The first former abortion worker I met was Catherine Adair. Through a convergence of odd circumstances I’ve related elsewhere, she came to New Hampshire in 2011 when Planned Parenthood funding first became a state issue. With no financial incentive, on her own time and in her own words, she came to a Concord press conference to talk about what she had seen as a PP employee. Listening to her then, and speaking with her privately over the years since, brought home to me how much courage it takes for PP ex-employees as well as post-abortive women to go public.
As I listened to Catherine, there was no filter. In our later private conversations, that didn’t change. She’s always been honest and clear with me. Her concern for the women she met at PP remains authentic and urgent.
She has her own blog, The Harvest is Abundant. Her post in response to the Center for Medical Progress videos is about how participating in a second-trimester abortion when she was working at PP set off her decision to leave.
“For many of us, the former clinic workers and post-abortive women, the recent videos of Planned Parenthood executives are a nightmare. Reliving the horror of our abortions, reliving the gruesome work of the clinic, we feel alone. Who can understand our pain? We can’t even comprehend it. The callousness of those profiting from our pain is sickening, almost too much to bear. It is compounded when the media refuses to investigate the truth of what we see on those videos. It is compounded when the supporters of Planned Parenthood call us liars.”
I’ve heard Catherine speak at several public events since our first meeting. What follows are some of her own words from those presentations, with a link to video where available.
“I was a clinic worker in the late 1990s in a large Planned Parenthood clinic in Boston. I was not a manager. I was not involved in corporate decision-making. I didn’t have an office. I was a simple clinic worker. I was a young, idealistic college woman, like other ones who go to Planned Parenthood who believe the carefully orchestrated facade that Planned Parenthood presents. I believed I would be helping women, that access to affordable reproductive health care was the core of their mission, and that they cared about reducing the number of abortions and reducing the need for abortions.
“But I discovered that all was not as it seemed. I was a pro-choice feminist dedicated to the cause, and I became more and more disillusioned, until I left feeling completely betrayed. There is a party line with Planned Parenthood, and questioning the system automatically brands you as a woman-hating bigoted religious extremist – and they are very good at shutting down any opposition.
“When Live Action exposed the truth about Planned Parenthood, I finally felt vindicated. Yes, Planned Parenthood covers up the sexual abuse of minors. I’ll never forget a young girl, she might have been 14 years old, was brought in by her abuser. He was even allowed to come into the counseling room, where he answered questions for her and insisted that we give her an abortion. She sat there looking at the floor the entire time. I couldn’t question my manager because she was the person who allowed this man into the counseling room, against all supposed protocol. I’ll never forget her face, and I never even heard her voice.
“Women who can’t speak English often are not given translators, and often their only translator is the person pressuring them into the abortion. I remember a Somali woman who came. She spoke no English. Three men were allowed into the counseling room: her husband, her brother, and her brother’s friend who spoke some English. Her husband would not allow her to speak, but he angrily insisted that we give her the abortion. My manager told me we had to be aware of cultural differences – and pushed her into the abortion room. Again, I never heard her speak.
“…Untrained staff such as myself take medical histories, take blood pressure and pulse, and assist during the medical procedure. I was receptionist, appointment-maker, counselor, and medical assistant rolled into one. There is no real counseling, because there is only one right answer: have an abortion. Counseling for any option other than abortion does not exist.
“Sometimes it is difficult to hear that what we think is true and what we really believe in is simply a lie. No one wants to believe they could be deceived. We can either confront the truth or ignore it and call whistleblowers like Lila Rose [of Live Action] liars.
“…[PP] target[s] younger and younger audiences to establish dependency and to develop their clientele. Planned Parenthood is not about choice. In fact, over 96% of women who are pregnant who receive services at Planned Parenthood end up having an abortion. That is a staggering statistic. It is the Walmarting of women’s health care. Planned Parenthood expands its reach and receives taxpayer funds at the expense of other independent women’s health care centers, which focus on health care rather than abortion.
“…There is no reason Planned Parenthood should be receiving the federal and state funding that could go to other health care centers that are actually concerned with women’s health. But the abortion industry wields political muscle. It has millions at their disposal to lobby, advertise, and keep politicians on a short leash.”
“To me Republicans, Christians, conservatives, were all crazy. They were selfish people who hated women and would do anything they could to undermine women’s progress. But what’s crazy is living in a world of lies but not being able to see it.
“In my world, when I became pregnant when I was 19, abortion was presented as the only choice. I was told that it would fix everything – that everything would be taken care of, that it was safe, that it was legal, that it was easy. But nobody told me it was killing a baby. And nobody told me that I would endure decades of shame, regret, depression, anxiety. Nobody told me that I wouldn’t be able to speak about it because the shame and guilt and pain would be too much to bear.
“So what I did is I became the world’s greatest feminist. I was a women’s studies major in college, I marched in Washington for pro-choice. After I graduated from college, I went to work with Planned Parenthood, because Planned Parenthood to me was this great feminist organization that was working really hard to help women. I went to work at their big abortion clinic in Boston. And I really did believe that Planned Parenthood was helping women.
“But as I worked in the clinic, first as a receptionist, then as a counselor, then as a medical assistant, I became increasingly disillusioned. It really wasn’t helping women at all. It was an abortion-driven, for-profit business…. It was a place where women even til their fifth month of pregnancy were assured that abortion was just an emptying of the contents of the uterus.
“…As I struggled to reconcile all I believed in with the reality of the lie being perpetrated against women at Planned Parenthood, I had no one to talk to, nowhere to turn. You know, Planned Parenthood is very effective at making itself the martyr, making itself the victim of these women-hating conservatives. And anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a woman-hater, a misogynist.
“But you see, the truth is that abortion hurts women. And who are you really helping by pushing abortion on women? [PP is] helping their bottom line. Almost 40% of their revenue comes from abortion, and I’m sure you’ve heard abortion leaves one killed, the other wounded. Planned Parenthood doesn’t want people to talk about that….
“We know that Planned Parenthood tells people that abortion is a common medical procedure, and unfortunately that’s true. It’s estimated that one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and some will have multiple abortions. They want us to believe that abortion is normal. But it’s not. It is not normal. It is not natural for a woman to kill the child in her womb. What kind of society have we become that we accept the killing of children simply by choice? An impoverished nation.
“Thirty-eight years of living under Roe v. Wade have eaten away at the soul of this country. But there are some who are willing to fight…. What if someone had told me that I had other choices? What if someone had cared enough to work to end abortions so that this never would have happened? What if abortion were unthinkable? Can you imagine that?
“It is possible. …Abortion hurts women. It hurts families. It doesn’t go away. …A year ago, I never would have imagined saying this out loud to anybody, because the shame and pain of it was so great. … I’m privileged hopefully to give a voice to all those children who were aborted while I stood by and watched. They really were people. They were children. I am honored by the mercy and forgiveness and love of Our Lord, and of those who have helped me to find my voice and have given me the courage and strength to speak the truth.”
Catherine at the 2015 March for Life in Concord:
“The worst thing we can do [when meeting abortion workers] is be confrontational, antagonistic. I think the best thing we can do is smile, say hello – just be that peaceful, kind, loving presence they need. Please, pray for the people working in the clinic. Nobody is beyond redemption. Nobody is beyond conversion. Embrace every life there is, wherever it is.
“…If someone had been there [on the sidewalk] the day I was there [for her own abortion], if I’d had the courage to talk to somebody, maybe I’d have made a different decision. You just never know how what you’ll say will affect somebody.”
[On working at Planned Parenthood in Boston]: “I thought ‘oh, that’s great. Planned Parenthood is really pro-woman.’ …All we did was abortions, all day every day, Monday through Saturday….The first thing – the first thing – that happens in an abortion clinic is the money changes hands. You’re not getting anywhere until you pay for that abortion….I would describe the abortion procedure to the woman: ‘the doctor will gently extract the contents of your uterus.’ That’s it, because in abortion clinics you never talk about the humanity of the child. It’s all about dehumanizing the child. We didn’t even say ’embryo.’ That’s too close to ‘fetus’ which is a little too close to ‘baby.’
“…You know, I had counseled for second-trimester abortions. I had said ‘the doctor will gently extract the contents of your uterus.’ I didn’t know that he was going to go into her uterus with forceps and just grab at that baby….[I had] nightmares. Most people who work in abortion clinics do. You’d think I’d go running out of the clinic and say to the nearest person ‘D’you know what they’re doing in there? They’re killing babies!’ But I didn’t….My whole world was filled with people telling me that what I was doing was good, it was right, it was for the cause, it was pro-woman, and that all those crazy pro-lifers out there on the street wanted to kill me. And I believed it.”
[After leaving PP] “This wonderful priest said to me, ‘Catherine, don’t you know that God loves you?’ I just started to cry, because of course I didn’t believe that God loved me. I had murdered my own child. I had participated in the murder of thousands of children. But this priest, he told me to say the Rosary. As I prayed on the Mysteries, something just clicked for me. The grace that God can give, the forgiveness that He can give….One day at Mass, Jesus said to me, ‘Catherine, those are babies.’ Finally, the scales fell from my eyes. I was so afraid of going to that place of pain from my own abortion that I hadn’t been able to really think about it, how much each life is sacred and worth living. Finally, I was able to go to that place of pain and self-hatred and turn that into love. I look at my children, the children God has given me, and I am so grateful.
“…Honestly, seeing everybody walking in front of the clinic with love in your heart really gives me strength and makes me realize that no person is beyond God’s love. No person is beyond redemption. Nobody. This is why they fear you – because you expose the lies. That’s why they have to say ‘oh, you hate women’ – because they don’t know what to do with that love.”