“Patient C” tells her story:
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 mothers 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 mothers 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 too 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 twilight 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 twilight 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 coerce 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.
“In Their Own Words: Women’s Stories Of Coerced, Botched, and Illegal Abortions At Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, KS” Operation RescueShare on Facebook