Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks! profiles Luhra Tivis , a former employee of the late-term abortionist George Tiller, whose experiences working at his facility drove her into a life of pro-life activism.

Tivis had no hand in the performance of the abortions themselves—rather, she was assigned the task of marketing Tillers’ services to prospective clients. But it was enough to cause her to reconsider her profession.

Curiously, unlike many pro-choicers (advocates and practitioners alike) who hide behind euphemisms and technical descriptions , Tiller may have recognized the grim reality of his practice, as indicated by the macabre services he provided for the portion of those babies killed via lethal injection to the heart, and delivered with limbs intact:

One of the more disturbing aspects of the abortion process at Tiller’s clinic was the “memorial services” he openly offered, as published on his website, to parents after they had killed their child. Tiller even employed a chaplain at his clinic, where he offered baptisms, baptismal certificates, and mementos such as a lock of hair or “fetal footprints.”

The clinic also offered parents a chance to bond with the child’s corpse for a little while after the abortion, in a process Tiller described in a 1996 promotional video as an “identification and separation encounter.”

“We will bring the baby to you, either at the bedside, or we will go to our quiet room, and we will bring the baby to you there,” said the abortionist.

“During this encounter we will describe to you what’s right with your baby, we will identify what’s wrong with your baby. You may hold the baby. We can take pictures of you and the family holding the baby, if you wish, and that is not an uncommon request . . . . the identification/separation encounter may involve 2 or 3 hours of bonding with the baby—the identification that this is your baby and you have had a delivery .”

In “Abortion and the New Disability Cleansing” ( National Review , 1997), Gregg Cunningham poses the inevitable question:
Nearly as bizarre is the fact that Rev. George Gardner, pastor of Wichita’s College Hill United Methodist Church and an outspoken Tiller apologist, publicly admits to performing post-mortem baptisms on Tiller’s victims. If the deceased aren’t babies with souls, what do these parents think they’re baptizing? If they are babies with souls, why isn’t this infanticide ?

I recently watched an interview on CNN with a mother who described bringing her child—stricken with an incurable illness—to term, delivering him, and holding him as he passed in her arms. To mourn a child’s death in such a manner is an understandable inclination on the part of any parent. What is particularly gruesome in this case is that these services were offered by the man who actually snuffed out the very life of a child only a few minutes before.

For additional testimonies, see Ex-Abortionists: Why They Quit , by Mary Meehan. Human Life Review Spring 2000.

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