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Abortion clinic worker counsels women to “be selfish” and abort

by | May 23, 2014


By Sarah Terzo

Author Patricia Launneborg painted a rosy picture of abortion. Occasionally, the truth slipped in.

Author Patricia Launneborg painted a rosy picture of abortion. Occasionally, the truth slipped in.

In the book Abortion: a Positive Decision, pro-choice author Patricia Launneborg paints a rosy picture of abortion. She quotes a number of abortion clinic workers talking about how wonderful their jobs are and how much they are helping women. In fact, one interviewed clinic director favorably compares providing abortions to performing heart transplants:

I’ve said many times that the amount of good that we do here in one day doing 10, 20 abortions is far greater than somebody working in a heart transplant unit doing one or two heart transplants on 64 year old men. (p 26)

At one point, however, Launneborg does let slip that she knows exactly what’s at stake in the abortion debate:

No matter that legal abortion is as safe a procedure as having your tonsils out or a penicillin injection or wisdom tooth extracted. It is far more than a safe medical procedure because of the complicated decision-making that is involved, and the fact that it has to do with sex and life and death. (3-4)

Exactly whose death is she talking about? The woman doesn’t die in the abortion (most of the time). This is the only place in the book where Launneborg comes close to admitting that abortion is killing.

One of the abortion providers describes how she encourages women to be “selfish”:

I think it’s okay to be selfish. I don’t think there’s anything bad about putting yourself first. I don’t mean selfish in the sense of greediness. I mean thinking clearly about yourself and what is best for you and the world and what you can deal with.… I can list you a million reasons why I wouldn’t want to have a kid, and they’re all selfish. But what is the point of being selfless about it? Why have a child that’s not wanted? So I see selfishness as a virtue in making choices for yourself and your life.(157)

In counseling women considering abortion, this clinic worker encourages women to put themselves first and completely disregard the well-being of their unborn babies. Some women, apparently, took this advice to heart.

Here are some quotes from women who had abortions:

A lot of people would argue that, that’s a life, but I say, what about my life?… Do I think abortion is pro-life? It’s pro-my life, and I am the most important person in the world and I want to make myself happy.… A good friend of mine has 2 kids, she’s a perfect mother, roast on Sundays. Good for you, if that’s what you want, more power to you. Let me have what I want.( 134)

This is not right for my soul’s growth at this time. You can basically say to the child, I’m not equipped to help you grow up right yet. I’m not grown up myself. I choose not to let you into my life for your benefit. I need to mature, I need to grow.(This woman had 2 abortions) (94)

You’ve got to tell yourself, I am worth a hell of a lot, and I come first. Because as women we’re told everything else comes first. But my well-being, my peace, my value comes first. The focus of my life should – and can – be me,… So when the outside says you should be thinking of the child, say No. The only thing you should be thinking about is you.(72)

Abortions aren’t anti-life. Abortions are pro-life, my life. (This woman had 3 abortions)(58)

It would be a mistake to characterize all women having abortions as selfish. Many women are driven to abortion by desperation, feeling that they have nowhere to turn. Every counselor who has worked at a crisis pregnancy center can tell you that many women do agonize over their decisions.

Others are pressured into abortions by their partners or, in the case of teenagers, by their parents. There is no “typical” abortion patient. So it would be a mistake to assume that these quotes are representative of all women who have abortions.

Also, as damning as these quotes are, it is good to keep in mind that these women grew up in a consumer culture where they were constantly given the message, through the media. through their peers, and through the efforts of pro-choice groups and organizations, that abortion is an acceptable and moral choice. The fact that abortion is legal, and has been legal for the entire lives of many of these women, sends the message that abortion is okay. They have been encouraged by their abortion clinic workers to put themselves first and disregard their babies’ needs. It is easy to judge these women, but doing so is counterproductive. We must reach out even to these women, with compassion.

Source: Patricia Launneborg Abortion: a Positive Decision (New York: Bergin & Garvey, 1992)

Editor’s note. Sarah Terzo is a pro-life author and creator of the website and the clinicquotes tumblr. She is a member of Secular Pro-Life and PLAGAL. This appeared at

Categories: Abortion