A key part of the outreach and ministry of Priests for Life is to former abortion practitioners. Following are some excerpts from their testimonies, revealing the fact that seeing what the baby looks like, before and after abortion, is much more powerful than words can convey. Notice how such an experience helped many of them to leave the abortion industry. -- Fr. Frank
Testimony of former abortion provider Nita Whitten
What happened in the clinic, though, was the thing that sort of made me start thinking about getting out of there. They brought their research assistant in because Curtis is so interested in technology and all these weird things he liked to do. He had them come in and they dissected a baby for us in our lab room so we could see what they were doing with the body parts. They did that right there and everybody filed in and looked. I looked at it. I pretended like I was being brave and walked out. It made me sick.
After it was all over, I would leave my patient on the table and I would go over to the suction bottle and I would take the little stockinette out and go outside the room to a sink where I would open the stockinette up, and I personally would pick through it with a forceps and I would have to identify four extremities, and a spine and a skull and the placenta. If I didn't find that, I would have to go back in that room and scrape and suction some more, or else my patients would be showing up in 48 or 72 hours, just like those women at Cook County with an infected incomplete abortion.
Standing at that sink, I guess I just started seeing these bodies for the first time. I don't know what I did before that. I think I just counted. I was cool. Blood didn't make me sick. I could handle all the guts and gore of medicine just fine. But I started seeing this for the first time and it started bothering me.
Testimony of former abortion provider David Brewer, MD
I wasn't a Christian; I didn't have any views on abortion; I was in a training program; this was a brand-new experience. I was going to get to see a new procedure and learn, and that was exciting.
And it got more exciting as I opened the jar and took the little piece of stockinette and opened that little bag, and the resident doctor said, now put it on that blue towel and check it out. We want to make sure that we got it all. I thought, oh, that will be exciting hands-on experience, looking at tissue. And I opened the sock up and I put it on the towel and there were parts in there of a person. I'd taken anatomy; I was a medical student; I knew what I was looking at. There was a little scapula and an arm and I saw some ribs and a chest, and I saw a little tiny head, and I saw a piece of a leg, and I saw a tiny hand, and I saw an arm. You know, it was like somebody put a hot poker into me. I believe that God gives us all a conscience and I wasn't a Christian, but I had a conscience and that hurt.
I checked it out and there were two arms and two legs and one head, etc., and I turned and said, I guess you got it all. That was a very hard experience for me to go through, emotionally. If I'd been a Christian against abortion it would have been simple--I wouldn't have been there.
Testimony of former abortion provider Carol Everett
I've never been able to come up with the words to describe the abortion procedure, because, you see, you're educating people about abortion. You know more about it than the average person. However, no matter how bad you think abortion is, there are no words to describe how bad it really is. It kills the baby. And, yes, I've seen sonograms with the baby pulling away from the instruments that are introduced into the vagina.
Testimony of former abortion provider Deborah Henry
I have been there, and I have seen these totally formed babies as early as 10 weeks, a couple of inches long with a leg missing, or with their head off. These are things that I have to live with now. I know the Lord has forgiven me, but I can never erase those things from my mind. The sounds of those bones breaking, The sight of those babies. It seems like the longer I go on working with the Pro-Life people, the more it is affecting me. I can understand the reality of a baby inside of you--a full baby growing.
There are a few more experiences that I want to go into before I forget. There was one incident of a baby who was about 16 weeks. One of the girls had called me into the lab as she was cleaning up, and on the end of the cannula, which was the instrument at the end of the hose, was a little baby's foot. It was about half an inch long. This foot was perfectly formed. I couldn't believe it. I was so amazed by the sight of it. It was all black and blue. When you drop something on your foot and your foot becomes bruised, it is usually because of pain. This baby's body was completely ripped apart because of the abortion.
In another incident, the hose popped off of the machine, and we had blood splattered all over us. This poor woman just lay there and cried. It was too late for any of us to do anything about it. That baby was dead.
I was told that one of the Pro-Life problems is that we talk too much about the babies being ripped apart. We show terrible pictures--we dwell on these too much. What are we supposed to do? This is the reality of abortion. Are we supposed to say, Oh, don't go into that abortion--your fetus, or tissues, will become deceased? It doesn't make sense. You tell them the truth--the facts. We are not there to lie to them. I am there to tell them the truth. Babies are being ripped up. Yes, babies do look like this after an abortion. And yes, it does hurt your baby, and most of all, it does affect the woman.
Testimony of former abortion provider Dr. McArthur Hill
She has another sign which she has used which is extremely effective. This sign is visible from a very long way away. This is Baby Choice. Most of you involved in the Pro-Life Movement have seen Baby Choice. On the reverse side is a tiny hand on Jeannie's palm, a 17-week baby that was aborted, and, of course, the gold on black background, the word, "Victim." This sign is very, very visible. I would certainly encourage any of you to utilize the same techniques. We have a few of these signs for sale if you are interested in using them.
Dr. Sally Dorfman reported on the use of ultrasound during abortion at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association of 1986. She recommended that it be used in all abortions performed after 12 weeks to accurately assess fetal age, as a teaching tool, and as a means of enhancing safety. It is interesting that they are doing all of these things to enhance safety when it's such a safe procedure before they started using it. It is interesting also that she has warned against letting the patients see the image on the screen as "seeing a blown-up moving image of the embryo she is carrying can be distressing to a woman who is about to undergo an abortion." She stressed that the screen should be turned away from the patient. She also addressed its effect on staff members and stated they may need opportunities for venting their feelings and for reconfirming their priorities. What they really need to do is to look at the moving image on the screen and realize that they are about to take the life of a living human being.
Testimony of former abortion provider Dr. Paul Jarrett
My 23rd abortion changed my mind about doing abortions forever. This patient was a little overweight and ultimately proved to be a little farther along than anticipated. This was not an uncommon mistake before ultrasound was readily available to confirm the gestational age.
Initially, the abortion proceeded normally. The water broke, but then nothing more would come out. When I withdrew the curette, I saw that it was plugged up with the leg of the baby which had been torn off. I then changed techniques and used ring forceps to dismember the 13 or 14 week size baby. Inside the remains of the rib cage I found a tiny, beating heart. I was finally able to remove the head and looked squarely into the face of a human being -- a human being that I had just killed. I turned to the scrub nurse standing next to me and said, "I'm sorry".
I knew then that abortion was wrong and I couldn't be a part of it any longer.
Testimony of former abortion provider Joseph Randall, MD
I think the greatest thing that got to us was the ultrasound. At that time, the ultrasound was a sound wave picture which was moving, called real-time ultrasound, to show the baby really on TV. The baby really came alive on TV and was moving and that picture--that picture of the baby on the ultrasound bothered me more than anything else, because as I didn't know then really, you bond with that picture. Women get those pictures even if they are still pictures, and boy, it's their baby and they put it up on walls, they bring it in to show it to me, and they don't even know what's there, but they see head, arm, leg all typed out for them so they know what it is, but they know it's a baby.
Anyway, the nurses had to help with this, had to look at this to stage how far along the D&E was, because you got paid more if it was 14, 16, more if it was 18 weeks and so on. In other words, the larger the pregnancy, the more you got paid, and the more the clinic got also. So it was very important for us to do that and to make sure they weren't too large for us to do.
When we started, we lost two nurses. They couldn't take looking at it. Some other staff was lost. The turnover got greater when we started doing the D&Es and mostly, as I said, the ultrasounds. So I think the ultrasound was one of the keys there. The other thing, too, is because the women who are having the abortions are never allowed to look at the ultrasound, because we know even if they heard the heart beat that many times they wouldn't have the abortion, and you wouldn't want that.
Testimony of former abortion provider Kathy Sparks
The doctor was trying to do the abortion, and the baby's bones were far too developed to rip them up with this curette, and so he had to try to pull the baby out with forceps, which he brought out three or four major pieces. Then he scraped and suctioned and scraped and suctioned. There this little baby boy was laying on the tray. I took the baby and I took him to the clean-up room, and I set him down, and I began weeping, uncontrollably sobbing for what I had been a part of because God showed me that was a baby, they were all babies, and I had been a part of murdering probably nearly 1,000 babies, and I cried and cried. His little face was perfectly formed, just like the sign you saw, perfectly formed; little eyes were closed, little ears and everything was perfect about this little boy.
So the recovery nurse was wondering what was taking me so long and she walked in and looked at me. She left, didn't say a word, shut the door, and went and got the director of the abortion clinic…when she was finished, I told her I couldn't work procedure anymore.
Why I no longer do abortions
By: Dr. George Flesh
(Los Angeles Times, September 12, 1991)
I believe that tearing a developed fetus apart, limb by limb, simply at the mother's request is an act of depravity that society should not permit. We cannot afford such a devaluation of human life, nor the desensitization of medical personnel that it requires. This is not based on what the fetus might feel, but on what we should feel in watching an exquisite, partly formed human being, being dismembered, whether one believes that man is created in God's image or not. I wish everybody could witness a second-trimester abortion before developing an opinion about it.