Unable to find an epidemic of born-alive murders, Live Action says the videos underscore the general ugliness of late-term abortions. That's true. But late-term abortions are rare and getting rarer. According to the latest CDC data, only 8 percent of abortions are performed after 13 weeks gestation (the end of the first trimester), and only one percent are performed at 21 weeks or later. That's a decline, in both total and percentage terms, over the last decade.
Pro-lifers say the Gosnell case shows that "abusive, contemptuous doctors are more the norm in freestanding abortion clinics than the public is willing to admit." But the Live Action videos — the raw footage, not the edited versions the organization promotes — show the opposite. Most of the doctors and counselors seem more attentive and compassionate than the average nurse or physician. They help patients talk through their decisions. They offer financial help. They assuage anxieties. They answer endless questions.
The videos also show how concerned the providers are with safety. Even the least sympathetic of the taped doctors, LeRoy Carhart, carefully instructs his patient (who's actually a spy) to stay within 15 minutes of the clinic so that if she develops any complications, his 24-hour staff can get to her promptly. Pro-lifers have blamed Carhart for the recent death of a high-risk patient, Jennifer Morbelli, who came to him with a wanted pregnancy that had turned out, in the third trimester, to be fatally defective. On Monday, almost simultaneously with the Gosnell verdict, police announced their decision in Morbelli's case. Based on the medical examiner's final report, they're closing the investigation.
Women do die from legal abortions. But the fatality rate, compared to other procedures and options, is remarkably low. In 2010, for every 1 million women who gave birth, 155 died from pregnancy-related factors. By comparison, over the last 25 years, for every 1 million women who had abortions, six died.