Quotes from Abortion Clinic Workers and Doctors: Abortion Providers React

11 weeksAbortionists view the carnage of abortion on a daily basis. Many of them feel ambivalent.

“There are many aspects of medicine that may not be particularly fun or enjoyable or pleasant, but I have an ethical obligation to do what’s best for my patients and not take my own personal convenience into consideration.” - Dr. David Grimes, Abortionist

“I hate it when people put it [the aborted fetus] together to look like a baby. I hate that...” - “Risa,” Clinic Worker

The prochoice author of one book on abortion stated that clinic workers told her “they never look at the face” when processing ‘tissue’ from abortions.

“This can burn you out very, very quickly...not so much by the physical labor as the emotional part of what’s going on. When you do an ultrasound, particularly if you have children, and you see a fetus there, kicking, moving, living, doing things that your own child does, bringing it’s thumb to its mouth, and things like that—it’s difficult. Then, after the procedure, sometimes we have to actually look at the specimen, and you see arms and legs and things like that torn off...It does take an emotional toll.” - Abortionist Dr. Ed Jones, who had worked at a Planned Parenthood Clinic for 4 years at the time of the interview

Abortion Doctor: “So when I went back to doing abortions and saw the fetus on the ultrasound, I recalled the early days of my pregnancies, when I found out I was pregnant and saw the baby on the ultrasound, and it really felt like this is a baby, a very real and potential being. Now, I do feel that this is a potential person and it does not have a life of its own outside of the mother, but I also am really aware that when you’re ready to embrace a pregnancy, you can embrace it from the very moment you conceive or are aware that you are pregnant.”
 Interviewer: Faye Wattleton said recently, “I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus, but it is the women’s body, and therefore ultimately her choice.” 


Abortion Doctor: “I believe that very firmly. You look at the ultrasounds and there’s a fetus with a heartbeat and then after the procedure, there’s the fetus, usually in pieces, in a dish. It was alive one moment and it’s not the next... I don’t believe, as some anti-abortion people would have you believe, that there’s a “silent scream.” But it’s very clear to me that it’s killing a potential life. And I found that hard at first.”

“The face looks like what it is, the human fetus. You can talk yourself into putting whatever value you want on it.” - Dr. Dennis Christensen, Abortionist

“It was disturbing for me to see recognizable body parts in the removed tissue, usually an arm or a leg. My intent is not to be gruesome, but there is a reality behind all the political jargon that I believe I allowed myself to ignore until this experience. I have images now that accompany phrases such as, “Potential for life” and I understand the emotions that drive prolife forces…” - Medical student working at Planned Parenthood

“I don’t approve, but it doesn’t matter if I don’t approve. I’m doing my job, I’m doing what I am trained to do…” - Abortionist

“You have to become a bit schizophrenic. In one room, you encourage the patient that the slight irregularity in the fetal heart is not important, that she is going to have a fine, healthy baby. Then, in the next room you assure another woman, on whom you just did a saline abortion, that it is a good thing that the heartbeat is already irregular....she has nothing to worry about, she will NOT have a live baby...All of a sudden one noticed that at the time of the saline infusion there was a lot of activity in the uterus. That’s not fluid currents. That’s obviously the fetus being distressed by swallowing the concentrated salt solution and kicking violently and that’s to all intents and purposes, the death trauma...somebody has to do it, and unfortunately we are the executioners in this instance...”

“I went up to the lab one day and on the pathologist’s table was what I thought was a little rubber doll until I realized it was a fetus. I got really shook up and upset and I couldn’t believe it. It had all its fingers and toes, you know, hands and feet, and I didn’t know what a fetus was going to look like. I never thought it would look—so real. I didn’t like it...” - Nancy Stein, Clinic Worker (Controller)

“Even if you are prochoice, no one likes to see a dead fetus.” - Vilma Valdez, Education Director Planned Parenthood of Greater Miami

“The first time, I felt like a murderer, but I did it again and again and again, and now, 20 years later, I am facing what happened to me as a doctor and as a human being. Sure, I got hard. Sure, the money was important. And oh, it was an easy thing, once I had taken the step, to see the women as animals and the babies as just tissue.” - Unnamed Abortionist

“[I’ve seen women] who have just had an abortion... lie in the recovery room and cry, ‘I’ve just killed my baby. I’ve just killed my baby.’ I don’t know what to say to these women. Part of me thinks, ‘Maybe they’re right.’“ - Nurse who regularly assists in abortions

“I think abortion is a kind of killing. What we are killing is not clear. You know you do a sonogram and there’s something alive. You do an abortion; it’s not alive anymore. This is not a secret.” - Charlotte Taft, Former administrator of Routh Street Clinic in Dallas

“I’m a person, I’m entitled to my feelings. And my feelings are: Who gives me or anybody else the right to terminate a pregnancy? I’m entitled to that feeling, but I also have no right to communicate it to the patient…I don’t get paid for my feelings, I get paid for my medical skills.” - Abortionist Dr. William Raushbaum on his feelings about abortion

“When I start to see little hands come out, it bothers me, even though I know the fetus is not completely developed and cannot feel any pain. It just bothers me…I totally adore and love children, so when I see these little body parts, I start seeing kids, and it bothers me.” - Lawrence Scott, Abortionist

“You’re going from dealing with people to dealing with what most people here at the Center consider a real hurdle, to do sterile room, because you have to deal with the actual abortion tissue. And for some people that’s really hard. They can be abstractly in favor of abortion rights, but they sure don’t want to see what an eighteen-week abortion looks like.” - A Clinic Worker, discussing dealing with abortion remains

“Sterile room is so fast-paced. And I’m a person who’s really into learning. Like, I’m into the technical and not really into that’s there…And so, okay, now I’ve got the technical down, so now I can, like, get lax in my thought processes. You know, it becomes more robotic. And I think that what happened one day [was] I stepped back inside of myself, and I was just like, “Oh my God, what are you doing? When I saw the hair…” - Diana (Clinic Worker) was comfortable with handling late-term aborted babies until she saw one with hair

18 weeks“Seeing the fetal tissue and seeing the blood and cleaning up can be kind of unsettling, especially seeing larger fetal tissue. At nine weeks…you start seeing fetal parts. And by the second trimester, it’s, you know, it’s a baby, and by the eighteenth week it’s definitely a baby. And by, like, you know…twenty-two weeks you go in and you watch someone do a sonogram, and you’re like, “Oh my.” There it is just moving, moving around. And it’s really, really hard because I always thought of abortion in terms of just the woman, just her body… And I never even allowed myself to think, you know, isn’t it a shame that there’s something alive inside her that’s not going to be alive anymore if she has an abortion.” - Carrie, Clinic Worker

“So by it looking like a baby, your associating it with yourself because… you used to be a baby, you used to be a fetus.” - Clinic Worker

The National Abortion Federation holds conventions in part to help abortionists deal with the emotional trauma from their work. 

The American Medical News reported: “The notion that the nurses, doctors, counselors and others who work in the abortion field have qualms about the work they do is a well-kept secret.”

“I remember witnessing one of these procedures and being disturbed at the sight of parts of the fetus being removed.” - Ida Duport, Clinic Worker and Advocate of Abortions Rights

“Well, personally I had quite a bad reaction to these abortions. Quite a few people had to talk to me...It disturbs me when I see them...When you could see features and toenails and everything. Ugh.” - Minnie Brown, Lab Technician, discussing her reaction to seeing the bodies of babies aborted in the second trimester.

“When I can identify the four chambers of the heart, I start feeling miserable. And when I put my hands on somebody to feel how big they are and I get kicked, I am barely able to talk at that moment.” - Abortionist

An abortionist stated that somebody had asked her what they could say to the staff to make them look less shocked when they look at a 20 week fetus...”It’s hard to be in a profession where you have a hard time answering the questions that other people ask you about what you do.”

Many abortion providers discuss struggling with feelings of sadness and shame concerning the abortions they perform.

“This was a perfect little fetus inside, and now it no longer is. I try not to focus on that too much...it is upsetting, and it’s embarrassing as well. I always feel uncomfortable if other people are watching me do this. I don’t like to expose them to this, well, carnage....because all it does is upset them...” - “Dr. G.,” Abortionist

[Abortion is] a nasty, dirty, yucky thing and I always come home feeling angry. I’ve become very good at it. I’ve become one hell of an abortionist. But it’s not something I tell my kids about.’’ - David Zbaraz, Abortionist

“Doing abortions can make you feel bad...No matter how prochoice you are, it makes you feel low.” - Unidentified New York Abortionist

A reporter discussing a workshop for abortion providers wrote the following: “They [the providers] wonder if the fetus feels pain. They talk about the soul and where it goes. And about their dreams, in which aborted fetuses stare at them with ancient eyes and perfectly shaped hands and feet, asking, ‘Why? Why did you do this to me?’“

“The most tremendous thrill of my life has been bringing a healthy baby into the world...I would rather do a delivery than do an abortion.” - Dr. Robert Lucy, Abortionist, from Jamestown, North Dakota

“Nobody likes abortion, I don’t like abortion. I wish we didn’t have to do another one again. But it’s a fact. That’s the way human nature goes. It started out as a financial thing. My income will go up, but I earn it, I work hard for what I do, and I’m proud of what I do…. Maybe we’re all going to rot in hell.” - Tommy Tucker, former abortionist (He got in trouble for botched abortions)

“I wish I would never have to do another one [abortion]. I don’t like it. It’s not fun. It’s not like you’re curing a cancer or fixing a broken bone. You’re terminating a potential life.” - Steve Tucker, M.D., owner of three abortion clinics in Mississippi and Alabama. In a typical year he does 7,000 abortions

As we have seen, abortion is not just a run-of-the-mill surgical procedure to many providers. The destruction and killing of abortion sets it apart, and makes even many of the most committed abortionists uncomfortable. Here are more quotes:

“I guess I never realized I would find [performing abortions] as unpleasant as I do. I really don’t enjoy it at all. It’s not a rewarding thing to do...” - New York Abortionist

“He is one of my best friends, a medical colleague who is strongly prochoice and who has done abortions himself. I called him late Saturday afternoon and said I wanted to come over. He asked me where I was and I told him I was at my office. ‘Still killing babies this late in the afternoon?’ It was like a knife in my gut. It really upset me. What it conveys is that no matter how supportive people may be, there is still a horror at what I do.” - Dr. Warren Hern, famous late-term abortionist, relating a conversation he had with a friend

“I observed during my medical training as an Australian physician many abortions by experienced practitioners. They experienced, without exception, physical revulsion and moral bewilderment.” - Dr. Susan Conde

“I have fetus dreams, we all do here: dreams of abortions one after the other; of buckets of blood splashed on the walls; trees full of crawling fetuses. I dreamed that two men grabbed me and began to drag me away, ‘Let’s do an abortion,’ they said with a sickening leer, and I began to scream, plunged into a vision of sucking, scraping pain, of being spread and torn by impartial instruments that do only what they are bidden ...” - Abortion Clinic Nurse

“I’ve been cleaning up after him for four years. We all wish it [the baby] were formless, but it’s not. It has a form. And it’s painful. There’s a lot of emotional pain.” - From a nurse who works for Abortionist Dr. Peter Bours

“No doctor, for ethical, moral or honest reasons wants to do nothing but abortions...women don’t like to do abortions over and over for moral reasons. Sometimes our women doctors become pregnant themselves, which upsets the patients. At the same time, if a woman is carrying a baby, she doesn’t like to abort someone else’s. We have much more trouble keeping women doctors on the staff than men.” - Dr. Edward Eichner, Director of Medicine at a Cleveland abortion facility

baby“I feel some sadness [about second trimester abortions]...And I think part of the problem is that we don’t talk about that...We don’t talk about it as much as we think about it...There’s part of me that’s nervous even know, I mean, I can feel my blood pressure and my pulse go up talking to you about this—because there’s always the fear that somebody will hear it....Do you see what I’m saying—that somehow your prochoice stand is compromised by saying the word “baby.”...We don’t allow ourselves to say or think that word...

”There’s lots of days when it’s really, really hard...I don’t know what makes it so much harder at twenty-six weeks than at thirteen weeks. I don’t know what makes handling the tissue so much harder....For me, there’s a lot of probably some hidden guilt that I’m not willing to look at about my adoption. That could have been me. You know, had my natural mother had access to abortion, this easily could have been me. And when you’re, you know, putting a fetus’s feet in over its head in a baggie, there’s just that brief moment of “this could have been me,” which I fundamentally believe is okay. She should have had a right to choose that, and I, being a religious person, believe that things happen for a reason...It’s much more difficult when you see a twenty-six week face.” - Mira, Clinic Worker

“I was brought up a Roman Catholic to believe that life was sacred, but I have no qualms about abortion…However, there are times when the reality of it all hits you. When you are at the operation, particularly with the later terminations, it can be difficult. You might think: “Oh God, that’s a potential life.” But you learn to distinguish between the procedure itself and the need to support the woman’s right to choose…. You see a lot of trauma and tragedy. It’s awful when girls come to you when they have gone over the 24-week limit.” - Marie Stafford, Nurse who works in an Abortion Clinic

“The first time I attended a late termination it was upsetting. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t sometimes question what I was doing. But above all I believe that the woman must come first. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that when I was 20 weeks pregnant, I assisted in a [late] termination when all my colleagues refused on moral and religious grounds.” - Pippa Jenkins, Abortion Clinic Worker

“Never. I would never look down. Some of the nurses watched as he removed the tissue , but I never looked. If I looked, I would never be able to work there [the clinic] again.” - Carleen Tucker, Clinic Worker, on D&E abortions

“When I handle a fetus, I switch off.” - An Abortion Nurse

“[Among abortionists] we’ve had guys drinking too much, taking drugs, even a suicide or two...There have been no studies I know of the problem, but the unwritten kind of statistics we see are alarming.” - Dr. Julius Butler

“I’ve taken part in some terminations, but I try to detach myself so I don’t feel so bad.” - Clinical Nurse Shelley Mehigan, who has specialized in family planning for eighteen years

The previous information was compiled by Sarah Terzo. You may view her website, which is complete with documented footnotes.

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