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In finding an “outer limit” to her “pro-choice beliefs,” did an obstetrician reveal more than she intended?

by | Aug 15, 2019

Editor’s note. This appears on page two of the August digital edition of National Right to Life News. Please share the contents of this exciting 40-page issue to your social media contacts.

It takes a certain kind of person to abort unborn children way, way, way late in their development. With the obvious exceptions about whom we’ve written over the years (those whose souls are so seared they can convince themselves of anything), this is utter unsurprising. No one with a functioning conscience can persuade themselves that huge babies well along in their developmental journey are anything but babies yet to be born.

I say this by way of preface to a remarkably revealing story that just ran in The Atlantic. Written by Dr. Chavi Eve Karkowsky, the title speaks volumes: “I Found the Outer Limits of My Pro-choice Beliefs: In an ultrasound room far from home, I discovered more than I was looking for.”

Dr. Karkowsky tells us she is an obstetrician whose subspecialty is maternal-fetal medicine. She arrived a year ago in Israel “temporarily, for my husband’s work.” Just so we understand, she tells us, “I am pro-choice in a concrete way.” She formerly performed abortions “and I haven’t for years.” Intriguingly, she never explains why.

The key to the whole post, which makes for incredibly reading, is that her “concrete” pro-choice position is “Within the American abortion debate…” What does that mean?

There are essentially no limits on abortion in the United States, but it is also true that only a handful of abortionists will kill babies in the late second, let alone the late third trimester.

She assuages her conscience and the American abortion industry by telling us that, “In practice, these situations are incredibly rare, likely a tiny fraction of 1 percent of all abortions in the United States.” By the context, I gather she is referring to post-viability abortion but likely is referring to abortions performed past 20 weeks.

But the percentage is not 1% but 1.3%. This “tiny fraction” means 11,000 to 13,000 babies—and that doesn’t factor in that abortion clinics have a huge built-in incentive to diagnose the baby as younger than she actually is.

Then her post grows more and more troubled. According to Dr. Karkowsky, the cultural/medical setting in Israel is very different. It is quite true on the surface there are various hurtles to jump through before a woman aborts. But the fact is, almost every abortion is approved, including abortions up until birth for reasons that deeply unsettle Dr. Karkowsky.

She has begun her post by referring to an ultrasound taken of a woman who is 35 weeks pregnant, one at that reveals some troublesome signs. Again, she is contrasting the situation in Israel with the U.S. where Dr. Karkowsky assures us, “In practice, only a handful of facilities in the entire United States perform abortions after 26 weeks for nonlethal anomalies.” [It’s not a “handful,” but…]

But here in Israel, abortion is widely available and can be offered until delivery. A subtle abnormality, such as the one I saw in that ultrasound room outside Tel Aviv, can prompt a discussion of pregnancy termination. Even at 35 weeks. …

But in that dark room so far from home, I was deeply uncomfortable discussing abortion with a woman 35 weeks into her pregnancy, when that fetus had no clearly lethal or debilitating problem. By then, I’d been living in Israel for about a year, and practicing medicine at a local hospital for about six months. In Israel, everything was different—perhaps including me. In that dark room, I felt lost, as I confronted the outer borders of my pro-choice beliefs.

The most powerful section of her story is how Dr. Karkowsky deals with the requirement to talk about all options, including abortion, no matter how seemingly minor the problem may be and no matter how close to birth the woman is.

“When termination of pregnancy is never off the table, it changes the way doctors like me practice,” she writes. “In the ultrasound suite, there’s always a chance I’ll have to initiate a traumatic conversation with a pregnant woman, no matter how far along she is.”

In explaining to the mother what she saw on the ultrasound, Dr. Karkowsky chooses her words very, very carefully. Here is the incredible conclusion:

“Most people …,” I said. I paused, trying to get the words and the tone exactly right. I started again. “Most people wouldn’t consider doing anything further for what I just saw, much less something serious like amniocentesis or terminating the pregnancy. But if you’d like to talk to someone who can tell you about those things, or even just take a second look at the brain, I can send you to someone else.”

She was already shaking her head. “No,” she said. “No, thank you.” And then she asked: “Can I have that picture of the baby’s face? I want to show my husband; I think she has his mouth.”

I gave it to her. She smoothed the black-and-white film between her fingers, and smiled at it in her hand. And then she walked out the door.

She does not say so—this is me extrapolating from other parts of her post—but Dr. Karkowsky may well have been praying the woman would listen to her words and choose life.

But I have no doubt believing Dr. Karkowsky smiled as well. After all, except for the hardest of the hard-hearted, how can you want a woman to abort at 35 weeks?

Must reading, in my humble opinion. You will find it here.

Categories: Abortion
Tags: abortion