On January 22, 2012, a former clinic worker named Clarissa gave her testimony before a church congregation. Her speech appears on YouTube here.
Clarissa became involved in abortion work almost by accident. She explains:
I was just finishing my medical assisting courses and my internship was at a women’s health center. I was going to be taking vital signs, answering phones, checking patients in and drawing blood. I showed up to work and I was shocked to find out they did abortions there.
When I asked to be assigned to a different location, they told me there was nowhere else to go.
Clarissa soon discovered that the clinic was a place of pain and sorrow.
In the weeks that followed, I was gradually introduced to the horrors of that place. The girls that came to the door were sometimes crying, they were sometimes quiet and sometimes they were laughing. But they all had sadness in their eyes.
At the end of my internship, I was offered a job. As a single mother with bills to pay, I thought that I had no choice.
Pro-lifers sometimes have a hard time understanding why some clinic workers stay at their jobs even after they begin having doubts about abortion. Some might feel trapped. Often, clinic workers are single mothers, trying to support their children, for whom losing a job could be disastrous. In fact, according to former clinic worker and single mother Joy Davis, some abortionists may go out of their way to hire single mothers, finding them easy to exploit.
Clarissa went on to talk more about conditions in the clinic:
From there, it only got worse. The girls who were unsure were lied to and coerced into killing their babies. They were told it was safe, they were not informed of their options, and they were never told about how they would feel afterwards. The girls that were only a month or two along would be given pills that would kill the baby and told they would have heavy bleeding. They were never told that they were going to be flushing their babies down the toilet. The girls who were farther along, they were given two medications, one so they wouldn’t feel anything, the other one so they wouldn’t remember. The medications did not always work. They were held down by the abortionist’s assistants, screaming in agony, as their babies were ripped apart and pulled out with a vacuum. If they were ever to change their minds, they were told that it was too late. When the medicine did work, the abortionist and his assistants would laugh, tell jokes, and even watch TV while they were killing the babies. Afterwards, the girls were ushered out the back door in varying conditions, some barely able to walk, vomiting, confused, high on their medications, and crying hysterically.
Seeing the suffering that went on in the clinic took a heavy toll on Clarissa:
One after the other, they would get on the table, and kill their babies. I hated going to work. I would get in the car every morning with a knot in my stomach, and go home every night, and get sick. It was an awful place to be. Many of the girls who work there did drugs in order to deal with the pain that they were experiencing from working there.”
Clarissa then described how a pro-lifer named Daniel reached out to her. He met her outside the clinic and asked her if she knew that what she was doing was wrong. She said she did, but she still had to support her children. Then Daniel asked her what she said was most important question of her life. “Do you have faith that God will take care of your children if you do the right thing and leave?”
Clarissa said she felt a strong sense of peace and found the courage to leave the clinic. She made friends with local pro-lifers, who brought her to church and helped look for new employment. Within two months, she had a new job. Clarissa concluded her testimony by saying that she felt that God would use her to do good in the world.
Clarissa’s story shows that reaching out to clinic workers can have a profound impact on them, if it is done compassionately. Some clinic workers may want to leave; they simply need encouragement and support. Pro-lifers have long known that simply telling women in crisis pregnancies that they shouldn’t abort is not enough. Crisis pregnancy centers offer women both emotional support and material help to carry their children to term. Clinic workers need the same emotional and material support.
Simply waving a sign in a person’s face is not enough to give her the hope that she needs to make a major life decision and walk away from the abortion industry. This is why And Then There Were None, Abby Johnson’s ministry, is so groundbreaking – the pro-life movement needs to do for clinic workers what it has been doing all along for women considering abortions. We need to try to meet their needs, rather than simply telling them to leave their jobs.