When Shelley Guillory started working at Louisiana’s Delta Clinic in 2011, she didn’t know what she was getting into.
“I didn’t choose that job,” Guillory told Independent Journal Review during an interview.
Guillory said she applied based on what she later realized was a misleading advertisement for a position at a family planning clinic.
When she got to work on what she was told was a “procedure date,” she quickly discovered she would take part in a procedure that profoundly affected her as a person.
“It wasn’t until I walked into the room and saw canisters and everything, that I was then told it was an abortion day,” she recalled.
Guillory was one of three women IJR spoke to about their experiences working in abortion clinics in the United States.
The women joined And Then There Were None, a pro-life organization aimed at helping workers like themselves get out of the abortion industry, in participating in the 45th annual March for Life on Jan. 19.
In their accounts, each of the women recalled feeling deeply conflicted while working there and confirmed that others in their clinics showed signs of a characteristic darkness and indifference toward their actions’ morality.
Employees Describe Deep, Disturbing Personal Changes While Working at Clinics
Guillory, a nurse, and the others described how working in abortion clinics changed them as individuals. “It was doing something to me mentally,” 40-year-old Adrienne Moton said.
“I had become a numb, dark person and I knew that wasn’t me.”
Moton was one of the women who worked at the Women’s Medical Center — the abortion clinic of the now-infamous Dr. Kermit Gosnell who went to jail for, among other things, murdering three infants.
She and others went to jail for participating in Gosnell’s illicit activity, something for which she later expressed remorse.
“I’ve seen it all,” Moton told IJR when asked about whether she saw fetal body parts.
Annette Lancaster, a 40-year-old former Planned Parenthood Health Center Manager, indicated she would regularly witness women breaking down as they cleaned up after abortion procedures.
“Somebody was having a breakdown every procedure day,” she told IJR when asked about the breakdowns’ frequency in her clinic.
“Women that were working in the POC [products of conception] room would often cry and have breakdowns while they were cleaning instruments or, you know, picking through fetal body parts,” she said.
Although Moton indicated Gosnell’s employees were too busy for breakdowns, she did say she witnessed a lot of women, who came in for abortions, experience that.
“They would have breakdowns and meltdowns because they really didn’t want to be there.”
Moton remembered feeling sympathy for women whom men coerced into undergoing abortions at Gosnell’s clinic.
“A lot of them were forced by their mates,” she said. She recalled a particular incident in which a cop forced a woman to get an abortion and when she tried to escape, he handcuffed her to the handicap bar in the bathroom.
“There was nothing we could really do because he was an ignorant cop,” she said.
Working in the abortion industry appeared to create a crisis of conscience for these women, who said they saw signs of similar problems with other employees at their clinics.
“We were all very dark people,” Lancaster said of herself and others at the clinic. “We had to be dark in that environment in order to do the work that we were doing.”
Guillory, who said she would have never allowed herself or her daughters to have an abortion, similarly claimed that “in order to work in the abortion industry, you have to almost take yourself outside of who you normally are.”
When asked about what she thought while assisting with abortion procedures, she said, “I didn’t.” Both Guillory and Lancaster said their respective clinics performed abortions past when they were legally allowed.
“I basically turned off all feelings, all emotions, everything that was Shelley, and just did my job,” she explained.
“I find myself becoming a very bitter, angry, very aggressive person. It changed who I was,” Guillory said, noting that it affected her relationship with family members.
Lancaster also reported undergoing an apparent personality change. “I became a really dark person, had really dark humor, just really the nonchalant, I don’t care attitude.”
Clinic Workers Coping With Their Work, Hiding Their Professions From Their Families
The women described how violating their sense of morality prompted them to hide their profession from their families and led clinic workers to coping behaviors like drug abuse.
“It was always an internal conflict for me,” Guillory said of her experience working at the clinic.
“Although I tried to turn off emotions, there was something inside of me that told me: ‘this is wrong and you know it’s wrong.'”
That internal conviction seemed to prompt each of the women to neglect telling their families and others about their jobs.
“None of my family members, nobody knew what I was doing,” Moton, a single mother at the time, said.
Moton told IJR that even if a someone approached her with help, she wouldn’t have disclosed anything.
“To be honest with you, I probably wouldn’t have said nothing to them either because no one knew. My parents — nobody knew what I was doing — I couldn’t tell nobody that.”
Guillory also kept quiet about her job, which her husband only discovered after following her to work when her behavioral changes disturbed him.
“It’s not a place that you want to say, ‘Oh, by the way, I work at an abortion clinic,”‘ she said.
While Guillory and Lancaster both denied doing illicit drugs, they described a work environment in which management overlooked employees’ regular drug abuse.
“A lot of our staff abused drugs — alcohol, street drugs, prescription medication — while they were working. That was common. That was very, very common,” Guillory said.
When IJR asked whether management was OK with employees’ drug use, Guillory suggested they put on “blinders” and looked in the other direction.
“As long as the job was getting done, it really didn’t matter,” she said.
“It really, really didn’t matter. It was never, ever even researched. Even though you knew somebody was under the influence, you didn’t see it. It was blinders.”
Lancaster, who said she served as a manager, recalled permitting drug use so that others could merely handle the horror of their work.
When IJR asked if she did anything when she saw drug abuse, she said: “Absolutely not.”
“Because that’s what we needed to do to get through the day,” she added.
Moton denied seeing rampant drug use in Gosnell’s clinic but said the clinic regularly sold prescriptions, which she said were pre-signed, to people.
‘Get Out’: An Urgent Message for Those in the Abortion Industry
When asked what they would tell individuals working in the industry, Lancaster, Guillory, and Moton unequivocally told them to “get out.”
“Get out because it does something to you mentally and it takes you down a path that some people won’t be able to get out,” Moton said, warning of the implications for employees’ ability to make sound decisions.
“You know, it really mentally really bothers you. And you just start doing stuff where you just don’t care. And you can get yourself in a situation where you can get hurt because you don’t care,” she said.
“You might end up in jail for doing something stupid,” she said.
Moton eventually left Gosnell’s clinic in 2008, but not before getting a piece of evidence she hoped would bring justice to a baby aborted after 29 weeks of gestation.
“I took a picture of one of them because I said to myself, ‘One day, this would resurface, and if it does, then I have justice for him.'” Moton said she didn’t expect all of the controversy surrounding Gosnell but gave authorities that picture when they contacted her about the clinic.
Guillory left in 2013 after reflecting on the loss of her son in January of that year.
“I took three months off from work to kind of get myself together,” she said, “and it gave me a lot of time to reflect on how important my children were to me and how important his life was to me — having given birth to him and every moment that I shared with him.
“I realized if your child is that important to you that you cherished every moment that you spent with him, how can you devalue the life of the individual that’s not even given a choice to come into this world — and telling their mom, ‘Oh, it’s for a better future’?'”
When Guillory returned to work, a pro-lifer handed her the phone number of And Then There Were None’s founder, Abby Johnson, who previously worked as a clinic director at Planned Parenthood.
That morning, Guillory called Johnson, who helped convince her it would be OK to leave.
“I would tell anybody in that industry: ‘Get out now while you can,'” Guillory said. “Nobody’s promised tomorrow. And your salvation is not worth a paycheck.”
Lancaster similarly left after finding around her a card with the name of Johnson’s organization. She eventually called Johnson’s organization and took six others with her when she left.
When asked what she would tell current abortion clinic employees, she said to “get out as soon as you can.”
“There is a ministry out there that will help you, that will support you emotionally, mentally, physically, financially — any type of support you need, it is there. So there’s really no excuse on staying in.”
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