Maryland Right to Life, Inc.
420 Chinquapin Round Rd. Suite 2-I
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phones: (410) 269-6397
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Help MDRTL Stop The Abortion Of Babies Who Can Feel Pain!
“My intent in every abortion I have ever done is to kill the fetus and terminate the pregnancy.”
— Leroy Carhart, giving testimony on how he performs a partial-birth abortion, under cross-examination by the Attorney General, July 1997.
What is “Late-term” Abortion?
The phrase “late-term abortion” has no fixed legal or medical meaning. Its use in news stories is misleading and distorts the debate. This distortion has been encouraged by pro-abortion groups, who use the phrase “late-term” as code for “third-trimester,” meaning 27 weeks after the mother‘s last menstrual period (about the seventh month and later).
Most Americans would agree that any abortion performed after the midway point of a woman's pregnancy (20 weeks after the mother‘s last menstrual period) would qualify as a “late abortion.” Indeed, most Americans would likely consider all abortions performed in the fifth month or later (e.g., after 18 weeks) as “late abortions.”
LeRoy Carhart, when asked about his Nebraska abortion practice, said, “We do not go past, uh, 22 weeks after conception.” Carhart went on to admit that he had aborted a 38-week-old unborn child in Kansas. His primary business, however, may be abortions under 22 weeks.
How Many Late Abortions and Abortionists There?
In an interview with Colorado abortionist Warren Hern published online November 5, 2010, TIME Magazine perpetuated the prevalent myth that there are few if any abortionists who perform abortions late in pregnancy. The Washington Post's Rob Stein also furthered the myth in a November 10 piece saying that Carhart “is one of the few in the country to perform abortions late in pregnancy.” The truth is, abortions in the fifth month of pregnancy and later are widely available.
A 2008 study, “Abortion in the United States: Incidence and Access to Services, 2005,” released by the Guttmacher Institute (which was originally founded as a special research affiliate of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America) found that, in 2005, there were at least 1,787 abortion providers in the United States. (Submitting data for the Guttmacher study is voluntary. As a result, Guttmacher uses estimates for to account for nonresponders, which means that the figures cited are estimated calculations and therefore likely to be on the low end.)
Of the 1,787 providers, the study found that “[t]wenty percent of providers offered abortions after 20 weeks, and only 8 percent at 24 weeks [after last menstrual period, or LMP]…” This translates to at least 300 abortion providers who will perform abortions after 20 weeks LMP and 140 willing to perform abortions at 24 weeks LMP.
We can assume that the 8 percent of abortion providers who say they are willing to perform abortions at 24 weeks LMP would do so two weeks earlier, at 22 weeks LMP. This means there are at least 140 abortion providers willing to abort unborn children who are capable of feeling pain.
It is also misleading to conclude that the abortions that Carhart and his ilk are performing are “rare.” According to a May 2010 briefing by the Guttmacher Institute, 1.5 percent of the estimated more than 1.2 million elective abortions performed annually in the United States are on unborn children at 21 weeks LMP (19 weeks postfertilization) or older. This translates to roughly 18,000 abortions annually – a substantial number of which probably occur at 22 weeks LMP or later, which is past the point that the best evidence indicates that the unborn child is fully capable of feeling pain (a point that may well occur earlier).
These findings are generally corroborated by the Centers for Disease Control Abortion Surveillance Report for 2006 (released November 27, 2009). In the 43 reporting areas for 2006 which reported gestational age to the CDC for its report, at least 1.3 percent of abortions were performed at 21 weeks or later. (Three states – California, Louisiana and New Hampshire – did not submit any data for 2006. Six states – Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Nebraska – either did not report gestational age or gestational age was reported as unknown for more than 15 percent of women.)
What is Known About Pain in the Unborn?
Some researchers claim that unborn children cannot feel pain until later in pregnancy when nerves reach the cerebral cortex. However, according to a spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee, “Since 2007, medical research, triggered by the identification of consciousness in children lacking a cortex from birth, has indicated that nerve connection to the cortex is not essential to experience pain. In fact, informed specialists have concluded that the subcortical plate, to which nerves from the pain receptors are linking at 20 weeks postfertilization, fulfills that function.”
Scientific studies, dating back to 1987, confirming the existence of fetal pain at 20 weeks postfertilization (22 weeks LMP), can be found here: http://www.doctorsonfetalpain.com/scientific-studies.
Can States Ban Abortions Based on Fetal Pain?
This was recently accomplished in Nebraska, with the passage of a law last April that forbids abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The Nebraska law, Legislative Bill 1103, relies on significant medical research and expert testimony to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy on the basis that unborn children feel pain. (Click here to read the text of the bill.)
The legislation has been hailed by pro-life advocates across the country for its innovative approach and focusing the public’s attention on unborn babies who have been medically documented as pain-capable at 20 weeks gestation.
Maryland Right to Life applauds Nebraska’s achievement in passing this groundbreaking legislation. However, an unfortunate side effect of Nebraska’s success has been to drive one of its most notorious citizens — abortionist Leroy Carhart — to states that are more “abortion-friendly” — like Maryland.
Leroy Carhart in Maryland
Leroy Carhart began performing abortions in Maryland on Monday, Dec. 6.
(See MDRTL’s statements to the media here.)
Carhart is working at Germantown Reproductive Health Services (GRHS), located at 13233 Executive Park Terrace, Germantown, Maryland 20874. News reports have indicated that Carhart will be traveling between Maryland and Iowa to perform abortions.
The GRHS website lists prices for abortions up to 19 weeks after the last menstrual period but indicates that it offers ”referrals” for abortions after 20 weeks.
Leroy Carhart gained notoriety as an abortionist specializing in abortions in the latter half of pregnancy in the 1990s. In 2000, he challenged Nebraska’s ban on partial-birth abortion in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court (Stenberg v. Carhart). The Nebraska law was struck down on the grounds that it lacked a provision for the “health of the mother.”
In 2003, Congress passed a federal ban on partial-birth abortion that was carefully crafted to meet the Supreme Court’s constitutionality requirement. The bill was signed into law by President Bush on Nov. 5, 2003, and Carhart immediately challenged it in court. Although three U.S. district courts found the law unconstitutional, the case progressed to the U.S. Supreme Court (Gonzalez v. Carhart), which reversed the lower court rulings and declared the law constitutional.
What You Can Do to Stop Abortions After 20 Weeks
Spread the word!
Email friends and ask them to sign the petition.
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|Maryland Right to Life • 420 Chinquapin Round Rd., Suite 2-I • Annapolis, MD 21401 • 410-269-6397 • 301-858-8304• www.mdrtl.org