(Warning: This interview contains details about an abortion procedure that may offend some readers.)
Pro-life activists are pointing to the death of Jennifer Morbelli as a clear example of how abortions can harm mothers in addition to killing unborn children. They also accuse the mainstream media of burying the story because it doesn't fit into their leftist worldviews.
Morbelli was a 29-year-old New York woman expecting her first child.
After learning her unborn daughter would suffer from seizures based on a test conducted when she was 31 weeks pregnant, Morbelli sought a late-term abortion from Dr. Leroy Carhart, one of the most well-known practitioners of the procedure.
Nearly two weeks ago, Carhart terminated the pregnancy. But the procedure also killed Morbelli.
Jill Stanek is a longtime nurse, who gained prominence for her work in defending babies who survived attempted abortions. She is now a prominent pro-life blogger. Stanek describes how the abortion was conducted.
"Sunday, Feb. 3, is when this process began, and it's not quick.
"It's a two-to-three-to-four-day process. Sunday afternoon is when Carhart usually kills the babies," Stanek told W. "He injects the baby's heart with a medication that causes immediate cardiac arrest. He visualizes the baby's heart through ultrasound and injects a needle into the mom's abdomen and kills the baby.
"Typically, on Monday morning he begins the labor induction process. It would be called an induced-labor abortion. They insert medication that would dilate the cervix to open, which is the opening at the bottom of the uterus. It's supposed to stay closed until a mom goes into natural labor. This medication, or seaweed sticks, is called Laminaria," she said.
"Over the course of the next two days, they would expand the cervix far enough so that the baby could be delivered. So she went back on Monday, she went back on Tuesday and she went back on Wednesday and stayed for nine hours, and that would have been when she delivered her little girl.
"Sidewalk counselors at the clinic, who maintain a constant vigil during office hours, noted in real time that they thought that she was growing more and more pale," said Stanek.
"Every night, she would stay at a local [hotel] with her family. So Wednesday night she spent the night and apparently tried to call Carhart, or her family did during the night several times, and couldn't reach him. So at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7, they presented at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Md., which is nine miles from Carhart's abortion clinic. By 9 a.m., she began coding, meaning her heart stopped. She coded six times over the course of the next hour and about 10 a.m. they just called the code. They quit trying to resuscitate her and pronounced her," said Stanek.
To date, the story has received very little attention outside the conservative and pro-life blogosphere. Stanek said she's not surprised that the mainstream media are staying away from it.
"I think there may be a hesitancy, because this is abortion, to name the victim and say she had an abortion. If this were any other high-profile doctor who killed a patient, the patient's name would be out there," Stanek said. "I think there's been a reticence on the part of the media because it is that topic and also because the media are bent in favor of abortion and so they would not want to push a story that would bode poorly for abortion. I think that's also coming into play."
Morbelli was intending to have her baby, whom she already named Madison Leigh, until she received the results of the test that showed the baby having abnormalities. Stanek said women get a lot of pressure to seek abortions in those situations.
"I know there is a lot of pressure these days, when moms such as Jennifer, who are carrying wanted babies, are given a diagnosis like that, from the medical industry to abort. Social workers are by-and-large pro-abortion. Insurance companies, I think, are skewed in favor of abortion with an adverse diagnosis because it's cheaper for them in the long run than providing long-term care for a baby," said Stanek, who noted that late-term diagnoses also put a time pressure on distraught mothers.
Stanek said her experience with moms who have made both decisions proves that keeping the child is the right choice.
"If you've been given the diagnosis that your baby will not live, you should consider having your baby in hospice. Your baby inside of you is warm and comfortable and as well as that baby's ever going to feel.
"You are providing comfort for that baby. When you deliver the baby, you treat the baby like you would any other hospice patient. Have family there to meet the baby and take pictures with the baby," Stanek said.
"I've never heard or met a mom who went this course who regretted it," she said. "It's the right thing to do."
But she said the same principle applies to children who will survive their first hours but face very difficult challenges.
"If you've been diagnosed with a baby who's going to have Down's Syndrome or spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, there's a lot of pressure, again, for you to abort," Stanek said. "I would still maintain that no matter what is wrong with any child in the world's eyes, that doesn't make the child any less worthy of living. You just have to view it as if you'd be killing your handicapped baby. What does that say about you, and what does that say about society?
"I've never met a mom who regretted doing the right thing and delivering her baby to term, even if she could only hold her baby for a minute or two until that baby died," Stanek said. "I have met plenty of moms who regretted going the abortion course. Their baby is now dead, and that's something they're going to have to live with for the rest of their lives. They often don't do very well in the aftermath."