It Was Horrible, Horrible! A First-Hand Account of What Goes on Inside a Chula Vista Abortion Clinic, from the January 2005 edition of San Diego News Notes, a Catholic newspaper.
The article is based on an interview conducted in September 2004 with Yeni, an abortion clinic worker.
I started working at the clinic in 2002. I had just graduated as a medical assistant. I had applied at a lot of places, but I didn't get a job because I didn't have any experience. Then someone told me that Sonia, an acquaintance of mine, needed someone. When I talked to her, she made it clear that it had to do with a clinic where they do abortions, but that they do other things, too. My goal was to gain at least six months' to a year's experience in the medical field. Sonia told me to go to the clinic to try to help out the doctor, and that if I couldn't take it, it was no problem, they would have me do something else. I didn't like the idea, even though having an abortion isn't something I'm unfamiliar with. I myself had an abortion a year before. Sonia had the same thing happen to her, though it wasn't as voluntary as mine. Her parents took her to get the abortion.She is valiantly trying to find a way to turn her personal tragedy into a way to help others, and at the same time, I suspect that as with many women who have had abortions who then work at clinics, trying to find a way to work through her personal trauma.
"I agreed to try it out," Yeni continued. "The first time I helped the doctor, I almost fainted. I couldn't see, and I couldn't hear. I was overwhelmed by the blood and the girl's screams. They took me out of there and I told Sonia that I couldn't do it, but they advised me to try it once more. By the second abortion I found that I could deal with it. The weeks went by, and even though the job is ugly, I was learning a lot about medicine.
"I made up my mind to withstand the work at the clinic until I got a little experience I could apply somewhere else. Then came the abortions of babies who were five or six months, and it became impossible for me to continue. After three months, I resigned. But the pressure to pay my bills, all my debts, and my situation as a single mother, forced me to go back to work at the clinic.
"To this day, I have left and returned three times," she said, but added, "I myself can't believe that I'm here for the money. That's what is so absurd. I make $8.50 an hour here. But because I wanted a career as a medical assistant, I stayed."
Yeni checked a small notepad where she has made a few notes for the interview. In this little notebook she has written important points she wants to mention, "So," as she put it, "that it can be of use to someone."."
"Our doctor is quite old. He's 84 and uses an antiquated method." (The doctor to whom Yeni is referring is Dr. Phillip Rand. On Sept. 29, the California Medical Board suspended his license to practice medicine, noting that Rand is "incapable of practicing medicine safely.")If I were an abortion clinic worker, it would be hard for me to quit because I would fear that in the quiet and solitude of my days outside the clinic, I'd go crazy remembering what happened inside. Or I'd become a raging alcoholic.
"First he puts the mirror in place. Then he measures the depth of the uterus. Next he opens the neck of the uterus with a dilator to make it easier. Then he introduces a small rod with an abrasive ring at the end. The ring isn't sharp, but the scraping hurts a lot of women and they cry or scream.
"When the baby is less than three months, the baby disintegrates completely. When the doctor feels that the baby has been dislodged completely, he introduces something similar to a straw. The exterior opening of the straw connects to a vacuum. Then he vacuums up everything that has broken apart. All that he vacuums goes into a jar. You see blood, and bits and pieces of tissue that look like chopped meat. It all comes out in pieces.
"This is the procedure for eight weeks or less, " she said. "When they're about 12 weeks, then the doctor takes the baby out with forceps. He takes the baby out in pieces. He checks each part and he places each one in a tray down below. When he finishes the procedure, I have to drain everything. We drain it to separate body parts from blood. We place all the parts in a jar that goes to the laboratory.
"It's impressive how well-defined they are. You can't believe what you are seeing. You see perfect little hands, tinier than those of a Barbie doll. You can see intestines, tiny ribs, their little faces, and their tiny squashed heads. You can distinguish among the parts if the baby was a boy or girl.
"It makes me so sad to see the jars. It's very hard for me to do all this. To see all that falls on the floor, or for example, to remove a tiny foot from the instruments. A girl who worked here told me that she came home with a tiny foot stuck to her uniform, close to her shoulder. She, of course, hadn't noticed until her husband told her."
Yeni continued getting off her chest what happens inside the clinic: "When the patient is less than three months pregnant, we have to prepare her so that she can come back the next day when she is dilated. The really large terminations are impressive. I have seen three fetuses come out whole. In one instance, you could see the little hand coming out of the uterus. The little hand was moving. But the most impressive thing was the baby that came out breathing. That time, the doctor got sick.
"The girl lived in Tijuana. They put dilators in her for two days. The baby was five and a half months. She didn't have a car and came walking to the clinic. Then it seemed like she was going through labor. When the doctor started to work on her, the baby came out without any help. The child came out breathing and died right there. After a minute, he changed color. He turned purple. The assistants felt very bad. They didn't want to put him in the receptacle. The doctor had to do it. All of us were very affected by it.
"Later, I saw the doctor in his office. His gaze was lost and fixed on the wall. Afterward, he was on the phone with someone telling them what had happened."
"When I started working at the clinic, Sonia and I made up our minds to help people. We were going to try to persuade them not to get an abortion. We often tried to secretly do a good deed. We'd ask the girls, 'Are you sure?' We would tell them to think it over carefully. Sometimes we would tell them it was going to hurt them terribly. We scared them. A few here and there would regret it and not go through with it. We even helped a few of them, who arrived under pressure from their mother or their husband, to escape out the back door.In California, a progressive Blue state, the feminist establishment does nothing, to my knowledge, to address coerced abortions.
"I can't help being angry — at the patient, at the doctor, and at myself. It's useless to be here. We aren't doing anything good. I'm very mad at myself. I feel wasted away. I feel as if I'm not the same person."It's incredibly important that the Church and the prolife movement ramp up its efforts to reach out to women whose psyches have been so badly damaged.
"Three days after it opened, we went to see Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Believe me, it was very hard. When we saw how they beat Jesus and the instruments they used, we compared it to the instruments the doctor used. I saw everything we did in the clinic in that movie — so much blood spilled. I couldn't stop crying in the theater. I also saw the devil portrayed as a fetus. I wanted to die."Some people may mistakenly believe that when Yeni says "I wanted to die", she was speaking metaphorically.
"Before my abortion, and before working here, I wasn't afraid of death. Whenever I thought of the day God would come for me, even while knowing I have sinned, with all of my sins, I wasn't afraid. Now, I live with that fear. I feel that I don't want to die because I wonder how I would face God if I should see him. I don't have peace.This young woman is trying harder to be truthful, in spite of her background, job, and personal trauma, than many people ever try to be on their best days.
"Last week, I visited my brother and wanted to hug my nephew. The child was crying almost hysterically. My sister-in-law said the child was scared because he felt I have the devil inside because I kill babies for a living. I was really angry at my sister-in-law, but I felt it was true to some extent."
"A few days ago, I went to see a guy from the church group that I used to go to. He told me that he was happy that I worked for God and that I was doing well. I felt as if I were choking! I told him I worked at something that I had to leave before I can get closer to God again. He told me to talk to a priest, but I'm afraid. I can't see how I can in all conscience walk into a church. I know the trouble that I'm in. I know the situation I'm in, and what it is I need to do?Pray that she goes to a priest and that the priest will connect her to the help she needs.
"We're both sick of our jobs, but for one reason or another, we're still here. I agreed to talk to La Cruz because I think it's necessary that people know the horrors that we have experienced here. Both of us feel a great need to do something good to start compensating God for everything we have done in this job."I wish I could hug this girl.
Yeni said she wanted to make one important comment before concluding the interview:
"I want to add that some religious groups deliver pamphlets to women before they enter the clinic. I've seen that they look at those pamphlets that show the formation of a baby week after week. Some reconsider and leave the clinic. They are few, but sometimes it happens."