Abortionists admit emotional toll of grisly work
Abortion | In video footage the National Abortion Federation tried to suppress, conference panelists admit the horror of killing unborn babies
by Bob Brown
Posted 11/05/15, 03:50 pm
In a recently released Center for Medical Progress (CMP) video, a Michigan Planned Parenthood executive encourages her colleagues to stop “denying the reality” of pro-life images of aborted babies and start acknowledging abortion does involve violence and the killing of persons. In the video, leading abortion providers and educators confide to each other that their ability to remain on the job depends on finding ways to deal with their workplace horrors.
The surprising confessions came during an April 7, 2013, Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan (PPMSM) workshop and an April 7, 2014, National Abortion Federation (NAF) conference in San Francisco. CMP undercover investigators documented the two events in more than two hours of clandestine recordings.
Relatively few news outlets have been willing to post the NAF conference footage, likely because of the ongoing legal battle over the videos. As WORLD reported last month, Morrison & Foerster, NAF’s law firm, sued CMP to block release of the San Francisco conference footage. But then a congressional staffer code named “Patriot Geist” reportedly leaked the footage to GotNews.com. Morrison & Foerster responded by suing GotNews.com and its editor-in-chief, Charles Johnson, demanding he turn over any documents that point to his alleged communication with CMP Director David Daleiden.
The abortion industry pulled out all the stops to hide the content of the NAF event (and PPMSM workshop) videos—with good reason. Unlike the Planned Parenthood executives recorded in the series of CMP videos released during the last four months, the NAF and PPMSM speakers seem acutely aware of the moral implications of their handiwork. Their admissions stand in stark contrast to the dehumanizing language abortion industry advocates have long used to mask the killing of preborn babies.
In the PPMSM video (starting at about 17:20), Lisa Harris, who teaches at the University of Michigan and also is PPMSM’s co-medical director, admits abortionists must face certain realities their industry’s talking heads prefer to sidestep.
“Ignoring the fetus is a luxury of activists and advocates,” Harris says. “If you are in there every day with women, and if you’re a provider, you can’t ignore the fetus.”
Harris says her clients don’t ignore the “fetus.” In fact, she casts blame for abortion onto women whom, she claims, understand exactly what they’re doing.
“You know, about two-thirds, over 60 percent, of [abortion clients] are already mothers and they don’t want to be mothers,” Harris states matter-of-factly. “They’re not stupid. They know what’s in there.”
Although most pro-abortion advocates dismiss the humanity of “what’s in there,” Harris does not. She takes a position few in the abortion industry dare voice.
“I actually think we should be less about denying the reality of those images, more about acknowledging that, ‘Yeah, that’s kind of true,’” she says of photos of aborted babies used by pro-lifers. “So, given that we actually see the fetus the same way, and given that we might actually both agree that’s there’s violence in here, ask me why I come to work every day. Let’s just give them [pro-lifers] all the ‘violence’, ‘it’s a person’, ‘it’s killing’—let’s just give them all that.”
Harris did not return phone calls or emails requesting a comment for this story.
Evidently, many abortionists cannot escape the psychological toll their violent work takes on them. NAF’s San Francisco conference focused on providing psychotherapeutic help for second trimester abortionists. Harris spoke at that conference as well, talking about “stigma” workshops she runs, in which abortion providers share their experiences. She laments the risks, mentioning ruptured family relationships and lost friendships, that come with disclosing what she and other abortionists do.
But Harris warns it’s unhealthy for abortionists not to talk about their jobs, even when doing so bolsters the medical community’s tendency to marginalize them.
“Our stories don’t really have a place in a lot of pro-choice discourse and rhetoric, right?” she says. “The heads that get stuck that we can’t get out, the hemorrhages that we manage, the patients having their eighth abortion.” The descriptions cause some audience members to laugh uneasily, but they react somberly to stories told by another panelist, Uta Landy.
Landy is the national director of an abortion training program at the University of California San Francisco. In 2012, she received Planned Parenthood’s highest honor, the Margaret Sanger Award. In one of the undercover videos shot at the NAF conference, she poignantly reads several comments that abortionists who specialize in second trimester abortions shared during a past workshop she led.
“I don’t like saying I’m dismembering a fetus. It makes me feel bad.”
“I find second trimester abortions grotesque, but I’m OK with that.”
“An eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross. But I say to myself, ‘This abortion is going well.’”
“My coping mechanism is to focus on the baby fetus—reverence for something that was once alive and now is not.”
But not all the conference panelists expressed remorse for their career paths. Glenna Halvorson-Boyd, who served as NAF’s president between 1984 and 1986, shared with conference attendees what she believes is the best coping mechanism.
“The most important single factor in resilience under stress was … the absence of the belief that the world is basically a bad place,” said Halvorson-Boyd, who with her NAF-founding husband, Curtis Boyd, has for decades operated abortion facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Dallas. “It’s not the power of positive thinking but the absence of negative thinking.”
Bob is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute’s mid-career course.