Survey: 300 “Doctors” Do Late Abortions, 140 When Baby Feels Pain

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 25, 2010   |   12:06PM   |   Washington, DC

With controversial late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart getting national attention over plans to expand his abortion business, a little-known 2008 study is gaining new attention.

The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research organization previously affiliated with Planned Parenthood, released a study in 2008 titled “Abortion in the United States: Incidence and Access to Services, 2005.”

The study found there were at least 1,787 abortion “doctors” in the United States but it revealed stark numbers when it comes to those who do abortions later in pregnancy.

Of the 1,787, the study found that “[t]wenty percent of providers offered abortions after 20 weeks [LMP], and only 8% at 24 weeks [LMP].”

Though the numbers seem small, that translates to at least 300 “doctors” who who will perform abortions after 20 weeks LMP like LeRoy Carhart and, of those, 140 willing to perform abortions at 24 weeks LMP.

Mary Balch, an attorney who handle state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, says the numbers are important because mainstream media outlets have attempted to make it appear there are very few practitioners willing to do late or late-term abortions.

“In an interview with Colorado abortionist Warren Hern published online November 5, 2010, Time Magazine perpetuated the prevalent myth that there are few, if any abortionists who perform abortions late in pregnancy,” she told “The Washington Post’s Rob Stein also furthered the myth in a November 10 piece saying that Carhart is ‘is one of the few in the country to perform abortions late in pregnancy.”

“The truth is, abortions in the fifth month of pregnancy and later are widely available,” she added.

But National Right to Life may have found a way to put these abortion practitioners out of business — by using a new type of state law that drove Carhart to seek opportunities to do late abortions elsewhere.

Carhart’s decision to move operations resulted from Nebraska’s enactment of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act earlier this year.  The law took effect October 15 and it protects unborn children in the fifth and sixth month of pregnancy or later by prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks following conception.

“Nebraska’s groundbreaking law protecting pain-capable unborn children is an example for other states in the nation,” Balch says. “LeRoy Carhart’s hopscotching around the nation to find areas that allow abortion for any reason, at any time, underscores the need for other states to pass similar legislation to put Carhart and the hundreds of other abortionists who perform abortions late in pregnancy out of business.”

“That more than 140 abortion providers are willing to kill unborn children who are capable of feeling the excruciating pain of abortion is a tragedy – a tragedy that we can easily stop in the state legislatures,” Balch told

The legislation is sorely needed because there are more late abortions and late-term abortions taking place in the United States than most people probably realize.

A May 2010 briefing by the Guttmacher Institute reveals .5% of the estimated more than 1.2 million elective abortions performed annually in the United States are on unborn children at 21 weeks LMP (19 weeks postfertilization) or older.

This translates to roughly 18,000 abortions annually – a substantial number of which probably occur at 22 weeks LMP or later, which is past the point that the best evidence indicates that the unborn child is fully capable of feeling pain (a point that may well occur earlier).

Balch says those findings are generally corroborated by the Centers for Disease Control Abortion Surveillance Report for 2006, released in November 2009.

In the 43 reporting areas for 2006 which reported gestational age to the CDC for its report, at least 1.3% of abortions were performed at 21 weeks or later and several states either submitted no data or did not accurately report the age of the baby at the time of the abortion.

Not only does the legislation have the effect of prohibiting late abortions, Balch says it has a tremendous educational value by showing the public how abortions cause great pain for unborn children.

“Since 2007, medical research, triggered by the identification of consciousness in children lacking a cortex from birth, has indicated that nerve connection to the cortex is not essential to experience pain,” the NRLC attorney notes. “In fact, informed specialists have concluded that the subcortical plate, to which nerves from the pain receptors are linking at 20 weeks postfertilization, fulfills that function.”

Scientific studies dating back to 1987 confirm the existence of fetal pain at 20 weeks postfertilization (22 weeks LMP).  [related]

The ability to target late and late-term abortions via this state legislation is so important that NRLC is planning a state legislative forum for pro-life leaders and state legislators on December 7.

“With pro-life electoral gains on November 2, the spring legislative sessions gives us a tremendous opportunity to enact a variety of protective pro-life laws in many states and put an end to abortions after the unborn child is capable of feeling pain,” Balch concludes. “Our number one priority at the state level is protecting mothers and their unborn children from the abortion industry and we have pro-life legislative majorities across the country to help make that happen.”