Some of the most powerful stories in the pro-life movement come from former abortion workers. These workers were once dedicated to promoting and committing abortions, but eventually, because their consciences could no longer be suppressed, they came out of the industry. Many times, the intervention of peaceful, faithful pro-life volunteers helped them leave. Now, many of these former workers are speaking out about their experiences.
Jewels Green is one of these former industry workers who has come forward with her story. After having an abortion herself, Green struggled with feelings of sadness, grief and remorse. She even attempted suicide afterward. Partly to assuage her own guilt, Green surrounded herself with people who were as pro-abortion as possible and began working at an abortion facility. Working in the facility and being around others who supported abortion wholeheartedly allowed her to tell herself that her abortion had been the right decision.
The facility where Green worked committed abortions in the first trimester. However, as early as seven-and-a-half weeks after fertilization, a preborn baby is a person, with arms, hands, legs, fingers, and toes.
Green cleaned the instruments after each abortion and dealt with the fetal remains. After suction generated by a machine pulled the baby from the uterus down a long tube, the child’s body parts were collected in a jar, which then had to be rinsed and cleaned. Green would examine the contents of those jars. She says:
It looked like an oversized glass pickle jar. It was emptied next to me on the countertop: teeny tiny hands and feet and arms and legs and a rib cage and a spine and a hollow, flattened, misshapen, torn head.
Thirty times a day, four days a week, Green emptied those bottles. Exposed to dismembered body parts on a regular basis, Green began to have nightmares. She recalls:
I started having nightmares, haunted by tiny, limbless phantom babies. I was floating down a narrow stream with miniature body parts strewn on either shore – and then I’d begin to sink. I’d flail and gasp and go under.
She tried to ignore the dreams, but they continued. One day, she spoke to the abortion facility director about her nightmares:
I was 20 years old when I told the clinic director, “I’m having nightmares. Does anyone else have nightmares when working autoclave?”
She replied, “What we do here is end a life. And if you’re not okay with that, you can’t work here.”
Sometimes pro-lifers wonder if those who work in abortion facilities know they are taking lives. In this case, the owner of the abortion facility had no illusions about what she and the workers were doing.
In order to give Green a break, the director transferred her to a different part of the facility:
My schedule was changed for the next few weeks to give me a rest from the autoclave room…The next time I met with the clinic director, I assured her that I was on board with the work we did, and with our mission and dedication to preserving women’s reproductive rights.
While she was working at the abortion facility, Jewels Green was mourning her abortion. She knew she had made the wrong decision. But she tried to bury the guilt and convinced herself that she was helping women. She was committed to the pro-abortion cause and had a sense that it was her personal mission:
I told myself that abortion was alright for other women, even though it had been dead wrong for me. I loved my job at the clinic, even though it gave me nightmares. While most of my friends were working at drugstores, retail shops, or work-study during college, I had a job with a purpose, and they envied me. I tried to keep my pesky conscience muzzled.
Green eventually left the abortion facility, but she continued to support abortion for some time. It was only after years had passed that she embraced the pro-life movement.
Green spoke about what happened that convinced her to become pro-life in a speech at a 40 Days for Life closing event in Pennsylvania in 2011, saying that one of her friends signed a contract to became a surrogate mother for a couple that could not have children. While the friend was going through the process of preparing for surrogacy, she participated in a support group for other surrogate mothers. The friend would tell Green the stories of these other women.
The friend told Green about another surrogate mother in the support group who was carrying a baby for a couple. Midway through this surrogate’s pregnancy, the couple who’d hired her told her to undergo prenatal testing to see if the child she was carrying had any defects or disabilities. The tests showed that the baby had Down syndrome. Since the couple did not want a child with Down syndrome, they offered the surrogate payment in full to abort the baby. The surrogate did abort the baby and collected her fee. Green says:
[A] quick Google search brings up that it can be anywhere from $10,000-$50,000 that a surrogate is paid. And that’s when it finally dawned on me…This woman was offered thousands of dollars to abort the baby. And she did. And that’s when I started, you know what, I have to rethink my worldview. I’ve got to think about this. I had already given birth to three beautiful, healthy children… But it never dawned on me until this idea of making [babies] consumer products. It’s a transaction. Just like the abortion is a transaction.
Green’s eyes were opened and she became pro-life.
It was a true “ah-HA” moment for me. Abortion was wrong on a fundamental level. Children were now commodities to be created, bought, sold, or discarded at will — and I could no longer call myself pro-choice. This horrifying truth led me to question abortion and fully examine my position, ask myself the hard questions, and ultimately assume responsibility for my own abortion and my role in the abortion industry.
While Green was working in the abortion facility, there were several acts of violence and murder against abortionists. This was the 1990s, when there were several abortion facility shootings. Green recalls how the violence only made her and her fellow abortion workers even more entrenched in the pro-abortion mindset. They became more dedicated than ever to providing abortions.
These acts of violence helped the abortion workers to see themselves as brave heroes and distracted them from the violence that was inherent in abortion. Green says that after the killings:
I didn’t quit, but I did wear a bulletproof vest to work for a week after the Boston killings. During this scary time, I had more nightmares about being killed at work than I did about the killing going on in the procedure rooms.
These terrible events solidified my pro-choice ideology into a steadfast commitment to ensuring that abortion would remain a legal option for pregnant women.
In this way, violence served to entrench workers even further into their pro-abortion ideology.
As with violence, when pro-lifers yell at abortion workers and treat them in a nasty way, it works as a barrier to conversion. Green’s experience shows that violence and overly aggressive tactics work as a barrier to conversion. Reaching out to abortion workers with patience, friendliness, and persistence is what breaks down the barriers.
Source: Patrick Madrid Surprised by Life (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 2017) 52-53, 55