Association of Planned Parenthood physicians discusses the emotional effects of the D & E abortion procedure on doctors

A report presented at the 1977 annual meeting of the Association of Planned Parenthood physicians describes the negative psychological reactions doctors may have after performing D&E abortions [which were then new]:

“When performing a D&E abortion, the gynecologist is aware of being the active agent in the procedure. On the one hand, the doctor is sparing the patient the pain and emotional distress of the amnio abortion. On the other hand, he or she is the one who is crushing and dismembering the fetus in a D&E procedure, which can be emotionally disturbing… As the doctor tends to take responsibility and assume guilt for the procedure, she or he may have disturbing and recurrent ruminations or dreams. Doctors have found that these negative reactions decrease as they get used to the procedure, decrease if fewer D&E’s are done per session, and may depend on their feelings about the women’s reason for needing a late abortion… Because of these problems, it is important that participation in D&E abortions be entirely voluntary, and that doctors have a chance to talk over their feelings with understanding colleagues or counselors.”

“2nd Trimester Abortion by Dilation and Extraction (D&E): Surgical Techniques and Psychological Reactions.”, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Planned Parenthood Physicians in Atlanta, Georgia, 13 – 14. October 1977 by Drs. Sadja Goldsmith, Nancy B. Kaltrevider, and Alan J. Margolis

The paper goes on to explain a little more detail what the procedure is so traumatizing:

“When the amniotic fluid had drained, the placenta and fetus were removed: the fetus was extracted in small pieces to minimize cervical trauma. The fetal head was often the most difficult object to crush and remove because of its size and contour. The operator kept track of each portion of the fetal skeleton in order to be sure of complete evacuation. Finally, a blunt or sharp curette, and a 12 mm vacuum aspirator were used, which often yielded additional tissue fragments. The patient was then transferred to the recovery room, watched for about 2 hours, and sent home with a friend.”

Diagram of a D & E
Diagram of a D & E

See pictures of what a 20-week-old baby looks like after being subjected to this procedure (warning: graphic)

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Author: Sarah

Sarah Terzo is a writer for Live Action and a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians and Consistent Life. She lives in NJ.

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