"There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a 'thump, thump' in my abdomen. Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes." So writes abortionist Lisa Harris in a disturbing article relating her experiences as an abortionist, particularly her anguished and "brutally visceral" experience of dismembering an 18 week gestation unborn child, while 18 weeks pregnant herself.
"Abortion is different from other surgical procedures," Harris writes in her candid article. "Even when the fetus has no legal status, its moral status is reasonably the subject of much disagreement. It is disingenuous to argue that removing a fetus from a uterus is no different from removing a fibroid."
I went about doing the procedure as usual," she writes. "I used electrical suction to remove the amniotic fluid, picked up my forceps and began to remove the fetus in parts, as I always did. I felt lucky that this one was already in the breech position - it would make grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier."
With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at that moment, I felt a kick - a fluttery "thump, thump" in my own uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a "thump, thump" in my abdomen. Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes - without me - meaning my conscious brain - even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling - a brutally visceral response - heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life. Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy; in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder.