The Scarlet Lady / Carol Everett
The last of the five books I read while researching Abort73's "Crisis of Conscience" page was Carol Everett's The Scarlet Lady: Confessions of a Successful Abortionist. Though significant portions of her testimony are included on the new page, there wasn't room for all of her revelations. As I've already done for Norma McCorvey's Won by Love, and Bernard Nathanson's Aborting America and The Hand of God, this post will highlight the remarks from Carol's book that stood out to me the most–particularly those I didn't have room for in "Crisis of Conscience."
The book opens in Carol's office at the Dallas abortion clinic she ran, just after her medical director, Harvey Johnson, has alerted her to a problem in the recovery room. Upon reaching the patient's bed, this is what she saw:
Becky and Connie, two LPN's, stood over her. Her pants were off, and she was lying in a pool of blood. The whole bed was soaked with blood; the privacy curtains were splashed with blood, and even the wall had blood on it. Quite honestly, I was shocked by the scene. I'm an operating room technician, but I had never seen so much blood in all my life. (1)
Carol had assisted Dr. Johnson with this particular abortion, and though her description of the procedure may be chilling to those unfamiliar with the mechanics of abortion, there was nothing about the abortion to give them alarm. From their perspective, it was unremarkably normal. And even as the woman, Sheryl, laid in a pool of blood, Dr. Johnson assured the staff that everything would be fine. It was simply a blood clot, and the bleeding would stop eventually. Not wanting to be late for his date, he left the clinic without examining Sheryl to determine the cause of bleeding. By the next morning Sheryl had bled to death.
Reading Carol's account of this tragedy again, I am particularly struck by what a microcosm it is of all that plagues the abortion business in general. As laid out in the "Crisis of Conscience" page, the testimony of former abortion providers consistently reveals five things about the abortion industry: It is an institution built on deception; it is plagued by cover-ups and dangerous medical practices; it is populated by unethical characters; it is largely driven by greed, and it is an unquestionably grisly business.
Carol's description of Sheryl's abortion demonstrates what a gruesome procedure abortion is and how far removed it is from the relatively flowery language it receives in the counseling room. She writes:
I looked down to see how the procedure was going. Everything seemed to be all right. The arms and legs of the baby, the first parts to come out, were in the pan. Harvey reached for the body.
Usually, I was the one who held the baby motionless in the uterus for the abortion using a technique called the Hanson maneuver… This time, Leslie was assisting while I held Sheryl's hand…
Using this maneuver, the technician can tell the doctor where the body parts are, quietly directing him, "The head is here, buttocks here, and the arms and legs here."…
Dr. Johnson had gotten the baby's body out by now and was searching for the head. The head, the largest part of the baby's body, is usually the last part to come out. The head must be located and crushed before it can pass through the cervix. Usually the head is deflated first by suctioning out the brain and all the other contents…
I saw the muscles of his right arm tighten and knew what that meant: Dr. Johnson had located the head and was crushing it. Harvey used to joke about his getting tennis elbow from this technique, and his right arm was actually slightly larger than his left. (6-7)
After reconstructing the baby's body in their supply room so that all the parts could be accounted for, Carol tells us that she flipped on the disposal for Harvey, so he could dispose of the body "[without getting] blood on the switch" (8). We don't know what exactly Sheryl was told in the counseling room, but later in the book, Carol discloses the clinic's policy to never reveal to women "how developed their babies were at various stages inside the womb," even when that meant firing an extremely competent medical assistant who had violated the policy (146).
The underlying greed of the industry is seen at two points in this account–first, when they raise the price of the abortion by $125 after Sheryl has already been charged and made payment, and second, in the way they rush her through recovery, because "recovery room nurses were not cheap" (4). Before the abortion, Sheryl had reported that she was 18-weeks pregnant. Dr. Johnson later changed that assessment to 20 weeks, which makes the price of the abortion go up. Whether the diagnosis was correct or not, I couldn't help but remember Norma McCorvey's warning that the abortionists she worked with frequently overestimated the age of the baby so they could charge more money. Either way, it's sloppy business to charge first and raise the price later. When Sheryl couldn't come up with the extra money and pleaded for a grace period, her appointment was cancelled and she was sent home. Carol comments, "I knew my job and sentiment wasn't part of it." The $375 that Sheryl had already paid in cash was not returned. Carol insisted that Sheryl would be able to borrow the extra money and come back. When Sheryl returned that Friday with the $125, Carol clipped a coupon out of the newspaper to save her $50 on the abortion. Carol doesn't reveal what motivated her to do this, but it seems a patronizing and self-serving gesture when you've already told a desperate woman that the abortion simply can't be done for less than $500.
According to Carol, Dr. Johnson's failure to diagnose the cause of Sheryl's bleeding is something that "even a first year intern would have [done]" (19). It was medical negligence on the highest order. Had they realized Sheryl's cervix had been torn during the abortion, they could have saved her life. Carol notes that they had everything on hand except "a doctor willing to take the time to reexamine his patient to determine the cause of the bleeding. He had a date, and the margaritas were waiting" (18-19). Once Sheryl died, the cover up began in full, though it proved remarkably easy. Charts were doctored, and the grief of a boyfriend desperate to keep the abortion hidden was used to great advantage. Carol feared their clinic would be shut down, but Sheryl's death passed almost completely unnoticed. Carol would marvel that "the (abortion) industry (was) that unregulated," that they "could kill a woman and go on as if nothing ever happened" (16). Such shoddy medical practices could never survive without unscrupulous characters willing to cover them up.
About halfway through the book, Carol gives seven reasons why she was so perfectly suited for the abortion business. That list includes the following, third-person descriptions of herself: "an insatiable craving for attention… unscrupulous… an ability to bend the rules, if the situation warranted it, to get what she wanted… a tireless work ethic who needed to make a lot of money… a relationship with a silent abortionist who wanted to go public for the bang of the big buck… a feminist, a silent member of the post-abortion women's society, who had a lot of destructive patterns in her life… a woman who understood marketing and knew how to sell; who could relate to women and victimize them into having an abortion… a strong dislike for men and a desire to use them, even to punish them, but most of all, with an insatiable desire to control them." (121-122)
One of the earliest manifestations of Carol's shrewd marketing savvy came when she noticed how many aborting women claimed to have been raped, without ever having reported the rape to the police or gone to the hospital. She saw an opportunity for a lot of free publicity and suggested they offer free abortions for rape victims, on condition that the rape was reported and a hospital visit made. She was able to sell the idea by reminding the clinic owners that, "the percentage of conception in an actual rape is very low, and with the conditions attached, I don't think we'll do many free abortions. But we will get a lot of free publicity!" (135). Her plan worked perfectly. They got prime time news coverage and several newspapers and radio stations ran the story as well. The owners praised her for bagging "thousands of dollars of free advertisements," and she reports that for as long as the program was in place, "we never did one free abortion on a rape victim" (135).
Thankfully, Carol's ideology completely changed through the influence of a Christian business counselor who was brought in to help the abortion clinic resolve some growing conflicts between the controlling partners. He saw an opportunity to subtly combat abortion through the exchange and ended up leading Carol out of the industry in the process. Though she'd always considered herself a Christian, she soon came to the following conclusions in regard to abortion:
Aborting a child violates everything a woman's body wants to do, is supposed to do. (73)
The destruction is against the family unit, not just the baby and the mother, but the entire family. (251)
Years earlier, pregnant with her third child, she had no desire to abort but did it out of duty to her then husband, Tom. Carol writes:
I did not trust my relationship with Tom enough to challenge the agreement (to have an abortion if I ever got pregnant). I wanted the child, but I loved my husband. It was a choice between the baby I wanted and the husband I worshipped. (98)
Years later, she would tell Tom that, "our abortion just about destroyed my life" (248). Tom broke down and cried, confessing how much it had hurt him too. In all likelihood, it destroyed their marriage and wasn't much better for her kids. "At the age of thirteen and eleven," Carol writes, "they were living with a drugged-up, mood-swinging, workaholic mother who was trying desperately to cope with depression and fighting off suicide" (114). But after leaving the abortion industry behind and finding forgiveness for her "35,001 abortions," she found herself for the first time, with "a purpose bigger than making money" (234). And for that, I thank God!
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.