Former abortion clinic worker Kathy Sparks Lesnoff recounts how she got involved in the abortion industry, the toll it took on her personal life, and how today she helps women choose life for their pre-born babies. (Part 1 of 2)
Kathy Sparks Lesnoff:
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John Fuller: That’s former abortion clinic worker Kathy Sparks, and today on Focus on the Family, she’ll give an inside look at that industry. Your host is Focus President Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, I think all of us find “behind the scenes” stories, uh, pretty fascinating. You know, “behind the scenes at the Super Bowl” or “behind the scenes” of your favorite movie. Uh, today, we’re going “behind the scenes” of something far more serious - an abortion clinic. And our tour guide, so to speak, is Kathy Sparks, and as you’ll hear, she trained in every area of an abortion facility - from the telephones to the surgical room. And she has a riveting story to tell.
And it’s especially timely right now, as more and more states are considering legislation to expand abortion rights all the way through the day the baby is delivered. And Focus on the Family is fighting this trend. And we’re doing it in several ways: 1, an online petition that we’re encouraging you to sign, to put our elected officials on notice that hundreds of thousands of voters object strongly to abortion; and a fundraising effort to place more ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers around the country; and finally, a live, 4D ultrasound event in Times Square on May 4th. And we want you to join us for that.
John: Yeah, it’s pretty apparent to us that the Holy Spirit is moving at this time. And I so appreciate Jim - your leadership in this - as we seek to let our voices be heard. You can find details about the event on the 4th and how you can participate, as well as that “Declaration for Life” petition, at focusonthefamily.com/prolife.
And as we listen now to Kathy Sparks, this note for parents: she doesn’t get too graphic, but you might want to get your little children occupied elsewhere, or just use your earbuds. Here now is Kathy Sparks on today’s Focus on the Family.
Kathy: It’s always an exciting thing for me to be able to share what God has done in my life. And I’m going to be able to just take you through a quick look at the inside of an abortion clinic.
I have had the opportunity, and really a privilege, of being able to travel all over the United States and even out of the country. I have met owners, workers, nurses, doctors. I’ve met doctors who’ve performed abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy. I have just met a lot of different people and have been able to hear their testimonies on what they did when they were inside their abortion clinics and how God supernaturally got them out.
And before I even begin my testimony, I’d just be able to tell you that even though I worked in Granite City, Illinois, at the Hope Clinic - now those of us in Granite City would like to call it the “Hopeless” Clinic, but regardless, they call it the Hope Clinic. But one thing I can tell you for sure, regardless of where abortions are being performed, whether it’s in Granite City, Illinois, Chicago, Peoria, right here in this town, abortion is the same everywhere. It’s taking the life of an innocent baby.
Primarily, it’s all the same in how they get the people to come in to do the abortions, and I’ve learned this from my traveling experiences. So that - which what I’m going to be sharing with you tonight, is not just happening in Granite City, Illinois. It’s happening all over the world.
So, I’m going to begin. I do use a little bit of laughter in my testimony, because if I did not, it could be a very heavy kind of a testimony. And so, please forgive me if I get a little funny at times, but that’s just kind of part of my warped personality.
Let me tell you how I got involved in the abortion industry. I was, at the time - and it’s really going to be funny when you find out how I grew up and my whole religious background and where I ended up going. I was brought up in a Catholic home and it’s amazing, because the Catholics were the very forerunners of the pro-life movement. And so, my mother taught me right from wrong. And in fact, in my junior year of high school, which was 1973, I did a paper - a pro-life paper. I was very pro-life. I felt like abortion should be illegal, et cetera. And then what happened was I left my home and I went away to college - a secular university - and I became a radical feminist. I just left that covering of my parents and was on my own and boy, did I go on my own. In the process of my college experience, I was becoming - studying to become a nurse - a registered nurse. I wanted to actually work in labor and delivery. That is an amazing...
But I became very pro-choice. I had bought the lie. You know, the one lie that says all these poor people having more children, the child abuse and neglect, the sexual abuse. All those issues I felt was a very valid reason to endorse abortion legalized in the United States.
So, in the midst of all that, I met my husband. We were married and a short time after that, became pregnant with our oldest daughter, Shannon. And it’s amazing, too, because I went to the doctor and he confirmed the pregnancy. I was literally in shock, because we were - you know, how the student loan deal goes? Thousands of dollars in debt and I did not want to have a baby.
And he looked right at me and he said, “Well, Mrs. Sparks, it’s obvious that you’re not excited about this pregnancy.” He said, “I’ll tell you what. I don’t advertise this, but I do abortions on the side.” He said, “I rent space from Reproductive Health Services here in Saint” - it was in Saint Louis, Missouri. He said, “So, we can schedule you an appointment to have an abortion next Tuesday evening.” He said, “We’ll take care of this. Nobody has to know and that way your husband you can plan to have your children at the right time.”
Now it’s amazing, because as pro-choice as I was, I remember driving down the highway thinking, “Married people have children,” and so, I just decided to go ahead and carry the baby to term and I’m very thankful, because that’s our oldest daughter, who has given us the one granddaughter, who’s 2-years-old and she’s pregnant, so we count the second one, who is six weeks along in the womb.
Okay. So - but, that cut my college experience short, because all of sudden, Mike and I were looking at even more debt, a new baby and so we decided I’d go ahead and finish that semester of college, but after she was born - she was born early summer - then I would have to get a job. So a friend of mine told me about an opening at the abortion clinic in Granite City.
A little information about the “Hopeless” Clinic: they were one of the first abortion clinics to actually open up. Now at that particular time, they had a very large rectangular building. It was painted baby blue and it was actually divided right down the middle. And on one side of the abortion clinic, you used to be able to enter the abortion clinic on one end and on the other end was actually, the OB/GYN side. A friend of mine worked on the OB/GYN side and she told me that there was an opening for a medical assistant to actually assist the doctors during the abortion procedure.
Now this friend of mine knew that I was very pro-choice and all my medical experience - I’d worked at countless hospitals in my schooling. And so, I went down and they took me through two very extensive interviews. They wanted to make sure I was very, very pro-choice and I was, so it wasn’t even like I had to convince them.
They hired me and it’s amazing, because God knew the very end of my story, because even though they hired me to assist the doctors during the abortion procedure, they trained me and allowed me to witness every single area of the abortion clinic. So, I’m just going to tell you just a few things about some key areas in the abortion industry.
Now the first thing that they taught me to do was just become familiar with answering the telephones. That wouldn’t seem like that’s a big deal, but it really was. We were trained that if the girl called and she was upset or anxious, then we were to squeeze her in and work her in that day. Now realize that we did abortions six days a week at that time. We did a minimum of 40, with 60 on a Saturday. Every single day we worked late and we would do as many as 10 extra abortions every day.
Now the reason that we would this is because we did not want one of three things to happen. First of all, we did not want them to change their mind and decide not to abort. The second thing, we certainly did not want them to have their parents find out, thus changing their mind for them. And last, but not least, we did not want them to go across the river into the Saint Louis area and obtain an abortion at one of the five abortion clinics in Saint Louis.
For those of you who do not know, anybody here ever been to Granite City, Illinois? Let’s see your - wow, I have friends. Granite City is this little factory-oriented town and that has a lot to do with my conversion, living in Granite City, Illinois. I’ll get to that in a minute, but Granite City is kind of amazing. It’s like a factory-oriented town and I never used to like Granite City, because I would just kind of drive by it and I would see all this pollution hovering over Granite City. I used to think if I actually drove my car into Granite City, my paint would peel off and so, it’s amazing how our ways are not God’s ways. His ways are so much higher, because now it’s home. I love it. I minister there and we just hate to leave it. But that has a lot to do with later on, one of the pressures that God used in my life.
But here I am at this abortion clinic and I’m answering these telephones. I’m working and squeezing them in. Now let me tell you something about that little argument I mentioned earlier about the pro-choicers who are very concerned about these poor people having more children. In all my traveling experiences, I have yet to meet the abortionist who gives away free abortions. I have yet to meet the abortionist who actually does abortions on a reduced rate. And in fact, when I worked at the abortion clinic, one of the first questions we would ask, if she sounded very upset and anxious, is “Do you have the money?” And if she had the money, then we would schedule her for the abortion for that day. If she did not, we would suggest different ways, different people that she could actually ask to get the money and then we would tell her to call us back when she had the money.
Now the second thing that they trained me to do, we did blood work. That was really amazing. Another thing’s interesting, when we would do 40 to 60 a day, they would schedule half of the women to come in at 7 in the morning. The other half would come in at noon time. And what we thought was, if half of them came in at one time, 20 people pulling up in the parking lot at one time, that they would have less of an opportunity to be harassed by these pro-life picketers. So they would do that.
Now that was okay if you were one of the first girls to get your abortion, but for the other girls who actually had to wait until noon, they were sitting in the waiting area for almost five hours. But that’s basically how they did that. Uh, the waiting area was very plain, a couple of pictures on the wall, lots of chairs. Oftentimes, the days we would do up to 60, we didn’t have enough chairs. There would be women sitting on the floor, waiting for their counseling session, their blood work and their procedure.
Now counseling, I believe, is one of the most important aspects of the abortion industry. And in fact, years later, I found out that 99 out of every 100 girls would go ahead and abort after counseling in an abortion clinic. And I sat in on several counseling sessions and these women are pretty phenomenal. Now they, at the Hope Clinic, would brag and they would say that, “All of our counselors are very well trained. They have at least a Master’s degree” and they are. They’re highly educated women.
What they’re trained to do is sit down with this young girl or this woman, who’s facing a crisis pregnancy and they would ask them a lot of open-ended questions. And they would find out where the pressure point was. What was causing this young girl to want to have an abortion? What we do at our crisis pregnancy centers is we listen. And all you have to do is - by being a good listener - is just listen. They’ll keep coming back to the thing that’s driving them to want to have the abortion, whether it’s money or it’s the fear of telling the parents or a school or a scholarship or whatever it is. They’ll keep coming back to that.
Well, that’s what these women would do. They would listen to the pressure point, but instead of relieving it, as we do at our pregnancy centers, they would magnify it. So, if the girl was talking - one particular counseling session I remember very vividly, the girl was talking about she had no money. She didn’t know where she was going to be able to get the money for labor and delivery. She didn’t know how she could raise the child. The father of the baby wasn’t involved. And this counselor started talking to her about how much money it costs to have a baby. And in fact, she said, “Even shoes at Buster Brown are $28.” I’ll never forget it. So by the time that that girl was finished with her counseling session, she was sure she had to go ahead and have that abortion.
John: Today on Focus on the Family, you’re hearing from Kathy Sparks. And we’re hoping this program will inspire you to get involved in the pro-life movement. And your starting point is focusonthefamily.com/pro-life. Or call for details. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY - 800-232-6459. Let’s go ahead and return now to Kathy Sparks on Focus on the Family.
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Kathy: The other thing I’d like to mention about counseling is when they explain the abortion procedure, they have a - what we know as a fetal model, but the difference is, they have the Fallopian tubes and the uterus and the cervix, but there’s no baby inside. So, they talk about how “The cervix will be gently dilated, the contents will be evacuated, and the whole procedure will be done in five to eight minutes.” Just that simple. After the counseling session is finished, you go wait your turn and then you go in for your abortion procedure.
Now I also worked in recovery, where they give you a couple of cookies. And even after the surgical procedure, we never had enough room for them to be seated in recovery. They’d be on the floor all over the place - a little blanket laying over them. But the clean-up room was kind of an amazing thing I’ll talk about for a minute. We would set up trays for the day. We would also - there would be someone who would work in there at all times that would clean the trays and get them ready for the sterilizer.
But in the clean-up room, they had a toilet bowl that was actually mounted to the side of the wall. And this toilet bowl - it was actually a toilet bowl - didn’t have a lid or a flusher. It just continually flushed. And what would happen is they would do abortions on women that were 14-, 15-, 16-weeks along in their pregnancy every single day. Well we couldn’t send those babies off to the pathology lab, because then the Hope Clinic would get in a lot of trouble. So what we would have to do is we’d have to take that into the clean-up room and actually put those babies into the sewers of Granite City. And that happened every single day at the abortion clinic.
Now it’s true that a procedure would take five to eight minutes. We had two rooms - two procedures rooms at that time. I worked one and Ginny, another - actually a registered nurse, worked the other one. And we had five to eight minutes to get the client in. We would get her up on the table. We’d do her blood pressure, vital signs, then we’d drape her with a sterile field and we’d - the tray - opened the tray. Put the Betadine on the cotton; we’d get her all ready to go. The doctor would come in, do the procedure. The five to eight minutes to get her off the table, pull the paper down, open up the next tray, put her in recovery, get the next girl - we had five to eight minutes to do this. If you weren’t done in time, the doctor got very irritated, because he was losing money.
Now at that time, there were three doctors that worked the abortion clinic every day and they rotated. Every hour they would rotate. So one doctor would do abortions for an hour; the other two doctors would see their OB/GYN patients. And then every hour they would rotate. So basically, that’s how it went.
The owner of the abortion clinic was Dr. Hector Zevallos. And while I worked at the abortion clinic, it was during that time he decided that he no longer wanted to do any deliveries. And he made this statement in front of myself and five other people. He said, “You know,” he said, “I can do three abortions and make the same amount of money that I would make to delivery one baby, and I might have to get up in the middle of the night to do it.” So it was at that period of time that he decided he was no longer going to do labor and delivery - wasn’t going to deliver babies anymore. He was just going to take their lives.
Now let me just to get into this little personal thing, what was happening in my life. I was, at that time, married to Mike, my husband, who, I wish he was here. He is and has been, for 27 years, a Granite City police officer and Mike and I got married because we were in lust, not because we were in love. And so, all of a sudden, here we were married together and our marriage was going from like bad to worse quick. You have to understand also about these abortion clinic workers. You don’t realize, even when you’re not serving the Lord, that there’s a biblical principle that is true for everybody. “You reap what you sow. God causes the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous.” There are just principles that happen.
There are three types of abortion clinics workers. There’s the one type who gets in it and stays in it forever. And in fact, one of the counselors that developed all these brochures even while I was there, is still working at the abortion clinic 22 years later. Then you have the second type of abortion clinic worker, which would be Ginny, the girl who worked in the other procedure room. She didn’t know why everything in her life was falling apart. The kids were in rebellion. The husband was getting ready to leave her, but she just had to quit that abortion clinic. Then you have the third type of worker - myself - who has an encounter with the very real presence of Jesus Christ.
Now in the meantime, God was allowing a lot of things to happen in my life. Not only was - here I was killing babies every single day, but our marriage was getting very, very bad. Now, Mike, being the police officer, we would have - we were both very, very strong-willed people. I know you can’t tell that right now about me, but very strong-willed. And when you get two strong-willed people living together, it can be pretty, pretty explosive. Now I have to share a very humiliating time for me and that was when the police are called on the police, okay?
So you know how they knock on the door; you answer the door and there you are in a family disturbance and it’s pretty humiliating. So that was - you know Mike and I were not doing well at all. My father passed away. My father was a horrible alcoholic. I mean, there are alcoholics and then there are horrible alcoholics. He was the horrible version. In fact, he drank himself to death. But you know, amazingly so, I was very saddened by the death of my father. At this particular time of my life, I’m bringing you right up to July the 28th; all my friends had just graduated from college. I was still a year short. Mike had decided that we needed to get a divorce.
Now the thing that Mike was doing is he didn’t want to look like the creep, leaving me and this little baby. We had had Shannon at the time. And so he made me apply for the divorce, so I filed for the divorce. And we were going to get the non-contested variety, because there wasn’t much to contest and we certainly didn’t own anything. We owed everybody everything.
And so, I got the baby and he got the car and that was about the end of that. The night before this non-contested divorce was to take place, I decided I would go over to my mom’s house. She lived across the river. This so reminds me of home, because see, we live in Illinois, right across the Mississippi River, in Saint Louis. She lived over in Saint Louis. I drove across the river, went over and I decided to ask her if after the divorce the next day if I could bring Shannon, our little baby daughter, to her house, move back in, let me finish my last year of college, so that I could support my child and myself.
So I get over there and sit down and I talk with her and I’m crying; I’m very upset. Not because I wasn’t going to live with Mike anymore, mind you, but I just didn’t like the idea of being 23-years-old and divorced. And so, my mom, I believe God hardened her heart, because she looked at me and she said, “Kathy, you can’t move back home.” She said, “You know, you made your bed, and now you need to sleep in it.” And I just couldn’t believe it. I felt rejected. I mean, I was driving back home that night. It was a muggy hot July evening and I was just weeping.
And I decided that night that I would take my life. And in fact, I even considered running the car off the bridge and into the river, but then I didn’t want to kill Shannon, because I figured she hadn’t done anything. So I got home and at that time, Mike worked midnights, so, he was at work. I gave Shannon her last bottle and kissed her goodbye and put her to bed. I made sure she was sleeping and then I went to get Mike’s off-duty revolver, which he used to keep on top of the refrigerator. And I got it and I sat in our little recliner.
People who are suicidal and even have suicidal thoughts, the one thing they think of is they’re just to the end of themselves and they can’t do this anymore. And that’s where I was, so I put the gun up to my head and then I pulled the trigger. And the first miracle that happened on that July the 28th is that God sovereignly and supernaturally stopped the gun from going off. And I’m telling you, I know how to fire a gun. In fact, I’m a pretty good shot.
And later on, three weeks later, we took that gun out to the firing range and pop, pop, pop. To this day, the little Smith and Wesson, it fires perfectly. So God just sovereignly stopped it from going off. Now I have to tell you that a suicidal person is not real excited about not being able to complete the job. I’m looking at the gun and I’m thinking, “I am such a failure.”
So I put the gun down on the table and I’m like crying, just hysterical. I go to the telephone. I decided to call Mike’s mom up.
Now I thought Jackie was like religious, like a religious fanatic, you know. She has no less than 15 pictures of Jesus Christ all over her house - every rendition, happy Jesus, sad Jesus, Jesus on the Cross, Jesus off the Cross.
Every rendition in her house. Years later, I asked her, I said, “Mom, how come you have so many pictures of Jesus in your house?” And she said, “Honey,” she said, “everywhere I look, I want to be reminded of what my Savior has done for me.” That’s how much love she has for our Savior.
Well, you know, it’s funny, because she never preached to me, but she always loved me. I’m reminded of a Scripture that says, “The kindness of God leads men to repentance,” because she’s the one that I picked up the phone and called her. Now, it’s funny, because this is how you talk to a completely hysterical suicidal women. “Kathy, put the gun away. Get the baby and come over here.”
John: Well, I’m sorry, but we’re gonna have to interrupt this very powerful story from Kathy Sparks right here. This was recorded at a fundraiser for a pregnancy resource center, and as we pause, let me just say, Jim, I really was on the edge of my seat as she recounted some of those incredible things that she experienced.
Jim: Yeah, me too, John. And you know, Kathy’s story is so captivating and that’s why I’m excited to bring it to everybody, because it’s important to hear someone clearly stating that abortion kills babies. I know we know that mentally, but the story helps us better understand it. It doesn’t “gently evacuate a blob of tissue,” as the abortion providers try to tell us. You know, I really like the bumper sticker that says, “Abortion stops a beating heart” because that is the truth.
And let me just say right here: if you were involved in an abortion at some time in your past, I understand that this is very painful issue for you. Maybe you believed some of these lies. And let me just say, if you’ve sincerely asked God’s forgiveness, then He forgives you. That’s it! Now be a voice for life! And you can tell people from your own experience that abortion is not the answer, that it brings a heavy burden of pain and regret.
John: It does. And we see that pain reflected in so many of the calls and letters we receive here. And if that’s you, if you’re feeling that, please request a call from one of our counselors. They can help you with some starting points and direct you to some resources and help. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: That’s right, John. And we want to help that person find forgiveness. And we also want to help save the lives of these unborn babies. As more and more states consider legislation to expand abortion rights, right up until the moment of birth, we feel that we’ve come to a defining moment in our nation’s history. We must step up to protect these preborn babies, and be a voice for the voiceless! And I hope you will join us!
First, we’d like you to sign an online petition that we are going to deliver to Washington, D.C., to show our legislators how many Americans feel passionately about this issue. It’s called a “Declaration for Life” and it clearly spells out the pro-life position. You can find the petition at focusonthefamily.com/pro-life, and please, forward that link to your friends and ask them to sign it as well.
Secondly, we’re inviting everyone to join us in New York City on Saturday, May 4th in Times Square, where we will perform live 4D ultrasounds on the big screen. We want everyone to clearly see that this is a baby.
And lastly, we know that when a pregnant woman sees an ultrasound, her odds of completing an abortion are greatly reduced. In fact, our Option Ultrasound, which places ultrasound units in pregnancy resource centers around the country, has helped save over 400,000 babies over the past 15 years. Now get this: it only takes $60 to save a baby’s life! That’s it! $60! Listen, if you have any habit that costs you $2 a day, give it up for one month and you can save a baby’s life! What an opportunity! And right now, generous friends of the ministry are offering to match your donation dollar-for-dollar, so your $60 donation will become $120 and actually save two babies’ lives.
Recently, we received this email from Laura. She said: “As I listened to your broadcast today, I felt led to save a baby with a 60 dollar donation. I deeply regret the abortion I had in my early 20s, and you inspired me to make that donation to help another woman who may find herself in my shoes - a young college student, afraid to tell her parents. I pray my gift will help her choose life. Thank you for this powerful ministry!
John: Well I am sorry for Laura’s pain, but how beautiful for God to give her this opportunity, for her to kind of turn it around and help another young woman make a better choice.
Jim: That really is a wonderful idea. And I wanna say thank you, Laura, for that donation! And thanks to all of you who have given to Option Ultrasound over the years.
Let me wrap up with a verse from Proverbs, right there in the middle of your Bible. This really caught my attention the other day. I think it is God’s exhortation to us for this time in our history. It says, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; Hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work?” That’s right there in Proverbs 24:10-12.
John: I have to agree with you, Jim. That seems like a clarion call for this moment in our culture.
Jim: Folks, these are marching orders! Please get involved! Sign the online petition, pray about the event and coming to Times Square on May 4th, and make that donation to save a baby’s life.
John: Donate to our Option Ultrasound program at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast where you’ll find other pro-life resources as well. Or call us: 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY - 800-232-6459.
Well next time, we’ll hear the positive side of Kathy’s story as she worked to save lives at a pregnancy resource center using ultrasound technology.
John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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