By Sarah Terzo
Christine Henneberg’s memoir, Boundless: An Abortion Doctor Becomes a Mother, reveals a great deal about the abortion industry.
Background on Henneberg
I’ve previously covered how Henneberg admits to doing a sex selective abortion on a woman who wanted a girl, and was aborting because she believed her baby to be a boy.
In this case, Henneberg saw on the ultrasound that the baby was, in fact, a girl, but never told the woman. Whether she could’ve stopped the abortion is unclear, but she made no attempt to save the baby and never told the woman the truth.
In another article, I covered Henneberg’s admission that she regularly sent injured women with potentially life-threatening complications home rather than to the hospital.
In another article, I quoted Henneberg saying that a dismemberment D&E abortion is beautiful and comparing committing abortions to dancing, art, and exploring underwater caverns.
I discussed her admission that she got angry when a Black patient with an unplanned pregnancy chose life instead of having the abortion Henneberg wanted her to have.
And in the New York Times, she described becoming upset after she witnessed an aborted baby accidentally born intact and alive moving in a pan after an abortion.
A mother finds out her baby has died
Now I’d like to highlight another thing Henneberg wrote about in her book. This is the appalling treatment one poor woman received when she went into the hospital and found out her baby had died in the womb.
Henneberg did an ultrasound on a pregnant Filipino woman that revealed “a motionless fetus with no heartbeat,” i.e., a baby that had died. The woman wasn’t yet bleeding and didn’t know she lost her baby.
According to Henneberg, “She had walked into the clinic radiant, proud, expectant. ‘You see a baby?’ she kept asking me.”
Henneberg stepped out of the room to get the senior doctor, who she calls Dr. K.
Dr. K was abrupt and matter-of-fact. He pointed to the ultrasound screen and told the woman, “You see this? That’s your baby. Unfortunately, there’s no heartbeat. This pregnancy is not going to continue. So.”
Henneberg says, “She turned to me, confused, ‘No baby?’”
This woman, who could barely speak English, was struggling to understand what the doctor was telling her. She was devastated at the loss of her child.
Impatience and lack of empathy
Henneberg says she felt like a “silent accomplice.” Yet she also says that she felt “unfairly resentful” of the bereaved mother:
I thought all she would need from me was a shiny black-and-white picture, a congratulatory smile, a date on a calendar. Now Dr. K was hurrying out of the room and leaving me alone with her.
Henneberg was left with the distraught woman, who, with the language barrier, was struggling to understand what was happening.
Only some preborn babies are alive?
Henneberg had to explain again. She recalls considering what words to use, saying, “I don’t want to use the word ‘dead,’ because that implies that there was a life, and strictly speaking, that isn’t accurate. Or it isn’t what I believe.”
And yet when Henneberg was pregnant with her own baby, she referred to the child as the “growing life inside me.” On page 129 of her book, she says of her pregnancy, “I feel the weight and the hope of this wanted child.”
On page 150, she writes, “In abortion care, a 16-week fetus is not a child. But this life inside of me – it is a child. It is my child.”
So Henneberg clearly believes that her own preborn baby was a human being, a child, but the preborn babies of others are not. Her child was alive; this woman’s baby never had been.
The logical inconsistency seems to be lost on Henneberg.
Grief and tears for a lost child
The words Henneberg used were, “There is a pregnancy, but it won’t grow into a baby.”
The woman was devastated:
“But the test,” she kept saying. “I’m pregnant. Not bleeding.”
“You will bleed soon,” I said.
She kept crying and shaking her head.
Henneberg describes her grief, and her own reluctance to deal with her patient:
She just sat there, hugging her knees, starting to cry. I tried to force myself to slow down, comfort her, concentrate. But I knew there was a line of patients in the waiting room and that I could not sleep until they had all been seen.
Condescension and insults from the doctor
The woman was now faced with three options. She could wait and see if her body released the baby on its own, and she had a completed miscarriage. She could take medication to cause the uterus to cramp and expel the baby. Or, she could have a suction D&C, surgically removing the child’s body.
Henneberg left the room and never saw the patient again. Later, Dr. K told her about trying to explain the options to the woman whose baby had died:
When I asked Dr. K later what she had decided to do, he told me that she had “some kind of mental disorder,” and that she was “not bright.”
“I couldn’t make her understand expectant management versus a surgical procedure,” he said. “I spent so long trying to explain, but she just didn’t get it.”
The doctor considered the woman to be “not too bright” rather than taking into account her lack of fluency in English.
His condescending, cruel attitude and refusal to acknowledge the woman’s grief did not go unnoticed by Henneberg.
However, she makes excuses for him: “I knew Dr. K had trained at a time when a doctor’s expertise was considered far more important than his bedside manner.”
Medical care compared to rape
Nevertheless, Henneberg was troubled by the poor treatment the woman received:
[W]hen I thought of what had happened in that room, the words he had used, the way he’d stood over her with the probe stuffed into her vagina, I felt sick. It had been like a rape, a violent thing.
Henneberg and Dr. K treated this grieving mother horribly. They showed her no sympathy and refused to acknowledge her loss or the trauma of it.
Sadly, many pregnant people who have miscarriages endure having their babies dehumanized and their grief dismissed. One couple were even forced to carry the body of their miscarried child, whom they wanted to bury, out of the hospital in a biohazard bucket.
Christine Henneberg, Boundless: An Abortion Doctor Becomes a Mother (San Francisco, California, 2022) 5 – 6, 131, 129, 150, 71-72.