Pro-abortion writer Miriam Claire interviewed Canadian abortionist Dr. Henry Morgentaler for her 2012 book The Abortion Dilemma: Personal Views on a Public Issue. The late Morgentaler was one of the most prolific abortionists in Canada. He committed many thousands abortions in his long career. He started doing abortions when it was still illegal in Canada. Morgentaler was one of the Western world’s biggest promoters of abortion. He stood trial repeatedly as an illegal abortionist, and the court decisions in his favor legalized freestanding abortion clinics across Canada.
In Claire’s book, Morgentaler defends abortion by saying:
[W]hen you’re not dogmatic, you have to take certain criteria into consideration.… One of which is viability. The other major criterion is the beginning of brain waves. Both occur at around 5 – 6 months. Most abortions are performed before 12 weeks of pregnancy – about 95%.”
The abortionist is wrong on two counts.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 11.5% of all abortions in Canada are done in the second (or less often, third) trimester of pregnancy. This is more than twice as high as Morgentaler’s claim.
According to the CDC, the figure in the US is 12%:
Former Planned Parenthood research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, puts the number at 11%.
Underestimating later term abortion numbers by over half is clearly deceptive. 6-7% may not seem like a large number, but considering that there are over a million abortions annually in both countries combined, the difference adds up to thousands.
The second inaccuracy in Morgentaler’s quotes is his claim that brain waves begin at 5-6 months. This is far from accurate.
According to the Endowment for Human Development, a site on fetal development which takes no position on abortion, brain waves have been recorded in preborn babies at just 6 weeks and 2 days after conception. As we have seen, the majority of abortions in both countries take place after this time. Most abortions in the US and Canada take the lives of babies whose brains are giving off waves.
The Endowment for Human Development says the following about brain development:
Between 3 and 4 weeks, the body plan emerges as the brain, spinal cord, and heart of the embryo are easily identified alongside the yolk sac.
By 3 weeks the brain is dividing into 3 primary sections called the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain.
So we see that brain development is underway very early in fetal life.
Morgentaler has been caught in two falsehoods. Is it possible that he was sincere but mistaken, or was he deliberately lying? Since Morgentaler was one of the world’s premier abortionists, it is extremely unlikely that Morgantaler didn’t know the true facts. It is more likely that, like so many others involved in the abortion industry, he was misleading on the truth about preborn children for other reasons.