The propaganda about infanticide and abortion is offensive and ridiculous. It insinuates that somehow abortion involves delivery of a viable infant and then that viable infant is killed.

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This isn’t what is happening. At all. 

A legal, non back alley abortion does not lead to infanticide. 

Anyone who says otherwise has no idea what happens at an abortion, has a forced birth agenda and to further that goal is attepting to equate a fetus with an infant, is purposely trying to get a health care provider hurt with inflammatory lies. Or all three.

Just like the myth of “late-term abortions,” there are a few lies layered in, so let’s unpack them so people have the right talking points. And the truth.

A Live Birth is Required for Infanticide

I can’t believe I have to say this, but here we are. 

I’m going to repeat this again.

You need a live birth for infanticide.

This is the definition that most states use for live birth:

‘‘Live Birth’’ means the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of human conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which, after such expulsion or extraction, breathes, or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached. Heartbeats are to be distinguished from transient cardiac contractions; respirations are to be distinguished from fleeting respiratory efforts or gasps.

The key part is the last sentence: Heartbeats are to be distinguished from transient cardiac contractions; respirations are to be distinguished from fleeting respiratory efforts or gasps.

Movement or cardiac activity does not equate life, by the medical and the legal definitions.

Whether a birth is recorded as “live” in situations of extreme prematurity or fetal anomalies — the kind of situations we are talking about — is not cut and dried. For example, when my son Aidan was born at 22 1/2 weeks I was asked if I wanted his birth to be considered a live birth? It was my choice.

I had no idea? I mean he lived 3 minutes or so, but he could never live a life. What a live birth got me was a birth certificate. I said yes, but in retrospect I wished I hadn’t. A live birth meant he was now a hospital patient and so I was charged $600 for the care he received — a blanket and a nurse holding him. Why was I charged? As he lived 3 minutes I obviously didn’t apply for health insurance. With no insurer to bill, I was charged for his post delivery care as if he were a term infant in the hospital for less than 24 hours. Nice, huh?

It was super special fighting that bill with collections when my other two boys were in the neonatal intensive care unit struggling to not die. So awesome the forced birth advocates are involved in helping women like me when we are literally penalized for having a live birth. (Heavy sarcasm).

The take away —  a live birth does not mean a life is possible. There is a huge difference. And, the recording of a live birth can be fluid based on parental wishes.

Most Abortions Can’t Possibly End in a Live Birth that Can Actually Have a Life

Only 1.3% of abortions are performed at or after 21 weeks and most of these happen by 24 weeks. So right off the bat, 98.7% of abortions can’t possibly end in infanticide because they are performed before any chance of viability. There can never be a live birth no matter how much bad technique or malpractice is involved in the care. 

Most states limit abortion to under 24 weeks. So it is clear there are very few places where the mythical “live birth” abortions could actually happen. Some states allow for abortions after 24 weeks when there are lethal fetal anomalies. Let’s be super clear here — lethal fetal anomalies can’t have a life.

Some states have a maternal health exemption. Abortions for maternal health are super rare at or after 24 weeks. They are almost always a catastrophic combination of events where fetal outcome is also deemed to be not possible or very improbable. These are wanted pregnancies, so if there is any realistic chance of fetal survival a c-section or vaginal delivery is done. The ONLY time a surgical abortion would be done is when maternal health is deteriorating quickly due to the pregnancy and fetal survival is deemed to be highly unlikely or impossible — again, for those in the back, a lethal situation cannot become a live birth. And obviously if you are pro life the life of the person that should matter the most is the maternal one, even if you just consider the mother a host. A dead mother is bad for fetal life. (I can’t believe I have to write that, but again, here we are).

The most common scenario for abortion for maternal health at or after 24 weeks is severe fetal growth restriction and severe maternal hypertension (pre eclampsia). The fetus is not considered viable due to the growth restriction, even though it is past 24 weeks. The mother is very sick and needs not to be pregnant ASAP, and an abortion is deemed the fastest way to save her life. A c-section is riskier, so if there is someone skilled to do surgical abortions at this gestational age that is the recommendation.

Sometimes the conclusion about severe fetal anomalies is not reached until 25-26 weeks or later. These are typically situations where a live birth may result in a few days of life with multiple, painful interventions or perhaps a few months of abject misery due to medical interventions. These are conditions that after birth, should these anomalies have gone undetected prenatally, we would typically allow parents to withdraw care. Withdrawing care in utero or after delivery are the same thing. 

In this situation, an abortion might be accomplished by induction of labor or by surgical methods. Sometimes an induction is not possible as a c-section would be needed for obstetrical indications (meaning labor is not safe medically). Many women elect for the surgical abortion as they do not want the major surgery. A surgical abortion by a skilled provider, even in the 3rd trimester, is safer for the pregnant person.

Abortions at or after 24 weeks are VERY expensive. Typically $20,000 or more. If there are no fetal anomalies or severe maternal health indications, insurance will not cover them. Even in medically indicated situations — maternal or fetal health — the amount covered can be low or non-existent. People don’t pay tens of thousands of dollars cash on a whim. 

Most Abortions Can’t Possibly End in a Live Birth Because They are Abortions

I can’t believe I have to spell this out either. I mean, really?

The idea that abortions at or after 23-24 weeks — the only theortically possible “live birth scenario” —  are done by two methods: surgical or induction of labor.

A surgical abortion does not in any situation result in a live birth. It’s not possible. The end.

So that leaves induction of labor. Again, these are almost always severe fetal anomalies, so the live birth scenario is preposterous and, quite frankly, offensive to those patients who are living the tragedy. Many patients have a procedure to stop fetal cardiac activity before the induction, so fetal demise has already occurred. Some providers think this may shorten the time it takes for induction. And some patients prefer it. Often there is fetal demise during labor, because that is what happens with severe fetal anomalies. In the rare scenario where there is a live birth, parents hold their baby for comfort care.  

Most States Don’t Allow Abortions after 20-24 weeks Without Extreme Exceptions

Only 7 states have no gestational age restrictions, meaning places where the mythical healthy 32 week pregnancy that results in the, “Oh my gosh I forgot to get my 8 week abortion abortion!” could happen. For all the mental masturbation from forced birthers about New York allowing abortions at term, the law applies only after 23 weeks and 6 days for situations where maternal health is in jeopardy or lethal fetal anomalies (both of which we have spelled out above and are not going to result in live births). 

So there are only 7 states where this mythical infanticide could actually happen. Again in these states the scant abortions happening after 24 weeks (and most are before 26 weeks) are almost always for severe fetal anomalies or a combination of severe anomalies and maternal health. Again, no survival is possible. 

Are there some abortions that happen for rape after 24 weeks? Likely a few. Maybe 1 or 2 a year? Are there a few proecdures for less than lethal anoalies in these states? Perhaps. However, these will all be surgical procedures, so no infanticide is possible as a fetus isn’t an infant and a surgical abortion can’t result in a live birth. 

What About Kermit Gosnell?

Kermit Gosnell’s was a criminal and a physician who preyed on women, working in disgusting conditions (his clinic was fetid with cat urine, for example, and heused dirty equipement). Two women died at his hands and the criminal case brought to the grand jurty documented 7 cases of induction of labor with murder of the infant after delivery.

His activities were reported to the authorities on several occasions and nothing happened for years. Women getting dirty abortions apparently isn’t a tragedy. So much for all the laws designed to make clinics “safe.” I have personally reported a physician for egregious abortion care and nothing happened. So yeah. It’s about laws that punish women, not laws that protect women.

Gosnell took advantage of poor women who were desperate. That is the very thing that happens when legal, safe abortion becomes impossible to obtain or practically impossible due to cost.

When the authorities finally acted on the complaints he was arrested. No special law was required to convict Gosnell. The laws on the books worked when someone bothered to enforce them.

Those who throw around Gosnell’s case only mention the infants, not the women who died. Not all lives matter for “pro-life,eh?

Does infanticide happen outside of criminal back-alley situations? 

No.

So why the Infanticide Claims?

Lies and ignorance. Propaganda. Accomplished by perverting the narrative of babies born to die. 

The forced birthers are trying to rename a fetus a baby or an infant or a person. This is to raise funds off the misery of women. If they cared about fetal life and the survival of newborns they would advocate for free maternity care, mandatory vaccines, gun control, and banning tobacco. This is also about power and controlling women’s bodies. 

Legal, available, affordable abortion prevents back alley and clandestine procedures. If you want to prevent infanticide from predators, stop writing laws that restrict abortion.

It’s that simple.

Join the Conversation

19 Comments

  1. There are no words in the English language that capture the perfection of your explanation. Thank you. Keep shouting.

  2. What an awesome in depth answer. Everyone should now be able to differentiate between the two!

  3. Please please please debate this weekend th Meghan McCain or SE Cupp (sp?), two conservatives who fashion themselves fair minded and thoughtful but who still throw around the term infanticide and baby killers.

    Thank you for the hard work you are doing.

    Best, Frankie Lancos

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. I have a friend of many years who is one of these people. She swallowed the propaganda whole and has recently been treating me to these birther arguments. This is an emotional decision for these people. No amount of logic or facts will sway them. If logic had any currency, would we have this president (and I use the term loosely)?

    1. Why do you not want people with vision problems to read your posts? True I can enlarge the font on my IPad by spreading my fingers, but then I have to scroll left and right to read the entire lines. If the font was split into two coloums then I could enlarge the font significantly without having to scroll left and right.

  5. Thank you for ALL of this. I’ve been scratching my head, trying to figure out the best way to counter the outrageous “infanticide” claims that suddenly seem to be coming from everywhere (that’s what a well-funded, coordinated disinformation campaign does).

  6. Jen, you are doing a good job in educating your readers. Agreed with your viewpoint on the isusue. However people
    will not refrain from fucking girls/women illegally for their sexual pleasure. When they become pregnant it becomes
    a issue. It is better for these people to do anal sex as no danger of pregnncy in it and pleasure doubles. Is it correct?

  7. I have lived in United Kingdom and Canada, both of whom have government provided health care. I have never paid for any health service, surgical care, maternity care, etc. When you described the charges for your baby, I was shocked and saddened. I was given more care by my vet when my dog died; they wrapped him in a blanket and allowed my husband and I to hold him for a while to say goodbye, without I should add, an additional charge.

    Infanticide I always believed, was when a woman killed her baby while of, what was called “unbalanced mind”, after the birth of a baby when hormones are in turmoil.

    Your points are well made and so well informed. Thank you for being a voice of reason. Too bad these crackpots cannot use reason.

  8. “If they cared about fetal life and the survival of newborns they would advocate for free maternity care, mandatory vaccines, gun control, and banning tobacco.”

    All of this – plus early, comprehensive, medically correct sex education in schools. Also, parental leave with income. Also also a medical system that allows for a more personalized care with more time for the pregnant/birthing person so everyone can have as much intervention as they want within the frame of medical necessity. I could go on…

  9. Thank you so much for the dose of sanity Dr. Gunter. There are forced birthers picketing a PlannedParenthood near my work and I feel so nauseated each time I see them. I wish I could get them to calm down but I am so afraid of them.
    Forcing children to be brought into this world without a prepared mother is mental- also, adoptive parents aren’t just waiting around every corner to scoop up these children. Not to mention how in the world the mother is going to go on with her life after that trauma. I don’t think forced birthers actually consider what happens to these people after the pregnancy is over.
    I hope by 50 years or so we will all have progressed enough to only see these scenarios in horror flicks instead of real life, because it blows my mind that people think they can force others to give birth. It sounds so ridiculously grotesque and absurd- why aren’t women considered human beings to these people? And, honestly, have any of them seen Alien 3? (Not the best metaphor, I know, but come on)
    Someone please tell me they are just the ~highly~ vocal minority…

  10. It seems to me that these anti-abortion groups are fighting an imaginary opponent..
    There are, as far as I know, no “Pro-Abortion” people/organizations out there campaigning
    for abortion..people going up to pregnant women on the streets, subways, and harassing them
    to abort their baby-to-be, you know, to help the planet or whatever..

    So they are left to fight what to me is common sense, the right and judgment of the mother to
    chose what is best for her and her child-to-be(or not).

  11. Thank you Dr. JEN! Here in Ohio the #GopCult Senate passes a resolution based on Ben Sasse’s failed federal bill.

    Forced birthers have no integrity. Your article is the #TruthBomb all Americans need.

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