Counseled to Abort in a Catholic Hospital


“What’s going on?” asked the therapist.

“I told my doctor that I am having issues with anxiety. I’ve had three babies in the last four years and just found I’m pregnant again, and no matter how hard I try, I keep having panic attacks. I feel out of control. I’m ready to admit I need help. I have some past issues I need to face, but I don’t know what to do. My doctor said I could talk to you because you have experience helping pregnant women.” It all finally came out, stuttered, yet punctuated, a first plea for professional help.

“Why do you feel anxious?”

“I want to do everything perfectly, I want to do it right, I’ve made some bad decisions in my past, but I want to do better. Now I get so confused and overwhelmed. When I give up, I feel ashamed, sometimes I harm myself because the emotional pain is so great. I know I need help. I’m pregnant!”

The therapist replied with a knowing grin, “You don’t have to be perfect, you know. Don’t you see? You are beating yourself up trying to be perfect. Slow down. Right now you need to take care of yourself. You have living children and they need their mother. They need their mother to be healthy. Have you thought about abortion? You know, it’s alright to abort this pregnancy so you can take care of yourself right now.”

“What? I’m Catholic, that’s why I came to a Catholic hospital, well, I mean, I’m a recent convert and I’m learning about the teaching of the Church, and this…”

The confused mother stared past the licensed mental health professional out the window of her obstetrician’s office, where she was meeting with this therapist. In this hospital that bears the name of a saint and a crucifix in every room, the mother was more confused than ever. She tried not to let the vortex starting to swirl in her mind show. Abortion? She trusted these people under this roof, but abortion? Catholics are not supposed to have abortions. She could barely speak.

“…this isn’t right.”

“Well,” chuckled the mental health therapist sitting under a Catholic roof, “Catholics don’t really believe that today, that’s an old idea. Women are not expected to tear up their bodies giving birth to baby after baby, and besides, most Catholics have small families. If that’s what Catholics really believed there’d be many, many more large Catholic families, wouldn’t there? Look, I’ve travelled in Europe where there is a large Catholic population, and they all have one or two children. You don’t have to have lots of kids to be a good Catholic. Perhaps you’re just trying to have a lot of children to be a perfect Catholic.”

Later, they got around to the big question.

“Do you ever have thoughts of suicide?”

“Yes, when I feel out of control and I don’t know what else to do. I just want to give up, but I don’t want to give up either. That’s why I want help. I’m scared.”

The conversation continued past the scheduled hour, and the mother insisted she could not have an abortion. The counselor, growing weary, continued to try to engage the pregnant woman, and asked about her family.

“Got any pictures of your family?”

The mother pulled out a recent photograph, with a smile. She’d ordered matching sweaters for the entire family to wear for Christmas portraits, and even though in all the moments before and after the shot the room had been filled with chaos and bickering, she was proud of how united and happy everyone looked in the instant of the photo. It was proof there could be peace amid turmoil.

The counselor, however, didn’t see a mother trying to keep herself and her family together; she saw a mother obsessed with perfection. She saw children who didn’t have a healthy mother, and she uttered the words that invited in the demons.

“Look, if you do not abort this pregnancy, you may not survive, and then those beautiful children in that picture will have no mother at all. Is that what you want?”

The mother heard nothing else…

By the end of the session she was unable to hide the despair that had overcome her. It had taken more strength than she thought she had to admit she needed this kind of help, and now all strength had vanished because a professional had just confirmed her worst fear. She was a bad mother, incapable of taking care of her children. How could it be that she must choose between ending the life of one, or failing all the others?

The counselor took the now shaken and incoherent mother to the emergency room and had her admitted. She stayed by the mother’s side until an ambulance took the “pregnant woman at risk for suicide” off to a psychiatric facility.

That night the terrified pregnant woman lay flat on a hard bed in a room thinking about her unborn child while white-suited professionals marched outside in the hallway, and she talked to her Saviour, The Counselor, asking for answers. She was determined to find the truth because she had not given up hope.

You see, pregnancy can do that to a woman if she lets it. There’s a life inside her, and that life is a spark. She saw with the light of grace and clarity that even professionals — even professionals in Catholic hospitals — sometimes cannot be trusted. In spite of her failings, she knew she loved all her children, and love does not give up.

By the time her husband picked her up from the hospital the next day she had made a private commitment to find real help and to keep trying until she felt the satisfaction and peace she knew the Holy Spirit would affirm in her soul.

Through prayer, grace, patience, and sheer determination, she did find an independent counselor. She accepted medication and therapy, on her own terms. No one was going to label her again. She clung to the Sacraments and whispered the Rosary whenever the demons of doubt and insult threatened. The child was born prematurely but perfectly healthy, a six-pound baby girl to grow up with three older sisters. She named her Lucia — from the light.

It took some time to process all that happened in that therapist’s office, but the mother would finally heal and be able to talk about it with her husband. When she told him the full story, he held up his hand when he could hear no more, left the room, and found the curly-headed, brown-eyed toddler who looked just like him. He wept as he held her tight, thanking God for safeguarding this gift.

Then he became angry, and it was all he could do not to storm into that counselor’s office with his daughter in his arms to show this professional the beautiful child she had counseled a mother to kill. Instead, he contacted his bishop’s office and started a process of setting things right.

It outraged him — a father who would give his life to protect his children — all the more that this could have happened without anyone even consulting him. In a Catholic hospital a mother asking for help was urged to kill a child to save herself, a monumental lie, without even asking the father. How many times each day does this happen in the world, where confused and hurting patients seeking advice in Catholic hospitals and are told lies about Catholic ethics and pushed to do things that only tear people, families, and societies apart?

Women have to speak up if something happens in a doctor’s office that is against Catholic teaching. Priests don’t frequent gynecological offices, after all. If a doctor prescribes contraception, anything else could happen behind closed doors too. Speak up, if not for yourself, then for the woman sitting next to you in the waiting room because you don’t know what she is going through.

The mother? Well, she doesn’t think women should be lied to, and so she decided never to shut up preaching the truth about abortion and talking about the strength that mothers can find if they accept the graces that God offers. She decided she’d learn for herself what the Church teaches, and she’d defend it from the proverbial mountaintops. She decided that if her faith wasn’t everything, it was nothing. She decided that she would accept God’s purpose for her life and live it, accepting the abundance she knew He wanted to give her if she just trusted in the healing power of love.

(And eventually — she started a blog.)


About Author

Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. is a wife and mother raising seven children with her husband in New York. She is a chemist turned homemaker and joyful convert to Catholicism who is currently pursuing an MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary so that she can communicate the doctrines of the Church more effectively. She is Chief Editor at Ignitum Today and a Senior Editor at Catholic Lane. She writes about all that she is learning at her blog Accepting Abundance.

  • Claire

    Wow. This is really scary.

  • Terri Kimmel

    Did you see my article? It ran yesterday.
    Our experiences have a lot of similarities. God bless. <3

    • Stacy Trasancos

      I sure did Terri. God bless you. I’ve been waiting to tell this story a long time, and seeing your story caused me to think the time had come. Unfortunately there are many like this. We need to keep getting this word out. Like I’ve said, “Priests and bishops don’t frequent OB/GYN offices.” We need to tell them what’s going on. Thank you for your story, Terri.

      • Terri Kimmel

        Hugs to you, Stacy. I browsed your beautiful blog. I’m a perfectionist too. It’s a blessing and a curse.

  • Bernadette – England

    I can hardly believe this!!!!

  • M

    I was pressured into a tubal ligation in a Catholic hospital. The doctors assured me that the Archdiocese Ethics Board approved it. There was no such thing. It was the in-house ethics board headed by an ex priest haha and a new age religious sister, I found out when I realized the truth. I lost my uterus to heavy bleeding less than a year later. In my meeting with these two individuals, they denied that St. John’s Medical Center did tubals…yet I had one and I showed my records to them. So they admitted they approved mine but still insisted that “This hospital follows the Catholic Directives for Healthcare.” They claimed my case was serious because I could die. True, I was in a high risk pregnancy but had I known NOT even the Pope himself can approve this, I wouldn’t have. The pregnancy went well, my baby is healthy and just turned fifteen. Funny, at the time, I knew others being pressured for tubals…and they also purposefully would induce labor early for people so that the baby would die if the parents didn’t want a Downs child or other imperfect babies then the parents could claim premature birth killed the baby instead of what it really was: abortion then holding the baby without medical intervetion for the baby for a chance to live. Still killing, nonetheless. Sick world.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Thank you for sharing this. God bless you and your teenager! 🙂

  • Kerry Scott

    Stacy, I too am scientist, homemaker, and mother of seven… My husband and I after a year of engagement 28 years ago, found ourselves still planning a wedding date, but pregnant with our first child…The first doctor I went to for prenatal care offered an abortion referral since I was still a graduate student and had no insurance… Thankfully at the time, with the support of my fiance and the grace of God, I could adamantly say “No thank you” and left to never return.
    Our eldest daughter, now 26 years old, graduated “Gold Key” from her university’s Allied Health College for achieving the highest GPA, and is now a Physician Assistant and avid pro life supporter. We are so proud of her and can’t imagine the world without her!

  • Bill T

    What was the hospital’s name?

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Bill, my husband and I decided not to release any names because it would distract from the bigger issue. Suffice it to say that I’ve received treatment from a number of Catholic hospitals, and have encountered contraception and/or discussions about abortion in all of them. I’ve heard many similar stories to this. My intent is to raise awareness and encourage people to talk to their priests and bishops.

  • L.B.

    after my second son, due to major health problems, i was strongly advised by my doctor to have my tubes tied when they delivered him. I refused saying I needed to discuss it w/my priest. Needless to say, that received scorn, laughter and a disapproving shake of his head. after baby, my husband and i met with our parish priest to discuss the possibilities of a dispensation for a vasectormy-still rather immature in our faith, not realizing this is not even an option. We told the priest we could provide whatever medical records he would like to see and we would wait as long as was needed for his response-if he needed to go to the Bishop or even the Vatican. We said we would abide by whatever decision was arrived at. A couple of weeks later, he stopped us after Mass and said we had the dispensation, to go ahead with the vasectomy. We did. About 2 years later we were attending a different church (in the same diocese) and attended a talk given by the assoc. pastor who was discussing this and learned that sterilization FOR ANY REASON is a sin. I was heartbroken.
    I guess the point of this is: Even our priests aren’t teaching correct Catholic doctrine.

    • Guest

      If God wanted you to have another child, do you think even that would stop Him? Rest in peace, you have welcomed children into your life. There is such a thing as dispensation, so your priest did not steer you wrong.

      • Leila Miller

        Guest, you are absolutely wrong.

  • BanditOnTheRun

    This does not surprise me at all. When I got my Masters in Social Work degree from a major Catholic university in the late 70’s, I was the ONLY Pro-life student

  • Danielck

    Just because one works at a Catholic hospital does not make them all-knowing of things Catholic. One does not need to be Catholic to work at a Catholic hospital, right? Then how can we expect them to know our faith? Do they sign a contract saying they will not “promote” abortion, or that they will uphold Catholic teaching? If they do, I did not know that.

    • StacyTrasancos

      Daniel, That is a good question. They don’t have to be Catholic, but all employees are to uphold the religious mission and promote the institution’s commitment to human dignity. See p. 13, #9

      There are complications when a hospital partners with a non-Catholic institution, which has happened to a lot of hospitals.

      However, patients seeking help aren’t always aware of all these details. They just know they are in a Catholic hospital.

      • Danielck

        Thanks for the information. How about when a private practice doctor uses a Catholic hospital, say, for child birth? In their office they promote contraception, but use the hospital to help deliver a child.

        • MRD

          I am a Catholic Physician. In theory Catholic hospitals agree to abide by the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” Which are basically the rules the USCCB puts out to enforce Catholic Ethics. This is the theory, but reality how actively these rules are enforced is a real question. First The Catholic Hospitals Association is a liberal outfit that for the most part obeys directives grudgingly. They are not deeply committed philosophically to a “pro-life” philosophy. There is no mechanism to determine if a doctor on staff subscribes to Catholic medical ethics, Some might, many do not.

          My advice to someone who is a sincere Catholic themselves would be to seek out Catholic health care providers, or at least individuals who share a respect for human life similar to Catholics, say evangelical Christians. This is particularly true if one needs mental health care, since counseling concerning moral actions may be an issue as described in the blog. In some cases there will be a need for a patient to engage multiple doctors or a particular kind of subspecialist. In this situation certainly one should not be afraid to get care from someone who does not share your religious beliefs. ( If you need your knee replaced, then the othropedic surgeon may do a fine job even if they are a non Christian. Still it is a good idea for a longer term ongoing relationship if a doctor like ones primary care doctor shares a similar perspective as you.

  • Mary

    Stacy,what a wonderful, important story. Now, may I please have my heart back… was ‘stolen’ the minute i looked at your daughter’s picture!

  • Sally

    Over 21 years ago, I transferred my hospital records to a Catholic hospital in another city, after I learned that one of the only Doctors in my small town, did abortions, It was when I miscarried one of my babies, this same Doctor made a comment “You didn’t really want this baby, did you ?” I went through a lot of trouble, taking my other 2 children, through snowy roads with double digit freezing temps, to make the routine check up’s with another later pregnancy. The night my water broke, I had to make the long drive, in full labor, to this Catholic hospital. After delivering my baby girl and no one was around, 2 Doctors came in to talk me in to getting myself sterilized. I had not even stopped shaking from the pain of labor, when this team came in to give me their sales pitch. I wrote the Bishop asking him if it was ethical, that a Catholic hospital was sterilizing healthy women ? The response I received was that this Bishop was happy I used Natural Family Planning.

  • sgla

    While still a medical student, my friend watched a doctor at a Catholic hospital kill a patient by starving him to death. The reason he gave was that the man was homeless and had no family. The truly impoverished man was the doctor.

  • caboh

    Your daughter’s photo is just endearing!!! Glad you decided to have more children!!! God bless you!!!

  • Kim

    I am so glad that mother didn’t listen to that therapist. Thank God, her marriage would have been over and she probably would have committed suicide. That is what abortion does to you. Instead, she now has a beautiful family and a wonderful husband who will stand by her side. Thank God she listen to her heart and not that cold therapist. We all need to go to God first and foremost, he will see us through anything and everything.

  • They wanted you to abort!? A Catholic Hospital! Dear Lord––the pain of that experience for you and your husband––I can only imagine.

    “Hi Honey. It’s your dad. Just checking in­­––call me when you have a
    chance. Love you.”

    Her name might be Grace. His name might be Matthew. Both
    would be college age and they would be extraordinary in untold ways. I can see
    them now, the familiar family characteristics from head to toe, their
    grandmother’s beautiful smile, perhaps their grandfather’s nose. Earnest,
    happy, funny; young people with character, heart and spirit. And promise.
    Unbelievable promise.

    But they’ll never call.

    or Matthew was murdered almost two decades ago. Whom, I don’t know because it’s
    uncertain whether my baby was a girl or a boy. I do know the agonizing fact
    exists that I’ve never been able to love and hold my child; that I’ve never
    been able to smell their skin, kiss their cheek or comfort their lives. This
    preeminent void in my life is excruciating.

    painful memories remind me that I can’t get my arms around the abortion
    mentality. A worldview that killed my child. And kills 4,000 babies a day.

  • sophie

    What an awesome story! Thank you. Years ago, at an ultra-sound clinic I was told that since I already had a child with a birth defect, I ought to consider not having any more children by an earnest, if deeply misguided, counselor.
    I think about the paltry vision of family that woman clearly believed was ‘best’ when my boys recently welcomed their older brother home from a difficult month in the hospital. They fetched him anything he wanted to eat, helped keep him clean, entertained him with their own plays, had 100’s of video-game competitions and did everything they could to encourage his recovery (the youngest is 6). I do not like to think about my life without ALL of them. And I pray that those with a cultural prejudice against larger families will have their eyes opened.

  • Bob

    I wish I knew the name of that ‘Catholic’ hospital. What a horrible ordeal it must have been for this woman to receive such demonic advice. God bless her for giving life to such a beautiful child! She is a true heroine. My sister is an RN and was fired from a ‘Catholic’ hospital not too long ago for not cooperating in euthanasia practices at the hospital. These stories are far too numerous. Something has to happen soon to turn this tide of godlessness that has affected many Catholic hospitals and institutions.

  • Bob


  • Maresy Dotes

    I was pressured by a Catholic hospital to have a tubal after my 3rd child… declined. After #4 they told me I shouldn’t have any more because my uterus would prolapse. When I was pregnant with #7 (no prolapse, hmmm..) the same Catholic institution advised termination because I had cancer… I survived the pregnancy without complications, and they even put off treatment for more than 2 months after he was born! (after telling me to abort because they couldn’t wait or I would die). My #7 is now 5. These kids are the most beautiful gift in this life- and I thank God I didn’t give in to the pressures! I pray for His grace for all women to be as able! God bless you!

  • nehemiah

    It appears the bishops have lost control over hospitals. In Nigeria I have heard of a couple of Catholic hospitals where contraceptives are made available

  • TheInformer

    yep. Thank God the so-called “Catholic healthcare West” changed its name to “Dignity” healthcare. What a joke. They merely want access to that unethical business previously scorned by the Catholics. How many times did I clearly and strongly correct people who thought that CHW was a Catholic Hospital. It was NOT. And how often I insisted that the previous bishop of Monterey, CA (Sylvester Ryan) make it publically clear that CHW was not a Catholic institution. And he would not.
    So, good luck out there.

  • Rose

    My husband and I went to Catholic Charities after our fourth child was born because of marital problems. Our Catholic counselor asked if we planned on having more children. We told him we left that part of our marriage up to God. He laughed at us and told us we could use birth control because the Catholic Church allows it in situations such as ours. (We were struggling financially due to my husband losing his job 10 days before our youngest was born.)
    We never returned to that place again. That was eighteen years ago and we now have 10 children. I thank God for his grace during that time, and He blessed us abundantly because of our trust and surrender to Him with our family planning. I can truly say that our children brought us closer together and kept our marriage intact. Be true to yourself because you know in heart what is Truth.

  • New Catholic

    As a clinical psychologist, I have encountered many clients who have been misled by RCIA leaders and even some priests regarding issues related to contraception, abortion and sexuality. Your experience was horrifying to read. Thank God you were protected from such a hideous suggestion. As a very new Catholic myself, I am dumbfounded by the lack of acceptance of Church teaching by so many who are so public about their faith. It seems that there needs to be a restructuring of Catholic institutions in order to allow the local bishop to have a final authority over policy and practice issues. It also seems that your experiences raise a serious question about the hiring of non-Catholic practitioners at Catholic facilities. I have a mental health colleague in my area who worked for years for Catholic Family Services. She is so pro-abortion that she is proud she was able to “help” all those people who would have been “misled” by the agency policy, except for her intervention.

  • Louis Greene

    Replace the word ‘hospital’ in the article title with ‘school’, ‘church’, etc.

  • neilshog

    This story is a perfect example of what Our Lord Jesus was talking about regarding the “end times”. Satan would attack the Church as never before in it’s 2000 year history. Evil would infiltrate in the form of false teachers (priests, bishops, etc.) That is why our dear Blessed Mother told us to constantly pray for Her priests. I’m sure that would include anyone working within our Holy Church. I was also saddened to learn that the hospital I was born in 61 yrs. ago (Mercy Hospital, in L.I., N.Y.) actually performs abortions. God have mercy on us!

  • limapie

    We have a Catholic hospital near my house. It really wasn’t totally Catholic.
    It only had some Catholic investors associated with it. At one time, yes,
    it had been all Catholic, however, when regional, grouping together was
    started in the whole industry decades ago, there was change in the ownership.
    Eventually, the whole hospital evolved into non-Catholic ownership. But
    the name is the same as in the old days.

    Over my life, I saw changes in how things were done there. At the last,
    I saw pretty poor business going on. It almost was a curse to lay in
    one of those hospital beds and have on your chart that your religion was Catholic. And there wasn’t much whole patient/soul stuff going on
    anymore either. I tried to get someone to give my husband last rights
    but couldn’t find the right connection to have it done. By the time,
    someone did show up, my husband would have been dead already
    two days….but my husband lived from lay prayer alone so it wasn’t needed!
    This lady your blog is talking about…maybe her hospital really wasn’t
    Catholic at all. The lines are getting blurred, you know. Blurred lines
    are what Satan wants to confuse people.

    I see this a lot. The Catholic identity is used to make (say) a charity
    look like a decent thing, but really it is Satan’s corruption. People donate
    and don’t really know that what they are contributing to is pure un-holy stuff.

    Even some Catholic universities were fooled. They thought that they were
    purchasing health insurance policies for their employees that was Catholic
    approved, but in reality, not. I just saw this on the news. Of course, they
    changed their policies then, so now they’ll need to deal with the whole
    mandate issue in authentic style. Yes, these universities were embarrassed,
    but, sinning was unintentional. They didn’t say it, but they were very probably
    lied to just to get their business.

    God will deal with the twisters in His time.

    We need to pray for courage and strength to really, really try not to sin
    purposefully. And if we do, Jesus will save us as He promised.

  • Christopher Fish

    wow, just wow. I never did understand why the bishops allow contraception to be prescribed in catholic hospitals? Has anyone even attempted to address that problem?

  • Christopher Fish

    is there is something I can do to encourage a change in this behavior?