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A Witness to Partial-birth Abortion
Scott Johnston
Delaware, United States

In March of 2002, we received communication from a retired nurse who witnessed two partial-birth abortions. Scott Johnston of our research department conducted the following interview with her.

What kind of nursing were you ordinarily doing around the time that these abortions took place?


How many partial birth abortions did you personally witness?

"Two full-term abortions. They were done at nine months."

What do you know of the circumstances surrounding these abortions? Why were they being done?

"One of the mothers already had three or four and she didn't want any more."

"The other girl was single. She didn't have a husband and had no means of support. I asked, 'Why don't you put the baby up for adoption?' She said, 'I don't know how it would be treated.'"

"The doctor was an O.B. doctor. I would say he was not of the highest caliber either. He had a bad reputation. He had a lot of deaths of babies that were born because he did not take care of them properly. He was sloppy. Normally, this doctor would be in the farthest back delivery room. When they did abortions, the doctors usually had their own nurse. This one didn't. He was a sleezeball."

How did it come to be that you were present for these abortions?

"I did not know what I was going into. I was just told to assist him [the doctor]. They just told me which delivery room to go to."

"The reason I was in on [the first trimester abortion] is because I said to the doctor: even in the first trimester those babies have pain. 'I'll bet you it hurts, too.'"

Did you know ahead of time for each case that an abortion was going to be done?


Who else was in the room?

"There was one other nurse."

What were your nursing duties during these procedures?

"I was usually there to receive the baby and take care of the baby when it was born. Their little hands--they grasp for something. They try to grab hold of something."

Can you describe the partial-birth abortions you witnessed? What did you see?

"He turned the baby around [in the womb] and brought it out feet first. That's one of the worse things for the mother that you can do. I was helping the doctor hold the baby [to keep it in the birth canal]. The other nurse got the instrument [a large syringe with a large needle], handed it to the doctor, and he inserted it into the base of the skull. Then he pulled the baby out. Its little hands were grasping. When the baby quit grasping, then he delivered it. He used the syringe to suction out the brains. That's more traumatic on the mother than if she had given a normal birth."

"They took the [dead] baby and wrapped it up in a receiving blanket and asked her [the mother] if she wanted to hold it. She said she didn't want to. Neither one of them wanted to see them."

"They were sent to the morgue."

What was your reaction?

"I was so sick. I was absolutely nauseous. I couldn't believe all that was taking place."

"I told the charge nurse I didn't want to work with him anymore."

"I think it's such a horrible thing. I said a prayer for those babies."

What was the reaction of the other personnel who were present with you at these abortions?

"With the doctor, he was so nonchalant. It was no big thing."

"I never saw her [the other nurse] reactions."

You also witnessed a first trimester abortion. Please describe what happened.

"The doctor did a sonogram to show me that the baby didn't feel it. On the sonogram, when he started the suction, the baby's arms spread out. It immediately threw its hands out. Its little arms spread out. So, you know it had to feel it.

[The instrument used for the first trimester abortion] it is a silver tube with stainless steel blades on it. He inserts it first, and then turns on the suction. The baby comes out all shredded. 'Now, you watch this, and you'll see how it doesn't feel a thing.' [The doctor said] I think it was kind of shocking to him. I looked at him and he looked at me, and then he wouldn't look at me after that. I don't think he had used a sonogram before during an abortion. It was over in a short period of time."

"That doctor is not here [at the same hospital] anymore. He had so many malpractice suits he had to leave town."

What is the reaction of people you have talked to since then about what happened?

"Anybody who starts talking about partial birth abortion, I say, 'Do you know what it is?' And I tell them what it is! They just usually look kind of wide-eyed with their mouths open. And one girl said, 'I don't believe you.' I said, 'why should I stand up here and lie to you?' Most people are just shocked."


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