Late Abortions: Facts, Stories, and Ways to Help

Author’s Note: This post was updated at 3:06 pm on June 3rd, to clarify a sentence earlier referring to the third trimester.  The sentence now reads “There are different definitions of what constitutes a “late term
abortion,” but  most definitions refer to abortions at or
after 24 weeks or in the third trimester.”

In all the extensive coverage of the assassination in his church of Dr. George Tiller by a murderer affiliated with extremist right-wing groups, little has been said to shed light on what late-term abortions are, who has them and why.

Instead, much of the media and talking heads pontificating on this subject have constantly focused on Tiller’s being “one of the very few doctors who perform late-term abortions,” without providing any context as to why he did so and under what circumstances.

As a result, the dominant narrative is one which perpetuates an assumption that people are electing to have late-term abortions for the sake of convenience.  This public perception is shaped by the constant intonement that Tiller was “killing babies” coming from irresponsible journalistic hacks like Bill O’Reilly, the suggestions by Chris Matthews that women are blithely electing to abort fetuses that are viable outside the womb, and the statements of inconsistent moralizers like Will Saletan that “there are cases where there’s no real medical situation
other than some teenager in denial and it went on for five months [where the argument is] you should make an exception because of the
so-called mental health of the girl.”

The narrative is one in which women are shamed for choosing abortion, no matter the circumstances, and in which Dr. Tiller is portrayed even indirectly as a despicable aide in their shame.

This narrative is so pervasive that even among those who consider themselves pro-choice, many people are left to wonder: Are these women just waking up one day, deciding over coffee they are tired of being pregnant, and opting for an abortion at 24 weeks?  Are there a lot of third trimester abortions?  Are they just, as Chris Matthews likes to call them, “elective procedures?”

In fact, in the past two days I have found the misunderstanding about late-term abortion to be widespread even among many of those in the public health advocacy community.

So here are some facts:

Late-term abortions are very rare.  About one percent of all abortions performed in the United States occur after 21 weeks.  There are different definitions of what constitutes a “late term abortion,” but most definitions refer to abortions at or after 24 weeks or in the third trimester.

Late-term abortions are severely restricted by law.

In 1973, the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to privacy
extends to the decision of a woman, in consultation with her physician,
to terminate a pregnancy.

The Court also determined, however, that this right is not absolute and it must be balanced against the state’s legitimate
interest in protecting both the health of the pregnant woman and the
developing human life. Therefore, according to Roe, the state’s interest in protecting potential life
becomes compelling
at the point of fetal
viability (when the fetus has the capacity for sustained survival
outside the uterus).  States are allowed to, and indeed have, severely restricted access to abortion in the third-trimester, except, as the Supreme Court has ruled, when
necessary to preserve the woman’s life or health.
  In subsequent cases, the Court made clear that viability is a medical
determination, which varies with each pregnancy, and that it is the
responsibility of the attending physician to make that determination.

As the Guttmacher Institute points out in a brief on this issue, the Supreme Court has held that:

  • even after fetal viability, states may not prohibit abortions “necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother;”
  • “health” in this context includes both physical and mental health;
  • only the physician, in the course of evaluating the specific
    circumstances of an individual case, can define what constitutes
    “health” and when a fetus is viable; and
  • states cannot require additional physicians to confirm the physician’s judgment that the woman’s life or health is at risk.

What is viability?

Viability is a medical, not a legal definition.

As pointed out in another excellent brief by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California:

A fetus is viable when it reaches an
“anatomical threshold” when critical organs, such as the lungs and
kidneys, can sustain independent life. Until the air sacs are mature
enough to permit gases to pass into and out of the bloodstream, which
is extremely unlikely until at least 23 weeks gestation (from last
menstrual period), a fetus cannot be sustained even with a respirator,
which can force air into the lungs but cannot pass gas from the lungs
into the bloodstream.

The brief continues by underscoring that:

While medical advances have increased the
survival of infants born between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation, the
point of viability has moved little over the past decade; at the
earliest, it remains at approximately 24 weeks, where it was when the
Supreme Court decided Roe — a fact acknowledged by the court in its
CASEY. A study of infant survival by researchers at Case Western
Reserve University Medical School found that the rate of survival for
infants born before 25 weeks gestation has not improved appreciably in
recent years.

Most states restrict late-term abortions.

The Guttmacher brief notes that:

  •  37 states prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy.
  •  24 states initiate prohibitions at fetal viability.
  •  5 states initiate prohibitions in the third trimester.
  •  8 states initiate prohibitions after a certain number of weeks, generally 24.

The circumstances under which procedures are permitted after that point vary from state to state.  For example:

  • 29 states permit abortions to preserve the life or health of the woman;
  • 4 states permit abortions to save the life or health of the woman, but use a narrow definition of health;
  • 4 states permit abortions only to save the life of the woman.

Some states require the involvement of a second physician when a later-term abortion is performed.  Nine states require that a second physician attend in order to treat a fetus if it is born alive.  Ten states require that a second physician certify that the abortion is medically necessary.

Kansas law is strict on the issue of late-term abortions.

Kansas law requires that such procedures can only be performed after viability if two
independent doctors agree that not to do so would put the mother at
risk of irreparable harm by giving birth.

A huge gap in the narrative.

There is a vast gap between the descriptions of Dr. Tiller by members of the extremist right — who incite lunatics to violence by protraying Tiller as a mass murderer — and the many women and men who have been served by Dr. Tiller, who refer to him as heroic, kind, compassionate, professional.  This gap speaks to the fact that very few–not least the mainstream media–understand what he was doing and, and more to the point, why we are asking the wrong people to comment.

In the words of one of the hundreds of people writing messages on the memorial website to Dr. Tiller:

Dr. Tiller was a hero, plain and simple. I am thankful for his life and
the gift of high quality health care he provided his patients. My
thoughts are with his family, friends and community and my thanks to
you for your support of Dr. Tiller despite the tough cirumstances.

Dr. Tiller was one of the few doctors providing late-term abortions to people in need in part because he was a commited, ethical, moral medical professional who took seriously his oath to serve the best interests of his patients, and because he was dedicated to supporting women’s rights even at the risk of his own life and even under unimaginable daily pressure and threat.

Another poster on his memorial site states:

I think this is an absolute outrage, George Tiller was the only one I
had to turn too during an awful moment in my life. He gave my life back
and the choice I had to make was painful, personal, and heartwrenching.
God bless his family, the church, and everyone who is hurt by this
violent act.

He also was one of the few because laws in many places restrict women’s access, and because fewer and fewer doctors are trained in these life-saving operations, due to the actions of the far right.  Many doctors from out of state referred patients to Dr. Tiller and many revered him.

If you listen to the voices of women served, you understand far more than what the media has told us about who chooses late-term abortion and why.

For these women and their partners, Tiller was not “an abortionist” but a life-saver.  He was a man who put himself in jeopardy to ensure that a  woman would not have to lose her life to infection or complications in an already-doomed pregnancy.  He was a doctor who ensured that women carrying a fetus with fatal or catastrophic abnormalities could make the decision–if they so chose–to spare themselves and their families the agony of watching a newborn that could not live endure countless operations and medical procedures in futile attempts to keep it “alive.”

A 2006 amicus brief prepared for Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a case focused on the availability of second trimester abortions, contains a number of stories of women who had to seek out later-term abortions, such as that of Carrie, a 40-year-old woman from the Southwest
who was happily married for nine years when she became pregnant.  She
described the timing of her genetic testing and decision to end her

On November 11, 2005, I elected to have [a] CVS test. . . . Then,
the test results came in. . . . We knew chromosome 14 was incompatible
with life, and chromosome 22 could mean Cat Eye Syndrome. Both my
husband and I wanted the baby very much, and neither one of us was
willing to terminate the pregnancy on a “maybe.” . . .

I had the amnio on 12/26/05, and the results came in on Jan. 13,
2006. It confirmed without doubt – she had Cat Eye Syndrome tetrasomy in
every cell of her body. The last 3 sonograms showed . . . our baby’s
kidneys were beginning to malfunction. . . .We made this decision
because we loved our daughter so much. We didn’t want her to suffer the
definite and the untold problems she was sure to endure, if she even
made it. We made the best decision we could with the information we
had. We fought for her. We wanted her. But we didn’t want to condem[n] her to [a] life of agony.

Or that of  Cara, a married Catholic woman with an almost-three-year-old son, who had “always dreamed of having a big family.”  She described the time it took to obtain information needed about her pregnancy:

I was about 17 weeks pregnant at the time. . . .[T]hey scheduled us for our Level II ultrasound a few weeks early so they could look in more detail at the baby. . . . A few days [after the ultrasound], we received the news that would change our lives forever.  Our son was infected with CMV (cytomegalovirus). This was the worst possible scenario (of the possibilities we were given). . . .  Although I have always been pro-choice, I had winced at the thought of late-term abortions or “partial birth” abortions, thinking that it was just inhumane or irresponsible. Now I know differently. In my case, we were not able to confirm our diagnosis until 19 or 20 weeks gestation. I terminated at 22 weeks. . . . I was completely heartbroken. . . .

Numerous other such stories are contained in this brief.

Authors on RH Reality Check, such as Lynda Waddington and Susan Ito, have shared their stories about late-term abortion and the excruciatingly difficult decisions they had to make.

Others have written at length about their experiences of finding their wanted pregnancies were doomed to fail, of facing their own possible death in carrying to term, and leaving their children without a parent.

A collection of “Kansas Stories” can be found, for example, on the site, A Heartbreaking Choice, such as that by Nicholas’ Mom, by K.M., and by several others…parents who looked forward to bringing a child into their family but were faced with fetal deformities so severe their child either would not survive pregnancy, would be born only to die, or in which carrying the pregnancy to term would threaten survival of the mother.  Other stories are being collected here on RH Reality Check, Facebook, on a website memorial to Dr. Tiller and elsewhere.

None of these women made their choices lightly and it is profoundly disrespectful of them–indeed it is dangerous to women–to suggest otherwise for political gain, not to mention commit the horrific acts of violence against providers such as Dr. Tiller who help so many women and men through this agony.

What can you do?

Obviously in this climate, constant political vigilance is needed against the erosion of women’s rights in law and in policy, and against the public narrative that shames women and providers, as well as against the actions of the extremist right that daily puts them at risk. This will be increasingly true in the coming months.

More immediately, in honor of Dr. Tiller and the patients he and other providers serve, we are also providing the following links to funds already set up to receive donations in his name.  We urge you to consider giving as much as you can.

Two of the funds available in memory of Dr. Tiller include:

George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund
c/o National Network of Abortion Funds

42 Seaverns Ave.
Boston, MA 02130

Or you may donate to the Tiller Memorial Fund at NNAF online.
The Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project is also accepting donations in Dr. Tiller’s name.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson

  • invalid-0

    Jodi, thank you so much for writing this. You are a light in the darkness, and I hope this leads others to abandon their childish invective and learn the real story about late-term abortions.

  • invalid-0

    First of all my condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the family of Dr Tiller no ones life should be taken from them. Here’s a reality check for you – I have 4 children. One a daughter was born at 24.6 weeks. She is now 15. She wears glasses and has ADD. My youngest child, who is now 5, was born with Congenital CMV. I was aware of this before her birth. She is deaf, has brain damage and cerebral palsy. I was told both would most likely die or at least have no quality of life. They couldn’t have been more wrong. You could not be more wrong. Life is not always easy; its path is sometimes difficult. You, yourself said “if they so chose–to spare themselves and their families the agony” That’s not convenience? How sad. I find it profoundly disrespectful of you to use their circumstances to assume they were not worth saving or that I should be spared the burden of being a parent to a child with disabilities. My heroes are the doctors that gave them life and the family that loves them just as they are. Perhaps funds would better spent to educate the public about cytomegalovirus and ways to prevent it, if you are truly interested in the welfare of women and children.

    • invalid-0

      Thank you for showing the value of all persons! A child does not have value simply because the parent wants him or her. All people have value regardless of ability. The thinking behind this article and the other comments scares me immensely! Why don’t we kill all mentally handicapped people? Why don’t we test for any kind of abnormality or deficiency before birth so we can only have perfect children and create a perfect race? Do those ideals sound familiar?

    • invalid-0

      Well Said. I am so tired of the media tainting the truth. I applaud you for your efforts as a mother. Your children are very lucky to have you.

  • jodi-jacobson

    I am truly interested in the rights of individual women and men and of  couples, to make the right choices for themselves and their families, along with their doctors and their clergy-person should they have and desire to consult with one.


    That includes my interest in your rights and abilities to make the choices you make for yourself as well as those made by the women profiled here and millions of others who have faced these circumstances.


    I am truly interested in true choices for all people.


    Jodi Jacobson


    • invalid-0

      Ms. Jacobson,

      Please research all your facts again. I agree we should have the right to choose, but those that wait until the fetus is viable and then wish to abort for non medical reasons are shameful. Bear in mind, that those unborn children should have rights too. Too many late term abortions are done without good reason. If the health of the mother and/or child is at risk, I do feel this should be an option. But look at all of the facts. I too, have researched this topic. And far too many have been done, that should not have been allowed.

  • invalid-0

    When a mother’s life is in danger and she already has living children, what should she do? Should her life be taken and her living children motherless? There are no easy answers. I for one am against abortion as a form of birth-control. To me it should be used sparingly as god says he has known from the time we were conceived into our mother’s womb. One hundred years ago a baby could not survive if born more than two months early, even then it was a long shot.. NOW however, we have babies surviving at 24 and 25 weeks of pregnancy. What if in 100 years from now, a premature baby at 15 or 18 weeks of pregnancy survives due to advancedf technology? What will we say then?
    It is a complicated issue… BUT it is not up to me or you to decide.. Our beliefs cannot and should not be forced upon one another… we each have our own relationships with God if we even have one.. and what we choose to do should be between us and our maker… and not the general public.

  • invalid-0

    Thank you for this post Jodi. Seeing clips of Bill O’Reilly say that late term abortions are “never necessary to save the woman’s life” and then claiming that this statement was a fact is so hard to hear. I am glad you are sharing the truth. Dr. Tiller is a hero, he helped thousands of women and families. His memory will live on in the pursuit of reproductive justice and choice for all people, whether that be in continuing a pregnancy or ending one.

    Thank you again Dr. Jacobson

    • invalid-0


      It is so shameful how the media can replay clips and edit. I watch Bill O’Reilly every night and he has NEVER said that Late term abortions are never necessary to save the woman’s life. He is not disputing that sometimes it is MEDICALLY necessary. What he has an issue with are those that wait until 28 weeks and decide, I do not want this child and have no medical issues. That is a problem. If you want an abortion for other than a medical reasons, do it in the beginning. why wait until the 3rd trimester and have a partial birth and destroy a fully capable breathing child? I love the way people distort the truth..

  • invalid-0

    Late term abortions are defined as somewhere after 24 to 26 weeks rather than the 21 weeks you state. This would coincide with the beginning of the third trimester. Good info otherwise.

  • jodi-jacobson

    There is in fact disagreement on what time-frame is included in the the term "late-term" abortion from the standpoint of public policy and public discourse and as I worked on this piece I found various definitions from various sources, all respected sources.  Moreover, legal restrictions in effect in at least one state apply to pregnancy before the third trimester that do not comport with the test of "viability."  North Carolina for example restricts abortions after 20 weeks and these may only be performed in cases of threats to the life and health of the mother.

    I think that if we took Roe as a guidepost in its most basic form, "late-term" abortion would refer to those procedures at or after 24 weeks as Roe noted viabilty as the determining factor.  And I debated using "later-term" abortion, or as Dr. Warren Hern has suggested, simply "late abortion."

    But even later second-trimester abortions are harder to procure and carry great social stigma created by the far right’s spread of misinformation, so I chose here for the purposes of this piece to refer to late-term abortion as being those performed after 21 weeks, as per the breakdown provided in the Guttmacher fact sheet.


    Thanks for writing and suggesting this clarification of the way the term is used here and elsewhere.

    Best wishes,



  • invalid-0

    Only 2% of late term abortions are due to fetal problems!

    In 1987, the Alan Guttmacher Institute collected questionnaires from 1,900 women in the United States who came to clinics to have abortions. Of the 1,900 questioned, 420 had been pregnant for 16 or more weeks. These 420 women were asked to choose among a list of reasons they had not obtained the abortions earlier in their pregnancies. The results were as follows:[3]

    * 71% Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation
    * 48% Woman found it hard to make arrangements for abortion
    * 33% Woman was afraid to tell her partner or parents
    * 24% Woman took time to decide to have an abortion
    * 8% Woman waited for her relationship to change
    * 8% Someone pressured woman not to have abortion
    * 6% Something changed after woman became pregnant
    * 6% Woman didn’t know timing is important
    * 5% Woman didn’t know she could get an abortion
    * 2% A fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy
    * 11% Other

    • invalid-0

      Maybe you should read what is posted at the actual Guttmacher Institute site and stop relying on factually-inaccurate sources like Wikipedia.

      ANYONE can manipulate the data presented at Wikipedia, and in light of Dr. Tiller’s murder, who’s to say groups like Operation Rescue aren’t being vigilant at changing the Late Term Abortion article?

      Wikipedia is never an acceptable source for ANYTHING to be taken seriously… although it can link you to some REAL sources. Check this article for citations.

    • invalid-0

      When is wikipedia the place to get your facts? Also your “facts” are 20+ years old.

  • jodi-jacobson

    in the context of this piece.

    I will read back through the Guttmacher data you reference, but in any case your data are incorrect in the context of this piece.  This is not a discussion of abortions legally allowed at the discretion of the mother, 16 weeks is not a late term abortion, 90 percent of all abortions occur in the first trimester, and only 1.1 percent from 21 weeks and beyond.

    The data you cite are not comparable to the issues addressed here and are not relevant here.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Without the right to make your own personal medical decisions yourself, it seems your family would not be what it is, and how you like it. 


    Please be generous to others as you are to your family and allow them the same right to make the most personal of choices. 

    • invalid-0

      Your right I did have a choice, the choice was whether I wanted to become pregnant in the first place. I understand that there are circumstances where medically it might leave little option. Children who die in the womb, etc. Usually our own bodies are very good at making this decision. I never made it to term with either child. My objection was to the use of examples given in the article suggesting that a valid reason for late term abortions is because things didn’t work out as I planned or as you put it, how I like it. Do you think I like the fact that my daughters have disabilities???

      Perhaps people should weigh these decisions before hand. I would ask you to be more generous to the children under these circumstances. Take a look at your children, do you honestly believe that if your pregnancy hadn’t gone as planned you should have terminated them? Where is the generosity in that??

  • amanda-marcotte

    Jodi’s article was talking about the rare kind of 3rd trimester abortions that Dr. Tiller did that few others will do, not the 2nd trimester abortions that constitute the majority of data you’re coughing up.  Sure, many of the 16 week abortions (which are still a tiny fraction of all abortions—89% of abortions are performed in the first trimester) are elective.  But the abortions that Jodi covers here are about 1% of all abortions, and they are all medically indicated. 


    I’m incredibly troubled by the misogyny that would motivate people to push those facts, which are quite sympathetic to women if taken in context, as if they are solid evidence that the entire female gender (barring a few reformed anti-choice women) is a fallen sex, horrible and hateful to a degree that we simply cannot allow them basic human rights, because they’re too stupid and mean to deserve them.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Thank you very much for your note.

    However, I am not a doctor, and don’t want to perpetuate any misinformation on that title.

    But thanks for your note and appreciation of our work.


  • invalid-0

    Perhaps a few feathers will ruffle here but so what. In the context of playing Advocatus Diaboli with regard to sainthood for Dr. Tiller, some questions arise to why other doctors refused to do the abortions that Tiller was willing to do.

    Were their motivations issues of medical exigencies they were incapable of combatting or were they actually rejecting the abortions owing to personal moral values since they found no credible threat to the mother or child apart from the mother’s life style? In this period of mourning, is everyone here asserting that NONE of Dr. Tiller’s abortions were medically unecessary?

    We need to acknowledge that 92% of all abortions are issues of a threat to the mother’s life style and do not involve some medical difficulty. There is no evidence that some of these 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions aren’t elective. Health of mother can be construed to mean a severe depression over the fact that the stretch marks would make the woman unbecoming even with botox treatments.

    • jodi-jacobson


      You write:

      some questions arise to why other doctors refused to do the abortions that Tiller was willing to do.

      Please read the article.  I clearly state the following:laws regarding late-term abortions are restrictive in many states.  Moreover, many are not trained to provide these health care services.  Finally, there are few people willing to put their lives on the line to provide medical care when extremists are hounding them every day and threatening to kill them.  Dr. Tiller was one of the few.

      In this period of mourning, is everyone here asserting that NONE of Dr.
      Tiller’s abortions were medically unecessary?
      We need to acknowledge that 92% of all abortions are issues of a threat
      to the mother’s life style and do not involve some medical difficulty.
      There is no evidence that some of these 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions
      aren’t elective.

      You confuse the issue.  By law 2nd trimester abortions are legal and are the domain of the woman, her doctor and her family.  This article is about late-term abortions.  And as clearly noted in this piece, two independent medical professionals had to confirm that any 3rd trimester procedure performed was medically indicated.  I want to know how it is that you feel you can decide what is happening in the lives of these women better than they can, their doctors at home, the doctors in Kansas, their families and their clergy?

      Health of mother can be construed to mean a severe
      depression over the fact that the stretch marks would make the woman
      unbecoming even with botox treatments.

      This comment alone reveals your misogynistic and profoundly disrespectful view toward women.


      Jodi Jacobson


  • invalid-0

    1% of all abortions are thousands. A very big deal if these late term abortions are anything but necessary to save the mother’s life.

    bottom line…we all know this procedure is murder. the guy was a murderer and its good that he’s dead. justice was undoubtedly served. he won’t take any more innocent lives

    are all these procedures necessary to save the mother’s life? c’mon your rationalizations are so transparent. oreilly or not. murderer got murdered. let’s all!

    • invalid-0

      If you are a Christian, I hope you realize that you just denied original sin (with the word “innocent”). As for the rest of the comment, thanks for showing the true colors of all involved. If you believe you should be able to force a woman to continue a pregnancy against her will (to save one potential person’s life), I hope you also believe you should be forced to donate blood and organs against your will (to save several already-born people’s lives).

  • progo35

    I’d already read Susan Ito’s story in Choice, a book about pregnancy decisions. But what I don’t think people here are willing enough to admit is that women terminate pregnancies because the fetus has a livable disability that will not cause suffering, which is the cause of the greatest ire from disability advocates.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • invalid-0

      I am perfectly willing to admit it. I’m one of those women who would abort based on carrying a fetus with a livable disability, because I’m personally not capable, emotionally or probably financially, of caring for that child. So while that disability itself would not cause suffering for the child, having a child with a severe disability (and let’s face it, there’s no way of know how severe the issues will be in many, many cases until after birth) would cause serious suffering for me and my family. And besides that, how is it not suffering to bring a child into the world to a family, and a mother, who will grow to resent him/her and all the extra emotional, mental, and physical stress caring for said child would bring. I’m just not able to do it.

      And don’t tell me that my feeling this way means that I hate all disabled people and wish they weren’t ever born or whatever the hell strawman you want to throw up here. I do a lot of work with severely mentally/physically disabled kids (and I’m talking anywhere from mild to moderate Downs syndrome/ASD to barely conscious/sentient) and I really enjoy it and I love most of those kids. But I get to come home to my family where the most I have to deal with is a developmentally normal, slightly rambunctious almost 4 year old and a mouthy, too smart for my own good 7 year old. If I had to live with those kids and basically devote my life to their care and nothing else (which, let’s face it, it’s what their parents have to do to give the kids a decent quality of life most of the time), I would not be even remotely able to handle it. My marriage would be wrecked, I’d end up resenting my child, and feeling enormous guilt over it. Quite frankly, it is better for such a child to not be born into my family.

  • invalid-0

    I’m so glad someone took the time to dispel the myth of thousands of women suddenly deciding they really don’t want a baby after all, even after 21 weeks of carrying it.

    The anti-choice extremists have long painted this ridiculous picture for the public. Some people are gullible enough to believe it. Sadly, even after this latest tragedy, some are too invested in this myth to accept the truth.

    God bless the courageous souls who’ve come forward in the past few days to debunk this nonsense.

  • jodi-jacobson

    based on your own personal circumstances.


    As I am assuming you are not omniscient and hopefully are not claiming to be god, then you do not know, nor have the right to know or determine what circumstances women faced in making these decisions, what advice they got from their medical professional(s), nor what life choices they were facing.

    And that is the point: It is not for you to decide.


    Jodi Jacobson

    • invalid-0


      Are you seriously trying to say every single one of Tiller’s late term abortions were medically necessary? ARe you that ideologically blind? Look at the stats..

      some were necessary and some were NOT>>>>

  • invalid-0

    1. Kansas requires data for every abortion performed its all available online. That data clearly shows over half of the late term abortions conducted are not done to save the mother. But are based on the grounds of “mental impairment”. Check out in particular the 1988 data.

    2. The laws that restrict late term abortions due to “health” of the mother include “mental” issues (at least in Kansas,only 4 states demand the danger be physical in nature. Tiller himself and his spokespeople have stated most of his late term abortions were performed on teenagers not prepared to have a child. He has stated that infringement on ones career constitutes detrimental harm to ones health.

    3. There is absolutely nothing preventing someone from getting an abortion at 26 weeks without any risk of physical harm or fetal deformity. And all objective data on the subject implies this occurs a good deal of the time.

  • invalid-0

    There is absolutely nothing preventing a woman getting a late term abortion “because they want to”. In fact by all available data the amount of late term abortions Tillman performed indicates that almost half of them were done for no physical reason at all. Tillman himself has said 3/4ths of his patients were young teens who were not ready for a child. This corresponds to AGI poll and the data required to be filled for every abortion in Kansas.

  • colleen

    Perhaps you could provide a cite to this “all available data”?

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    I think that this is a great article with some important information in it.

    If as some of you are pointing out that “most women” that receive late term abortions do so just because it threatens their life style, let me ask you this… If we taught or teens comprehensive sex education that was age appropriate and provided them with long active reversible birth-control such as implanon and IUD’s could we avoid most of these arguments? If there was better access to routine health care and family planning services could we prevent even more late term abortions? Let’s work on that together, oh yep but wait there are some people that fight against abortion and birth-control where does that leave the majority of the population that has sex?

    I think that more people need to have compassion, life is not black and white, who are you to say what my life would be like in this circumstance? Who are you to push your religious beliefs on me? Who are you to not afford me the freedoms you have? and why should I allow you into my doctor patient relationship and take away my autonomy, will you allow me to do the same to you? Can I choose for you if you are in agony every day, no matter what the reason, to make you continue in that path? If you beat your children everyday should you be a parent again?

    There is so much that goes into these choices to demonize women by saying that because we chose to have sex we were asking to get pregnant, that we are inferior to make a choice about our body throws our value of life back centuries. Again I don’t see men in this same situation, and yet they are the ones that preach of the damnation of abortion. Here is a quick fact from nature and god’s doing. Over 3/4 of pregnancies end with natural abortions we call them miscarriages to be nice, that’s god right there performing more abortions then the medical community.

    NO ONE DESERVES to be gunned down and killed in this way. I would not wish this death upon a right winged extremist that preaches for the death of others that do not believe in their religious fodder. If you sit there are say he was a murderer he deserved to be murdered you are no better then the one that pulled the trigger, all you have that they don’t is an intact inhibition center in your frontal cortex.

  • invalid-0

    Sometimes I hear anti-choicers say “What about the baby? The baby doesn’t get a choice!” Well, yes, that’s correct! The potential parents have to make choices on behalf of all involved. And I have known several people with severe disabilities who – with a religious belief that their soul would have been given another chance to come into their family at a better time for all – think that their parents should have terminated their pregnancy when severe disabilities were discovered, but they weren’t given that choice because they were UNBORN. If your religious belief does not support that or has other nuances, obviously you should not terminate a pregnancy when severe disabilities are discovered. But legislating others actions based on YOUR belief seems a bit crazy.

    The idea that we should be at the whims of “nature” (your comment about how our body makes decisions for us) and never be active moral agents participating in decisions denies the fact that you and I, as human beings, are part of nature! Women should not have to passively wait for God/nature/the Fates/whatever to do things to them without any involvement in directing things, just as women shouldn’t have to passively allow any man who comes by to impregnate her. We are blessed to have the capacity to participate in the process of life alongside God and nature and all the other forces in our world.

  • invalid-0

    It does seem, doesn’t it, that people are upset because THEY weren’t consulted and THEIR decision didn’t get to be enforced on certain women. Why do people think THEY should be the ones to decide for another person whether or not her body should continue a pregnancy? Do they also think they should be consulted before a woman becomes pregnant? Gives birth? Should they be able to force a woman to have an abortion just as they think they should be able to force a woman to continue a pregnancy?

  • invalid-0

    First, I don’t know who this “Tillman” you refer to is. Second, not all abortions are late-term abortions. Third, who are you to decide which conditions (youth and dangerously small body size? depression that will lead to suicide if pregnancy-unfriendly meds can’t be taken? cancer?) justify an abortion? YOU DON’T GET TO MAKE THAT CHOICE. You really aren’t that important in the situation. It’s hard for people today to hear, I know, but it’s true. You aren’t relevant to a woman’s decisions about how her body will or will not be used in the process of creating life.

  • invalid-0

    I think it is important to know more about late term abortions and the laws surrounding them, why they are chosen etc. However, I also think the reason why there are still some “pro-life” commentators feeling confident enough to make poor attempts at dissecting these facts is because the tone of the article (and the women’s rights movement recently) can *at times* seem somewhat apologetic. Not that I don’t completely support the article, the facts and the need to get this information out far and wide. I do. I also think the stories are heart-wrenching, honest and need to be spread far and wide. I just feel that we have to support a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body and make no apologies for it. It’s my body and its my life. The state, the government, the church, God, Bill O’Reilly and no one else has the right to tell me what to do with it. Ultimately that is what is at the core of these “pro-life” (or correctly termed anti-abortion) people’s arguments – they think they have some say in what some other woman does with her body. They think it is their right to tell her, after she has made the decision to have sex (how disgusting and immoral!), that they know what is best for her and the “child” which they are so invested in. Of course, most of these people aren’t too invested in the child once it is born. I think George Carlin had it right when he said, “If you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re pre-school, you’re f’ed.” I’m getting side-tracked. Anyhow, I think the fetus is a “child” as soon as the mother feels that it is while it is still in her womb. To end with George Carlin one more time (R.I.P.), when some of these anti-abortionists “have experienced their first pregnancies and their first labor pains and they have raised a couple of children on minimum wage then I’ll be glad to hear what they have to say about abortion.” Until then, they can keep their opinions to themselves.

    And to the woman who decided to keep her child with CMV, I think that is a wonderful choice that you made. However, leave your judgment at the door. You can’t make that choice for every woman, and it isn’t your right to just because you have been raising your child with CMV. It was fortunate you had the right to make the choice to keep it and that the state didn’t decide that your child was too much of a health care burden to you or to society and that you would not be allowed to keep it if you wanted. That is what being pro-choice means. Every woman makes the correct choice for their lives and their future.

  • invalid-0

    “There is a vast gap between the descriptions of Dr. Tiller by members of the extremist right — who incite lunatics to violence by protraying Tiller as a mass murderer — and the many women and men who have been served by Dr. Tiller, who refer to him as heroic, kind, compassionate, professional. ”

    – I think it is up to you to decide if you are going to abort or not. It is legal by law and if you want to do it, you should know that it is a murder in a way, and if you still think that is your choice, no one should judge you.\

  • invalid-0

    It seems to me that a completed birth is an arbitrary line. Why should a woman’s choice stop then? Why not leave the umbilical cord attached and give the doctors an opportunity to examine the baby carefully and make sure there are no medical conditions that escaped notice in the extensive prenatal testing? Virtually every story linked from this site has to do with quality of life issues for the child, rather than a threat to the life or health of the mother. If the goal is terminating an unhealthy child, I just don’t understand why women’s choices need to be restricted to when some part of the child is still in the womb. A much more thorough examination could be done once the child was born.

    • invalid-0

      Do we hand you a sledge hammer so you can bash a full term infant’s brains in, which would be legal in your scenario just because you haven’t cut the umbilical cord yet?

      Perhaps you would be too squeamish to do it and would like the doctor to do it for you, in another room, while you pretended it wasn’t happening?

      Please note folks, that didn’t object to or remove the previous post, which is calling for infanticide on demand of less than medically perfect children. Makes me wonder why they didn’t see it as hate speech against people with disabilities. Would an editor care to comment on this?

  • invalid-0

    is the generosity in allowing other women to determine the course of their own lives? I would not tell you how to clean your HOUSE, much less tell you whether or not you HAD to bear a child you either did not want, did not feel you could care for, or whose birth might cost you your own life!

    A little generosity for desperate women is most definitely in order here. I too would never opt for an abortion myself, and in fact also had a child under dire circumstances who proved extremely difficult–and yes, rewarding–but I would NEVER presume to tell someone else that I knew better than she how to live her life.

    You have NO RIGHT to make the most crucial decision in a woman’s life for her, especially women you will never meet, never bear the consequences for, don’t even know or understand, and certainly obviously don’t care a whit about.

    • invalid-0


  • invalid-0

    The hard right fanatics, if they were TRULY AND HONESTLY about PRO-LIFE would have armies of grown men in the schools and churches and outside organizations INSTRUCTING AND INSISTING that especially boys and young men exercise responsible sexual expressions, protections and behaviors. THEY DON’T.

    The hard right fanatics if they were truly about PROLIFE would be helping to fund and lobbying for child care and basic care for kids, as loudly as they proclaim religious righteousness. They Don’t.

    The hard right fanatics beat their bibles and beat their chests and gnash teeth and tear clothes so concerned and righteous about “innocent life” and yet the PEOPLE whom they pass on the streets with little ones who are struggling aren’t the focus of their passionate pleas, the obvious question being, WHY NOT?

    Rather they will literally and regularly insult and demean, sneer down their noses and judge people in crisis situations never having a thought that WOW that little dirty faced waif is the abortion we stopped so that what, so we can sneer and berate and belittle the woman and family struggling to make it.


    I think we should lobby congress to force all ten year old boys to have reversible vasectomies and be able to document and prove their viability as fathers before we ALLOW them to have their little soldiers. Then these self righteous hard right fanatic men and women might get the picture for once and all THE STATE HAS NO BUSINESS INTERFERING IN A CITIZEN’S REPRODUCTIVE CHOICES!

    • invalid-0

      just sad…

  • invalid-0

    There is a public interest once the fetus has the potential for independent viability. For some strange reason, many people cannot get it through their heads that there must be legally valid medical reasons before these late term abortions may be performed. These range from already dead fetuses (I knew a woman who nearly died from a fetus that had died in the fifteenth week because her medical care at a Catholic hospital refused to remove, abort, the rotting remains.) to minors as young as ten pregnant by incest or rape who were unable to come to terms with their conditions to late term diagnoses of cancers and so on. I am the mother of a severely disabled son, now 35. I’m very glad I wasn’t faced with a choice. However, I might observe that my brother, only yesterday, commented on how I may still be dealing with the aftermath of post-traumatic stress. For those with the hard choices, they have my empathy and, whatever those choices, my respect and understanding.

    • invalid-0

      can you not get it through your head that Late Term abortions are DONE without medical reasons sometimes? I am a “right winger” and I am so tired of you far left liberals who love to imply that conservatives are crazy or do not support women’s rights. I have NO problem with late term abortions done for medical reasons. However, I do have a problem with people who are too selfish to terminate early on and then terminate and murder a viable fetus claiming emotional distress.. seriously. I had an abortion when I was younger. I am greatful for the right to choose, but late term abortions without a medical reason is shameful and cruel. To deny that this happens is ignorance. We are not all trying to overturn Roe Vs Wade. But when is the line going to stop? Pretty soon we will have late term abortions at 36 weeks and hear all of you justify that as well.

  • colleen

    For some strange reason, many people cannot get it through their heads
    that there must be legally valid medical reasons before these late term
    abortions may be performed.


    It’s one of the Stations of the Cross in the Ecumenical Church of Fetal Idolatry that unless they are stopped The Bad Women (women who aren’t members of their church) are apt to decide for utterly frivilous reasons to obtain an abortion "on demand". Because Bad women aren’t informed by Jesus they are apt to murder their children anyway and they must be stopped, shamed and punished. This is a matter of ‘faith’ and besides, women SHOULD die in childbirth as a sacrifice to the Holy Fetus. Grousing about pre-enclampsia, cancer and MS is just selfish quibbling.

    The anti-abortion movement has spent over a decade building up a series of carefully constructed lies around late term abortions and their one great success is in convincing the general public (and Congress) that late term abortions are never medically necessary (unless it’s Rick Santorum’s wife) and that the women who have them and the Doctor’s who perform them are murdering viable infants on a whim. If they don’t manage to maintain this fabric of lies and demonizations enough people are going to notice that they’re bat shit crazy, habitual liars, morally bankrupt and unbelievably cruel. 


    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    I am very surprised at he level of intensity and anger based on assumptions that are for the most part incorrect, I hate to disappoint all of you who are assuming that you know exactly who I am, my religious beliefs (If I have them), what judgments I make, what causes I support and how philanthropic I am.

    I am pro-choice.

    Do what you will with your life, your body etc. I have my own opinions, as you have yours. While I may debate and be curious about your position, its not my decision. I will live with my decisions, you will live with yours .My objection was and still is the articles portrayal that people with disability, micro preemies or others whose outcomes show a high probability of disability are somehow are not worthy of life. If you decide its not a sacrifice, chance, or lifestyle change you are willing to make. That’s fine. But lets call it that.

  • invalid-0

    I have never understood the hate involved in this issue. Having the ability to choose is not saying that if you have deep rooted religious beliefs that YOU have to have an abortion it is the only way. Pro-life on the other hand says that YOU have to believe the way they do abolishing all ability to safe medical abortions. Before abortion was legal how many women died in back alley abortion situations…just because it wasn’t legal doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
    I also agree men need to step up and take responsibility for reproductive issues they are half of the problem.
    Why are many of the pro-life individuals also for the death penalty and why would they murder someone for their cause?
    Where has all the common sense gone.
    Not so many years ago when people just eked out a living from the land if a baby was born that was not “right” the midwife or father or most often grandmother would smoother the little child for the good of all. They were good God fearing people who knew what was best for their existence they were not monsters.
    My friend had to have a late term abortion to save her life when she had a mummified fetus. She is a wonderful companionate person who was glad there was a qualified Doctor.
    The pro life individuals need to be more compassionate and look at all aspects of the issues and stop all the inflammatory redric.

  • invalid-0

    What I know about you is based on your own admissions in this blog. You’ve given birth to a couple of children with mild disabilities and congratulate yourself that you made the correct decision. I disagree, but let’s up the ante. Would you carry a child to term with Tay Sachs Disease? – Trisomy 18? Microcephaly? No sane person believes that these children are better off living. Abortion, whether it’s early or late, spares them unimaginable misery. Fanatical anti-abortionists would force them to endure it, force their families to endure it with them. There’s nothing moral or good about such a position.
    Kansas law is stringent about late term abortions, requiring concurring diagnoses from two independent physicians that the mother risked “irreversible harm.” Yet prosecutors failed to convict Dr. Tiller of even one out of eighteen charges that he had failed to satisfy this requirement. Your suggestion that he performed late term abortions for frivolous reasons is baseless and irresponsible. You should be ashamed (but, of course, you’re not.)

    • invalid-0

      YOU ARE AN IDIOT. .READ HER POST AGAIN.. YOU ARE A CRAZY LOON AJ HILL.. GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR BEHIND.. NOT EVERYONE IS FANATICAL ANTI-ABORTIONISTS.. HOWEVER YOU ARE A FANATICAL PRO CHOICE MORON. There should be limits and Dr. Tiller Stretched them, hoever, the lady above said nothing about Tiller. She was responding to the tone of the article.. But you fanaticals can never have anyone disagree with you. You have to get nasty when she did not. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF, BUT YOU ARE NOT.. BECAUSE YOU WILL PLACE THE BLAME ON THE SO CALLED “FANATICAL ANTI-ABORTIONISTS” EVEN WHEN MOST PEOPLE ARE PRO ABORTION, JUST NOT LATE TERM ABORTIONS FOR NO REASON.. IDIOT.

  • invalid-0

    I am a 32 year old, married mother of a 2 ½ year old daughter. When I was 5 months pregnant with my second child, my husband and I went for a routine level II ultrasound (the one where you find out the gender). We did find out we were having a girl, but we also received the most devastating news of our lives: the baby I was carrying had Anencephaly, a condition that is totally incompatible with life. Her brain had never formed and her skull never fused. There was a 100% chance she would die, either she would be stillborn or die shortly after birth.

    We were given 3 options – each of them would end in the death of our baby. First option, we could continue the pregnancy. There are many complications that can occur during the delivery of an anencephalic baby, they don’t have any skull bones which are necessary for cervical dilation. I have a living child and I have to be a mother to her every day no matter what is going on with me emotionally. To go through another 20 weeks of daily mental pain, anguish and agony waiting for the child I was carrying to die would have caused great emotional harm to my living child. The thought of giving birth to this precious child and watching her struggle to live, the thought of her suffering, I loved her too much for that. There were a number of reasons I could not carry to term, but that was by far the biggest.

    Our second option was a D&E. With this option I would not be able to see or hold my baby. I needed to see her. Some women going through the most painful experience of their lives may feel that seeing the baby they loved and wanted so much would be too much to bear. Physically, D&E is the safest option. But this wasn’t the option for me.

    The third option was labor induction. After researching all my options, I had absolutely no doubt that this was the right choice for the baby, for me and for my family. Labor induction began with an ultrasound-guided injection of potassium chloride to the baby’s heart. This instantly stopped her heart and ensured that she would not have to experience any suffering during the labor process. My sweet baby was born still in February 2009. My husband and I named her, we held her, we took pictures, and we grieve for her every day of our lives. I loved this baby with all my heart and I made what I firmly believe was the best decision for her.

    Until you have been in a situation this painful, hopeless, heartbreaking, and until you have had to make the most difficult decision of your life, you must not judge. And if you have been in this situation and you made a different, equally painful decision, I do not judge you and I would ask that you show me and other women like me the same respect. This is the reality of “late-term” abortion. Women seeking “late-term” abortions are doing so not on a whim but in the most dire and desperate of circumstances. Please recognize that some of us only wish and dream we had the choice of life.

    • invalid-0

      Thank you for so bravely sharing this. Speaking as someone who is fervently anti-abortion, I must say that I would never in a million years judge you for making the decision you made. THIS is the type of decision that needs to be made privately between a woman and her doctor. I can’t imagine ANYONE in the legitimate pro-life movement feeling any differently. Unfortunately, there are women who have undergone late-term abortions in much less dire and desperate of circumstances.
      I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • invalid-0

    Thank you Jodi for this useful article on the legal issues circumscribing late term abortion. There does seem to be a difference of opinion in the comments on the medical need for this procedure.

    Can anyone cite some decent statistics for how many late term abortions are performed on healthy viable fetuses simply because the mother doesn’t want a baby? Does this actually happen?

  • invalid-0

    Again your making assumptions. One of my children is mild, the other is not. My child does have microcephaly. Who’s ashamed now??? Who’s making judgments??

    • invalid-0

      Chin up Angela! These people are loons! They always need to attack people that do not agree 100% like them. I wish you and your family well. They are lucky to have you.

  • invalid-0

    If pregnant women, families, and the public were educated about the dangers of congenital CMV by offering information on the virus, as well as information about testing, transmission, and prevention. Then we could help prevent women having to face these difficult decisions. I encourage you to educate your friends and communities about the risks associated with CMV infection during pregnancy. For information visit sites such as

  • jodi-jacobson

    to which I linked in my article from the Guttmacher Institute, with analysis of state laws and restrictions on late-term abortions.

    Again, except in some states as shown in the chart where conditions are placed on the reasons for abortion in the second trimester (such as North Carolina at 20 weeks), most states *strictly* regulate later- and late-term abortions to causes that involve the life and health of the mother. 

    Ninety percent of all abortions occur before 12 weeks.  One percent of all abortions are 21 weeks and later. 

    Women do not just decide in the later-term of pregnancy not to have a baby.  Indeed, I would suggest (loosely speaking) that abortions fall into three categories.  First, those unintended/unwanted pregnancies that are discovered early and occur early because the women either have their own resources or have reasonable access to both services and funds to procure an early abortion in the case of an unintended pregnancy.

    Second, those second trimester abortions that occur because women did not have access to the funds or services necessary to procure an early procedure, or in cases of incest or child rape where young girls are impregnated through abuse and then do not have the social capital or support to obtain an early abortion.  Ironically, in many cases abortions are occuring later because the far right, anti-choice movement has persisted in trying to pass restrictions such as waiting periods, so-called informed consent procedures that delay abortion services, and also in harrassment of clinics and workers leading to fewer clinics in rural areas and less-populated states, leaving many women without access due to long travel requried to get to a clinic.  I am guessing that these very restrictions that the far right has put in place has increased the number of second trimester abortions.

    Later-term abortions *after viability* are based on life and health concerns. As also noted in this piece, and subsequently in more depth in some of the comments, Kansas law for late-term abortions required the co-judgment of two other physicians to certify that the life or health of the mother was at risk and/or that catastrophic fetal anomalies were present or both.  Dr. Tiller was falsely charged with having violated this law and exonerated two months ago.

    He did not perform abortions after viability for the reasons you suggest.  The far right has tried to characterize his assistance to 9 adn 10-year old incest/rape victims as "elective abortions."   not in any sense I understand the "elective" part.

    No such numbers are available on the specific reasons provided for each late term abortion becasue this is an issue of privacy between a medical professional, a women and her family, partner, clergy, etc.  Not for us to decide and judge.

    Short answer: I don’t believe the numbers/data for which you are asking are available because I do not believe this is an issue.  It is once again a myth created by the far right to muddy the conversation on abortion and choice.


    Thanks for writing, Jodi Jacobson

  • invalid-0

    I terminated a much wanted pregnancy two years ago. I thought it was my own personal tragedy, not something I would be compelled to “share” with the world. However, the death of Dr. Tiller and the complete misunderstanding I see around the topic of late-term abortion has changed my mind. I am the face of late-term abortion. I got pregnant with my first child and I was thrilled. I was not “high risk” in any way and I was one of those people under the assumption that I would not terminate a pregnancy anyway – so why do the prenatal testing? I didn’t even do the non-invasive ultrasound that was offered to me. It was at my standard 16 week appointment that the first sign of trouble was discovered. A more in-depth look over the next few days revealed very serious problems. I did the CVS testing to find out, hopefully, the details on what was wrong with our child. For those of you that don’t know, it takes 2 weeks for those results to come back. That meant I was 18 weeks when we got the confirmation that our child had an “incompatible with life” diagnosis. It was very unlikely the baby would survive long enough to be born. Should we continue the pregnancy, it would likely be a matter of waiting to wake up one day and realizing the baby had passed away. Maybe to deliver a child that would die during birth or live for maybe minutes after. For anyone who thinks this is a black and white issue, I ask please that you walk a mile in those shoes – if you can even begin to imagine what that feels like. Fortunately, I live in a state where, although the doctors in my practice would not perform the termination, I was referred to a good doctor and had the procedure done in a hospital – I was well taken care of and dealt with compassionate people all along the way. I cannot imagine, already in the middle of the worst time of my life, having to face what some women have – leaving the state, dealing with protestors, feeling like criminals, wondering about the quality of care they would receive. It is unbelievable to me that we put women in this position and that there are people out there trying to put MORE women in this position!!! It makes me wonder what kind of country we live in that we allow women to be victimized in this way. The fact that doctors like Dr. Tiller seem to be a rarity, especially in some parts of the country, scares and saddens me. The fact that doctors like Dr. Tiller become victims for being there to help and support women during the hardest times of their lives is an outrage.

  • invalid-0

    THIS is what you are defending, all of you who wish this to remain legal and available:

    The first and most popular is called D&E (Dilation and evacuation). Once the cervix is dilated, the fetus is removed by inserting forceps into the uterus.

    The Fetus is then separated into pieces. These “pieces” of your baby will be removed one at a time.

    Vacuum aspiration is then used to ensure no tissue remains in the uterus.

    The second procedure is early induction of labor. This is very painful and intense for the woman and is rarely used as an abortion procedure.

    The third procedure is called Intact D&X surgery. This procedure includes a 2-3 day process to gradually dilate the cervix. Once this process is finished, the doctor uses forceps and grasps the baby’s leg to turn it to breech position.

    The baby is then pulled out of the birth canal, leaving the head inside the canal.

    An incision is then made at the base of the baby’s skull and the brain tissue is removed, causing the skull to collapse.

    The entire baby is then removed.

    There is NO need, EVER for this to happen to a baby, EVER!

  • invalid-0

    You claime late term abortions are very rare, occuring in only 1% of cases. That’s 1% of 1.6 million though, or 160,000 later term abortions performed each year?

    Do you really consider something that happens 160,000 times a year “rare?”

    Using your logic then, breast cancer is “rare” since it occurs in less then 1% of the population.

  • invalid-0

    Although your descriptions aren’t necessarily accurate, the most important thing you fail to mention is that in all of the cases that you describe the fetus is not alive during the extraction phase.

    Those steps you describe are taken after fetal demise in order to limit injury to the mother. The fetus is terminated (killed would be your term) using an injection prior to the procedure.

    The extraction procedure is not something that is “happening to a baby”. At that point it is no longer alive and really is just tissue. You may object to the act of killing the fetus by injection, but the extraction method is something of a moot point.

  • invalid-0

    The right to choose what happens to their bodies.
    The right to choose what’s best for their health.

    Of the over 8000 late term abortions done in the united states in 2003 ( the definition of late term in this case is >= 21 weeks – see following CDC paper ) ( we can assume that about 50% of them were female.

    Using your argument about a females right to choose, how to the infants state their choice?

    I also noticed that the infants ( you call them fetus’s ) are very much treated as objects throughout all the pro-choice arguments. It amazes me that you can claim to fighting for womans rights while completely ignoring the rights of the most innocent.

    And, I am NOT a christian, mostly because I think the concept of original sin is absolutely insulting.

    As a member of the human species, our children must be protected above all else. And yes, I give to charities ( especially in poor countries to help feed poor children, and help children of all ages in every way I can.

    I am fighting not only for the rights of unborn children, but the rights of all children of any age NOT to be treated as object that adults can anything they want with!!!

    • invalid-0

      even somewhat seriously in this discussion when you want to inflict forced birth on women. BUT, you don’t. Where do I begin in aswering your post? First of all, fetus is the medical term for a unborn, developing embryo. (my dictionary description here.) An infant is a BORN young child. (again, my little old thing called a dictionary- I suggest you learn how to use one, rather than making up your own terms and bearting people for not using your incorrect ones.) Second of all, this fetus grows in a real live, born and named woman, who YOU and YOUR ilk ignore and treat as objects. BUT SHE COUNTS MOST in this equation. Ending a pregnancy is for the woman whose body it begins and grows in to decide or not. NOT yours. Fight all you want, women will not go back to coathangers and backalleys to not be pregnant. FACT. We have a little old thing called the Constitution that applies to women but not fetuses, for a reason. (people like YOU). My last point, is we are talking about thrid trimester pregnancies here, which are mostly very wanted pregnacies gone terribly wrong. It is not for you to decide any woman’s medical problems, in this or any other state of her pregnancy. It is for the woman, her family, and her doctor to decide whether they want to continue a pregnacy where the fetus’s brain is missing, they have a severe genetic disorder, or whatever other reason that it or the mother will not survive it’s birth. The idea that people as uninformed and apparently uneducated as you are thinking that you have the right or medical information or whatever to decide when a woman has such a fetus that is incompatible with life, and who want to force her to birth it even if she my have cancer or whatever health problem that might keep her from living out HER natural REAL life, really astounds me. Who the HEck do you think you are? Really, get a life- YOUR OWN- and mind your OWN business!! By the way, I really doubt that you do much for born, named, live real children sanctioned by a birth certificate, as you people usually waste all of your time talking the talk, but have been mostly proven not to walk the walk when it comes to real live born children who are named and seperate and sanctioned by a birth certificate. Then it is the woman’s problem, and you people say “it’s the woman’s problem, I shouldn’t have to pay for it.” Suddenly people like YOU are no where to be found then, as a rule.

  • invalid-0

    Almost all of this conversation has to do with “Women’s Rights” but no one considers the father’s rights. I say that knowing that no one will really permit the father to have any choice in the abortion decision. I propose that we permit another form of abortion where only the father can choose. It could be VLTA (Very Late Term Abortion) or perhaps, more accurately, PPA (Post Partum Abortion).
    This would permit the father to take his child to a Government operated VLTA or PPA Clinic one day before every birthday until the fetal tissue becomes viable after its 18th birthday. There the fetal tissue would be given a lethal injection and the father’s problem would be solved. Even this is still somewhat unfair since the father only has 18 opportunities to abort while the mother has every day of the pregnancy. Nevertheless, it would give the male parent the right to dispose of an unwanted fetus or one that threatens the very existence of the father.
    Fair is fair!

    • invalid-0

      As soon as life is also violating a mans body. Fair is fair.

  • invalid-0

    What labor induction termination is like for a woman?? This is how I chose to end my very wanted pregnancy after I found out that my baby had no brain and a 100% chance of dying. And yes like a pp said it started with an injection of potassium chloride to my baby’s heart. I am a member of a message board for women who have been in my same tragic situation and about half of the women there also ended their pregnancies with labor induction. I like the way with this option, not only do you completely dismiss it as a real option, you are suddenly so concerned with the experience of the WOMAN. How ’bout being told your baby is going to die, and the very real and heartwrenching decisions that come along with that, have you ever thought about what that is like for a woman?

  • invalid-0

    I had no idea abortions were still performed as late as 24 weeks. There’s a little boy in my son’s pre school class who was born at exactly 24 weeks. He’s tiny. He receives OT and ST just like my own son but he’s very much alive and has been ever since he was born. Also, a quick question for OKChris. You say the baby is “terminated” by injection before he’s cut up into little pieces. Why would that be necessary unless he started out alive and capable of feeling pain? I was actually anxious to read this article because I thought “someone is finally going to explain how it could possibly benefit a woman’s health to turn her fetus breech, expel everything but the head, force the cervix closed, insert instruments to remove brain matter, and THEN allow her to deliver the head.” Unfortunately I’m still looking for the answer to that question. As for Tiller’s death, the only comment I have is that it’s yet another example of the dangers associated with “gun free zones”.

    • invalid-0

      You’re missing the point of the article–those abortions performed after 24 weeks (which, BTW, is the very earliest a fetus is viable even with medical intervention AIUI, making your son’s friend quite lucky) are done either because the mother’s health is in jeopardy, or because the child would not live very long anyways and the parents decided they’d rather him die in peace in the mother’s womb than to continue carrying an already doomed child.

      There are some very heartbreaking stories out there about women who chose to have a late abortion. These are women who wanted the child they were carrying, but found out that the child wouldn’t live long past birth. Some women choose to carry to term regardless–others decided they’d rather not.

      And for those of you who oppose D&X, the so-called ‘partial birth abortion’ method, you are trying to deny these women the chance to hold their child in their arms and say goodbye. This choice is hard enough for them–at least allow them to have that.

  • invalid-0

    yet fathers already do have the right to decide that their children shouldn’t live if the child does need the fathers body.

  • invalid-0

    Abortion terminates a pregnancy. Childbirth also terminates the pregnancy. There is no fetal tissue then, nor is the right to life when needed even given any rights over the fathers body for there to be anything akin to the use of a womans body for the benefit of another as there exists in pregnancy.

  • invalid-0

    I completely respect your decision to not feel up to raising a disabled child. What I’m wondering is why you never mentioned adoption as an alternative. Believe it or not, there are people in this world who would open their home to a disabled newborn. Besides, you can never with 100% accuracy diagnose a disability in the womb.

  • invalid-0

    Frankly, it’s because I wouldn’t put myself, my husband, or my already born children through that. It would be a form of torture, even more than making the decision to undergo a late term abortion, to carry a child, any child, to term, give birth to it, and then give it up. I couldn’t handle it. Call me weak if you want, but that’s just the way it is for me.

    • invalid-0

      Yes, I know this ridiculous history from opponents of abortions “you just have killed Beethoven” – here only opponents of abortions forget, that on one Beethoven in similar families one hundred murderers which, in turn, left on the big road was born and have killed there other talented people are not known how many…

  • invalid-0

    As soon as life is also violating a mans body. Fair is fair.

    Fred, if that day arrives that actual fetal tissue can also be grown in your body just as the fetus is inside a womans body, you too will have the right to abortion in those circumstances.

    Someone else on the site is using that well known quote by Florynce Kennedy that if men got pregnant that abortion would be a sacrament.

  • invalid-0

    “in those circumstances” being the right to terminate your ‘pregnancy’ where the fetal tissue is actually growing inside your body.

  • invalid-0

    So why not give the child up for adoption instead of having it killed? There ARE waiting lists of people willing to adopt a child with handicaps…It’s better for the child to be dead to avoid YOU pain and heartache? How sad and selfish…

  • invalid-0

    Why force women to be incubators for other women?

  • invalid-0

    The entire issue of abortion is certainly difficult, and divisive, but I don’t think it has to be as difficult as it’s made out. A woman should have “absolute” choice as it regards her physical well-being so long as the circumstance don’t involve anyone else (cancer treatment, cosmetic surgery, etc.). But in a pregnancy it involves “both a woman and a man”, and as the man’s life may change as the result of newborn child (financial support, visitation, etc.) the decision therefore should involve both the parties. That’s my first point, the second would be that if the reasons for a late term abortion are either the Mother’s “physical or mental” health then I can understand the physical health aspect, BUT THE MENTAL HEALTH? If having a child is in any fashion mentally upsetting to a woman there are “millions of couples waiting and willing to adopt”. The cold hard fact is that most women won’t consider adoption out of “selfish and self-centered” reasons. Sort of the “if I can’t have this child nobody will”. I have talked to numerous women who’ve had abortions who could not express A SINGLE GOOD REASON FOR NOT CHOOSING ADOPTION – other than their own selfish reasons. They didn’t want the guilt of knowing they’d relinquished a child, plain and simiple. I speak with some experience on this issue as my girlfriend in college got pregnant, we had the choice of abortion or adoption. I convinced my girlfriend we should give up our child for adoption. It was the best decision I ever made in my life, and I have since met my 33 year old daughter. She’s an accomplished Art Gallery Director in NYC and is well known in New York society. Did I have to live with more guilt utilizing adoption vs. abortion – ABSOLUTELY. But I so glad I made the tougher decision, as is, I’m sure, my birthdaughter…

    • invalid-0

      if the reasons for a late term abortion are either the Mother’s “physical or mental” health then I can understand the physical health aspect, BUT THE MENTAL HEALTH?

      • It’s disturbing to see all mental health issues dismissed summarily as insignificant or as selfish on the part of the woman. Mental health issues includes mental illness, which is just as real as physical issues (see another, more articulate note on this subject in one of the earlier comments)–though it is often not seen that way (particularly by those who have not suffered from or known anyone who has suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, etc. etc.).
      • It sounds like you and your girlfriend both made a decision that worked for you, and because your girlfriend’s physical or mental health wasn’t at risk (mental health-wise, she wasn’t taking certain antidepressants or other mental illness meds that can cause birth defects & complications), you had more of a choice than many people have. Particularly in late-term abortions–and you weren’t clear, but it didn’t sound like your decision happened in the last trimester of the pregnancy.
      • I’m guessing the “numerous” women you’ve spoken with had first or second trimester abortions, which are another situation entirely for various reasons (see the original article).
  • invalid-0

    Ms. Jacobson, Please research all your facts again.

    This line is absolutely hilarious. You, an anonymous poster claiming no credentials or authority, are telling Jodi Jacobson of all people to recheck her facts. I suppose you also think you can beat Kobe Bryant and Lebron James in a pickup game of basketball too?

    I agree we should have the right to choose, but those that wait until the fetus is viable and then wish to abort for non medical reasons are shameful.

    Oh, let me guess: because they want to go to a rock concert, and that big ol’ belly just won’t let them fit into their favorite dress?

    You’re going to have to trust me when I say that you don’t know enough about late-term abortions to express a meaningful opinion on them. The woman who has this kind of procedure on a whim is a myth. It’s a cartoon of the anti-choice movement. She doesn’t exist. The fact that you think she represents something real speaks to your ignorance of the issue. You need to learn more about it, and not from right-wing talking points, in order to understand the reality of why it exists.

  • invalid-0

    I have NO problem with late term abortions done for medical reasons. However, I do have a problem with people who are too selfish to terminate early on and then terminate and murder a viable fetus claiming emotional distress.. seriously.

    Mental health advocates have, for decades, been fighting the perception that mental illness is not “real” medical illness. It’s only recently that policy and funding have begun to reflect this. Your view on the relative (un)importance of mental health is widespread, but it does not reflect reality, and it certainly does no justice to the mentally ill.

    I am greatful for the right to choose, but late term abortions without a medical reason is shameful and cruel. To deny that this happens is ignorance.

    I’m going to copy-and-paste here a quote by Anna North (from this article):

    If we truly want to preserve a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body, we need to accept that sometimes women will abort for reasons we might not agree with. Really, being pro-choice doesn’t mean thinking every abortion is a good idea. It means realizing that the only person who should truly have the right to determine whether it’s a good idea is the mother, and protecting her rights means allowing her to make decisions we might not necessarily support.

    You had the right to choose. You had the right to decide for yourself whether your abortion was justified. I don’t think you would have appreciated someone else making that sort of extremely personal decision for you—you might have said something like “Excuse me! It’s none of your f***ing business!” You’re not willing to show that same trust and consideration to other women?

  • invalid-0

    “And for those of you who oppose D&X, the so-called ‘partial birth abortion’ method, you are trying to deny these women the chance to hold their child in their arms and say goodbye. This choice is hard enough for them–at least allow them to have that.”

    Where did you get this idea? No mother is holding these babies, because their skulls and brains have been destroyed by the abortionist, leaving a headless body. If the corpse was brought in for a mother to hold, she would likely vomit.

  • therealistmom

    Try reading an actual medical website instead of anti-choice propaganda. Are you saying all the women who shared their stories here, and all the women with their “Kansas Stories” on AHC are lying? That the room in Dr. Tiller’s clinic did not exist for the last goodbyes to a wanted baby? One of the REASONS D&X may be a preferred method, besides not putting the woman through full labor and because the chance of infection is lower than a standard D&E, is the fact an INTACT (thus what it is called an “intact dilation and extraction”, not a “partial birth abortion”) fetus may be delivered. A small incision is placed at the base of the (already deceased) fetus’ skull for removal of the brain… yes, gruesome, but few surgical procedures of any kind can be called “pretty”. This allows the bones of the skull to pass more easily through the cervix thus eliminating much of the mother’s physical pain. Afterward if the woman desires to hold the delivered fetus usually a small newborn cap is placed on its head and then it is swaddled as any stillborn might be so the parents have an opportunity to mourn their loss. It’s NOT a happy thing but it is often the best thing people can do in extremely drastic circumstances, and taking away a medical procedure that could preserve a woman’s health and fertility is never acceptable because someone out there finds it “icky”.

  • invalid-0

    There would be no basis for discussion if liberalism hadn’t destroyed the moral fabric of America and made sex into just another physical act similar to what animals carry out in the forest. There is no reason to try to discuss any moral dilemma with liberals, since they cannot comprehend, nor are they willing to discuss, the very basic tenant of morality, personal responisibility, ie, not getting pregnant in the first place, and discouraging pre-maritial sex among minors instead of promoting it. Sure, there will be exceptions, but they will be just that, exceptions, not the societal norm. Moral equivalency, defining down deviancy, and plain old fashioned libertinistic tendencies among liberals have caused the slaughter of the abortion mills. Perhaps the answer is right in front of us in the Tiller case, rather than removing the fetus from the mother, let us remove the cancer of liberalism from our society. Tiller was a good place to start.

    BTW, spare me your liberal hand-wringing. I don’t care what your opinions are. I’m not an empty headed liberal, I don’t really believe the myth that “all opinions are equal.” Liberalism has brought about slaughter of the unborn unseen in the history of the planet. It’s time to stop the slaughter.

  • invalid-0

    Perhaps the answer is right in front of us in the Tiller case, rather than removing the fetus from the mother, let us remove the cancer of liberalism from our society. Tiller was a good place to start.

    Advocating for the murder of a provider of legal medical services? If this is part of “the moral fabric of America” that liberalism destroyed, then thank God for liberalism.

  • invalid-0

    After reading so many comments and having the opinion that I’ve owned for the last 15+ years I feel the need to contribute my story and hopefully instill an understanding of what women truly have to go through when facing an ‘unviable’ pregnancy…

    I am a survivor of an attempted abortion, and I have the scar that reminds me of it every single day. My mother wanted me so bad, and was thrilled when she realized she would be having me. My father felt differently though, and after my mother refused to terminate the pregnancy, he took matters into his own hands and stabbed us repeatedly. My mother and I both survived thankfully and we have both lived on and had amazing lives.

    Now I understand the original post was related to late-term abortions, and shockingly I have another story related to that! My half brother was my mothers third child. During the last two trimesters of her pregnancy with him she was subjected to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. The doctor she was seeing as well as her second husband fought with her every step of the way to have him, trying to convince her that if she continued with the pregnancy neither one of them would make it. They had the test results to prove it they said, but guess what? They did make it, he is a very healthy and active 15 year old and she even went on to have another perfect pregnancy that resulted in another perfect boy who is now 14 years old!

    I would never ever ever condemn another women for making the obviously heartbreaking choice of ‘saving’ a child from a life filled with anguish, but I would strongly encourage that same women to look hard at herself, her family, and whether or not she felt that she could tell what the future held. I see disabled people every day and I understand that the chances for a ‘miracle’ are slim, but how could anyone know without a doubt that a child who’s test results came back with a discouraging outlook make the decision that the child will never have a fulfilling life? I personally could never take on the role of God and make the decision that my child would never live a happy healthy life. I strongly encourage every woman out there to examine that decision before they make one that has been proven again and again to have an extreme impact on that woman for the rest of her life!

    Its being proven right now across the globe that advancments in medicine are increasing at a drastic rate… how do we know that a certain illness won’t be able to be cured within the next 5 years giving a ‘fetus’ a chance at survival? I know that I will never be able to convince every person that abortion is wrong no matter what the circumstances are, but I can try and hopefully my story will reach just one woman and save another human life. A human life that, by the way, could find a cure for one of the many diseases out there right now.

  • crowepps

    I would strongly encourage that same women to look hard at herself, her family, and whether or not she felt that she could tell what the future held.

     It incredibly patronizing of you to assume that women in these situations are not ALREADY doing exactly that.  You might want to go back and actually read what the women said about their actual real-life experiences, ones you’ve never had.

     I personally could never take on the role of God and make the decision that my child would never live a happy healthy life. 

    Making decisions about the probable outcome for the fetus has very little to do with ‘taking on the role of God’ and a lot more to do with weighing the evidence and taking responsibility for one’s own decisions.    Unfortunately, people who have not walked in those shoes like to second guess those decisions and try to make the people involved feel guilty, even when the outcome for the fetus is known to be disastrous.  Tough enough to discover your fetus is anencephalic without someone who’s not involved suggesting that a ‘good’ person continues the pregnancy in hopes of a miracle, investing another FOUR or FIVE MONTHS into a pregnancy that results in a stillbirth.

    A human life that, by the way, could find a cure for one of the many diseases out there right now.

    Or, alternatively, someone who would stab his pregnant girlfriend in the belly because he doesn’t want her to be pregnant.

  • invalid-0

    Thanks for this article.
    Good comparison and straight forward arguments.
    Best regards.

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