Wrong to hide details of D&E dismemberment abortion

03/25/2015 08:55

by Kathy Ostrowski

Unborn child. 16 wks

A Kansas House vote is underway on Senate Bill 95, the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. The bill has already passed the Kansas Senate, 31-9, where pro-abortion senators refused to discuss the particulars of the abortion method (see here) which kills a baby by tearing her apart, limb from limb.

Looking ahead to see how the law might fare at the highest court, of great relevance to SB 95 are the two U.S. Supreme Court partial-birth abortion rulings - Stenberg v Carhart (2000) and Gonzales v Carhart (2007).

Stenberg struck down Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban. Gonzales upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban. Justice Anthony Kennedy was on the losing side in 2000 and the winning side in 2007.

In both cases, Justice Kennedy consistently blasted avoidance of describing what was actually occurring during both partial-birth and D&E /dismemberment abortions. Writing for the dissent in Stenberg, Kennedy asserted it was

"necessary at the outset to set forth what may happen during an abortion... citizens [should examine] these grave and serious issues, as they must if we are to progress in knowledge and understanding and in the attainment of some degree of consensus."

Kennedy faulted the Stenberg majority for exalting abortionists' preferences and omitting

"the perspective of a society shocked when confronted with a new method of ending human life... The State's constitutional authority is a vital means for citizens to address these grave and serious issues."

Kennedy also exposed the gruesome details of the D&E/ dismemberment method in his Stenberg dissent:

"As described by Dr. Carhart, the D&E procedure requires the abortionist to use instruments to grasp a portion (such as a foot or hand) of a developed and living fetus and drag the grasped portion out of the uterus into the vagina. Dr. Carhart uses the traction created by the opening between the uterus and vagina to dismember the fetus, tearing the grasped portion away from the remainder of the body.... [until the unborn baby] bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb... In Dr. Carhart's words, the abortionist is left with 'a tray full of pieces.'" 

Abortionist Carhart, retains a Kansas medical license

It is precisely this inhumane D&E/ dismemberment method which Kansas wants banned with SB 95.

Seven years later, writing for the majority Gonzales opinion that upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban, Justice Kennedy penned,

"[abortionists] acknowledged that they do not describe to their patients what [the D&E and partial-birth] procedures entail in clear and precise terms') ...[yet] "it is precisely the way in which the fetus will be killed that is of legitimate concern to the State."

While the Court called abortion details important for public consideration, long-time abortion promoters David Grimes and Carol Joffe praised the suppression of that information Feb. 19 (see here). They wrote

"D&E shifts the emotional burden of the procedure from the woman to the physician, and that is entirely appropriate. One of our most important roles as physicians is to ease suffering, both physical and emotional. The specifics of abortion methods can be unpleasant..."

This is a stunning rebuke of the "choice" slogan! It praises a paternalistic denial of facts as "appropriate" for women considering D&E/ dismemberment abortion-something physicians wouldn't dare do with patients facing other invasive medical procedures.


Hiding what happens in abortion is harmful to public policy-making. But also consider how shocking and profoundly disturbing the truth would be for women who have already obtained a D&E/ dismemberment abortion-no matter how long ago. It is likely the case that most of these women are only now learning what a horrible, painful death was inflicted on their unborn child!

Modern science makes that realization more palpable and more undeniable. Ultrasound technology and fetal medicine confirm how very developed is the unborn child in the second trimester- which is the age when many D&E/ dismemberment abortions are obtained. Excerpts (see here) from the Kansas Health Department "Woman's Right to Know" handbook  explain:

Unborn child, 20 weeks

At 14 weeks, the unborn child now produces a wide variety of hormones. Also, the arms reach final proportion to body size.
By 15 weeks, the entire unborn child, except for parts of the scalp, responds to light touch, and tooth development is 
By 18 weeks, the unborn child will release stress hormones in response to 
being poked with a needle.
By 20 weeks
the larynx, or voice box, moves in a way similar to movement seen duringcrying after birth.

Did women know these gestational development facts before assenting to a D&E/ dismemberment abortion? Unlikely-since abortionists themselves have admitted in federal trials that they hid the gruesome details of the procedure, and current abortion supporters approve of that suppression.

When it comes to exposing that the action of D&E/ dismemberment abortion is to rip limbs and tear organs from living, unborn children, Justice Kennedy was correct to claim (in Gonzales) that "D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life."