Analysis

Former abortion workers: Staff with no medical training a common problem at abortion centers

abortions

Former abortion workers have admitted their facilities endangered women by hiring untrained workers to perform medical tasks. Two former abortion workers, Noemi and Jayne, told their stories in a webcast sponsored by And Then There Were None. Noemi described how syringes were filled in advance, administered without any regard for woman’s weight or medical history, and prepared by untrained workers.

Jayne, who worked at Planned Parenthood of Delaware, was asked whether workers at her facility were also untrained. She answered:

I witnessed that often…. There were not many qualified people. I thought that the phlebotomists were trained phlebotomists but they weren’t – they were just “Planned Parenthood trained”. Which means, they just trained them – how Planned Parenthood just guesses and says good, go ahead, you can stick that needle in that person.

Other workers have said similar things. Tracy Jones, who worked for Dr. George Tiller, claimed that in his facility:

Front office employees were routinely called back to the medical area to assist medical employees with direct patient care without receiving any training in this area.

Untrained staff performed medical tasks such as “washing surgical instruments and wrapping them for autoclave [the machine that sterilizes instruments], operating the sonogram during surgery, explaining aftercare instructions to patients, and preparing specimens.”

In a videotaped conference, former abortion worker Hellen Pendley said she was put in charge of managing abortion complications even though she had no medical training:

I’m not a medical doctor, I’m not trained to evaluate a woman’s problems, postoperative hemorrhaging, etc. I have no skills to enable me to make that diagnosis and to prescribe the method of treatment, but that was required of me and I did it for three years. When they called me after hours and said, “I’m hemorrhaging, what can I do?” It was my problem, not the doctors. I was the person on call, I was one who called in all the drugs, I was the person who prescribed the medication.

This obviously put women’s health and lives at risk.

READ: Not just Gosnell: Former abortion workers say untrained staff is common

Joy Davis worked at two different abortion facilities. She says of the first facility, “Our people were not very well trained — most of them did not even have a medical background.”

While working at this facility, Davis was approached by abortionist Thomas Tucker, who wanted to start a new facility with trained staff and proper medical supervision. At first, the new facility employed competent people with medical licenses. But Tucker was unhappy with the amount of money he was making and began making cuts, firing trained employees and replacing them with untrained people, whom he could pay less:

He wasn’t making enough money, so the first thing to go was the anesthetist, because they made a lot of money. Through just the few months of watching them put patients to sleep, we started putting patients to sleep ourselves and we had no idea what we were doing. We just knew what we had seen them do, so we started doing it.

Then our registered nurses that worked in our recovery room were the next people to go. Then our lab technician and on and on.

Davis was given the job of hiring new employees who had no medical background. She also began to do medical procedures, including committing abortions herself, even though she had no training or license to practice medicine:

I started interviewing people that had no medical background at all, bringing them in to do the job of anesthetist, lab technicians, nurses and even physicians. … I brought in people off the street with no medical background and trained them….

I never spent the first day in medical school. I was just an ultrasound technician. I really knew nothing about medicine, other than what I had seen other doctors do, but I started doing abortions. I started actually performing surgery on women. I did Norplants, cryosurgery, pap smears, pelvic exams — anything he did, I did.

A woman died from a botched abortion under Davis’s care. Tucker knew the woman was in distress, but left to catch a plane, and Davis was unable to stop the woman’s bleeding by herself. By the time an ambulance was called, it was too late. The facility was eventually closed.

READ: Women at risk: Former abortion workers speak out about failed inspections

Pam Whitehead of And Then There Were None, who runs the website CheckMyClinic.org, which tracks failed inspections at abortion facilities, says untrained workers are a common issue:

Most of these facilities, what we see on their inspection reports are they have unqualified, uncertified, and untrained personnel… We see people pushing IV medications [who] were not certified, not trained, not qualified to be doing that.

She mentioned one untrained woman who posed as a nurse and worked at a facility for 20 years. It is unknown how many women were hurt at this facility.

Untrained workers at abortion facilities are all too common.

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