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Another evasive analysis claiming late-term abortions are rare

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Proponents of abortion rights within the Democratic party have moved beyond President Clinton’s 1992 statement that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Today, the Democratic party views any suggestion of limiting a woman’s right to “terminate her pregnancy” as unacceptable, even up until the point of birth.

A recent post by veteran journalist Julie Rovner, currently serving as Chief Washington Correspondent for Kaiser Health News, addresses this issue. Titled “Abortion ‘until the day of birth’ is almost never a thing,” the post argues that the extreme procedure of late-term abortion, particularly involving the tearing apart of a large unborn baby, is exceedingly rare.

Rovner’s analysis includes a statement about two-thirds of the way through, where she attempts to redefine “late-term” abortion to minimize its significance.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, late-term refers to the period after 40 weeks, when the pregnancy has exceeded full-term. The Associated Press in 2022 changed its stylebook to read: “Do not use the term ‘late-term abortion.’”)

It is indeed the case that the Associated Press has uncritically adopted the ACOG recommendation.

“Do not use the term ‘late-term abortion,’” the AP intoned. “The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines late term as 41 weeks through 41 weeks and 6 days of gestation, and abortion does not happen in this period.”

One might consider the implications of the last week of pregnancy being the sole period during which a “late-term abortion” can be performed. This leads to the question of whether the absence of abortions during this period is a result of the procedure itself or the circumstances surrounding it.

Having gained the approval of the medical establishment to deny the existence of “late-term abortions,” Rovner writes, “Abortions after 21 weeks are rare and usually the result of tragedy. Republicans seek to mislead the public on this matter.”
PS “There are only three providers publicly known to offer abortion after 28 weeks,” Kimport said. To the best of my knowledge, that is true.

In the November issue of National Right to Life News, Laura Echevarria, NRL’s Director of Communications and Press Secretary, provided a concise analysis of these and other strategies.

As Echevarria writes

Abortions late in pregnancy are not reported in many states and the number of such abortions is not fully known. What is known comes from public statements made by abortionists—including how many they have done and for what reasons.

A small number of abortionists in the United States perform late abortions. Warren Hern of Colorado, one such practitioner, was recently profiled in The Atlantic (May 2023).

He specializes in abortions late in pregnancy—the rarest, and most controversial, form of abortion. This means that Hern ends the pregnancies of women who are 22, 25, even 30 weeks along.

The Atlantic interview notes that Hern hesitates to recognize any boundary or limit. He extends the argument for women’s choice to its logical conclusion.

Rovner presents Katrina Kimport, a medical sociologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, as her key witness. Kimport has conducted interviews with over 50 women who have terminated pregnancies after 24 weeks.

The content of Prof. Kimport’s report does not present any novel insights. It does not challenge the assertion made by Rovner that the number of late-term abortions is “vanishingly small.”

John McCormack of National Review provided a contextual analysis of this “vanishingly small” number.

NBC’s Dasha Burns pointed to the fact that 1.3 percent of abortions happen at 21 weeks or later, but 1.3 percent of 930,000 total abortions still equals 12,000 unique human beings killed each year at 21 weeks or later, when babies are capable of feeling pain and sometimes capable of surviving outside of the womb. There are fewer than 12,000 total gun homicides in the United States each year. Burns, in an attempt to minimize the horror of late-term abortion, actually ended up agreeing that late-term abortions do in fact happen in the United States. 

In terms of legislation, it is important to recall that every Democrat in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives supports the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). As a National Review editorial observed, when Democrats in Washington speak of “codifying Roe,” what they really mean is protecting the right to terminate a pregnancy throughout all nine months of pregnancy for any reason.

In conclusion, the Atlantic profile of Hern, authored by staffer Elaine Godfrey, is subtitled “The Abortion Absolutist.” In his critique of the Atlantic profile, Peter Laffin of the Washington Examiner writes

Hern admitted that at least half of the late-term abortions he’s performed over the past half-century were elective, meaning that there was no underlying medical condition in the baby or the mother. Abortion advocates regularly assure the public that late-term abortions of this sort are exceedingly rare, if existent at all. But here we have it from the horse’s mouth. Who knows how many thousands of these abortions Hern has performed? Again, he’s been doing this for half a century. 

The situation becomes increasingly dire. Those with the fortitude to do so may peruse the details here.

The defenses for abortion on demand up until birth are, in and of themselves, inadequate in the rare instances where pro-abortionists concede their existence. However, for Democrats and their seemingly limitless supply of obliging reporters to attempt to shift the onus to pro-lifers serves as a stark reminder of the challenges that pro-life advocates face.


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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