Gosnell is Not New: Babies Were Born Alive After Abortions in 1983

Opinion   |   Nancy Creger   |   May 5, 2013   |   10:55AM   |   Washington, DC

Dr. David A. Grimes once stated that reporting an aborted baby born alive was like turning yourself in to the IRS. Grimes was chief of Abortion Surveillance at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA., and two nights a week and on Saturdays he would perform late-term abortions, his specialty, at Atlanta Hospital for Women, also known as “Midtown Hospital.” Dr. Willard Cates, his colleague at the CDC, also performed abortions, and had “privileges” at several Atlanta hospitals.

The year was 1983, and we were beginning to learn the Language of Choice – “salting out,” “products of conception,” “parts,” etc. Georgia State Senator Joe Burton had asked me if I would help him with a Parental Notification bill he wanted to introduce to the Georgia Legislature. I was honored, and I knew the direction I wanted to go. First, we had to learn who the “enemy” was if he was going to be successful. Know your enemy. He got me credentialed (I still have the name tag) so that I could have free access to the State files. I made an appointment with the director of Vital Records. She seemed very relieved that someone was interested in her department.

I learned how many abortion clinics were in the State, as well as where they were located and who owned them. Most of the owners seemed to be clustered in New Jersey. This was dirty business. Could they be Mafia? As I was writing down the names of clinics, the Vital Records director looked at me and said:

“They are having live births at Midtown Hospital.”

Midtown, I learned, specialized in late-term abortions, and advertised in newspapers up and down the East Coast. I asked her how she knew this, and she said she got the death certificates. She explained that birth records were confidential, but death records were public information. We put in a request for a computer search to be done of all births at Midtown. Since Midtown was an all-abortion hospital specializing in late-term, we knew that there should not be any live births reported. However, since birth records were confidential, the Vital Records specialist had to do a computer search of all of the death certificates and compare them with the birth records – a computer match. These guys were anxious to get this information out. I was the perfect vehicle.

They photocopied the death certificates and greatly enlarged them, put them in an envelope and gave them to me.

I took them home, spread them out on my bedroom floor, and cried.

Then I called Ted Turner’s CNN. I knew that this was a hugh scandal, and that CNN would give it national coverage. The reporter for CNN was young, and this story was hot. She met with me and I gave her all of my documents – the death certificates – everything. In those days I was very naive, just beginning my long career in investigative journalism. She had the camera team reserved for the day and they were scheduled to start filming at Midtown. Later she informed me that the story had been cancelled. It took many, many phone calls to CNN to get my documents returned to me. Someone at CNN wanted the story buried, just like today with the abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell story of the massacre of babies at his clinic. I never met her again, and my stuff was left at the guard shack at CNN.

Father Noel Burtenshaw was begging me to let him write my story. He and the staff at the Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, did a brilliant job writing the expose’. Burtenshaw interviewed regulatory affairs officials and health department officials. Within a few days the story was out: Television, newspapers, and national pro-life organizations.

Death certificates revealed that in 1980 10 babies survived abortions at Midtown, in 1981 three survived and as of October 1982 one had survived.

One baby lived for 13 hours and five minutes, the longest time; one died in 20 minutes. In addition to the 13-hour survivor, seven others lived for more than an hour, ranging from one hour and 45 minutes to six hours and 20 minutes. Death certificates gave no indication any of the 14 were transported to the neonatal unit at Grady Hospital or any other facility specializing in the care of premature babies. Midtown Hospital asserted that transporting a surviving baby to a hospital was the attending physician’s decision to make.

Nine of the 14 death certificates listed “hospital disposal” or “Midtown Hospital” under the category of “cemetery or crematory name.”

The administrator of the hospital in 1983 asserted this meant Midtown had taken responsibility for the remains, not that the remains were disposed of on Midtown premises. But the details of what happened during those hours of life remained hidden from the public.

The relevant section of the Georgia Code in 1983 referred to the possibility of a baby surviving an abortion in the third trimester of pregnancy and said if this happened medical aid must be rendered. There was no reference in the Code to a baby surviving a second trimester abortion.

Interviews in 1983 with Department of Human Resources (DHR) officials revealed no clear protocol for treating infants surviving abortions. In response to the publicity, Midtown Hospital was asked by DHR to draft new guidelines for caring for surviving infants and did so, although the guidelines differed little from prior ones and left to the physician at the abortion facility the decision as to what to do. Today, when asked about the Gosnell case, Planned Parenthood states that it’s up to a woman and her doctor.

Nationally “live births” were being referred to as “the dreaded complication” in abortion clinics because they confronted medical staff and women paying for abortions with a surviving baby, often injured by the effects of a saline abortion.

In June 1983, the first outdoor pro-life service and march in Atlanta was held in Woodruff Park in response to the disclosure of these infants’ births and deaths at Midtown.



Midtown in 1983 advertised abortions from seven to 24 weeks of pregnancy. In 1998 the clinic advertised abortion care from five to 26 weeks of pregnancy.

But the possibility of “live births” at Midtown was being eliminated at the abortion facility a year after the 1983 disclosure.

In August 1984 The Georgia Bulletin reported that an experimental procedure had been developed at Midtown Hospital that injected an adult dose of the medicine digoxin directly into the heart of the five-month-old fetus in the womb, killing the baby. Digoxin is a derivative of digitalis, the heart medicine, and when given the injection the baby has a massive heart attack. The woman would then go through labor and delivery of the dead infant. The mean abortion time with digoxin induction was reported as over 14 hours.

I learned that the abortion doctors at Midtown were going to Kansas and learning about the digoxin procedure from the late “Tiller the Baby Killer,” who was more recently murdered.

The abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has not been given much coverage in the media with the exception of Bill O’Reilly at Fox News. Even O’Reilly doesn’t know about my expose’ in 1983.

LifeNews Note: Nancy Creger may have been the first person to discover babies born alive after abortions. She has written, as an employee of the Georgia Catholic Conference, about Midtown Hospital (now torn down) in Atlanta and now resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.