What is Abortion?

Abortion is the deliberate killing of an unborn human being before he or she is born. 

An abortion is also commonly referred to as a "termination of pregnancy”.

How is an abortion performed? (methods of abortion)

There are essentially two categories of methods for both first trimester abortion (up to three months) and later abortion, i.e. for the duration of the rest of the pregnancy.  These methods are loosely categorised as surgical and medical. Up to recent times, surgical abortion was the normal method. Since the approval and registration of users by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for Mifepristone (RU486), this  method is becoming more widely used, usually in combination with Misoprostol for both first trimester and second trimester abortion as the so-called “medical” abortion method.

Medical Abortion 

In a medical abortion, Mifepristone is used as an anti-progesterone agent to chemically kill the unborn child by blocking the action of progesterone, a hormone essential for the well-being of the pregnancy. However, by itself is only about 70% effective in first trimester and less so in later trimesters. Misoprostol is a prostaglandin which mimics labour and causes strong uterine contractions to cause the unborn child to be expelled from the uterus. 

In one incident in the NT in 1998, an child of 22 weeks gestation, Jessica Jane, who was born alive weighing 515 g after a botched late-term abortion, with “good vital signs”, was left in a dish to die and was heard crying for 80 minutes until she died. This is the age under this bill at which abortion can be done for any reason and at which they are allegedly nonviable!

As part of the debate over the Pyne Bill, during Questions on Notice No 779 on 11th May 2016, Mark Robinson, Member for Cleveland (now Oordgeroo) asked the Minister for Health Cameron Dick:

“How many babies aged 20 weeks or more were born alive after a termination procedure in Queensland hospitals between 2005 and 2015?” The answer was 204!

Such is the inhumanity of abortion and the dehumanisation that it causes in the medical community that would leave a tiny child to die alone without any attempt to provide comfort or resuscitation if past the point of viability. In these instances, staff who become distressed by this are warned against intervention because the purpose of abortion is to produce a dead baby.   

To watch an animated video of a medical abortion please click here

Surgical Abortion 

There are a variety of techniques that fall under this category. The most commonly used one is curettage by suction, and this is the most commonly performed method of abortion in the western world. It is also used into the second trimester to varying extents depending upon the operator. In the Guidelines, this method is advised to be used up to 14 weeks but after that from 14-16 weeks only be used by experienced practitioners. However, the Guidelines also state it can be considered at any stage.

For this method, the cervix may be prepared beforehand to soften it using luminaria (seaweed) or misoprostol to make the abortion easier and to reduce damage to the cervix. A cannula (hollow tube) is attached to a suction device and inserted into the uterus. The abortionist acts blindly to dismember the foetus by tearing off pieces of tissue with the suction. Larger pieces that will not come through the cannula such as bone require removal with forceps.

There is a video of this procedure on a website called Abort67.co.uk during which tiny hands and feet can be seen coming out of the uterus as the abortion is occurring. 

For another account of a second trimester suction abortion, a previous abortionist Dr Anthony Levatino described to a US House of Representatives sub-committee on the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act 2012 how he performed what is called there a suction D&E (meaning suction dilatation and extraction) abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. After describing in detail how the softer parts of the body such as arms, legs spine, intestines, heart and lungs were removed, he went on to say:

“The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face may come and stare back at you.” (Testimony of Anthony Levatino MD JD before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary, US House of Representatives on The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HR3803) May 17, 2012

Another similarly horrendous method of killing unborn human beings is the “cranial decompression” or partial birth abortion method, also known as D&X (dilatation and extraction). A previous practitioner of this method in Australia, Dr David Grundmann described it as “essentially a breech delivery where the foetus is delivered feet first, and then when the head of the foetus is brought down into the top of the cervical canal, it is decompressed with a puncturing instrument so that it fits then through the cervical canal.”( ABC 7.30 Report, 27 October 1994). In layman’s terms, the doctor puts scissors or another sharp implement into the back of the baby’s neck and uses high pressure suction to evacuate the brains. With the skull “decompressed”, the baby is removed. 

This latter method was banned by the US Senate in 2003 as being “gruesome, inhumane and never medically indicated” with obvious implications for foetal pain, but there is actually no reason why this method of abortion could NOT be performed in Queensland under the provisions of this Bill. 

David Grundmann performed partial birth abortions in Queensland until his activities were exposed and while this state was controlled by its “nineteenth century legislation” so despised by advocates of this Bill. It would only take another abortionist like David Grundmann to set up practice in this state were this bill to be passed into legislation. 

After 22 weeks gestation, some guidelines recommend “feticide” by the injection of potassium chloride into the heart using ultrasound guidance. This method is also listed for use for so-called “selective reduction” where one unborn child is selected to be killed in multiple pregnancies for whatever reason is considered acceptable under the current situation.

To watch an animated video of the most common type of surgical abortion please click here

Foetal Pain during an abortion

In Queensland, and in no Australian state or territory for that matter, there is no requirement that a baby is anethesised prior to an abortion. This is particularly heart-breaking when considering that there is a wide and increasing body of evidence that unborn babies feel baby from as young as 10 weeks could experience pain as they respond to external stimuli and it’s agreed that by 18 weeks gestation (about 4 months old in the womb) babies definitely feel pain. 

It is also important to know that bodily pain is generated or experienced at different levels of the nervous system, not just the most superior level, the cortex. The degree and nature of pain experience will change and develop as the foetus’ nervous system matures, not be an “all -or-nothing” phenomenon. Inhibitory pathways to pain experience develop later than the receptive pathways. The following quotation may be of assistance in putting these concepts together.

“To experience pain, an intact system of pain transmission from the peripheral receptor to the cerebral cortex must be available. Peripheral receptors develop from the seventh gestational week. From 20 weeks’ gestation, peripheral receptors are present on the whole body. From 13 weeks’ gestation the afferent system (ie system receiving stimuli from the body) located in the substantia gelatinosa of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord starts developing. Development of afferent fibres connecting peripheral receptors with the dorsal horn starts at 8 weeks’ gestation. Spinothalamic (the thalamus is in the midbrain) connections start to develop from 14 weeks’ and are complete at 20 weeks’ gestation, whilst thalamocortical connections are present from 17 weeks’ and completely developed at 26-30 weeks’ gestation. From 16 weeks’ gestation, pain transmission from a peripheral receptor to the cortex (the entire pathway) is possible and completely developed from 26 weeks’ gestation. It is important to note that serotonin-releasing inhibitory descending pain fibers only develop following birth.” Further on, the paper notes that   “a physiological fetal reaction to painful stimuli occurs from between 16-24 weeks.” Marc Van de Velde and Frederik De  Buck,” Fetal and Maternal Analgesia/Anaesthesia for Fetal Procedures” Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy 31(2012): 201-209

This article is used as a reference for the suggested amount of anaesthesia required for in utero foetal procedures ranging from minor to major operations now performed such as closure of a spina bifida defect.  Further on, the paper notes that “a physiological fetal reaction to painful stimuli occurs from between 16-24 weeks.” This refers back to previous comments that a hormonal stress response is evident from four months gestation and connotes a level of response to pain that has already developed well before the cortex may be able to appreciate pain simply because the full pathway is not complete.

Another expert on fetal sensation and pain perception, Dr. Jean Wright Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at the Mercer School of Medicine, gave evidence to the US House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution on fetal pain development on November 1, 2005. She said in part:

“As early as 6 weeks of development, tiny pain fibers pepper the face and oral mucosa (lining of the mouth). The spread of these unique fibers proceeds in a head to toe fashion until by the 20th week, they cover the entire body. Not only do these fibers exist, they do so with greater density per square inch than in the adult. Studies at 16 weeks and beyond show hormonal responses to painful stimuli that exactly duplicate the response that the infant and adult possess. The critical difference is that the unborn lacks the ability to modulate itself in response to this pain. This ability to down regulate the response in light of painful stimuli will not exist until the unborn is nearly full term in its gestational age.

“After 20 weeks of gestation, the unborn has all the perquisite anatomy, physiology, hormones, neurotransmitters, and electrical current to ‘close the loop’ and create the conditions needed to perceive pain. The hormones and EEGs (electroencephalograms) and ultrasounds record the pain response, and our therapies with narcotics demonstrate our ability to adequately block them.”

Assumptions about the amount and extent of pain experienced by the unborn from abortion can be erroneous, as is the contention that maternal anaesthesia provided through an abortion will necessarily block any pain felt by the unborn. The antipathy or disinterest exhibited by the abortion lobbyists towards the first victim of abortion is ideological and not founded upon any of the science we now possess.

What about a women’s “right to choose” or a “right to their body”?

Nowhere else in our legal structure, is someone given a right to choose to kill another. Nor is the unborn a part of the woman’s body. The unborn baby is a distinct individual with it's only DNA and a unique genetic code from conception.

For most women distressed by pregnancy, the issue is not about being pregnant itself, but the circumstances surrounding it which are making them consider abortion as their only “choice”. 

The old argument "my body, my choice" is flawed, as the unborn baby has it's own body, it's not the woman's body. 

If you are pregnant, please know that you are not alone and there is a lot of help available to you for free. Both government and private agencies. There are also many alternatives to abortion. Remember, you are not alone, and millions of women around the world deeply regret their abortion, but almost no women regret having their child.