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Abby Johnson Says She Cares More About Federal Programs Than Abolishing Abortion

by James Silberman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

Abby Johnson should be applauded for leaving Planned Parenthood. We should all be thankful her movie exposed the plight of the dismembered victims of abortion. Her wanting abortion to be unthinkable is admirable. But her opposition to criminalizing abortion is disqualifying and her reasons for opposing it are shocking.

Johnson was criticized on Facebook for actively lobbying against the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act. She responded by attacking the bill on the grounds that abolishing abortion would cost Texas federal money and programs. She then calls supporters of abolishing abortion in Texas “ignorant” and supporters of a strategy with “no legislative backbone.”

Leaving aside that Johnson herself appears to be ignorant of the financial relationship between Texas and Washington D.C. (according to Wallet Hub via Dallas News, Texas gets only $0.57 back for every dollar it sends to the federal government), what she’s saying here goes far beyond economic illiteracy. She’s explicitly saying she values federal money more than abolishing abortion. There’s no other reasonable way to interpret this.

I would provide a link to the whole comment thread but, Johnson deleted the comments and blocked the commenter, Susan Burklund, according to Burklund. This appears to be a pattern as I’ve spoken directly with 16 other people who say Johnson has blocked them for criticizing her for opposing abolition bills.

Federal money isn’t the only reason for Johnson’s opposition to the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act. She also opposes legal penalty for parents who kill their son or daughter. I’ll quote from a previous article about TX HB896 to explain why Johnson, while possibly well-intentioned, is terribly mistaken here.

First, abortion isn’t actually illegal if parents who murder their sons and daughters have automatic immunity. If only the abortionist faces justice, do-it-yourself abortion is legal. And with the abortion industry moving toward DIY abortion anyway, a bill providing legal penalty only for the abortionist accomplishes nothing but expedite the evolution of the abortion industry.

Second, the law is a deterrent. Among those testifying in favor of the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act was Jason Storms, a pastor and an activist with Operation Save America. He told his emotional story of creating a child with his high school girlfriend and choosing abortion with her in the mid-1990s.

“I was guilty as an accomplice in the murder of my own child, and I should have been prosecuted accordingly,” Storms told the committee. “Mothers and fathers – parents – right now in Texas can be charged with parental neglect, parental abuse, and even parental homicide when we see the tragedy of parents taking the lives of their own children. It’s because mothers and fathers have a duty to love and protect their children. That responsibility doesn’t start when they’re born, but it starts when they’re conceived.”

“Here’s a fact: my girlfriend and I, if we knew we would’ve been facing homicide charges, would never have aborted that child. That child would be alive today. I’d have a 22-year-old little child that I could celebrate life with right now that’s not here. The law is a deterrent to crime. We shouldn’t think of this only as a matter of putting a woman on the stand. We should think of this as a great deterrent. Men and women would not think of doing this if we stood firm on the law and provided equal protection for these children.”

Most mothers and fathers who are murdering their children wouldn’t be doing so if they knew they’d have to face justice. That justice needs to be there. It’s unjust and immoral for it not be.

Third, abortion bans which exempted parents from legal penalty are what led to the legalization of abortion in the first place. Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade, who was representing the State of Texas in Roe v Wade, argued that the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment guaranteed preborn human beings equal protection of the law against murder. But the inconsistency of Texas’ anti-abortion laws at the time which didn’t legally penalize mothers for getting abortions provided Justice Harry Blackmun an avenue by which to claim that even pro-life people didn’t really believe abortion was murder. He details this inconsistency in footnote 54 of the Roe v Wade decision.

“There are other inconsistencies between Fourteenth Amendment status and the typical abortion statute. It has already been pointed out, n. 49, supra, that in Texas the woman is not a principal or an accomplice with respect to an abortion upon her. If the fetus is a person, why is the woman not a principal or an accomplice? Further, the penalty for criminal abortion specified by Art. 1195 is significantly less than the maximum penalty for murder prescribed by Art. 1257 of the Texas Penal Code. If the fetus is a person, may the penalties be different?”

Pre-Roe laws failed to treat abortion like murder and thus dehumanized preborn human beings. Blackmun and the 1972 Supreme Court didn’t even have to do the dehumanizing themselves – only point out that pro-life laws already dehumanize the preborn by not giving them equal protection and equal justice.

Whether they be economic, familial, or whatever else, we can all appreciate that there are difficult circumstances that factor into mothers and fathers deciding to kill their sons and daughters. But this cannot mean they get automatic immunity from legal penalty in all cases.

An armed robber might go hungry without the $150 in the till at the corner store. A man might be driven to acts of violence by the physical abuse he suffered as a child. A drunk driver who kills someone might have been drinking because her husband just left her. Such circumstances may warrant a more lenient sentence in some cases, but they do not remove the need for justice to be served. They do not mean that all perpetrators of these crimes should be immune from prosecution because some of them were pressured into the act by a hard situation. Under an abolition bill, like all criminal laws, the exact charges and sentences for mothers and fathers who pay an abortionist to murder their child will be up to prosecutors, judges, and juries and dependent on the specifics of each case. But to afford those who pay to have their child murdered unconditional immunity in all cases is to not actually end abortion as well as to thwart justice.

The Texas legislature meets only every two years, meaning the killing of the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act is a literal and undeniable death sentence for 110,000 preborn human beings. They will die and be cast into landfills, incineration chambers, and down garbage disposals so that Jeff Leach and his allies among pro-life lobbyists and state Republican leaders can virtue signal that they’re not like those mean abolitionists who actually think preborn human beings should get equal justice and protection.

Johnson is probably the most well-known pro-lifer, especially after her movie. Her influence with both pro-life voters and politicians is significant. That she favors federal dollars over abolishing abortion, along with the fact that she opposes criminalizing abortion generally, is really bad news for the vulnerable unborn.

Again, Abby Johnson has done some good things, but there’s no question she’s made herself an obstacle we have to overcome if we’re to succeed in providing equal protection and justice to the preborn.


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