Nearly two years ago I logged on to check my email and noticed one from Patte, the "sidewalk counselor". She talked about a girl she had met at the clinic, and the girl was from my area. I noticed that the email was addressed to several local people who are known for being big time "pro-life", one of them being the area's Right to Life president. The email included a phone number and asked if anyone would help.
I thought the number might be a fake given just to get the "pro-lifers" off the back of a girl going in for a second trimester abortion, but I called it anyway. A young girl answered, and I said, "Hey, I'm Ashli and I got your number from the lady you met on the sidewalk at OWC. Do you want to know what one of Pendergraft's second trimester abortions is like? I lost a child there and I can tell you." She wanted to know. I told her everything. Never any need to embellish; it's horrible enough on its own.
We talked for a while. She was your typical "starving" college student living away from home. Before she had gone off to college her parents told her, "No matter what you do, DO NOT come home pregnant. That's all we ask."
She said the "sidewalk counselors" were weird, that she did not appreciate the guy blocking her car door physically, and that she basically just flung her phone number at them to get away from them. I've seen them in action and it's a pretty weird situation. I don't agree with all of their methods, and I told her so. What ever they did got me her phone number though, and I asked her out to lunch.
We pigged out at Olive Garden and talked more about her parents who didn't know she was pregnant. She said, "My father will kill me," only she meant it. He had a history of mental illness, violence and crack cocaine abuse. It was totally scary. She told me her mother was a nurse and that her parents' marriage was shaky. She was worried that her pregnancy would not only get her killed but would break up her parents' marriage. The killing part was pretty valid, but the parent's marriage was not her responsibility.
She didn't have any support whatsoever. No one wanted the baby. No one but her. I pulled a "High Aldwin" and "consulted the bones." She admitted that she did have love for her child. I told her that love was worth fighting for, that she could have her baby, that she did NOT want to be me and live with what I live with and, finally, that I would help her every step of the way and beyond. Pregnancy is easy. It's what comes after the baby is born that is hard. It was important that we make plans so that she and the baby would be provided for.
Immediately she needed maternity clothes as she couldn't really fit in her jeans anymore and had spent several weeks sucking in like crazy. I took her to the local CPC who pissed me off royale when the director secretly told me that they don't help women who don't get their pregnancy confirmed at the CPC, but that she would make an exception FOR ME. I wanted to say, "Hey, I'm not the scared young woman who is pregnant here, and why the hell wouldn't you help someone who needed a friggin dress for her growing belly?!" I guess they have their reasons, but it just did not rub me the right way.
My 19-year-old friend did receive some maternity dresses that day. We sat in the clothing room as she tried on dress after dress. Her big round belly could finally be seen. It was like she finally exhaled and relaxed her tense abdominal muscles for the first time in months. She was beautiful and I told her so. She pretty much decided she would not abort her child. Pretty much.
The CPC got her some medical care ASAP, and she found out that she was six months pregnant with her daughter. She had been 23 weeks pregnant when she had gone to the abortion clinic for the second trimester abortion. She thought she had been around 19 weeks, because that's what one of the abortion clinics told her.
Her boyfriend had taken her to several abortion clinics all over Florida trying to abort their child. They went to Tallahassee, but they were too far along. Next they went to Gainesville for a late abortion, but the abortion mill was too busy doing other late term abortions to schedule them right away. They went to Jacksonville, but the folks there said the baby was 19 weeks and they didn't want to do anything that far along. Incredibly they gave her the sonogram. She showed me this sonogram. The baby was around 22 weeks at that point and you could not tell WHAT it was by looking at the sonogram. It was basically a picture of the top of the head but you couln't even tell that. It was the worst sonogram I've ever seen. I have a sonogram of my dead, 9-week-old miscarried child that shows fingers and elbows and is much better than the 19-week sonogram the abortion clinic gave her. It was ridiculous.
Next the young couple called Pendergraft's. He advertises in Yellow Pages all over Florida. At that time his ad bragged that he went all the way up to 28 weeks (out of 40). He also made sure to mention that doctors and lawyers get abortions, that it's a woman's red, white and blue right, and that it's no one else's business. The best part of his ad was the part that said something like, "If comfort is important to you, we have cable TV in the waiting room." Well thank God. When I'm aborting my baby in the second trimester I don't want to be forced to watch cruddy ol' episodes of Night Court. Give me cable or give me death! Oh wait!...
I've got one of his full page ads. I'll post it sometime so you can see that I'm not exaggerating.
Back to the girl. "Gabbi" is what we'll call her. Gabbi called OWC and Pendergraft's cronies assured her it would only be a one-day procedure. They would induce labor and she would have to give birth to the baby, but they assured her the baby would already be dead and she wouldn't have to see it. A one day procedure. She had class on Friday, and she needed to be there. OK, it was set.
Her boyfriend drove her. They rolled up to the clinic and were met by "sidewalk counselors". At first she thought they worked for the clinic, but one of them physically blocked her open car door so he could buy some time for the woman with the model to get to the car. This is a big no-no. He did it anyway and a woman showed her a model of a second trimester baby. She was horrified. The big burly boyfriend threated the guy blocking the door, and Gabbi was finally whisked off to "safety" at the back of the abortion mill where "pro-lifers" are not legally allowed to go.
Gabbi's boyfriend dropped her off telling her that he wasn't going to go in and be there for the abortion because, as he put it, he wasn't "into that scene". He was coercing her into doing it, but he personally wasn't "into" killing babies. What a guy.
When she went in, Gabbi said the building was oppressive. She said, "You could feel the evil." She's right about that, but she said she was going to do what she had to do and get the hell out of there. Then they told her she would have to stay overnight and that it was actually a two-day procedure. They had lied to her on the phone. It was no misunderstanding. It was a flat out lie. They figured that if she traveled all that way she would just stay and abort anyway. Not so. She left and planned to come back the next week.
Patte (the "sidewalk counselor") emailed Gabbi's number to many local people who oppose abortion. I thought that by the time I called her, she would feel harrassed from getting so many calls. It still pisses me off to this day to report that NO ONE else ever called her at all. Friggin "pro-lifers"! UGH!
We made fast friends, because she was so smart and funny and we were just compatible. We did stuff on a weekly basis like window shopping and going out to eat. She came over once a week and I cooked dinner. She taught me how to make some Puerto Rican dishes, to put mussles into my Paella, and we still battle over the best way to make a plantain! She called, as she still does, just to talk, because that's what friends do.
It was a rough pregnancy emotionally. At times there seemed to be some waffling. The boyfriend was verbally abusive and telling her every chance he had that having a baby was not the deal. She had promised him before they even had sex that she would abort if she ever became pregnant, and she didn't keep her part of the deal. He really resented that. She called very upset when her mother found out. She broke down and told her mom, and her mom told her horrible things for weeks. This family went to church and the mother considered herself to be a good Christian, yet she was telling her daughter to get down on her knees and pray to God for the strength to go back to the abortion clinic and birth her dead child into a bed pan. It was sick and horrible, and Gabbi called me once to ask, "Tell me why I am doing this (having the baby) again?" I asked her when she last felt the baby kick and she said "Just a minute ago." I told her, "That's why."
It was a long haul, but she did it. We were over at my uncle's house (where I clean the toilets for money, baby!) when she innocently asked, "Hey, what does it mean if you're slowly peeing yourself all night?" Slowly peeing yourself? "Uh, it means you're going to have a baby, hello!" I dropped my vacuum cleaner and we went to the OB's as quickly as possible. He poo-poo'd our claims that it was time until he did his little litmus paper test and proclaimed, "Gee, it IS amniotic fluid. See you at the hospital."
In the wee small hours of the morning a baby girl was born healthy, beautiful and very much alive. The name had been up in the air. Didn't know about the first name, didn't know about the last name... the only name Gabbi was sure about was the middle name. She told me she knew that her daughter's middle name would be Elise. She didn't know anything else, but that was the baby's middle name. I was kind of shocked. She was shocked too when she learned that my middle name is Elise. It was my mother's name. It was a lovely coincidence.
Gabbi's mom was at the birth. She finally warmed up to the idea and came to welcome her granddaughter into the world. She eventually apologized for her unsupportive, evil behavior, and that meant all the world to her daughter. The dad accepted the baby but could not bring himself to be at the birth. He and the mother did divorce, but it was a long time coming, and his problems were very unhealthy and destructive to the family anyway. The father of the baby never took any responsibility for the child. He was not at the birth and eventually abandoned Gabbi. He is currently making a huge paycheck and fighting against paying child support. "You can't have your cake and eat it too," he once chided.
Gabbi is living at home, finishing school, and dating a guy who appears to be very nice so far. He and his family love Gabbi and her baby. Things are not always easy, but she is glad to have her daughter and feels that leaving her little girl dead in a bedpan would have been harder to live with than any downer she has to deal with now.
In her darkest moments Gabbi turned to God for strength, because He was all she had left. When her mother was telling her to abort, one recurring theme was that sometimes you have to disobey your parents in order to obey your Father (God).
There was a lot of help out there for Gabbi, and she was able to trust that she would find it. This wasn't anything they were telling her at the abortion clinic. They don't make any dough off of a mom who has her baby. Pendergraft claims to be such a friggin feminist, but he won't help a girl to have her baby, won't help her after she has a baby, and certianly doesn't help a woman after abortion.