baby fetus

“Is it a baby?” Clinic workers respond

Pro-choice counselors at abortion clinics occasionally have to deal with a woman who asks, point blank: “Is abortion killing my baby?” Many former clinic workers have said that the expected response is “no.”

Carol Everett, former owner of two abortion clinics and administrator of four, said that:

Every woman has these same two questions: First, ‘Is it a baby?’ ‘No’ the counselor assures her. ‘It is a product of conception (or a blood clot, or a piece of tissue)’ Even though these counselors see six week babies daily, with arms, legs and eyes that are closed like newborn puppies, they lie to the women. How many women would have an abortion, if they told them the truth?” (1)

ultrasoundAnother former clinic worker, Linda Couri, who worked at Planned Parenthood, described how she responded when a teenager considering abortion asked her the following question: “If I have an abortion, am I killing my baby?”

Couri said:

‘Kill’ is a strong word, and so is ‘baby.’ You’re terminating the product of conception. (2)

But Couri was haunted by the girl’s question and troubled about her response. She began questioning whether providing abortions was really moral. She recalls asking her supervisor if she had done the right thing. The supervisor did not deny that abortion was killing a baby but told her that in the teenager’s case, abortion was a “necessary evil.” Struck by the use of the word “evil,” Couri continued to question her position at the clinic. Eventually, she left, and now she is a pro-life speaker.

Clinic worker Peg Johnston, who works in an abortion clinic in New York, revealed how she dealt with women who said they were killing their babies in a 2005 article:

She first says that when the women came asking if they killing their babies, she thought they were repeating what they heard from pro-life protestors and sidewalk counselors who spoke to them as they entered the clinic. But as she talked to more and more women who repeated the question:

They weren’t mouthing an anti-choice message – they were acknowledging that this was serious stuff. How can I want one kid and not the other? (3)

In the article “In Search of New Words: Redefining the Abortion Debate,” Johnston speaks about this at length:

“I would go out there and scream at them. [pro-life protesters] Then I would come back in and listen to a woman talk. Frequently the words were almost the same. The protesters would be saying, ‘You’re murdering your baby,’ and the women inside would be saying, ‘I feel like I’m killing my baby.’ I used to think, well, they’re just echoing what they are hearing. There was a time when I would correct them if they used those words.”

“The word killing was hard. It was so difficult to see women that guilty or distressed,” continues Johnston, who has run the clinic since 1981. “But eventually we got into conversations about the difference between murder and killing. Now our reaction is more: well, does it feel like killing to you and how are you going to make peace with that?”

fetus baby
Human embryo about 7 weeks after fertilization.

Johnston acknowledges that many women suspect that having an abortion is killing a baby. It seems that when directly misleading women fails, she uses semantics to separate the concept of “murder” from “killing.”

On the blog “Abortion Witness” in a post entitled “Talking about the babies: saying the things we cannot say,” a clinic worker discusses a similar situation when she describes a conversation with a patient.

“You’ve written in your chart that you feel guilty.” I say to the patient I am screening. “Can you tell me more about this? Why do you feel guilty?”

“I feel guilty because I am killing my baby,” she answers. “That’s why I feel guilty.”

The first time an abortion patient said this to me, I was completely unprepared for it. Although I was a long-time pro-choice activist, a Ph.D. who had studied feminist theory , and a former abortion patient myself, nothing in my experience had prepared me to talk with a woman about killing babies. “Oh no,” I said to her as gently as I could. “It’s not a baby- it’s just tissue.”

But the clinic worker later came to feel that her response was wrong.

She describes how pro-choice activists have trouble with using the word “baby” to describe the child who is killed in an abortion and says:

We all know that an unborn child dies in each abortion. And the majority of abortion care workers accept responsibility for our roles in these deaths. We have, for various reasons, determined for ourselves that having a part in these deaths is an important- and ethical- thing for us to do[.]

The blogger describes how a female abortionist who was 18 weeks pregnant performed an abortion on an 18-week-old unborn baby and felt her wanted baby kick just as she was pulling a leg off of the baby she was aborting. The blogger says:

We might start these honest conversations by asking what differentiates these two eighteen week unborn babies? The short answer – which is both incredibly simple and very complicated – is that the unborn baby moving inside the physician/mother is being carried by someone who has chosen to complete her pregnancy and deliver a living child, and the other unborn baby is being carried by someone who, for reasons that we may or may not understand, has decided that she cannot complete her pregnancy. In other words, the life or death of the unborn baby is determined by the mother’s decision about whether she wants to share her body with another being[.]

The blogger admits that “the distinction can feel unsatisfying to many people” but reiterates that it is moral to kill an unborn baby whose mother does not want her. She goes on to say:

… We should never deny that abortion kills an unborn child. When the topic comes up, a simple “yes, I know – and so do women who have abortions” will often suffice. Several years ago, the director at the clinic where I worked was on a radio talk show about second trimester abortion. A caller said, “You can’t tell me it’s not a baby. And you can’t tell me that baby won’t die!” Yes, she said calmly, it is a baby and yes, it is killed. Women know this, and they have abortions anyway. This is exactly why abortion is complicated, like many of life’s challenges. We must remember, though, that complicated does not necessarily mean wrong.

The clinic worker now suggests that the proper response to a woman in an abortion clinic who says “I feel like I’m killing my baby” is something like:

“Ok. Let’s talk about how you are going to cope with knowing that you’ve killed your baby. What do you believe happens to us when we die?” From this point, the woman and I could have an honest conversation about how she understood her abortion decision within the context of her own life circumstances, beliefs, and ethics.

The blogger then finishes her post by saying:

Women have always known that pregnancy means a baby and abortion means the baby will die. When women care enough about the lives of their children – born and unborn – and about the role lives to make that decision, we owe them the respect and support that honesty conveys.

Such honesty is becoming more and more common. A number of articles from Live Action have documented both pro-choice activists and abortion providers admitting that abortion is murder. As horrific as it is to imagine a clinic worker telling a woman that yes, abortion will kill her baby, but that she should abort anyway, perhaps pro-lifers can take comfort in the fact that even many pro-abortion people are beginning to reject euphemisms and talk about abortion as what it really is – the killing of an innocent unborn child. Their honesty leaves no doubt about what is at stake in the abortion debate.

1. Carol Everett “A Walk Through an Abortion Clinic” ALL About Issues magazine Aug-Sept 1991, pg. 117
2. TIM GRAVES “From Planned Parenthood to Pro-Life” National Catholic Register Aug 24, 2011
3. “Listening to women about abortion” Fairfield County Weekly May 26, 2005
4. David Daleiden and Jon A. Shields “Mugged by Ultrasound: Why so many abortion workers have turned pro-life”. The Weekly Standard JAN 25, 2010, VOL. 15, NO. 18

  • Thanks for this piece. The attitude you describe is a troubling one. My initial reaction to hearing someone who is pro-choice, let alone someone who helps perform abortions, acknowledge that abortion takes a human life is to feel very upset and uncertain about how to argue with someone with those views. One hope I have is that this is not the majority view among pro-choicers and that, if confronted with acknowledgments even by other pro-choicers that an unborn child is a human being, they might move away from a pro-choice position.

  • JDC

    ” We must remember, though, that complicated does not necessarily mean wrong.”

    It doesn’t necessarily mean right either.

    • Yes. And there’s absolutely nothing ‘complicated’ about the conclusion that it’s wrong to take the life of an innocent human being!

  • Kat

    Excellent article. Please read my ireport.

  • Kat
  • In my discussions with pro-abortion friends…some of them even submit the honest answers that abortion kills a baby but that the woman still retains the right to kill her baby. As astonishing at it sounds, I believe this will seal the person’s mind and they will have to make peace with murder. And because the human conscience is there to guide, there is no peace with a decision to murder a human being. Our society is not one of peace, so this pact with death is being played out more and more and the degradation of all human life is the result.

  • Thanks for this. This is very important to know and to deal with.

  • Aren’t we all products of conception? That is life.

  • “Thou shalt not kill.” – God

  • Barb

    Someone famous once said that liberalism is a mental disorder. I agree. They will not see the errors and because they sinned by raising themselves above God again and again, He turned them over to their disordered passions. That is why they will not understand or even listen to the truths. The truths hurt their state of mind. They will do anything to avoid them. Until such time as God gifts them with an opportunity of repentance as he did to Paul the Apostle and the prodigal son, and until they become humbled enough to accept this gift, they will go on killing Christ.

    • I am always amazed that liberals considered themselves “enlightened,” when they are promoting the most barbaric act we can do- kill our young. I’ll remain proudly unenlightened.

  • Dontdoit

    The entire issue now withthe Clinics themselves is money. They will lose Billions if Roe v Wade should be overturned. They could care less about populatin growth or anything else to do with babies other than the fact that Killing them makes clinics and Dr.’s Rich. Pass a law that no abortion can cost mre than $50 and we would see the end of abortion. All the Rhetoric about Pro-choice etc would come to a grinding halt. Its all about the money now not the morals or anything else.

  • I really can’t find this comforting. It means that they are trying to make people comfortable with the thought of killing instead of avoiding the thought. They are propogating the idea that one person can own another, equal person, and destroy that person without ethical consequences. I’m not sure we can count on the common consciousness to resist that kind of logic.

    • Proteios

      You are correct. All appeals to ones sense of human dignity. Of the dignity of life is fading. But this is a reflection of our entire culture. Just watch tv. Look at our rush to war and our desensitization to wars and terrorirism, drone attacks, etc.
      This is the symptom of the culture of death. It’s not just us. It’s everything about he world. I appreciate the honesty about accepting they are,killing the pre-born baby, but counseling around it has me unnerved. It’s like rationalizing killing innocent civilians, or drones attacking families or dropping bombs on people you’ve never seen. These rationalization a as to why its “good” killing. It all has me unnerved. But never so much as turning on the tv and looking at gruesome depictions of murder, murder as “art” whatever that means to Hollywood, or the casual nature we are entertained and amused by death. We no longer protest that. But it is at the heart of our culture of death…death amuses and entertains and is not just a “complicated issue”.

  • Therese

    “Complicated” is a euphemism for “wrong” here.

  • Life Lady

    So, if we are going to be completely honest, all of us, then let us say that these women who decide, who choose to kill their babies, are giving the abortion provider their hard earned blood money, and lots of it, to kill children so that those who choose abortion can continue with whatever kind of life they have had in the past. If that is the honest truth of the situation then I would rather participate in the support of women to choose NOT to give someone money to kill their child, and support them in every way to stay pregnant, and to deliver a healthy baby. Then, if they are not going to parent that child, to support another family that may want the child, to raise that child. In all honest, no child is unwanted. Someone wants those children, whether it is by adoption, or by extended family stepping in, someone wants those children.

    The honesty of what is right in this situation, in the “debate” of abortion, is that it is wrong to encourage women to kill their children, and it is wrong to allow them to throw money at an abortionist so that they can salve their consciousness with having provided them the “service” of killng their child. Let’s all just be completely honest about it.

  • -E

    God, it’s just so disgusting that people are so ok with killing innocent babies. It’s so surreal.

  • Emily

    I can think of no other place in science where a scientific definition is what you wish it to be.

  • -E

    “We all know that an unborn child dies in each abortion. And the majority
    of abortion care workers accept responsibility for our roles in these
    deaths. We have, for various reasons, determined for ourselves that
    having a part in these deaths is an important- and ethical- thing for us
    to do[.]”

    THIS just seems crazy and disturbing to me. Among other parts of this article. How is killing an innocent life ethical? Really, someone explain that to me.

    And the whole murder and killing being different. It goes more like …murder is a type of killing. Like there are accidental killings (manslaughter) and intentional killings (murder)..so therefore abortion is murder.

  • I find it interesting that pro-choicers who were so adamant about scientifically correct terms that sanitized abortion and dehumanized the child in the womb, are switching tracks, now that ultrasounds have demonstrated the humanity of unborn children.They are willing to finally admit what pro-lifers have said all along. The old, “if you can’t beat them join them” tactic.

  • Lea C.

    “It is a poverty that a child must die so you may live as you choose.”

  • Tomorrow is Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is just so much like Nazi concentration camp workers telling themselves that it is OK to kill Jews. Some of them at least must have been doing the same kind of mental gymnastics and practicing the same kind of self-deception.

  • Ed DeMatteo

    As many commenters have stated, I am torn by this more direct response to the mother’s question. While it’s good to see less “fog” these euphamisms create, the fact they feel comfortable saying it’s the taking of a human life signals more and more depravity in our society. I hope this direct approach will cause the mother to change her mind, and we see less abortions, but if that happens I am sure the powers to be will chenge that policy in a split second.

  • I got pregnant at 16, my parents wanted me to get an abortion, i asked them If I would see my baby in heaven. That was the end of that. Long story short, my son is a wonderful human being!!

  • Someday this holocaust will be the most shameful memory America will ever live with. I hope for the day when we can erect signs at every Planned Parenthood facility left standing shouts “NEVER AGAIN” as they did in Germany.

  • Flayer

    Perhaps if we framed the illegal alien problem in terms of “choice,” “abort,” and “terminate” we might get somewhere with liberals and their desire to welcome illegals in this country. Liberals are squeamish to deport a person back to their HOME but have no problem killing an “alien” in their wombs. Liberalism is indeed a mental illness.

  • Shirley Andricks

    I was pregnant at 16, and my parents never once mentioned abortion, nor did I even think about it. We got married, had a beautiful son, then four more children. We will be celebrating 39 years this Sept. Psalm 139

  • Anonymous

    Abortion has been around since civilization began. It was never brought to light until the 19th century. Before then, it was homes for unwed mothers, back alley abortions, or specific amounts of particular herbs to bring about an abortion or its prevention. Against abortion-don’t get one. Otherwise let the women whom chos this particular medical procedure alone.

    • LCM

      Murder’s been around since civilization began. So has stealing, lying, and other forms of violence. Are they then okay?
      In the 1800’s, many Southerners would say, “Don’t believe in slavery? Then don’t have a slave.” Was then slavery okay?
      Abortion is not just a “medical procedure.” It is the killing of an innocent human. Therefore, it is not okay.

    • …Said no sensible person. Ever.