A recent interview with late-term abortionist Dr. Susan Robinson in The Hairpin casts some light on the controversial practice of third-trimester abortion. Even many pro-choice people have a hard time understanding why a woman would wait 30 weeks before having an abortion. You sometimes hear pro-choicers say that if there were fewer restrictions on earlier abortion, there would be no late-term abortions.
Not so, says Dr. Robinson:
I think that the public perceives first of all that late abortion could be completely eliminated if people would only get their act together and have their abortions earlier, which is completely untrue….No matter how available birth control and first-trimester and second-trimester abortion is, you are always going to have the need for later abortions…the need for late-term abortions will never go away.
She goes on to address the reasons why women abort their healthy babies in the third trimester:
Well, a large percentage of our patients had no idea that they were pregnant. People go, “How could this possibly be?” Well, look at that reality show. It happens. Maybe you’re a little heavy and you already have irregular periods, or you had intercourse once, several months ago, and the guy said he pulled out and there’s no sex education in your school so you think everything’s fine. Or you never have periods because you’re very thin, or a doctor has told you you were infertile.
I could tell you a million reasons why women who are perfectly smart—and they are, these are not stupid women—don’t come to know they are pregnant. They have no weight changes, they don’t feel sick, they don’t feel movement, or if they do they think it’s gas. Suddenly someone says, “Hmm, your stomach’s looking big, have you taken a pregnancy test?” And the person may have taken a test, and it may have come out negative—I’ve had women that only got a positive on their third test. And either way they think they just got pregnant. They have no idea they’re in their 24th week. So they make an appointment for an abortion, and it takes a few weeks, and they have their ultrasound and find out that they’re at 27 weeks, which is too far for an abortion anywhere. So then what happens? They either give up or have a baby, or they go on the Internet and they find us.
I haven’t been in Robinson’s clinic, but I find it hard to believe that so many women don’t know they’re pregnant until the third trimester that Robinson is able to make a living off aborting their babies. I am reminded of the woman who aborted her 20-week-old twins because they were girls. It still breaks down to the same thing, whether the woman knew she was pregnant or not – she wants to kill her baby simply because the baby is unwanted.
Carrying the child a few more months (or in some cases, mere weeks) and giving her up for adoption is not an option for these women. Is killing an almost full-term baby justified simply because a woman does not want her baby to live? We’re talking babies who can survive outside the mother’s body. Dr. Robinson describes performing abortions up to 32 weeks and beyond. In fact, babies have survived as early as 21 weeks.
I was born at 28-29 weeks in 1975. Even back then, when neonatal medicine was not as advanced as it is today, I was considered one of the “good” babies in the neonatal care unit. Nurses believed that I would survive, and that I would be healthy. My parents tell me that there were children there much younger than I was who went home with their parents. The fact that Robinson aborts babies older than I was at birth is disturbing.
Then there are those abortions that are done because there is something wrong with the baby. Sometimes it is a serious handicap that doctors say would cause the child to die soon after birth. Many times it is a less severe handicap such as Down syndrome – in fact, some estimates say that up to 90% of Down-syndrome children are aborted. Giving birth to a handicapped baby is a difficult trial for any woman. Adoption, however, is still an option – there are organizations set up to facilitate the adoption of handicapped children. In fact, there are so many families willing to adopt children with Down syndrome that there is actually a several-year waiting list for these babies. Doctors often pressure women to have abortions when the baby is handicapped, perhaps fearing lawsuits.
Robinson explains how abortions in the third trimester are performed:
We sedate the patient and euthanize their fetus, their baby, with an injection. The fetus passes away, doesn’t feel anything.
Her use of the word “baby” in this context shows that she is under no illusions about what she does for a living – she kills babies. In using the terms “fetus” and “baby” interchangeably, she reveals that she, like many abortionists, knows that these children are living human beings. One also wonders how Dr. Robinson knows that the baby dies painlessly after being injected and poisoned.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of Dr. Robinson’s interview is her description of how many of the women who abort their handicapped children want to see the children they had killed:
With fetal anomaly patients, we ask them right up front if they plan to hold their baby after it’s born. These patients, their emotional needs are so different from the ones who are looking at their pregnancy as an absolute disaster, who are just thinking, “Get it out of me, please, please, please.” Those patients—the maternal indications patients—they are not relating to their fetus as a baby, they’re relating to it as a problem.
But with a fetal indications patient—if she refers to it as her baby, I’ll refer to it as her baby. If she’s named the baby, I’ll use the baby’s name too. I would say that most of these patients do decide to see and hold their baby, although many of them have a hard time dealing with the idea at first. We’ll take remembrance photographs, we’ll give them a teddy bear, the footprints… I don’t want them to go home from the procedure with absolutely nothing to remember and honor the baby, and its birth.
Even the interviewer seemed shocked by this admission.
Wow. You’ll say “birth”?
Yes. I try to mirror what will be the most consoling to the patient. In general, these patients—fetal indications—do talk about giving birth, so I’ll say that as well.
The interviewer also says:
To simultaneously sustain these ideas—that you desperately loved and wanted this baby that’s here in your arms, and also that you just committed yourself to ending its life—it’s one of the most complicated emotional situations I can imagine. In these cases—I am sorry for this macabre question—the baby is dead, right? They never meet their baby alive?
Here Dr. Robinson affirms that yes, the baby is dead.
There is a ray of hope in the article. When asked where she thinks abortion politics are going in America, Dr. Robinson said:
I think that the extreme, right-wing, misogynist religious fanatics have basically hijacked the Republican party and are moving toward being able to hijack the Democrats, too.
Apparently, one must be a religious fanatic to see something wrong with killing full-term babies. One can only hope that as more people become aware that third-trimester abortions are legal and are happening in this country, more and more people will speak out against the grisly practice. Support for late-term abortions, especially elective late-term abortions, has always been low. In fact, the most recent Gallup poll shows that only 14% of Americans want abortion to be legal in the third trimester. As more people become aware that babies are being killed this late in pregnancy, we can have hope that laws will be passed outlaw the procedure.
It is also interesting to note that nowhere in the article does Dr. Robinson mention women who need to have abortions in the third trimester because of health reasons. This may be because simply removing the living, viable baby by C-section is no more dangerous than going through a procedure to abort him or her.