By Monique Chireau Wubbenhorst
Raleigh, NC – An African proverb says, “In any abortion, one person is killed, another is injured, and a third gets paid.”
This sums up the reality of what abortion is, and why I, as a practicing gynecologist, support protecting unborn children. Abortion has caused deep harm to black women and black communities. It’s an issue I take personally. Since Roe v Wade, an estimated 17 million unborn African Americans have been aborted in the United States — about the same as the entire population of the Netherlands. This means the deaths of not only those who were aborted, but their descendants and their hopes, dreams, and contributions to our society.
The abortion industry and their representatives are seeking to stop Senate Bill 20, a North Carolina bill that would protect life at 12 weeks, from becoming law by urging physicians to write their legislators to ask them to sustain Gov. Roy Cooper’s planned veto. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports these efforts.
As a board-certified OB-GYN in North Carolina, I am one of many doctors in this state who does not agree with ACOG’s position on abortion. Many of my colleagues have said privately that they oppose abortion but are afraid to speak up. Pro-life OB-GYNs have been shunned, retaliated against, and hounded out of our specialty. I know this because I have experienced it. Over the course of my career, I have personally been targeted for my pro-life views.
Most of ACOG’s members do not perform abortions. The percentage of OB-GYNs that do is declining and has been for decades, from a high of 40% in 1985 to around 10% at present. This challenges the talking point that “abortion is health care.” If abortion is “essential healthcare for women,” why are fewer and fewer OB-GYNs performing the procedure? If abortion is healthcare, what medical condition is being treated?
Science supports S.B. 20’s 12-week protection. Late-term abortions are far more dangerous for women. According to one study, “the risk of death [from abortion] increases exponentially” by 38% for each week of gestational age.
By 12 weeks’ gestation, all major organs have formed including the heart. At this stage, babies suck their thumbs and already have a right-hand or left-hand preference. Facial features are recognizable and the body responds to touch. It is impossible to deny the humanity of an unborn child at this stage. At 15 weeks gestation, science shows that babies can feel pain, and babies who undergo in utero surgery receive anesthesia to prevent pain during fetal surgery.
Many people don’t realize that after 14 weeks’ gestation most abortions are performed surgically, including with dilation and evacuation (D&E). Based on the late abortionist Leroy Carhart’s testimony, “the abortionist [is required] to use instruments to grasp a portion (such as a foot or hand) of a developed and living fetus and…to dismember the fetus, tearing the grasped portion away from the remainder of the body…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…At the conclusion of a D&E abortion no intact fetus remains.”
In Dr. Carhart’s words, the abortionist is left with “a tray full of pieces.”
During a committee hearing on Senate Bill 20, pro-abortion doctors expressed concern that women will not receive the lifesaving care they need. This is a concern I would share, if it were true. But it’s not. S.B. 20 includes protections for the life of the mother based on reasonable medical judgment for any situation that will “create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a bodily function.”
The law specifically states that treatment for ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage does not constitute abortion, allaying fears about not receiving care. Life-affirming physicians have always recognized that they have two patients — the mother and her child. S.B. 20 merely recognizes that reality.
North Carolinians are compassionate people and we recognize humanity and science. That’s why 62% of us are in favor of protecting life by 12 weeks. I am just one of the many doctors who align with the majority on this issue and who welcomes a new measure to save thousands of lives each year.
Dr. Monique Chireau Wubbenhorst, M.D., M.P.H, F.A.C.O.G., F.A.H.A., a Senior Research Associate at the DeNicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, and a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with over 30 years’ experience in patient care, teaching, research, health policy, public health, global health, and bioethics.