Have a discussion with the Democrats in Congress — or on the campaign trail — about why they support legal abortion even in the latest stages of pregnancy, and you’ll hear them repeat the mantra that these procedures are very rare and only performed in tragic cases of medical necessity for the mom or grave medical problems with the child.
First, let’s look at this notion of the rarity of late-term abortions.
Reliable statistics on late-term abortion are hard to come by, for the simple reason that when it comes to abortion, as a nation, we would rather not know — and the abortion industry doesn’t want us to know. Certain abortion-heavy states like California do not even report their statistics to the CDC, and even when states do report, the abortion clinics do not necessarily provide clear and complete numbers.
Yet the Alan Guttmacher Institute says that abortions beyond 21 weeks represent just over one percent of the total abortions performed annually in the U.S. Yet the phrase “one percent” seems quite misleadingly small when it’s one percent of approximately a million abortions a year.
That works out to some 10,000 per year, or 27 procedures per day, 365 days per year, on babies the size of a large banana.
As for the claim that these not-so-rare abortions are only done when a mother’s life is in dire jeopardy or the child is going to die anyway, all you have to do is call the clinics to learn otherwise. In a project commissioned by Priests for Life, Tara Shaver of Abortion Free New Mexico called abortion businesses and easily and made appointments for late term abortions even at 30 and 32 weeks when she said that both she and her baby were completely healthy.
But certainly there are medically complicated pregnancies, and to understand what happens in those cases, and whether abortion is ever necessary or helpful, we go to doctors who specialize in medically complicated pregnancies.
Maternal fetal medicine specialist Dr. Byron Calhoun has pioneered a new way of handling these situations: perinatal hospice.
“We always have two patients, the mother and the baby,” Dr. Calhoun, a, told me in a recent interview. He’s been treating pregnant women and their babies for 30 years, taking care of patients he described as “the sickest of the sick.”
In medically complicated pregnancies, it is not technically the baby who endangers the mother, but rather the physiological process of pregnancy. Put another way, it is sometimes necessary to end the pregnancy early, but it is never necessary to kill the baby.
In 98-99 percent of cases Dr. Calhoun has seen, the pregnancies can be safely continued until 23 weeks or beyond. Advances in the technology used to treat these very premature newborns have led to better outcomes than ever. With good neonatal care, babies born at 23 to 24 week survive 25 to 40 percent of the time. Babies at 25-26 weeks have an 80 percent chance of surviving. At 28 weeks, there’s a 93 95 percent chance the child will survive.
“We have better ventilators, better medicines, we’re doing much better with our outcomes,” Dr. Calhoun said. Many major cities in the U.S. now have neonatal intensive care units that are able to treat the tiniest newborns, as well as perform in-utero surgeries that can correct or mitigate medical conditions in babies even before they are born.
In addition to his work in maternal fetal medicine, Dr. Calhoun also was a pioneer in perinatal hospice, which offers the parents of babies with life-limiting conditions the chance to love and cherish their newborns for whatever time they have, from a few minutes to days, weeks or even months.
Perinatal hospice allows parents of babies with lethal or non-survivable anomalies to prepare for the birth, gather their families and surround the baby with love.
Perinatal hospice, which began in the 1990s and has spread around the world, is the loving choice that honors both the parents and the baby. It reminds us that the value of life is not measured in days or years; it shows how the power of love can transform even the saddest situation. What is better, the memory of having loved a critically ill child, or the memory of having killed him?
Later this month, Dr. Calhoun, who also serves as a medical advisor for Priests for Life, will speak in Rome at a conference sponsored by the Vatican and will present the medical and moral benefits of perinatal hospice.
In our death-loving culture, abortion is too often seen as the immediate “solution” to a problem pregnancy. But it is never necessary to kill a baby, no matter how dire the circumstances for mother or child. Options like perinatal hospice deserve the support of us all, no matter what our positions on abortion.
Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent pro-life leaders in the world. He became a Catholic priest in 1988 under Cardinal John O’Connor in New York. In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. He is also the President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the National Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Campaign and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels to about four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion. He broadcasts regularly on television, radio, and internet. He was asked by Mother Teresa to speak in India on abortion, and was asked by then-candidate Donald Trump to serve on his Pro-life and Catholic advisory councils. He has served at the Vatican as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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