Former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson edited a book called “The Walls are Talking,” which presented stories from former abortion workers. One of the common themes in these stories is how workers were expected to convince ambivalent women to go through with their abortions. The workers were told by their facility administrators to make abortion look like the most attractive option for pregnant women. They were supposed to pressure women into having abortions.
It is not hard to guess why abortion facility administrators want women to go through with abortions. These facilities are not charities, but businesses which make a profit selling abortion. If a woman changes her mind and leaves the facility, the facility loses money. Each woman who decides against abortion represents lost revenue for the facility.
In “The Walls are Talking,” an abortion worker recalled a pregnant woman who came to the abortion facility and asked many questions about her baby. The woman spoke only Spanish. The worker described their conversation:
I asked her in Spanish if she wanted to see a picture and know the gestational age.
“Sí,” she responded.
She asked many questions about the baby and the procedure. Did the baby have a heartbeat? Would the baby feel the abortion?
“I don’t think that you are sure,” I told her. “This is a human being. You obviously need time to think about this.”(1)
Shockingly, the worker acknowledged that the abortion would kill a human being. This is not standard procedure in most abortion facilities. In fact, many former workers have said they were strongly discouraged from ever using the word “baby” or in any way humanizing the preborn.
The former worker said her coworkers were not happy that she spent so much time answering the woman’s questions:
My coworkers were less than thrilled that I was holding things up. “She’s here, isn’t she? She has made up her mind.”
One of the doctors who spoke a smattering of Spanish heard what was going on and charged in. In a short time, he convinced her. I remember feeling so defeated. (2)
Trained to sell abortions, not to counsel
In the book, another worker claims the abortion facility director actually tested the workers to make sure they were effectively pressuring women into abortions. She says:
The director frequently made a point to remind us that phones were tapped and that we were to expect “mystery shoppers” to be calling from the main office. The purpose of the calls was to make sure that we were towing the company line. We needed to answer by the third ring. If the woman seemed reluctant to follow through with the procedure, we were expected to respond with canned pro–abortion rebuttals. (3)
Former Planned Parenthood director Sue Thayer describes how she convinced women to schedule abortions:
I trained my staff the way that I was trained, which was to really encourage women to choose abortion, to have it at Planned Parenthood, because that counts, you know, towards our goal. We would try to get the appointment scheduled for the abortion before they left our clinic, We would say thinks like ‘your pregnancy test, your visit today, is X number of dollars. How much are you going to be able to pay towards that?’
If they’d say ‘I’m not able to pay today,’ then we would say something like ‘Well, if you can’t pay $10 today, how are you going to take care of a baby? Have you priced diapers? Do you know how much it costs to buy a car seat? Where would you go for help, there’s no place in Storm Lake–or whatever town they were in–you know, where you can get help as a pregnant mom. So really don’t you think your smartest choice is termination?
Another abortion worker, Laurel Guymer, actually left the abortion industry because she was troubled by the way her colleagues pressured women to abort:
What if they said “no” when entering the operating room? In this instance I felt compelled to reassure them they didn’t have to go through with it and walked them back to the change room. This was not welcomed by my colleagues at the clinic. I was reminded that this is a business and any slowing in the production line costs money. Constant threats were made that the anesthesiologist had another list at another hospital and any more discussion with the uncertain woman was wasting precious time. Their patronizing remarks that some women will never be 100% sure, and that I should encourage them to go on and get the abortion over quickly, were not comforting: I could no longer participate. (4)
Preying on women’s fears using psychologically manipulative tactics
Accounts of biased counseling and aggressive sales techniques are not just found in pro-life sources. For her 2017 book, author and researcher Bayla Ostrach interviewed abortion workers and women seeking abortions. She wrote about an abortion facility worker named Jorge. Jorge “counseled” women who were ambivalent and upset. Ostrach writes that Jorge “routinely tells women, ‘if this were a pregnancy you could continue, you wouldn’t be here crying, right?’”(5)
Rather than trying to ascertain why the woman is crying and how she really felt, this abortion “counselor” used the woman’s own emotional distress to convince her to abort.
Researcher Peter Korn sat in on abortion “counseling” sessions. Korn also records a conversation between an abortion worker and a young woman named Tiffany. Tiffany was 14 weeks pregnant and uncertain about having an abortion. The abortion worker says:
I’m not here to change your mind. I’m not here to force your opinion. But I’m sitting here seeing this beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her, and you have so many other things you can do right now. Why don’t you go ahead with your dreams and have kids later?” Tiffany had no answer so Anneke continued, “We’re always here for you.”….Before ending the session Anneke left Tiffany with some figures that she recently had learned from Carye: One in ten high school girls who become pregnant finish high school, and one in ten thousand girls who have babies during high school finish college. And a third statistic: Over 80 percent of the men in this country don’t pay their child support. “The statistics are stacked against you…”
Tiffany did, reluctantly, agree to abort.
Lying about fetal development facts
Korn also described one conversation between an abortion worker and a pregnant woman:
Peggy’s [the patient’s] mind is off on a different track. “Is it true that at six weeks it has a heartbeat?” Carye (the counselor) says nobody is sure exactly when the heart begins beating, and tries to deflect that concern. “This pregnancy and you are the same thing,” she adds, explaining to Peggy that prior to twenty-four weeks the fetus cannot survive outside her womb.
Of course, anyone with any understanding of biology knows a preborn baby is not “the same thing” as his mother. The baby is not part of the woman’s body. With different DNA and a separate circulatory system, the tiny baby in a woman’s womb is a unique human being.
Also, it is a scientific fact that a preborn babies heart begins to beat in the third week after conception. This has been known for many years. You can watch the heart of a preborn baby beating at just four and a half weeks here.
Based on these testimonies and accounts, as well as others, it is clear that abortion facilities often pressure ambivalent women into “choosing” abortion. One wonders how many of these women later come to regret their “choice”, which was made under duress.
- Abby Johnson The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2016) 130
- Abby Johnson, 130
- Abby Johnson, 98
- Melinda Tankard Reist Giving Sorrow Words: Women’s Stories of Grief after Abortion (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2007) 170
- Bayla Ostrach Health Policy in a Time of Crisis: Abortion, Austerity, and Access (New York: Rutledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2017) 52