Hidden by a blue curtain identifiable only by his raspy voice, “Dr. Doe” told a Detroit federal judge what it’s like to perform thousands of second-trimester abortions.
“They’re unpleasant and gory. It’s destructive surgery,” the doctor said. “None of us are pro-abortion. Some may be pro-choice. But they’re necessary.”
Doe was the first witness in three scheduled days of testimony before U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen.
Rosen is hearing a challenge to Michigan’s ban on partial-birth abortion, brought by two Metro Detroit doctors, two family planning clinics and the American Civil Liberties Union. The law went into effect March 31.
The doctors and the ACLU claim the law is vague, and that imprecision makes illegal roughly 95 per cent of all abortions performed in Michigan after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Under the law, a partial-birth abortion occurs when an unborn child is forced into the birth canal and then “life” is terminated.
Because the unborn’s head often is too large to pass through the cervix, parts of the skull must be crushed, or the contents vacuumed to make it through the narrow opening.
The procedure is known in the medical community as an intact dilation and extraction or evacuation.
The ACLU and the doctors claim the ban on partial birth abortions could be applied to other previously legal forms of abortion as well.
Last month, Rosen issued a temporary injunction preventing the state from prosecuting doctors who perform a second-trimester abortion using those other techniques. Under the ban, they could have lost their medical license and been fined.
Doe asked to testify anonymously, because he feared for privacy, and for his family’s safety. He said in court papers that no one outside the medical community knows about his abortion practice.
Little is known about Doe, and his lengthy resume was submitted under a protective order that prevents it from being made public.
He testified that he performed his first abortion before 1973 and that Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the procedure. He practices and teaches at a medical school affiliation with a municipal hospital.
Doe said he performs about 1,000 abortions a year and has done several hundred abortions that would be considered partial-birth. His hearing is failing, and often asked the judge and the lawyers to repeat questions.
Doe’s specialty is “problem pregnancies” and many of his cases come from referrals.
Some, he testified, are for children that are developing without a cerebral cortex; others have severe genetic and congenital mutations.
The most common abortion method he uses is a dilation and extraction or evacuation also known as a “D” and E.”
Opponents of the new law fear this procedure could also be illegal, although it’s not considered “partial birth” and is used commonly.
He explained that when he performs the procedure, which takes about 15 minutes, he takes an instrument and grasps a part of the unborn and removes it, and then another piece and another until the unborn child has been removed from a woman’s uterus.
“Students often come in and want to see a D and E,” he said.
“They have no idea how unpleasant the procedure is.”
–Detroit News via Pro-Life E News