Cover Story

THE UGLY TRUTH

Exsanguination or draining of blood? A federal judge is demanding that abortion-industry witnesses speak in plain English as he considers one of three challenges to a federal law banning partial-birth abortions. But despite all the sensational testimony and courtroom drama, the major news media are paying no attention

Issue: "Ugly truth of partial-birth," April 17, 2004

National Abortion Federation doctors are proving themselves an innovative lot. During testimony on April 6 in a New York courtroom, one abortionist told the presiding judge about a new method she uses to kill late-term babies during partial-birth abortions. Instead of decapitating the child or sucking out its brain with medical instruments like other late-term specialists, she pokes her finger up into the woman's uterus and uses it to crush the baby's skull.

That brand of gruesome testimony is entering the official record daily as a trio of separate trials targeting the Partial Birth Abortion (PBA) Ban Act of 2003 unfolds in three cities. After President Bush signed the law in November, the National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and others filed suits challenging the measure. Now judges in New York, San Francisco, and Lincoln, Neb., are hearing evidence in juryless trials before deciding whether the ban violates the Constitution.

&quotIntact dilation and extraction," or &quotD&X" abortion, as PBA is known medically, involves partially delivering, then puncturing the skull of a baby who is too well developed to be efficiently killed by other abortion methods.

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The most riveting testimony has come from New York, where Judge Richard C. Casey has repeatedly swept aside scientific-sounding jargon, revealing not only the graphic truth about PBA but also the abortion industry's conscious use of euphemism to describe it.

&quotThe testimony of these abortion providers unlocks the door to a secret world of torturous death that includes dismemberment and decapitation of unborn children whose lives are taken by partial-birth abortion," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice. &quotThe testimony of the abortion providers is not only revealing gruesome details about a procedure that amounts to infanticide but is setting the stage for the Department of Justice to prove that this procedure is never medically necessary."

The testimony has been explosive from the start. On March 31, for instance, an anonymous abortionist testified about what he observed during a partial-birth abortion: &quotWhat they did, they delivered the fetus intact until the head was lodged in the cervix," the doctor said. &quotThen they reached up and crushed it. They used forceps to crush the skull."

&quotLike a cracker that they use to crack a lobster shell?" Judge Casey asked regarding the forceps.

The doctor answered, &quotLike an end of tongs you use to pick up a salad, except they are thick enough and heavy enough to crush the skull."

Judge Casey responded, &quotExcept in this case you are not picking up a salad, you are crushing a baby's skull."

Then Judge Casey asked, &quotThe fetus is still alive at this point?"

&quotYes, sir."

&quotThe fingers of the baby opened and closed?"

&quotI did not observe the hands when I observed the procedure."

&quotWere the feet moving?"

&quotYes, sir, until the skull was crushed."

Judge Casey also questioned Timothy Johnson, a University of Michigan research scientist, about whether doctors tell a woman that PBA includes &quotsucking the brain out of the skull."

&quotI don't think we would use those terms," Dr. Johnson said. &quotI think we would probably use a term like 'decompression of the skull' or 'reducing the contents of the skull.'"

&quotMake it nice and palatable so that they wouldn't understand what it's all about?" the judge responded. "... It is so much nicer to say it that way?"

&quotYes," Dr. Johnson said.

On April 5, Judge Casey, who was appointed to the federal bench by Bill Clinton, continued with his line of questioning, trying to determine just what a mother is told about the partial-birth abortion procedure. &quotDo you use simple English words, so they know what they are doing and authorizing?" he asked a witness supplied by the National Abortion Federation (NAF). When she answered yes, he probed further: &quotDo you discuss the killing of the fetus?"

&quotI tell them that when I cut the umbilical cord of the fetus, the fetus exsanguinates."

&quotExsanguinwhat?" the judge replied.

&quotIn layman's terms, it would be drained of blood."

&quotDo you tell them that?"

&quotNo."

Judge Casey's probing questions and his insistence on plain-even graphic-language has at times caused strain in the courtroom. &quotDo you tell the mother the fetus will feel pain?" he asked the NAF abortionist on April 5.

&quotI have never talked to a fetus," she snapped.

&quotI did not ask you that," the judge pressed on. &quotDo you ever tell the mother?"

At that point, according to Mr. Sekulow, the witness became &quotvery angry" and raised her voice in response to the judge. &quotThat is what I tell my patients, I'm sorry! ... I do not believe the fetus feels pain, so I do not tell them that." Did she ever bother to read the literature on fetal pain, the judge wanted to know? She admitted that she had not.

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