Last weekend, several former abortion clinic workers from all different states joined together for a healing retreat through ATTWN. Father Frank Pavone and Father Terry Gensemer led the retreat and helped the former clinic workers open up. As the workers shared their stories with each other, they realized how much they had in common with one another.
Bitter divorce, broken families, drug and alcohol abuse, and abortions in their own pasts were all major factors in these women’s decisions to initially begin working in the abortion industry. “I’m angry at my ex husband… the abuse,” said ‘Amy,’ who was employed by Planned Parenthood for many years. “I felt worthless and thought ‘what difference does it make where I work?'”
Also common among former clinic workers is how secretive they were (and still are) about working in the abortion industry-it’s something they’d rather keep from their friends and family. “I hate to admit that I ever worked at a place like Planned Parenthood,” said ‘Jamie,’ who had tears in her eyes.
“I still grieve the person that people think I am,” said ‘Molly.’ Even though she left the abortion industry many years ago, she still struggled with telling her adult children about it. “How can I tell them I was capable of that [working in a clinic]?”
Going into the abortion industry, it is not unusual for a person to be told “Don’t worry, you won’t actually have to participate in the abortions.” This happened with most of the women who attended the retreat. Although they may have been initially be uncomfortable with the idea of working in an abortion clinic, this justification helped push that discomfort aside. “It wasn’t long before they were in the procedure rooms, directly assisting in the abortion process.” ‘Mary’ described the introductory process to helping in abortions as she recalled: “First, you’d just sit in a chair by the door when they happened. Then, they would have you stand by the door. Eventually you’d come closer, and then suddenly you’re at the edge of the bed actually helping with the procedure. They did it that way because most people don’t make it through the first one.”
A lot of horrific memories surfaced during the retreat – memories of babies being born alive and having to piece babies back together after procedures were particularly painful for the women to describe. “When you take that jar and dump it [after an abortion], and you see those arms and legs, there’s no denying it’s a baby,” said Mary. ‘Christine’ recalled a time that a baby was born alive into the toilet. “This baby was moving… I’m like, oh God, what do I do?” she said. “We were supposed to give CPR but never did… once that fetus dropped in the toilet, I knew I was done… I am guilty for not saving the child who drowned in the toilet. When I left, I didn’t look back.”
Truly, Christ’s presence was a palpable during the retreat as tears were shed and admittance of guilt and sorrow poured out. All of the women opened up about their pasts like they never had before, and made promises among themselves to set new goals for their lives. Many made a goal of gathering the courage to pray outside of abortion clinics, including the ones where they formerly worked. Molly made a goal of talking to her family and children about her past. Some made the goal of starting up and working for pregnancy resource centers to help pregnant women choose life. Christine is currently writing a book about her experiences, and wants to expose the doctor for whom she worked. Jamie has set a goal of finding a medical job where she can use her skills without having to compromise her beliefs.
Here are a few more quotes from the former clinic workers who attended the ATTWN retreat.
“Gosnell’s going to prison for life, but I’m just as guilty… but the 24 week abortions I helped in, that was legal. There is no statute of limitations on murder, but I’m not in jail… If you can believe it’s an unfeeling non-person, it’s so much easier to dehumanize them. You can’t hear the baby cry.” -Molly
“After you work at Planned Parenthood, you’re set apart. It’s a stigma. As a single parent it’s lonely… people look at you differently. The medical community does too. Planned Parenthood makes you feel like you’re stuck there because you’ve been involved with abortion… When I left Planned Parenthood, I never wanted to think about it again. It worked for a few years, but eventually I went out to pray during 40 Days for Life. I figured after that I’d be done, but God has more in store for me.” -Mary
“Dr. _X_ was good at the digoxin, but Dr. _Y_ wasn’t. Dr. _Y _ would mess up and babies would be born alive… Moms are damaged mentally. You will never, ever, ever, ever forget it. [Abortion] hurts a whole community. It hurts a family.” -Christine
“The hardest question you get asked is ‘does the baby feel pain?’ We had to lie to them or say we don’t know.” -Amy
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All of you, with your financial contributions, your support and your prayers helped to make this weekend happen. On behalf of all the women that attended the retreat, I want to say THANK YOU. Lives are being changed because of you.
We anticipate holding another healing retreat in August. If you know someone who has worked for the abortion industry in the past (or currently), please let them know there is help. We would love for them to join us on our next retreat.