A Victory for Babies (and Humanity)

Last week the US Supreme Court voted by a 5-4 majority to uphold a ban on late-term abortions. On April 18 the Court decided to uphold the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. Also known as D & X abortions, this method of abortion is as close as you can get to actual infanticide.

Unfortunately most people do not know what takes place during this grizzly procedure. I have written elsewhere about this barbaric act of baby killing, but my words may not count for much. The words of someone who has been there and done that may carry more weight.

Thus I reprint here part of a testimony given on March 21, 1996 by a registered nurse, Brenda Pratt Shafer. She was speaking before a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (HR 1833). Her words are so powerful and compelling that they deserve little or no commentary. Here is part of what the nurse said:

I am a registered nurse, licensed in the State of Ohio, with 14 years of experience. In 1993, I was employed by Kimberly Quality Care, a nursing agency in Dayton, Ohio. In September, 1993, Kimberly Quality Care asked me to accept assignment at the Women’s Medical Center, which is operated by Dr. Martin Haskell. I readily accepted the assignment because I was at that time very pro-choice. I had even told my teenage daughters that if one of them ever got pregnant at a young age, I would make them get an abortion. They disagreed with me on this, and one of them even wrote an essay for a high school class that mentioned how we differed on the issue.

So, because of the strong pro-choice views that I held at that time, I thought this assignment would be no problem for me.

But I was wrong. I stood at a doctor’s side as he performed the partial-birth abortion procedure – and what I saw is branded forever on my mind.

I worked as an assistant nurse at Dr. Haskell’s clinic for three days – September 28, 29, and 30, 1993. On the first day, we assisted in some first-trimester abortions, which is all I’d expected to be involved in. (I remember that one of the patients was a 15-year-old-girl who was having her third abortion.)

On the second day, I saw Dr. Haskell do a second-trimester procedure that is called a D & E (dilation and evacuation). He used ultrasound to examine the fetus. Then he used forceps to pull apart the baby inside the uterus, bringing it out piece by piece and piece, throwing the pieces in a pan.

Also on the first two days, we inserted laminaria to dilate the cervixes of women who were being prepared for the partial-birth abortions – those who were past the 20 weeks point, or 4 1/2 months. (Dr. Haskell called this procedure “D & X”, for dilation and extraction.) There were six or seven of these women.

On the third day, Dr. Haskell asked me to observe as he performed several of the procedures that are the subject of this hearing. Although I was in that clinic on assignment of the agency, Dr. Haskell was interested in hiring me full time, and I was being given orientation in the entire range of procedures provided at that facility.

I was present for three of these partial-birth procedures. It is the first one that I will describe to you in detail. The mother was six months pregnant (26 1/2 weeks). A doctor told her that the baby had Down Syndrome and she decided to have an abortion. She came in the first two days to have the laminaria inserted and changed, and she cried the whole time. On the third day she came in to receive the partial-birth procedure.

Dr. Haskell brought the ultrasound in and hooked it up so that he could see the baby. On the ultrasound screen, I could see the heart beating. As Dr. Haskell watched the baby on the ultrasound screen, the baby’s heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen.

Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby’s legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby’s body and the arms – everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby’s head just inside the uterus.

The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall.

The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. I was really completely unprepared for what I was seeing. I almost threw up as I watched the doctor do these things.

Mr. Chairman, I read in the paper that President Clinton says that he is going to veto this bill. If President Clinton had been standing where I was standing at that moment, he would not veto this bill.

Dr. Haskell delivered the baby’s head. He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw that baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he’d used. I saw the baby move in the pan. I asked another nurse and she said it was just “reflexes.”

I have been a nurse for a long time and I have seen a lot of death – people maimed in auto accidents, gunshot wounds, you name it. I have seen surgical procedures of every sort. But in all my professional years, I had never witnessed anything like this.

The woman wanted to see her baby, so they cleaned up the baby and put it in a blanket and handed the baby to her. She cried the whole time, and she kept saying, “I’m so sorry, please forgive me!” I was crying too. I couldn’t take it. That baby boy had the most perfect angelic face I have ever seen.

I was present in the room during two more such procedures that day, but I was really in shock. I tried to pretend that I was somewhere else, to not think about what was happening. I just couldn’t wait to get out of there. After I left that day, I never went back. These last two procedures, by the way, involved healthy mothers with healthy babies.

I was very much affected by what I had seen. For a long time, sometimes still, I had nightmares about what I saw in that clinic that day. . . . I wish I hadn’t seen it. But I did see it, and I will never be able to forget it. That baby boy was only inches, seconds away from being entirely born, when he was killed. What I saw done to that little boy, and to those other babies, should not be allowed in this country.


The full account by nurse Shafer can be found at numerous places. Here is one: http://www.priestsforlife.org/testimony/brendatestimony.html

But since a picture is worth a thousand words, the only other thing to add to her moving statement is a diagram of the procedure. A number of these exist. A very good set of diagrams can be seen here: http://www.ppl.org/PBA.html

If you have not yet seen these, please do. We must wake up to the horrible reality of late-term abortion.

[1250 words]

11 Replies to “A Victory for Babies (and Humanity)”

  1. That SCOTUS decision is indeed very good news. But the visceral reaction of the main Democrat Presidential candidates, Hillary Klinton, B. Hussein Obama and John “Ambulance Chaser” Edwards was appalling. This shows that one of the main American political parties should be renamed that Partial Birth Abortion Party.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  2. How such a thing as abortion can be called “pro-choice” is beyond me. The child gets no say. The murder of millions of children worldwide under the guise of choice and family planning is an utter disgrace. The testimony of Brenda Pratt Shafer only serves to show how barbaric we have become, and just how little value some people place on human life. That people could even think of trying to legalise partial-birth abortion, and that the debate is even allowed shows just how depraved our world really is.

    George Kokonis

  3. A Victory for Babies (and Humanity), and one might add, “and God”. What we need are not more confessing Christian politicians who legislate for humanism, but politicians (Christian or no) who legislate for Biblical law.

    I hesitated to read nurse Shafer’s testimony above because I knew what was coming – I had read it before. The horror of abortion can be overwhelming at times but we need to face it because it will help drive us to action.

    What can be said? A society that tolerates and condones such practices is as depraved and deserving of judgment than any that have gone before us. And we have the audacity to call ourselves ‘civilised’?

    The inaction of the church over decades is to blame for this and it seems that much of the church sleeps on still, oblivious to the moral offense – why some even condone it! But let me not be too hard on the church – many are too preoccupied with the great ‘moral’ concern of climate change to be bothered opposing such trivial matters as abortion!

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  4. I feel sick.
    God bless you for posting this.
    Our society can see what was wrong with the Nazi ideology but can’t discern this particular plank in our own eye…
    Dan Howard, UK

  5. Bill has once again writen an amazing article.

    Given the statements of those Democratic candidates, all I can say is that a victory of this left-wing party in the US presidential elections would represent a victory of barbarism and inhumanity over civilization and the sanctity of human life.

    One of the major signs of decadence of the Roman Empire was that unwanted babies were killed and abandoned.However, as John Stott stated:

    “Can we claim that contemporary western society is any less decadent because it consigns its unwanted babies to the hospital incinerator instead of the local rubbish dump? Indeed modern abortion is even worse than ancient exposure because it has been commercialised, and has become, at least for some doctors and clinics, an extremely lucrative practice. But reverence for human life is an indisputable characteristic of a humane and civilized society”.

    Augusto Zimmermann

  6. Oh my. I thought I had read some gruesome accounts but this is one of the worst. I too feel sick. The worst part of this story is that it’s not just one isolated incident. The pulling apart the body limb from limb is particularly common. The burning alive in saline death is also horrific. This is, in my view, the worst crime that humanity is currently committing. Its barbarity rivals anything that has been done in history.
    Dee Graf

  7. Absolutely disgraceful. It’s only just been recently that the reality of abortion has been brought back to my awareness.

    I echo George’s question – how can they call pro-abortion pro-choice? It seems that most people who have abortions feel they have no choice but to have one. At least there’s the option of putting an unwanted child up for adoption. There seems to be more choice in the ‘pro-life’ side.

    How the doctor terminates the baby’s life before removing the head, before the whole child is born, as though to justify it, is disgraceful. The hypocrisy… calling our society civilised indeed…

    Greg Baker, Australia

  8. Sometimes I think reading a blog written by a man, on this subject (even though I believe men should be writing such and Bill does so better than most) can be challenging.

    I really enjoyed a talk on the Veritas Forum’s website called “From Pro-Choice to Pro-Life: Unfolding a Journey” with Frederica Methewes-Green at UNCA http://www.veritas.org/3.0_media/talks/217 for those who prefer to hear almost the same tact in a female voice. This streaming online presentation at a public university is really worth waiting to listen to. Enjoy.

    Thanks again, Bill.

    Joe Whitchurch, Indiana, USA

  9. Although the decision to uphold the ban on late-term abortions is classified a win for babies and humanity, there is as much sadness as there is victory in this case. We can claim victory that the ban has been upheld but be appalled that there were four votes to remove the ban.

    This means that four people feel it is ok to abort a baby at an age where it could quite clearly live. These people obviously don’t see the potential that these little individuals have, and blatantly disregard the sanctity of life.

    But it was even more gut-wrenching to read on further. Although the description of partial-birth abortions was sickening, it has to be stated. Thanks Bill for placing the nurses description on your website, because it has presented me with the cold, hard facts, strengthening my resolve against abortions even further.

    How a human being could ever be responsible for such a procedure goes against all rational and compassionate thinking.

    But now is not the time to settle down. We need to maintain this battle to protect the sacredness of human life, no matter what age or stage.

    Thank God that there are some rational and compassionate voters in the Courts.

    Natalie Remedios

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