Abortion workers: Magnifying women’s fears was ‘effective counseling’

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Brenda Pratt-Shafer was a worker at a late-term abortion facility. In 2016, she wrote a book about her experiences working there. In her book, Pratt-Shafer wrote about the way she and other abortion workers were taught to “counsel” women. She was given instructions to encourage women to abort. She writes, “I was told in no uncertain terms to always validate the mother’s reasons for having the abortion.” She described it this way:

If the mother was still in school, we’d tell her she didn’t need to be a mother right now; rather she needed to finish school and then start her family. If she was having financial problems, we would not offer her other solutions; we would just tell her that she could not afford a baby and that she was doing the best thing. If she was young, we would tell her she was too young to have a baby and it would probably ruin her life. Having this abortion was the right thing to do; then she could get on with the rest of her life. We also told the women that abortion was a simple procedure, and it was the answer to their problems and that they would be relieved afterward. After all, this abortion clinic was in the business to make money from abortions, not to offer solutions for crisis pregnancies.

Any excuse the mother had to want an abortion, we were in agreement and supportive of that reason. Options like adoption or even carrying the baby to full-term were never discussed.(1)

Other former abortion workers have said they, likewise, were trained to use similar tactics to convince ambivalent women to abort. Lavonne Wilenken, who worked at Planned Parenthood, described these tactics:

The counselor would say to the teenager, “Well, where’s the $250,000 that it takes to raise a child in society today?” And “What are your parents going to say when they find out that you’re pregnant?” And “What is your boyfriend doing? Is he going to help you? Where is he?” and “How are you going to finish your education if you have a baby? Don’t you know you can’t go to school if you have a baby?” Things like that, very subtle things that will push the girl over and make her decide….

First will come those questions. Next will come the very motherly, the very soothing, “But we can help you. We can help you out of your problem. Your parents don’t have to know. …  [Y]ou know that you can’t take care of a baby right now. You know that you’re not ready and we want you to do these things when you’re ready.” So they play on the emotions of the young girl who scared, frightened, doesn’t know where to go, but she’s been told this is the place to go to get help.

READ: Former abortion workers reveal ‘abortion counseling’ is really manipulation

Former abortion worker Kathy Sparks says something similar, admitting she would essentially play on the woman’s fears:

I was able to sit with one particular worker … She would immediately start drawing [the women] out, asking them all kinds of good questions. She would find out what their pressure point was. What was driving them to want to abort that child, and whatever that pressure point was, she would magnify it. If it was the fact that her parents were going to ‘kill’ her, and she didn’t know how she was going to be to tell her parents; then the counselor would proceed by telling her, you don’t have to do this; that’s why abortion is here, we want to help you; this is the answer to your problems. Oftentimes, if it was money, she would tell them how much baby items cost… the counseling at this particular abortion clinic was so effective that 99 out of every 100 women would go ahead and abort. So that’s very effective counseling.

Former abortion worker Deborah Henry says the same:

Many women could not afford to have babies, so we would use examples- like the price of babies’ shoes, the price of clothing, how much it cost to raise a baby. If they weren’t finished with their education, the hindrance it would have on their education, how would they find a baby sitter, who was going to take care of that baby for them? We would find their weakness and work on them.

READ: Abortion workers: We easily avoided parental notification and consent laws

In other words, the idea of playing on women’s fears to convince them to abort is common in the abortion industry. These high pressure sales tactics took advantage of women at a very vulnerable time. Everything was geared towards making sure women went through with their abortions, which ensured profit for the abortion facility.

  1. Brenda Pratt-Shafer, David Shafer What the Nurse Saw: Eyewitness to Abortion (Mustang, Oklahoma: Tate Publishing & Enterprise, LLC, 2016)

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