A woman testifying at a New Jersey Senate hearing about undergoing a coerced abortion was stopped from speaking after being told that she couldn’t talk about her experience with Planned Parenthood. Now she is sharing the story that she wasn't allowed to tell at the hearing.
Darlene Dunn was testifying at a budget hearing about a bill to provide government funds to Planned Parenthood and other “family planning” centers. She said she wanted to share her story to convince senators that they should not give funding to a group that violates women’s rights.
Instead, she was told by Sen. Paul Sarlo, a co-sponsor of the bill, that she could only talk about “family planning and health care,” and that her personal story wasn’t relevant to the bill.
Dunn disagreed. “When you are scared to death in a crisis pregnancy and [are] told that you have one option, that is not family planning,” she told senators. “That is coerced abortion.”
Speaking after the hearing, she added, “Performing abortions is not women’s health care.”
Two other legislators, Sen. Joseph Pennacchio and Sen. Michael Doherty, spoke up in defense of Dunn’s right to speak. But when Dunn attempted to continue her testimony, she was told she had already had her chance to testify. Dunn and other pro-life advocates present at the hearing say she was then ordered by Sarlo to turn off her microphone, but that this was not included in audio recordings of the hearing that were posted online.
The Story She Wasn’t Allowed to Tell
Dunn had planned to relate her story of how she and her boyfriend went to a Planned Parenthood facility when she was about six weeks pregnant. Dunn wanted to have the baby, she said, but her boyfriend was scared and not ready to be a father.
“The weeks leading up to the abortion were anything but pleasant,” she recalled. “I felt that baby and I represented something that the father was not yet ready to take responsibility for. ... Looking back now, I see that he was scared to death. He was young; he had his whole life ahead of him. If Planned Parenthood had said to him, ‘We can help you,’ maybe he wouldn't have pushed me.”
At her initial appointment with Planned Parenthood, she and her boyfriend were told they couldn’t have a baby because “you’re too young, you have no money, you aren’t married,” Dunn said.
“They said we couldn’t tell our parents because it would disappoint them,” she explained. “I said I would consider placing the baby for adoption. The counselor’s response was, ‘Oh, my God, you could never do that. That’s the cruelest thing you could ever do to a baby.’ I started crying and said, ‘I’m adopted.’ Her response was, ‘I don’t care; that's still the cruelest thing to do to a child.’
Dunn said she and her boyfriend were given no information about fetal development, alternatives to abortion or the physical and emotional risks of abortion.
“There were no connotations of anything bad about the abortion, only about having the baby,” she said. “I was crying and pacing around the room, and the counselor was yelling at me — she Read More>>