Is Baby Alive during PBA?

Is the baby alive when she is pulled feet-first from the womb?

American Medical News reported in 1993, after conducting interviews with Drs. Haskell and McMahon, that the doctors "told AM News that the majority of fetuses aborted this way are alive until the end of the procedure." On July 11, 1995, American Medical News submitted the transcript of the tape-recorded interview with Dr. Haskell to the House Judiciary Committee. The transcript contains the following exchange:

American Medical News: Let's talk first about whether or not the fetus is dead beforehand.

Dr. Haskell: No it's not. No, it's really not. A percentage are for various numbers of reasons. Some just because of the stress-- intrauterine stress during, you know, the two days that the cervix is being dilated [to permit extraction of the fetus]. Sometimes the membranes rupture and it takes a very small superficial infection to kill a fetus in utero when the membranes are broken. And so in my case, I would think probably about a third of those are definitely are [sic] dead before I actually start to remove the fetus. And probably the other two-thirds are not.

In an interview quoted in the Dec. 10, 1989 Dayton News, Dr. Haskell conveyed that the scissors thrust is usually the lethal act: "When I do the instrumentation on the skull... it destroys the brain tissue sufficiently so that even if it (the fetus) falls out at that point, it's definitely not alive," Dr. Haskell said. [For further evidence on this issue, see the next section.]

Brenda Pratt Shafer, a registered nurse from Dayton, Ohio, stood at Dr. Haskell's side while he performed three partial-birth abortions in 1993. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (Nov. 17, 1995), Shafer described in detail the first of the three procedures-- which involved, she said, a baby boy at 26 1/2 weeks (over 6 months). According to Mrs. Shafer, the baby was alive and moving as the abortionist:

"delivered the baby's body and the arms-- everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby's head just inside the uterus. The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might 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 was completely limp."

Under HR 1833, in any case in which a baby dies before being partly removed from the uterus -- whether of natural causes or by an action of an abortionist -- the subsequent removal of that baby is not a partial-birth abortion as defined by the bill.