I had been working for a year at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, as a registered nurse in the Labor and Delivery Department, when I heard in report that we were aborting a second-trimester baby with Down’s syndrome. I was completely shocked. In fact, I had specifically chosen to work at Christ Hospital because it was a Christian hospital and not involved, so I thought, in abortion. It hurt so much that the very place these abortions were being committed was at a hospital named after my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I was further grieved to learn that the hospital’s religious affiliates, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the United Church of Christ, were pro-abortion. I had no idea that any Christian denomination could be pro-abortion!
But what became most distressing was to learn of the method Christ Hospital uses to abort, called induced labor abortion, now also known as "live birth abortion." For this particular abortion procedure doctors do not attempt to kill the baby in the uterus. The goal is simply to prematurely deliver a baby who dies during the birth process or soon afterward.
To commit induced labor abortion, a doctor or resident inserts a medication into the mother’s birth canal close to the cervix. The cervix is the opening at the bottom of the uterus that normally stays closed until a mother is about 40 weeks pregnant and ready to deliver. This medication irritates the cervix and stimulates it to open early. When this occurs, the small second or third trimester pre-term, fully formed baby falls out of the uterus, sometimes alive. By law, if an aborted baby is born alive, both birth and death certificates must be issued. Ironically, at Christ Hospital the cause of death often listed for live aborted babies is "extreme prematurity," an acknowledgement by doctors that they have caused this death.
It is not uncommon for a live aborted baby to linger for an hour or two or even longer. At Christ Hospital one of these babies lived for almost an entire eight-hour shift. Some of the babies aborted are healthy, because Christ Hospital will also abort for life or "health" of the mother, and also for rape or incest.
In the event that an aborted baby is born alive, she or he receives "comfort care," defined as keeping the baby warm in a blanket until she dies. Parents may hold the baby if they wish. If the parents do not want to hold their dying aborted baby, a staff member cares for the baby until she dies. If staff does not have the time or desire to hold the baby, she is taken to Christ Hospital’s new Comfort Room, which is complete with a First Foto machine if parents want professional pictures of their aborted baby, baptismal supplies, gowns, and certificates, foot printing equipment and baby bracelets for mementos, and a rocking chair. Before the Comfort Room was established, babies were taken to the Soiled Utility Room to die.
One night, a nursing co-worker was taking a Down’s syndrome baby who was aborted alive to our Soiled Utility Room because his parents did not want to hold him, and she did not have time to hold him. I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was between 21 and 22 weeks old, weighed about 1/2 pound, and was about 10 inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe. Toward the end he was so quiet that I could not tell if he was still alive. I held him up to the light to see through his chest wall whether his heart was still beating. After he was pronounced dead, we folded his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where all of our dead patients are taken.
After I held that baby, the weight of what I knew became too much for me to bear. I had two choices. One choice was to leave the hospital and go work at a hospital that didn’t commit abortions. The other was to attempt to change Christ Hospital’s abortion practice. Then, I read a Scripture that spoke directly to me and my situation. Proverbs 24:11-12 says, "Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die. Don’t try to disclaim responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it. For God, who knows all hearts, knows yours, and he knows you knew! And he will reward everyone according to his deeds." I decided that to quit at that point would be irresponsible and disobedient to God. Sure, I might be more comfortable if I left the hospital, but babies would continue to die.
The journey God has taken me on since I first stepped out in obedience to fight abortion at a hospital named after His Son has been overwhelming! I travel around the country now, describing what I or other staff have witnessed. I have testified four times before National and Illinois Congressional Subcommittees. Bills are being introduced to stop this form of abortion that results in infanticide. The subject of Christ Hospital and live birth abortion has garnered much public attention. Descriptions of "live birth abortions" have now been told on national television, on radio, in print, and by local and national legislators. Among hundreds of examples are
Father Frank Pavone’s radio show and EWTN television program, Defending Life
Fox Cable News programs O’Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes
Chuck Colson’s radio program, Breakpoint
Dr. Laura’s television program
Dr. Jerry Falwell’s television program, Listen America
Articles and editorials in U. S. News and World Report, World Magazine, The Washington Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, Christianity Today, and Focus on the Family Citizen Magazine, to name a few.
Another nurse from Christ Hospital also testified with me in Washington. Allison described walking into the Soiled Utility Room on two separate occasions to find live aborted babies left naked on a scale and the metal counter. I testified about a staff worker who accidentally threw a live aborted baby in the garbage. The baby had been left on the counter of the Soiled Utility Room wrapped in a disposable towel. When my coworker realized what she had done, she started going through the trash to find the baby, and the baby fell out of the towel and onto the floor.
Other hospitals have now admitted that they commit live birth abortion. It apparently is not a rare form of abortion. But Christ Hospital was the first hospital in the United States to be publicly exposed for committing this form of abortion.
On August 31, 2001, after a 2-1/2 year battle with the hospital, I was fired. I am free now to openly discuss the horrors of abortion after having seen its horror with my own eyes. I can personally testify to the fact that One + God = the majority. Each one of us has a voice that we must use to stop the atrocity of abortion.
Priests for Life would like to thank Jill Stanek for her courageous witness. You can do your part to spread her testimony by having her speak in your community. Contact our Speakers' Bureau at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448 ext. 258; Fax: 603-908-3075; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.