Abortion clinic workers often try to hide the reality of the abortion procedure from the patients they meet. In one particular abortion clinic, the counselors avoided using the word “baby.” Wendy Simonds, a pro-choice feminist who interviewed clinic workers and watched abortions at the clinic, said the following:
Center staff members commonly said “the pregnancy,” “the tissue,” “the products of conception.” “Fetal tissue” was the most explicit term I heard health workers use with clients. (1)
But sometimes the woman, deep down, knew that there is more to abortion than the removal of “tissue.”
A worker at that same clinic describes preparing a woman for a second-trimester abortion. In this late-term abortion method, the abortionist would inject digoxin, a virulent poison, into the baby’s heart to kill him or her. This would be the first stage of the procedure.
The clinic worker says:
First Roger [the abortionist] locates the approximate location of the fetal heart, makes an X with the sonogram jelly, turns off the machine, and injects the anesthesia. Then he takes a bigger sort of tube needle and puts that into the same spot where he injected the local, turns the sonogram back on and finds the heart, and then put in the digoxin. The women are lying down and can see the sonogram. The heart looks like a flashing light. The woman who was really frightened held my hand: Hallie [another clinic worker] had the job of holding the ultrasound device still on the woman’s belly for Roger. Afterwards, when Roger had left, the woman said she felt the fetus moving around. She said, “This is what kills the baby, right?” And started to cry before either of us could answer.(2)
Some abortionists don’t even try to inject the poison into the heart; they just put it in the fluid around the amniotic sack and let the baby die slowly, over the course of hours. One can imagine how painful a death this is for the aborted baby.
This passage shows that no matter how hard clinic workers try to obscure what really happens in an abortion, only so much can be done to hide the truth. The woman in this passage might always remember feeling her baby die inside her. It seemed that in those final moments, she was unable to lie to herself about what was happening to her unborn child.
1, Wendy Simonds. Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996) 80.
2. Simonds, 74