Intact D&E gained public notoriety when, in 1992, Dr. Martin Haskell gave a presentation describing his method of performing the operation. Dilation and Extraction 110-111. In the usual intact D&E the fetus' head lodges in the cervix, and dilation is insufficient to allow it to pass. See, e.g., ibid.; App. in No. 05-380, at 577; App. in No. 05-1382, at 74, 282. Haskell explained the next step as
" 'At this point, the right-handed surgeon slides the fingers of the left [hand] along the back of the fetus and "hooks" the shoulders of the fetus with the index and ring fingers (palm down).
" 'While maintaining this tension, lifting the cervix and applying traction to the shoulders with the fingers of the left hand, the surgeon takes a pair of blunt curved Metzenbaum scissors in the right hand. He carefully advances the tip, curved down, along the spine and under his middle finger until he feels it contact the base of the skull under the tip of his middle finger.
" '[T]he surgeon then forces the scissors into the base of the skull or into the foramen magnum. Having safely entered the skull, he spreads the scissors to enlarge the opening.
" 'The surgeon removes the scissors and introduces a suction catheter into this hole and evacuates the skull contents. With the catheter still in place, he applies traction to the fetus, removing it completely from the patient.' " H. R. Rep. No. 108-58, p. 3 (2003).
This is an abortion doctor's clinical description. Here is another description from a nurse who witnessed the same method performed on a 26-week fetus and who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
" 'Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby's legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby's body and the arms--everything but the head. The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus... .
" 'The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall.
" 'The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby went completely limp... .
" 'He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used.' " Ibid.
Dr. Haskell's approach is not the only method of killing the fetus once its head lodges in the cervix, and "the process has evolved" since his presentation. Planned Parenthood, 320 F. Supp. 2d, at 965. Another doctor, for example, squeezes the skull after it has been pierced "so that enough brain tissue exudes to allow the head to pass through." App. in No. 05-380, at 41; see also Carhart, supra, at 866-867, 874. Still other physicians reach into the cervix with their forceps and crush the fetus' skull. Carhart, supra, at 858, 881. Others continue to pull the fetus out of the woman until it disarticulates at the neck, in effect decapitating it. These doctors then grasp the head with forceps, crush it, and remove it. Id., at 864, 878; see also Planned Parenthood, supra, at 965.
Of course, it is still legal for a doctor to use forceps to pull the baby out of the womb, ripping the baby apart in the process. I'm sure that's much more humane.
I suppose it shouldn't amaze me that many in our society can condone--and even passionately argue in favor of--such atrocities; yet those same people express shock and horror at events such as those that occurred at Virginia Tech this week. While what happened at Virginia Tech was horrible, it somehow seems even worse to stab a helpless baby in the head with a pair of scissors, force the scissors open, and vacuum out the baby's brain.
I find myself tempted to hate the people that butcher babies like that. But really, I'm just like them--a sinner. I am as undeserving of God's mercy and grace as any abortion doctor or any school shooter or any other human being who has ever lived. Praise God for His grace in choosing to save any of us.