Author archives: Ingrid Skop, M.D.

Is the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act Necessary?

by Ingrid Skop, M.D.

February 24, 2020

In today’s divisive society, legislation that places any limit on abortion is immediately protested by abortion providers and activists, usually followed by lawsuits, and sometimes judicial prohibition. This is true of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, even though this proposed legislation does not address abortion provision at all. It merely mandates medical care for an infant if he is born alive after a failed attempt at abortion.

Vocal abortion advocates state that this legislation is unnecessary because a liveborn infant after attempted abortion never occurs. There is substantial evidence, however, that this is not true. Some pro-life leaders, such as Gianna Jessen and Melissa Ohden, are themselves survivors of failed abortions. In 2013, Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder for euthanizing three infants born alive after he failed to kill them in the abortion attempt. The CDC documented 143 instances of infants surviving abortion between 2003 and 2014. However, only eight states require the reporting of infants who survive abortions. It should be intuitive that when abortion suppliers are unsupervised and allowed to voluntarily report their own complications, they will not willingly confess that they have committed infanticide. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is necessary because it would ensure that medical care be given to infants who survive abortion.

In order to understand how a live birth after an attempted abortion could possibly occur, one needs to understand the abortion techniques that can be used to perform abortions after the first trimester. Survival is highly unlikely with a dilation and evacuation (dismemberment) abortion because the fetal parts are removed in a piece-meal fashion and the fetus dies from blood loss and trauma. Even so, Josiah Presley survived his dismemberment abortion but is missing an arm because of it. An intact dilation and extraction (partial-birth) abortion is illegal by federal law, but undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress suggest that this procedure may be secretly used in order to obtain more complete fetal bodies for research purposes. A hysterotomy abortion (C-section) is rarely performed. However, labor is often induced for very late abortions, because the larger, more developed fetus cannot be dismembered easily.

The CDC reports that 1.2% of abortions occur after 20 weeks gestation, which is near the gestational age where many babies can survive. Thus, in 2018 at least 11,500 fetuses were aborted who had the ability to live separated from their mothers (estimates range from 9,100 to 15,000). Likely, almost all of these extremely late abortions are performed by labor induction. A European study demonstrated that over half of 241 peri-viable fetuses (between 20-24 weeks gestation) survived labor induction despite having abnormalities for which they were being terminated.

Although it is often assumed that abortions after viability in the U.S. are only performed for severe fetal abnormalities or to save the mother’s life, the reality is that most are performed for elective reasons, just as early abortions are. Reasons frequently given for late abortions are: “not knowing about the pregnancy,” “trouble deciding about the abortion,” and “disagreeing about the abortion with the man involved.” It appears that indecision and partner abandonment and coercion are far more common reasons for the elective killing of pain-capable and viable fetal humans than truly heart-breaking situations.

Thus, it is likely that at least half of the estimated 11,500 viable fetuses who are intended to be aborted by induction may survive the labor process yearly, unless they are killed by the abortionist prior to labor. So, the question must be asked, do abortionists routinely perform feticide prior to induction abortion? They can certainly do that safely. There are at least 12 studies documenting the safety of at least six different feticide procedures.

There are drawbacks to feticide for the woman and the abortionist (though none for the fetus, who presumably would prefer to die quickly without excruciating pain). Feticide usually requires an injection of a cardiotoxic agent such as digoxin or potassium chloride into the amniotic fluid or directly into the fetal heart. The injection necessarily passes through the women’s abdominal wall into the uterus and can be uncomfortable for the woman. It requires extra time and skill on the part of the abortionist and adds an additional expense to the procedure. Again, because there is no mandatory reporting of abortion procedure details, there is a high likelihood that many abortionists performing later abortions will forego this step, which they may consider unnecessary.

As an OB/GYN in Texas, I have seen evidence of this personally, when a Texas law required feticide prior to a later abortion due to concerns about the potential for fetal pain. Abortionists argued against complying with this law by saying that feticide would be dangerous for a woman (despite the numerous studies they have published demonstrating its safety). The truth is, they did not want to take the extra time and effort to euthanize the fetus before the abortion. There are likely thousands of viable infants delivered alive after failed abortions yearly in our country, who are then killed by the abortionists. They can operate with impunity because they know no one is watching them.

Thus, it is clear that the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is necessary legislation. Thousands of elective abortions are performed yearly in the U.S. on healthy fetuses after the gestational age at which they can survive separated from their mothers. Induction of labor is commonly performed, and studies show that the labor process often fails to kill these babies. Abortionists have proven their resistance to euthanizing the fetus first, so although the abortionists are unwilling to voluntarily report this dreaded complication, it undoubtedly does occur in numbers far larger than most imagine.

We must prevent abortionists from crossing the line from killing a living fetus in utero, which is permissible by law, to killing an infant after birth, which our society has always considered morally reprehensible. The slippery slope so often warned against by pro-life advocates is in front of our eyes. Can we draw a line against infanticide? Or have the decades of dulling our consciences by allowing elective abortions eroded our moral sensibilities to the point where killing an infant capable of being resuscitated is no longer taboo?

Ingrid Skop, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. has been a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist for 22 years. Dr. Skop is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a Board Member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), and a Charlotte Lozier Institute Associate Scholar. She is the author of Top 10 Myths About Abortion.

Myth #7: “Abortion is an important part of women’s health care.”

by Ingrid Skop, M.D.

January 16, 2019

Pregnancy is a normal bodily function; it is not a disease. Interrupting this normal process is not health care. It is a surgical solution to a societal problem. The argument that “abortion is between a woman and her doctor” incorrectly assumes that an abortion requires a medical judgment, and will be performed by a woman’s own OB/GYN. This is false. The vast majority of abortionists are employed by abortion clinics, not health care clinics. Most abortionists are merely technicians who only perform one procedure for money; they do not perform any other health care service.

Statistically, if a pregnant woman walks through Planned Parenthood’s door, there is a 96 percent chance that the pregnancy service she will receive is an abortion. Only 3 percent will receive prenatal care, and less than 1 percent of women will choose to place their babies for adoption, to be raised by a loving family if the woman is unable to do so. We know that 10-15 percent of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, so one also wonders why they do so little miscarriage management (1 percent)?

It is often reported by an uncritical media that only 3 percent of their services are abortion. If a woman presents for an abortion, she is also going to have several other discrete services performed: pregnancy test, sonogram, STD testing, and possible pap, as well as a provision of birth control afterward. Thus, abortion is only 17-20 percent of the services provided to this woman, but an abortion is why she came.

It is easy to see how counting every individual service, when most women have multiple services provided each visit, can dilute out the numbers and make it look like abortion is only a small part of what they do. The reality is that over 3,000 abortions is greater than over 2,000 pap tests. It is easy to see the primary purpose for this organization’s existence.

What happens if women do not have access to a Planned Parenthood? Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) also receive state and federal money to provide indigent care, and they provide every service that Planned Parenthood does, except abortion. In addition, they employ practitioners who specialize in other health problems.

A woman is more than a uterus, and she often has other health issues that can be addressed in a more comprehensive way by an FQHC. While the number of Planned Parenthood clinics in our country has dropped to 620 as of August 2017, there are 13,540 FQHCs. They outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics 20 to 1.

For more, watch the rest of our video series and read our new publication Top 10 Myths About Abortion.

Myth #6: “Abortion is safer than childbirth.”

by Ingrid Skop, M.D.

January 15, 2019

Due to the controversial nature of abortion, it is very difficult to find reliable data in order to compare pregnancy outcomes of women in the United States. When most observers consider safety related to abortion, they only consider physical complications, but they should also consider psychological complications, which can also lead to a woman’s death. One comprehensive study analyzed 22 studies which considered mental health consequences of abortion. It found that there was an 81 percent overall increased risk of mental health problems after abortion. The safety of abortion is determined less by whether it is legal, and more by other factors such as available technology, gestational age in which it is committed, and the skill of the practitioner.

The frequency of complications increases as the pregnancy advances. Only half of U.S. states require abortionists to report their complications and no states require non-abortion doctors, coroners, or emergency rooms to report abortion-related deaths for investigation. Deaths are counted by the CDC only if they happen to come to their attention through death certificates, anecdotal reports, reports to state health agencies, quality committees, or Morbidity & Mortality committees.

For many reasons, the information about a preceding abortion may not make it onto a death certificate. The abortion may have initiated a cascade of events resulting in death, but only the most proximate events may be listed on the death certificate. The physician who completes the death certificate may be unaware of the abortion, which could happen if a sick woman presents to the emergency room, but leads the staff to believe that it was a miscarriage and not an abortion that led to her complication. If she is too sick to give a history, the family may be unaware of, or may be embarrassed about the abortion.

An ideologic commitment to legal abortion may lead a physician to leave this information off of the death certificate. A single investigative reporter was able to document 30 percent more abortion-related deaths nationwide than the CDC had listed, merely by correlating public documentation of malpractice cases with autopsy reports.

It is clear with the incomplete records available in the U.S., the political nature of abortion, and the ideological commitment of many academic researchers to legal abortion, that the question of comparative safety of abortion to childbirth is unlikely to be answered in our country.

A more complete, and less biased way to look at this question is to perform a records-linked study in a country with a more neutral view on legalized abortion, single payer health care so that records on all procedures are readily available, and more complete death certificate documentation.

Studies in other countries such as Finland have shown that women who have had abortions are 3.5 times more likely to die within a year than women who have carried their pregnancies to term. Researchers concluded that this may be due to the fact that carrying a baby to term has a protective effect on women’s bodies by reducing the risk of breast cancer as well as the risk of emotional stress.

For more, watch the rest of our video series and read our new publication Top 10 Myths About Abortion.

Myth #5: “A fetus does not feel pain during an abortion.”

by Ingrid Skop, M.D.

January 14, 2019

Science now shows that unborn babies can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization, and most likely even earlier.

The first requirement for fetal pain perception is the presence of cutaneous sensory receptors, which begin to develop in the peri-oral area at seven weeks and spread to the palms and soles by 11 weeks. Early in the second trimester, the fetus reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, in much the same ways as an adult, for example, by recoiling. 

Fetuses can be seen reacting to intra-hepatic vein needling with vigorous body and breathing movements, increased heart rate, and increased blood flow to the brain. There are many instances in medical practice in which doctors take extra precautions to prevent pain in human beings by administering anesthesia to those who have experienced brain death, are in a vegetative state, or are being given the death penalty.

However, this same precautionary use of anesthesia is not extended to unborn children who are being aborted by brutal abortion procedures, such as the most practiced second trimester abortion method of dismemberment where a child is literally torn limb from limb in the womb. This is a grave injustice.

For more, watch the rest of our video series and read our new publication Top 10 Myths About Abortion.

Myth #1: “Abortion does not destroy a human life.”

by Ingrid Skop, M.D.

January 8, 2019

Some say that abortion does not destroy a human life because we can’t know exactly when life begins. This is a false statement. Life is commonly defined as organisms that “maintain homeostasis, are composed of cells, have a life cycle, undergo metabolism, can grow, adapt to their environment, respond to stimuli, reproduce and evolve.”

Any basic physiology textbook will tell you that at the moment of fertilization, a one-celled human embryo with a complete set of 46 chromosomes comes into existence that is uniquely different from that of either parent. This one-celled embryo will then begin dividing and growing rapidly. Basic obstetrics textbooks tell us that a biomolecular communication system is established between the zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus and mother that is operative from before the time of implantation and persists through the time of birth.

In an unborn child, the precursor to the nervous system appears between days 12 and 17. By 21 days after conception, the heart starts beating and pumping blood; by 30 days, arms, legs, and brain begin to form; and by 35 days, mouth, nose, and ears begin to develop. By 9 weeks, fingernails are forming, and he can be seen on the sonogram sucking his thumb; by 10 weeks, he squints, swallows, and frowns; by 12 weeks, he smiles and has intricate hand and feet movements.

For more, see our new publication Top 10 Myths About Abortion.

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