Now I’m going to stand here and tell you that I am a murderer. I have taken the lives of innocent babies and I have ripped them from their mothers’ wombs with a powerful vacuum instrument. And when they were too big to do it in that way, I’ve injected a concentrated salt solution into the bag of waters to slowly and painfully poison them, and then to cause labor to follow.
This is how I got involved–and I want you to listen to this because this is how many people get involved. I began my residency in July 1971, and on July 7, 1971, one and one-half years before Roe v. Wade, I went into the operating room where my chief resident sat down on a stool, he performed an abortion, and then he said that I could do the next one–there were several lined up for that day. In medical circles that’s called “see one, do one, and teach one.” Simply stated, I’d seen one, I did one, and then I taught others to do them later.
After I performed the abortion, here are the words which I dictated, and this is what I want you to listen carefully to:
“The patient was prepped and draped in a sterile fashion in the dorsal lithotomy position with an IV with 15 units of pitocin and 1,000 ccs of dehydrogenase lactate running. Under satisfactory general anesthesia, the cervix was grasped with a thyroid clamp and dilated to a #10 hanks dilator. After sounding to a depth of 4 inches, a #10 curved curette was introduced into the uterine cavity and utilized to empty the uterine contents. Five units of pitocin were given IV at this time. A large, sharp curette was then introduced into the uterine cavity and the small amount of remaining tissue was curetted from the anterior uterine wall. The total fluid and tissue obtained was 125 ccs. Estimated blood loss for the procedure was 50 ccs with 200 ccs of dehydrogenase replacement. After insuring that there was adequate hemostasis on the cervix at the site of the thyroid clamp application, the anesthesia was terminated and the patient taken to the recovery room in satisfactory condition.” (End of Dictation)
In about as little time as it took to read this operative report to you, I had become a murderer….I did not consciously select the words I used in dictating the operative report, but my subconscious mind was obviously at work trying to protect my conscience mind through denial. As you were listening to what I said, you heard me say the words “uterine contents,” you heard me say the word “tissue,” “fluid and tissue,” and “procedure.” They are all words which denied what really happened that day.
The pathology specimen that we sent down was labeled, “Products, of Conception.” The operation performed was called a vacuum curettage. But on the operation request and report, under special circumstances, were found the words “living fetus.” The gymnastics which my mind performed that day in dictating that report could not totally erase the fact that something living was killed that day.
When I was in medical school, abortion was illegal; it was criminal; it was regarded as murder. I graduated from medical school in 1968, and we already had in 1968, however, the beginnings of the erosion of that Pro-Life ethic. In 1967, the State of Colorado passed a law which made it legal to perform an abortion under some circumstances. New York and California followed, and since I was in California during my training, abortion was legal under conditions which threatened the mother’s health, mental health and her life. In our institution there was actually some confusion about what steps we should take to justify the abortions, since we clearly had not come to the point of legally, at least, abortion on demand. So we sent some patients to the psychiatrist before they were aborted; some we did not. But we finally settled on a terminology which we put in the chart, and it went something like this: “Continuation of this pregnancy would be detrimental to the physical and emotional well being of this patient.”
In spite of these words, it was clear that most, if not all, of the abortions which we performed were done so that the patient’s life would not be interrupted by the pregnancy and delivery of a baby.
Early in my training I also had an experience in which I became acutely aware of the fact that there were a lot of patients who came in holding stuffed animals. I began to refer to this as the “teddy bear sign.” As these active-duty officers and active-duty enlisted, and dependent wives and dependent daughters would arrive at our hospital, not just a few of them, but many of them would be carrying some stuffed animal with them. It was not difficult for me to associate this with insecurity and immaturity on the part of these patients. This was in sharp contrast to the patients who were coming to the hospital for other types of surgery.
Another observation was that many of them came back for their second and their third abortions. I can stand here and tell you that during my time in training I never did encounter a true therapeutic abortion situation. One patient who had a therapeutic abortion for kidney disease was aborted at about 32 weeks. The baby weighed over 3 lbs. and even in that day would have had about a 70% chance for survival if the labor had simply been induced and abortion not performed.
In my training program we really made no attempt to counsel the patients concerning their abortions. Most of them had spent many hours and, in some cases, days being transported to the hospital. We limited our discussion with them to the medical aspects of the abortion procedure itself in order to obtain their consent. I recall one patient, however, who decided against having her abortion after she came. Somebody had talked her into having the abortion, and as we got her into surgery and the pentothal was injected, I was standing at the end of the table, and she raised her arm as she was going to sleep and waved it several times, and stated, I protest! At that point I ripped my gloves off, walked out of the room, and told them to wake her up. I wish I could stand here today and tell you that I decided to stop doing abortions in a single instant. But it didn’t happen that way. As you will see, my decision was, and perhaps still is, an evolving one, and we can get into a discussion about that. I did not feel right about doing abortions, but I made no effort to distinguish legal from moral at that time. My justification was that it was legal, the patients wanted it done, and they came from all over the world to Travis Air Force Base in California to have it done.
It was easy for us to do the first trimester abortions because we were using the same procedure that you use if you remove the placental tissue after a woman has a miscarriage. The vacuum machine is used, and the vacuum tubing empties into a tidy little cheesecloth sack. That little cheesecloth sack is about this big and in it are the products of conception. That’s what we called it. We sent those down to pathology.
In my second year of residency I spent two months on a pathology rotation, which is an interesting thing, and I had to come face-to-face with the contents of those sacks. We were studying the embryology of the ovary. I was in an obstetrical gynecology residency and we were obviously interested in the embryology of the ovary. I, personally, then had to search through the jumbled-up mass of tissue to find the fetal gonads, to be sure to include them on the slide so that we could study them. The jumbled-up mass of tissue was easily identifiable as the torn and shredded body of a tiny human being. It was very obvious when we viewed the slides that we were also studying the embryology of the testes, because half of the aborted fetuses were males….Even though these discoveries made me uncomfortable, I continued to do abortions. There were times when I personally sat there and opened up containers, five, six, seven containers at a time, and would open them up and stand and look at the [contents].
Many of them [abortionists] had nightmares about their participation in the abortions. In my nightmares I would deliver a healthy newborn baby and I would take that healthy newborn baby and I would hold it up, and I would face a jury of faceless people and ask them to tell me what to do with this baby. They would go thumbs-up or thumbs-down and if they made a thumbs-down indication then I was to drop the baby into a bucket of water which was present. I never did reach the point of dropping the baby into the bucket because I’d always wake up at that point. But it was clear to me then that there was something going on in my mind, subconsciously.
I actually stopped doing the second trimester abortions at that time. There was no great clamor about my refusing to do the abortions, but it was interesting to me that there was a subtle understanding that my actions were causing the other residents to do more than their share.”
Dr. Hill eventually stopped doing abortions due to the influence of his wife. He later became a Christian and joined the pro-life movement.
This was from a speech at a conference sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League
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