Pro-choice activists have often complained about the shortage of abortionists in the United States. Late-term abortionists are even harder to find, and some women travel out of state to find one. One reason for this, of course, is that pro-lifers have been successful in passing state laws that ban late-term abortions; but there may be another reason why most abortionists only do earlier procedures. The story of one would-be late-term abortionist illustrates it.
Late-term abortionist Dr. Warren Hern quotes a doctor in “Advances in Planned Parenthood” who wanted to learn late-term abortion procedures. She observed an abortion at 21 weeks. At this stage, abortions are committed by the D&E method (dilation and evacuation). In a D&E abortion, the abortionist first dilates the woman’s cervix (the neck of the womb). This process is done by first inserting laminaria sticks, and can take 24 hours to complete. On the day of the actual operation, the abortionist reaches in with forceps and dismembers the baby limb from torso, tearing the child apart piece by piece.
Dr. Anthony Levatino illustrates this method below.
The would-be abortionist was so disturbed by what she witnessed that she was forced to leave the room.
Seeing an arm being pulled through the vaginal canal was shocking. One of the nurses in the room escorted me out when the colour left my face… Not only was it a visceral shock; this was something I had to think deeply about… Confronting a 21-week fetus is very different….the reality is, this cannot be called ‘tissue’. It was not something I could be comfortable with.
As a physician, this would-be abortionist should have known the facts about fetal development. But when she walked into the operating room, she was not thinking about the baby. Her focus was on learning how to commit abortions. In her view, the child had no value. But when she actually saw the baby being dismembered, she was unable to deny the reality before her eyes. She saw that a baby was being killed. This reality caused her to recoil in shock.
A fully-developed 21-week-old preborn baby is not just “tissue.” Of course, neither is a 7-week-old child. But in the second trimester, the child looks so much like a baby that even this hardened would-be abortionist could not bear to see the baby dismembered.
Committing abortions requires one to completely dehumanize the baby. This is hard to do when the humanity of the child is before the abortionist’s very eyes.
Even as early as seven weeks after conception, a preborn baby has arms and legs with fingers and toes. A baby at eight weeks is torn apart and dismembered by a suction machine just like a second trimester one is dismembered by forceps. At eight weeks, the body of the preborn is so small that all the abortionist sees is bloody material moving down the suction tube. Only when closely examining the remains can tiny body parts be seen.
A typical human reaction to an arm being pulled from a baby’s body is to respond n horror. The would-be abortionist in this story reacted the way most human beings would. Because late-term abortions are so gruesome, many abortion doctors won’t commit them. Sadly, some abortionists are able to harden themselves enough to dismember a fully-formed child.
There is little moral difference in killing a baby at five weeks and killing one at 21 weeks. After all, it is not more permissible to kill a 10-year-old than a 30-year-old. But there is something about the visual experience of a late-term abortion that engenders horror in those who witness it. This is why no matter how desperately pro-abortion activists campaign against restrictions on late-term abortions, it will always be harder to find an abortionist who will commit them. At least, we can hope that the gruesomeness of abortions will keep more doctors from doing them.