Would you watch an abortion being performed?

Over the weekend, Newsweek magazine posted an article by Sarah Kliff entitled, "Watching My First Abortion." She is a journalist who has covered the abortion debate in America for some time now. The main focus of the article is her journey to Omaha, Nebraska where she visits and witnesses, first-hand an abortion being performed. I must admit, that I am impressed overall with her article. She seems to be genuinely reporting her reaction to witnessing this event that few people (other than those undergoing the procedure) will ever witness.

In the fifth paragraph of her article, she writes something I think deserves a little more attention. It is worth quoting in full.

A first-trimester abortion, from my vantage point behind the glass window, looked like an extended, more invasive version of a standard ob-gyn exam. A woman with her heels in stirrups, clothes traded in for a hospital gown, a speculum holding the cervix open. Carhart used a suction tube to empty the contents of the uterus; it took no longer than three minutes. The suction machine made a slight rumbling sound, a pinkish fluid flowed through the tube, and, faster than I'd expected, it was over. Women spent less than a half hour in the operating room. I'd anticipated some kind of difficulty watching an abortion; it wasn't there.

Notice her description of the aborted fetus…”a pinkish fluid flowed through the tube.” This brings up the point that many pro-choice supporters will point to—fetuses are only blobs of undifferentiated tissue. I know not all pro-choice supporters would agree with that statement, but it is a statement that I have regularly heard when encountering people of the pro-choice position. In fact, somewhat recently I engaged some commenters at Unreasonable Faith (an atheist blog), where one commenter described an embryo in the following manner: “embryos are not children, any more than blueprints are houses or my clipped fingernails are me. An early embryo is little more than a cell” and later “Embryos are not people. They might become people, but they are not people.” You can read that full post and comment stream here.

Is this understanding correct; are embryos just blobs of undifferentiated tissue? Part of understanding the answer to this question comes in understanding what a first-trimester embryo undergoes in the abortion process. The machine used to extract the embryo exerts some strong forces in order to pull the embryo down the tube. In fact, those forces are so strong they can collapse a paint thinner container. I witnessed this in a live demonstration by an ob-gyn as you can watch in the clip below (entire abortion demonstration can be viewed here and here). This doctor travels around the country presenting what he has entitled “God’s Miracle of Life.” It is an excellent presentation that details development up to birth and then presents the different methods of abortion during each of the trimesters. You can preview the abortion part of this presentation at the link above. If you are interested in him coming and speaking, you can contact him through his website prolifedoc.org.

With a full understanding of what the embryo undergoes during the abortion procedure, it is no surprise that it looks as though it is simply a blob of tissue or a “pinkish fluid.” However, Newsweek also produced a video clip (below or click here) of the same story for those who may prefer video to reading.

In the video, Dr. Carhart made some statements that are important to note. He made the statement that he would like to see the need for abortion to go down and go away, better contraceptives, an increase in sex-education, more affordable birth control, better empowerment of the women so that the “number of abortions would spontaneously reduce on their own.” I have some trouble with this statement by Dr. Carhart. I do not disagree with the points he made. I too would like to see better sex-education, more affordable and better birth control, and the reduction of abortions. However, I think he is being a little dishonest. Think about it, he is a doctor who makes his living from performing abortions. Does he truly want to see the number of abortions reduced and thereby his income? I have trouble believing that. It is possible that he genuinely means his statement, but I find it improbable. It’s like a coal company CEO saying he would like to see the use of coal reduced—any honest person listening to a coal company CEO make that statement would take it with a grain of salt. So I take Dr. Carhart's statement with a grain of salt.

Overall, the article is worth reading (or watching the video) because it resounds with the many people on both sides of the abortion debate. This is particularly the case since President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame University. There is a desire by many (pro-life and pro-choice) to move toward a middle ground on this issue—to find some common ground between the two camps. Before that can happen though, there needs to be clarity about the facts. To be fair, that was not her intention in this article; however, the story adds nothing to clarifying the facts concerning abortion (such as development, high-risk pregnancies, etc.). On the other hand, I commend her for finding out first-hand what truly happens during an abortion.

What is your reaction to her description of an abortion?

If more people watched an abortion, do you think it would change the tide concerning the abortion debate?
What'd you think? 

1 Response to "Would you watch an abortion being performed?"

  • Dan Says:

    I was anxious as I read her description of the procedure. My heartbeat sped up! It was odd...she's a good writer who made me feel like I was there.

    This is one of the saddest issues in our country right now. But it does raise the question: Could abortions ever go away on thier own? Probably not, because even if every single person in America would become a Christian, that doesn't make people perfect. Reduced number of abortions maybe, but not done away with.

    Of course, if we make it illegal, it still won't end abortions either.