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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Louisiana judge orders state to recognize gay ‘marriage’

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By Kirsten Anderson

A Louisiana judge on Monday ordered state officials to recognize the out-of-state “marriage” of a lesbian couple and allow one of the women to legally adopt her partner’s child.

Angie Costanza and Christy Brewer were “married” in 2008 in California, but Louisiana’s marriage protection amendment, passed by 78 percent of voters in 2004, prevented the state from recognizing the couple’s union.  The pair sued in 2013 to overturn the law, in part because Costanza wanted to be listed as a parent on Brewer’s son’s birth certificate. 

Initially, Judge Edward Broussard dismissed the case without a hearing, but the couple appealed.  On Monday, Judge Edward Rubin took their side, ruling that Louisiana’s marriage protection law is unconstitutional in three ways:  According to Rubin, the ban on same-sex “marriage” violates the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.

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Rubin’s decision comes just weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman declared Louisiana’s marriage protection law constitutional – the first federal judge to decide in favor of a same-sex “marriage” ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year. “There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage,” Feldman wrote in his decision. 

However, because this case is being tried in the state courts, Rubin’s decision will take precedence over Feldman’s, pending appeal.

The state plans to appeal Rubin’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, the federal case is also moving forward.  Ultimately, it is expected that the question of whether statewide bans on same-sex “marriage” are constitutional will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in 2015. 

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New archbishops in Chicago and Madrid: Ratzingerians out, ‘inclusiveness’ in

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By Hilary White
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Chicago's Archbishop-elect, Blase Cupich

Pope Francis announced Saturday that he is appointing as archbishop of Chicago a prelate best known in pro-life circles as the man who ordered his priests in 2011 not to participate in local 40 Days for Life prayer vigils. The media and Church watchers describe him as “progressive,” “inclusive,” and “left-of-center.”

The appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich, current head of the Spokane diocese in Washington, to America’s third most prominent see – an appointment which Vatican watchers predicted would signal the pope’s priorities for the direction of the U.S. Church – has been widely praised by liberal Catholics and opponents of Church teaching but met with concern by many Catholic activists.

The archbishop-elect gave a sense of his approach to the U.S. “culture war” in an interview Sunday with Chicago’s CBS affiliate, in which he suggested he would be open to giving Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians and a person wearing a button in favour of same-sex “marriage.”

“As long as they’re in church, are willing to hear the word of God, be open to Christ’s call of conversion for each one of us, then I think that that’s sufficient for me,” he said. “We cannot politicize the Communion rail and I just don’t think that that works in the long run.”

Cupich will replace the ailing Cardinal Francis George, known in the US as a “Ratzingerian” for his strong defense of Catholic orthodoxy, particularly on issues of sexual morality, but who is suffering from cancer and is overdue for retirement at age 77. The archbishop of Chicago is also normally granted the “red hat” and made a cardinal, which would make Cupich eligible to vote in upcoming papal conclaves. Cupich is scheduled to be installed in Chicago November 18.

The Chicago appointment mirrors that of another outside the US in recent weeks. Rome announced August 28 that Carlos Osoro Sierra, 69, will be installed as the new archbishop of Madrid, Spain’s capital city and largest archdiocese. But the story in Madrid has less to do with the new appointee and more to do with the would-be appointee who was demoted.

Until just before the appointment, most Vatican watchers expected the prominent post to be given to 68-year-old Vatican Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, dubbed the “little Ratzinger” for his orthodoxy in line with Pope Benedict XVI.  When LifeSiteNews interviewed Cardinal Cañizares in 2009 at the time of his appointment as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, he noted that denying communion to pro-abortion politicians was a charitable act.

Leaving his Vatican post, he was considered a natural for the Madrid spot. But instead it went to the archbishop of Valencia, and Cañizares is to fill that vacancy instead.

The former archbishop of Valencia is known for his strong “liberal” leanings and he will be replacing Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, 78, who, like Cañizares, is also known for following the lead of the retired Pope Benedict XVI.

El Pais wrote of the new appointee that Catholics of the Madrid archdiocese, accustomed to the “hieratic” Varela, will be seeing “an entirely different model.”

“Shortly after the announcement of his appointment, the most repeated words to define his figure were ‘dialogue’ and ‘moderation.’”

“During the 12 years he has been the head of the Catholic Church [in Madrid], Rouco Varela has too often mixed faith and politics, with an overdose of intransigence. Defending the (exclusively traditional) family and attacking laws that recognize the right of women to abortion are the main workhorses.”

Catholic News Agency’s Vatican-watcher, Andrea Gagliarducci, wrote that the appointment marks a “new course for Spain’s bishops.” He is described in the Spanish press as “affable,” “friendly,” and “extremely gregarious.” 

As for Cupich, David Gibson of Religion News Service described him as “a prelate closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing.”

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Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo, author of the “Whispers in the Loggia” blog, wrote that the appointment is “the most shocking major move the American hierarchy has seen in the last decade and a half.” Another Vatican veteran, John Allen Jr., wrote for the US Catholic online magazine Crux that Cupich so closely mirrors Pope Francis’ theology and style that he could be called the “American Pope Francis in Chicago.”

On his blog, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, known for his icy relations with the pro-life movement, shared his excitement over the “new breeze” brought by Cupich’s appointment. The bishop noted that Cupich “admires deeply the ecclesiology and vision” of leftist prelates such as former San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn and former Galveston-Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza.

The news of Cupich’s appointment was met with praise in the mainstream press. According to The New York Times Francis has “set the tone” for US appointments by “replacing a combative conservative with a prelate whose pastoral approach to upholding church doctrine is more in keeping with the pope’s inclusive tone.”

It has also been praised by dissident Catholic groups such as the homosexual activist group New Ways Ministries. Last year, the group issued a roundup of evaluations of the various leading members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who were set to elect a new president. New Ways praised Cupich for his intervention in the 2012 debate leading up to a referendum on “gay marriage” in Washington State. Cupich’s only intervention was a pastoral letter in which he asked voters to uphold traditional marriage, but also called for a “more civil and honest conversation about Catholic positions on equality.”

“I also want to be very clear that in stating our position, the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility toward homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity,” Cupich wrote.

Cupich stood out from his fellow US bishops in his response to the abortion-funding Obamacare. Though he joined his other bishops in condemning the Obama administration’s mandate that Catholic employers cover abortifacients and contraceptives, he encouraged Catholic Charities in his diocese to act as an Obamacare navigator and help people sign up for coverage that could fund the destruction of unborn life.

He also condemned the line of other US bishops when they threatened to shut down Catholic social services. “These kind of scare tactics and worse-case scenario predictions are uncalled for,” Cupich wrote in a letter to diocesan employees. “I am confident we can find a way to move forward.”

Today the anti-Catholic organization Call to Action issued a press release saying they are “relieved” at the appointment. “At a time when numerous U.S. Bishops are choosing to fight ideological battles, Pope Francis’ selection of Cupich demonstrates a desire for a humbler, more pastoral church.”  

Call to Action, like New Ways Ministries, works to overturn Catholic doctrine, particularly on sexual matters, from within the Church, and has received the censure of the US bishops for their activities. They wrote, “The choice of Cupich shows promise for a church which can be closer to the people. Catholics in Chicago and beyond yearn for a faith rooted in the Gospel call of love and justice over rigid orthodoxy.”

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Rick Perry: Joan Rivers’ death shows Texas is right to require abortionists to have admitting privileges

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By Kirsten Anderson

In the wake of the high-profile death of comedienne Joan Rivers due to complications from throat surgery at an outpatient clinic in New York City, Texas Gov. Rick Perry pointed to the tragedy as an example showing the necessity for his state’s one-year-old law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers.

"It was interesting that when Joan Rivers -- and the procedure that she had done, where she died -- that was a clinic,” Perry said at a Texas Tribune event on Sunday. “It's a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive.”

Many observers have criticized the governor’s remarks, noting that Rivers’ surgery was performed in a fully licensed ambulatory surgical center by a doctor with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as is the current standard for abortion facilities in Texas, but died anyway.  However, the painstaking investigation into what may have gone wrong at the New York City clinic reveals that while all surgery carries risks, ambulatory surgical centers are required to take every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients, in contrast to more loosely regulated abortion clinics, where injuries and deaths are rampant, and often covered up.

While 32 separate medical associations have signed a joint agreement stating that anyone “performing office-based surgery must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a transfer agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital,” abortion businesses have fought such regulations tooth and nail, arguing that requiring abortionists to maintain admitting privileges is too burdensome and will cause clinics to close their doors.  

Abortionists have also opposed tougher safety restrictions forcing them to adhere to the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers, arguing that upgrading their substandard facilities to meet hospital-grade requirements is costly and unnecessary.  But proponents of such regulations point out that the tiny parking lots, narrow hallways, and lack of elevators common to most abortion facilities are serious impediments to getting lifesaving help to women in case of emergencies, delaying paramedics who can’t park their ambulances or maneuver gurneys through such buildings.  In addition, licensed ambulatory surgical centers must have and properly maintain state-of-the-art resuscitation equipment, and train employees in their use – something abortion clinics have repeatedly been cited for failing to do.

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