Nothing speaks louder in the ongoing debate over late-term abortion than a crying newborn baby, particularly a baby who was accidentally born alive after an attempted abortion. The voices of these abortion survivors are very powerful. Now adults, they have been speaking out to tell their stories.
The Senate is about to vote on a bill to protect such infants. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., requires appropriate medical care be given to a baby who survives an abortion. President Trump is going further, pressing Congress to ban late-term abortions altogether. The rhetoric surrounding both bills has become heated and has left many people wondering how to separate fact from fiction.
To determine the truth about late-term abortion, look at the abortion industry itself. Examining its research tells us whether late-term abortions are rare, the reasons why women seek them, and whether the president’s graphic descriptions are over the top.
Media outlets routinely describe the numbers of late-term abortions as ” very rare,” citing the fact that they account for only 1.3 percent of all abortions. But the percentage value minimizes the actual numbers. There are more than 12,000 abortions annually after 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion lobby. It does not refer to the number of children who die annually in car crashes (about 4,000), gun violence (about 3,000), or childhood cancers (about 2,000) as “very rare.” Yet each of these tragic numbers is only a fraction of the 12,000 viable children aborted late in pregnancy.
Abortion lobbyists admit that most late-term abortions are done on healthy mothers carrying healthy babies. Guttmacher Institute statistics confirm that “most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.” Instead, data suggest that “most women seeking later abortion fit at least one of five profiles: They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and nulliparous.”
As to whether the president’s description in his State of the Union address of a baby being “ripped from the mother’s womb” is accurate, consider the imagery used by Justice Anthony Kennedy in a 2000 Supreme Court decision. Kennedy uses a description from LeRoy Carhart, a late-term abortion specialist who currently operates a clinic in suburban Washington, D.C.:
As described by Dr. Carhart, the D&E procedure requires the abortionist to use instruments to grasp a portion (such as a foot or hand) of a developed and living fetus and drag the grasped portion out of the uterus into the vagina. Id., at 61. Dr. Carhart uses the traction created by the opening between the uterus and vagina to dismember the fetus, tearing the grasped portion away from the remainder of the body.
Kennedy’s opinion also sheds light on whether Trump exaggerated when he spoke of the “late-term abortion of children who can feel pain.” Kennedy describes a standard abortion technique, again quoting Carhart:
The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn from limb from limb. Id., at 63. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. Dr. Carhart agreed that “[w]hen you pull out a piece of the fetus, let’s say, an arm or a leg and remove that, at the time just prior to removal of the portion of the fetus, … the fetus [is] alive.
Considering the breathtakingly grisly nature of late-term abortion, it almost seems irrelevant to debate at precisely what point a fetus can feel such pain, although by 20 weeks the baby’s pain circuitry is developed.
When a mother’s physical health is gravely threatened late in pregnancy, the baby can be delivered alive, prematurely, and both can be treated and cared for separately. If a developing baby is diagnosed with a fatal anomaly, studies show definitively that mothers who carry to term are overwhelmingly more happy with their decision to love their little one for the short time they are granted — 97 percent have no regrets — than those mothers who suffer the very complicated grief of choosing abortion.
Trump also asserted in the State of the Union that “[t]hese are living, feeling, beautiful, babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.” This claim is proved true by the stories of those truly rare babies who somehow miraculously survived a late-term abortion and were lucky enough to receive medical care after birth.
LifeNews Note: Maureen Ferguson is a contributor to the Washington Examiner ‘s Beltway Confidential blog. She is a senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association.