Earlier this month, Republicans introduced the replacement bill to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The bill includes a provision which would defund Planned Parenthood, but Donald Trump made them an offer that would let them keep their billions of dollars in taxpayer funding: stop providing abortions. Planned Parenthood, to no one’s surprise, refused, even though it has been reported that they could receive even more federal earmarks if they stopped performing abortions and focused on legitimate health care.
Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards also tweeted about the offer, saying that abortion is “vital” to their mission:
Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion—a necessary service that’s as vital to our mission as birth control or cancer screenings. https://t.co/TWGOcVjBJ4
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) March 6, 2017
While Richards tries to make it seem that abortion is equally important as health care, the reality is that health care — like cancer screenings — is actually not vital to the Planned Parenthood mission at all anymore. Legitimate health care at Planned Parenthood has been decreasing for years; the health care they do perform is minimal: less than 2 percent of all cancer screenings, less than 1 percent of all pap exams, and less than 2 percent of all breast exams in the entire country. They do not provide mammograms and never have, despite repeatedly misleading the public on the matter.
Abortion is what matters to Planned Parenthood. It is their bread and butter (despite their claims to the contrary). So what is it that is so vital to Planned Parenthood?
Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist who is now pro-life, has outlined for Live Action what happens during abortion procedures. Dr. Levatino is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with over 40 years of experience, and has performed over 1,200 abortions. He taught as associate professor of OB-GYN at Albany Medical Center, and has practiced in Florida, New York, and New Mexico, where he currently practices.
One of the procedures discussed by Dr. Levatino is a chemical abortion, performed in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, which is quickly growing in popularity.
During a chemical abortion, a woman first takes Mifepristone (or RU-486), which blocks progesterone, causing the lining of the woman’s uterus to break down, which in essence starves the baby of the nutrients he needs to survive. 24 to 48 hours later, she takes Misoprostol, which triggers contractions and bleeding to expel the baby from her womb. This drug can cause severe cramping, contractions, and heavy bleeding, as well as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and headaches. Some women have died, usually due to infection or an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy.
The most common abortion procedure, however, is vacuum aspiration, which is also performed in the first trimester.
In an aspiration abortion, the abortionist uses metal rods or medication to dilate the woman’s cervix, and then inserts a suction catheter with 10 to 20 times the power of a household vacuum cleaner into the woman’s uterus. After suctioning the uterus, the abortionist uses a curette — a sharp metal device — to forcibly remove the baby from her uterus, if the suctioning did not already do so. Possible risks to the mother include injuries to the uterus or cervix, and the intestines, bladder, and nearby blood vessels may also be injured. Women are also at risk of hemorrhage, infection, and death. The damage to the cervix and uterus are also known to cause complications in future pregnancies, including premature birth and uterine rupture.
In the second trimester, a dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion is most commonly performed.
A D&E abortion is usually performed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, although some abortionists continue to do them through the third trimester. It’s a multiple-day procedure that is extremely violent. First, the abortionist inserts laminaria — sterilized seaweed sticks — into the woman’s cervix to begin dilation. She then waits 24 to 48 hours before returning to the clinic, while the seaweed soaks up liquid from her body, thus causing the laminaria to widen and the cervix to dilate.
When the woman returns to the abortion clinic, he inserts a large suction catheter into the woman’s uterus to remove the amniotic fluid. The abortionist then uses a sopher clamp (a grasping instrument with rows of sharp “teeth”) to grip the baby’s arms and legs, and literally rip the baby apart, limb from limb. The abortionist also seeks out body parts like the intestines, spine, heart, lungs. Finally, the abortionist has to find, grasp, and crush the baby’s head, and then uses a curette to scrape the uterus and remove the placenta. Afterward, the baby’s body is reassembled in the POC (“products of conception”) lab to make sure nothing was left behind.
The risks to a woman who undergoes this procedure are great. She can suffer perforation or laceration of the uterus or cervix, often from the baby’s broken bones. Her bowels, bladder and rectum can also be damaged, as well as other maternal organs. The forcible removal of the placenta can cause severe hemorrhaging, and if her uterus or cervix is damaged during the abortion, she can suffer serious blood loss. There is also a risk of cervical damage, scar tissue, and uterine rupture, which can again cause complications for future pregnancies, such as miscarriage and preterm labor. And as with other abortions, there is a risk of death, which increases the later in the pregnancy this procedure is performed.
In the third trimester, abortionists most often perform an induction abortion.
Like a D&E abortion, an induction abortion is a multi-day procedure. It begins the same as a D&E does, by inserting laminaria into the woman’s cervix to cause dilation. The same day, the abortionist will insert a needle through the mother’s stomach into the baby’s heart (or into the amniotic sac), delivering a shot of digoxin or potassium chloride, which is intended to cause the death of the child.
On the second day, the woman returns to the clinic, and the abortionist replaces the laminaria and performs an ultrasound to ensure that the baby has died. If not, then the abortionists will give another shot of digoxin or potassium chloride into the baby’s heart, and may also give the woman drugs to begin inducing labor. The woman then leaves the clinic again, and waits two to four days for her cervix to dilate enough for her to deliver her dead baby. Ideally, she will deliver the dead baby at the abortion clinic, but it is not unusual for her to deliver unexpectedly at her home or hotel room. If this happens, the abortionist usually advises that she sit on the toilet until the abortionist can get there. If she is able to make it to the clinic, though, it will likely be when her contractions are the heaviest and most painful. If the baby does not come out intact, then the abortionist will perform a D&E.
Risks are greatest for late-term abortions, and can include hemorrhage, lacerations, uterine perforations, and death. Like a D&E, the trauma to the woman’s cervix can put future pregnancies at risk.
While Planned Parenthood does not currently commit third trimester abortions, they have expressed a desire to expand their ‘services’ to include late-term abortions well past 20 weeks.
One thing each abortion method has in common is psychological risks. The overwhelming majority of medical literature has found that abortion carries with it a high risk of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, and drug and alcohol abuse.
This is the reality of abortion, in all its violence and with all of its risks. This is what Cecile Richards says is “vital” to Planned Parenthood’s mission, to the exclusion of legitimate health care. And she wants you to pay her for it.