Fact Check: Planned Parenthood Falsely Claims Late Abortions Only for Severe Fetal Abnormalities, Serious Risks to Mother

This picture shows a doctor doing an ultrasound examination during a visit of a pregnant woman to her gynecologist, January 31, 2019. (Jasper Jacobs/AFP/Getty Images)
Jasper Jacobs/AFP/Getty Images

Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen’s claim that most late-term abortions are performed due to “severe fetal abnormalities” or “serious risks to the woman’s health” is not even supported by abortionists.

Wen has been dismissing the firestorm over radical legislation in New York and Virginia that allows abortion up until birth as “lies.” She has been attempting to mitigate the outrage by repeating the claim that most late-term abortions “result from a diagnosis of severe fetal abnormalities, or serious risks to the woman’s health.”

“90% of abortions occur before 21 weeks,” the head of the nation’s largest provider of abortions tweeted. “As a doctor & public health expert, I can tell you that those that occur later often result from a diagnosis of severe fetal abnormalities, or serious risks to the woman’s health.”

As Townhall observed, Wen spoke with Politico’s Dan Diamond, who cited Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s comment to WTOP-FM.

“When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physician—more than one physician, by the way—and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities,” Northam said. “There may be a fetus that’s non-viable.”

The Democrat governor added:

If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So, I think this was really blown out of proportion. We want the government not to be involved in these types of decisions.

Townhall reported Wen’s response to the reactions to Northam’s statements:

“These are lies,” Wen responded of the pro-life backlash to the governor’s remarks, “this is a manufactured crisis that’s not based on medical reality and I want to explain what that medical reality is. The medical reality is that 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks and those that occur later are because of extreme circumstances like grave danger to a woman’s life and fetal demise.”

However, abortionists themselves admit the claim of Wen — and other supporters of abortion rights — is not true:

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, admitted in 1997 partial birth abortions were not that rare.

“The abortion rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it and so, probably, does everyone else,” he said, adding that he “lied through [his] teeth” during a Nightline interview when he said partial-birth abortions were rarely performed and only due to fetal anomalies and serious health risks to the mother.

Murdered abortionist George Tiller told National Abortion Federation attendees in 1995, “We have some experience with late terminations; about 10,000 patients between 24 and 36 weeks and something like 800 fetal anomalies between 26 and 36 weeks in the past 5 years.”

“That equates to a mere eight percent of Tiller’s late-term patients who aborted because their babies were diagnosed prenatally with a health condition,” pro-life organization Live Action observed.

Former Planned Parenthood manager-turned-pro-life activist Abby Johnson also asked an ex-late-term abortion clinic worker whether the claim was true.

“You know, we always hear from the abortion movement that the only women who have late-term abortions are women who have been given an extremely grave fetal diagnosis,” Johnson said. “Was that always the case in your clinic?”

The former clinic worker replied:

Almost never, Abby. Almost never. Almost never. I would say that the highest profile of women that were having the late-term abortions were completely normal pregnancies, quite often young, and sometimes had just had more fear of having to tell someone they were pregnant, or being so completely out of touch with their own body that they didn’t understand and how rapidly the pregnancy was progressing, or I don’t know.…

Overwhelmingly, the late-term procedures that we did were not for fetal anomalies. We did late-term procedures on women who were perimenopausal and didn’t want to be pregnant. We did them on teenagers.

Similarly, Dr. Susan Robinson, a New Mexico abortionist who specializes in third-trimester abortions, described to ABC News the women seeking abortions in the third trimester:

Women whose fetuses have terrible abnormalities, Robinson said, “are a lot easier for people to understand. The husband and wife want to spare their baby whatever suffering that baby would have.”

“Then there’s the group of women who didn’t know they were pregnant,” she said. “They were told they were not pregnant for one reason or another and they are just as desperate. ‘I already have three children, my husband just lost his job and I can barely put food on the table. If I add a new baby to this family, we’ll all go under.'”

Data from the pro-abortion-rights Guttmacher Institute from 2014 show that, in keeping with Wen’s claim, 1.3 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks. With 926,200 abortions performed in that year, about 12,040 were performed after 21 weeks.

However, a study released in 2013 by Guttmacher found that women who were seeking both first-trimester and late-term abortions provided the same reasons for delaying their abortions, including “not knowing about the pregnancy,” “trouble deciding about the abortion,” and “disagreeing about the abortion with the man involved.”

The study found that “most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”

A medical animation video at AbortionProcedures.com showed how third trimester abortions were performed:

Former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino explained the procedure:

A third trimester induction abortion is performed at 25 weeks LMP (25 weeks since the first day of the woman’s last period) to term. At 25 weeks, a baby is almost fully-developed and is considered viable, meaning he or she could survive outside the womb. For this reason, the abortionist will usually first kill the baby in utero by injecting a substance that causes cardiac arrest, and induces the mother’s labor to deliver her baby stillborn.

Live Action noted this type of abortion “when done ‘incorrectly,’ can lead to babies accidentally born intact and alive.”


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