Abortionists agree: D&E abortions are ‘destructive and violent’

dismemberment abortions D&E abortion removes baby's limb, Go to for facts on abortion

Dismemberment abortions known as D&E or Dilation and Evacuation, are extremely violent. The procedure is so gruesome that even hardened abortionists and staff have expressed horror over what takes place. Described by many as (quite literally) a dismemberment abortion, the gruesome procedure is center to Mississippi’s controversial 15-week abortion ban, which the Supreme Court has agreed to take up later this year to determine its constitutionality.

The D&E procedure, as described by former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino in the video below, involves tearing the second-trimester, preborn child’s arms and legs from her torso before crushing her skull. It is as horrific as it sounds as the baby is dismembered piece by piece, leading one abortionist to admit pro-lifers are right to call abortionists “butchers.”


Moral qualms 

Live Action News previously described instances of “moral qualms” by abortionists over D&E abortions. Dr. Rebecca Holmes, who was taught how to carry out D&E abortions but later declined to commit them, said “I just did not enjoy pulling the fetus out… I just did not want to do them anymore.”

Philadelphia Inquirer (PI) documented such abortions in August 1981, writing in part, “D&E requires literally cutting the fetus from the womb and, then, reassembling the parts, or at least keeping them all in view, to assure that the abortion is complete.”

Dr. Julius Butler, an OB/GYN professor, expressed concern for abortionists that D&E abortions would be widely used, telling PI, “Remember there is a human being at the other end of the table taking that kid apart.”

Dr. William Benbow Thompson of the University of California at Irvine told PI, “You are doing a destructive process. Arms, legs, chests come out in the forceps. It’s not a sight for everybody.”

Dr. Nancy Kaltreider, an academic psychiatrist at the University of San Francisco found “an unexpectedly strong reaction” by abortion staff to the procedure. “Physicians reported the D&E procedures to be emotionally difficult…” she wrote.

D&E abortions are “horrible”

In 1984, abortionist William Rashbaum admitted that he committed D&E abortions, but he told The New York Times that it is ”a horrible procedure.”

In 2003, Mother Jones described the reaction of Rashmaum’s own intern as he watched Rashmaum commit a D&E procedure. “[The abortionist] intently leaned in closely and methodically pulled piece after piece of the fetuses out of the mother’s uterus, ignoring the attending staff’s whispers of horror — ‘It’s twins. It’s twins’ — to each other,” reported Mother Jones. “The intern reacted violently, running home, throwing up, and asking herself, ‘Is this right?'”

“Larger fetal parts”

In her paper entitled, “Second Trimester Abortion Provision: Breaking the Silence and Changing the Discourse,” Planned Parenthood abortionist Lisa Harris acknowledged the hesitancy of abortionists over dismemberment abortions.

Harris wrote, “I trained to do D&E procedures to about 23 weeks as a resident….I began working as a staff physician at a clinic that provided surgical abortion…The process of moving the gestational age limit beyond 14 weeks was slow… some staff members were initially uncomfortable with the prospect of dealing with larger fetal parts.”

READ: Legalized evil: An abortionist’s own words reveal the barbarity of abortion

She cited abortionist Susan Wicklund as she observed her first dismemberment procedure at 21 weeks: “Seeing an arm being pulled through the vaginal canal was shocking. One of the nurses in the room escorted me out when the colour left my face… Not only was it a visceral shock; this was something I had to think deeply about…From that moment, I chose to limit my abortion practice to the first trimester: 14 weeks or less.” Preborn children at 14 weeks and earlier also have arms and legs, yet their destruction through first-trimester suction abortion (D&C) is less immediately visible to abortionists.


Abortion staff experience “emotional distress” and “nightmares” 

In his book, “Abortion Policy: An Evaluation of the Consequences for Maternal and Infant Health,” Jerome S. Legge Jr.  wrote, “D&E is more emotionally difficult for the medical staff.”

“One physician who…refused to perform D&E abortions commented, ‘Killing a baby is not the way I want to think about myself,'” wrote Legge. He went on to say, “Two physicians who did perform D&E felt strong emotional reactions during or following the terminations and had ‘occasional disquieted dreams.'”

Harris found a similar struggle. “As D&E became increasingly accepted…a small amount of research on provider perspectives on D&E resulted,” she said. “[Dr. Nancy] Kaltreider et al found that some doctors who provided D&E had ‘disquieting’ dreams and strong emotional reactions.”

She pointed to another study authored by Colorado late-term abortionist Warren Hern and Billie Corrigan, writing, “Hern found that D&E was ‘qualitatively a different procedure – both medically and emotionally –than early abortion.'” She added, “Many of his staff members reported: ‘…serious emotional reactions that produced physiological symptoms, sleep disturbances (including disturbing dreams), effects on interpersonal relationships and moral anguish.'”

Abortion staff reactions are “intense”

“Both authors have noted intense reactions in themselves and other staff members to D&E,” the authors of the Hern study entitled “What about us? Staff reactions to D&E” noted. They claimed emotional distress from D&E is “increased for those who perform the abortion” which may impact the care the abortion client receives.

“Reactions to the fetus ranged from purposely not looking at it to shock, dismay, amazement, disgust, fear and sadness,” the study revealed.

dismemberment abortions violent, Warren Hern staff

Abortion staff react to Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) dismemberment abortions

“For second trimester abortions,” Hern and Corrigan wrote, “there was an increased fear of complications, the visual impact of the fetus, and the violence of D&E.”

Other findings included:

  • “[Two respondents] described dreams of vomiting fetuses along with a sense of horror.”
  • “Other dreams were about a need to protect others from viewing fetal parts.”

Dismembering a baby while pregnant

Abortionist Harris described her reactions to aborting a preborn baby at 18 weeks while she herself was 18 weeks pregnant. “[…] I was more interested than usual in seeing the fetal parts when I was done, since they would so closely resemble those of my own fetus,” she said. “[…] I felt lucky that this one was already in the breech position – it would make grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier.”

Harris then disturbingly wrote, “With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at that moment, I felt a kick – a fluttery ‘thump, thump’ in my own uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a ‘thump, thump’ in my abdomen…It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics.”

The abortionist’s dilemma

“We have produced an unusual dilemma,” Hern and Corrigan concluded. They continued, “A procedure is rapidly becoming recognized as the procedure of choice in late abortion, but those capable of performing or assisting with the procedure are having strong personal reservations about participating in an operation which they view as destructive and violent.”

premature baby

screenshot: Fox5. Jermarius was born at 21 weeks.

Harris also acknowledged the violence of D&E saying, “There is violence in abortion, especially in second trimester procedures.” She recounted her experience with an “uncomplicated D&E procedure” on a woman 23 weeks pregnant:

“Dutifully, I went through the task of reassembling the fetal parts in the metal tray,” she wrote.

“It is an odd ritual that abortion providers perform – required as a clinical safety measure to ensure that nothing is left behind in the uterus to cause a complication – but it also permits us in an odd way to pay respect to the fetus (feelings of awe are not uncommon when looking at miniature fingers and fingernails, heart, intestines, kidneys, adrenal glands), even as we simultaneously have complete disregard for it,” she wrote.

She then handled the delivery of a 23 to 24-week premature baby and thought, “How bizarre it was that I could have legally dismembered this fetus-now-newborn if it were inside its mother’s uterus – but that the same kind of violence against it now would be illegal, and unspeakable.”


Pro-lifers are right

Harris acknowledged “anti-abortion… imagery… may actually be more closely aligned to our experience….” and she claimed that, “The pro-choice movement has not owned or owned up to the reality of the fetus, or the reality of fetal parts.”

She also noted, “Of course, acknowledging the violence of abortion risks admitting that the stereotypes that anti-abortion forces hold of us are true – that we are butchers, etc…abortion is a version of violence.

“What do we do with that contradiction?”

The average American is unaware of the violence that is carried out in abortions, and when they learn the truth, they often turn away from their previously held pro-choice beliefs and become pro-life. After watching abortion procedure videos from Live Action, pro-choice viewers have called abortion “shocking,” disturbing,” and “barbaric.”

“Like” Live Action News on Facebook for more pro-life news and commentary!

What is Live Action News?

Live Action News is pro-life news and commentary from a pro-life perspective. Learn More

Contact for questions, corrections, or if you are seeking permission to reprint any Live Action News content.

GUEST ARTICLES: To submit a guest article to Live Action News, email with an attached Word document of 800-1000 words. Please also attach any photos relevant to your submission if applicable. If your submission is accepted for publication, you will be notified within three weeks. Guest articles are not compensated. (See here for Open License Agreement.) Thank you for your interest in Live Action News!

To Top