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DEPARTMENT: Great Escapes
Article originally appeared in
In 1973, shortly after the passage of Roe v. Wade and under pressure from her husband, Carol Everett had an abortion. It would turn out to be a life-changing event for her, with ripple effects she could never have imagined.
Everett became so deeply depressed that, for a period of time, she saw a psychiatrist daily. When she felt ready to try and get her life together, she decided to change everything about it, hoping that would help. She left her husband and got a job in a new profession—the medical supply business. That led to a job in the abortion industry, with Everett eventually owning or co-owning a chain of four abortion clinics in Texas from 1977 to 1983. There, as she describes it, she sold other women abortions as a daily justification for her own.
She soon realized what a lucrative business the abortion industry was, and set her sights on becoming a millionaire. "We had a goal of three to five abortions from every girl between the ages of 13 and 18," Everett told listeners in a speech earlier this year. Because she worked on a commission basis, every abortion made her a little richer.
My goal was to get them sexually active on a low-dose birth control pill that we knew they would get pregnant on. How do you do that? You give them a low-dose birth control pill that, in order to provide any level of protection, has to be taken accurately at the same time every single day. And you know and I know, there's not a teen in the world who does everything the same time every day.
When distraught, pregnant young women called Everett's clinics, they were greeted by well-trained telephone counselors. "We trained them with a script designed to overcome every single objection. That's what sales is, isn't it? Overcoming the objection and filling the order, in this case the abortion," Everett explained. "The counselor that the girl speaks to on the telephone is paid to be her friend," she told attendees at a Meet the Abortion Providers conference sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League. In her speech, she noted that there are usually two questions the girls ask. "The first is: 'Does it hurt?' 'Oh, no. . . . It's a slight cramping sensation.' . . . Then they ask: 'Is it a baby?' 'No, it's a product of conception; it's a blood clot; it's a piece of tissue.'"
From a business perspective, Everett's clinics were a huge success, and she was well on her way to achieving her financial goal. At one point, she and her partners decided to expand and open another clinic. In order to resolve some interpersonal problems between them, the partners decided to hire a business consultant recommended to them by their CPA. What they didn't know was that the consultant, Jack Shaw, was also a minister who had helped lead their accountant to Christ. Now the accountant wanted Shaw to do the same for someone inside the clinics.
Initially, Shaw was hesitant, knowing how it would look if he did consulting work for a group of abortion clinics, despite his real motive. But after much prayer, and with the full knowledge of his deacons, he agreed to do it with a strict time limit of 30 days.
So Shaw set up a schedule to meet with Everett and her partners for an hour a week for four weeks. By the second week, Everett found herself alone with him and began asking a lot of questions. "I found out he didn't drink, and he didn't run around on his wife," she recalled in an interview. Finally she asked him pointedly why he was really there—and whether he was a preacher. When Shaw said yes, she asked him why he had come.
"He told me that God had sent him, and that he and his deacons believed there was someone inside the abortion clinic that God wanted out." Shaw went on to explain the basics of Christianity, and asked Everett if she wanted to pray for Jesus Christ to come into her heart. Everett remembers thinking to herself that she could "shut that man up if I just prayed that prayer." So she did. And all the way back to the abortion clinic she laughed about it.
But something had changed. When she walked in the door of the clinic, she saw the young women huddled around as usual. But for the first time it was clear to her that they didn't want to be there. She began taking them, one by one, into her office and telling them they didn't have to have an abortion. She told them that their parents wouldn't kill them if they found out about their pregnancies. She even offered to go home with them and talk to their parents herself. Her epiphany that day was the realization that what each of those girls wanted was one person telling them they didn't have to have an abortion. So she became that person.
At the end of that day, Everett was baffled. She wasn't feeling good about having saved those babies. On the contrary, she was thinking about the money she'd lost as a result of sending the girls home. "In my confusion I fell to my knees on the floor of that abortion clinic and I prayed, 'Lord—if there is a Lord—hit me over the head with a two-by-four.'"
It didn't take long for the blow to come. Within days, the local CBS television station in the Dallas–Fort Worth area aired a special investigative piece on one of Everett's clinics, exposing their practice of performing fake abortions on women who weren't pregnant. Everett explained in an interview how they worked it. First, a woman who suspected she was pregnant would be offered a pregnancy test. If it came back negative, the clinic workers would tell her that the test wasn't sensitive enough to pick up an early pregnancy. Then, knowing that the patient would want to be sure, they would confidingly suggest that she have a sonogram. And of course, the young woman would agree. Then, as Everett describes it, "We could point to any blob on that sonogram and say, 'Here it is—you're pregnant.' We were the experts. And the next question was, 'Do you have money with you—can you do it today?'"
The television exposé was the turning point for Everett. She knew God was answering her prayer and that she was to leave the abortion industry immediately. And she did. It was exactly twenty-seven days after Shaw started his thirty-day stint as a business consultant. Within two weeks of quitting the industry, Everett knew she wanted to be a Christian, and she has been one for the past 31 years.
Today Everett does speaking engagements to help educate the public on the tactics used by the abortion industry. In her speeches she returns frequently to the subject of sex education and its connection to abortion. She believes that sex ed, especially for young children, is aimed at eroding children's natural modesty and separating them from their parents' values. According to Everett, seemingly innocuous things, like teaching children what to call the body parts associated with sex, names that may differ from what their parents have told them, help create a rift between children and their parents, a rift that sex educators are happy to exploit. Not only do children begin to see sexuality in a different way, but they also begin to feel uncomfortable talking to their parents about sex. In Blood Money, a pro-life film narrated by Alveda King, a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Everett puts it starkly: "We had a whole plan to sell abortions, and it was called sex education."
Everett also speaks candidly about what went on at her own clinics. At the time she decided to leave, her clinics were performing over 500 abortions per month, including second and third trimester abortions. One woman died during an abortion procedure, but her boyfriend and family didn't want to deal with it, so it never came to light. After performing an abortion on another young woman, the doctors decided to remove a fibroid tumor they'd found. They ended up pulling out her uterus, leaving the 21-year-old unable to have any more children.
In her talks, Everett encourages pro-life activists who protest outside abortion clinics. In one speech sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League, she said:
Every time you pro-life activists are standing in front of the clinic you are holding a light on inside that clinic. You are holding those people accountable. That day, they are less likely to do an abortion on the woman who is not pregnant, or the woman who is too far along. The abortionist who brags about doing eight, ten, even twelve abortions an hour will slow down. He's afraid of you.
In an interview, Everett talked about the effects her own abortion had on her. "My abortion caused me to physically and mentally abuse my daughter; I did not understand that it related to the fact that she was the same sex as the child whose life I took by abortion. I was overprotective of my son to the point that I lived in constant expectation of hearing that he'd been killed. And I was promiscuous." She was also ashamed. It wasn't until thirteen years after her abortion that she was finally able to tell her best friend about it. Not knowing exactly how to respond, the friend took her to their pastor. "That's when it came out and I was really able to start the grieving and healing process," Everett said. "And I'm not going to tell you that it's over."
Coming Full Circle
But there is another significant and ongoing consequence of Everett's abortion. In 1995 she founded the Heidi Group, a non-profit, faith-based organization for women in crisis pregnancies, named for the child she aborted. It consists of a network of 4,000 pregnancy centers across the country, 263 of them in Texas. Through its website (www.heidigroup.org) pregnant women can find extensive resources available to them and their babies. Post-abortive women can find resources for healing. One of the Heidi Group's priorities is to purchase abortion clinics that have been closed and turn them into outreach centers that affirm life. •
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