(An Unborn Baby at 20 Weeks / Photo Credit: WebMD)
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held the first in a series of congressional hearings into allegations that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling body parts from aborted babies, a claim first launched by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress in its recently published undercover videos. In the tapes, Planned Parenthood officials discuss compensation for fetal tissue harvested from aborted babies and handed over to researchers.
During the hearing, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) referenced the dissenting opinion of Justice Anthony Kennedy following the 2000 Supreme Court case Stenberg v. Carhart, which struck down a Nebraska law banning some late-term abortions. Afterward, Goodlatte asked witness Priscilla Smith, a director and senior fellow at the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School, a very simple question regarding a particularly gruesome form of abortion.
After a little verbal wiggling, Smith answers pretty directly.
Goodlatte quoted from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dissenting opinion:
“The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for at time while its limbs are being torn off.
Dr. Carhart agreed that ‘when you pull out a piece of the fetus, let’s say an arm or a leg, and remove that, at the time just prior to the removal of a portion of the fetus, the fetus is alive.’ Carhart also has observed fetal heartbeat in ultrasound with extensive parts of the fetus removed, and testified that near dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death, because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born as a living child with one arm.
At the conclusion of a [dilation and evacuation] abortion, no intact fetus remains. In Dr. Carhart’s words, the abortionist is left with ‘a tray full of pieces.’”
Goodlatte continued, in his own words:
Justice Kennedy said, "The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would. It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb."
Ms. Smith, do you believe this practice represents a humane way to die?
Let me separate which is something that keeps getting confused here in this hearing again and again, which is procedures performed on pre-viable fetuses and procedures that were performed on viable fetuses. Both the women here on this panel are here today because they were both viable at the time when their procedures were performed. What you’re talking about is pre-viability procedures performed on a fetus that cannot survive outside –
Maybe, maybe not. Justice Kennedy was talking about a procedure that was performed on a child that was born alive with only one arm, because the other had been pulled off already during the abortion procedure. My question to you is – are you going to answer it – is this a humane way to die?
Finally, Smith answered the question:
I believe, for a fetus, for a pre-viable fetus, yes. A D&E procedure is a very humane procedure and it protects the woman and her health and safety more than any other procedure. And in fact it was substituted for --
Ms. Smith, I’m going to reclaim my time and just say that, I have to say that I think your view of humanity and mine are different.