‘What Is It Like to Work at An Abortion Center?’

As New York passes an extreme law, author of this op-ed describes her dramatic experiences at a facility — and why she walked away from it for good

Image Credit: EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images

New York State has passed a law allowing abortion up to birth in case the historic ‘Roe v Wade’ decision, liberalizing abortion law, is overturned.

The New York law also removes abortion from the criminal code and allows medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions.

But what is it like to work at an abortion center?

I know, because I worked at one.

No little girl ever dreams of growing up and having an abortion. Nor does any child imagine ever working in the abortion industry. It simply happens. The salary is generous and, once a person is employed, it can be tough to walk away from the money.

Some people are drawn in by the thrill, the controversy, perhaps just morbid curiosity. Yes, some workers begin simply because they want to see and to know: What exactly is an abortion?

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Once inside the business, they are quickly indoctrinated. Staff members believe that by providing abortions, they truly are helping women. And that’s how I myself started working for Planned Parenthood.

Related: Abortions Are Up, Rights Are Expanded, Protections for Life Are Challenged

In the early 1990s, we were very comfortable referring to an unborn baby as a “clump of cells,” “contents of the uterus,” or “products of conception.”

Perhaps this is how hearts are hardened to the reality of abortion. This is also how we explained the abortion process to a woman. We went so far as to tell her that the process is a lot like having a heavy period.

With the advent of 4D ultrasound imaging, we could no longer deny the humanity of the preborn. A heartbeat is present by day 20. During week eight, a tiny face can be seen, featuring all the details, right down to a tiny nose.

As a mother myself of young children, I found my first day in the abortion unit to be the most difficult. Abortions well into the second trimester were being done. I was horrified at the tiny human body parts as we struggled to piece them back together in a little glass bowl.

For me, the process of coming to see the truth was long and slow. As a mom, it hurt me every time I was in, or even near, the abortion unit.

But instead of fleeing the abortion unit, I committed to the family planning and sexuality education part of Planned Parenthood. I had seen it with my own eyes — and I knew that abortions were murder.

What better way to stop abortion than to freely dispense birth control? And that is exactly what I did for the next 17 years.

For me, the process of coming to see the truth was long and slow. As a mom, it hurt me every time I was in, or even near, the abortion unit.

As my heart softened, I knew my days in the abortion industry were numbered.

Planned Parenthood had announced that every center would be doing a new procedure called webcam abortion. Still being done today across the United States, webcam abortions are chemical abortions performed with no doctor on site.

Non-medical staff are trained to do transvaginal ultrasounds. This invasive practice should be done by trained professionals, not entry-level staff.

Upon completion of the ultrasound, the image of the unborn baby is scanned to a doctor. If the physician determines the gestational age to be 70 days or less, he pushes a button, remotely opening a small drawer containing the first drug, Mifeprex. Taken by the pregnant mom while the doctor watches via a Skype-like connection, Mifeprex blocks hormones, starving the baby of nutrition.

The second set of pills, Misoprostol, is taken two days later. The contractions begin — and the mother delivers her lifeless baby at home. Alone.

When I voiced concerns about these webcam abortions, I was fired.

Relieved, I vowed never again to drive by the abortion facility.

But within two years, I could no longer ignore the tugging on my heart. I knew of a ministry called 40 Days for Life, which brought volunteers out to pray in front of abortion businesses. Abortion workers abhor it.

Clients would often not show up when anyone was praying. With strict abortion goals, a high no-show rate meant big trouble for staff. Literally.

Managers who don’t hit quotas find their employment in jeopardy.

I signed up to lead a 40 Days for Life campaign at the facility I had once managed. This meant 40 solid days, praying for 12 hours daily, outside the Planned Parenthood facility.

As a long-time manager, I was well known in my small town. Now, I was going to be enlisting others to join me there to pray. Worst of all, I would have to face my former co-workers. I was terrified.

But God provided faith, boldness, and courage — and lots of people willing to pray. Many different churches and groups came together to pray during those 40 days. What happened was a genuine miracle.

Friendships were made. Women learned the truth. Hearts were turned toward life.

And then — the abortion facility closed!

We learned that prayer works because God hears us. The group 40 Days for Life is so successful and is growing so fast simply because God cares — and He answers.

Sue Thayer is director of outreach for 40 Days for Life. Previously she was a long-time center manager for Planned Parenthood in Storm Lake, Iowa.  

The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of LifeZette.

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