FACT CHECK: Planned Parenthood actually does perform abortions after viability

In her testimony before Congress, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards claimed, “we don’t provide abortions after, um, viability.” This was in answer to Rep. DeSantis’ question about whether babies who survive abortions should be given medical care and treatment.

While Richards completely misses the law – babies don’t have to be viable to be cared for once they are born alive; the law simply states that they are persons and deserve care if they are born alive at any age. Yet even beyond being legally wrong, Richards lied – under oath – to Congress and the American people.

It is a blatant falsehood to claim that Planned Parenthood does not perform abortions after viability, as a number of their clinics abort babies up to 24 weeks. (See below for screenshots from PP’s own website.) But first, let’s make sure we understand viability.


Roe v. Wade stated that, in the 1970’s, viability was usually found at 28 weeks gestation (gestation is dated from the mother’s last menstrual period, and is not necessarily the actual age of the baby.) Yet even Roe admitted that babies could survive as earlier:

Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.

Casey v. Planned Parenthood, decided in the 1990’s, recognized that medical science was continuing to advance, gaining the ability to save babies at earlier ages.

… whether viability occurs at approximately 28 weeks, as was usual at the time of Roe, at 23 to 24 weeks, as it sometimes does today, or at some moment even slightly earlier in pregnancy, as it may if fetal respiratory capacity can somehow be enhanced in the future.

And indeed, fetal respiratory capacity has been enhanced in our modern day. A great number of babies can now survive at 22 weeks gestation. (The earliest recorded babies to survive, James Elgin Gill and Frieda Mangold, were born at 21 weeks 6 days and 21 weeks 5 days.) The Washington Post remarkably even reported: “That babies can survive at 22 weeks is not a new finding; it has been known for 15 years. … New research confirmed that 22-week fetuses, measured from the first day of the pregnant woman’s last menstrual cycle, can survive.”

Ultrasound at 22 weeks

Ultrasound at 22 weeks

A May 2015 medical study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that roughly 25% of babies born at 22 weeks gestation would survive if “actively treated in a hospital.” Even without extra treatment, a small number of these babies survive. A September 2015 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that survival rates for babies at 23 weeks gestation has improved to 33%; at 24 weeks, the survival rate is 65%.

The NEJM study found that active treatment made a difference for the survival rate of these preemies, but that not all preemies are getting this treatment:

Only 22 percent of the 22-week-old babies were given lifesaving treatment, compared to 72 percent of 23-week-old and 97 percent of 24-week-old babies, the study found.

However, many hospitals do currently recognize 22 weeks gestation at an age at which they will work to save a premature baby:

The vast majority of the hospitals in the study agree… — all but four of the 24 institutions examined offered active care to all or some of the babies born at 22 weeks.

Micah Pickering, now a healthy 3-year-old, was born at 22 weeks gestation in 2012.

Micah Pickering, now a healthy 3-year-old, was born at 22 weeks gestation in 2012.

Planned Parenthood likes to cite Colautti v. Franklin, an old U.S. Supreme Court case that leaves a determination of viability up to the doctor. However – specifically when we consider the percentage of babies who will survive with treatment – Planned Parenthood should be loathe to pretend the Court sides with them:

Viability is reached when, in the judgment of the attending physician on the particular facts of the case before him, there is a reasonable likelihood of the fetus’ sustained survival outside the womb, with or without artificial support.

According to this case and current medical advances, there is almost literally no way a real medical doctor could believe there is not a “reasonable likelihood” that babies at 23 and 24 weeks gestation will survive. Planned Parenthood is not banned, in all states, from performing abortions after viability; yet it also must not lie and say it doesn’t do exactly this – perhaps in large part so it can sell their well-formed, highly developed organs and parts.

Live Action’s undercover cameras caught what the stars of “After Tiller”, a late-term abortion film airing on PBS, had to say about the humanity of pre-born children. Watch their chilling admissions from our “Inhuman” investigation:

Posted by Live Action on Saturday, August 30, 2014

Here’s the fact: Despite Cecile Richard’s blatant lie to Congress, Planned Parenthood does perform abortions after viability. Six Planned Parenthood clinics perform abortion up to 21 weeks, 6 days. Babies have survived at these ages, leading to the obvious conclusion that some of these babies could be viable. Additionally, since Planned Parenthood has a cut-off date so close to 22 weeks – modern viability – it would be incredibly easy for a woman to incorrectly guess the date of her LMP, thus allowing Planned Parenthood to abort babies who are actually at 22 weeks gestation or even older.

But here’s the best – or worst – proof of all. At six clinics, Planned Parenthood performs abortions at a point clearly after modern viability. And four out of the six are located in California – the busiest place in the country for Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby organs and body parts. From Planned Parenthood’s own site:

San Diego

Abortions at 24 weeks, 0 days


Abortions at 24 weeks, 0 days

New York

Abortions at 24 weeks, 0 days


Abortions at 22 weeks, 6 days


Abortions at 23 weeks, 6 days

Los Angeles

Abortions at 23 weeks, 6 days

If Planned Parenthood’s own website isn’t enough, consider this video where PP staff states on tape that they go up to 24 weeks – an age at which 65% of babies can survive.

Are we sick of the lies yet? Will Congress hold Cecile Richards accountable for lying under oath?

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