Mercy Abortions: What Dr. Tiller Did

Editor’s Note: AnnRose first posted this piece last July on Huffington Post. She has reposted it now because of its relevant to the current conversation about late-term abortion care.

Fewer than 2200/year or 0.2% of the 1.3 million abortions
performed yearly are past 24 weeks.  But, the anti-abortion
propagandists have successfully maligned procedures at this stage of
pregnancy by calling them "Partial Birth Abortions" (not a medical
term, but a political one).  Even pro-choice Democrats don’t understand
the reality of late abortion.

I call abortions past 24 weeks Mercy Abortions…and I’ll tell you why.

For 14 years, I worked at Midtown Hospital in
Atlanta, a woman’s hospital specializing in late abortion.  The
hospital opened in 1977 because at that time, Georgia law mandated that
an abortion past 12 weeks had to be performed in a hospital.  Abortion
had just been made legal in 1973 and it became the first procedure to
be widely performed on an outpatient basis.

Let me repeat that:  Early abortion was the first medical procedure to be widely performed on an outpatient basis.  That means that medical professionals performing abortions invented outpatient health care in this country.

But, abortions past 12 weeks were still rare and very few hospitals would allow them to be performed.

At that time, there were 2 types of procedures for abortions:

  • Vacuum aspiration performed from about 7 weeks until 12 weeks.
  • Saline induction abortions performed from about 16 weeks to 24 weeks.


So, you can see that there was a gap where women couldn’t get
abortions from 12 weeks until 16 weeks.  That meant that a woman who
was 13 weeks pregnant had to wait 3 weeks before she could get an
abortion.  Then she had to undergo what is essentially a medically
induced miscarriage.

As abortion medical professionals matured and were able to openly
discuss options and medical procedures and medicines and investigate
problems, procedures became more refined.  Now, induction type
abortions have been pretty much eliminated, and more sophisticated
procedures involving instrumentation and general anesthesia and
abortifacent drugs have made abortion even more safe and accessible and
comfortable for women throughout all stages of pregnancy…early to

And, let me add a few more things about the evolution of abortion in this country.

  • Abortion was the first widely performed outpatient procedure.Abortion procedures have barely tripled in price
    from the early 70’s.  In the 70’s an early abortion was about $150.
    Now they are about $400.  Name any other medical procedure that’s only
    tripled in cost in the past 35 years.  You can’t.
  • Abortion clinics were some of the first medical
    providers to mandate informed consent.  And the consent is very
    detailed, unlike the general consent you sign in a hospital.
  • Abortion clinics were some of the first medical providers to openly advertise directly to consumers.
  • Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures
    performed.  It’s 8-12 times safer than childbirth.  The mortality rate
    is very low.

I could go on and on, but want to now focus on Mercy Abortions. These are abortions past 24 weeks.

Who are the women who delay into the second and third trimester?  There are several characteristics:

  • In general, they are younger.
  • They are less educated.
  • They are more rural, where healthcare is more inaccessible.
  • They tend to be poorer than women who get early abortions.
  • And they have more lifestyle and emotional issues.
    Oftentimes, the unintended pregnancy is the easiest of their problems
    to solve.


Now, I’m sure your first concern is Why.  Why would a woman wait so long?  Here’s a few of the many reasons why women delay getting abortions:

  • Money.  Many women don’t have $400 sitting around
    in a savings account to pay for an early abortion.  Delay happens in
    raising the money, borrowing it, pawning stuff for it, etc.
  • Denial.  Many young women especially so want not to
    be pregnant that they deny their obvious symptoms of pregnancy and
    attribute them to other causes.  They’re missing their period because
    they’re irregular. They’re gaining wait because they’ve been eating
    too much.  They’ve got the flu.  Many young women even hide their
    pregnancies from their parents with big baggy shirts, fake periods,
  • Fetal anomalies.  


I’m going to discuss fetal anomalies in detail because this is the number one reason women get abortions past 24 weeks.

That’s why I call them Mercy Abortions.  

One of the largest providers of late abortions, Dr. George Tiller
in Wichita, KS, has been the object of harassing investigations by
Kansas authorities, culminating in an unprecedented Grand Jury trial
prompted by anti-abortionists.  He was just recently vindicated and the
Grand Jury refused to bring charges.  But, his detractors won’t stop, and more harassment is anticipated.

Another major provider of late abortions is Dr. Warren Hern in Boulder CO.

Both of these doctors are extremely compassionate and committed
medical professionals.  I’ve been to both clinics and have known them
personally and can attest to their credibility as both doctors and
humane individuals.

Without a doubt, the number one reason for abortions past 24 weeks
is the late discovery of a fetal anomaly incompatible with life.  I’ve
talked with many women who find themselves in this situation and it is
always an extremely difficult and heart-wrenching situation.  Many
women even underwent infertility treatments to become pregnant.  But,
when the pregnancy goes horribly awry, a Mercy Abortion
is the best solution in a no-win situation.  These are women who need
abortion more than many others.  Therefore, it’s ironic that they are
the ones being punished by focusing on the procedures that are life-saving for them.

One of the reasons for this is that many of these anomalies aren’t
apparent in pregnancy until the later stages.  Also, most women get a
sonogram paid for by insurance in the early weeks of pregnancy, but
don’t get another one until well after 20-22 weeks.  

Imagine if you can that you are happily carrying a baby that you’ve
wanted all your life.  You’ve had the baby showers and decorated the
room already.  Then comes the devastating news that the baby is
anencephalic.  That means that the baby has no brain and will die a
horrible death shortly after birth.  

The Prognosis:

There is no cure or standard treatment for anencephaly and the
prognosis for affected individuals is poor. Most anencephalic babies do
not survive birth, accounting for 55% of non-aborted cases. If the
infant is not stillborn, then he or she will usually die within a few
hours or days after birth from cardiorespiratory arrest.

In almost all cases anencephalic infants are not aggressively
resuscitated since there is no chance of the infant ever achieving a
conscious existence. Instead, the usual clinical practice is to offer
hydration, nutrition and comfort measures and to "let nature take its
course". Artificial ventilation, surgery (to fix any co-existing
congenital defects), and drug therapy (such as antibiotics) are usually
regarded as futile efforts. Clinicians and medical ethicists may view
the provision of nutrition and hydration as medically futile.
Occasionally some may even go one step further to argue that euthanasia
is morally and clinically appropriate in such cases.

You’re 28 weeks along and the OB/GYN that’s been caring for you
can’t help you out.  You see, the hospital where he practices will
gladly take your money and let you give birth there, but they won’t let
your OB/GYN perform a Mercy Abortion on you so that
you can maintain your fertility for future pregnancies and lessen the
devastation on you and your family by ending the pregnancy now.  

Oh no.  The powers that be want you to carry that anencephalic baby
for 10 more weeks, then give birth, then slowly watch it die right in
front of your eyes.  Now, if that’s how you want to handle the
situation, fine.  But, if you’d like a more merciful ending to this
tragic situation, a trip to Dr. Tiller or Dr. Hern might be in order.
For now, that is.

You say.  "This is just an isolated instance."  Oh no
this scenario is played out every day.  And many of the families that
this happens to are anti-abortion.  But, at that moment where they are
told that the pregnancy is flawed, many choose the Mercy Abortion to alleviate their suffering and the suffering of their child.

Mercy Abortions are also extremely necessary in maintaining the woman’s fertility so that a successful pregnancy can be possible in the future.

So, as Democrats committed to pro-choice values, let’s not jump into
the Rovian trap that the anti-abortion framing has given us on late
abortions. They demonized a procedure that mercifully saves women and
promotes healthy families.  It may be you or someone in your family
that needs a Mercy Abortion in the future.

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  • invalid-0

    Very informative, thank you for posting this.

    • invalid-0

      I mean absolutely no disrespect and I fully support that women are able to make the best moral decisions regarding their part in the reproductive process. I also understand that most late-term abortions are for medical reasons and are “merciful” just as DNR orders and such are.

      However, I must admit that what troubles me is the devaluing of the fetus; that somehow just because it is not born it is not a person. I think a someone can be pro-choice and also realize the choice we are talking about is a person, not a potential person.

      My son was born at 29 weeks at 3LBS. Today, he is almost six with no complications due to his early birth. Now, was he more of a person because my wife and I wanted him, or was he just a non-person fetus who came early and became a person later? How can a fetus aborted at 29 weeks not be a person and a fetus born early at 29 weeks be one? If there is no difference, if neither had reached “person-hood”, then what would have stopped my wife and I from telling the doctors to stop treating our son when we found out that his medical bills would be in the six digit range?

      Again, I mean no disrespect and I know that women go through agonizing decisions regarding abortions. I am not advocating banning abortions. I am challenging the idea, however, that somehow abortions do not raise morally difficult questions or that those who raise those questions are somehow right-wing nuts. I am neither; just struggling with what is right.

      Thank you for your time.


    • invalid-0

      this is so good to see. keep up the good work.

    • davidforecloure-expert

      Anti-abortionists must understand that there are times when a late abortion is necessary especially when the life of the mother is in danger. Life, both of an unborn fetus and a pregnant woman is important and when one has to be lost, it can be difficult to choose which one to let go.

  • invalid-0

    My great grandmother had twin fetuses that died in utero in her 8th month of pregnancy. There were no doctors who would give mercy abortions, so she had to carry the dead fetuses in her, which caused blood poisoning, and she almost died. It caused her be crazy for the rest of her life. She was never the same. Dr. Tiller was a hero. I am still heartbroken over his death. This man loved and trusted women, and helped them at risk to his own life, and his families lives. When he worried to his two daughters that his work was putting their lives in danger, ( he had already been a target and was not so worried for himself.) They cried to him that his work was too important, to PLEASE never quit, so he continued. Dr. Tiller was a Saint, may he rest in peace. But may the rest of us pro-choice women take up his cause, comfort his grieving family, tell our own abortion stories if we have one, and drown out the voices of the right. May we contantly tell FOX NEWS and O’ Reilly that they have Dr. Tiller’s blood on their hands. May we not be so passive! May we give money to organizations that support choice. May we call Dr, Tiller Hero! Hero! to anyone who will listen. May we not forget Dr. Tiller as quickly and as easily as we seem to have forgotten our other fallen heros who were murdered in cold blood just for trying to help women get the reproductive health care that they need and deserve in protecting and saving their health and their very lives.

    • invalid-0

      Well said, Jan. I agree with you completely and cannot think of one word to add.

    • invalid-0

      With all due respect, if the babies were already dead why would your great grandmother have needed a “mercy abortion.” It seems like induction of labor or c-section would have been more in order (though perhaps these things may not have been readily available either.) That’s what they would do now. I’m sure of it. Delivering babies that have already died of natural causes is not abortion.

  • invalid-0

    The Deadly Illusion of “Common Ground” on Abortion

    Response to Obama’s speech at Notre Dame on common ground and abortion
    By Sunsara Taylor

    In the weeks leading up to Barack Obama’s delivery of the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, the national eye was drawn once again to the question of women’s right to abortion. Anti-abortion Catholics and Christian fundamentalists, many of whom have been at the heart of some of the most violent tactics against doctors, women and clinics, descended on the campus. They trespassed. They got arrested. They put up billboards. More than 70 bishops condemned Notre Dame’s decision.

    However, on March 17, when graduation day finally arrived, Obama received a standing ovation upon entrance, a glowing introduction from the Catholic president of the university, and repeated cheers as he spoke.

    In his speech, Obama called for “fair-minded words” on both sides of the abortion issue. He called on people to express their differences but not to demonize those who think differently than themselves. He called for “common ground” and pointed to where he felt this could be found, as well as some of the challenges he sees in achieving it.

    To many, these were reasonable words. To many, the response to him by the overwhelming majority of the student body—together with a significant number of prominent Catholic figures—represents motion in a positive direction.

    But, when Obama speaks of “common ground” on abortion, he is not standing on some neutral “middle ground”—he is accepting the terms of the anti-abortion movement and adapting aspects of a pro-choice position into that framework while gutting the heart of the abortion-rights position. In so doing, he is legitimizing and strengthening a viciously anti-woman program while both abandoning the much needed fight to expand access to abortion and birth control and giving up the moral and ideological basis on which the pro-choice position stands.

    Much of what is wrong with Obama’s approach is concentrated in a few key sentences of Obama’s speech, where he speaks directly to the question of abortion:

    “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions. So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoptions more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term.”

    First, and very importantly, abortion is not a “heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make.” A great many women are not conflicted at all about their abortions. Many feel relief and even joy at having their lives and their futures more fully back in their control.

    This is as it should be. The simple fact is that a fetus is not a baby, it is a subordinate part of a woman’s body. A woman has no moral obligation to carry a fetus to term simply because she gets pregnant. And a woman who chooses at whatever point and for whatever reason to terminate a pregnancy, should feel fine about doing so and should be able to.

    When it comes to abortion, there really is only one moral question: Will women be free to determine their own lives, including whether and when they will bear children, or will women be subjugated to patriarchal male authority and forced to breed against their will?

    By denying the experience of the many women who feel positively about their abortions, Obama is undermining the legitimacy of this response and reinforcing all the many voices in society that tell women they should feel heart-wrenched for terminating a pregnancy.

    As for the fact that many women do feel conflicted or even deeply guilty about getting an abortion, this doesn’t prove that abortion is a morally complex issue any more than the fact that many women feel guilty or ashamed after being raped makes rape a morally complex issue.

    To understand where these feelings of guilt come from, where they do exist, it is necessary to pull back the lens from the individual woman to see the larger culture and forces shaping their responses.

    Women have been told—for centuries in every major religion and almost every culture—that the most meaningful thing they will ever do is bear children. Women are conditioned—and expected—to plan their lives around when they will have children, and, once they do, to evaluate every major decision from the framework of how it will affect their children. Women who do not subordinate their own dreams and aspirations to the raising of their children are openly considered selfish and routinely demonized.

    On top of this, there have been decades of relentless ideological assault on abortion that has been orchestrated from the highest levels of government and power. Women have been told that they are “murderers” if they choose to abort—by Christian fundamentalists at the doors of women’s clinics across the country, by talking heads on the major media and by blockbuster movies and TV dramas that invariably portray abortion, at “best,” as a desperate and regrettable act. Women have been told there is something wrong with them if they don’t feel guilty.

    All this conditions the guilt that women feel, where that is part of their experience. But none of this means that there is anything about abortion that women should feel guilty about.

    From here, Obama moves forward, stating that “common ground” can be found by working “together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions” and to “reduce unintended pregnancies.”

    But, as I wrote previously, “To talk today of reducing the number of abortions is to talk about strengthening the chains on women. The goal should NOT be to reduce the number of abortions. The goal should be to break down the barriers that still exist in every sphere of society to women’s full and equal participation as emancipated human beings. In this society, right now, that means there will be—and therefore should be—more abortions.

    “This is because there are many, many women who want abortions who are unable to get them due to the tremendous legal, social and economic obstacles that have been put in their way. These obstacles include parental notification laws, mandatory waiting periods, anti-abortion fake clinics that disorient and delay women, the fact that 84% of counties have no abortion providers at all, and countless other cruel and humiliating restrictions.”

    Right now, as you read, real women’s lives are being foreclosed and degraded due to lack of accessible abortion services.

    As for reducing unintended pregnancies, it would be truly wonderful if all young people received frank and scientific education about their bodies, their sexuality, and how to form healthy and mutually respectful emotional and physical relationships. It would be truly wonderful if birth control were widely and easily available and its use was popularized. This would be the best and most effective way to reduce unintended pregnancies. However, this is not something that the forces behind the “pro-life” movement will agree to. The same biblical scripture that drives these forces to try to force women to carry every pregnancy to term, also drives them to oppose birth control. There is not a single “pro-life” organization that supports birth control.

    At its core and from its inception the “pro-life” movement has been driven by the biblical mandate that women must leave it up to god to decide how many children they have. This mandate is rooted in the Christian mythology of “original sin” and its repercussions.

    As the Bible tells it, “god” created man (Adam) first, and then made a woman (Eve) out of his rib. These two lived in innocent bliss in the “Garden of Eden” until a serpent tempted Eve and Eve tempted Adam to eat the “forbidden fruit.” For this “original sin,” Adam and Eve were cast out of paradise and ever since—so the myth goes—mankind has had an evil nature which has led to all the horrors humankind has inflicted on each other ever since.

    Flowing from this—and central to the “right-to-life” movement—a special additional curse is put on women. Right there, in Genesis, the “Lord” is quoted as saying to women, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Later, the Bible articulates that women can only redeem themselves by submitting to men and bearing children: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, providing they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” (1 Timothy 2: 13-15)

    There can be no “common ground” with this view, even in the aim of preventing unwanted pregnancies. And, by seeking to find “common ground” here, Obama is just moving the ball further down the court towards enforced motherhood; he is leading pro-choice people away from the fight that needs to be waged for abortion while at the same time setting the stage for another losing battle around sex education and birth control.

    What’s perhaps even more outrageous is the fact that Obama—rather than challenging the mandate embedded within the “original sin” mythology that women become obedient breeders—himself cites and legitimates this farcical and very harmful myth. Earlier in his speech, Obama offers a non-explanation as to why “common ground” is often hard to find between, among others, “the soldier and the lawyer” who “both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm” and between “the gay activist and the evangelical pastor” who “both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts.” He says, “part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of men—our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin.”

    No. “Common ground” is not hard to find because we demonize those who are fighting to subjugate women, those carrying out torture and war crimes against detainees, or those who want to deny fundamental rights to gay people. “Common ground” is not difficult to find because we have big egos or are too prideful or insecure.

    “Common ground” is difficult to find because those who uphold women’s right to abortion are coming from a point of view that is completely antagonistic to those who are trying to take away this right. In the same way, those who condemn torture are coming from a view that is antagonistic to justifying, covering up and continuing that torture. And those who recognize the basic rights and humanity of gay people as well as the need for real education about safe sex are coming from a view that is completely antagonistic to the biblical motivation that sees any sex outside of procreation as an abomination.

    As I stated earlier, there is no such thing as a “neutral middle ground” between antagonistic positions. Even the illusion of “common ground” can only be achieved when one side capitulates to the terms of the other side. This is exactly what Obama has done.

    When it comes to abortion, the “common ground” Obama is putting forward is one where everyone accepts the notion that there is something morally wrong with abortion and where the legitimacy and the very existence of women who are perfectly okay with their abortions is erased. At a time when abortion is very hard to access for a great many women and the freedom to abort is undermined by the mountain of guilt and shame that is heaped on women for even considering this option, Obama’s “common ground” is one which abandons the fight for abortion access and retreats instead to a rear-guard battle to reduce unintended pregnancies without ever even mentioning birth control.

    Finally, Obama tips his hat entirely to the anti-abortion position when he says we can unite to “provide care and support for women who do carry their child to term.” Here, in one phrase he accepts the unscientific, anti-abortion rhetoric that refers to fetuses as children. Flowing from this, a woman who chooses to terminate is killing her “child.”

    In many ways, the approach Obama has taken to abortion—and what he mapped out in his speech—could prove even more dangerous to women’s rights and women’s lives than the religious fascists who were gathered at the gate. This is because Obama is dragging along many women and men who ought to know better—who, if there were outright attacks on the legality of abortion very well might be up in arms, but who are being lullabied to sleep by Obama’s calm and reasonable tone as he barters away women’s fundamental rights.

    It is imperative that people see this speech, and Obama’s position overall, for what it truly is. It is not a reasonable middle ground, but a step-by-step waltz into a world with fewer and fewer rights for women and less and less ground to stand on to resist. It is urgent that people bring forward a new framework: one that values the lives of women above fetuses, one that sees the positive value in women being enabled to live full social lives including by controlling their own reproduction, one that recognizes that this is good for society as a whole.

    • invalid-0

      I agree “common ground” is a bogus cop out.

      Please post this as a Diary on DailyKos and/or get the editors of RHRealty Check to put this on the front page.

      Thank you.

    • invalid-0

      you can call it “mercy killing” and you can change it to anything you want but an abortion is killing a human in the mother’s womb…

      You have omitted puposely on HOW this “mercy killing” is performed…go ahead and describe in full how that child is killed…

      • invalid-0

        Church this same public (religious) association, as well as other associations. If the church propagandises hatred to social group (that is forbidden by the law), for the law all the same a doctrine it or a private position of the priest.
        Any church dogma can be exposed to criticism, be derided, as well as any statement of any person. Also as well as it is impossible to offend, humiliate etc. feelings of people, without dependence religious they or not.

        “Struggle against church is useless also because at the given stage of development church for the western society institute constructive.”

        Excuse, it not a question, this categorical statement.
        In what place it is constructive institute?
        Churches conduct propagation of an interdiction for women and men to plan a family (condoms, abortions). Conduct propagation of an interdiction to two loving people to register the relations and to have children.

    • invalid-0

      I too, was not impressed with President Obama’s speech. Take one side or the other, this middle of the road position is a coward’s position. No man should speak for women when they don’t have the equiptment, which is why I was so for Hillary in the primaries, but wonder if she would have gone middle of the road, too. It seems like they will mention choice to get elected, but lack the desire to stir up the hornets nest of the anti-choicers by taking what amounts to a lack of any real position on the issue once they get elected. (lets put FOCA ON the table!!) We MUST, as pro-choice women and men- call President Obama out on the issue. He needs to HEAR us, rather than to ASSUME us.

  • invalid-0

    Thank you soo much for letting me know that there are others out there with a heart like me. I’m 24 years old. i’m 18 weeks pregant with my third child. i’ve always been pro choice. I don’t think that any one should have a final say on anything that has to do with my body. it’s nice to known that there are people out there who respect women.

    • invalid-0

      24 and on your third pregnancy- ever hear of contraception?

  • invalid-0

    If all women of child-bearing age took 0.4 mgs of Folic Acid every day before conception and at least until the end of the first term of pregnancy, 50 to 70% of potential cases of anencephaly and Spina Bifida could be prevented (Ceizel and Dudas, 1992).

    If fetal deformity truly is the issue here, why don’t you promote better pre-natal nutrition as opposed to abortion?

    • invalid-0

      I do promote access to abortion and other reproductive choices that women may want to make.

      It’s the Republicans and anti-abortionists who have cut funding for women’s prenatal care and access to insurance and medical care that would prevent alot of this.

      Those of us in the reproductive rights movement want women to have access to an entire array of care…from birth control to abortion to prenatal…to well woman…to mammograms, etc.

    • invalid-0

      Why on earth should I behave as though I am “pre-pregnant”? You do realise that means I (and many millions of others) would be taking folic acid supplements unnecessarily from menarche (age 12 and younger) until menopause, with the assholic assumption that it’s our duty to prevent any random conceptions’ health problems before we actually want to be pregnant. Something similiar to your idea was proposed by a major health authority with the exact term “pre-pregnant”, and immediately the feminist blogosphere picked up on twenty-million reasons why it’s fucked up. Don’t think it couldn’t be used to blame women who have stillbirths/miscarriages/sick/deformed/underdeveloped fetuses because they weren’t sufficiently “prepared” to incubate said fetus.

      The folic acid advice is for women who are planning to become, or already are, pregnant. Advice is not law, and women will choose to use it or not according to what they think is best for them. Don’t assume we’re mindless idiots whose only purpose in life is to have and nurture babies.

    • invalid-0

      What an ignorant comment that is posted just above this. Any educated woman of child-bearing age knows of the importance of good nutrition, especially folic acid for the prevention of certain birth defects. However there are many different kinds of birth defects unrelated to nutrition or anything the mother may have done while pregnant. Speaking for myself, I was young (32), had a previous successful pregnancy, was in good heath, a non-smoker, taking all my appropriate vitamins including folate prior to conceiving, and avoided alcohol, caffeine, nitrates, and any other chemical considered a no-no during pregnancy, and would rather suffer through a headache than take even one approved acetaminophen tablet while pregnant, and yet still was unfortunate enough to be carrying a child with a rare birth defect. Genetics did not play a role in this particular defect either. Evenutally I have accepted that it was God’s will not mine that it happened. I chose to terminate this much wanted pregnancy because the defect was incompatible with life. What I did, I did out of love and respect for my baby, and it was a heart-wrenching decision even though the outcome would have been the same either way. I did not want for her to suffer and die shortly after birth. Since she was going back to God anyway, I chose the easiest way for her to get to him. I’m sure there are many out there who would disagree with my decision, and before it happened to me, I probably would have been one of them. But until you are in someone else’s shoes, you cannot possibly judge them.

  • invalid-0

    If fetal deformity truly is the issue here, why don’t you promote better pre-natal nutrition as opposed to abortion?

    What makes you think the pro-choice community doesn’t support prenatal health measures? Republicans generally vote down funding for that on the basis of being “wasteful domestic spending” or “socialism.”

  • 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

      Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information. You should have learned that in 9th grade.

  • invalid-0

    No one here is *promoting* abortion…and if you *truly* believe that widespread consumption of folic acid before conception would greatly reduce the rate of the late term abortions (that your tone seems to imply you despise), why are you commenting here rather than, say, fighting for greater access to medical care, nutrition and fertility education for all women of childbearing age?


  • jodi-jacobson

    and are not relevant to the discussion.

    Jodi Jacobson

  • progo35

    “But, when the pregnancy goes horribly awry, a Mercy Abortion is the best solution in a no-win situation. These are women who need abortion more than many others. Therefore, it’s ironic that they are the ones being punished by focusing on the procedures that are life-saving for them.”

    This is conflating saving the woman’s life to terminating a pregnancy involving a fetus with a disability. The two are NOT the same thing. Moreover, while anacephalia lies somewhat outside the diversity discussion, such infants do not die “slow and horrible deaths,” as, as Ann writes, “they will never attain any meaningful sort of conscienceness.”

    Secondly, Dr. Tiller performed abortions for women when their fetuses were disagnosed with things like down syndrome and other disabilities that are not fatal and do not cause any more suffering than the average individual goes through.

    Moreover, I am troubled by Ann’s assertion that such terminations promote “healthy families.” Being a healthy family does not mean being free from disability within the family.

    Finally, Ann makes a clear moral judgment here that “when something goes terribly awry, a Mercy Abortion is the best solution to a no-win situation.” That is not saying that “it may be best for the individual woman’s situation,” it is saying that late term abortion is the right thing to do in that situation, and it logically follows that the other course is the “wrong thing.”

    Aborting fetuses with disabilities, which Tiller also did, is not an act of mercy. It is an act of prejudice.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    -I can’t believe you just quoted from ‘Wikipedia’ as scientific fact.. Sheeesh!

  • invalid-0

    Well said! I completely agree with you, Progo35. :o)

  • invalid-0

    How are these ‘mercy abortions’ performed? What exactly happens to the unborn baby? Anyone who is ‘pro-choice’ willing to describe the late term abortion procedure in all its gruesome details? Anacephalic babies may or may not die shortly after birth in a ‘horrible death’ but how is the violence that is the late term abortion procedure any less painful for the unborn child?

    I was severely burned as a toddler. My parents were assured by all the top medical experts that I would feel no pain and have no memory of the trauma of the debriding burn treatments. I was only 2 1/2 and I did remember! Today, abortionists also assure the mothers that their unborn babies absolutely feel no pain even as a robust debate over this pain issue for the unborn child continues within the medical community.

    We who are pro-life individuals have a no problem with removing a ‘dead baby’ from a mother’s womb and giving that little baby a proper burial. We have no problem with medical interventions to save the mother from imminent death as long as the purpose is truly to save the mother’s life. Pro lifers agree that in the case of a fallopian tube pregnancy where the unborn child has no chance of surviving to term and the pregnancy only kill the mother that removing the baby from the fallopian tube (to save the life of the mother) is morally justified. But aborting Down Syndrome babies the doctor has told the mother such a baby has no chance of qualtiy of life is not such a case as Down Syndrome individuals and their families will attest.

    Our country is deeply divided over this abortion issue. It is not just ‘right wing fundamentalists’ who are opposed to aborting unborn babies. Hell, there women who are atheists, agnostics and liberals who oppose abortion! The 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision was bad law. Had the Supreme Court simply allowed the individual states to decide this issue we would not have our Presidential, Congressional and Senate races dominated by the issue of abortion. The abortion issue would have been settled and behind us. Instead, the single most important moral issue that we ever faced as a people yet we never got the opportunity to decide it as a people. Fifty million unborn babies have been aborted since 1973 and at a rate of 4,000 a day.

    Every year at the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade hundreds of thousands of new young women adults and teens march against abortion. This issue is not going away!

  • invalid-0

    Rowe v. Wade is not a bad law.

    One’s outrage about abortion does not justify interfering with all women’s reproductive rights. There are too many reasons that can bring a woman to this heart-breaking decision. At no point of their struggle should the courts or the fanatics be part of the equation.

    Why don’t abortion foes fight for funding sex-education?
    or access to contraception?
    or more accessible adoption options?
    or more funding for poor, unwed mothers
    or more accessible pre-natal care?

  • invalid-0

    @Progo35 Not everyone is the millionaire governor of Alaska, with a husband and a large family free of other disabilities to help care for a child. Even Palin has admitted to considering abortion when she first heard of her fetus’s condition. The majority of Down syndrome children incur high medical expenses and need 24/7 supervision for the rest of their lives (which, sadly, rarely last past 30 years due to congenital health defects). Down syndrome is the result of an extra chromosome being added to the usual pair (an admitted simplification), and has physical as well as mental ramifications.
    Many parents cannot give up their careers to look after an affected child (especially in the case of poor or single parents, or those whose jobs do not provide health care), or cannot afford the necessary medical attention. The rate of adoption of Down syndrome children is abysmally low.
    I do not contest that a healthy family can include many unhealthy or disabled members. Or that the parents of down syndrome children cannot be head-over-heels enamored with their child. But a child with disabilities is a huge expense, and one that many people cannot bear. The anti-choice implication that people are heartlessly weeding out “undesirable” children with abortion is itself heartless and lacking empathy for real-life situations.

  • progo35

    Anon-your information is wrong. First of all, the average lifespan for people with down syndrome is SIXTY YEARS OLD, not THIRTY. Secondly, there is a huge list of people waiting to adopt down syndrome children and other children with disabilities, which can be found via the internet and other modes of research. Moreover, I am a disability advocate and know how Down Syndrome occurs, so don’t lecture to me about that. It is NOT necessary for parents to "give up their careers," nor is that an acceptable reason to perform an abortion on a fetus which, were it not disabled,  would be protected from such a procedure by the law, which forbids late third trimester terminations of nondisabled fetuses.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    eventhough both of u seem to be extremist, I can’t wait to see a reply on your msg :)

    The truth is prbly somewhere in the middle…

    Please always try to find good arguments that you do not agree with and think about them it helps ;)

  • therealistmom

    I officially put you in charge of finding me child care for my daughter then. Not only must they be willing to take care of a boy-crazy thirteen year old girl with Down syndrome, they must also be willing to assist her with things like ensuring she is wearing her pads during her period (she likes to deny she’s having her cycle, which is one reason I have her on birth control pills so I can know when she’ll start). They also must be priced so that it is reasonable for a person making minimum wage ($8.55 an hour in my state). I also need them to be available for when I attend classes in the fall, as the assassination of Dr. Tiller has renewed my determination to get a nursing degree to hopefully work in a womens’ clinic. Once you find me both child care and a job that will let me drop everything when I have to do things like go to the school because she’s thrown her underpants away again or somesuch, then I will completely agree with you that people don’t end up giving up their careers.

    Oh, did I mention that I don’t get to have a “life after children”? She is high-functioning so likely will be able to hold down a job in adulthood and live in a group home/ roommate situation, but spaces are extremely limited as you well know.

    You also well know that the vast majority of people who choose to end a pregnancy that would result in a child with Down syndrome do so technically “later term” but not post-viability (as most women have their ultrasounds at 18 weeks, and those who have AFP and related tests would have trisomy 21 markers much earlier). The people who have potentially post-viability abortions for a pregnancy with a Down syndrome fetus almost always do so because there is a potentially fatal defect either caused by or adjunct to the trisomy 21, ie severe heart defect that would not be correctable by surgery, and as we well know they would not be eligible for organ transplants.

    My research shows the average life span (so much improved with more medical care being made available) of a person with Down syndrome to be 49-55 years, with many living into their 60’s, which is wonderful in comparison to the “old days” so no, life span isn’t a consideration in my opinion. Persons with trisomy 21 do often show signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia as early as age 35. Again, not a consideration for ending a pregnancy but it is definitely a concern for people who are caretakers.

    Thing is, you still don’t get to decide what is a good enough reason for someone to end a pregnancy, just like you don’t get to tell someone in Washington or Oregon who has a terminal illness, two witnesses, psychiatric evaluation, and excruciating pain that they have to live with it instead of asking for assistance in dying.

    • progo35

      RealistMom-here is a video in which a colleague of George Tiller says that he did terminations at thirty weeks for fetal anomaly: 



      Moreover, no one is deciding what is good for you. Right now, such terminations occur legally. And, regardless of whether they remain legal or not, I have a right to say that I feel that such procedures are wrong and that they amount to discrimination toward the handicapped. As for help with your daughter, I’m sure there are a lot of people on this forum, both pro choice and pro life, who would be happy to help with those things if we lived nearby. 


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

      • invalid-0

        Yeah, SURE you would want to help the realist mom with watching her downs syndrome daughter, SURE you would. It is so nice that you have all of the answers, but NONE of the solutions. (sarcasm here.) In other words, like so many anti-choicers, you are useless, and should keep your mouth shut about real life problems that you theorize, but don’t experience yourself. It is one thing to be a disability advocate from your high horse in your fantasy castle far, far removed from actually dealing with the situation, but it is quite another thing to actually LIVE it.

  • invalid-0

    If you took every hide-the-truth euphemism out of this article, it would be about twenty words long.

  • invalid-0

    Tiller charged $6000 for a late-term procedure, and was not a not-for-profit clinic. So if a woman didn’t have the money for an earlier (and cheaper procedure) how did she pay for the later, and more costly, one?

    Jodie—While the AGI information is 22 years old, it’s the best that’s available. Are we to infer that with the better pre-natal testing available, women must choose late-term abortion because they can’t learn of abnormalities earlier in their pregnancies? That seems pretty unlikely, doesn’t it?

    Tiller refused to report statutory rape in the cases of his underage patients. Why is that?

    Down Syndrome diagnosis is available as early as 15 to 16 weeks.

    Dr. Tiller’s murder was dreadful and the culprit should be prosecuted. But women who consider themselves feminists need to stop pretending that Tiller was any sort of hero. If anything, his work devalued women.

  • invalid-0

    First of all, disability advocate or not, most downs syndrome children do not often live past 49 years. Second of all, it is up to the family to decide what they can handle, and what they cannot, NOT YOU. You are such a know it all, I remember on the adoption boards people who were adopted getting very angry with you because you were insisting that your adoption experience was the right adoption experience, and that your feelings about adoption were the only correct feelings to have. More to the point, it seems that you don’t have a life beyind posting on these boards. You are anti-choice, why don’t you go and find anti-choice board to post on? You call yourself a feminist, but feminists allow women to make the choices that they need to make for their own lives. They do NOT constantly try to downplay other women’s feelings and experiences when it relates to their choices that they make in their lives. You seem to think that people here really give a crap about what you think, but I found what you say often does not preclude thinking about other people at all. Yes, some people cannot afford to take care of a downs syndrome child, that is a FACT. Also, if the child lives past 50 and is extremely low functioning, what happens to it when the parents either get too old to take care of it, or they die?? Often these children have heart defects, hearing defects, vision problems, etc. and need operations and a LOT of medical care. Maybe some people do not WANT to be burdened with such a child. Maybe the parents have other problems and having such a child would put them over the edge. Who are YOU to force people to have such a child if they cannot handle the extra responsibilities?? You say then put it up for adoption, but some people would worry themselves sick about placing such a vulnerable child into strangers hands. Downs syndrome is a genetic defect, and a severe one. And a perfectly legitimate reason not to go through with a pregnancy for SOME people. I have read hundreds of stories from women who had severe medical emergencies and who needed Dr, Tiller’s help. Not ONE of them was to abort a downs syndrome child. Usually it was because brains were missing, lungs didn’t develop, the fetus had already died inside the woman, etc. etc. so why are you brining THIS up?? To try to justify his death somehow so you can sleep better at night??

    • invalid-0

      >the fetus had already died inside the woman,

      If the fetus had already died inside the woman, then it wouldn’t really be a late-term abortion, would it?

      • invalid-0

        Wow, someone is ignorant. Even if the fetus dies in utero, removing said fetus is STILL an abortion, as it is STILL aborting or stopping the pregnancy.

  • invalid-0

    If a woman could not afford his services, he would do the pregnacy termination for free. Sometimes what may seem like a pregnancy that is progressing normally goes terribly wrong. I know that you are trying to justify Dr. Tiller’s death, but he was a hero. He trusted women. He helped women.

    • invalid-0

      Dr. Tiller charged my sister $10,000 for the procedure, but for the fact that an anonymous doner provided her with a large donation, she would not have been able to afford the procedure and he would not have done it for free. She specifically told the people at the clinic that she only had a $6500 credit limit, and they told her to come up with the rest or to call the Doctor in Colorado, who did the procedure cheaper. The fact he advocated for womens’ rights does not not mean his advocating for womens’ rights was not for a profit. Some people have a tendency to heighten the greatness of a person, once they have passed.

      Nevertheless,and although Dr. Tiller was not perfect,and wasn’t a saint and he definitely was not reducing his medical fees or doing these procedures to all woman alike, those that could pay and those that couldn’t, that doesn’t make him a bad person, or less of an advocate for womens’ rights. He certainly had to take extra safety precautions to protect himself, his staff and the patients and I am sure this added to his fees.

      To his credit, my sister said Dr. Tiller was very compassionate with her and that he made her feel better about this dreadful decision, she felt she was forced to make because of the grim prognosis of the fetus’s viability. She was deeply saddened by his assasination. For the way he treated my sister,I will always be grateful and despite the fact that I am personally a pro-lifer, (and by that admission will now be subject to vicious attacks from all of the pro-choicer’s on this site who believe that all pro-lifers rejoice in the murder of innocent people, especially abortion doctor’s) I can say that his murder was unwarranted and unjustified. It is never justified to kill another human, simply because you don’t agree with their choices in life or even because they believe in abortion and you don’t.

  • invalid-0

    AGI info may be the best available…but it’s still old enough to not be correct. Perhaps it’s time to get new information?

    “Are we to infer that with better pre-natel testing available women must choose late-term abortions because they can’t learn of abnormalities eariler?”

    Depends on the abnormality. When is anencephaly diagnosable? What about Potter’s Syndrome?

    Downs’ Syndrome is possible to diagnose earlier (at a risk of miscarriage) but would Downs’ syndrome produce a baby that isn’t viable? (There are lots of Downs’ syndrome children out there — the stats on anencephaly are far worse)

    “But women who consider themselves feminists need to stop pretending that Tiller was any sort of hero.”

    You’re right – he’s not a hero. Cleaning up after anencephaly or Potter’s Syndrome is a sad messy job.

    But you all need to quit pretending these things don’t exist.

  • emma

    100%. Thank you.

  • therealistmom

    I’ve been working so hard not to go overboard that I haven’t said what really needs to be said.

    I know to a lot of people I’m a heartless bitch for understanding why someone wouldn’t feel up to the challenge of a child with trisomy 21- because I probably would not have chosen to have it thrust on me if I’d known. I’m horrible for not lying and pretending that Down syndrome is simply a lil bit of an “inconvenience”. But hey, I get that whole $31 a month in SSI payments, that should make it all right? Right?

    • emma

      If anyone thinks you’re a heartless bitch, fuck ’em. You seem far from it. :)

  • invalid-0

    It’s the pregnant woman’s choice how she will deal with a malformed/dead/dying/anomalous fetus.

    Unfortunately, one of those choices has been taken away from her.

    I never proposed that I know all the answers. If a woman chooses to carry any fetus to term regardless the consequences to herself, that’s her choice.

  • invalid-0

    in someone’s shoes, don’t be judgmental.

  • invalid-0

    Thank-you Cheryl for your wonderfully written article. I have been shouting this for weeks. I was disapointed in Pres. Barak Obamas speech. For the exact reason you mention. I was releived after my abortion and never had guilt until the christian fundamentalist groups drummed it into my phych that I was a murderer. How dare they? I am one of the gentlist persons on this planet. I was terminating an organism before it became a life.
    It might help some of these ignorant people to know there is no consiousness untill the 25 to 27th week of pregnancy at the earliest. No brain consciousness equals no personhood.
    Beside that it is my right to bring a child into the world when and if I am ready.
    Thank=you Michelle Cory

  • invalid-0

    You said, in part: “nor is that an acceptable reason to perform an abortion”.

    It’s simply not your place to decide what is an acceptable reason to terminate a pregnancy. It’s that simple. That’s exactly what anti-choicers just don’t get.

  • invalid-0

    You don’t get to decide what is or is not an acceptable reason for an abortion for any woman except yourself. Try keeping that in mind.

  • invalid-0

    No, Dr. Tiller did NOT “perform abortions for women when their fetuses were disagnosed with things like down syndrome and other disabilities that are not fatal and do not cause any more suffering than the average individual goes through”.

    He did NOT perform those abortions because it is against the law in Kansas to have a late term abortion for those reasons. I live here and I am sick of the misinformation and slandering of Dr. Tiller. Please educate yourself.

    For 20 years, Operation Rescue tried to prove Tiller was breaking the law. They failed. For 4 years, our one term right wing state AG did nothing but go after Tiller. He failed. And even after losing his re-election campaign in 2006, he continued to go after Tiller and Planned Parenthood by convening grand juries (in KS a citizen can convene a grand jury by petition) and the grand juries did not indict Tiller.

    Finally this past winter, Tiller was charged with a handful of misdemeanors and he was acquitted.

    Tiller never broke Kansas law. He absolutely did not do elective abortions for women who were carrying disabled fetuses.

    Ignorance led to Tiller’s assassination. Please stop.

    Here is one man telling about his wife’s abortion at Tiller’s clinic:

    Please educate yourself. A man was assassinated. In his church. In front of children. How ‘pro-life’ is THAT?

  • invalid-0

    Again, that is not only against Kansas state law, but federal law as well. Local law enforcement, the state AG and the FBI monitored everything he did. If he had failed to report rape, he would have been charged with a crime, lost his medical license and forced out of business.

    Operation Rescue started this failure to report rape allegation against Tiller. They also inspired his assassin to murder him. And they persecuted Tiller for 20 years. Please get your information from reliable sources. Operation Rescue is a terrorist organization, not a reliable source.

  • invalid-0

    Of course he was acquitted. He was the attorney general and the governor’s biggest supporter, and actively fundraised for them. He even was a guest to the Govenor’s mansion. The people who were in charge of his investigation, had also recieved funding from him.

    • emma

      We call this denial, Timothy. You’re intent on believing that Dr Tiller was performing illegal late term abortions, and you’ll find any excuse to go on believing it.


      And I’m with ahunt. If you have evidence that there is corruption in the Kansas AG’s office, you really need to report that to the relevant authorities. You don’t want to be complicit in criminality, after all.

  • invalid-0

    So you are accusing the Kansas AG’s office of monumental corruption? If so…let us see the evidence.

  • invalid-0

    A grand jury is made up of citizens. Not the governor or her aides – this comment is indicative of the wealth of misinformation that anti-choice people spew without having the nerve to check their facts.

    People acquitted Tiller because he had not broken the law. Prove he did – dozens of other, well-connected people before you have tried and failed. Don’t just make pithy claims about political bias when, again and again, it was proven that Tiller was compliant with the law.

  • invalid-0

    There is no doubt in my mind that caring for your child is a difficult task. Would you be willing to share with us also the blessings your daughter has brought to your life?

  • colleen

    Why Lisa, you wouldn’t be baiting RealistMom, would you? Because she’s already written a diary about her daughter and experiences raising her, a diary in which, as usual, women from the anti-abortion movement demonstrated why normal people avoid them like the plague…..






    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 not aware of nor have I read her diary. I am just asking if she would share any blessings that her daughter has brought into her life. I am sure that raising her daughter is very difficult, which she has shared. I was wondering if she would also care to share any blessings that her daughter has brought to her.

  • progo35

    Anon-you are either lying or don’t know the facts. In discussing fetal anomaly, Tiller’s own website listed Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome, as one of the main reasons that women came to his clinic for a late term procedure. Dr. Hern also lists this as one of the fetal anomalies that precipitate late term abortions performed at his clinic. So, you have based your post on a falsehood. In regard to Dr. Tiller being gunned down in his church, of course that isn’t "pro life," which is why every pro life organization in the nation condemned that act. But, that does not erase the fact that Tiller DID perform late term abortions beause of Down Syndrome and other disabilities in which the child could survive to have a relatively normal lifespan. (The average life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome is age 60).



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

    • therealistmom

      I haven’t looked at the site, I honestly haven’t the heart to right now with my distress and anger over Dr. Tiller’s assassination. I say this out front. However, I DO think maybe there may be an interpretation you aren’t seeing, or maybe you do see but since you feel strongly about all abortions performed because of fetal anomaly they all are the same in your eyes.

      It would be be illegal to perform an abortion post-viability for trisomy 21 on its own, if I understand the law correctly. There would need to be a secondary defect or the life/ health of the mother were endangered. HOWEVER, Dr. Tiller did not only perform the procedure after 24 weeks. A “late term” abortion is often considered to be 21 weeks or later. There might be a considerable number of women who DID go to him after their 18-week ultrasound indicated potential trisomy 21 (nuchal fold thickness, shortened thigh bones, heart defects, etc) and had to wait the two weeks for the results of an amniocentesis. By the time they received the results it would push them into the later territory, as I had to wait when I was pregnant with my son and trisomy 18 was suspected.

      So there may have been women who sought a procedure from him because of trisomy 21, but these would have represented slightly earlier abortions (21-23 weeks) and therefore would not have fallen under the stricter laws of 24 week abortions. Thus, he would not have been performing abortions on viable fetuses with Down syndrome unless there was another issue as well.

      I certainly don’t know this for sure- I am going by what the law seems to say and the fact that Dr. Tiller despite years of investigations inflicted on his practice was never found to have violated the laws in regards to performing third trimester abortions.

  • therealistmom

    Honestly I was beginning to wonder after being on the site a while!

    For the ‘nony… I’m going to take you at face value that you honestly are curious about the happy stories. My diary here, and the discourse in general on this site haven’t really made it the proper place to share them. I started a blog some time ago but haven’t been “inspired” of late to add to it. Really, though, for the most part our stories are the day-to-day kinds of things, playing with her younger brother, going to school… she is loving and stubborn as hell, adorable and hell on wheels. Though today she told me “f-r-i-e-n-d is how you spell friend”. That’ll be memorable for a while. :)

  • emma

    Why is it not merciful for a doctor to perform an abortion on a woman whose life is threatened by a pregnancy? Would it be more merciful to leave her to die?


    Why is it not merciful to terminate a pregnancy when the foetus has an extremely severe abnormality and will die minutes after birth, or live a short and painful life?


    I’m pretty sure all the commenters are aware of the procedures used in late term abortion.

    • invalid-0

      In THIS country with all of our available medicine and technology there is virtually NO maternal medical condition outside of cancer that would require an abortion!!! I’m getting fed up with that lie repeated over and over. So unless you are newly pregnant and newly diagnosed with cancer and in need of IMMEDIATE treatment, an abortion is not necessary. Even conditions like PIH can be managed and almost never get out of control until MUCH MUCH later in the pregnancy when at that point the baby would just be delivered early. I truly truly believe that this is a talking point meant to mislead people who don’t have much knowledge of maternal/fetal medicine.

  • invalid-0

    As a registered nurse there is not one grain of truth to anything related to partial birth abortion. It is simply and truthfully the killing of a child. Choose to believe what you will, but removing a baby up to its head and scrambling its brain is a trauma to both mother and child. If a girl gives birth and suffocates her child its murder, but the late Tiller was a saint because he killed the babies before they took a breath! This just reminds me why I left the medical field when Obama was elected.

  • therealistmom

    A trained RN would never refer to a “partial birth abortion” because there is NO medical procedure called that. Try again.

  • therealistmom

    People who want to scream about the fact that he charged for the procedure obviously have no problem with any OTHER physician charging for services, and Dr. Tiller did, in fact, work with many women to reduce costs or provide emergency procedures free. When one considers how much malpractice insurance he had to carry (it had to be extremely difficult to find a company willing to cover him) and the amount of security he had to pay for… never mind the price of the surgery, instruments, staff, etc.

    Some average costs for surgeries in the US:

    For those not covered by health insurance, a tonsillectomy — with or without an adenoidectomy — typically costs from $4,153 to $6,381, with an average cost of $5,442, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. For example, a survey by the Minnesota Council of Health Plans found the average cost was $4,875 in that state. (

    Average total cost- $15,850
    Average high cost (2 days hospital stay) $18,768 (

    Wisdom tooth removal- $400-$500 per tooth (varied sources) so up to $2000 for all 4 teeth.

    Thinking about how intensive the surgical procedures he performed were, plus aftercare, etc… how can anyone condemn him for the average $6,000 he seemed to charge?

  • invalid-0

    But it was on The Internet! Therefore it must be true!


  • colleen

    Say what?  That’s not only rude, it’s pointlessly, gratuitiously rude.

    And may I add that 3 children is hardly an excessive number….





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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • therealistmom

    it is not for you to decide if and when fetal anomaly is great enough to fall under the classification of a doomed pregnancy (or if the resulting baby would have quality of life) or dangerous to the mental health of the woman. That is why it has to be between the woman and her doctor. Since there had to be independent verification from two other physicians that this was an appropriate course of action there would need to be significant anomaly or extreme danger to the woman’s well-being to get approval. You certainly have the right to say YOU BELIEVE it’s discriminatory- the rest of us have the right to say we believe that quality of life issues and the woman’s well-being are important considerations. You’ve made it very clear that you consider “viable” a pregnancy that would result in a baby that lived only days after birth because we don’t “know” if it suffers or feels pain, and therefore shouldn’t fall under the guidelines of a doomed pregnancy. I consider the suffering of the woman and her family to be more than enough to justify letting go.

  • invalid-0

    Sorry, I tried posting my comment under Robert Baker’s but it ended up at the bottom instead. It was in reply to his comment to which I was referring was the ignorant one.

  • therealistmom

    … if a procedure is performed to “end the pregnancy”. Having to go through an induced labor is a hardship, and a C-section despite how commonly performed it is in the United States is major abdominal surgery with risks to the woman. Labor induction is an option, and some choose it, feeling that they need to “give birth” in order to mourn the loss of their babies. However, having D&X procedures available to remove the fetus and thus end the pregnancy more quickly and with less physical distress to the woman is important. This is one of the reasons the “intact D&X” is performed, that procedure that the anti-choicers paint as “partial-birth abortion”. It allows for the delivery of an intact fetus without subjecting the mother to labor. They are able to hold their baby that wasn’t meant to be and say goodbye, helping with their grief.

    • invalid-0

      I don’t think that even today they would perform an “intact D&X” to deliver twins that had developed into the 8th month. I don’t even think it would be possible to manually open the cervix and extract INTACT 36 week old twin fetus’. I have no doubt that you would be looking at induction or c-section. The only thing that would be different today would be the EARLY induction c-section part.
      All this being said, I can’t imagine a more heartbreaking situation to go through.

  • invalid-0

    If things haven’t changed since I worked for Dr. Tiller, then the procedure that would have been done for the great-grandmother would have been the same as what you described. . .induction and yes, there are still protesters who would have condemned her for showing up at the abortion clinic. They don’t care what the reason is for you being there, they just want to stop you. I remember a case where a child would have been the patient since she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and she was too small for us to take care of. The protesters told her that if she had kept her panties up, this wouldn’t have happened. Shameful!!!

  • invalid-0

    However, I must admit that what troubles me is the devaluing of the fetus; that somehow just because it is not born it is not a person.

    Late-term pregnancies are usually wanted pregnancies, Lee. The aborted fetus is very much a person to the parents, and burial rites are not uncommon.

    How can a fetus aborted at 29 weeks not be a person and a fetus born early at 29 weeks be one?

    Before birth, “personhood” is subjective. How do you define it? Does everyone agree on that definition? You may as well ask, “At what age does a boy become a man? How can one twenty-year-old be so childish, and another one so immature?”

    This is why we say that an abortion is ultimately a private matter between the woman, her doctor, and (possibly) God. These hard questions don’t have universal answers—you have to take them on a case-by-case basis. And our view is that the women in question are morally and intellectually capable of struggling with these questions, and coming to an answer that makes the most sense for them.

  • invalid-0

    I’m sorry but I can not just sit here and read this commentary without responding to Lee.

    Please let me preface this by stating that I am NOT addressing women who have late-term abortions because their babies have been diagnosed with conditions 100% incompatible with life.

    “However, I must admit that what troubles me is the devaluing of the fetus; that somehow just because it is not born it is not a person.”

    Lee, the reason this is troubling is because it is TRUE. Abortion DOES devalue the fetus. Abortion essentially determines one human being to be more valuable than another. This is something our country as well as our CONSTITUTION directly points out as being intolerable. It’s a major reason our country went to war over slavery and civil rights. Abortion is fundamentally UN-AMERICAN.

    When abortion became legal technology was not yet available to clearly display the “personhood” of a 24, 25+ week old fetus. We have 3d ultrasound now. It’s clear beyond any question that a healthy 24 week old fetus is an individual. Most babies born at this age will survive and go on to lead potentially productive and satisfying lives. I believe we are not many years off from saying the same for fetus delivered even sooner. So I have to fervently disagree with “Anonymous” that “personhood is subjective.” At 24 weeks gestation (I personally believe much much sooner than that) even a three year old child would recognize that to be a “baby”.
    I also have to STRONGLY disagree that “the women in question are morally and intellectually capable of struggling with these questions, and coming to an answer…” No more so than the new mother who throws her newborn baby into the dumpster.

    So things are just wrong. The reason this is a hard question is because some women don’t like the right answer. Pregnancy can be emotional and physical torture. Many would say the same for actually raising children! But the solution to a difficult situation is not to destroy and pretend it never existed.

    The answer to this “difficult question” is ADOPTION, ADOPTION, ADOPTION. Better access to it, more support for it. This is where the focus should be. Late-term abortion for any reason other than FETAL mercy, is murder in the same way throwing a newborn in a dumpster is murder. Do we have sympathy for the young girl who makes such a horrible and desperate decision? Of course, but who among us would not prosecute someone who has killed a newborn? I don’t care if it’s “only” 100 late-term babies who are being aborted every year. These fetus’ need protection in the same way abused newborn children do. That’s all there is to it.

  • therealistmom

    [blockquote]Late-term abortion for any reason other than FETAL mercy, is murder in the same way throwing a newborn in a dumpster is murder.[/blockquote]

    So performing a late-term abortion to save the WOMAN’S life or health is selfish? Especially if she would die and take the fetus with her?! A living, breathing, sentient woman is not worth mercy?

  • therealistmom

    Tell that to the women who have severe toxemia (not “hypertension”) where the ONLY cure is for the woman to immediately NOT BE PREGNANT (and for whom labor may kill her, so the “just deliver a preemie!” doesn’t work). Or for extreme maternal diabetes. Or for a cancer diagnosed later in pregnancy that requires immediate chemo or radiation treatment. How about the women who have sudden-onset heart disease? I’m glad you, not being a physician or the woman involved, know more about what the proper treatment should be. Way to make women who have had these conditions and were forced to end a wanted pregnancy the guilty parties.

  • invalid-0

    Ann Rose,as I sit here in my wheelchair, in a highrise condo I bought myself and my little red sportscar parked downstairs, all purchased with my wages which I earned at a cushy federal job that I landed after I earned my Master’s Degree at one of the top colleges in the USA, I shake my head at the outdated stereotypes which “RealityCheck” fosters about congentially disabled children, such as I was/am. Has “RealityCheck” picked up a newspaper in the last 20 years or so, and updated its preconceptions about what the lives of children with disabilities are like? Yes, I had several painful surgeries between ages 6 and 12, to improve my ability to walk–big deal–that was 35 years ago. I have cerebral palsy, some people have spina bifida or other moderate to severe disabilities–many go on to live normal lives. I work in an office with people who are blind, deaf, mobility impaired, learning disabled–you name it, we all get along, and earn fat paychecks that we pay taxes on, just like you. Half the disabled folks in the office are parents themselves. Other people in this country have even more severe disabilities–they may live in a group home, and go to work at a supported job. Their parents must be watchful and feisty, and plan in advance how the child will cope when they are not around. Is it easy? No. But it usually gets done and the disabled folks live happy lives. So in summation, I’d like to say to “”: Can YOU get a reality check, do a little background research, and THINK before you publish as fact suppositions about the lives of people with disabilities, when you have no experience with disabilities to validate the suppositions as true? Thank you, Susan

  • colleen

    In THIS country with all of our available medicine and technology there
    is virtually NO maternal medical condition outside of cancer that would
    require an abortion!!!

     The US is 41st in maternal mortality rates. This means that 40 other countries (and Australia, where Emma has the great good fortune to live,  is one of them) do a better job of caring for pregnant women than the US does. Part of this is because the US has such a dysfunctional, expensive and savage healthcare delivery  system.

     I don’t know where you get your information from but you and they are wrong. It’s also clear that you have no medical training. You DO, however, have a computer and could do the research yourself rather than make such ignorant and irresponsible statements. Try googling "complications of pregnancy" andspend a couple of hours reading the results.


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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    OF COURSE their are numerous complications that can occur during pregnancy (I’ve had four children myself!). Ranging from annoying to life-threatening. I never disputed that. My point is that 99% of the time an abortion is NOT the medical solution to a pregnancy complication. GIVE ME A BREAK! Hypertension RARELY occurs before the 20th week. IF it became severe enough at that point a woman would be admitted into the hospital where her condition could be managed until the fetus was viable and could be delivered. Not ideal for the baby but better than just throwing up our hands in the air saying, “Well, mom’s sick…let’s just destroy this 18 week old fetus.”

    “The US is 41st in maternal mortality rates…” 13.1 maternal deaths per 100,000. Obviously it is tragic when a mother dies for ANY reason but there are MANY reasons for this. Here are just a couple of reasons:

    *Advanced maternal age. More American women are having children later in life. Fertility treatments produce higher numbers of multiples which create complications in and of themselves, etc.
    *C-section rates have increased exponentially. Along with major surgery comes potential for major complications (post surgical blood clots, hemorrhage, infection).
    Deaths from these types of complications occur WAY after viability and most often AFTER delivery so abortion is not part of the equation here. This has got to account for a large percentage of those deaths.

    I’m not saying that there is NEVER a situation where the ONLY way a woman’s life could be saved would be to abort her baby BUT C’MON!…How often does that really occur in this country?????

    I’ll tell you what, we end 99% of abortion’s and allow for it ONLY in those .01-1% of cases where a woman’s life in UNQUESTIONABLY on the line and the debate is over.

    What I CAN NOT understand is why you women don’t fight equally as hard for better maternal health care, more support for crisis pregnancies. Why are you not marching with signs that say “MAKE ADOPTION FREE AND EASY!”

    I had a long discussion with my “pro-choice” OBGYN. He has delivered almost 10,000 babies. I asked him if he has ever had a patient who had to be referred for an abortion due to the mother’s life being at risk. He LAUGHED and said that was a “political talking point” and that he has only seen that happen maybe 5 times in the last 20 years due to medical advances in maternal care. He did say however that he has referred women for abortions because they felt they were not mentally prepared for a/another pregnancy.

    And I take issue with your “Taliban” quote. Why can’t you understand that “we” don’t want to take freedom away from ANYONE (including a fetus with down syndrome). We don’t want to force a way of life on ANYONE (don’t want your baby?…adoption). We believe in freedom and equality for EVERYONE. We are the exact opposite of the Taliban!!! Abortion advocates are more philosophically in line with the Taliban (and Hitler for that matter). You see, THEY believe that certain individuals are more valuable and take precedence over others. They believe that anyone standing in the way of their agenda should be destroyed (i.e 9/11 and WWll Germany). Sound familiar?

    • invalid-0

      Abortion was illegal in Nazi Gernany!

      • invalid-0

        I for one am against abortion unless under certain circumstances that might pose a great danger to the mother. Interesting discussion, anyway!

  • invalid-0

    My point is that 99% of the time an abortion is NOT the medical solution to a pregnancy complication.

    So, you are a doctor specializing in OB/GYN, or otherwise a medical authority in the area, to make this assertion? Can you provide a reputable citation, or at least your professional credentials?

    Abortion advocates are more philosophically in line with the Taliban (and Hitler for that matter).

    Godwin’s Law strikes again. Thanks for playing, better luck next time.

  • invalid-0

    “Godwin’s Law strikes again. Thanks for playing, better luck next time.”

    Hummmm, let’s think about this. YOU essentially invoked Godwin’s Law by pasting a quote comparing Pro-Life advocates to the Talliban. SERIOUSLY, think that through a bit! I was responding to a comparison YOU made linking a group of people whom YOU disagree with to a murderous and oppressive regime. SAME THING. At this point I will stifle all personal insults that are running rampant through my mind.

    Secondly, as an American citizen I am entitled to make ANY assertion I would like! Credentialed or otherwise. OBVIOUSLY, it is YOUR entitlement (or rather responsibility in this case) to either agree or disagree. The reason I didn’t include “reputable citation’s” in my prior post was because I believed it to be HIGHLY UNLIKELY that you would take the time to actually read them. But I stand corrected. Apparently you are open and willing to research the fact’s behind my statements.

    I don’t have the time to copy and paste thousands of “reputable citation’s” but I will get you started with just a few.

    From the website of Pro-life OBGYN’s ( :

    Is abortion ever really necessary to save the mother’s life?
    Medically speaking, abortion is unnecessary to save the mother’s life. It is important to distinguish between direct abortion (the intentional and willed destruction of a pre-born child) and a legitimate treatment chosen by a pregnant mother to save her life. Such operations performed to save the life of the mother – such as the removal of a cancerous uterus or an ectopic pregnancy that poses the threat of imminent death – are considered indirect abortions. They are justified under a concept called the “principle of double effect.” Under this principle, the death of the child is an unintended effect of an operation, independently justified by the necessity of saving the mother’s life.
    Essentially, both mother and child should be treated as patients. A doctor should try to protect both. However, in the course of treating a woman, if her child dies, it is not considered abortion.

    “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal disease such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save the life of the mother.” -Alan Guttmacher, former president of Planned Parenthood.


    Misinformation has been Continually Aired on Partial-Birth Abortion, Including the Following:

    It may be necessary to save a woman’s life. Not true. In fact, H.R. 1122 allows partial-birth abortion to save a mother’s life. In any event, “There are absolutely no obstetrical situations…which require a partially delivered human fetus to be destroyed to preserve the life or health of the mother.” [1]
    President Clinton argued that it is necessary to prevent “serious adverse health consequences” to the mother. Not true. The mainstream medical community agrees: There is NO medical necessity for such a procedure. Even the leading authority on late-term abortion in the United States says that the procedure is never necessary to preserve a woman’s health. [2] Furthermore, “health”, as defined by law in the abortion context includes all factors –
    physical, emotional, psychological, familial and social. [3] This “health” factor is a loophole large enough to justify any abortion. So, adding any health exception would effectively negate the ban. Addition to the modifiers “serious” and “adverse” will not change the way the law defines health.
    It may be necessary to preserve a woman’s future fertility. Not true. Medical experts say it does the opposite. Forcefully dilating a woman’s cervix for three days and turning a baby in utero to a breech position can make it more difficult to carry a subsequent baby to term. [4]
    The procedure is not as brutal as it looks. The anesthesia given to the mother kills the unborn baby. Not true. Leading anesthesiologists in the United States testified before Congress that this is simply not true. [5]
    It is rarely done, and only for the most serious of reasons. Not true. It was testified before Congress that 1500 of these were done in New Jersey alone! And 80% of them were done on healthy mothers and babies. We do not know the total number of these abortions… but even if it were only 500 per state (500×50) it would be at least 25,000 babies per year. Practitioners report that the vast majority of these abortions are elective and that some are
    done to prevent the live birth of a child with handicaps. [6]
    [1] Testimony of Pamela Smith, MD in U.S. Senate Hearing Report 104-260 (Testimony of Nov. 17, 1995) p. 82.

    [2] Dr. Warren Hern, in American Medical News, Nov. 20, 1995 p.3.

    [3] Doe v. Bolton 410 U.S. 179, 192 (1973).

    [4] Dr. Warren Hern, in American Medical News, Nov. 20, 1995 p.3.

    [5] U.S. Senate Hearing Report 104-260 p.108.

    [6] U.S. Senate Hearing Report 104-260 p.23.


    I write in response to your editorial of March 30 [“Women have a right to be told of abortion option”]. As a physician practicing in the field of neonatology, I was deeply troubled by your conclusions as well as by the medical misinformation you provided to the public.

    You erroneously state that women are put at risk when they are not offered “emergency” or urgent abortion as an option for their pregnancy. You use the example of rupture of membranes early in pregnancy, and state that abortion is a “recommended option.” In fact, surgical abortion, which mutilates the fetus and also poses some risk to the mother, is not the best medical option in this situation. Expectant management and use of antibiotics is. The majority of time the woman will miscarry — a far more natural event than an abortion. Furthermore, approximately 10 percent of the time the hole in the membranes can seal up and the pregnancy can continue to viability. The protocol followed in Catholic hospitals in this scenario is a legitimate, valid and safe option for premature rupture of membranes, one that is best for both mother and child.

    Abortion performed to “save” a mother’s life almost never — if ever — is necessary. Are pregnant women dying in Catholic hospitals, unable to get access to an emergency abortion? Of course not. In fact, Ireland — a country where the unborn child is constitutionally protected — has the lowest maternal death rate in the world. More than a decade ago, a group of Ireland’s top obstetricians concluded that “there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of a mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child.

    The United Kingdom, on the other hand, where abortion is available practically on demand, has over five times Ireland’s maternal death rate.

    Catholic hospitals and physicians do not offer abortion as a “treatment option,” because abortion always ends the life of what medical textbooks — used in secular medical schools — refer to as the “second patient,” namely, the unborn child.

    Colleen Malloy, M.D.,

    Northwestern University

    Feinberg School of Medicine

    I could go on and on with links….

    But instead i’ll just continue to stand behind my statement that the VAST majority of the time abortion is NOT the medical solution to a pregnancy complication. Do American women still die during pregnancy? Tragically, yes. Thankfully, it is a rare event. Go ahead and continue to disagree with me but guess what? Everyone knows it’s just rhetoric intended to portray abortion as some heroic procedure rescuing thousands of women who would otherwise die. But the tide IS turning. Modern maternal medicine and ultrasound has opened up many many eyes. ESPECIALLY regarding late-term abortion.

    Since you enjoy quotes so much, here’s a great one:

    “When you know better, you do better.”
    Maya Angelou

  • invalid-0

    Michelle just put out this statement about her father for Father’s Day. Evidently, he had Multiple Sclerosis, which is similar in physical effects to cerebral palsy, brain damage, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, polio, and spinal cord injuries, some disabilities that are screened for fetal terminations.

    However,she mentions what a full life he had, and what a inspiration he was for her future life. She mentions that he provided for her future and was her hero. Mr. Obama, in contrast, had a healthy father who abandoned him at age 2.

    This is why judging people’s quality of life based on the presence of absence of a disability makes me nuts! In Ann Rose’s world, people like Michelle Obama’s father are fetuses with future “defects” and “anomalies” and terminated, while Mr. Obama’s father, who grew up to be a absentee father, would face no such prejudice.

    See Michelle’s comments below:

    “Happy Father’s Day,

    I’m writing to share a special video of Barack talking about fatherhood, but first I want to share some thoughts of my own.

    My father, Frasier Robinson, was the rock of our family. Although he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion and our hero.

    He worked tirelessly through good days and bad to make sure my brother and I had every opportunity he didn’t — to go to college and pursue our dreams. His example continues to guide me every day.

    Barack didn’t have my good fortune — his father left when he was just two years old. But he has always been determined to give our daughters what he never had, and he values being a good father more than any other accomplishment in his life.

    On Friday, Barack brought some men (and a bunch of kids!) to the White House to talk about fatherhood. Check out a video of the event:

    Happy Fathers Day

    We all know the remarkable impact fathers can have in our children’s lives. So today, on this 100th anniversary of Father’s Day, take a moment to celebrate responsible fatherhood and the men who’ve had the courage to step up, be there for our families, and provide our children with the guidance, love and support they need to fulfill their dreams.


  • invalid-0

    I could sure use his help now. My girlfriend and I have a child with a heart defect that will either result in death within days of birth or put him through at least 4 open heart surgeries and a lifetime of medical conditions and pain. Our state and Dr. will not allow us to do what we believe is right. The Dr. mentioned that Tiller would have been an option for us, but he is dead and others will not follow him for fear of being killed. Now we get to carry our son to term and watch him slowly die. The system is set up to pursue life regardless of the suffering, personal cost and financial cost. Thank you right wingers, for the misery we now face.

  • snowflake

    Read below to see the life Dr. Tiller’s "mercy" could have prevented..

    Martinez Confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy

    On June 25, 2009, the Senate voted by unanimous
    consent to confirm Kathleen (Kathy) Martinez
    as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Blind
    since birth, Ms. Martinez comes to ODEP with a background as an
    internationally recognized disability rights leader specializing in
    employment, asset building, independent living, international development,
    diversity and gender issues.

    She will occupy her Washington,
    DC office beginning Monday,
    July 20.

    Read more
    about Assistant Secretary Kathleen Martinez



  • invalid-0

    This was one of the best articles on abortions I have seen, just look at the responses.