By Sarah Neely
Raleigh, NC – On the morning of Saturday, December 3, a sidewalk advocate in Raleigh, North Carolina, watched a fire truck pull up to A Woman’s Choice of Raleigh, located at 3305 Drake Circle. The emergency lights were flashing, but the sirens were not on. Shortly after, an ambulance with Wake County EMS arrived. It was close to 10 a.m.
Earlier that morning, the same sidewalk advocate had arrived around 8:30 a.m., a half hour before the clinic opened. She reports that she noticed a middle-aged woman, possibly Caucasian, standing at the door with a young Hispanic girl. The girl looked like she could be in her teens. The advocate called out a greeting and, at first, the older woman and girl returned the greeting. However, once the older woman realized the sidewalk advocate was not with the abortion clinic, she turned her body away and encouraged the young girl to do the same. She began talking to the young girl without pause, as if to distract her from hearing any of the life-affirming options being offered from the sidewalk.
At about 8:40 a.m., the clinic opened early to let the two inside. An hour later, the fire truck and ambulance arrived.
EMS workers took a gurney through the back door of the clinic and came out some minutes later with a patient on the stretcher. The patient was sitting up, and a sheet was draped over her head. However, the advocate reported she could see the same clothing and shoes the young girl had been wearing, and she was followed out by the older woman.
According to the advocate’s account, it seemed clear the older woman was not this girl’s mother. She seemed to act more like a chaperone than a parent. When she brought her red car around to follow the ambulance, those on the sidewalk noticed a Cary High School sticker on the car. The pro-life advocate happened to be a graduate from that school, and she suddenly wondered if this woman might be a teacher. If so, was this one of her students?
In North Carolina, a physician must obtain the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to perform an abortion. Again, this woman didn’t appear to act like a parent, though she could be a legal guardian. It was also impossible to know the girl’s age, only that she looked very young.
Ultimately, the sidewalk advocates had no way of discerning the backstory of this young girl now being loaded into the ambulance with a sheet over her head, nor could they be certain of her relationship to the older woman. There are also deep concerns around human trafficking in the city of Raleigh, which makes reporting anything even remotely suspicious a real priority for these advocates.
According to the North Carolina Department of Administration, the state is one of the top ten for reported cases of trafficking, and we know from well-documented investigations that abortion clinics have no problem providing cover for human traffickers. While this woman might not be a trafficker, how could the advocates know anything for sure?
Just as the ambulance was pulling out, the pro-lifers made a firm decision to call the non-emergency police line and ask for an officer to come and make sure the girl was safe. They also decided to find out if the older woman was, in fact, a Cary High School teacher.
Soon two police officers arrived on the scene and spoke with the sidewalk counselor who made the call. A few minutes later, the ambulance also returned, and the officers spoke with the EMS workers. Advocates report that, though it had only left a short time ago, it seemed to be the same ambulance. There is also a hospital about 4 minutes away, so it is possible they dropped the girl at the ER and returned. The EMS did not bring the patient out of the vehicle while speaking with the police, and the red car with the Cary High School sticker also never returned. Reports from the sidewalk indicate the police never went inside the clinic.
Later that day, pro-life advocates found what they believed was a photo of the older woman seen at the clinic that morning on the Cary High School website. Interestingly enough, she was an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. Still, wanting to be certain, one pro-life citizen visited the school a few days later. She met with the assistant principal and received a call from the principal later. Both administrators confirmed that the woman at the clinic was the ESL teacher, and the assistant principal immediately wanted to know if the young girl with the teacher was Hispanic.
During the phone call, the principal said it was not the policy of the school to refer students to abortion clinics. He also told the pro-life advocate that he spoke with the teacher, and she claimed the girl was not one of her students. He said she also reported the girl did not go through with the abortion that day and claimed the transport by ambulance was not related to an abortion injury.
This last part checks out, as the advocates knew the abortionist generally arrives later in the day, and the girl was not in the clinic very long. Still, while the teacher may claim it was not one of her students, we cannot independently verify that. The pro-lifers never take pictures of patients as they enter the clinic so they could not show one to the administrators when they asked. Also, the young girl could have been from another school or another class, and still a student. As far as we know, the principal did not obtain any details that would rule out this possibility.
What we do know is that this ESL teacher chose to take a girl to an abortion clinic that day instead of a doctor’s office or pregnancy center. And when offered more life-affirming options from the sidewalk, this teacher actively tried to prevent the girl from hearing them. Was that support or coercion?
As soon as we received this report, Operation Rescue and CEC For Life submitted a request for the 911 records which, according to state law, are public.
The City of Raleigh office has already denied the 911 request, citing that 911 records of a “medical nature” are not considered public according to another state law. This is odd, considering that Operation Rescue and CEC For Life received requested 911 records earlier this year for an emergency at Planned Parenthood in Chapel Hill, only an hour away from this Raleigh clinic.
The Chapel Hill request was straight-forward and by the book, with personal information redacted and voices altered for privacy. The City of Raleigh office wouldn’t even provide access to the Computer-Aided Dispatch report, cataloging it as a “medical record” as well.
Even without the 911 call, Operation Rescue and CEC For Life will still file a complaint with the Division of Health Service Regulation, calling for an investigation into any aspects of this incident that might violate state regulations or parental consent laws.
Past deficiency reports reveal this facility actually should have been shut down due to sanitation failures alone.
A Woman’s Choice failed inspection as recently as August 2021 for failing to properly sanitize medical instruments – a basic requirement of any medical facility. And, the fact that staff didn’t properly sanitize even with an inspector standing right beside them indicates they are likely not trained to properly sanitize at all.
In November 2020, it also failed inspection for sanitation problems, including failing to properly maintain the autoclave (which sanitizes surgical instruments), failing to make sure disinfectant solution was effective, and failing to disinfect vaginal ultrasound probes.
In that same 2020 report, A Woman’s Choice also failed to document proof of a physical exam for all patients – when asked why, the physicians just said they “do not believe it to be necessary prior to medical abortions.” The clinic also failed to provide patient privacy in the recovery room. (Perhaps we should alert the City of Raleigh office, as they were so concerned with patient privacy this week.)
“It’s shameful to see an educator ushering a young girl into some abortion clinic that can barely follow proper sanitation practices as a place of so-called care,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “Abortion harms women and children, and this woman, for whatever reason, ended up in an ambulance barely an hour after entering its doors. Raleigh needs to stop protecting shoddy abortion businesses and start protecting its citizens.”
Fr. Terry Gensemer, Director of CEC for Life, added, “We cannot stress enough the importance of pro-life advocates on the sidewalk bringing situations like this to light. Abortion is currently still legal in North Carolina, so we must continue to expose the truth about abortion and hold these officials and agencies accountable when they let dangerous clinics remain open. We are thankful this girl ‘missed’ the chance to have an abortion this weekend – it means her child gained another chance at life. We pray she connects with the local sidewalk advocates who are willing and ready to come alongside her and her baby.”