The Horrors of Partial Birth Abortion

By Cheri Jackson

Featured Rightgrrl February 1999
February 1, 1999

We have all heard or read the news stories about partial birth abortion, and those of us who are pro-life are totally against it and furious with Clinton for his veto of the ban on it. Today I read an article by Dr. Martha W. Shuping, MD that absolutely horrified me. After reading her article, I did some research, and the information and facts that I found prompted me to write this. (Warning: This article includes some rather graphic descriptions, so if you are squeamish you may not want to read it.)

This article is organized in five sections:

  1. The Procedure
  2. The Risks Involved
  3. The Baby's Reaction
  4. Used For Health Reasons, In Emergencies?
  5. Hidden Agendas?
Section 1: The Procedure
The media has partially described this form of abortion to us, but did you know that it takes THREE days to perform?

The first step in partial birth abortion is to dilate the woman's cervix. This takes place under local anesthesia over a 48 hour period. Once the cervix is dilated, the abortionist brings in an ultrasound machine. Then, using the ultrasound to see what he is doing, he uses forceps to locate the baby's foot and turn the baby to a breech position. Still using the forceps, he pulls the baby's foot down into the vagina. Next, he pulls the other foot through with his hand. At this point the abortionist delivers the baby to the point where only the head remains inside the uterus. Now the abortionist forces the tip of a pair of BLUNT CURVED METZENBAUM SCISSORS into the base of the baby's skull, then spreads the scissors to enlarge the opening. The last two steps are to suction out the baby'92 brain and then deliver the now dead baby. (1)

This is the procedure that Clinton does not want to be illegal.

Section Two: The Risks Involved
There are many risks involved in any late term abortion. These risks include hemorrhage, infection, and perforation of the uterus. There are , however, additional risks associated with partial birth abortion.

Using forceps to turn the baby inside the uterus increases the risk of rupture of the uterus, abruption of the placenta (this can cause substantial hemorrhage), amniotic fluid embolus (A bubble of amniotic fluid enters the blood stream and lodges in a vessel, blocking blood flow.), or trauma to the uterus.

A second possible risk is laceration of the uterus or cervix by the abortionist (iatrogenic laceration.) The abortionist cannot see what he is doing when he forces the scissors into the baby's skull. If he misses and cuts the uterus or cervix it can cause severe bleeding, shock, or even death. (3)

Another risk is cervical damage and increased chance of miscarriage of future pregnancies. In a normal pregnancy, the cervix softens and dilates naturally in time for the baby to be delivered at term. With Partial Birth Abortion, the cervix does not soften and dilation is forced. This can damage the cervix in such a way that prevents is to stay tightly closed during pregnancy, thus allowing the baby to fall out. This is called cervical incompetence, and the only way to prevent miscarriage due to this condition is to sew the cervix shut during pregnancy.(1,3)

These are not harmless side effects they are serious risks. Add to that the guilt and anguish that the woman feels during and after the abortion. A nurse by the name of Brenda Shafer worked in an abortion clinic for three days. During these three days she assisted with more than one partial birth abortion. In a letter to Congressman Tony Hall she described her experience. This is what she had to say about one mother's emotional state.

"The woman wanted to see her baby, so they cleaned up the baby and put it in a blanket and handed the baby to her. She cried the whole time, and she kept saying, 'I'm sorry, please forgive me.' I was crying too. I couldn't take it. In all my professional years I had never experienced anything like this." (4)

Section Three: The Baby's Reaction
Many people are under the impression that the baby is dead from the anesthesia before the procedure starts. This is not true. In order for the baby to die from the anesthesia, the mother would have to receive doses large enough to endanger her life.

A baby can feel pain beginning early in the second trimester. So when an abortionist performs a partial birth abortion, he is causing agony to that child when he pierces the skull and sucks out the brain of the baby. Nurse Brenda Shafer describes the baby's reactions.

"...The baby's body was moving. His little fingers were clasping together. He was kicking his feet. All the while his little head was stuck inside. Dr. Haskell took a pair of scissors and stuck them into the back of the baby's head, and the baby's arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks he might fall...."(4)

I'm sure the only reason that baby did not scream aloud was the fact that his head was still inside the mother's uterus.

Most partial birth abortions are performed on babies that are very close to being able to survive on their own, outside the uterus. When a baby at this stage of development is born prematurely doctors pay close attention to managing their pain in the intensive care nursery. In the case of partial birth abortion, an abortionist jabs a pair of scissors into the baby's skull and does nothing to prevent what must be extreme pain to the baby. Pain management for babies during partial birth abortion would not meet federal standards for the care of laboratory animals used in research.(3)

Section Four: Used for Health Reasons? In Emergencies?
As I stated earlier in this article, the partial birth abortion procedure take 3 days to perform. If it was actually a life or death situation for the mother, and the baby was at a gestational age that would give him/her a decent chance at survival, most doctors would probably choose to deliver the baby via cesarean section. If the mother's medical condition allowed the three days the abortion would take, then it would probably be possible to allow the baby to remain in the womb long enough to give him/her an even better chance at survival.

Ron Fitzimmons, the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, has admitted that he lied during an interview on "Nightline". During that interview he stated that partial birth abortions are rare, and only performed to save a woman's life or prevent damage to her reproductive organs if the baby is severely disformed. He now admits that it is commonly performed on healthy women with babies that have nothing wrong with them. (5)

Other doctors have confessed that it is not usually performed for the woman's health. Dr. Martin Haskell stated in an interview that 80% of partial birth abortions are elective. That is, there was nothing wrong with the mother or the baby. The late Dr. James McMahon stated that most of the partial birth abortions he had performed were due to the mother's "health" (depression or the youth of the mother). He also said some were due to the health of the baby. (9 of his abortions were because the baby had cleft palate.) In other words he was searching for straws to justify the abortions he had performed. He then admitted that most of the babies had nothing wrong with them. (1)

Section Five: Hidden Agendas?
Dr. Shuping brings up a very interesting point in her article on partial birth abortion. Fetal research has become legal under the Clinton administration. Out of all the late term abortion procedures that are out there, partial birth abortion is the only one that leaves the body of the baby in one piece (save the brain). Is this form of abortion being kept legal in order to provide research specimens? (1)

Some final thoughts.

Abortion in any form constitutes the murder of a human being. Partial birth abortion is especially abhorrent. It causes excruciating physical pain to the baby, and emotional trauma to the mother. In addition it carries dangerous risks to the physical and reproductive health of the mother. Abortion in general should be against the law, but if I could out law only one form of abortion, it would be this one.

The articles that I got my information from are all available on the Internet. I have listed them, along with their URL's, in my footnotes. These articles contain much more detailed information than I have included in this document. Please visit the web sites

(1) Partial Birth Abortion by Martha W. Shuping, MD

(2)Partial Birth Abortion As Described By It's Inventor

(3) Rationale For Banning Abortions Late in Pregnancy article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, by M. LeRoy Sprang, MD and Mark G. Neerhof, DO

(4) What the Nurse Saw

(5) Pro-Abort Leader Admits He Lied; Networks Don't Yet

This article copyright © 1999 by Cheri Jackson, and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.