“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.”
Recently, pro-abortion activists have been attacking life-affirming pregnancy centers, claiming that the centers lie to women. At the same time, pro-choicers argue that abortion facilities give thorough and unbiased counseling.
In “The Abortion Handbook,” pro-choice author K. Kaufmann argues against informed consent laws, claiming that abortion facilities already tell women everything they need to know about abortion:
Women who go to pro-choice clinics are already receiving medical informed consent counseling before their abortions. Providers report that the majority of women having abortions do think carefully about their decision before coming to the clinic. Women who receive state-mandated lectures and booklets often say that the materials are “stupid” “condescending”, or “boring,” and have no impact on the decisions whatsoever. (1)
Virginia pastor Beth McLemore, coordinator of pastoral education and counseling at Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge, testified before Congress against informed consent law. She claims Planned Parenthood provides excellent counseling:
Our system for ensuring that all abortion patients have freely given their consent and are fully informed about this procedure reflects the collective wisdom of our staff and our focus on the needs of our patients. I respectfully submit that the honorable members of the Senate will never be able to protect or empower women the way Planned Parenthood does. (2)
And 3,348 post-abortive women who told their stories in an Amicus Curiae Brief submitted to the Supreme Court have also claimed otherwise.
The amicus brief was filed by the Justice Foundation in the case Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. The more than 3,000 women claim that the abortion workers either withheld information or outright lied to them about abortion’s risks and the development of their preborn babies. Kathryn Bretz tells of terrible physical and traumatic emotional consequences in the amicus brief:
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 [given to her at the abortion facility] 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 Mary describes the “counseling” (or lack thereof) she received at the abortion facility:
They don’t go into specific detail. I think that would scare you and you would back out. I also was not allowed to see the screen during the ultrasound and they did not share the results with me. The pain I endured from the time the dilation began and then through the actual procedure was alarming and VERY unexpected.
The abortion workers didn’t warn her about the physical pain the abortion would cause, nor of any possible aftereffects. Had Mary been given the chance to see her baby on the ultrasound screen, she may have changed her mind about having the abortion.
Jennifer said, “I was told my baby ‘was just tissue the size of a peanut.’ It was easy and slight pain like menstrual cramping. No, I had no idea I would be depressed for six years.”
A number of women who gave their testimonies in the amicus brief answered the question, “Did the abortion counselor give you accurate information about abortion and its aftereffects?” R.V. replied:
No. I was not informed of the procedure, what it really involved and I wanted to see a sonogram and was refused. I was told I would bleed like a period but it was much, much more than that, I experienced a lot of cramping and was very depressed afterwards.
The abortion workers refused to let R.V. see the ultrasound, even though she asked to see it. The workers may have feared that if she saw the baby on the ultrasound screen, she would change her mind and leave – causing the abortion facility to lose money.
Mavis Buckley Jones answered the question, “No. There was no ultrasound performed and I was told that the baby was at that point only “tissue.” I was not informed of the mental trauma that manifests in addition to the physical trauma.”
Sarah Allen may have been directly lied to by the abortion facility about her baby’s development. She says:
The councilor [sic] asked me if I wanted an abortion & I said yes. I was not told what would happen during the procedure. . . . He told me where to sign. Even when I was in the little room to get the ultrasound so they could see how far along I was, the girl didn’t speak to me. She was talking to a girl, training her I guess, and I looked at the monitor & asked ‘Where’s the heartbeat?’ All she said was ‘There isn’t one.’ And she turned the monitor so I couldn’t see and ignored me the rest of the time.
A preborn baby’s heart is beating by 22 days after conception; recent research suggests the heartbeat starts even earlier – at 16 days. It is very unlikely that Sarah’s pregnancy had not progressed further than 16 days. In all likelihood, her baby did have a beating heart.
Nona Ellington was told her baby was “only a blob of tissue.” She adds:
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.
Because the abortion facility separated Nona from her mother and took her into the counseling room alone, her mother was unable to ask questions or give guidance to her daughter, leaving the young teen with no advocate to help her make an informed decision without manipulation.
Karen was lied to and discovered the truth years later when it was too late:
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.
K.M. was not given accurate information in the abortion facility, and may have been a victim of malpractice. She is lucky to have survived:
No. It was explained as ending a pregnancy, that the fetus was just a blob of cells, it was minimized for sure. There was never any counseling or mention of the emotional or possible physical harm it could cause. I was rushed and it was obvious they weren’t interested in me but in getting as many abortions done as fast as possible. I ended up hemorrhaging after the abortion and they told me that they “thought” the doctor gave me a blood thinning rather than a blood clotting medication. I have no idea the cause. It was very frightening that is for sure.
Mary K. Seals experienced serious complications after her abortion at the age of 13:
I was thirteen, having a “forced” abortion by my parents. I think I was probably a little over 12 weeks by the time we went. Nobody told me what really happens to the baby. I don ‘t remember much talk about it except that “I will feel much better when it’s done” and “I can go on with my life” . . . etc. Nothing was said about going on the table and having a vacuum cleaner thing inserted in me. I was traumatized because I wanted to keep the baby, but the abortion counselors at the hospital who performed it just said, “It’s only a blob; it isn’t a baby yet . . . just tissue. I was told I could go swimming, play tennis, and go right on with life immediately following the procedure. Hours later, I was bleeding very heavily. This bleeding persisted with excruciating pain into the night. My mother took me back to the hospital again because of the pain. They sent us home about 3:00 a.m. with pain killers. But by five or so, I was doubled over vomiting and gushing blood clots unable to move. We went to another hospital and it turns out I needed a D&C. The doctor had only aborted half the baby . . . THE OTHER HALF WAS STILL IN ME! The doctors told my mother if I had just gone to sleep like the emergency room at the first hospital said, I would have died. I will never forget the torture that little baby must have gone through . . . I wonder (and so should anyone), “How long did that baby live torn apart?”
Now she has to live with that horrible question for the rest of her life.
Leella Cherry was only a minor when she had her abortion, but her parents were never notified:
Just thought it would be a simple procedure that would quickly kill the fetus. Was told that it really wasn’t a baby yet . . . just a blob. . . . I was never able to get pregnant again. . . . My parents should have been notified . . . they were never told . . . nor was the father.
Sue Lassiter says her abortion “was minimized to mask the murder of the baby. It was only tissue mass and we were only scraping my uterus. I had no idea of the pain I would endure both physically and mentally.”
Irene says the abortion facility didn’t give her enough information:
No. They called it a blob of tissue; I didn’t realize I was killing a baby, my baby. They didn’t tell me it could possibly mean I would never get pregnant again. Nor was I informed of the emotional pain I would experience . . . pain lasting 38 years.
Tina was told something similar:
No. I was told it was just a blob of tissue and that no life was formed. I later, after taking anatomy and physiology in college, realized what I had done and was devastated. Never was I told of the emotional distress it would cause me for the rest of my life. I was a murderer. I took an innocent, helpless life out of the safest place life should be protected in “the womb.”
Theresa was lied to as well:
No. I was told that the baby was not a baby, but just a blob of tissue. I was led to believe that the baby could feel no pain and that I would be alright after the abortion was over. The doctor said it was like performing a D&C and I would most likely have bleeding afterward like having my period.
And K.R. was lied to by her Planned Parenthood counselor, who “told me my baby was only the size of the head of a pin. Later research showed that my baby was developed enough to suck its thumb.”
Christina Singletary-Nkounkou suffered a great deal of emotional trauma after being lied to about her preborn baby:
No. I remember distinctly that the “counselor” told me that at the stage of development of my pregnancy, “we’re talking about a lump of tissue.” I imagined it as being like a piece of uncooked chicken fat, and that is pretty much how it was described. To my horror, much later, I came to see actual photographs of children at eight weeks gestation. They are quite distinctly human! Little arms, little legs, little heads and faces! I can’t tell you how difficult it has been at times to view pictures of ultrasounds of friends knowing that I killed my own child who looked just like that. No, [I was not adequately informed of the consequences of abortion]. I only knew that it would terminate the pregnancy. I had no idea it would change my life forever.
The abortion facility also withheld information from Gail Bersch:
No. I was told that it wasn’t a living human being. I didn’t know what exactly was being done. When I started to cry and didn’t want to go through with it, I was put under anesthesia. No one explained how depressed you would be. Or that you would be a murderer. They left you feeling empty, dirty, no good.
Jo Lisa Blossom remembers the lie the workers at the abortion facility told her:
No. The paperwork said I would feel “relief.” They did not tell me ANYTHING about the development of the baby and when I asked about it, they showed me a fuzzy ultrasound where I couldn’t see anything and told me it was “a worm with a head.” I have scar tissue on my cervix and have been tested positive for pre-cancer cells. I was never told abortion could affect my chances of having a healthy pregnancy later. I was never told I might not be able to get pregnant later.
Lianne was never warned about the potential consequences of an abortion:
No. Planned Parenthood staff said it was good to have the abortion early because “it wasn’t a baby yet – only a blob of tissue.” Didn’t inform me of any physical pain, consequences or emotional ramifications. I was not given any information on amount of bleeding, physical pain or other consequences. . . . I had very difficult and long labors with subsequent pregnancies/deliveries. Doctor said this was most likely due to previous abortion.
Wendy Beutel was also lied to about her baby and was not warned about the complications she would endure:
No. The only “counseling” I received was to ask me if I had any questions. When I replied that I didn’t know but thought maybe it was still just a placenta in there (baby not yet forming), she said “yes, it’s just a blob of tissue.” She actually used those words. I was also led to believe the procedure would involve only some mild cramping. Instead, it was extremely painful and frightening. I was told that it was easy, with no after-effects except bleeding for a few weeks. I was not told that (according to mainstream, peer-reviewed journals) it could lead to low-birth-weight and/or premature births – both of which I experienced a few years later. I was also not told about the terrible decades of guilt, grief and self-hatred I would experience.
Shadia, who was only 15 when she had her abortion, describes the abortion worker as an “abortion saleswoman”:
No. I was 15 years old. I was directly told by the abortion saleswoman that my pregnancy was simply a blob of meaningless tissue. I was not asked if I wanted an ultrasound. I was never told I was killing a child. I was told if I hurried up and scheduled it before I reach 12 weeks, I’d save $150. No consequences of any kind, physical, mental, emotional or otherwise were ever communicated to me in any form whatsoever. There was no discussion of any consequences. Within a just few years of the abortion, I had to have a D&C for unknown reasons, a breast tumor was removed, I have painful uterus fibroid tumors, I had another breast biopsy and cancer scare. I never experienced the joy of motherhood. Less than six months after the abortion, I became suicidal and didn’t know why and came close several times to taking my life. I did not value my life and developed severe low self-esteem.
These are just some of the stories from the 3,348 women who signed the affidavit. All of these women were victims of the abortion industry. They were not told the truth about their pregnancies or their preborn children.
It is deeply ironic that pro-choicers accuse pregnancy centers of lying to women when so many women have been lied to in abortion facilities. Women who go to these facilities are not told about abortion’s ramifications and aftereffects.
There are many, many women who have stories like these.
- K Kaufmann The Abortion Resource Handbook (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997) 20-21
- Tom Davis Sacred Work: Planned Parenthood and Its Clergy Alliances (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2005) 181