Last week, a Texas courtroom completed a five-day trial centered around abortion procedures. While the decision is pending, the arguments themselves were a study in how many second trimester abortions are done, how little people know about it, and how much abortion advocates overlook the gruesome nature of the event.
Texas lawmakers passed a bill last year that banned “dismemberment” abortions on a live baby. This is otherwise known as a dilation and evacuation (D & E) wherein a doctor pulls apart the baby’s limbs with a forceps or sopher clamp, and which usually occur in the second trimester, when the baby is too big to simply be suctioned out of the woman’s uterus.
In Whole Women’s Health v Ken Paxton, the former argued they shouldn’t have to kill the baby — or cause “fetal demise” as they put it — before dismembering it in its mother’s womb, and the state argued that they should, because it’s only humane. While other states have dealt with this issue before, none others have actually gone to trial.
The most interesting aspect of the trial was the way Whole Women’s Health presented expert witnesses, usually doctors, to argue the reason live dismemberment had to occur was simply because it’s the only way to cause “fetal demise.” This is not only an outright lie but an absurd one. As John Daniel Davidson, who attended the trial in Texas, reported in the Federalist,
Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued this week that there’s nothing wrong with dismembering a live fetus, while attorneys for the State of Texas have been at pains to demonstrate just how “safe and effective” it is to kill a fetus before dismembering it in utero. You can inject a chemical called digoxin into the unborn child. You can inject potassium chloride directly into the child’s heart, which causes it to stop beating within minutes. Or you can simply sever the umbilical cord and allow the child to bleed to death. It’s all rather straightforward.
The Texas Tribune reported Dr. Anthony Levatino, an OB-GYN, was the defense's first witness. He described the moment when he decided, though he’d performed many abortions, he could no longer do that. He’d lost his daughter to a car accident weeks prior and following the abortion he recalls, "I really, truly looked at that pile of body parts on the side of the table. I didn't see [the patient's] wonderful right to choose; I didn't see what a great doctor I was helping her with her problem; and I didn't even see the $800 cash I'd just made in 15 minutes. All I could see was somebody's son or daughter.” He stopped performing abortions shortly thereafter.
Pro-life advocates and lawmakers in Texas have paved the way in demonstrating alternative methods to lowering abortions. One would imagine a trial demonstrating the gruesome and ghoulish details of one of the most common methods of abortions would have this effect as well. At the least, it laid bare one of the most common abortion myths: That a “fetus” is just a blob of tissue which needs to be discarded as such. If that were true, such effort to remove the baby, whether through injections which stop a baby’s heart or a D & E, would not be necessary. Perhaps this case will provide a landmark decision for other pro-life lawmakers, wrestling with how to save the lives of the unborn.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.