On June 27, 2013, Live Action ran a story about late-term abortionist Shelley Sella and the allegations of infanticide leveled against her by clinic worker Tina David. Tina David was a nurse who helped out in Dr. George Tiller’s abortion clinic in Wichita Kansas, where Dr. Sella also worked. David claims that she witnessed a baby born alive after a botched 3rd trimester abortion. According to David, Dr. Sella stabbed the baby to death. These allegations were never proven and Sella never faced any charges for the alleged murder.
Sella is now being profiled in a film called “After Tiller” which includes interviews with four late-term abortionists currently practicing in the United States. Sella gave an interview to the Irish Times in which she described her practice of aborting babies in the 3rd trimester. The article mentions nothing about the allegations of infanticide, but some of the things it does mention are revealing.
For example, from the author of the article:
“Sella insists on using the term baby, rather than foetus, and doesn’t shy away from the tragedy of the situations she faces. She says it is desperation and a desire to do what is best for their babies that drives mothers to seek third-trimester abortions (which are defined as taking place at 25 weeks’ gestation and onwards in Albuquerque, and 24 weeks’ gestation in Britain).”
It is startling that Sella uses the term “baby.” She seems completely aware that these third trimester children, who are fully developed and can already survive outside of the womb, are human beings.
To back up her disturbing claim that women abort out of concern for the baby, Sella explains that some of the babies she aborts are handicapped. She says of the women who seek abortions for this reason:
“Ever since the diagnosis of a foetal abnormality in a very wanted child, these women have been living in a special kind of hell,” says Sella. As abortion is “in the closet”, many women have not been informed of this choice by their doctors and have searched the internet for help in a “climate of fear” created by anti-abortion campaigners, she says.”
Elsewhere Sella describes the antiabortion demonstrators at her clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico as “terrorists.” She says they create “a climate of fear” for the women coming in for abortions. It is a twisted worldview that in which women kill their babies for the baby’s own good and pro-lifers who want the babies to live are terrorists.
What exactly does “fetal abnormality” mean? In some cases, it may mean a serious disability or situation where the baby is unlikely to survive for long. In other cases, it could mean down syndrome or another disability that is not life-threatening. 90% of down syndrome babies are aborted. The earliest tests to detect down syndrome take place midway through the 2nd trimester, so many of these abortions are late-term ones. Statistically, then, it would seem that down syndrome babies might make up a rather large portion of the babies Sella aborts.
Sella describes how women who abort their handicapped children often want tokens to remember their baby by.
“Sella and her colleagues help the couples or individuals in a ceremony after the birth, if they wish it, and give them memory boxes containing keepsakes: foot- and handprints, photographs, the blanket in which the baby was wrapped.”
But not all the babies that Sella aborts have “fetal anomalies.” She also performs abortions on women who are carrying healthy babies but don’t want to give birth for their own personal reasons. Rather than waiting a few more weeks and putting the children up for adoption, these women choose to have their babies killed.
Sella says of them:
“The reaction is different for people who have chosen abortions for social reasons. “Total joy – a more overwhelming sense of relief,” says Sella. “They come to us faces down, depressed and sad, and at the end of the week we see their radiant smiles – an amazing transformation.”
She discusses one case that is featured in the documentary. A 16-year-old girl who had a healthy baby:
“In the film, an ambivalent 16-year-old whose parents, boyfriend and boyfriends’ parents all want her to have her healthy, viable baby feels damned whether she has the baby or not. She chooses abortion.
Many would say this is clearly a case for adoption, but Sella argues that “coerced adoption” causes lifelong trauma and psychological problems. She says some women fear that their babies, if adopted, would feel abandoned, or be abused, or would learn eventually that their mother was a drug addict or their father a rapist, for example.”
Is it really kinder for a baby to be killed than put up for adoption? Are people who are adopted better off dead? There are over 500,000 people willing to adopt in the United States in any one time Pregnant women are often allowed to select their children’s adoptive parents. And most state and private adoption agencies have rigorous background checks which require potential homes to be carefully screened.
Sella also completely ignores the traumatic effects of abortion on women who have them. Women who have abortions have a higher rate of psychiatric illness, suicide, and drug and alcohol abuse. In fact, the 16-year-old who had the abortion is a great risk for psychological problems. The suicide rate for teenagers who have abortions is 10 times that of teenagers who don’t. These statistics are especially disturbing in light of another case Sella mentions, a teenager pregnant by rape whose mother “was highly religious and anti-abortion – but not in the case of her daughter.”
Another third trimester abortion was that of a woman who lost her husband in a car accident and decided that she couldn’t cope with a new baby. She was 26 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby, but chose to abort. I can’t help but think it would have been better for a pro-life crisis pregnancy center to have helped these women. Sella took these women at the most desperate and vulnerable times in their lives, took their money, killed their babies, and sent them home. She won’t be there to help them cope. I can’t help but be reminded of a quote by former clinic owner and administrator Carol Everett:
“Abortion is a skillfully marketed product sold to a woman when she needs help.”
The child who was raped now has to deal with both the trauma of rape and the added trauma of abortion. The bereaved wife now has to deal with the loss of her husband and her baby. Perhaps encouragement and support could have helped them. A pro-life group would have been there for these women and supported them, not cut them loose with even more trauma to deal with.
It is the pro-life “terrorists” who would have helped these women find other options.
Sella explains how she performs third trimester abortions:
“an injection of a drug, through the mother’s abdomen, that gradually stops the heart. Whether the baby experiences pain is unknown, although the sedation given to the mother passes through the placenta, likely sedating the baby as well, Sella says.”
As for Sella’s belief that anesthesia given to the mother prevents the baby from feeling pain, I was not able to find any scientific evidence that this is the case. The last time pro-choicers put forth the “baby doesn’t feel it because of anesthesia” argument was during the partial birth abortion debate, and it was debunked then.
Sella didn’t say in the interview how many abortions she does a year, but demand for late term abortions have given her a successful career. Until legislation is passed to criminalize these abortions or at least make them unprofitable, is it likely that she will keep performing them.