When Christine Weideman, 30, heard that Planned Parenthood wanted to open a clinic in her home town of Pasco, she knew she had to do something. Her story as a former client of their neighbouring Kennewick abortion clinic was deeply painful, but she knew she had to overcome the trepidation of sharing it in front of the Pasco Planning Commission and the crowd of strangers, including Planned Parenthood activists, who would be there.
She got to share the two minute version of her story, but we asked her for the full version.
"I found out I was pregnant 14 years ago, when I was 16. I went to Planned Parenthood in Kennewick for a pregnancy test. They told me I was pregnant then asked me if I wanted to schedule an abortion. It wasn't five minutes since I had found out I was pregnant -- I was still processing the shock -- when they asked me if I wanted to go ahead and schedule an abortion. The lady was very cold. It was clear I was just one of millions to her. She couldn't care less about me."
Mrs. Weideman's revelations directly contradict the image Planned Parenthood and its supporters in Olympia conjure up for itself with claims about providing balanced counseling that focuses on helping clients make their own decisions.
"I was terrified. There was no ultrasound. No information or conversation about adoption or parenting options. They didn't ask about my parents, or the age of my boyfriend. They just sent me home with a packet of information."
The blog Abortion In Washington directly challenged Planned Parenthood of Western Washington spokesman, Brian Cutler, in 2006, on whether his organization showed women ultrasounds of their babies to help them make an informed decision, like many Pregnancy Resource Centers are doing these days. Without directly answering the question, he claimed his organization never withheld information from clients. He refused to substantiate his assurances.
"All They Told Me Was How To Get the State to Pay for It"
Mrs. Weideman's story about the lack of proper informed consent at Planned Parenthood may raise legal questions. It's possible they broke the law – and still are – even in the abortion "wild west" of Washington State.
"The only thing they told me about besides abortion was how to go to the state welfare office to sign up to get the government to pay for it. They even said they'd arrange transportation for me to get to there."
"No-one counseled me about possible physical or emotional repercussions from the abortion, like possible perforation of my uterus which could have left me unable to have children. No-one gave me information about the impact on my body. They just told me I'd feel happy and relieved and life will go back to normal."
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
"I didn't get any information about the abortion itself until about 10-15 minutes before the actual operation."
And then there was the coercion. AIW also asked Mr. Cutler if they did abortions on women and girls when it is clearly not their choice, but rather are being pressured by parents, boyfriends, husbands, or abusers. Again, all Mr. Cutler had was denials with bland assurances. These assurances are belied by Mrs. Weideman's testimony, which lines up with many other similarly harrowing accounts.
"I Didn't Want an Abortion"
She told me that when she came back from the welfare office, her parents learned about the pregnancy. Their reaction was to tell her she had "no choice" but to get an abortion. In addition, the baby's father just did the deer-in-the-headlights, "I'll support you whatever you decide" routine, which Mrs. Weideman described as "no support at all".
"I didn't want to have an abortion, but I felt a horrible amount of pressure from everyone." Now you might have expected that Planned Parenthood, which goes on and on about being "pro-choice", and doing anything to ensure women have the "right to choose", would have nothing to do with a coerced abortion, right?
You’d be wrong.
"The night before I was sobbing and sobbing. It was absolutely horrible."
A close family member drove her to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Kennewick. Mrs. Weideman said there were about ten other girls in the waiting room, all under 20, everyone sitting in silence, staring down, looking terrified, hardly a scene that cries out empowered women proudly making free choices about their lives. "You could almost feel the atmosphere of fear."
Regarding the impending procedure, she emphasized: "I was just terrified. I knew it would be horrible."
Did the Planned Parenthood staff stop when they saw that their client was clearly not ready? No.
"A Horribly Painful Process"
Instead, when she was called, she says the counselor just went through a sanitized, and inaccurate, version of what would happen next. "She told me that they would insert a tube inside me that would remove 'the products of conception'." When Mrs. Weideman asked if it would hurt, the counselor, whose name she doesn't remember, glibly replied "less than childbirth"! In fact, Mrs. Weideman was about to find out that it was "a horribly painful process."
Again, PP staff gave her no information about the physical risks during the procedure if she, say, moved at the wrong time, or how to signal if she was uncomfortable, or emotional risks afterwards. Many critics have wondered how Planned Parenthood is able to get away with these flagrant violations of informed consent laws. Mrs. Weideman suspects the shame of the victims ends up leading them into silence, thus letting PP get away with it.
She said that even though she wasn't informed of any risks whatsoever, they seemed to indicate they knew something they weren't telling, because the last thing they did was have her sign a waiver, so that no matter what happened next, she couldn't sue. "If the doctor came in drunk and I bled to death, we couldn't do anything." She pointed out the "huge double standard" involved when it comes to abortion compared to real health care. "If something goes wrong when you have your wisdom teeth out, you can sue. If something happens during an abortion, no."
"No, You Can't"
Then came another shocking violation of her rights to informed consent. A nurse was doing an ultrasound to see the head, body, hands, feet, fingers, and toes of the "products of conception" that was about to be removed. The monitor was carefully turned away so that Mrs. Weideman couldn't view the images. "Can I see it?" she asked. The nurse said she had to go talk to someone about that. She came back and said: "It's not our policy".
"She refused to let me see the ultrasound, to let me have accurate information about the abortion procedure they were about to do,” to see what thes “products of conception” actually looked like.
Mrs. Weideman's emotional and physical condition worsened. She said she was "on the point of going into shock." At that point the the doctor came in. She wasn't prepared to go into the exact details of the procedure itself, because "it was too horrible to remember."
"I Begged Them To Stop"
It turns out she was further along than they had told her. But they never told her this, or what it meant. She only learned this in part from overhearing the nurses, and in part from medical records which she got hold of two years later -- and she had to force them to hand over her records, she said. "They didn't want to do give them to me."
The result was that the doctor "had to use a larger instrument on me".
"I begged the doctor to stop. I was going to throw up. In the end, the nurse had to force the doctor to stop."
Mrs. Weideman said she did throw up. Then the doctor, whose name she doesn't remember, finished removing the remains of her now dead baby.
Suicidal, Depressed, Nightmares
"Afterwards there was lots of fallout of course. I was pretty much suicidal. I was depressed all the time. I started making lots of poor life decisions, doing things to hurt myself. I started doing poorly in school. I couldn't care less. I was never able to mourn, or deal with my grief, and resolve my issues, because my parents told me never to talk abut it again. I had terrible nightmares, frequent panic attacks, and horrible flashbacks during my regular gynecological visits. I spent six years in this horrible place."
She was definitely not feeling "happy and relieved", and her life did not go back to normal. Planned Parenthood had misinformed her, once again.
"Basically everything they told me that would be avoided by the abortion ended up happening, and worse."
Mrs. Weideman said it had unintended consequences even a decade later, when she wanted to be a Mom, because it effected the way she looked at her children, making what should beautiful moments of motherhood "bitter-sweet" at best. She said it was "very difficult" with her first two children.
"I was so sad and angry at myself for what I had done. How could I have destroyed that? How could I have been so selfish?".
She pointed out that "when you're pregnant and you want the baby, you realize what you did, because the doctor gives you all this information about what your baby is doing already, and what he looks like, and how developed he is."
"When you don't want the baby, they don't give you any of that information." She questioned how that can be ethical or even legal, since the biological facts are the same regardless of how the mother feels about them. "Usually when a girl aborts, she's young and has never seen (fetal development) pictures."
Mrs. Weideman now knows many post-abortive women and what strikes her is how similar all of their stories are. She has learned that abortion clinics "try to misinform girls as much as possible" to get them to go through with the abortion. She said they know the girl is under pressure, and they take advantage of it. "Their business is based on pressure. I haven't spoken to one post-abortive woman who wasn't under a huge amount of pressure to abort. It's always the same story: before, during, and after."
And while her parents were part of that pressure, she still finds it astonishing that in this state, legislators refuse to protect minor girls from their Planned Parenthood friends who want to take advantage of these girls. She pointed out how absurd it is that a school can't give a child an aspirin without a parent's permission. "Then there's no way someone should be able to do an abortion on them. An abortion can kill a girl. It's a horrific procedure, absolutely horrible. It's borders on rape, just the simple mechanics of it."
A Second Unwanted Abortion
Part of her downward spiral actually included a second abortion, two years after the first. She said her parents had a lot to do with the second one also. "The second time I found I was pregnant, everyone was again pressuring me to have an abortion, even after seeing what the first one did to me."
"I wouldn't say I didn't care that time, it's more like I didn't even know what normal was anymore."
The second abortion happened in Seattle. She said she actually doesn't remember the clinic, because "it was all a blur".
“This story just shows how incredibly unethical these people are,” she added. “I don't know how they can call themselves medical professionals.”
“I was in the operating room and I just broken down crying. Then my Mom told me 'we aren't leaving until you've had an abortion'."
She said there was a nurse watching this whole episode. So did the nurse intervene and say they weren't going to do a medical procedure on an 18-year-old girl that was clearly not her choice?
"After the procedure was over, they all literally ran out of there leaving me on the table crying. That's how unethical they are. They don't care less about these girls."
"The fallout from the second one made the first one look like a walk in the park. An abortion kills part of you and you can never get that back again."
This fallout included big problems trusting people, and major consequences in terms of anger, or rage.
"I couldn't forgive myself for the second one. The first I could rationalize, but the second one was my fault. I just hated msyelf. I was in an abyss of misery. I had constant nightmares, panic attacks, and was completely paranoid."
Mrs. Weideman did find help, though. She found healing after she became a Christian, at age 24, through the Tri-Cities pregnancy center. (This is one of the centers that Planned Parenthood and its friends in the Democrat Party, like California Rep. Henry Waxman, are trying to shut down.)
She said they had a program called Healing & Recovery After Abortion. "I was at a point where I realized I was either going to have to find a way out of this, or take my life. I was having crying jags every night."
It was her sister, who had become a Christian two years earlier, who told her about it. At first she dismissed it, having been raised as an atheist, by parents who were very hostile to Christianity and Christians. But she was so desperate that she decided to give it a chance.
"The lady on the phone was so kind, so compassionate. Like most of the women in the program, she had had an abortion, and she told me that everything I was going through was normal. It was such a relief to know I wasn't crazy. Their counseling was amazing. I went through it twice, once for each abortion. I found forgiveness in Jesus. God has really worked miracles in my life."
Mrs. Weideman is now happily married with four children.