ST. MARYS — Jill Stanek will be presenting “Left Alone to Die” at a pro-life event sponsored by the Family Life Center of Auglaize County. The event will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
Stanek did not set out to be an activist for the pro-life movement. It was not until she moved into the labor and delivery department at Christ Hospital in Chicago that things changed for her.
Stanek said she did not realize the hospital performed abortions because of the name of the hospital. However, the reality was that Christ Hospital did not just do abortions, they performed induced-labor abortions. This is when a woman past 18 to 20 weeks in her pregnancy was induced into labor.
“Sometimes, in an induced-labor abortion, the baby is killed before by injecting something that stops the heart,” explained Stanek. “Often, they don’t do that, though. They anticipate the baby will die during or after the birth.”
This was what was happening where Stanek worked. Although pro-life nurses were not required to participate in the abortions, when Stanek saw a nurse taking a 21-week-old baby to a utility closet where it was going to be left to die, she could no longer do nothing.
“I couldn’t let that child die alone,” she said. “So, I held and rocked him for 45 minutes until he passed away. Because he was only 21 weeks gestational age, it was not possible to resuscitate him, but at least he did not die alone. That experience was how I transformed into an activist.”
Deeply disturbed by what she had witnessed, Stanek first wrote to the religious leaders at the hospital, whom she believed did not know what was happening.
“They did know,” she said. “Christ Hospital is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Evangelical Lutheran Church Association. Both of those denominations are pro-choice.”
When Stanek realized they were not going to stop these induced-labor abortions, she got some influential people to write letters, including C. Everett Coop, the United States surgeon general at the time. Eventually, feeling she had no choice, she went public in July 1999.
Her pastor wrote to over 70 churches and pro-life organizations to share what was happening, and soon after, Stanek began getting calls from Newsweek and Bill O’Reilly to share her story.
According to Stanek, at the time, very few people had any idea this type of abortion was being performed, and a bill, the Born Alive Infants Federal Protection Act, was introduced to the U.S. legislature. The bill gave every baby born alive the right of care whether it had been wanted or not. Stanek was asked to testify before the Senate in defense of the bill, which ended up passing.
“Sometimes, even babies born very early after one of these induced-labor abortions could live,” she said, “but none of the assessments were being done to see if the baby was viable at Christ Hospital.”
Despite going public, Stanek stayed at her job at the hospital for two more years.
“I very soon found myself out of the loop,” she said. “About half were opposed and half were for the procedure, but even the people who were against it were embarrassed when they were asked questions about why they hadn’t spoken up. So those people didn’t like me, either.”
Stanek said the worst she had to endure was a war of words.
“It was hard, and I didn’t like it,” she said, “but me getting my feelings hurt was nothing compared to what was happening to those babies.”
On Aug. 31, 2001, Stanek was fired from her job, and she began working full time in the pro-life world.
“I was already being asked to speak by the time I was fired,” she said. “My life and mind had become enveloped in the abortion issue.”
She currently speaks between five and 10 times a year, usually at places like pregnancy care center banquets or right to life events, although she does occasionally speak in churches or women’s events.
In 2005, she started a blog at jillstanek.com, and she recently added stanekreport.com which she describes as “the Drudge Report for pro-lifers.”
Stanek believes it is still important to talk about induced-labor abortions because she believes they still happen despite the Born Alive Infant Federal Protection Act.
“We now have a President that does not like that pro-life amendment,” she said. “There is no attempt really being made to make sure the Born Alive Act is not being breached. Nail salons in Illinois are more regulated than abortion clinics. It is probably going on more prevalently than we know.”
On Saturday, Syanek said she has three things she wants attendees to take away from her presentation.
“I want to educate pro-lifers about how bad it really is,” she said. “Even those involved in the pro-life movement don’t know how insidious the industry is. I want to encourage them to speak out, and I want to convict them to stay strong.”