November 4, 2003, President Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban into law. Dr. Willke and I were privileged to be with the President during this historic occasion. This protective legislation culminated more than ten years of efforts by the pro-life movement.
Before the ink was dry on the president’s signature, the abortion industry had found three federal courts in New York, Lincoln, Nebraska, and San Francisco willing to issue restraining orders, preventing the law from taking effect. This action was in response to lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Abortion Federation and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Partial-birth abortion is an act of killing a baby during delivery. Their determined effort to allow this gruesome procedure to continue demonstrates the radical nature of these pro-abortion organizations.
It’s not easy to defend a method of abortion that drags a baby, feet first, from her mother’s womb, stabs her in the back of the head and sucks out her brains. But defend it they did. The abortion industry called on members of their bloody profession to testify to the “necessity” of this grisly practice. A cadre of abortionists, under oath, responded in graphic detail to questions posed by the courts. I caution you that some of the following is not for the faint-of-heart reader.
Abortionist Amos Gruenbaum of New York testified that partial-birth abortion is necessary to insure an intact baby. He said women grieve less if they are able to see and hold the child they aborted. His abortion mill even takes pictures of the dead babies for the mothers as part of the grieving process. Gruenbaum said, “It is the same as any baby dying. People want to hold the fetus.”
The court strategy of the abortion industry was to blur the line between partial-birth abortion and a D&E abortion, where the baby is dismembered in the womb and brought out piece by piece. They said the partial-birth abortion law is too vague and would also prohibit other methods of late-term abortion. Therefore, considerable attention was given to the details of the D&E procedure.
The issue of pain felt by the aborted baby was clearly something abortionists didn’t want to address. The Court asked Timothy Johnson if the baby’s pain ever crossed his mind while he was dismembering the child. Johnson answered No. The Court: ”Never crossed your mind.” Johnson: No. Maureen Paul was asked, ”Was there ever a time when you saw any indication that the fetus was experiencing pain?” She responded, I have no idea what that means.
Abortionists prefer to have the baby exit intact for convenience sake. William Fitzhugh was asked if he simply detached the head of the baby when it got caught inside the womans cervix. His response, “I guess you could, but then you would have to find it.” When this happens, several abortionists provided testimony with chilling, matter-of-fact detail. They insert forceps with a built-in grip, then firmly secure the babys now-floating head, crush it and remove it.
William Knorr estimates he did between five and six thousand abortions last year, and said the majority of unborn babies are alive when he begins to dismember them during a D&E abortion. The court asked why he didn’t first kill the babies before dismembering them. His reply defies reason. “I just don’t believe in it. I think that it’s an extra procedure and, you know, we first have to remember, don’t do any harm.” His conscience won’t allow him to first kill the baby before he dismembers her!
The Court also asked Knorr this question: ”When you bring out a fetus in pieces, you make sure that you have got all the parts that you want, right? You try and lay them out and put them back together as best you can to see if you have everything?” Knorr said, “Not necessarily. Some of us keep track on the way out.”
Some abortionists testified that partial-birth abortion was safer than Digoxin abortions. Done at 22 weeks or later, a long needle, aimed for the baby’s heart, is inserted through the mother’s abdomen. The Digoxin is injected, killing the child. However, Katharine Sheehan, who testified she’s done approximately 30,000 abortions during her career, said their aim is successful only about 50% of the time. Abortionist Eleanor Drey indicated they used to inject the Digoxin two days prior to the abortion, but said, ”An unfortunate number of women were spontaneously going into labor and delivering at hospitals sort of all over the Bay Area, and it was distressing to everyone.”
A revealing exchange between the Court and abortionist Carolyn Westhoff demonstrates what little information women are given regarding their abortions.
The Court: “I want to know whether that woman knows you are going to take a pair of scissors and insert them into the base of the skull of her baby. Do you tell her that you are going to then suck the brain out of the skull?”
Westhoff: ”Those details would be distressing to my patients and. . . not directly relevant to their safety.”
The Court: ”I didn’t ask you that. I said, Don’t you think they ought to know?”
Westhoff: ”No, sir, I don’t.”
The Court continued its questioning: ”But did you tell them you would be sucking the brain out of the same baby that they desired to hold for the grieving process?”
Westhoff: “I don’t think that helps the grieving process.”
The abortion industry didn’t want the Court to think they were totally void of sensitivity. They said they will arrange for burial of the baby if the mother desires. Small coffins are also on hand, as well as little hats to hide the incision in the back of the head where the brains were sucked out.
Leroy Carhart is well known for successfully challenging Nebraska’s partial-birth abortion ban all the way to the Supreme Court. During his testimony, he said he rarely dismembers an unborn baby after 20 weeks. However, there are exceptions. ”If I bring an arm down and bring it outside of the uterus and possibly even outside of the vagina, I’m not going to put that arm back inside of the woman’s body to take bacteria back inside, so I’ll remove that arm . The goal is to bring the baby out feet first.”
Prior to 20 weeks, Carhart’s graphic testimony established they use time to ease the task of dismembering older babies. ”We are talking about a fetus that has been dead for 48 hours in essentially a warming oven or crock pot. It has been kept at a hundred degrees— that’s enough temperature to cook meat . In my practice, we are dealing with a fetus that’s both dead and soft, so it’s much more pliable.”
Carhart was asked if he recommends the use of ultrasound during a late-term abortion. He responded yes, for safety reasons, saying, ”I sleep better at night when I know what I’ve done.”
The abortion industry is challenging the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban on the grounds that there is no exception for the health of the mother. But when the Court asked Carhart how common abortions were for a maternal physical health reason, he replied, ”In Omaha or in Nebraska, my practice, it’s fairly rare.”
Finally, these court proceedings demonstrated that some abortionists may intentionally break the law and perform partial-birth abortions, even if the ban is upheld. William Fitzhugh testified that he would probably continue performing this ghastly procedure saying, ”I’d have to take my chances.”
The debate over partial-birth abortion has gone a long way in educating America to the gruesome and deadly reality of abortion. It has directed society’s attention toward the most vulnerable victim of abortion, the unborn child. The partial-birth abortion debate has also erased some of the misconception that abortion is only legal during the first three months of pregnancy.
The silver lining of these court proceedings may be that America can see, in bloody detail, behind the closely guarded doors of the abortion chamber. This is an opportunity for pro-lifers everywhere to expose the true reality of abortion. Abortion doesn’t liberate women. It physically and emotionally enslaves them, and brutally kills their children.