In 1987, the Pro-life Action League, under the leadership of Joe Scheidler, organized a conference of former ‘abortion providers’- nurses, doctors, and counselors involved in the abortion industry who had ‘crossed over’ and joined the pro-life movement. The conference provided them with an opportunity to reveal publicly what had induced them to make such a radical change in their lives and careers.
The second of these conferences was held on Saturday, February 18 in Chicago. It was well attended by pro-life activists, including a contingent from Canada.
The former abortion ‘providers’ were Nita Whitten, formerly a secretary at the notorious Fairmount Centre in Dallas; Dr. Beverly McMillan, an obstetrician now practicing in Jackson, Mississippi; Dr. McArthur Hill, who started committing abortions as a resident at Travis Air Force Base in California; Dr. David Brewer, who told the story of his conversion for the first time publicly on this occasion; and Kathy Sparks, who worked as an assistant to Hector Zavallos at the Hope Clinic in Granite City, Illinois.
Making his debut as an abortionist while in medical school in Syracuse, N.Y., Dr. Brewer carried on this gruesome business as an army doctor at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. He told us that, at the time, he was in no way committed to recognize the unborn child as a human being. The lack of this commitment was typical of the abortionists being turned out by the medical schools, he said.
These medical students were not bad people, just not committed. He described the procedure, as he would have termed it then, as one that you get used to, though he experienced a pain in the heart at first, especially when watching a live aborted baby kicking and slowly dying in a stainless steel dish.
With time, the pain in the heart became less and less. He confessed that it took ten years for him to be able to come to terms with his guilt. His conversion to Christianity thirteen years ago led to an abrupt break with the procedure. Today, he no longer even prescribes contraceptive pills, inserts IUD’s or performs tubal ligations.
It was at Travis Air Force Base in California that Dr. Hill began his career as an abortionist. He was kept busy as pregnant female personnel were brought to Travis from as far away as Asia-from just about anywhere the Air Force had a base, in fact. He explained how he kept himself from thinking about the unborn baby as a human person by clinging to the antiseptic medical rhetoric such as the procedure, products of conception and uterine contents.
The routine for residents apparently is “see one, do one, teach one”. A psychological mechanism of denying the humanity of the ‘uterine contents’ is brought into play to insulate the rookie abortionist from facing up to what actually happens in an abortion. He now admits, of course, that he “never encountered a true therapeutic situation.”
Dr. Hill revealed that there was no counseling of the mothers. Consent was obtained by explaining the procedure in medical terms, as though it were simply a routine matter.
When he was assigned duty in the pathology lab for the first time, he found that he now had to deal with the ‘specimens’ sent along by other abortionists. His job was to see that in each case, “we got it all”, i.e. that no part of the tiny corpse was left in utero to cause subsequent complications.
Each abortion produced the body parts – head, arms, legs, rib cage and so on- which had to be laid out, in each case, on a towel, to be checked out. This was for him a more shattering experience than performing ‘the procedure’. From then on he began to have nightmares.
Kathy Sparks’ work for Zavallos in Granite City, Illinois, involved a number of responsibilities, including morning set-up, phone work, and preparing the bodies for pathology.
She described her self-abuse of drugs and alcohol, her marital difficulties and the sexual immorality of her fellow workers as constituting a life-style which they considered quite normal.
She described a number of incidents which shed light on what actually goes on in abortuaries, all of them quite appalling.
One such involved a mother who brought her daughter in to be aborted. The mother was stern, the teenage daughter reluctant and apprehensive. The daughter had to go to the toilet and was so directed. A moment later, she was screaming hysterically, “My baby! My baby!” Kathy ran into the bathroom to find the little body floating in the toilet. The girl had been brought in for an abortion; what occurred was a tragic miscarriage.
What led these abortionists to stop, to become ‘cross-overs’, was religious conversion. The impression one gets from these stories is of a conversion of heart, usually described as “making a commitment to Christ” or becoming a “born-again Christian”. Led thus to a serious study of Holy Scripture, they find abundant references to the humanity of preborn babies, and from this are brought to sincere repentance and a complete break with the business of abortion.
It is hard to believe, however, that a physician or surgeon, trained in anatomy and physiology, could ever be in doubt that the offspring of a male and female of any species could ever be anything else than a member of the same species.
Evasion of that reality and specious self-justification was made easier, it seems, in the realization that the ‘procedure’ was legal, while its morality had not yet become an issue for them.
However they came to ‘cross over’ they are eagerly welcomed to the pro-life ranks, where they lend their authoritative voices in the struggle to end the horror, now institutionalized, that far too many people, not just doctors, are “getting used to”.
Abortionist is Victim
Joan Andrews spoke toward the end of the session, tying in what had been learned, to the purposes of the rescue movement. She considered doctors and other medical personnel involved in abortions as victims of abortion, along with the mothers and the aborted babies.
There is talk now of post-abortion syndrome experienced by the fathers of aborted babies. With these seminars of former abortion providers an important step has been taken to explore the post-abortion syndrome experienced by its practitioners.
Dr. Brewer said that when he was an abortionist, “Nobody took me aside to ask me-“Do you know what you are doing?” All agreed that any action to make an abortionist face up to reality in this matter, including expressions of social disapproval, is to be encouraged. All recommended picketing the home of an abortionist to let neighbours know that an abortionist lives among them, using their names on placards and leaflets, and, above all, praying got their conversion.