New anti-abortion rights ad campaign means more face time for Abby Johnson
One of the anti-abortion rights movement’s leading political fundraisers in 2010 has gone to the airwaves with one of Planned Parenthood’s most vehement critics, former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson.
The political action committee Susan B. Anthony List is footing a $90,000 bill to run a 10-day cable television ad campaign, from March 29 through April 7, in Washington, D.C., the group revealed Tuesday.
The ad shows a beaming, lavender-bedecked Johnson telling the camera what she learned during her eight years working for the women’s health care provider in Bryan, Texas.
“Planned Parenthood is not about women’s health at all,” Johnson tells the camera. “Their entire corporate culture is about abortions.”
Her statement is followed by a voiceover, which tells viewers that 98 percent of what Planned Parenthood does is perform abortions and that they receive more than $360 million in taxpayer funding every year.
Planned Parenthood has challenged the “98 percent” claim. Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye told the Huffington Post that the ad distorted the services figure by only comparing the amount of abortion services to the amount of adoption referrals.
In its most recent annual report (PDF) for the fiscal year ending in 2009, Planned Parenthood reported that for 3 million patients seen that year, 36 percent of total services went to providing contraception, 31 percent went to providing testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, 17 percent went to cancer screening and prevention and 3 percent went to abortion services.
The Susan B. Anthony List and Planned Parenthood have been at the helm of the abortion wars this legislative season. Early this month, both ran competing bus tours around the country, pushing for their respective sides on the congressional debate over whether to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.
According to Roll Call, the Susan B. Anthony List has spent $11 million during the 2010 election cycle and donated money in 90 different races, including to Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who authored the No Tax Payer Funding for Abortion Act.
Johnson has become the anti-abortion rights movement’s darling since she resigned from her position as director a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, in October 2009 and joined the Coalition for Life. On talk shows, paid speaking events and in her book Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line (published in January 2011), Johnson has repeatedly asserted that she left the clinic because of pressure from her superiors to increase abortions at her facility and because of a traumatizing experience witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old fetus, during which she swears she saw the fetus recoil from the doctor’s instrument.
Both claims have been challenged by stories broken by Salon.com and Texas Monthly shortly after Johnson’s departure, which suggested Johnson’s reasons for leaving (and her subsequent accusations against Planned Parenthood) were likely tied to the fact that three days earlier, the director had been disciplined by her superiors for allegations of poor job performance. The publications also questioned the veracity of Johnson’s testimony witnessing the ultrasound-assisted abortion because the next day she was on the Bryan public radio program* Fair and Feminist*, where she reportedly excoriated the Coalition for Life and defended Planned Parenthood. Johnson has defended her former statements.
Pro-abortion rights activist Joyce Arthur in 2000 wrote “The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion: Why the Anti-Choice Choose,” using testimony from doctors and counselors working at abortion clinics across the country, to point out the phenomenon of anti-abortion rights advocates who would have an abortion one day and then protest outside the very same clinic the next. But Johnson, who admitted to having two abortions when her book Unplanned came out this year, is a rare breed to make the leap from providing abortions to protesting against them.
Participating in campaigns to help strip federal funding from her old employer, Johnson has appeared at as many as four speaking events in a given week. Johnson’s next speaking event is at an annual fundraising banquet for Hope Pregnancy Centers, Inc., in Belton, Texas.