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Abortion clinic directors counter that their staffs are extraordinarily loyal to abortion care and can’t be “enticed” to leave.

“I’ve said for all these 40 years: This is not a job. This is a calling,” said Ms. Taft, whose network represents more than 70 independent abortion clinics.

“Most of the clinics I know of are in business because they care about women,” said Ms. Taft, who started as a clinic counselor in 1975 and ran a clinic for 17 years.

“So if you have a clinic that is providing abortion services because of that deep care for women, their hiring and their training likely reflects those values,” she said. In her personal experience, she said, clinic staff met regularly and talked “to make sure that the staff felt good about the work we were doing.”

“People aren’t leaving. I know if you ask any of our [45-member] staff, they’ll say, ‘We love the work that we do,’” said Ms. France, who runs the largest independent clinic in Ohio.

However, it’s not uncommon for young women to “come into this work right out of college and then leave in a few years,” she said. These women “want to change the world,” but can see that “they’re not going to get rich doing this kind of work,” so they go back to school to become social workers, medical professionals or lawyers.

Many of these young women look back on their time at Preterm with pride, Ms. France said. “They strongly believe in women’s moral agency to make their own choices,” and they will say later that working at Preterm “changed my life.”

According to recent research, however, stigma and harassment commonly come with the job.

Ironically, a major reason people work in abortion clinics is that they want to “help people.” But many of those staff members face stress, isolation, rejection and “an intense fear of violence” as part of their jobs, Dr. Lisa Harris of the University of Michigan Health System said in an Web seminar this summer.

Dr. Harris is involved with a pilot project called Providers Share Workshop to study experiences of clinic workers and develop support systems for them.

Some of the project’s early findings were that 89 percent of clinic workers said they felt “unappreciated by society” and half experienced “verbal or physical harassment.”

The Gosnell effect

Pro-choice leaders insist that the Gosnell incident will not have lasting effects because he was “a rogue” and not representative at all of the industry as a whole.

“No, no, no,” Ms. France said when asked about “other Gosnells.”

There are hundreds of clinics, and 13 in Ohio, she said. “Certainly, we all give good care. We are regulated, and we want to do good work.”

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