By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research
When the news media decided that Kermit Gosnell’s atrocities were newsworthy, Planned Parenthood, along with many others in the abortion industry, commented. Eric Ferrero, a spokesperson for the group, called Gosnell a “butcher” and told the press that his deeds were “appalling,” “horrifying,” and “outrageous” (LA Times, 5/1/13, USA Today, 5/14/13, Staten Island Advance, 5/14/13).
One assumes that Planned Parenthood and Eric Ferrero were referring to the filthy conditions and some of the horrendous practices that went on at Gosnell’s clinic. (It should be noted that Planned Parenthood has recently had its own problems with allegations of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at one of its own Delaware clinics – see ABC Delaware affiliate WVPI-TV, 4/9/13, linked here http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=9059172).
But if you look at the services Planned Parenthood advertises on its website, the differences seem more about how Gosnell ran his clinic than the fact that he performed late abortions.
The truth is that Planned Parenthood clinics advertise and perform abortions well into the second trimester, even up to 24 weeks (with hints it can “help” if the woman is even more advanced). Survival at 24 weeks is not at all uncommon. A study published in Pediatrics 2010 found 55% long-term survival at 24 weeks LMP. A study published in JAMA in 2009 found 67% long-term survival at 24 weeks LMP in Sweden.
Trying to put a precise figure on things is tough, given that the number of clinics Planned Parenthood has and the services they offer is always in flux. However a search through their website’s national list of clinics finds over a hundred offering abortions at 14 weeks or more (measured from a woman’s last menstrual period, or LMP). Those clinics are scattered all across the country, with at least one clinic offering abortions at 14 weeks LMP in 32 of the states (including Washington, DC) where Planned Parenthood has an abortion clinic.
Pro-Lifers hardly need to be reminded that at 14 weeks LMP (when the child is 12 weeks old), the child’s fingers, toes, eyelids are already formed and all organ systems are in place and active. The child has skeletal structure, nerves, and circulation. Ultrasound shows the child moving around in the mother’s uterus. The baby’s sex can be determined and the child’s eyes, ears, and face begin to display distinctive characteristics, to the point that family resemblances can be seen.
While Planned Parenthood decries the barbarity at Gosnell’s clinic, it continues to abort moving, living babies like these at its clinics across America every year.
At least a dozen Planned Parenthood clinics go ever further, volunteering their willingness to perform abortions at 20 weeks LMP or more. Those include four of the group’s clinics in California, and one each in Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, New York, Texas, and Washington. (Nine additional clinics just avoid crossing the 20 week barrier, indicating they will perform abortions up to 19 weeks and 6 days LMP). The clinics in New York City and Austin, Texas, advertise that they will perform abortions up to 24 weeks LMP.
Babies at this age have all the functioning parts they need to feel pain, including the nerves, spinal cord, and thalamus, and respond to outside stimuli including music, sudden noises, and voices, especially that of his or her mother. At 22 weeks LMP (when the child is 20 weeks old), there will be further development of the lungs and increased connections among neurons in the brain, but no new parts to form or body systems to develop.
It is not as if Planned Parenthood suddenly gets a grip on its conscience at 24 weeks LMP. On the service page of the South Austin, Texas, Planned Parenthood clinic that offers abortions at 24 weeks, one can read the following: “If your last period was after 24 weeks, we can still help. Call us for a referral list of health care providers in your area that offer other abortion services.”
Whether Planned Parenthood clinics from around the Philadelphia area and up and down the eastern seaboard referred patients to Gosnell, we don’t know. But we do know that Planned Parenthood’s formal statement on the Gosnell verdict made no specific mention of the babies he put to death. Rather it was about how Pennsylvania had supposedly “passed medically unnecessary laws.” (See http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-statement-gosnell-verdict-41303.htm.)
Maybe they didn’t notice. Or maybe they just don’t want people thinking about the late abortions it advertises and all the perfectly healthy, considerably developed babies it cruelly kills just inches further up the birth canal.