Noemi worked at Tampa Women’s Health abortion facility until a late-term abortion she took part in changed everything. She appeared in a webcast sponsored by the pro-life group And Then There Were None and shared the story of the incident that led her to question her work in the abortion industry.
Founded by Abby Johnson, whose own pro-life conversion was featured in the book and movie Unplanned, And Then There Were None helps abortion workers leave the industry. Noemi is one of those workers. A pregnant woman who did not want an abortion came to the facility at which she worked and asked for a sonogram. It was a wanted pregnancy, but Noemi agreed to do the sonogram. She explained why:
I sonogrammed her, because we turned no one away. The thought process was if we can get them in for the sonogram, and they paid for it, if anything happens, they’re going to come back because they are already invested in this clinic and in this facility.
The woman was delighted to see an image of her baby. She happily hugged Noemi. No woman coming in for an abortion had ever expressed this kind of joy. Noemi explained:
She was just so happy. And that was new for me. She came back a couple of weeks later and said, ‘Can we just check (she was on the older side) can we just make sure that the baby is okay?’ And we never even used the term baby. We never called, you know, the fetus a baby. And I said, ‘Okay, we can check on the baby.’ And she came back two weeks later, and she came back quite a few times. So, progressively I was watching the baby grow and I bonded with her, her family, her husband, her mother-in-law – she even went as far as to say, ‘I want you to come to the baby shower.’ And so, I felt this was like, wow, it was a good feeling. Especially, where I worked, we didn’t do that kind of stuff anymore. I hadn’t held a baby since I started working there.
Unfortunately, the happiness didn’t last long. Noemi received a phone call from a hospital telling her that they had a woman who needed to come in for an abortion due to a fetal diagnosis. What Noemi had hoped for when the woman came in for her first ultrasound had occurred. There was something wrong with the baby, and the woman had chosen Noemi’s facility to do the abortion. Noemi said:
[It was] very routine for us, so I started to take [a] report. In the middle of that, I get another phone call. I put someone on hold, and it’s the same woman. She’s in tears, and she’s telling me, ‘I’m at the hospital and they’re telling me I have to go see you. I’ll be there in a couple of hours. I have to have a procedure. I won’t make it, the baby won’t make it.’ So, she’s in tears. She comes over and my gut instinct is saying, postpone this, we’ve got to get medical records. But that wasn’t the policy. It was get them in, get them out. We needed to seal that procedure, we needed to get the payment and just hurry up and terminate as fast as possible.
As an abortion worker, Noemi wasn’t in the habit of delaying women’s abortion decisions. Her training was to close the sale as soon as the woman consented to the abortion, and she followed that training. Even though it went against Noemi’s instincts, and her emotional attachment to mother and baby, Noemi scheduled the baby for an abortion right away. She scheduled it without reviewing the woman’s medical records or questioning the baby’s diagnosis. Noemi did not investigate to see what was supposed to be wrong with the baby, nor did she ask the baby’s mother why the doctor said she and the baby wouldn’t survive. Noemi and the other abortion workers had been trained to rush women through their abortions, and that is what they did. Late-term abortions take days to complete when emergency C-sections can be done in under an hour. Noemi said the woman’s abortion lasted three days and she went through it without any sedation. Noemi held her hand through the whole thing.
Presiding over the death of a baby she had grown attached to was emotionally wrenching for Noemi, but the worst was yet to come:
Five days later, I get the medical report and there was no anomaly whatsoever. The procedure did not have to get done.
That just broke my heart. It tore me apart. That was when I started to tell myself, I could not do this anymore. Took me some time afterwards… But that was my breaking point.
While Noemi did not immediately leave her job, the incident worked to change the way she felt about the abortion industry and her part in it.
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