I CONTACTED THE NEARBY PLANNED PARENTHOOD TO INQUIRE ABOUT A JOB because my husband at the time and I had just bought a home. If we were going to afford it, I needed to contribute financially.
I made the call even though I was aware of what the organization advocated for, but I figured they helped people. I liked helping people so I supposed it would be a good fit. They responded, and an interview time was set. I felt good about it.
The woman who interviewed me was nice and our time together went smoothly. She looked right past the fact that I didn’t have any medical experience, and talked about things like taking blood pressure, answering phones, and doing patient intake. “No problem—I can do that,” I thought. One thing was a bit odd, however. Even though we talked for 45 minutes, it was never explicitly stated exactly what Planned Parenthood did. Everything seemed generic and unspecific. I noticed that twice she said something about women’s choice and women’s healthcare. I liked choice and women’s healthcare. I nodded along.
I got the job and began my work there, trying to learn the ropes and keep up. As I was shown around and taught the ins and outs of the business, one door down the hall was never opened nor discussed. I thought it was odd, but it didn’t occur to me to inquire. When my paychecks came, I was elated. It was so much more than I expected for having so little experience. Even better were the bonuses that came every two weeks. An extra twelve-hundred bucks a month is nothing to sneeze at.
About six months into my time there, they sent me to Concord to learn the protocol and procedures after women test positive for pregnancy. I remember thinking, “I’m a blood pressure-taking, answer-the-phones, keep-the-schedule person. Why do I need to know that?”
In Concord, the trainer showed us an ultrasound image of a baby at twelve weeks and said, “Obviously, there’s not much there—no baby—just a bag of water and cells.” I remember looking at the image again. It was a murky swirl of nothingness, unclear, almost like a mistake in the exposure. They then told us how to counsel a girl who had a positive test; how to talk to her about having an abortion.
The door, the one no one talked about, quickly came to mind. I put two and two together.
Like most wars, the battle in my heart started small, even imperceptibly. It felt like a wave of realization that things aren’t what they seemed, then moves to concern, followed by small increments of guilt that begin to rise. On one side of my mind was the idea that the truth had been hidden from me, and that we were terminating pregnancies—even though I wasn’t directly told that, nor did I see it or inquire about it. But on the other side was the fact that I was making real money, and my children’s lives got better every time I brought home another paycheck. My kids were going to good schools, walking home on safer streets, and my husband appreciated the help. How could I give that up?
That is when I discovered that the mind could do some weird things. It lets in only so much of the harmful stuff so you can feel good for having a conscience about it, but not so much that you chuck it all and walk out. Meanwhile, I was doing just what Planned Parenthood wanted me to. I was pushing girls toward abortions without giving them a clear picture of what was really going on in their bodies—because I didn’t totally know, and I didn’t want to know.
In the meantime, it began to eat at me. I always dealt with extreme sadness, like I was falling into depression, and having a terrible time sleeping.
Outside the clinic was a group of praying sidewalk protesters we had to dodge on our way to and from the office. Our normal posture was to keep our head down and our gait quick. But as I passed them by each day, my inner voice was a flurry of words. “Keep praying for me, please! Keep praying for me!”
Finally, nine long years later, my supervisor handed me a binder and said, “Here—read this.” In it were instructions on how to operate the ultrasound machine. I knew this was wrong. Ultrasounds technicians are credentialed by the state. Were they really going to ask me to read a binder, and just go for it?
The day came when the clinician who I would be observing brought me into the procedure room and sat me behind the machine with her. She said we would always keep the monitor away from the girl, show no emotion at what filled the screen, and have no eye contact with the girl. I was a nervous wreck. When the patient came in and the clinician began the ultrasound, she quickly said, “You’re twelve weeks pregnant.” I looked at the screen expecting to see nothing but murkiness, just like I had seen nine years earlier. But I saw a little body with his heart pounding, and his hands and feet wiggling. I saw him sucking his thumb and his eye sockets looking directly at me. I felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. I suddenly got incredibly hot. I thought, “Oh my god, we’re going to kill him. How many murders have I been a part of?”
Suddenly, everything came back to me. When, in my interview, they never got specific about what they did, they were grooming me. When they said words like “choice” and “women’s healthcare,” they were manipulating my mind. And when they showed me a murky sonogram before I counseled the women, they were lying—trying to get me to accept something that wasn’t true so I could push abortion with a good conscience. People think that Planned Parenthood manipulates their clientele. They start by manipulating their staff.
When we left the room, I frantically pulled the clinician aside. “Did you see what I saw? Because I saw a baby.”
“Yes, I saw it. But the mother will never find out,” she replied sternly.
“Why can’t we go in there and tell her? Maybe she’ll change her mind!”
“Look. Get it through your head. She will NEVER see that baby.”
The guilt crashed down over me. I felt like I was losing it; like I was about to go crazy.
That was the last day. I walked out and never went back.
A woman I had met a few years prior had told me about AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. In my desperation for what I was going to do next, I contacted them, and they offered to take care of me spiritually and even financially as they helped me find another job.
But there was a problem with that.
What they offered was a lot of love. And love, combined with what I had done over the last nine years, didn’t make any sense. In fact, it seemed wrong for me to receive anything like what they were offering me; even their kind words hurt. I knew what was going on in my clinic. I didn’t totally know all the technicalities. But somewhere in my heart, I had accepted the fact that we were killers. How was I supposed to be absolved for not only being a part of it, but for perpetuating lies that resulted in the deaths of innocent people?
Ultimately, I did let AND THEN THERE WERE NONE take care of me, and they have shown me the love they spoke of and followed through with everything they said. It has been beautiful, and needed, and strangely not always easy to make peace with. I am still working through that.
I was recently asked to put into words how I felt about what AND THEN THERE WERE NONE did for me, and I burst into tears unable to speak. Perhaps that says everything anyone needs to know.