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So what if the aborted baby cried?

By Melinda Tankard Reist - posted Tuesday, 9 November 2004

He was distressed. When he began work as a doctor in a large hospital, he hadn't realised how much of his time would be spent doing this. He feared repercussions, he didn't want to be named. But he was tired of the cover-up.

Rarely a week went by when he didn't treat a woman arriving at the hospital after an abortion. Pain, excessive bleeding, infections, perforated cervixes and bladders, ruptured uteruses, severed fallopian tubes. Some needed blood transfusions. Others - surgery. He couldn't count how many times he'd removed retained fetal parts from women.

He can't forget the 16-year-old who arrived with almost 1m of bowel sitting between her legs. She required surgery; her bladder and bowel torn through, her uterus ruptured. "We found the torso, buttocks, a bit of a hand and the baby's head still inside her," the doctor said. "The baby had been literally ripped, drawn and quartered. The girl wasn't dead but she was close."


His account is from the bad old days of illegal abortion, surely. Well, no. This is but one story not from the backyard but the front yard of so-called safe, legal abortion. But no one wants to know about the women maimed by abortion today.

(Bet you didn't know about the 17-year-old Aboriginal girl who died of septic abortion in 1995 and the Asian woman in a persistent vegetative state in a nursing home following an abortion in 1994.)

This doctor's comments came back to me this week when I heard supporters talking about abortions at whatever stage being about women's health. It's time this platitude was challenged. The risks of abortion are well documented. But women are kept in the dark. They're also often not told how their pregnancy will be ended.

Most of the debate is about late-term abortion. According to Medicare statistics there are about 660 of these a year. (These figures are understated - they don't include some abortions in public hospitals or third-trimester terminations.) The pro-abortion thought police continue to sanitise the violence of these infanticides.

Baby J was born alive after an abortion at 22 weeks performed in Darwin Private Hospital. She lived - and cried - for 80 minutes.

Baby Jessica wasn't far away from birth when she was aborted at 32 weeks' gestation. At midnight one night in June 2000, a Melbourne ultrasound specialist (see On line Opinion article) injected potassium chloride into the baby's beating heart. Labour was induced at Royal Women's Hospital and Jessica, who was suspected to have dwarfism, arrived dead four hours later.


David Grundmann in Queensland is known for partial-birth abortion, which involves pulling the fetus down the birth canal feet first with forceps. The head is delivered. Scissors are inserted through the fetus's skull to open the way for a high-powered suction tube that sucks the brain, allowing the skull to be crushed and delivery completed.

Grundmann has admitted performing abortions into the seventh month of pregnancy. He has aborted babies with cleft lips and palates and heart conditions.

Elsewhere, a recent South Australian report found most late-term abortions were of healthy babies. A feminist abortion clinic worker once described the shock of seeing an aborted baby come out with "its fingers in its mouth".

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First published in The Australian November 3, 2004

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About the Author

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, speaker, commentator and advocate with a special interest in issues affecting women and girls. Melinda is author of Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief after Abortion (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2000), Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (Spinifex Press, 2006) and editor of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls (Spinifex Press, 2009). Melinda is a founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation ( Melinda blogs at

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