HomeoldMultiple “fact checks” by media outlets have late-term abortions all wrong

Multiple “fact checks” by media outlets have late-term abortions all wrong

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Editor’s Note. This story appears in the November issue of National Right to Life News. Please share it with your pro-life family and friends.

A number of media outlets have conducted fact-checks on the topic of late-term abortions and abortions up until the point of birth. These fact-checks have concluded that either late-term abortions and abortions up until the point of birth do not exist or, if they do exist, they only occur in circumstances where there is a fatal or “devastating” fetal diagnosis.

These claims are demonstrably false.

Myth #1: Late-term Abortions Don’t Happen

It is a common misconception that abortions late in pregnancy are not reported in many states and that the number of such abortions is not fully known. The available data on late-term abortions is derived from public statements made by abortionists, including the number of such procedures they have performed and the reasons for which they were performed.

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

He specializes in late-term abortions – the rarest and most controversial form of abortion. This means that Hern ends the pregnancies of women who are 22, 25, or even 30 weeks pregnant.

In the Atlantic interview, it is observed that Hern is reluctant to acknowledge any limit or red line. He extends the argument for women’s autonomy to its logical conclusion.

In an August interview with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, NBC’s Dasha Burns challenged the governor’s assertion that Democrats want to legalize abortion up to birth. The following is a transcript of the exchange between the two parties.

DeSantis: I would not allow what a lot of the left wants to do, which is to repeal pro-life protections across the country all the way up to really the moment of birth in some cases, which I think is infanticide.

Burns: Well, actually, I have to push back on that because that’s a misrepresentation of what’s happening. I mean, 1.3 percent of abortions happen at 21 weeks or higher, and there’s no evidence that Democrats are pushing for abortions up to…

DeSantis: Their view is … that all the way up to that, that there should be no legal protections.

One of the points that Burns acknowledged was that, at a minimum, we know that 1.3 percent of the abortions that take place in the United States are performed on preborn babies who are 21 weeks old or older.

John McCormack of National Review elucidates:

Burns pointed to the fact that 1.3 percent of abortions occur 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 the womb. The total number of gun homicides in the United States each year is less than 12,000. Burns, in an attempt to minimize the horror of late-term abortion, actually ended up agreeing that late-term abortions do occur in the United States.

Myth #2: Late-term abortions are only performed in cases where a fatal fetal diagnosis has been made.

Warren Hern also acknowledged the practice of sex-selection abortions. He acknowledges that at least half of the women who undergo abortions at his facility do so for reasons other than a devastating prenatal diagnosis, a claim frequently made by pro-abortion advocates.

The Atlantic reports that Hern asserts that the viability of a fetus is not contingent on gestational age but rather on a woman’s willingness to carry it to term.

In 1993, the AMNews, the official journal of the American Medical Association, reported the discovery of two additional late-term abortionists.

Dr Haskell said he performed abortions “up to about 25 weeks”, most of them elective. Dr McMahon performs abortions through all 40 weeks of pregnancy, but said he won’t do an elective procedure after 26 weeks. About 80% of the ones he does after 21 weeks are nonelective, he said.

Nevertheless, following an interview with the late Dr. James McMahon, Karen Tumulty published an article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine on the 7th of January, 1990.

If there is one single factor that increases the number of late abortions, it is adolescence. Teenagers often fail to recognise the first signs of pregnancy. Just as often, they put off telling anyone for as long as possible.

Myth #3: Late term abortions are only performed when the life of the mother is in danger.

The Atlantic offers a detailed account of the preparatory process for the procedure Warren Hern employs, which can span three or four days.

Hern stopped doing first-trimester abortions a few years ago; he saw too much need for later abortions and his clinic couldn’t do it all. The procedure he uses takes three or four days and goes like this: After an ultrasound scan, he uses a thin needle to inject a drug called digoxin through the patient’s abdomen to stop the foetus’ heart. This is called “inducing fetal demise”. Hern will then insert one or more laminaria – a sterile, brownish rod of seaweed – into the patient’s cervix to start the dilation process.

If the cervix is sufficiently dilated after another day or two of adding and removing laminaria, Hern will drain the amniotic fluid, give the patient misoprostol, and remove the foetus. Sometimes the foetus will be whole and intact. Other times, the doctor will have to remove it in parts. If the patient asks, a nurse will wrap the foetus in a blanket for them to hold, or give them a set of handprints or footprints to take home.

In the event of a true life-threatening emergency, however, a pregnant woman cannot afford to wait three or four days for life-saving medical treatment. An emergency caesarean section can be performed in less than 30 minutes, yet this fact does not align with the pro-abortion narrative that late-term abortions are only performed in the most extreme circumstances or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Those in favour of abortion are aware that terminations take place at a late stage of pregnancy, yet they are also aware that the general public is opposed to such terminations. The total number of abortions performed after 21 weeks is not publicly disclosed by abortion facilities or abortionists like Warren Hern, who are presented as anomalous cases. Nevertheless, it is evident that late-term abortions do occur, for a variety of reasons, and are often performed on healthy babies and healthy mothers.


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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