Analysis

The D&E abortion is hard for many abortionists, but not for Warren Hern

Dr. Warren Hern, an abortionist who has committed thousands of D&E (dilation and evacuation) abortions and also does abortions up until birth, describes how emotionally hard the D&E procedure can be on abortionists, who must see the baby’s remains and, in fact, carefully count them after the abortion to make sure no parts were left behind inside the woman. Any part left can lead to a serious infection. Therefore, carefully examining each part of the dismembered, decapitated, and disemboweled baby is part and parcel of the procedure.

A D&E abortion is done in the second trimester of pregnancy and can be performed from around 14 weeks to 24 weeks or even later. It requires the abortionist to reach into the uterus with forceps and dismember the child.

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In Abortion Practice, Hern’s textbook on how to do abortions, he says:

It is clear that the D&E procedure places the responsibility for performance of the abortion squarely on the operating physician and those who are assisting, and this is an emotionally stressful experience for many. It is important to recognize this fact and to provide support for those who participate in the procedure. It is of the utmost importance to keep in mind the advantages that the procedure offers for patients and that the professional responsibilities of genuinely helping other people with difficult problems are frequently stressful. Those providing D&E procedures must be keenly aware of their level of commitment to the availability of choice for women in this stage of pregnancy. A strong commitment is as important here as is excellence in surgical technique. (1)

Hern himself is not bothered by seeing aborted baby body parts. He was once asked:

Q. Does it bother you that a second trimester fetus so closely resembles a baby?

A: I really don’t think about it. I don’t have a problem with believing the fetus is a fertilized egg. Sure it becomes more physically developed but it lacks emotional development. It doesn’t have the mental capacity for self-awareness. It’s never been an ethical dilemma for me. For people for whom that is an ethical dilemma, this certainly wouldn’t be a field they’d want to go into. Many of our patients have ethical dilemmas about abortion. I don’t feel it’s my role as a physician to tell her she should not have an abortion because of her ethical feelings.…

Facing the situation of abortion is a part of that passage through life for some women–how they resolve that is their decision.… My role is to provide a service and, to a limited degree, help women understand themselves when they make their decision. I’m not to tell them what’s right or wrong.(2)

Clearly, performing late term abortions does not bother him. It should be noted that the “fertilized egg” he envisions is already right or left handed (8 weeks), has unique fingerprints (10 weeks), already sucks his/her thumb (10 1/2 weeks), sleeps and wakes (12 weeks), and at 20 weeks responds to sound.

Another thing to take away from his response is that he sees ambivalent women who have “ethical dilemmas” about their abortions. He does not seem concerned about performing abortions on women who might regret them later. He has no interest in providing abortion counseling. He doesn’t want to try and help a woman sort out her feelings and decide if she wants to go through with the abortion. He puts total responsibility on her. One wonders how many women go through with their late-term abortions at his facility and later come to regret them deeply. Is he really serving women and giving them competent medical care?

This is how Warren Hern describes a second trimester D&E on his website:

… the uterine contents are evacuated surgically by using forceps and other instruments placed into the uterus through the vagina and cervix.

There is no mention of a baby, or any indication that the dismemberment of a fully formed fetus is part is involved. Only “uterine contents” which are “evacuated surgically.” Since Hern has a policy of not counseling women or interfering with their decision, does he tell ambivalent women the truth about what will happen to their babies? Or does he send them home post-abortive, to possibly find out this information later?

The D&E procedure is horrific even to many abortion providers, but some are so hardened, even the act of dismembering fully formed preborn children means nothing to them.

  1. Warren Hern Abortion Practice (Philadelphia: J Lippincott, 1990) 135
  2. Discharging the Committee on the Judiciary from Further Consideration Of the President’s Veto of HR 1833, Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1995

 

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