear alcohol. When these methods failed, she hammered at her stomach with a meat pulverizer before going to an illegal abortionist,” writes Leslie Reagan in her book “When Abortion Was a Crime.”
“Women often tried to induce abortion or cause a miscarriage by throwing themselves down stairs or inflicting violence on themselves. They ingested, douched with or inserted into themselves a chilling variety of chemicals and toxins — from bleach to potassium permanganate to turpentine to gunpowder and whiskey,” another report states. “Knitting needles, crochet hooks, scissors and coat hangers were all among the tools used by women who had no choice but to resort to these means.”
Even in 1854, obstetrician Hugh Lennox Hodge stated of the mothers in his day in a lecture on “Criminal Abortion,” “We can bear testimony, that, in some instances, the woman who has been well educated, who occupies high stations in society, whose influence over others is great, and whose character has not been impugned, will deliberately resort to any and every measure which may effectually destroy her unborn offspring.”
“Ashamed or afraid to apply to the charlatan, who sustains his existence by the price of blood, dreading it may be publicity, she recklessly and boldly adopts measures, however severe and dangerous, for the accomplishment of her unnatural, her guilty purpose,” he lamented.
Hodge outlined that mothers would “make extra muscular efforts by long fatiguing walks, by dancing, running, jumping, kept up as long as possible; she will swallow the most nauseous, irritating, and poisonous drugs, and in some instances, will actually arm herself with the surgeon’s instrument, and operate upon her own body, that she may be delivered of an embryo, for which she has no desire, and whose birth and appearance she dreads.”
An article published by Thought Catalog in 2015 details the stories of nine women who sought out others to illegally perform the operation pre-Roe, with many of the mothers — now in their 60s and 70s — remarking more than 40 years later that they have no remorse for having their their unborn child killed.
“Do I have any regrets? No. Am I sorry? Absolutely not! That abortion allowed me a second chance, (despite all the obstacles the system placed in my way) to get on with my life,” one woman, only identified as Susan, wrote. “I have never looked back on my decision to have an abortion as being anything but the right one.”
“I have never been ‘sorry,’ I’ve been motivated!” another mother, identified as Linda, stated.
“I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry at all. I never wanted to be a mother,” a woman named Keese said.
“I have had a wonderful life and have never regretted having that abortion,” another named Serena remarked. “Women will always have abortions, whether it is legal or illegal. They always have. They always will. My decisions about my body and how I will live my life concern no one except myself. I have never had any children and don’t regret that at all.”
CHARGES FOR KILLING NEWBORNS, BUT NOT UNBORN
In Texas, women who kill or commit crimes against their newborn baby may be, and have been, charged with murder. However, while a mother may be charged for killing their child even seconds after exiting the birth canal, Texas law prohibits women from facing any criminal penalties for intentionally harming or killing their baby in utero.
As previously reported, in February 2018, a young mother was charged with capital murder after stabbing her newborn daughter multiple times and leaving her body in a storage shed, where she was later discovered by the neighbor boy. The baby’s death was found by the medical examiner to be due to “homicidal violence.”
Months later, another mother was charged with attempted capital murder after giving birth at her place of employment, placing her newborn son in a garbage bag and walking him out to the dumpster to leave him for dead.
Headlines surrounding cases in other states have included, “‘I Just Got Rid of It’: Colorado Woman Accused of Tossing Newborn Over Fence Onto Neighbor’s Deck,” “Florida Mother Facing Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Newborn Twins,” and “Wisconsin Mother to Face Murder Charge After Strangling Newborn Son, Beating Head Into Toilet.”
Read the reports here, here and here.
If these women had killed their child even one day before birth, they would not face any penalty under Texas law due to exemptions for the mother. But since the infant had exited the birth canal, now they are liable for murder.
A few states, however, do hold women accountable for personally harming their unborn child in the womb.
As previously reported, in 2015, abortion “rights” advocates protested outside of a Murfreesboro courthouse with signs such as “Abortion on demand and without apology” and “Drop all charges against Anna Yocca” after the woman had been arrested for attempting a coat hanger abortion on her 24-week-old unborn son, Leo, that left him with injuries to his lungs, eyes and heart.
“When a woman attempts a coat hanger abortion, it’s the system that’s guilty of murder, not her,” one protester told The Daily News Journal. “This is a deep assault, an escalation in the war on women.”
Yocca was initially charged with first-degree attempted murder, but the charge was later downgraded, and she accepted a plea deal for a count of attempted procurement of a miscarriage.
“Let’s be clear. If we do not believe in holding women accountable for murdering their pre-born children, we shouldn’t hold women accountable for murdering their born children,” wrote one commenter in sharing Johnson’s recent post asserting that abortive women should not be punished.
“A woman who knowingly offers her post-born baby to be killed by the assassin she hires is guilty of being an immediate accomplice to murder, which in most states makes her liable to criminal penalties … What kind of insane world thinks she is any different kind of criminal when she does this to her pre-born baby?” another asked.
Johnson said in another social media post that she will soon release an article outlining her views on the matter, and states that it is “far beyond [her] comprehension” as to why she has to convince others of her position, especially in regard to her characterization of H.B. 896 resulting in the death penalty just for going to an illicit abortionist. Some contend that the bill would not have resulted such a sentence for the woman as someone else carried out the murder.
According to reports, the leader of Johnson’s religion, “Pope Francis,” revised the Catholic Catechism last year to oppose the death penalty under any circumstance, writing that it is “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and that the Vatican “works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”
Johnson’s post generated a number of questions, with some stating that a woman who attempts to kill her child should not simply walk free, and that there has to be some kind of penalty.
“Would you agree that a mother that murdered her newborn should be penalized and charged for murder? If so, what makes the murder of the unborn different?” one asked.
“Don’t you believe the baby is a human being with rights?” another inquired.
“Ideal scenario: abortion is outlawed. What would you hope would happen to those that would murder their children? What would you hope would happen to those who help them?” a third questioned.
One stated that the matter is being mischaracterized, that women would not be sentenced to death if abortion were illegal for both mother and abortionist, but “it would be just like a woman who murders her newborn.”
“Nobody ever thought ‘death penalty,’ only that abortion would be called murder legally. And this idea all women who get abortions are somehow victims is a crock,” the commenter wrote. “I have meet pro-choicers all over the world and they all know exactly what they are doing with no regrets, some getting multiple abortions and a couple of them even recording the abortions to show how it is not so ‘evil.'”
Johnson stated that those wondering will have to wait for her article, but reiterated her belief that mothers who take their children to abortionists are rather “victims” of abortionists and others, writing, “If you don’t think women who have abortions are victims, then you haven’t paid very close attention to the testimonies of those of us who worked in these clinics.”
As previously reported, in 2017, actress Martha Plimpton generated cheers and applause as she spoke at a “Shout Your Abortion” event and raised her hand in jubilation that she had her “first abortion at the Seattle Planned Parenthood. Yay!”
“Notice I said ‘first.’… I don’t want you guys to feel insecure; it was my best one,” she said, evoking laughter. “Heads and tails above the rest. If I could Yelp review it, I totally would.”
“We’re not sorry,” also declares a foreword to a book released last fall by those behind the “Shout Your Abortion” movement, which focuses on the stories of women who have obtained an abortion in an effort to “illustrat[e] the profound political power of defying shame.”
Founder Amelia Bonow also penned an article, published by Salon, entitled “My Abortion Made Me Happy: The Story That Started the #shoutyourabortion Movement.” The piece, which used profanity and crude language, expressed no remorse for the ending of her unborn child’s life after finding herself pregnant out of wedlock, but rather only bold-faced pride.
Bonow says she now wears the word “abortion” on her clothing most days and talks about it wherever she goes.
“I’m telling you my story plainly, proudly, flippantly even, because we have all been brainwashed to believe that the absence of negative emotions around having an abortion is the mark of an emotionally bankrupt person. It’s not,” Bonow wrote. “I have a good heart and my abortion made me happy.”
During last year’s homosexual pride parade in New York City, women danced on a “Thank God for abortion” float as it made its way down the streets. Dancers wore shirts that read “legal,” “safe,” “free,” and organization founder Viva Ruiz wore a spray on her head that spelled out the word “abortion.”
“[T]hat’s where the joy comes in. We celebrate our right,” Ruiz said in a video posted to social media. “I celebrate your right to have 20 abortions. I’ll throw you a party. Or zero. It’s a celebration.”
In July, comedienne Michelle Wolf held a “salute to abortion” during her Netflix show “The Break,” complete with a marching band. “God bless abortions and God bless America!” she declared, throwing confetti. She also stated during her monologue that she believes abortion should be as readily available as the dollar menu at McDonalds, and joked about coat hangers and stairs.
Wolf additionally remarked during last year’s White House Correspondents Dinner, “[Mike Pence] thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it till you try it! And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you gotta get that baby out of there.”
Actress Alyssa Milano also recently announced her search for women’s stories about their abortion for her upcoming podcast “Sorry Not Sorry.”
“If you’d like to share your personal abortion story on my podcast to help shine a light on the importance of bodily autonomy, please record story on your voice memo app and email it to below address,” she tweeted on Friday.