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unPlanned is the story of how Abby Johnson went from being the director of a Planned Parenthood (PP) office to being an advocate for the pro-life movement. It is a story worth reading as she tries to fairly assess both sides of this controversial issue. She has seen the issue from both sides and hates the extremes of both sides.

In an earlier post I mentioned the disconnect. Her story begins with disconnect. Her life and doctrine were disconnected. She believed one thing and did another. This led her to have secrets. She makes an interesting observation about secrets.

“Once it had taken hold within me, my secret had the power to shape and influence my reasoning, my perspective, my conscience. Years later, I would discover that the box in my soul wasn’t sealed as well as I’d thought. It was releasing undetectable yet poisonous fumes that wafted through my soul in silence and contaminated my heart.”

Her secret was that before her first (ill-advised) marriage she had her first abortion. She now understands more of the implications. She had to face not only the killing of her child, but depriving her parents of grandchildren. We don’t live on an island. And those secrets leak out. They shape our decisions and our perspective on the world.

Her secret made her an easy recruit for PP in college. She rightfully wanted to help women but her own baggage had to be justified. She heard the talking points about wanting to make abortion rare, and feeling guilty wanted to defend herself and others from the perceived condemnation of the pro-life movement. She is honest about the power of self-deception. She started to tell herself little lies, and then bigger lies, to justify her increasing role within PP.

The wicked flee when no one pursues,
    but the righteous are bold as a lion. Proverbs 28

She speaks of her spiritual struggle during those years. God seemed so far away from her. She didn’t understand why. But she did experience rejection from one church when they discovered where she worked. She and her husband were denied membership and encouraged to move on. Later, after her “conversion” she was essentially told to leave the “pro-choice” denomination with its liturgy that slowly reshaped her heart. Strange how pastors can allow such issues to keep them from ministering to people. I may have denied her membership, but invited her to stay and “see what happens.” That might not have been welcome words. But God can change hearts.

13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28

She shares her perspective on the pro-life movement as an outsider. She entered PP thinking they were mostly extremists. Dhe did  meet some extremists. at the fence which while literal also functioned as a metaphor throughout the book. But she also met compassionate, caring people at the fence too. There were more of them, and they worked to get rid of the crazies. Slowly her misconceptions about the pro-life movement were being challenged. She struggled with the paranoia of PP’s leadership and yet found it a safe place to hide due to her own guilt all at the same time. She also came to see, slowly, that the talking points were just that- talking points that really didn’t reflect the decisions being made by those in power.

She does not get into the “politics” of the issue. There is no mention of a politician. But as I ruminated on the book and the time frame of the events I noticed something. Senator Obama’s talking points on abortion during the Presidential election (which duped so many evangelicals) sounded remarkably like Planned Parenthood’s talking points, including making abortion rare. Yet, it was during his administration that PP lost their grant money for birth-control. This meant that more children would be conceived in less than desirable circumstances so women sought divorce, and PP needed to perform more abortions to pay their bills. That was the money-maker and they pushed directors to perform more, and were contemplating doing late-term abortions.

Abby was caught in the middle of this change by what was happening inwardly. The rules had changed on her and she was asked to go beyond her comfort zone. It seemed increasingly less about helping women and more about ideology and making money. And then came the fateful day.

The title is a double entendre: she was “removed” from PP, and this was not her plan. But it was someone’s plan: God’s. Many of the pro-life leaders in her community had been praying for her for years. Those prayers began to be answered as she was forced to participate in an ultra-sound guided abortion. She saw what actually happened inside the womb during an abortion. She could not prop up her shaky convictions with the well-intended lies anymore. Now she knew she had to get out.

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
    but those who keep the law strive against them.
Evil men do not understand justice,
    but those who seek the Lord understand it completely. Proverbs 28

The continues her story as she finds help from her former “enemies” and betrayal at the hands of “friends.” It moves into the injunction PP sought against her (without grounds) and her “coming out” to the media.

This book is a quick read. It moves along fairly well, though there were times I did want her to move faster. It comes across, to me, as an honest, humble read. It is, at times, an emotionally difficult read. There will most likely be tears. It tries (and mostly succeeds) to be a fair read. She doesn’t demonize PP though she is honest about the actions of some people in PP. She does see a difference between the average volunteer and those higher up in the organization. She was wronged by them as they turned on her for leaving. She made no public statements until after they made a press release. It is important to know that there is often a big difference in motive between PP and many who volunteer or work there. Her unspoken lesson is that we need to win them to “our side” in a way similar to how she was won over: prayer while you wait for God to act.

Copernican revolutions are never easy. In this case she had the support of her husband and family who never wanted her working there in the first place. She found newer, truer friends among many of those who had been praying for her for years. They loved her even when she was on the other side of the fence. She lost many “situational friendships” when she left PP. They didn’t love her despite their differences of opinion on this ethical matter: She was seen as betrayer and persona non grata.

On the flip side, she found forgiveness as she admitted her own sin. She experienced freedom from condemnation for her own abortions, and the many she had participated in. She wants people to hear the offer of grace, not the words of condemnation. Those of us who are pro-life need to be reminded all too often.

It is a book I wish more people would read because it is honest about PP. The good, and the bad. It gets past the talking points and propaganda we hear. It is like something of a cult in many ways. They have a doctrine that is disconnected from practice, an outward face that hides the inward reality. They are afraid of those “outside” and paint them in the worst possible light. They turn like rabid dogs on those who leave. Yeah, perhaps we need to talk about the cult of Planned Parenthood and its child sacrifice.

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You just have to love politics and how politicians of both stripes play loose with the truth.

A very interesting example arises as Barak Obama claims that his campaign experience gives him MORE executive experience than the Republican VP nominee.

“Well, my understanding is that Governor Palin’s town of Wasilla has, I think, 50 employees. We’ve got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the last couple of years,” Obama said.

  1. It is interesting that Candidate Obama has finally gotten the memo that Sarah Palin is the Governor of Alaska.  Yet, he compares his experience to her experience … as mayor.
  2. He’s not running against Sarah Palin, but John McCain.  So why is he comparing himself to her?  This is a great example of lousy logic, not excellent leadership.
  3. He neglects facts that put him in a dimmer light in order to place himself in a better light.  He’s comparing himself favorably, in an unfair, deceptive manner.  Certainly not what I want in a President.  He does not mention the size of the government and budget of Alaska, which is larger than his campaign staff and budget.

“For Barack Obama to argue that he’s experienced enough to be president because he’s running for president is desperate circular logic and its laughable. It is a testament to Barack Obama’s inexperience and failing qualifications that he would stoop to passing off his candidacy as comparable to Governor Sarah Palin’s executive experience managing a budget of over $10 billion and more than 24,000 employees,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds.

I don’t find such sleight of tongue inspiring.  Once again Obama displays a lack of integrity that I find frightening.  And THIS is supposed to be an example of change he wants- selective truth.  If he wasn’t running for President, it would be funny.

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Yes, she’s more than the “former mayor of a town of 9,000”.  She is the current Governor of Alaska, a wife and mother.  She has executive office experience on the local and state level- something the Democratic candidates can’t say.

I really like McCain’s choice.  I’d rather vote for her for President.  One thing I love is that she undermines many typical progressive arguments on issues.

  • She’s pro-life.  She was consistent with that conviction even when she was 4 months pregnant and learned their son had Downs’ Syndrome.  She knows the cost of having a child most people would consider rejecting.
  • She supports the War on Terror, and her own son is preparing to head to Iraq.  Her choices would affect her son too!
  • She rejected Federal money for the “Bridge to Nowhere”, so she will fight earmarks.
  • She cut taxes, and stimulated job growth.
  • She’s a member of the NRA- and hasn’t killed anyone or robbed anyone at gunpoint.
  • She’s not a silver spooner, but the daughter of school teachers- one a science teacher.
  • Her husband is an oil man (probably a union member), but has fought against unethical practices in the oil business.
  • She is pro-energy independence, and wants drilling in her “backyard”.
  • She’s not an insider to the Beltway.
  • She has Democrats and Independents in her administration.
  • She represents what feminism is supposed to shoot for.
  • She comes across as bright, positive, articulate and winsome.  This doesn’t mean she’s wimpy- she’s got to be tough to fight corruption, and has the nickname “The Barracuda”.
  • She has an approval rating of 80% from her constituents.  I didn’t think any politicians had positive approval ratings anymore.
  • In terms of experience, or the supposed lack thereof, she’s running for VP not President- so Obama’s comparison is unfair and illegitimate.

I found her speech far more inspiring than any other candidate’s in recent memory.  Boston.com put together some quotes from her race for the governor’s seat in Alaska.  She’s an evangelical, fiscal conservative who thinks both creation and evolution should be taught in school, affirms traditional marriage, and was very involved with her community.  What brings joy to one person’s heart brings fear to another.  Check out the comments!

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I want to head into hibernation.  The on-slaught has only just begun.

I got a phone call from Obama’s campaign the other day.  I’m not sure why they called since the only registered voters in the home are registered Republicans.  I tried to politely tell them that I was not interested in either voting for Obama or financially supporting his campaign since I didn’t agree with his policies.  If he gets voted into office he’ll take my money anyway.

Then came the letter from the McCain campaign.  It included a free McCain bumpersticker.  No catchy motto … just like McCain- uninteresting.  It won’t find its way onto one of our vehicles, but ended up in the circular file.  They, of course, wanted money.  I was disappointed that they did not focus on his views and policies.  Rather the brunt of the letter was intended to stir up fear that Obama is raising so much money.  The usual fear-generating words intended to get you to cough up gas money.  He may get my vote by default, but not my cash.

I’m really glad my hopes are not set on who wins an election…………

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I was watching part of In the Heat of the Night today.  No, not the TV show with Carroll O’Conner.  The classic movie with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger.  I love it when Virgil responds to Gillespie’s denigrating question about his name through nearly clutched teeth, “They call me Mr. Tibbs!”

There is one important scene where Tibbs confronts Mr. Endicott.  He is the rich guy who pretty much runs the town, and was trying to stop the new factory from coming into town.  He viewed himself as a caretaker for the helpless black man.  He realizes they have come to question him about the murder of the Chicago businessman and slaps Virgil in the face.  He promptly strikes him back.

Endicott is shocked that Chief Gillespie does nothing.  Tibbs and Gillespie head to the car.  Gillespie realizes that Tibbs really ought to leave town now.  Tibbs asks for 2 more days to take that fat cat out of his house on the hill.

The light goes on for Gillespie.  “You’re just like we are, ain’t you?”  The light when on for me too, for I hadn’t noticed that exchange before.

Tibbs looked down on white people just as much as white people looked down on him.  This seems to be the big obstacle in the whole discussion of race in America.  We seem reluctant to admit that many blacks look down on whites as much as many whites look down on blacks.  This is what shocked so many people about Rev. Wright’s sermons.  This was not Chris Rock, who we expect to be outrageous.  But here was a pastor, a respected pastor in his community and denomination, speaking to a (mostly) black audience and saying many of the things white people are afraid to hear- many blacks really don’t like or trust us.  And Obama just minimized it.

The obstacles are on BOTH sides of the fence.  And we’ll never make any real progress unless we address this on both sides.  In some ways Rev. Wright’s numerous comments (reality check, it is not an isolated slip of the tongue) deflate my hopes for racial reconciliation.  On the other hands, it reminds me how necessary it us for us to proclaim, believe and live out the gospel.  Sadly Rev. Wright felt content to play the victim rather than address the sins of the people under his care (which seems more the role of a sermon than the sins of those ‘out there’.

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