John Klar: The effect of extremist abortion laws on health care professionals

By John Klar

The tension over fetal definition is growing more pronounced in America, as witnessed in Vermont’s current political wrangling over two pieces of legislation: an extremely permissive abortion bill, H.57, and Proposition 5, the first effort to amend a state constitution to protect abortions (which recently passed the Vermont Senate, 28-2). Vermont is one of a handful of U.S. states that permit purely elective abortions until delivery: these laws seek to fortify that dubious distinction.

In many states (and under federal law: Unborn Victims of Violence Act 2004) a fetus is specifically recognized as a person entitled to protection under the criminal law. Currently, some 38 states have such fetal homicide laws. In others, including Vermont, there is no such protection: The killer of an unborn child, even if the crime is committed minutes prior to delivery, cannot be charged for homicide for that baby.

But the Vermont Legislature would not only deny recognition of fetal personhood for the mother who loses her child in utero because of another’s criminality. It also ignores the impact on medical professionals of increasing the availability of abortion procedures.

As one 11th Circuit Court judge recently observed: “Dismemberment abortions exact emotional and psychological harm on some who participate in the procedure or those who are present during it…. [and] the state has an actual and substantial interest in lessening, as much as it can, the gruesomeness and brutality of dismemberment abortions.”

Our society has struggled with capital punishment, where concerns over the mental health of executioners have mandated elaborate methods to spare individuals the personal responsibility for legally killing another. There is no such shield for those who perform or witness abortions — including late-term abortions.

In his book The Hand of God, Dr. Bernard Nathanson (who personally performed more than 15,000 abortions in New York City) states that “…the deliberate destruction of a living, demonstrably human being, is a practice anathema to all but the most morally insouciant physicians, and can justifiably be described as bearing low prestige in the medical community.”

But in addition to lost prestige, almost all those involved in abortion ‘procedures’ suffer emotionally and psychologically.

A 1974 study (Such-Baer) reported that “almost all professionals involved in abortion work, reacted with more or less negative feelings….All emotional reactions were unanimously extremely negative.” Those who had contact with fetal remains experienced ‘more negative feelings’ than those who did not, but ‘their response varied little.’

In 1978, doctors openly confronted this unavoidable conflict:

“No one who has not performed this procedure, can know what it is like, or what it means. But having performed it, we are bewildered by the possibilities of interpretation. We have reached a point in this particular technology where there is no denial of an act of destruction by the operator. It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current”

Advances in technology have only increased our awareness. A January 2015 article in the Journal of Depression & Anxiety (penned by Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Medical Director of Employee Behavioral Health) notes that

“The psychological consequences of performing abortion may include obsession about it, depression, fatigue, anger, lowered self-esteem, and identity conflicts….Other stress factors ‘thinking that the aborted fetus deserved to live’ and ‘difficulty in controlling emotions during abortion care’ were associated with compassion fatigue. These findings indicate that providing abortion services is a highly distressing experience for nurses and midwives…. At issue, ultimately, is whether elective abortion is an appropriate medical intervention compatible with the medical commitment to preserving life and health…. In contrast to other countries with legalized elective abortion, in the United States it is an “industry” in its own right.

Vermont should heighten its protection of healthcare workers, given that it is one of only a very few states that permit physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives to perform abortions. Instead, it is seeking to amend its state constitution to preserve existing (elective, third-trimester) abortion liberties, add abortion clinics, and pressure existing hospitals to perform abortions.

American hospitals provide ‘maternity wards,’ where special efforts are made to create assuring, nurturing environments. Abortion clinics, reflecting the distasteful reality of the procedure for both women and practitioners, are largely located in discrete facilities separate from hospitals.

Recent demands by some for greater abortion ‘access’ in Vermont’s hospitals callously seek to combine these incompatible disciplines — a spokeswoman for a St. Johnsbury, Vermont hospital reduced it simply: “It’s legal, so why wouldn’t we offer it?”

Maternity wards are (rightly) filled with people who celebrate birth, and life. Shall the Infanticide Ward be placed next door? Shall staff dine and chat together? Can two stranger bedfellows be imagined than a woman at hospital to deliver a child, roomed with another who is there to abort hers? Let’s see how they coexist.

This image may seem inflammatory — but medical professionals cannot divorce the two procedures as simply as women can be moved to separate rooms. The two images must coexist in the minds of doctors and nurses devoted to helping others — they don’t have a right to choose.

Conflicting views of the fetus collide, the closer the procedure of abortion is juxtaposed to the miracle of birth. We must end our societal schism of treating that thing in the womb as both precious gift and pesky, unwanted nothingness. But also at issue is what rights health professionals possess to be disassociated from such procedures, and what free speech rights they enjoy when criticizing the institutions that employ them, or when talking to patients about the nature of that unborn baby.

Because healthcare workers are human too.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Alex Proimos

12 thoughts on “John Klar: The effect of extremist abortion laws on health care professionals

  1. Watch abortionists clown about killing babies

    Quoting from the article:
    A celebration of abortion at an event in Seattle by an actress and an abortionist who believes he’s doing God’s work drew attention on Twitter.

    Abortion-rights activist and actress Martha Plimpton was on stage with Dr. Willie Parker when she noted the city of Seattle was significant to her, with family members from the area in the audience.

    “I also had my first abortion at the Seattle Planned Parenthood! Yay!” she said to applause and cheers.

    “Notice I said first. And I don’t want you guys to feel insecure. It was my best one,” she deadpanned to laughter from the audience and from Parker.

  2. Last week we heard the painful testimony at the State House of a surgical nurse at UVM Medical – the horror and turmoil of being scheduled to abort a Downs baby . . . having a Downs child herself and knowing how that life is worth preserving. She was allowed to opt out, but there is a silent backlash against those who don’t hop on the abortion train.

  3. Anyone who has seen the film “Unplanned” will see this issue up close. It is a very good film for this reason. Many who worked in this industry, and it is an industry, have left it and sought help in mental healing through religion or treatment for mental anguish. What are we doing to ourselves?
    Another concern I have about H.57 and Prop 5 in VT is that both proposals lack protections for the patient and have little or no restriction on the practitioner. This presents the possibility that a Gosnell situation could happen here. Frightening to consider that could occur because this legislature is so careless.

    • It was an excellent movie in some ways (although the voice overs I could have done without and the discussions about God were stilted at best) it gave a portrayal of what goes on. The person I went to the movies with kept asking…is this true? Did it really happen? Yes it did. Yeah seeing the young girls who looked 13 on the table, really can’t take in.

      Yet in Vermont they were not allowed to see the movie until they were 18, but can have an abortion without parental knowledge at 13. The for mentioned sentence was deleted/never posted on Vermont Digger every time I attempted to show the ludicrous contradiction.

      So the Pastor is bringing our one of the obvious worms from the can this bill has created. I’ve read from other recently on a national level and they too can see what a wonderful out come this bill will eventually have for Pro Life…..this bill is so flawed with any logic, any understanding of law, any understanding of science, any understanding of our souls that it will never see the light of day.

      No this law will be the law the does the exact opposite of it’s intent. I can’t wait to send flower to Maxine, Mitsy, Shep and others. thanking them for passing the law the finally overturned Roe V. Wade. Yup….it’s going to take awhile, but it will happen.

      This bill is so selfish, so lacking of love, science, logic…….law, God works in mysterious ways. May the holy spirit come into our state, we so desperately need the love, joy and peace, the fruit of truth rather than this envy, greed and selfishness.

      • When the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade the Godless elite will complain that the judiciary is legislating. And this time the media will treat such an accusation with vociferous approval.

    • Thinking about the movie. I dare any of those who voted for this bill to assist in observation of abortions. To be in the POC room. Products Of Conception, otherwise euphemistically known as pieces of children.

      There is no way any of these people could vote for this bill, seeing and witnessing “tissue” that remarkable looks, like, smells like and is a baby, dissected before their eyes. There is no way. They wouldn’t have even seen the movie, much less what is happening every day in our state.

      And guess what, Planned Parent Hood reminded all those in office, we own you, we are watching how you vote. They offered everyone running for office up to $3,000 +/- if they answered all of their questions yes. One organization funded and bought the entire election for Vermont for peanuts.

      Our state is so infested with lobbyists and astro turf organizations it’s sickening.

      None of these legislators would have the guts to witness what the bill they passed does. NONE…..they have been bought and paid for. The selfishness in the bill and the passing of this bill is epically evil.

      • “Products of Conception” The results of dismemberment abortions
        Every one of those who favor this3d trimester abortion are also “Products of Conception”themselves, but they may not have become……
        HUMAN… after all

    • Thankfully God’s grace, forgiveness and mercy knows no bounds, that was a point they were also trying to make in the movie. He’s more relevant and needed today than ever, more so for our little state, heaven help us.

    • At last week’s testimony before the House committee regarding Prop 5, one person provided copies of the Gosnell documentary at the end of his 2 minute testimony. There were audible chuckles from around the room from the “Pink Shirts”. I haven’t seen the film myself, but I’m familiar with the true life horror story of Dr. Gosnell, which is not isolated. I can’t understand how the pro-abortion crowd can stand on the cry of “no more back alley abortions” and at the same time fight any regulations that monitor the conditions at abortion clinics. It leaves one to conclude that, indeed, goal is NOT to protect and help women in pregnancy crisis, but to serve the lucrative industry of abortion.

  4. Don’t protect the unborn……

    But these bleeding heart liberals will be the first to cry when they think their rights are
    not protected………… Hypocrites!!

    Unborn Victims of Violence Act 2004 should be mandated in Vermont, If not these agenda
    driven murder bills ( H.57 & P.5 ) pass, we should tar & feather these legislators and run
    them out of town we deserve better.

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