WASHINGTON — Abby Johnson, former director of Planned Parenthood and convert to Catholicism, addressed the Republican National Convention Aug. 25 in a video message that emphasized President Donald Trump’s actions for the pro-life cause.
The outspoken pro-life advocate said: “For most people who consider themselves pro-life, abortion is abstract. They can’t even conceive of the barbarity … but for me, abortion is very real.”
Johnson came under criticism ahead of the speech for tweets she made earlier this year, including one where she said the police would be “smart” to racially profile her son, who is biracial, and another where she advocated “household voting,” as in one vote per household.
She responded to criticism on Twitter, saying supporters of legal abortion are scared of her speech and “are scrambling to try to find anything to detract people from my message.”
“Well, guess what?? You can dredge up whatever old tweets you want. I’m still speaking,” she tweeted.
In a statement to Catholic News Service Aug. 26, she said she has “no desire to remove a woman’s right to vote. I simply think it is an interesting idea. It was an old tweet from a silly thread where I was asking people to post their most controversial thoughts and opinions. It is not a policy statement and was not meant to be taken seriously.”
She also said the criticism was “merely a distraction from the truth-telling, historical speech” she gave.
Another convention speaker was Nicholas Sandmann, who was in the public spotlight a year and a half ago when he was a junior at Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky. A viral video of him with other students interacting with Native American protesters went viral accusing the students, wearing “Make America Great Again” caps, of bigotry.
Sandmann’s family has subsequently settled defamation lawsuits against The Washington Post and CNN.
In his taped convention speech, he said that incident made him feel the “full war machine of the mainstream media.”
“I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being canceled. Canceled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left. Many are being fired, humiliated, or even threatened.”
At the end of his speech, filmed at the Lincoln Memorial, near where the initial confrontation occurred, Sandmann put a “Make America Great Again” cap on his head.
Sister Deirdre Byrne, a sister of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart and a surgeon who joined religious life while serving in the U.S. Army, is scheduled to address the convention Aug. 26.