In a Facebook post last month, former abortion clinic administrator Abby Johnson gave a horrific description of one of her duties at Planned Parenthood. She described piecing together the bodies of babies who had been aborted. The Planned Parenthood clinic used jargon common in abortion clinics. Staffers described the babies as “Products of Conception.”
When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I was trained to be a POC technician. POC stands for “Products of Conception.” Sometimes, if the staff were feeling funny, we would say that it stood for “Pieces of Children.”
Inside every abortion clinic across the country, someone is tasked to be the POC technician. Their job is to take everything suctioned out of the uterus during an abortion and reassemble the parts of the baby. We did this to ensure that the uterus was empty of all fetal parts. If something was left, it could create a potentially fatal infection for the woman.
Some pro-choicers may doubt Johnson’s claim. It sounds so gruesome, so disturbing, that pro-choice people may not want to believe it. It is easier for people who support abortion to think of the baby as a formless collection of cells or piece of tissue — anything but a miniature person.
But a book by a pro-choice feminist who interviewed clinic workers gives evidence that Abby Johnson is being truthful. Wendy Simonds wrote the book Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic. For the book, she interviewed a number of clinic workers. Simonds is no pro-life activist. In Abortion at Work, she regularly refers to pro-lifers as “antis” — short for “antichoicers.” She even has a whole chapter dedicated to how clinic workers dealt with pro-life protesters. And it’s very clear that she takes the clinic workers’ side.
She quotes one clinic worker describing what happens after a first-trimester abortion:
Following first trimester abortions, sterile room workers strain the contents of the aspirator jar and cannulae to isolate the fetal tissue… After eight weeks gestation, weight should increase according to the doctor’s estimate of gestational length, and sterile room workers look for fetal parts. If they did not find evidence of the spine, skull, and upper and lower extremities, the client was called back into the examination room for a reaspiration.(1)
The clinic worker has described, albeit in more technical language, exactly what Abby Johnson talked about. Sifting through body parts of aborted babies is part of a clinic worker’s job.
In Johnson’s post, she says that clinic worker sometimes get nightmares, especially when they leave. This is not surprising. I’m no psychiatrist, but I would guess that the experience of piecing aborted babies together could easily give a person post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
We should be grateful for clinic workers who leave the industry, and even more grateful for those who are brave enough to tell their stories. The horrors that Abby Johnson spoke about have been verified by Simonds’s book, and also in other writings by both former and current clinic workers.
- Wendy Simonds. Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1996) 70