Not long ago, Americans from both sides of the aisle came together to protect unborn children from the unspeakable cruelty of partial-birth abortion. Many are still unable to forget the conscience-stirring images and diagrams showing an unborn child being partially delivered and then killed before fully emerging from the birth canal. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that partial-birth abortion was incompatible with our nation’s character and upheld a ban on the procedure.
But partial-birth abortion is not the only method of abortion that should shock us and give rise to action. Particularly gruesome are dismemberment abortions of living unborn children, a common and brutal form of dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion.
A key component of the Right to Life Movement’s legislative agenda in 2015 is the “Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act,” recently introduced in Kansas. The accounts of abortionists themselves give a glimpse into the true horror of dismemberment abortions and why they must be stopped.
Forceps with sharp metal jaws are used to grasp parts of the developing baby, which are then twisted and torn away. Because the baby’s skull has often hardened to bone by this time, the skull must sometimes be compressed or crushed to facilitate removal.
“A second trimester D&E abortion is a blind procedure. The baby can be in any orientation or position inside the uterus. Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can. At twenty weeks gestation, the uterus is thin and soft so be careful not to perforate or puncture the walls. Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard – really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about 4 to 5 inches long. Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.”
Infamous abortionist Dr. Martin Haskell, who pioneered the partial-birth abortion method and has also performed D&E abortions, noted
“It’s not unusual at the start of D&E procedures that a limb is acquired first and that that limb is brought through the cervix … prior to disarticulation and prior to anything having been done that would have caused the fetal demise up to that point.”
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a co-founder of the organization now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America, offered this description:
“The D&E is performed by breaking the bag of water with a pointed instrument thrust through the partly dilated cervix, then inserting grasping and tearing instruments into the womb. The fetus is then quartered, the torso isolated and disemboweled. The head is crushed and extracted in pieces.”
Nathanson continues by describing the conclusion of the process, following the dismemberment of the unborn child:
“This completes the procedure save for the abortionist reassembling all the removed parts on a side table adjoining operating table. The fetus must be reconstructed to verify that all the vital parts have been removed with nothing of significance left within the womb to perpetuate bleeding and or become infected.”
Dr. Cassing Hammond, in sworn testimony before a U.S. District Court, described explaining the procedure to women seeking abortion:
“But does that mean that we don’t share with them, that this involves dismemberment or separation of parts of the fetus or taking the fetus apart? We do. And we use that term. We say we take the fetus apart. We say, it is coming out in pieces and we make sure that that’s clear with the patients. And they understand it.”
Tragically, abortions of this horrific nature are not rare. The abortion textbook published by the National Abortion Federation entitled Management of Unintended and Abnormal Pregnancy states, “…D&E remains the most prevalent method of second-trimester pregnancy termination in the USA …”
Yet from anecdotal accounts from abortionists themselves, it’s clear that performing dismemberment abortions can also have a devastating psychological impact on the person performing or assisting with them.
Dr. William Rashbaum, a gynecologist affiliated with Beth Israel, noted, “It is a horrible procedure. Staff burnout is a major problem.”
Another doctor remarked the following after observing her first D&E abortion
“Seeing an arm being pulled through the vaginal canal was shocking. One of the nurses in the room escorted me out when the color left my face… Not only was it a visceral shock; this was something I had to think deeply about… It was not something I could be comfortable with.”
Abortionist Lisa Harris recalls being pregnant herself and feeling her own unborn baby kick while she performed a dismemberment abortion
“With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at that moment, I felt a kick – a fluttery ‘thump, thump’ in my own uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a ‘thump, thump’ in my abdomen.”
“It was one of the more raw moments in my life. Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy; in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder,” she continued.
Dr. Jay Kelinson, an abortionist interviewed for the documentary Eclipse of Reason, described his own uneasiness about the D&E procedure.
Interviewer: How many abortions do think you performed in your career?
Dr. Kelinson: I’d say I probably performed 10,000 or more. I can remember days when I would do 30, 35 abortions.
Interviewer: Would you do second trimester abortions, D&E’s, even for medical reasons?
Dr, Kelinson: No, absolutely not. That is the most horrifying procedure I can think about. There is just absolutely no way I would ever do that.
Cathy Ruse quoted at length from the testimony in which abortionists described in detail their various methods of late abortion, including both the dismemberment and partial-birth methods. You can read her account here.
The partial-birth abortion debate helped to reshape the national debate on abortion. It drew attention to the humanity of unborn children and the barbaric reality of how their lives are ended.
But the discussion shouldn’t end now that unborn children are protected from one method of abortion. Other methods, like dismemberment, continue to take their lives. It’s up to us to be their voice and demand that they be protected.