Kristen Walker Hatten

Former abortion clinic worker breaks silence, speaks out for life

Kristen Walker Hatten
By Kristen Walker Hatten
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Note: One of the most powerful weapons in the pro-life arsenal is the authentic testimony of those who have advocated for and helped provide abortions, and later seen the light. People like Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Carol Everett, and Abby Johnson have information and insight that will help us win the fight against the abortion industry.

Allentown, Pennsylvania native and mother of three Jewels Green has made the courageous decision to finally speak up for life. In her first public pro-life testimony, she told Live Action about suffering the pain of abortion as a teenager and later spending several years working in an abortion clinic.

This is her story:

“My first baby would be 22 this week.

I was a 17-year-old drug-using high school drop-out, but when the lady wearing scrubs told me I was pregnant, I already thought of myself as a new mother.

Everyone wanted me to get an abortion…  except me.

I actually stopped using drugs, went to the library and checked out a book called Under 18 and Pregnant and started to read it to prepare. I scheduled my first prenatal check-up. My boyfriend was relentless. I am deliberately omitting the details of the violence, both real and threatened, but I finally caved in to my boyfriend’s insistence to not have our baby.

On January 4, 1989, he took me to the abortion clinic, but I literally ran out in the hope of saving my baby.

Two days later, on January 6, 1989, at 9 1/2 weeks gestation, I had an abortion. It nearly killed me. No, not the surgical procedure, the psychological aftermath. I attempted suicide three times after my abortion and finally ended up in an adolescent psychiatric ward of a community hospital for a month to recover.

I was coerced into having an abortion and thought that by becoming a counselor at an abortion clinic, I could help others like me really talk out their feelings on the issue, truly explore their options, and help them make an honest, informed decision–or help them leave an abusive situation.

I worked at an abortion clinic for five years (from age 18 to 23)—not the same one where I had my abortion. I started out on the phone, then at the front desk checking in patients and accepting payments, then I learned medical assisting and helped in the laboratory, took vital signs in the recovery room, and did “dishes” in the autoclave area. (I’ll come back to this). Then, after two years working at the clinic and starting college as a psychology major, I was trained as a counselor.

The “counseling” experience was not what I had hoped. Nearly every pregnant woman coming to an abortion clinic for “options counseling” had already made up her mind, but just wanted to check out the facility and have her questions answered and perhaps her fears allayed. And most of the women coming in felt they had no other choice. A few were truly ambivalent.

This is where the pro-choice movement and clinics fail. Sure, we had a little notebook with the names and numbers of two local adoption agencies, but we were never trained or taught how the adoption process works so we could explain it to women. We had the phone number of the local WIC office, public assistance, etc., but again, knew nothing about the process should anyone ever ask for details. If a pregnant woman wanted to learn more about these other choices, the best the “options counselor” could offer was a post-it note with a phone number hastily scribbled on it.

During my time at the clinic, I was a staunch supporter of abortion rights, while all the time knowing in my heart that I felt that what I did was wrong, that I missed my baby, and that I wished things could be different for me. In hindsight, I can see that by surrounding myself with people who believed it was OK to abort babies, I was hoping that someday I would be OK with aborting my baby. This never happened…

I have marched twice in Washington, D.C., in support of abortion rights. I have lobbied inHarrisburg (the capital of Pennsylvania). I have joined David Gunn, Jr., in lobbying Congress for stronger sanctions against militant anti-abortion activists who harass pregnant women, bomb abortion clinics, intimidate clinic staff, and murder physicians (like David’s dad, Dr. David Gunn, who was killed by an anti-abortion “activist”) – but even then I never agreed with rallying cries such as “Abortion on demand and without apology!” chanted at such gatherings. It was–and is–so much more complicated than that.

After graduating from college with a degree in psychology I left my job at the clinic to work the overnight shift at a teen crisis hotline for a year before moving to New York City to attend graduate school. After earning my Master’s in psychology, I moved back to my hometown and worked part-time at the clinic through much of my next pregnancy.

I remember one Saturday morning (a big “procedure day” when more than 20 abortions were scheduled and at least a dozen protestors were outside, standing along the long driveway that led into the clinic parking lot) when I was about six months along and very visibly pregnant–much farther along than the 16 week abortion limit of the clinic–when a protestor shouted to me, “Your baby loves you!”

I smiled to myself. When I got inside and started to help the nurse set up the recovery room, I told her this, and she was angry and appalled. Even then–as an active employee at the clinic–telling a pregnant woman her baby loves her did not seem like such an objectionable thing to say, or even to shout, at an obviously pregnant woman.

Identifying myself as pro-life, though, did not come until many years later. After finally forgiving myself for aborting my first child I was able to see the world differently. After two failed marriages I was able to finally commit and my husband and I have been married for eleven years. After giving birth to three sons and feeling the life grow inside me and knowing the fierce overwhelming love a mother can feel for a child, I have been able to finally acknowledge that yes, life begins at conception.

But it wasn’t until stumbling upon links to Abby Johnson’s YouTube videos, and then reading her book Unplanned, that I could say out loud that I was pro-life. It was Abby’s amazing story, and her courageous and honest testimony, that helped me to openly join the ranks of the pro-life movement.

And although I now consider myself pro-life, I simply cannot abide by the extremists within the movement’s ranks who often act without censure by many of the position’s vocal leadership. I was at the front desk when the clinic was invaded on July 22, 1992, which we later dubbed “The Wednesday From Hell.” Six people ran into the waiting room with a huge metal contraption with multiple pipes attached that we all assumed was a bomb until they slid their arms inside of it and started singing. They were in the waiting room “attached” to that thing for seven hours while local and state police and FBI agents attempted to negotiate with and extract them from the device. They peed on the carpet. The clinic’s daily functions continued in other parts of the facility.

Not one woman changed her mind as a result of this invasion.

I was also working the front desk on the day two Boston clinics were attacked by an armed anti-abortion gunman who wounded five people and killed two. The gunman remained at large for many hours before being apprehended. Boston is a five-hour drive from where I worked and I remained at the front desk. (My uncle, a police sergeant, insisted I wear a bulletproof vest to work for a full week following that event, and I did.) One of the former directors of the clinic I worked for had her home broken into twice, another director routinely has her home picketed and has been followed home from work by suspicious vehicles on several occasions. There has to be a better way to further the cause of life.

Speaking of which: abortion ends life. Period. This is not in question nor should it be. This is a fundamental truth. I worked in the autoclave room where the “products of conception” (as so many pro-choice proponents—and abortion clinic counselors—call the fetus and placenta) were rearranged and counted to make sure “we got everything.” For early abortions, this meant floating the contents of the jar in water to visualize the chorionic villi. For abortions from about 8 1/2 – 12 weeks, this meant counting hands and feet, making sure the spine and ribcage and skull were present, you get the idea. For the abortions where the gestational age of the fetus was in question, especially if there was a chance it was an “oops,” meaning a pregnancy terminated beyond the clinic’s legal limit of 14 weeks LMP (from last menstrual period), the feet were measured to determine a more accurate gestational age.

Working in the autoclave room was never, ever easy. I saw my lost child in every jar of aborted baby parts. One night after working autoclave my nightmares about dead babies were so gruesome and terrifying and intense I met with the clinic’s director to talk about my feelings.

She was very understanding, open and honest, and painfully forthright when she told me, “What we do here is end a life. Pure and simple. There is no disputing this fact. You need to be OK with this to work here.” After a few days rotated out of the autoclave room, I felt I was OK with this, and God help me, I went back.

When in my fourth year at the clinic they won approval to do abortions up to 16 weeks LMP, one woman quit and two staff members—myself included— refused to work on the “late days.” My boss was very understanding and scheduled me to work with the non-pregnant GYN patients those days.

For myself, I know in my heart that I would never again terminate a pregnancy — EVER — nor would I ever work at an abortion clinic again. If someone I love was facing an unplanned pregnancy, I would do my very best to help her find a way to stay pregnant and give that baby a chance—whether it be by becoming a parent, or by offering up the child for adoption.

There are far too many innocent lives being snuffed out in our country before they have the opportunity to take their first breath, and as a nation we should be doing better. We need to do better. We need to provide real resources to pregnant mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy. The women and babies of our country deserve better. After all, sometimes the best things in life aren’t planned.

Happy Nobirthday, Unbaby. I miss you every day. Love & tears, Mom.”

Reprinted with permission from the Live Action blog.

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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities," Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. "Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born," she said. "Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, "People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society."

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the "difficult and confusing time" when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience "negative attitudes."

"What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information," the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the church they attend in New Jersey, "because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey , 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

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President George Bush takes the ice bucket challenge in a video released this week.
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What’s wrong with the viral ‘ice bucket challenge’? A lot, say pro-life leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

Pro-life leaders in the U.S. are warning about ethical problems with the viral "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has raised over $15 million for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease since late July, making its way to the top of American politics, and the entertainment and business worlds in the process.

In recent days, former president George W. Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV hosts Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all had ice-cold water dumped on their heads in support of the effort.

They have been joined by many thousands of everyday Americans eager to do their part to raise funds to find a cure for the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

However, pro-life leaders from Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy to the American Life League (ALL) are all pointing out that the ALS Association, which is behind the wildly popular fundraising effort, funds and otherwise supports embryonic stem cell research.

Instead, they are urging that pro-life people who want to participate in the ice bucket challenge send their donations to other charities that don't have similar ethical issues.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an unborn child. This is unlike adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, which are considered ethical.

A spokesperson from the ALS Association admitted to American Life League in an e-mail that while the organization "primarily funds adult stem cell research," they are "funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)..."

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"It is noble to combat a deadly disease," Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, but added that "it's such a shame that the ALS Association...chooses to support research that thrives from experimenting on and killing tiny, innocent human beings."

"Embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of pre-born people, is inherently unethical and a violation of fundamental human rights, and even materialists must admit that promises of its benefits have failed to deliver," continued Rose. "There is no good reason to condone this practice; in fact, all it does is taint the ALS Association, whom I'd otherwise be happy to support."

In the email to American Life League, ALS Assocation Spokesperson Carrie Munk defended the organization, saying that the embryonic stem cell research is being funded by an outside donor, and "the stem cell line was established many years ago."

She added that "under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future," and that currently "donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project."

At least one Catholic archdiocese has spoken up about the problematic relationship between ALS Assocation and unethical research.

"We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in the ice bucket challenge," said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. "But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit."

Both Fr. Duffy and the archdiocese have recommended money be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa. It is an organization that exclusively researches with adult stem cells. 

One D.C.-area Catholic, Robert Vega, wrote on Facebook that "in light of the absolute dignity of human life and necessity to defend it...I have taken down my Ice Bucket video, untagged myself from my nomination video, and encourage anyone to whom I may have spread the Challenge to do the same."

Embryonic stem cell research, which was a major controversy throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, has quietly, although decidedly, become less popular after many of the exalted promises of its proponents failed to materialize. As LifeSiteNews reported, in 2012 California and Maryland funded a fraction of the embryonic stem cell research projects that they did in 2007. Likewise, Maryland funded nearly twice as many stem cell research projects in 2012 as it had in the prior year -- but only one of the grants was done for an embryonic research project.

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Catholic couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex ‘wedding’ at their farm

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Robert and Cynthia Gifford

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has ruled that the Roman Catholic owners of an Albany-area farm violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple when they declined to host the couple’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony in 2012.

Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who own and operate Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, were ordered by DHR Judge Migdalia Pares and Commissioner Helen Diane Foster to pay $10,000 in fines to the state and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin for “mental pain and suffering.” 

Additionally, the Giffords must provide sensitivity training to their staff, and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.

The Giffords’ attorney, Jim Trainor, told LifeSiteNews that the two-year-legal drama and resulting fines all stemmed from a single brief phone call in 2012 that caught his clients off guard.

“The entire interaction between the Complainants and the Giffords transpired during a two to three minute telephone conversation which, unknown to Mrs. Gifford, was being tape recorded,” Trainor said.

“After communicating the fact that they chose not to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies at the farm because to do so would violate the Giffords’ sincerely held beliefs (that God intended marriage to be between a man a woman only), Mrs. Gifford invited the couple to visit the farm to discuss handling their wedding reception, which the couple refused.” 

The Giffords draw a line, Trainor explained, between a ceremony that solemnizes a homosexual relationship and a reception that celebrates the union after the fact.  To participate in the former, they argue, would be a violation of their own religious beliefs, especially because marriage ceremonies on the farm typically take place in and around the couple’s home, where they live full-time and are raising their two children. 

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But the Giffords are willing to serve gay couples in other ways – for example, they allowed another lesbian couple to throw a birthday party for their adopted child on the farm.

Trainor said he believes the decision by DHR goes too far in that it seeks to regulate what the Giffords can or cannot do in their own private home, even though state law only requires “places of public accommodation” to adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

“They consider the farm their home,” Trainor said. “They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.”

Trainor also said that the Judge and Commissioner should have taken into account the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which came down weeks before the DHR notified the Giffords of their decision.

“We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a ‘marriage’ ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor said. 

Trainor said he and the Giffords are evaluating their options for further legal action.

The Giffords could simply ask the DHR to reconsider their decision, but Trainor said he doubts that approach would be successful. In order to formally appeal the ruling the couple would have to go to the New York State Supreme Court. 

But there is another option: The Giffords could file a fresh lawsuit in either state or federal court challenging the constitutionality of the DHR ruling.

While religious liberty has been a hot topic in federal court lately, Trainor said New York’s state constitution “actually offers a lot” of protection when it comes to religious freedom. “Many people view it as more expansive than the U.S. Constitution in terms of religious freedoms.”

However, Trainor emphasized that the Giffords have not yet decided which avenue, if any, they are planning to take in terms of pursuing further legal action.

In the meantime, the Giffords will continue hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions at the farm, Trainor said. However, they are considering hiring a dedicated employee to handle the ceremonies in order to avoid having to directly participate in any future same-sex “weddings.”

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