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Anti-abortion group publishes videos attacking second-trimester abortion providers

By Kay Steiger
Monday, April 29, 2013 12:00 EDT
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Live Action later-term abortion providers (Screenshot)
 
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Two videos published Sunday and Monday by the anti-abortion group Live Action purport to show later-term abortion providers Washington Surgi-Clinic and Dr. Emily Women’s Health Center in the Bronx.

The videos depict one provider and several clinic counselors discussing the procedures of a late-term abortion. In the first video, allegedly secretly filmed at a Bronx clinic, a counselor tells the woman that because she is 23 weeks along in her pregnancy, she will be subject two a two-day procedure.

“It’s a sucking tool they hold, and it sucks it in,” the clinic worker says, describing what abortion providers refer to as a dilation and evacuation procedure, which is legal in New York state and typically performed in the second trimester of pregnancy (up to 26 weeks).

The video also shows what is says is a clinic employee discussing how the doctors deal with a live fetus during an abortion. “And then they put it in a — in a solution, and they send it to a lab, so they can measure everything to make sure that everything came out in you,” she said in the video.

In a follow-up interview with the Washington Post, the clinic explained that the delivery of a live fetus is extremely rare. “I have never had any fetus that was born alive,” she told the Post. “If my staff member or somebody had mentioned something [like that], it was something they didn’t understand.”

The clinic worker goes on to explain that the seaweed “sticks” inserted are “toxic” and if the woman doesn’t come back for the follow-up appointment her life could be at risk. The video, edited at that point, depicts the woman asking what happens if she has “labor pains.” The clinician tells her to call the clinic. After another edit cut, the woman asks “what if it pops out at home,” though it’s unclear if she’s referring to the seaweed “sticks” or the fetus. “If it comes out, then it comes out,” the clinic worker said. “Flush it. But you still have to come in.”

“Once you start this today, that’s it,” the clinic worker assured her. “We’re not gonna show you sonogram pictures.”

A second counselor explains what happens if the patient delivers a live birth during the procedure. “He cannot do a procedure once it’s outside the body, OK? He has to necessitate it. He has send it to the hospital. That’s the law.”

The second video allegedly shows Washington, D.C. abortion provider Cesare Santangelo, who tells the pregnant Live Action investigator that she is at 24 or 25 weeks.

When the investigator asks if it’s ever “alive” when it comes out, Santangelo explained, “That’s why I try and sever the umbilical cord first, and we wait for that to stop pulsing, and this way the fetus is expired first, so it doesn’t.”

“I mean, technically, you know, legally, we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive, but . . . it probably wouldn’t,” Santangelo said in the video. A clinician says later in the video unequivocally that they would take a live fetus birth to the hospital.

In a follow-up interview with the Washington Post, Santangelo said he was trying to reassure the woman. “What I said is, basically I wouldn’t do anything extraordinary. We would call EMS. We would call 9-1-1. But I wouldn’t do intubation or anything. . . . You let nature take its course,” he told the Post.

Live Action said it plans to release more videos and in the press release compared the providers in the two videos to “house of horrors” Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. But the videos don’t depict anything like the allegations detailed in Gosnell’s grand jury testimony, which alleged seven murders, though the court recently threw three of them out. And though Live Action published the two-hour video from the Bronx clinic, it has yet to do so for the D.C. clinic.

Live Action has also published similar videos in the past, alleging that providers failed to report statutory rapes or sex-selective abortions.

The group’s spokesperson, Lila Rose, began working with right-wing activist James O’Keefe, whose deceptively edited videos brought down the grassroots organizing group ACORN.

Meanwhile, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), has re-introduced a 20-week abortion ban in Washington, D.C., which is clearly unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. Franks came under fire for pushing legislation that the residents of D.C. didn’t want and weren’t even given input on during a hearing. Mother Jones profiled a woman in 2011 who chose to have an abortion at 29 weeks due to massive defects in the fetus.

“I don’t have words to describe the agony of those days,” she told Mother Jones. “Knowing how sick the child was, I can’t imagine ever being forced to carry the baby to term.”

Requests for comment from the D.C. Abortion Fund and the National Abortion Federation were not returned by time of publication.

Watch the first video, published on Sunday to YouTube.

Full 2-hour video, also published to YouTube on Sunday.

Watch the second video, published on Monday to YouTube.

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
 
 
 
 
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