(LifeSiteNews) — With the fall of Roe v. Wade, journalists are working to lionize abortionists, who are presented as the heroic defenders of reproductive rights on the frontlines of a heated culture war. The latest is a profile of one of America’s most notorious abortionists, Warren Hern, in The Atlantic. Hern literally wrote the book on abortion (Abortion Practice) and has been blunt about what he does. Destroying babies in the womb at 22, 25 or even 30 weeks can be hard work — “the sensations of dismemberment,” Hern has noted, “flow through the forceps like an electric current.”
Hern begins the interview by noting that a baby is a “fetus” until it is “born alive.” Fetus, of course, is Latin for “young one” or “offspring,” and so he is simply calling it a baby in a very old language. The purpose of the terminological insistence, of course, is that “fetus” serves a dehumanizing purpose in this context. Hern wants us to know that he doesn’t kill babies. He kills fetuses. It is only a baby if he or she survives the pregnancy, and survival is unlikely if Hern enters the picture. At age 84, Hern is still running his abortion clinic in Boulder, Colorado. There are no restrictions on abortion in the state.
Elaine Godfrey, his interviewer, is happy to assist Hern in his dehumanization, referring to babies up to 13 weeks in the womb as resembling “a small clot of phlegm” or “an alien-like ball of flesh.” This is so far from the truth that Godfrey must be lying intentionally. Any pregnancy website will show you that a baby at 13 weeks (and much earlier) bears no resemblance whatsoever to those descriptions. She does, however, admit that the late-term abortions Hern carries out are a different matter, and that they “result in the removal of a body that, if you saw it, would inspire a sharp pang of recognition.” Pictures of these bodies, she notes, “can be difficult to look at for long.”
Hern’s business is booming — as abortion laws pass across the country, his clientele has increased by 50%. Hern, Godfrey notes, is an absolutist on abortion. If the woman wants one, regardless of gestation, then Hern will provide one. A late-term abortion will cost around $6,000, and the National Abortion Federation or other abortion funds sometimes cover some of the costs. Hern will sometimes cover some of the costs himself. The procedures take three or four days — first, Hern finds the baby on an ultrasound, and then injects her in the heart with digoxin in order to “induce fetal demise.” The cervix is then dilated over several days with laminaria, and Hern removes the baby.
According to Godfrey, “Sometimes, the fetus will be whole, intact. Other times, Hern must remove it in parts. If the patients ask, a nurse will wrap the fetus in a blanket to hold or present a set of handprints or footprints for the patient to take home.” Some of the women Godfrey interviewed referred to their late-term abortions as “mercy killings”; one told her bluntly: “I put my baby down. It’s euthanasia. That’s the kind of killing it is. But I would do it a million times if I had to.” As horrifying as that is, half or more of Hern’s patients — by his own admission — are procuring late-term abortions despite there being nothing wrong with the baby. We are constantly told that “nobody” gets a late-term abortion for anything but extraordinary circumstances. That is simply not true.
Hern doesn’t care if the babies he kills could survive outside the womb; he “believes that the viability of the fetus is determined not by gestational age but by a woman’s willingness to carry it.” Godfrey notes that Hern’s position is controversial even among some abortion rights supporters; Frances Kissling of Catholics for Choice told her that “later-term abortions are more serious, ethically, than earlier abortions.” Hern’s extremism, however, is more common in the abortion movement than Kissling’s reticence. He got his start with the now-defunct Office of Economic Opportunity opening family planning clinics and launched a program of voluntary sterilization for adults in Appalachia. Depopulation has been his primary pursuit, in one way or another, for a half-century.
His clinic opened in November 1973, shortly after Roe. He pioneered the abortion technique utilizing laminaria, which he learned from Japanese doctors. Other clinics adopted it, and Hern’s second and third trimester abortion procedure has been the primary method in the United States now for nearly 50 years. He and his team do at least a dozen later-term abortions every week. He did his first abortion at age 34 and at first he had a hard time looking at the bodies of the babies.
“[O]nce or twice,” Godfrey writes, “during a procedure at 15 or 16 weeks, he used forceps to remove a fetus with a still-beating heart. The heart thumped for only a few seconds before stopping. But for a long while after, a vision of that fetus would wake Hern from sleep. He could see it in his mind; the inches-long body and its heart, beating, beating, beating.”
He didn’t quit. Eventually, he got used to it. The bad dreams stopped. The blood he shed congealed; scabbed over; hardened him. He even wrote a paper on accepting that abortion is an act of destruction which angered other abortionists. Hern knows what he is doing, and he embraces it. His absolutism is such that twice he has done sex-selective abortions; once, he killed a baby girl in the womb because the parents didn’t want a baby girl. In one of his recent books, Homo Ecophogus, he writes that human beings are a cancer on the planet and that population growth will eventually end life on earth. Despite that, he insisted to Godfrey that he is not engaged in population control. He is unconvincing on that point.
It is a revealing portrait in more ways than one, and reading it is a glimpse into the dark mind of a man who has made ending the lives of helpless children his life’s work for 50 years. Hern is different from other abortionists because he recognizes what he is doing, and he unapologetically calls it what it is. His words reveal that other abortion activists are lying: Abortion is, fundamentally, an act of destruction.