Pro-life activist and Donald Trump supporter Abby Johnson spoke at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday to deliver a graphic retelling of her participation in an abortion she claims took place while she was working at a clinic – a story that has already been questioned against official records.
Ms Johnson, who quit her job as director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas to join the Coalition for Life campaign group, recounted details of her participation in a procedure she said took place over a decade ago.
“For most people who consider themselves pro-life, abortion is abstract — they can’t even conceive of the barbarity,” Ms Johnson told the GOP convention, in a pre-recorded address broadcast on Tuesday evening.
“See, for me, abortion is real. I know what it sounds like; I know what abortion smells like. Did you know that abortion even had a smell?” she added. Ms Johnson, 39, said she quit her job at the Bryan-based clinic after witnessing, she claims, the abortion of a woman who was 13 weeks pregnant.
“Nothing prepared me for what I saw on the screen: an unborn baby fighting back, desperate to move away from the suction,” Ms Johnson said, recounting her participation in the ultrasound-guided procedure. “The last thing I saw was a spine twirling around in the mother’s womb before succumbing to the force of the suction.”
But reports have cast doubt on Ms Johnson’s story. A 2019 article by Texas Monthly looked at the medical records from the day she claimed the ultrasound abortion took place. The records did not list a patient beyond 10 weeks of gestation, according to the article. Ms Johnson continues to stand by the story.
Ms Johnson, who now runs And Then There Were None – a group that she founded in 2012 and which encourages clinic employees to quit – said in her speech that “almost 80 per cent of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities are strategically located in minority neighborhoods”.
But the organisation has disputed that claim, saying “fewer than 4 per cent of Planned Parenthood facilities are in communities that are more than one-third black.”
Ms Johnson, who has a mixed race son among her eight children, previously said in a YouTube video following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, that when her son is grown, police officers would have to be more careful around him, the Daily Beast reported.
“Statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons,” she said, despite studies showing systemic biases in the criminal justice system that disproportionately punish black men.
Johnson has also said on Twitter than she supports “household voting” – in which each household has a single vote, potentially denying a woman an individual vote.
Asked for comment, Ms Johnson told the New York Times: “If you would like to discuss my talk tonight, I’m happy to do so. However, I’m not going to discuss something that isn’t germane to the event this evening.”