Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Why Do MOST Late Term Abortions Happen?

There’s been a recent wave of blog posts by people who had late term abortions because the baby was dying or would die soon after the birth. (See Andrew Sullivan, Hilzoy and others)
This comes after years of assertion from pro-life forces that most late term abortions are not to protect the life of the mother and do not involve such “mercy killing” scenarios.
Obviously both sides can offer examples — but which are most representative of the majority of cases? Amazingly, given the prominence of the issue, the evidence is murky.
Pro-life activist Jill Stanek points to two pieces of evidence:


Kansas City Star, August 26, 1991, quoting Peggy Jarman of the Pro-Choice Action League: “About three-fourths of [George] Tiller’s late-term patients, Jarman said, are teen-agers who have denied to themselves or their families that they were pregnant until it was too late to hide it.”

And, she quoted Fox News on June 13, 2007 who interviewed Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist hired by the state Attorney General when he was prosecuting George Tiller for violating Kansas law. This prosecution witness said:

“I didn’t think that those records supported the idea that these women were likely to suffer a substantial and irreversible impairment, which was required by law here in KS for their abortion since they were late-term abortions….
They highlighted certain kinds of things, which out of context were hard, of course, to appreciate, but were sometimes of a most trivial sort from saying that, “I won’t be able to go to concerts,” or “I won’t be able to take part in sports,” to more serious ones such as, “I don’t want to give my child up for adoption.”


But a jury considering the evidence actually found Tiller not guilty.
On the other hand, a pro-choice member of the Kansas City Star editorial board wrote:

“The overwhelming majority of the 250 to 300 women a year who sought late-term abortions from Tiller had planned their pregnancies. They came to him heartbroken and afraid, carrying fetuses with malfunctioning kidneys, missing organs and syndromes certain to cause death in the womb or soon after birth. A much smaller number of late-term patients were rape and incest victims, sometimes very young girls. Some were directed to Tiller by prosecutors. “


But she offers no source or proof for these assertions.
The only systematic study I’ve been able to find was one done by the Guttmacher Institute — in 1988. That study was flawed because it looked at abortions past 16 weeks and it’s likely that the reasons for an abortion at 16 weeks would be different from that at 26 weeks. Even so, the reasons listed there didn’t particularly fit with what either side was saying. (The top two reasons for having an abortion late were, “Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation” and “Woman found it hard to make arrangements for abortion.”)
So we have a newspaper quote from 1991. A study from 1988. Testimony of a prosecution witness in a case where the prosecution lost. An unsubstantiated assertion from a pro-choice writer.
Have I missed some evidence? If so, please post it to the comment thread and I’ll update this post.
Perhaps privacy concerns have made valid studies difficult. But I can’t help but wonder whether the controversial nature has literally scared away neutral scholars.

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posted June 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Steve, I love how you’re trying to figure out how to “compromise” when it comes to women’s control of their bodies.
Has it occurred to you that you have absolutely no right to offer a compromise?

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posted June 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

It is my opinion that Jill Stanek has no credibility. The state of Illinois investigated her claims of infanticide because it was a felony under state law to not attempt saving a viable babies. They found no support for her claims, yet the media gives her considerable air/press time.
Steven, I believe you also joined her constant Obama voted for infanticide, even though the evidence says otherwise.
Stanik is only going to use information that supports her cause.
A couple days after Dr. Tiller’s murder, Stanek posted pictures of the Nebraska late term doctor’s clinic. To me the pictures are a bullseye for another crazy.
Fox news is often not credible. When verifying information from the often tabloid level Blabbing Chicks blogs, I do a Google search. Several times Fox was the only supposed news source reporting the information that turned out to be false. For example, Biden disclosed classified information about the bunker where Cheney hid for safety. Michele never updated to correct the false information in her blog, which is typical for her and anything Democrat
I would like to know more about Tiller’s involvement in adoptions. Did he convince some women seeking abortion to go the adoption route?

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Steven Waldman

posted June 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I agree with Roe v. Wade’s assertion that in the third trimester the woman’s right to choose is NOT inviolable. You disagree with Roe on that?
Julie, I’m not vouching for any of the evidence I offered in this piece. That’s my point. Is there anything more credible that you’ve seen?

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posted June 9, 2009 at 2:26 pm

CluePhone, do you believe it a good thing to work for compromise on the abortion issue if:
– women who choose abortion for economic reasons would have adequate financial support not only to have the child but to keep him/her?
– women who lack adequate pre-natal care and end up requiring abortions for health reasons instead have not only adequate pre-natal care but also decent post-natal care (including well-baby care) for both mom and child?
– those women who choose abortion because it is the only choice they see themselves having and who would gladly keep the baby if other choices were offered had those needs met so they could make the choice they wanted to make?
– those women who need to abort their child for health, rape, incest, a threat to their life or the life of the child they carry, would have abortion services available to them without having to travel across three or four states?
I can’t speak for Steve, but for me this is the kind of compromise I seek on abortion. There are women who abort for economic reasons. Many of these women, according to numerous surveys, would keep their child if they had the financial means of doing so. There are other women who end up requiring an abortion because of a health condition that, had they been able to afford decent quality healthcare prior to becoming pregnant or during the early part of pregnancy, would have been resolved without aborting their child. I suspect most of these women would rather have had their children than abort them, but had no choice give their health condition.
Shouldn’t these women have their choices honored as much as the woman who chooses to abort her pregnancy? If we can develop programs, either from the private sector or public sector, that would empower these women to make the choice they want to make, it would reduce the number of abortions without hindering a woman’s choice regarding pregnancy. In fact, it would enable a significant number of women to actually make a choice about childbearing instead of being forced, as it were, to have an abortion.

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posted June 9, 2009 at 6:51 pm

I’ve really appreciated your recent posts on this topic. They’ve been thoughtful, knowledgeable and respectful. This one highlights a problem I’ve noticed this week, particularly with Sullivan’s posts. They derive from unverified, anonymous reader emails. Anyone could have written them. I doubt it matters to most, as they represent possibilities, but since this post is about evidence and he sometimes calls himself a journalist, I assume it matters to you.

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posted June 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Why do most late term abortions happen? That question can only be answered by the women who have had them.

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posted June 9, 2009 at 11:11 pm

I have not found the complete Kansas abortion laws, but it appears they had numerous restrictions on late term abortion. Phill Kline, Johnson County Kansas District Attorney was on a mission against Dr. Tiller. Kline was voted out of office before Dr. Tiller’s trial. The charges Kline brought against Tiller are a long saga. All criminal charges were dropped before the final trial. It is my opinion from the information below that Dr. Tiller proved he adhered to Kansas law.
October 23, 2007 (The article has “Missouri,” but it should be Kansas.)
“Planned Parenthood Faces Multimillion Dollar Fines
“Under Kansas law abortion providers must submit “induced termination of pregnancy” reports for each procedure they perform. If the fetus is at least 22 weeks old, the procedure is considered a late-term abortion and the provider must perform tests that show the fetus is not viable and that the abortion is medically necessary to the pregnant woman.”
I briefly looked at a few of the charges against Dr. Tiller. The final charges “19 misdemeanors alleging he failed to obtain a second opinion for late-term abortions from an independent physician, as required by Kansas law. The jury found him not guilty in less than an hour. Approximately 35 Criminal charges were dropped against Tiller before the trial.
Kansas law permits late-term abortions when two independent doctors agree that the pregnant woman would be irreparably harmed by giving birth
Prosecutors charged that the doctor, George Tiller, had an improper financial relationship with a doctor from Lawrence, Kristin Neuhaus, who provided a second opinion in the 19 cases cited.
“Phill Kline took the witness stand today to defend his investigation of abortion provider George Tiller as Tiller’s attorneys seek the dismissal of criminal charges against their client.”
“Judge orders Tiller to immediately turn over patient records
Abortion provider Dr. George Tiller must turn over thousands of patients’ files to a grand jury while his attorneys take the legal battle over the medical records to the state’s highest court, a Sedgwick County judge ruled Friday.
The edited patient records won’t have the women’s names, but they will have patient-identification numbers. Tiller’s attorneys claimed that in an earlier case, former Attorney General Phill Kline was able to track down patients’ names using the identifying numbers on patients’ files.”” Feb 1 2008
Grand jury refuses to indict Kansas abortion doctor – Oct 2007
The Kansas Supreme Court made Phill Kline provide his investigation records, which he was refusing to provide.
“Kansas Supreme Court, on Kline: “It is plain that he is interested in the pursuit of justice only as he chooses to define it””
“The record before us discloses numerous instances in which Kline and/or his subordinates seriously interfered with the performance of his successors as Attorney General and seriously interfered with this court’s effort to determine the facts underlying this action and the legal merit of the parties’ positions….
Kline was demonstrably ignorant, evasive, and incomplete in his sworn written responses submitted to Judge King, this court’s appointed agent in the fact-finding process. Kline’s responses were far from full and forthright; they showed consistent disregard for Kline’s role as a leader in state law enforcement; and they delayed and disrupted this court’s inquiry. Among other things, he failed to consult with subordinates as appropriate to give responses, treating questions posed to him as a public servant whose conduct was under scrutiny in a mandamus action as though they were questions posed to him as an uncooperative and too-clever-by-half private litigant. He was thorough only when digressing from the point….
An obvious and sorry pattern emerges from the foregoing examples and from Kline’s performance at oral argument before us. Kline exhibits little, if any, respect for the authority of this court or for his responsibility to it and to the rule of law it husbands. His attitude and behavior are inexcusable, particularly for someone who purports to be a professional prosecutor. It is plain that he is interested in the pursuit of justice only as he chooses to define it.
Because Kline’s actions also seriously interfered with this court’s efforts to determine the facts and arrive at resolution, we also regard reimbursement of this court for the costs of this action in the amount of $50,000–i.e., the minimum personnel expense associated with filings, hearings, and conferences that could have been avoided if Kline’s conduct had been otherwise–to be an appropriate additional sanction. However, were we to impose this sanction, it would be borne by Johnson County rather than Kline personally. We are unwilling to make those taxpayers foot any further bill for the conduct of a district attorney they did not elect in the first place and have now shown the door…
We also note, as referenced above, that further instances of Kline’s improper conduct or the improper conduct of subordinates for whom he bears responsibility may yet come to light. Such actions, standing alone or when considered alongside Kline’s or others’ conduct in Alpha and/or in this case may merit civil or criminal contempt, discipline up to and including disbarment, or other sanctions. Furthermore, the known pattern of obstructive behavior prompting sanctions, standing alone, may be or become the subject of disciplinary or other actions; a copy of this opinion will be forwarded to the disciplinary administrator. We rule today only on the appropriateness of sanctions in this case because of the currently known components of obstructive behavior regarding this matter. We do not address other issues or potential issues in other actions. ”
No. 98,747
Comprehensive Health Of Planned Parenthood Of Kansas
And Mid-Missouri, Inc.,
Phill Kline, Johnson County District Attorney,
Stephen N. Six, Kansas Attorney General,
Intervenor. ( Sedgwick County

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posted June 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Abortions in Kansas – Statistics (Considerable Detail)
In 2008, 323 abortions were performed at 22 weeks or more.
Kansas Residents 5,511
Out-of-state residents 5,131
Bordering States:
Missouri 4,555
Oklahoma 204
Nebraska 29
Colorado 7
Puerto Rico 1
Canada 23
All other Countries 1
Other States & Countries 540

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posted April 16, 2013 at 12:40 am

try as I may I can find no good reason to kill a baby. NONE

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Abortion Late Term

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