Last week, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled, “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” Alongside abortion survivors Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen, and National Right to Life General Counsel James Bopp, Yale law professor Priscilla Smith testified at the hearing. Smith was the lone witness supporting Planned Parenthood.
According to Smith’s Yale profile, she was an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) – a law firm explicitly dedicated to the legal defense of the perceived right to abortion –for thirteen years. Today, Smith plays a prominent role in Yale’s Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice. During the hearing, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) questioned Smith’s chilling stance on dismemberment abortion – the abortion procedure whereby children are pulled apart limb from limb in utero without anesthesia and while they are still alive.
“My question to you is – are you going to answer it – is this a humane way to die?” asked Goodlatte. To which Smith responded:
I believe for a fetus – a pre-viable fetus – yes. A D&E procedure is a very humane procedure. And it protects the woman and her health and safety more than any other procedure and in fact it was substituted…
Mid-ramble, Smith was cut off by Goodlatte, who stated: “Your view of humanity and mine are different.”
When recognized later in the hearing, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) addressed Smith’s shockingly nonchalant acceptance of dismemberment abortion as a humane practice. Rep. Forbes, to flesh out the procedure to which preborn children are subjected in the organ harvesting abortion process, quoted Justice Kennedy’s dissenting opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart. That excerpt reads, in part:
As described by Dr. Carhart, the D&E procedure requires the abortionist to use instruments to grasp a portion (such as a foot or hand) of a developed and living fetus and drag the grasped portion out of the uterus into the vagina. Id., at 61. Dr. Carhart uses the traction created by the opening between the uterus and vagina to dismember the fetus, tearing the grasped portion away from the remainder of the body. Ibid. […] The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn from limb from limb. Id., at 63. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. Dr. Carhart agreed that “[w]hen you pull out a piece of the fetus, let’s say, an arm or a leg and remove that, at the time just prior to removal of the portion of the fetus, … the fetus [is]alive.” Id., at 62. Dr. Carhart has observed fetal heartbeat via ultrasound with “extensive parts of the fetus removed,” id., at 64, and testified that mere dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born “as a living child with one arm.” Id., at 63. 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.” Id., at 125.
Rep. Forbes stated: “I can understand the voices on the other side of the video who would say, please don’t look at the video. This is not about the video. We don’t want to talk about the acts in the video.” He compared the obfuscation perpetuated by Planned Parenthood and their supporters to the Wizard of Oz, who instructs curious onlookers to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Forbes notes that Planned Parenthood and supporters like Smith “say that there is no act that’s too far. There’s no act that’s too brutal. There’s no act that’s not acceptable, even for Planned Parenthood.”
The entire hearing, indeed, flip-flopped between Pro-Life legislators drawing attention to Planned Parenthood’s horrific abortion practices, and anti-Life legislators regurgitating non sequitur talking points about Planned Parenthood’s provision of “women’s health services.” Almost comically, Planned Parenthood supporters refused to address – except when answers were demanded by Pro-Life inquisitors like Rep. Goodlatte – the actual abortion acts that take place within the walls of Planned Parenthood every day in America.