Sarah Terzo

Lies, pressure, negativity: what passes for ‘counseling’ at Planned Parenthood, abortion clinics

Sarah Terzo
By Sarah Terzo

February 15, 2013 ( - Pro-life activists have tried to put laws in place requiring counselors at abortion clinics to give factual information to women considering abortions. Many of these laws say that a woman must be offered detailed facts about the development of her unborn baby, information on resources in the community that are available if she carries the baby to term, and physical and emotional risks of the procedure. Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups adamantly oppose these laws. They oppose them even when it is not mandatory for the woman to see this information, but she would simply be offered the CHOICE to view it.

A Georgia Planned Parenthood director named Kay Scott summarize the abortion giant’s position on informed consent when she said:

“Supporters of the Woman’s Right to Know bill say it would allow time for reflection, but this bill is really about deception. …women already receive full informed consent before having an abortion…..”(1)

However, when speaking with post-abortion women, a theme that is repeated again and again is the fact that so few of them were given factual and unbiased information about the risks of abortion and the development of the unborn baby. Some were outright lied to – others received biased counseling or no counseling at all.

Several studies have testified to this:

According to a survey publicized in David Reardon’s book Aborted Women: Silent No more, out of 252 women who experienced post-abortion trauma:

  • 66% said their counselor’s advice was biased
  • 40 to 60% described themselves as not having been certain of their decision prior to counseling
  • 44% stated they were actively hoping to find an option other than abortion during counseling
  • 5% reported that they were encouraged to ask questions
  • 52 to 71% felt the questions were inadequately answered, sidestepped, or trivialized
  • 90% said they were not given enough information to make an informed decision
  • 83% said it was very likely that they would’ve chosen differently if they had not been so strongly encouraged to abort by others, including their abortion counselors
  • 95% of women who had abortions at Planned Parenthood said that their Planned Parenthood counselors gave “…little or no biological information about the fetus which the abortion would destroy”(2)

From a review on the psychological effects of abortion by researcher Catherine Barnard who examined a number of different studies on abortion and informed consent:

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“Several empirical studies in the U.S. have indicated the deficiencies of current abortion counseling practices with the majority of respondents reporting insufficient information provided by the abortion counselor; insensitive, unhelpful abortion clinic personnel, with respect to providing assistance in decision-making, and the provision of misinformation, thereby contributing to increased anxiety, confusion and levels of post-abortion depression and hostility.”(3)

In one incident, a young woman named Alicia went to Planned Parenthood to see if she was pregnant. She arrived for the pregnancy test with her husband and mother, yet when it came time to see the pregnancy counselor, she was ordered to go in alone and to leave her support people behind. According to Alicia, the clinic worker then asked her if she intended to have an abortion. Alicia indicated that she would want to keep her baby.

“You can be honest with me, are you being forced to keep it against your will?” I said, “Absolutely not. I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant so quickly, but if I am pregnant I want to keep my baby” and again she asked “So your husband or mom are not forcing you to keep it if you are?” I said, more aggressively and upset, “NO!” 

When she was asking me if I was forced to keep the baby she looked like she was reading from a script. I remember her saying that if I kept “it,” it would be very expensive and life changing. She was poking at the fact that I didn’t seem like I could afford to have a baby. She also asked if I was scared to say that I wanted an abortion, and that if I had any questions I could talk to someone that can ease my nerves. She never really said baby she said “it” a lot.”(4)

Alicia turned out not to be pregnant. She later commented:

“I have not been able to shake that experience, it was very disturbing that I had someone trying to convince me to abort my baby especially after telling her over and over again that I wanted to keep my baby. I didn’t sleep for a week!”(5)

19-year-old “Barbara” went to a clinic at her mother’s insistence after becoming pregnant. When she went, she wanted to keep her baby.

“The woman at the clinic started spewing facts so fast. They told me just enough to scare me….they mentioned all three points but made adoption sound negative and birth tragic, then really pushed abortion. I told them I was more than 14 weeks. She said they had to do it really quick because they couldn’t do more than a 14-week limit and pushed me to make the appointment for absolutely that day.”(6)

When Jennifer Clifford went to Planned Parenthood and found out that she was pregnant, she did not want to have an abortion. In her article “UN-Planned Parenthood” she tells her story:

“Next, the nurse asked me how I felt about the possibility that I could be pregnant. I let her know that I was excited at the idea but unsure of my future. She honed in on that uncertainty and probed further- what would I do with the child? Could I support it? What would my parents think? These were issues that I had not yet allowed to enter into my mind; I was taking the whole thing one step at a time. Consequently, I could not answer her questions as quickly as she blurted them out. As I floundered for responses, a look of smug resolution came over her face, as if she had already decided what I was going to do. I was a textbook abortion customer to her- young and afraid, and not knowing where to turn.” (7)


Clifford continues, describing what happened after the pregnancy test came back positive:

“She reminded me of my age and of my state in life. I knew I could not support the child on my own, so I asked her for a number I could call for government assistance. She claimed she didn’t have one to give me. It struck me as odd that she couldn’t provide me with a point of contact. Surely other women had been in this same situation before me and had needed information on how they could get help to keep their children as well. Why did Planned Parenthood, then, not keep such an important number handy?”

Clifford then asked for a referral to an obstetrician, which Planned Parenthood refused to provide. She goes on:

“The nurse breathed a heavy sigh of disapproval and curled her lip, as if I wasn’t understanding her point. ‘We don’t deal with pregnant women.’ Shocked, I wondered how this company could call itself ‘Planned Parenthood’ when it was unable or unwilling to deal with expectant parents….She seemed to sense my uneasiness and pressed some more.

She mentioned my parents again, appealing to my utter terror in having to break the news to them. The nurse bombarded me with negativity, playing on my fears and concerns and continuing to offer me the ‘easy way out.’… When I disagreed, she thrust a package of pamphlets at me on abortion costs and procedures, adoption information, and a small excerpt on prenatal care. She presented this to me and told me to come back when I had made up my mind…” (8)

This, then, is informed consent at Planned Parenthood.

Even some pro-choice activists have admitted that counseling at abortion clinics leaves something to be desired. Jennifer Baumgardner, who started the t-shirt campaign “I Had An Abortion” told the story of an abortion patient in her book “Abortion & Life.” She quotes the young woman saying:

“I went with my boyfriend and friend to Planned Parenthood. I think I was headed into my eighth week at that point. I went into a room for pre-abortion counseling- five quick, terse questions. I had assumed that I was going to get a half-hour and I would finally be able to tell someone or talk to someone about how freaked out I was, but I didn’t get to.”(9)

Another powerful source of information about how clinics really counsel women comes from former clinic workers who have left the abortion field and are now willing to describe how their clinics attempted to sell abortions to women using biased counseling and inaccurate information.

In an article in the Christian Herald, former clinic worker Kathy Sparks said the following about her response when abortion patients asked questions about the developing baby:

“Sometimes we lied. A girl might ask what her baby was like at a certain point in the pregnancy: Was it a baby yet? Even as early as 12 weeks a baby is totally formed, he has fingerprints, turns his head, fans his toes, feels pain. But we would say ‘It’s not a baby yet. It’s just tissue, like a clot.’(10)

While medical science has not yet determined exactly when the baby can feel pain, it is clear that Sparks was withholding vital information that would help pregnant women make a decision that they would have to live with for the rest of their lives. An unborn baby at 12 weeks does indeed have fingers and toes, a beating heart, and developing fingerprints. To characterize such a well-developed human being as “tissue” or “a clot” is outright dishonest.

According to Joy Davis, another former clinic worker whose testimony appeared in the Pro-Life Action League’s DVD “Abortion: The inside Story”

“When I first started working there [at the clinic], I had to sit and listen to women answering the phone for at least a month before they would allow me to answer the phone. We had to know exactly what we were doing when we were talking to these women. We had to find out very quickly what their problem was, play on that and get them in the clinic for an abortion. We were very good salespeople.”

Former Clinic Worker Deborah Henry elaborates on this theme:

“Many women could not afford to have babies, so we would use examples - like the price of babies’ shoes, the price of clothing, how much it cost to raise a baby. If they weren’t finished with their education, the hindrance it would have on their education, how would they find a baby sitter, who was going to take care of that baby for them? We would find their weakness and work on them….All they were told about the procedure itself was that they would experience slight cramping similar to menstrual cramps, and that was it. They were not told about the development of the baby….The women were never given any type of alternatives to the abortion.”(11)

In a rare moment of candor, abortion clinic worker Sallie Tisdale says the following in an article in Harpers Magazine. Tisdale was still working in the clinic at the time of the quote:

“It is when I am holding a plastic uterus in one hand, a suction tube in the other, moving them together in imitation of the scrubbing to come, that woman ask the most secret question. I am speaking in a matter-of-fact voice about ‘the tissue’ and ‘the contents’ when the woman suddenly catches my eye and says ‘How big is the baby now?’

These words suggest a quiet need for definition of the boundaries being drawn. It isn’t so odd, after all, that she feels relief when I describe the growing buds bulbous shape, its miniature nature. Again, I gauge, and sometimes lie a little, weaseling around its infantile features until its clinging power slackens.”(12)

Sometimes pro-choice publications also reveal the bias that is all too prevalent in abortion counseling. Planned Parenthood has a training manual called “The Complete Guide to Pregnancy Testing and Counseling.” It presents a hypothetical situation in which a woman comes to the clinic with ambivalent feelings about having an abortion. It suggests that the clinic worker:

“Tell her that no one makes the decision to have an abortion easily or ever feels really ‘good’ about it. Acknowledge that feelings of discomfort and sadness are normal. Ask about the reasons for which she and her husband decided on an abortion. Help her to reaffirm that this is the best decision for them right now. Remind her that feelings of guilt, sadness or loss do not mean that a wrong decision was made.”(13)

Life Dynamics discovered another document meant to train abortion clinic providers. The Reproductive Health Access Project gives “Pregnancy Options Counseling Points for the Ambivalent Patient.” Here are some of the points.

“2. Normalize feelings of ambivalence.

3. Acknowledge common feelings such as shame, disappointment, guilt and regret.

4. Reframe the situation – she may be making the most responsible decision by NOT continuing the pregnancy.

5. Be conscious of time – you do not need to know everything about the patient to help her make a decision.

6. Refer to the pregnancy, not the baby.

7. Elucidate that the patient’s choice not to be a mother now does not mean she is choosing not to be a mother in the future.”

Many, many more sources could be cited to prove that abortion clinics fail when it comes to abortion counseling. Numerous former clinic workers, beyond those quoted here, have testified that their former employers told them to lie, mislead, and withhold information. Many more women have testified to such deceit and coercion. This article only presents a fraction of the evidence that these deceptive practices go on in clinics all around the country.


1. Kay Scott “ABORTION: 24-HOUR-WAIT SUPPORTERS TRY TO DECEIVE” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, GA), Jan 21, 2005 pA15

2. David Reardon’ Aborted Women: Silent No More (Elliot Institute, January 1, 2002

3. Barnard, C. (1990), The Long Term Psychological Effects of Abortion, Portsmouth, NH: Institute for Pregnancy Loss; and Vaughan, H. (1990), Canonical Variates of Post-Abortion Syndrome, Portsmouth, NH: Institute for Pregnancy Loss.

4. Susan Michelle Tyrrell ““‘They kept asking me if I was being ‘forced’ to keep the baby’: Alisha’s Planned Parenthood visit” Life Site News December 1, 2011

5. Ibid.

6. Trish Diggins “Selling Lies: Deception & The Abortion Industry”, The Forerunner Mar 1, 1992

7. Jennifer Clifford “UN-Planned Parenthood” The Catholic Resource Network, EWTN 1998

8. Ibid

9. Jennifer Baumgardner Abortion & Life” (New York, NY: Akashic Books, 2008) 127

10. Gloria Williamson “The Conversion of Kathy Sparks” Christian Herald January 1986 p 28

11.Personal Testimony “Meet the Abortion Providers” Convention 1993

12. Sallie Tisdale “We Do Abortions Here” Harpers Magazine Oct 1987 p 68

13. “The Complete Guide to Pregnancy Testing and Counseling” Planned Parenthood 1985 (p 24-25) quoted in “Achieving Peace in the Abortion War” by Rachel M MacNair, Ph.D., published by the Feminism & Nonviolence Studies Association January 2009.

Reprinted with permission from Sarah Terzo is a pro-life author and creator of the website. She is a member of Secular Pro-Life and Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians.

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Pelosi asked: Is unborn baby with human heart a ‘human being’? Responds: ‘I am a devout Catholic’

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By Dustin Siggins

Tell Nancy Pelosi: No, supporting abortion and gay 'marriage' is not Catholic. Sign the petition. Click here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, won't say whether an unborn child with a “human heart” and a “human liver” is a human being.

Pelosi, who is the Minority Leader in the House, was asked a question about the issue by CNS News at a press conference last week. The conservative news outlet asked, "In reference to funding for Planned Parenthood: Is an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver a human being?”

Pelosi stumbled over her answer, saying, “Why don't you take your ideological questions--I don't, I don't have—”

CNS then asked her, "If it's not a human being, what species is it?”

It was then that Pelosi got back on stride, swatting aside the question with her accustomed reference to her “devout” Catholic faith.

“No, listen, I want to say something to you,” she said. “I don't know who you are and you're welcome to be here, freedom of this press. I am a devout practicing Catholic, a mother of five children. When my baby was born, my fifth child, my oldest child was six years old. I think I know more about this subject than you, with all due respect.”

“So it's not a human being, then?” pressed CNS, to which Pelosi said, “And I do not intend to respond to your questions, which have no basis in what public policy is that we do here.”

Pelosi has long used her self-proclaimed status as a “devout” practicing Catholic to promote abortion.

In response to a reporter’s question a proposed ban on late-term abortion in 2013, Pelosi said that the issue of late-term abortion is "sacred ground" for her.

"As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," Pelosi said. "This shouldn't have anything to do with politics."

In 2008, she was asked by then-Meet the Press host David Gregory about when life begins. Pelosi said that "as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue I have studied for a long time. And what I know is that over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition....We don't know."

The Church has always taught that unborn human life is to be protected, and that such life is created at the moment of conception.

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New video: Planned Parenthood abortionist jokes about harvesting baby’s brains, getting ‘intact’ head

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By Ben Johnson

I interviewed my friend, David Daleiden, about his important work exposing Planned Parenthood's baby body parts trade on the Glenn Beck Program. David urged Congress to hold Planned Parenthood accountable and to demand the full truth. He also released never-before-seen footage showing a Planned Parenthood abortionist callously discussing how to obtain an intact brain from aborted babies.

Posted by Lila Rose on Monday, October 5, 2015


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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - In the newest video footage released by the Center for Medical Progress, a Planned Parenthood abortionist laughs as she discusses her hope of removing the intact "calvarium," or skull, of an unborn baby while preserving both lobes of the brain.

She also describes how she first dismembers babies up to twenty weeks gestation, including two twenty-week babies she said she aborted the week before.

Dr. Amna Dermish, an abortionist with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told undercover investigators she had never been able to remove the calivarium (skull) of an aborted child "intact," but she hopes to.

"Maybe next time," the investigator said.

"I know, right?" Dr. Dermish replied. "Well, this'll give me something to strive for."

Dermish, who performs abortions up to the 20-week legal limit in Austin, then described the method she used to collect fetal brain and skull specimens.

"If it’s a breech presentation [in which the baby is born feet first] I will remove the extremities first - the lower extremities - and then go for the spine," she began.

She then slides the baby down the birth canal until she can snip the spinal cord.

The buyer noted that intact organs fetch higher prices from potential buyers, who seek them for experimentation.

"I always try to keep the trunk intact," she said.

"I don't routinely convert to breech, but I will if I have to," she added.

Converting a child to the breech position is the first step of the partial birth abortion procedure. The procedure has been illegal since President Bush signed legislation in 2003 making it a federal felony punishable by two years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

According to CMP lead investigator David Daleiden, who debuted the video footage during an interview with Lila Rose on The Blaze TV, Dr. Dermish was trained by Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola.

Dr. Nucatola was caught on the first CMP undercover video, discussing the side industry while eating a salad and drinking red wine during a business luncheon.

Between sips, she described an abortion process that legal experts believe is a partial birth abortion, violating federal law.

“The federal abortion ban is a law, and laws are up to interpretation,” Dr. Nucatola said on the undercover footage. “So, if I say on day one that I don't intend to do this, what ultimately happens doesn't matter.”

Daleiden told Rose he hoped that Congressional investigators would continue to pressure the organization about whether the abortion technique it uses violates federal law, as well as the $60-per-specimen fee the national organization has admitted some of its affiliates receive.

Trafficking in human body parts for "valuable consideration" is also a federal felony carrying a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

"That would be enough to construct a criminal case against Planned Parenthood," Daleiden said.

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Nancy Flanders


He used to be an abortionist; now, he fights to save the lives of the preborn

Nancy Flanders
By Nancy Flanders

October 5, 2015 (LiveActionNews) -- In 1976, Dr. Anthony Levatino, an OB/GYN, graduated from medical school and was, without a doubt, pro-abortion. He strongly supported abortion “rights” and believed abortion was a decision to be made between a woman and her doctor.

“A lot of people identify themselves as pro-life or pro-choice, but for so many people, it doesn’t really touch them personally; it doesn’t impact their lives in the way that I wish it would. If nothing more than in the voting booth, if nowhere else,” said Levatino in a speech for the Pro-Life Action League. “But when you’re an obstetrician / gynecologist and you say I’m pro-choice – well, that becomes rather a more personal thing because you’re the one who does the abortions and you have to make the decision of whether you’ll do that or not.”

Levatino learned how to do first and second trimester abortions. Thirty to forty years ago, second trimester abortions were done by saline injection, which was dangerous.

"For the first time in my life, after all those years, all those abortions, I really looked, I mean I really looked at that pile of goo on the side of the table that used to be somebody’s son or daughter and that’s all I could see."

At that same time, Levatino and his wife were struggling with fertility problems and were considering adoption. They knew however, how difficult it was to adopt a newborn.

“It was the first time that I had any doubts about what I was doing because I knew very well that part of the reason why it’s difficult to find children to adopt were that doctors like me were killing them in abortions,” said Levatino.

Finally, in 1978, the couple adopted their daughter, Heather. Right after the adoption, they discovered they were expecting a baby, and their son was born just 10 months later.

Levatino describes a “perfectly happy” life at this time and says that despite those first qualms about abortion, he went right back to work performing them.

In 1981, after graduating from his residency, Levatino joined an OB/GYN practice which also offered abortions as a service. Saline infusion was the most common method for second trimester abortions at the time, but it ran the risk of babies born alive. The procedures were also expensive, difficult, and required the mother to go through labor. Levatino and his partners trained themselves to perform the D&E abortion procedure, which is used today.

In his speech, he describes what it’s like to perform the now routine procedure:

You take an instrument like this called a sopher clamp and you basically – the surgery is that you literally tear a child to pieces. The suction is only for the fluid. The rest of it is literally dismembering a child piece by piece with an abortion instrument […] absolutely gut-wrenching procedure.

Over the next four years, Levatino would perform 1,200 abortions, over 100 of them D&E, second trimester abortions.

But then everything changed. On a beautiful day in June of 1984, the family was at home enjoying time with friends when Levatino heard tires squeal. The children were in the street and Heather had been hit by a car.

“She was a mess,” he explained. “And we did everything we possibly could. But she ultimately died, literally in our arms, on the way to the hospital that evening.”

After a while, Levatino had to return to work. And one day, his first D&E since the accident was on his schedule. He wasn’t really thinking about it or concerned. To him, it was going to be a routine procedure he had done many times before. Only it wasn’t.

“I started that abortion and I took that sopher clamp and I literally ripped out an arm or a leg and I just stared at it in the clamp. And I got sick,” he explained. “But you know something, when you start an abortion you can’t stop. If you don’t get all the pieces – and you literally stack them up on the side of the table […] your patient is going to come back infected, bleeding or dead. So I soldiered on and I finished that abortion.”

But by the time the abortion was complete, Levatino was beginning to feel a change of heart:

For the first time in my life, after all those years, all those abortions, I really looked, I mean I really looked at that pile of goo on the side of the table that used to be somebody’s son or daughter and that’s all I could see. I couldn’t see what a great doctor I was being. I didn’t see how I helped this woman in her crisis. I didn’t see the 600 dollars cash I had just made in 15 minutes. All I could see was somebody’s son or daughter. And after losing my daughter this was looking very, very different to me.

Levatino stopped performing second trimester abortions but continued to provide first trimester abortions for the next few months.

“Everybody puts doctors on a pedestal and we’re all supposed to be so smart but we’re no different than anybody else,” he said.

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He realized that killing a baby at 20 weeks gestation was exactly the same as killing one at nine weeks gestation or even two weeks gestation. He understood that it doesn’t matter how big or small the baby is, it’s a human life. He has not done an abortion since February 1985 and says there is no chance he will ever perform one again.

Adamant that he would never join the pro-life movement because of the media’s portrayal of pro-lifers as crazy, he was eventually invited to a pro-life potluck dinner where he met people who he realized were intelligent volunteers who spent their time defending preborn humans.

After that, Levatino began speaking out against abortion specifically with young people, graphically describing for them what an abortion really is.

Levatino has also testified before Congress, asking our government to end legal abortion.

Reprinted with permission from Live Action News

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