Planned Parenthood claims to care about women’s health. In their rhetoric, Planned Parenthood officials say abortion empowers women. Planned Parenthood presents itself as being a healthcare provider serving the community and helping women. But the testimony of one former Planned Parenthood worker, Catherine Adair, refutes these claims.
Adair worked in the biggest Planned Parenthood facility in Boston. She shares her testimony in a 2017 book called “Shockwaves: Abortion’s Wider Circle of Victims.” This book focuses on the emotional impact of abortion on women, men, siblings, and others. Adair says:
Working at the clinic I discovered that there was nothing pro-woman about abortion. Women were not counseled about their options. They weren’t given any information about fetal development and if they asked any questions, we lied to them. We spent very little time with them as we were told to get them into the abortion room quickly.
We were told not to say the words abortion, fetus, baby or embryo. We told women the doctor would gently extract the contents of their uterus.
In reality, a preborn baby is remarkably developed, even in the first trimester. As early as 16 days after conception, a preborn baby’s heart begins to beat. At just six weeks and two days, brain waves can be measured. By 7 ½ weeks, the baby has distinct fingers and toes. By eight weeks, the baby shows preference for either her right or left hand, indicating whether she will be right-handed or left-handed after birth.
Women have written about how workers at abortion facilities lied to them about fetal development. In the court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. 3,348 post-abortive women submitted an amicus brief in this case, in which many of them told their stories. Many of these women wrote about how the abortion facility lied to them or gave them no information about their preborn babies.
For example, Kathryn Bretz wrote:
I specifically asked if this was a baby and was told ‘No, it’s a formless blob of tissue.’ No one told me that this was a tiny baby who would be ripped apart. I was not informed of potential negative physical, psychological and spiritual consequences. The brochure stated that many women experience relief, without any consequences and it also stated ‘there may be a BRIEF period of sadness’. . . . The abortion has impacted my life negatively the day it happened and every day since for almost 30 years with unmanageable and powerful emotions of guilt, sorrow and raw pain. I developed a migraine disorder that has consumed my life, destroyed my career and finances. My inconsolable crying over the loss of my child, and knowing I was complicit in his death has caused deep, traumatic and overwhelming pain that can trigger a migraine. I’ve ended up at the ER with runaway migraine pain, with no painkilling drug that exists in medical science to assuage my misery. For a month after, my body was wracked in pain and it seemed like continuous labor. I expelled large chunks of endometrium and what looked like fetal tissue.
A woman named Karen wrote:
I was told that my baby was not really a live baby, but that it was only a blob of flesh, and since it really wasn’t alive, I wouldn’t be killing anything. Later, when I saw the sonogram of my second living child, I saw that he was VERY ALIVE . . . and the guilt overwhelmed me.
Nona Ellington was told her baby was:
Only a blob of tissue. I was not prepared for how painful the abortion would be since it was only partial anesthesia. As a minor with my mother there, we were not informed of what the procedure entailed and my mother was not allowed in the counseling room beforehand to make an educated decision. My mom even tried to get into the room, but they sent her away. I was never introduced to the doctor. I only know he was a man.
According to Adair, it was not unusual for the woman to have very little contact with the doctor performing her abortion. Adair says:
Later, I became a medical assistant for Planned Parenthood, and it was my job to get the women into the exam rooms and up on the table. When the doctor came in, if they were lucky, he would make eye contact with them. Minutes later, the doctor would head off across the hall to kill another baby, and it was my job to get the patient into the recovery area as quickly as possible. Sometimes the women would be bleeding. Sometimes they would be fainting.
Pro-choice author Cara J. Marianna interviewed post-abortive women for her book “Abortion: A Collective Story.” One of the women she interviewed, identified as Susan, says:
I was lying back, so when the doctor came in I never saw him.” I asked Susan if she saw the doctor at all during the procedure. “No. In fact, he really didn’t talk to me. The counselor was the one talking.” I was shocked to think that the doctor had apparently not introduced himself. “He didn’t introduce himself?” I asked. “No. Actually, what I distinctly remember the best is that as soon as the procedure was over, it was, like, he couldn’t wait to get to the door. Maybe he didn’t want me to see the contents, so maybe that was out of consideration. I never saw him again or anything. … You know, it felt a bit degrading. Like I wasn’t worth talking to, or he had better things to do. I think, for a while I kind of rationalized that, well, maybe, he just had a lot of work and other people to perform on. But, in the end, it left me feeling that much worse.
Catherine Adair also described working in the POC room, where the bodies of aborted babies were taken. Workers had to piece together the body parts of each aborted baby to ensure that the whole child had been extracted from the woman’s womb. If any part of the baby was left behind, it could cause an infection.
After the abortion it was the nurse’s job to look through the remains of the baby for what is called “products of conception.” We used to joke and call them “pieces of children.” This is the abortion industry. This is reproductive justice.
Other abortion workers have also commented on the POC room.
A clinic worker quoted in Abby Johnson’s book, “The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories,” says:
I also worked in the POC (Products of Conception) lab, which saddened and sickened me so deeply that I am still haunted by the images of bloody body parts – the things I can’t unsee.
In a 2015 Facebook post, former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson wrote about her time in the POC (“products of conception”) room, dealing with aborted babies:
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.
You may read this and say, “How could she do this?” The simple and truthful answer is… I don’t know. The only thing I can say is that spiritual blindness is VERY real.
You may say, “I can’t imagine.” No, I assure you that you can’t. You can’t imagine something so gruesome unless you have actually done it.
You may say, “I bet they have nightmares.” Yes, “they” do. Nightmares especially come after you leave the industry.
Johnson says that many former abortion workers suffer with nightmares about piecing together body parts. She also reveals that abortion workers at her facility made the same joke about “Pieces of Children.”
How widespread this “joke” is in the abortion industry is unknown.
Catherine Adair’s testimony, as well as the testimonies of other former abortion workers, show how women are exploited by the abortion industry. Workers’ stories of dismembered body parts also shine a light on the gruesome reality of abortion.
Janet Morana Shockwaves: Abortions Wider Circle of Victims (New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 2017) 20 – 21
Cara J. Marianna Abortion: A Collective Story (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002) 35-36
Abby Johnson The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2016) 129