In a 2008 article in The Telegraph, British abortionist Dr. Vincent Argent explains why he opposes late-term abortion. Argent has committed late-term abortions in the past, but has had a change of heart. Now he says that these abortions should be illegal. In England, abortion is legal up to the 24th week of pregnancy. Later abortions can be done if the baby has a disability or medical condition and the parents don’t want him or her to be born.
In his explanation of why late-term abortions should be banned, Argent reveals their gruesome nature. He gives a first-hand account of two methods of late-term abortion:
There are two main types of procedure; the medical type, which kills the baby via medication, meaning that the woman miscarries a stillborn. If the baby is 22 weeks or older, it will be given a lethal injection in the womb, to ensure it is not born alive. Alternatively the surgical procedure uses instruments to remove parts of the dismembered body from the uterus, limb by limb. It is hard to describe how it feels to pull out parts of a baby, to see arms, and bits of leg, and finally the head.
The first type of late-term abortion Argent describes is an induction abortion. In the United States, these abortions are usually done in the third trimester, although in England they are sometimes done earlier. Induction abortions are done by injecting a poison (usually digoxin) into the baby and killing him or her before inducing labor. The woman essentially “gives birth” to a dead child. Former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino illustrates an induction procedure in a video released by Live Action:
The second type of abortion Argent describes is a D&E. A D&E is the most common second trimester procedure in the United States. In this type of abortion, the abortionist uses forceps to dismember the preborn baby. Levatino illustrates the procedure with diagrams:
Argent is not the only abortionist to be troubled by doing D&E abortions. Late-term abortionist Warren Hern, who commits abortion in all three trimesters of pregnancy, once wrote a paper on the emotional impact D&E abortions have on abortionists. He and pro-abortion author Billie Corrigan wrote “What About Us? Staff Reactions to the D & E Procedure,” which was presented to the Association of Planned Parenthood Physicians on October 26, 1978. The paper says:
Many [abortionists and abortion workers] reported serious emotional reactions which produced physiological symptoms, sleep disturbances, effects on personal relationships, and moral anguish…Reactions to viewing the fetus ranged from “I haven’t looked,” to shock, dismay, amazement, disgust, fear, and sadness…Two felt it must eventually damage [the doctor] psychologically…Two respondents described dreams which they had related to the procedure. Both described dreams of vomiting fetuses along with a sense of horror. Other dreams revolved around a need to protect others from viewing fetal parts, dreaming that she herself was pregnant and needed an abortion or was having a baby… The more direct the physical and visual involvement [i.e. nurses and doctors] the more stress experienced.
This is the procedure Vincent Argent was referring to. Argent then goes on to say that many of these abortions are committed for what he considers to be frivolous reasons:
Given the nature of this experience, it greatly concerns me how lightly some of these decisions are made.
For every woman who comes late to the clinic because she did not realise she was pregnant, there will be another who feels it is simply their right to have an abortion whenever they like, and feels no need to explain herself at all. A third will seek a late-term abortion because her circumstances have changed. It might be a change of job; a relationship has broken down; her partner is now in prison; perhaps money is tight. For me, these are no reasons to carry out such a distressing procedure.
He describes how one mother went through IVF treatments and conceived twins, then decided she didn’t want one of the babies, saying, “Recently, one woman came to me at the age of 42. After years of IVF treatment, she had finally conceived for the first time. Yet, when she found out she was carrying twins she wanted to have one aborted.”
To this woman, babies were commodities that she could create and destroy based on her personal feelings. Her cavalier attitude toward the babies she set out to conceive bothered the abortionist.
Those who support keeping late-term abortion legal often argue that these abortions are done only for the most dire reasons. They claim that women only have late-term abortions when their lives or health are in danger, or when there is something drastically wrong with the child. In reality, most of these abortions are done on healthy women with healthy babies.
A study done by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research organization originally affiliated with Planned Parenthood, found that:
Of women who had an abortion at 16 or more weeks’ gestation, 71% attributed their delay to not having realized they were pregnant or not having known soon enough the actual gestation of their pregnancy. Almost half were delayed because of trouble in arranging the abortion, usually because they needed time to raise money. One-third did not have an abortion earlier because they were afraid to tell their partner or their parents that they were pregnant.
There was not one single case of an abortion for fetal or maternal health problems in the study.
Argent has seen late-term abortion firsthand, and knows the reasons why it is committed. He is now against it.
Although this article was written in 2008, abortion is still legal up to 24 weeks in Great Britain, and legal after that if the baby has a disability or health problem.