In Their Own Words: Women’s Stories Of Coerced, Botched, and Illegal Abortions At Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, KS

These stories were shared with Operation Rescue in response to our request for women to share their abortion experiences. Some stories were accompanied with documentation.

PATIENT K.

When I was 14 I found out I was 20 weeks pregnant. I was persuaded by my doctor, church leaders and family to abort the baby. However, in the state of Maryland abortion was not an option. My parents found Dr. George Tiller’s Clinic in Wichita, Kansas by searching on the internet and I was flown there within days of finding out I was pregnant.

I was so scared, ashamed and confused. I knew what I was doing was wrong. There was a gate my dad and I had to go through in order to get into the clinic and protesters stood outside the gate holding signs of bloody bodies. We drove through those gates every morning for five days.

The first day involved signing a lot of papers. I did not understand any of what I was reading before I signed my child’s life away. No one explained anything to me. I had no idea what exactly I was getting myself into, the pain, the risks, the after effects. The clinic was dark and quiet. I wanted the whole experience to be over and to go back home, but every step I took made it harder and harder to turn back.

I participated in group “therapy” with other women who were there for the five day procedure as well. I was the youngest and from the looks of the other woman the least far along in my pregnancy. From talking with the other woman I learned more of their stories. I remember being so disgusted because there were woman there who had no “good” reason to be. Married, financially stable, healthy women who just did not feel like they were ready. I couldn’t see why they waited so long to decide that! But I was there too so who was I to judge?

Between group “therapy” we spent time in examining rooms where small sticks of expandable seaweed were inserted into the cervix. This caused cramps like I have never felt before. This cramping went on for days.

At night I would lay curled up in a hotel bed and cry. I was so exhausted. I hurt everywhere and no one was there to help me. No one talked about what was actually happening. I knew the truth. I knew that there was a life moving inside me. I knew what was happening was unnatural and that everyone around me was either cold hearted or in shock but I kept going back to that clinic.

On the final day we got to the clinic early. There were 6-10 other woman and we were all in the same large room in our own hospital bed. I could hear the others moaning and I knew how they felt. We were all in labor. I was so cold. I was shaking so violently that a nurse came by and placed many blankets on me so the shivering would stop. It didn’t. No one sat beside my bed or asked how I was. A nurse would come by every once in a while and say, “Let see where we are now,” as she shoved her hand under my blankets and felt my cervix. I laid there for what seemed like days. Finally, she called to another nurse and said, “This one’s ready.”

They put me into a wheelchair and awkwardly wheeled me and my IV into a small room. There was a toilet there and I was told to sit on it. I was confused when they told me to push. I was in so much pain and fogginess from the IV that I did as they said. I wanted it to be over. I didn’t have much strength so the nurse said to lean on her and that would make pushing easier. I pushed. My baby was left in that toilet.

After this I was wheeled into another examining room and I was placed on a big metal table. There was a large light beating down on me. As the nurse waited with me for the doctor she rubbed my stomach and said, “Look how skinny you are now!” I cried. Dr. Tiller came in and removed the afterbirth. I was then given some pads, prescriptions for pain-killers and nausea as well as birth control pills, told to make an appointment with my doctor back home and sent on my way.

This was my experience at the clinic. No one ever told me that what happened at that clinic would cause an emptiness and sadness that would consume me for years to come. No one advised me to seek counseling to deal with the trauma I had experienced. Actually, no one talked about that day for years. The pain manifested in other ways. I tried to mask the feelings with drugs and reckless behavior. I did not want to live. I didn’t deserve to live. I eventually did seek counseling for “unrelated” issues and my therapist advised me to find healing through a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. The retreat was the beginning of a healing process that I am still working on. The decision to abort my child was not a solution to a problem but the source of many of my problems from then on. I hope that other woman will hear of my experience and other women’s experiences and think twice about making the same mistake I made so long ago.
__________

PATIENT T.

When I was 17 I found out that I was pregnant and told my parents, who objected to me having a baby and said that I was having an abortion like it or not. After much mental anguish and threat of physical abuse, my parents said that I could keep the baby. Two weeks later, my mother woke me up and informed me that the decision had been made that I was getting an abortion. She told me to get up and take a bath. I sat in the bathtub with a razor in my hand with my mom yelling at me to hurry up, we had to go. After my bath, all hell broke lose because my dad saw me crying. He yelled, called me names, and said that if I didn’t go get this taken care of, he would take care of it himself.

I got into the car that day not even knowing where I was going. It was an hour and 15 minute drive that day to get to Wichita to Tiller’s clinic.

When I got to the clinic there were tons of protesters outside and security escorted us inside where upon we were checked with a metal detector wand for safety. I read all of the signs outside and heard all the pleas to run to a car to safety. They said that they would take care of me if I didn’t want to do it and that my mother could do nothing about it. I was scared to death and could not run, as security had met us at the car and were ushered in. But I wanted to, and I will forever regret not doing so.

Upon going inside the first waiting room there were some girls who came in and were laughing and taunting the protesters outside. I kept crying. My mother would see me and tell me to quit and not screw this up. She said it was getting done one way or another.

First of all, to confirm pregnancy they did a sonogram. The screen was facing away from me where I could not see it. I remember thinking that I felt unreal. I kept thinking this was a dream, then during the sonogram, I sat up to look at the monitor. The lady was shocked that I did this. I asked her, if there was a heartbeat. She paused then said, “Yes, right there,” and pointed. I asked her how far along I was. I remember her saying but I don’t recall exactly. It seems it was 14 to 16 weeks.

Then I was taken to another room where I was to receive counseling as to whether I really wanted to do this. My mother came in with me. I was given a valium right away while the paper work was put in order. I was given papers to sign as was my mother.

After this I was taken into another waiting room. This was full of other young girls with their mothers who looked as though they did not wish to be there either, but like their valium had kicked in more than mine. This room was very quiet.

I did a lot of thinking in there. I was angry and still looking for a way out of this clinic without my mom killing me or me killing my baby, but they had not one time left me alone without my mother. I remember feeling like they knew I could/would not speak up with her right there. Then a nurse came and got me and took me to the room to “get this taken care of,” as they put it. This was the first time that my mother was not by my side. I immediately told the nurse that I did not want to do this, that I was scared of going home not pregnant, explained past abuse and such, and asked her to help me.

She said “If you really don’t want to do this then we can have someone take you to another clinic across town. They will do it against your will if you want.” All of this was happening so fast, they were having me strip and put on a gown, and she was prepping to give me the IV. I had no idea was coming. I looked at the vacuum they used. I was scared. I just knew she was going to go tell my mom what I had said, then my dad would find out, so through my tears I said, “No, I have to. Do it.”
__________

PATIENT S.

Six years ago, I had an abortion that was performed by Dr. Tiller. I was only 19 when I was convinced by my boyfriend and his mother that having an abortion was my only choice. My boyfriend’s mother was the judge in the town where we lived and I was told that my child would be taken away if I didn’t do it. Later I found out that she[the judge] is also post-abortive.

My boyfriend took me to the clinic and I told him repetitive times that I didn’t want to do it, but he insisted that this was the only option. The last thing I remember saying was, “NO00000,” and then I woke up empty and alone.

I became severely depressed and erratic, full of hate and anger and was committed to a psychiatric hospital by my boyfriend’s mother. After my release I continued to self mutilate and attempted suicide multiple times.

My relationship with my child’s father ended as he left me for another woman with two children. I never felt good enough for him, never pretty enough, never smart enough, never skinny enough, not even good enough to have his child. I haven’t spoken with him in over 3 years.

My life since the abortion hasn’t been easy, but I have found comfort and peace in Christ. Because of God’s mercy I have been able to forgive and love myself. I have been speaking out and telling my story to several high schools. I am 25 years old now and a nurse, but not a day goes by when I think about the anguish that abortion causes women.
_______

MOTHER OF MINOR PATIENT

My daughter had an abortion while a minor. Although her father had primary custody, we had joint custody, both with equal rights to the welfare of her. My daughter was convinced not to have an abortion, then her step-mother talked her into it and took her to George Tiller’s office for the procedure. I tried to stop the abortion, but I was too late.

Isn’t it illegal for a step-parent with no legal rights to sign for an abortion?

This abortion messed her up so badly, emotionally, that she has had numerous mental breakdowns and has been in psychiatric treatments more than once and on medications. She has not been the same. She is really messed up emotionally. She is just now speaking to me after several years, so this has been a traumatic experience for us all.
_______

PATIENT C.

The following is the best account I can remember of Dr. Tiller and WHCS.

On December 12, 2006, my obstetrician diagnosed my unborn baby with several and severe congenital heart defects and a kidney defect. An amniocentesis didn’t indicate my daughter had any chromosomal abnormalities. He recommended terminating my pregnancy since the defects were extreme. He also added all the other things that “could” be wrong with her including extremely small arteries, and an unattached abdomen.

I was told in the state where I live that I would have to start the termination procedure that day by 5pm or go to Kansas. I felt so much pressure to make a decision, but relied on my doctor’s recommendation to terminate to save my daughter from suffering. I was told that she would endure many surgeries, will probably need a heart transplant, and most likely would die. I was told she currently had congestive heart failure and was suffering at that moment.

I was devastated. I desperately wanted my daughter and was ready to have another child. I had been ill and worn down my entire pregnancy. I knew something was wrong and tried to tell the doctor’s my fears but it fell on deaf ears until I was 24.3 weeks pregnant and they saw it on the ultrasound. I am a strong person but the pressure and the trust I had in my doctor plus the fear of my daughter suffering scared me to death. I didn’t know where to turn or who to trust.

After careful measurements of my daughter, she was too big to terminate so my own doctor sent me to the wolves, Dr. Tiller. He gave me Tiller’s information packet and a phone in his office to call to schedule the appointment. He faxed my records and his diagnosis to Tiller.

I researched Tiller on the Internet and found horrible accounts and terrible things written about him. My baby’s father forbid me to search any further and told me he would take care of the paperwork and travel arrangements. I again trusted someone else.

We arrived in Wichita on December 17, 2006 and checked into the hotel. I was distraught and uncontrollably shaking.

Upon arrival at Tiller’s clinic on the morning of December 18 the pro-life advocates were setting up and I was horrified. I begged my baby’s father to take me home. He covered my eyes and drove on by. I blame myself for being weak. I should have left.

We were the first couple of four. We watched a video and they talked. I was clearly sobbing and the other mother’s were composed. I can’t speak for their feelings but they were chatting and seemed fine. I couldn’t understand that. I was devastated and withdrawn. Tiller came in and spoke to the group and answered questions that this was legal, that we were all there to protect our children and our bodies. He seemed proud of himself to actually learn our names. I think he was trying to make us feel like we are people to him but clearly I was not.

I had to sign some forms and a form that stated I read the information and was within the 24-hour waiting period. I had not read that information but my fiancé said he did and that was enough. We were told we needed to pay four thousand dollars and if I wanted to wait it would be an additional five hundred dollars every day and after 26 weeks it would be even more because he needed a second physician’s signature.

As soon as we paid I was taken for an ultrasound. Dr. Tiller concluded with my doctor that the baby was not viable and then met with me in his office to explain my individual circumstance. I wanted to leave but how can someone leave when their own doctor sent me here. He had pictures of his family all over and I longed for a family. He has letters of thanks framed from other mother’s who suffered. Tiller sent me back to the waiting room. Again I sobbed. I was called back in the ultrasound room and he gave me a twilight sedation and injected my baby with digoxin to stop her heart. He packed me with lamanaria and sent me back to the waiting room. He also told me he had to give me extra sedation as my body was fighting it and to relax or the process will be very difficult. I was allowed to use the restroom prior to that and I begged my baby for her forgiveness and told her goodbye.

We waited for about an hour. He checked for the heartbeat and when he didn’t find one he said, “I’m sorry, your baby has died.” I wanted to scream, “You killed her!” I was sent to Hart Pharmacy across town to get hydrocodone and benadryl. That night I had severe cramping.

The next day he told the group that he sent one girl back to her home state as she was only there for the digoxin shot because the delivery would have been to risky due to prior c-section deliveries. He said he doesn’t normally do that and went on to say “I never want to see your cervix’s again in here, especially C**** (the girl who was going home to deliver) because she has been here before.” I wanted to be sick.

He checked all of us and repacked me with lamanaria under sedation and sent me back to the hotel. The two other couples left were admitted to deliver because they were ready. Tiller told me I was not ready and sent me on my way. I just wanted to get it all over with, I was miserable. I was in so much pain that night we called Edna, the nurse on duty, and she told me to take double the hydrocodone and double benadryl. That only helped for a couple of hours. We went back in and Dr. Carhart was on duty and I sat there for what seemed like hours that night and ended up leaving. I was on a lot of medication so it’s hard for me to remember what was said, but I remember I was really afraid of him. I made it through the night shaking and not eating or sleeping.

We checked in again on December 20, and Tiller checked me. He said I was ready to be admitted. My baby’s father had to wait while they got me in my bed. I don’t remember how I got to the room but I remember the beds with the curtains. I remember an angel statue that I focused on to try to keep my mind clear. I was hooked up to an IV and given a pill to hold under my tongue. They then allowed my fiancé to join me. I would guess we were there for two hours and the pain got so bad I cried out.

I think it was Cathy that checked me and said I should have told her I was ready to deliver. I couldn’t even stand up for fear I would deliver on the floor. She got Tiller and he gave me more of the twighlight drug and I remember having the urge to push. I delivered in the bed. Then he made me stand up on my own and walk to another room and get in stirrups. He gave me more of the twighlight drug and at that point I had given up because I don’t remember what he did then. I woke up back in a recovery bed and then was sent back to my hotel empty hearted and empty handed.

On December 21, I returned to hold my baby girl, name her, and have her baptized. I went into a room and she was wrapped in a blanket and there was a pastor there. I sobbed and sobbed as I held my daughter. She appeared perfect and I felt like I had been tricked and in some sort of nightmare. The pastor sprinkled water and blessed her and he actually cried at my grief. That is the first person in that awful prison that showed humanity. Edna was very proud of her “cleanup” of my baby. I was released with some prescriptions for antibiotics and more pain relievers and was told we could drive the nine hours back home in another state that day. I don’t remember much of that drive back.

I didn’t get any follow-up from Tiller’s office until weeks later. A package arrived with my daughter’s ashes and a note saying they were thinking about me. I don’t really know if those are my daughter’s ashes or someone else’s but I put them in an urn and a keepsake box of my horrible experience in Kansas. I never want to return to Kansas. I hate that state. I wish Tiller’s clinic is closed and I wish it was closed in December of ’06. I have so many regrets and I will never forgive myself.

My fiancé made my life miserable the minute I found out I was pregnant and was relieved when termination was an option. He forced me to terminate, he guilted me into by saying my daughter who is alive will suffer the most if I was in hospitals all the time with the baby, and he mocked me while we were in Wichita and I was suffering. I was 32 years old at the time so there is proof that even adults can be coherced into something they don’t feel is right. If I could convince one woman to be strong and stand up for herself and her baby then perhaps I could relieve some of my sadness. Thank you for listening.
_______

PATIENT A.

I was a “patient,” if you will, of Dr. Tiller back in 2002. I was married at the time and had just had my 3rd child very recently. I had become pregnant again as my husband didn’t want to wait. Anyway, we decided having 2 babies under 1 year old was not going to work for us with 4 children total, so after thinking about it we decided upon an abortion, though it was painful to think about.

Well unfortunately I chose to use Dr. Tiller. We set up our appointment and this was a late term abortion by the time they got me in. (I’m thinking now this was on purpose. It’s as if he likes doing them later terms). I was, I believe, 26 weeks along which is pretty far in my book.

First day was taking blood, sonogram to see exactly how far along I was, etc. They wouldn’t let me see the sonogram photo when I asked. They then gave me the shot into my cervix to insert the laminaria pack, which is the worst pain I have EVER to this day had in my life!! Don’t think that was normal…I was then told to go back to the motel room (we were from another town) and be there at 10am the next morning for the abortion.

Well I awoke around 7am and from what I can figure was in FULL BLOWN labor. I was having contractions like I did with my other 3 children while in labor, I was feeling an urge to push, which was very odd, but I was in labor and mostly in pain. My husband FINALLY reached a nurse there, (said it was a 24 hour number yet no one answered), and they told me it was MY fault and that I was to be at the clinic at 6am. Yet the paper they gave me said 10am and I was told 10am.

We got to the clinic, they didn’t seem to even care that I was in so much pain. They took their time getting my IV in my arm and finally got me some pain medicine. There were about 5 other girls in this room with me, (like a small waiting room with beds), and they all had already had their abortions done. I was last for that part of the morning, I’m guessing because I was farthest along. They all literally looked like zombies just lying there. It was creepy. I was not allowed to have my husband come back to see me or comfort me.

Finally it was my turn. I was taken in and given a drug to almost knock me out. It’s one where they say you don’t remember things, but I do. I can remember him half delivering my baby, jabbing the scissors into his head and killing him, then just kind of throwing him to the side and finishing up.

When leaving there they don’t escort you out or anything, I could barely walk. Also the power went out IN THE MIDDLE of my abortion. It was only off about 5 minutes, but how safe does that make you feel?? Then my husband was out front freaking out, knowing I was back there, and of course they wouldn’t let him see me, didn’t answer his questions, or anything.

Anyway, I’m sorry to go on. It’s very upsetting. The worst part of this ordeal is that ever since having this done, I have had NOTHING but problems with my female parts, I have had cervical dysplasia, which is bad cells in your cervix that have required many painful treatments to try to treat. I have pain with sex, which never happened before, and just have general hard core cramping on a daily basis.

I wanted to share my story. I’m glad you’re getting the word out about how horrible a man he is. I’m not saying I’m not to blame as well since I chose to do this, but I was told it wouldn’t be a bad experience. It would be something that would be easy for me to do. But it’s been nothing but trouble since the day I had it done.