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Planned Parenthood and Late Abortions

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When the news media deemed Kermit Gosnell’s atrocities to be newsworthy, Planned Parenthood, along with numerous other entities within the abortion industry, offered commentary. Eric Ferrero, a representative of the organization, referred to Gosnell as a “butcher” and described his actions as “appalling,” “horrifying,” and “outrageous” (LA Times, 5/1/13, USA Today, 5/14/13, Staten Island Advance, 5/14/13).

It can be assumed that Planned Parenthood and Eric Ferrero were referring to the unsanitary conditions and some of the inhumane practices that were observed at Gosnell’s clinic. It is noteworthy that Planned Parenthood has recently been the subject of allegations regarding unsafe and unsanitary conditions at one of its own Delaware clinics (ABC Delaware affiliate WVPI-TV, 4/9/13, linked here http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=9059172).

A review of the services advertised by Planned Parenthood on its website reveals that the differences between the organization and Dr. Gosnell’s clinic are more related to the former’s operational procedures than to the latter’s practice of performing late abortions.

It is evident that Planned Parenthood clinics advertise and perform abortions well into the second trimester, even up to 24 weeks. Furthermore, there are indications that the clinics may be able to assist women who are even more advanced. It is not uncommon for survival at 24 weeks to occur. A study published in Pediatrics in 2010 found that 55% of infants survived beyond 24 weeks gestational age. A study published in JAMA in 2009 found that 67% of infants survived beyond 24 weeks gestational age in Sweden.

It is challenging to provide a precise figure given that the number of clinics operated by Planned Parenthood and the services they offer are subject to frequent change. A search of the organization’s website reveals that over a hundred clinics offer abortions at 14 weeks or more, based on the woman’s last menstrual period (LMP). The clinics are distributed throughout the country, with at least one offering abortions at 14 weeks LMP in 32 states (including Washington, DC) where Planned Parenthood has an abortion clinic.

It is evident that those who are pro-life are aware of the fact 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 a skeletal structure, nerves, and circulation. The use of ultrasound imaging allows for the observation of the child moving within the uterus of the mother. By this stage, the sex of the baby can be determined, and the child’s eyes, ears, and face begin to display distinctive characteristics, to the extent that family resemblances can be observed.

While Planned Parenthood condemns the barbarity at Gosnell’s clinic, it continues to perform abortions on living, moving babies at its clinics across America on an annual basis.

At least a dozen Planned Parenthood clinics have volunteered their willingness to perform abortions at 20 weeks LMP or more. These 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 merely avoid crossing the 20-week threshold, indicating that 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.

At this age, infants possess the necessary physiological components to experience pain, including the nerves, spinal cord, and thalamus. They are also capable of responding to external stimuli, such as music, sudden noises, and voices, particularly those of their mothers. At 22 weeks LMP (when the child is 20 weeks old), further development of the lungs and increased connections among neurons in the brain will occur, but no new parts will form or body systems will develop.

It is inaccurate to suggest that Planned Parenthood suddenly becomes morally opposed to abortion at 24 weeks LMP. On the service page of the Planned Parenthood clinic in South Austin, Texas, which offers abortions at 24 weeks, the following is stated: “If your last menstrual period occurred after 24 weeks, we can still assist you.” For those seeking alternative abortion services, the clinic offers a referral list of local healthcare providers.

It is unclear whether Planned Parenthood clinics in the Philadelphia area and along the eastern seaboard referred patients to Gosnell. However, it is evident that the formal statement released by Planned Parenthood in response to the Gosnell verdict did not explicitly address the issue of the infants who were killed by Gosnell. Rather, the focus was on the purported “medically unnecessary” nature of Pennsylvania’s legislative framework. (See http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-statement-gosnell-verdict-41303.htm.)

It is possible that they were not aware of this. Alternatively, it is possible that they simply wish to avoid any consideration of the late abortions that it advertises and the perfectly healthy, considerably developed babies that it kills just inches further up the birth canal.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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