She used to work for a late-term abortionist. Now, she’s telling what she saw.

Alabama, New Jersey

In Abby Johnson’s “Beautiful Lives” series on PureFlix, former abortion worker Julie A. Kunkel Wilkinson, who was once employed by late-term Colorado abortionist Warren Hern, told her story. Hern commits abortions in all three trimesters of pregnancy, with his website stating that women “often” seek late-term abortion for fetal anomaly, but the truth is that even most late-term abortions are committed for reasons other than health of the mother or preborn child. Although Wilkerson worked for Hern in the 1980s, Hern is still committing very late-term abortions today.

In the 1980s, Hern committed late-term abortions by saline. Wilkinson describes the procedure:

[The patients] had to commit to a three or four day stay. They would have to get a hotel in town, because … in order to do an abortion that’s a larger baby, you have to dilate the cervix. And that can’t be done quickly because if it’s done quickly it will make things difficult if she ever wants to have a pregnancy she carries to term. So, they would do a form of dilation over a course of days. And that was always started on a Wednesday and then they would come back. Saturdays were our days for our late cases.

This was the first stage of the abortion. Wilkinson describes the second stage:

And they would come in, and at that time, he was still doing the urea, saline. Where we’d do an amniocentesis, which I was the assistant for, where he would withdraw amniotic fluid and then replace it with a high saline [solution], which was urea saline. [He would] instill that.

And I remember asking one time how that had an effect. And he said, “It causes the placenta to break down and then the baby dies.” Well, I know now that’s not why the baby died. The baby died because they were ingesting saline. And it’s horrific. It’s horrendously burning. They always came out looking purple.

And hours would go by while we waited for their body to start into labor, because the urea, I’m sure, did stimulate labor. And one of my jobs was to go in and listen for fetal heart tones, because he didn’t want a baby being born alive. So, we waited until there were no more heart tones.

The saline was caustic and burned the baby’s lungs, skin, and stomach. And death did not come quickly. According to a medical study in the prestigious American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “The time interval between saline instillation and fetal death has varied from as early as 1 hour to as late as 7 hours, with a mean of 4 hours.”1

READ: Do saline abortions, where babies are burned in salt, still happen in the U.S.?

And the fear of having a child accidentally born alive during the abortion was a legitimate one. During the time saline was commonly used for abortions, this was a daily occurrence, even though most cases were covered up. According to a 1981 Philadelphia Inquirer article, the CDC estimated that between 400 and 500 babies were born alive after abortions.2

One woman who endured a saline abortion wrote about her experience. She imagined the pain her baby was likely in, based on the baby’s “thrashing” that she was feeling:

My baby began thrashing about — it was like a boxing match… She was in pain. The saline was burning her skin, her eyes, her throat… She was in agony, trying to escape… For two hours I could feel her struggling inside me…. Even today, I remember her very last kick on my left side.

I delivered my daughter myself at 5:30 the next morning, October 31. After I delivered her, I held her in my hands. I looked her over from top to bottom. She had a head of hair, and her eyes were opening. I looked at her little tiny feet and hands. Her fingers and toes even had little fingernails and swirls of fingerprints. Everything was perfect. She was not a “fetus.” She was not a “product of conception.” She was a tiny human being… she was my daughter. Twisted with agony, silent and still. Dead….as soon as the nurses came rushing in, they grabbed her from my hands and threw her — literally threw her — into a bedpan and carried her away.

Warren Hern also did some D&E abortions, which involved dismemberment. He still uses this method today:

[H]e would do the type where you’re dismembering. On a rare occasion they would be born intact. Usually he was pulling out parts until it was finished.

D&E is now the most common second trimester procedure. Former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino describes these abortions:


Third trimester abortions are now done by induction. The women still must go through labor, but the baby is typically killed beforehand with a feticide injection – usually digoxin. Dr. Anthony Levatino explains this procedure in the video below:

  1. Robert S Galen et al. “Fetal Pathology and Mechanism of Fetal Death in Saline Induced Abortion: A Study of 143 Gestations and Critical Review of the Literature” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 120 (October 1, 1974):353-354
  2. Liz Jeffries and Rick Edmonds, “Abortion: The Dreaded Complication.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2, 1981

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