Topeka, Kansas — A former patient of abortionist George R. Tiller gave jaw-dropping testimony before a joint interim legislative committee today, telling the detailed story of her late-term abortion experience that obviously violated the Kansas ban on such abortions at nearly every turn.
“This is perhaps the most explosive testimony that has every been heard at the Capitol. Based on this testimony alone, Tiller’s medical license should not survive to the end of the day,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “We demand that the Board of Healing Arts take immediate action to stop Tiller from victimizing any more people as this young lady was victimized.”
The woman, Michelle Armesto Berge, appeared with her attorney, and told the committee of her abortion that took place at Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services in May, 2003, while she was 18 and about to graduate from High School. Michelle related how her parents were upset to discover that she was pregnant and immediately began to pressure her into an abortion that she didn’t want at 26 weeks into her pregnancy. Michelle’s boyfriend opposed the abortion and had planned with Michelle to marry and raise their child together.
Michelle’s mother discovered George R. Tiller on the Internet and arranged for Michelle to have an abortion there the following Tuesday. After several days of nearly constant pressure and coercion, and fearing the loss of her family’s love, Michelle relented to their demands.
Michelle and her mother became lost on the way to the abortion clinic and arrived two hours late for her appointment. Upon arrival, she was placed immediately into a group with several other women also receiving late-term abortions who were in the process of watching a video about the Tiller abortion legacy.
From there, without having spoken to anyone or signed any paperwork, Michelle was taken to a room with an ultrasound machine. She was prevented from seeing the viewing screen by the clinic worker who did her ultrasound. At that time, abortionist Shelly Sella came in and administered the injection through her abdomen into her baby’s heart that immediately killed her child. Sella is a California abortionist who travels to Wichita every third week to do abortions for Tiller at his late-term abortion mill.
After receiving the fatal injection, Michelle was sent to the receptionist to fill out her paperwork and consent forms. There was no effort before the injection to insure that Michelle was over 18, or that she suffered from any kind of condition that would meet the legal requirement of “substantial and irreversible impairment,” either physically or mentally, for an abortion after 22 weeks. She told the committee that at no time was she asked medical questions, but was asked questions only of a social nature.
In the three to four minutes that she spent with Tiller during her three-day stay, he told her that if one of his children were in her situation, he would have them get an abortion as well. Another clinic worker told her that if she had the baby, her life would be over and that she would never be able to go to college.
Michelle delivered at the abortion clinic on the third day of the procedure. She refused to deliver her baby into a toilet bowl, as ordered by clinic workers. Instead she delivered her dead baby on the floor next to the commode, a sight that still haunts her to this day.
A minister from the Unity Church met with Michelle and told her that God would forgive her for her abortion, but he never asked her questions or even inquired about how she was doing.
Because Michelle’s mother was set to graduate from college the following day, Michelle was released a day earlier than she normally would have been released, with the verbal promise that she would seek follow-up care in one week. However, because of turmoil in her family and embarrassment over her abortion, she did not get follow-up care. She stated that Tiller’s office never called her to even ask how she was or if she had indeed made the follow-up appointment.
Earlier this year, Michelle requested her medical records from Women’s Health Care Services and was shocked to learn that her healthy 26-week baby had been diagnosed as “not viable” by Sella. This designation allowed Tiller and his staff to circumvent the Kansas ban on abortions of viable babies after 21 weeks, a gestational milestone that is considered the earliest a baby can survive outside the womb if born.
Michelle did not receive a second opinion as required by law for post 21-week abortions, and she was never diagnosed with any condition that would have met the “substantial and irreversible impairment” standard in the law.
Michelle agreed to make her medical records available to the committee.
Rep. Jene Vickery commented that it seemed her abortion was done without any consideration of the laws of Kansas. Every member of the committee seemed to be on the edge of their seats during Michelle’s testimony.
Michelle indicated that after reading the law that bans late-term abortions, she believes that the law failed to protect her and her baby from an unwanted abortion that has caused her painful consequences. She expressed that she is equally upset at her parents for pressuring her to abort and Tiller for allowing the abortion to take place.
“Michelle’s emotional testimony is perhaps the most compelling evidence to date that Tiller has committed illegal abortions while the authorities have refused to enforce the law,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “Her testimony was a powerful indictment against those in Kansas that have the authority to enforce the law and protect people like Michelle, but instead look the other way. If they cannot feel shame over what their inaction has done to Michelle and her little baby, then may God have mercy on their souls. If this isn’t the end of George Tiller, then there is no justice in Kansas.”