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245491-fetus-ultrasoundBefore David Daleiden founded the Center for Medical Progress and gained national attention for releasing a series of videos exposing the barbarity of Planned Parenthood, he wrote a jarring piece with Jon Shields entitled “Mugged by Ultrasound: Why So Many Abortion Workers Have Turned Pro-Life.”

The brief article is a gut-wrenching, disturbing, graphic account of the emotional trauma abortion wrecks on those who perform them. For example, in 2008, Dr. Lisa Harris explained what happened while she, 18-weeks pregnant at the time, performed an abortion on an 18-week-old fetus. She felt her own baby kick at the same time she ripped off a fetal leg with her forceps. This prompted a visceral response.

Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes—without me—meaning my conscious brain—even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling—a brutally visceral response—heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life.

Tragically, Dr. Harris is still in the abortion business, or at least she was five years ago when the article was first published.

Paul Jarret is not. He quit after 23 abortions. “As I brought out the rib cage, I looked and saw a tiny, beating heart,” he would recall, reflecting on aborting a 14-week-old fetus. “And when I found the head of the baby, I looked squarely in the face of another human being—a human being that I just killed.”

Judith Fetrow and Kathy Spark, both former abortion workers, converted to the pro-life cause after seeing the disposal of fetal remains as medical waste. Daleiden and Shields explain:

Handling fetal remains can be especially difficult in late-term clinics. Until George Tiller was assassinated by a pro-life radical last summer, his clinic in Wichita specialized in third-trimester abortions. To handle the large volume of biological waste Tiller had a crematorium on the premises. One day when hauling a heavy container of fetal waste, Tiller asked his secretary, Luhra Tivis, to assist him. She found the experience devastating. The “most horrible thing,” Tivis later recounted, was that she “could smell those babies burning.” Tivis, a former NOW activist, soon left her secretarial position at the clinic to volunteer for Operation Rescue, a radical pro-life organization.

Many abortion providers have been converted by ultrasound technology. The most famous example is Bernard Nathanson, cofounder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, the original NARAL. By his own reckoning Nathanson performed more than 60,000 abortions, including one on his own child. But over time he began to fear he was involved in a great evil. Ultrasound images pushed him over the edge. “When he finally left his profession for pro-life activism, he produced The Silent Scream (1984), a documentary of an ultrasound abortion that showed the fetus scrambling vainly to escape dismemberment.”

Sadly, countless abortion workers keep on perpetuating the great evil, even if it means suppressing the truth they literally feel in their bones:

Pro-choice advocates like to point out that abortion has existed in all times and places. Yet that observation tends to obscure the radicalism of the present abortion regime in the United States. Until very recently, no one in the history of the world has had the routine job of killing well-developed fetuses quite so up close and personal. It is an experiment that was bound to stir pro-life sentiments even in the hearts of those staunchly devoted to abortion rights.  Ultrasound and D&E [dilation and evacuation] bring workers closer to the beings they destroy. Hern and Corrigan concluded their study by noting that D&E leaves “no possibility of denying an act of destruction.” As they wrote, “It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment run through the forceps like an electric current.”

Read the whole thing and pray for abortion workers.


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18 thoughts on “The Smell of Babies Burning”

  1. Steven Kopp says:

    Absolutely devastating. I was crying halfway through the article.

  2. Jason Culp says:

    Thank you Kevin. It is heartbreaking to really consider the utter horror of abortion like this, but I genuinely believe that the drumbeat of articles and videos and voices crying out for justice will eventually lead to the end of this barbaric practice. Press on!

  3. Neville Briggs says:

    I think, Mr De Young that you should be careful bringing the debate down to the level of relating gruesome details.

    Someone might then have in mind to relate, for example, the gruesome details of sexual abuse by the clergy. ( pray for the councillors of abuse victims ) Or we could, under the heading of The Smell of Burning People, relate the burning at the stake of people at the hands of ” Christians “. Or perhaps relate the awful details of what occurs when a person is hanged, as happened to women in Calvinist Salem, Massachusetts.

    Depicting a sort of charnel house image here doesn’t prove anything about right or wrong of abortion, any more than depicting in detail the bad behaviour of the church disproves the truth of the Gospel.
    It just leads to rancorous accusations.

    Not a good idea Mr De Young.

  4. Sami says:

    Neville, you’re making a logical error. The gruesome details of clerical abuse, burnings at the stake, and abortion all indict those specific, immoral actions. They do not, as your non sequitur implies, therefore indict the institutions carrying out those actions, nor the ideology behind the institutions. That would be an entirely different argument.

    As the article itself illustrates, facing the reality of what happens to an infant during abortion serves as an effective rebuttal to the pro-abortion arguments that what is being aborted is simply a clump of cells or a growth. We would be fools to censor this stuff when it is some of the most compelling evidence of the humanity of these children. In fact, regardless of the effectiveness of humanizing these kids, many would say their dehumanization needs to be countered by the vehement assertion of their humanity. They deserve to be seen that way, rather than obscured by dispassionate verbiage (which of course has its own, important place).

  5. Neville Briggs says:

    I’m not making a logical error, Sami. . I’m talking about the manner of debating this issue.

  6. Greg Ross says:

    @Neville Briggs How would you like Mr De Young to discuss this issue? Even the most ardent defender of abortion has to account for this. I’m sure there are abortionists who would say people are only upset because of our Judeo/Christian cultural heritage and we need to throw that off and just view the fetus like dissecting a frog or stuffing a chicken.

  7. Ross Riggan says:

    Sami is correct on this because when speaking of abuse in the Christian camp or even in the Calvinist camp, this is the exception not the rule of their behavior. When Christians have been abusive in the past, it has been due to worldliness, false doctrine, the times in which they found themselves, etc. Orthodoxy, however, would always condemn these acts. I believe any Christians who pursued these activities either were not true Christians or were very much mistaken and if brought out of the situation with the chance to do over again, they would do very differently.

    This is NOT the case with abortion. It is cruel, it is barbaric, it is murder every time without exception. The fundamental nature of abortion is death. Therefore, it is appropriate to bring this to the forefront. If Christianity at its core was violent and evil, we should show that to the end of banning it. It is right to show here the true, consistent nature of abortion in hopes of banning it one day.

  8. Neville Briggs says:

    Greg, Ross, I support a debate on abortion as a moral issue. I was only trying to make the point that maybe reference to the most gory hideous details is no better then shock horror gutter journalism. If we use that approach, opponents of the church can appeal to shock horror details ( e.g. sexual abuse by clergy ) to depict the church as hypocritical and its moral stance invalid. Of course it is not logical to taint the whole by the actions of a few, but that gets lost in the emotion of the lurid picture show contest.
    It’s only an opinion, I could be wrong, but I thought it better for Christians to stick to the issue of morality, rather than trying to dramatize in an almost prurient manner.

    I also wondered, if people are dead in sin and cannot respond in any way to the things of God, how can they be persuaded, even by the most ghastly results of their actions.

  9. Ross Riggan says:

    The immediate answer is that Scripture does speak of human institutions which are in no way Christian or Godly but yet function for the good of society. This institution would be government from Romans 13. This institution and the people in it are doing society good but in no way is their actions to the glory of God or done out of a love for Him. So apparently from Scripture even pagan rulers like Nero can do good in an earthly, societal sense, but not in a spiritually pleasing sense.

    Therefore, it makes sense to show the culture and government, as godless and worldly as they may be, to see how evil and not good abortion actually is. God has written the law on their hearts so perhaps from at least a motivation of guilt, we can persuade them to stop killing babies.

    However, the final and better answer is that you are absolutely right. What can we truly expect from people who do not love God, but are running headlong into their selfishness. What remains for us to do is what Scripture commands: preach the Gospel. As we faithfully share His truth, God will open hearts as He sees fit. Perhaps this nation will experience an awakening that purges our society of this evil. Perhaps God will leave us to ourselves in this sinful, downward spiral of depravity. God made no promises to the USA… My hope is that He will have mercy on us.

  10. James says:

    “Of course it is not logical to taint the whole by the actions of a few, but that gets lost in the emotion of the lurid picture show contest.” Neville, which part of the Planned Parenthood organization would you prefer to leave untainted? I could understand your point if you were talking about the Boys Scouts, but this is different. This organization is entirely devoted to destroying human life.

  11. Neville Briggs says:

    Jesus said that evil must come, but woe to him through whom the evil comes. In the meantime we have the message of reconciliation through the cross.

  12. Dan says:

    Neville, where do you think we would be regarding slavery if William Wilberforce hadn’t been willing to showcase the “gruesome details” in the British Parliament? Isn’t it our duty to show the reality of abortion? Or would you rather have the conversation at a more sanitized level? Frankly, I think you’re playing right into the hands of pro-choice advocates, who would prefer to use kind phrases like “fetus” and “tissue,” and would prefer to avoid the issue of ultrasounds alltogether.

  13. Neville Briggs says:

    Then again Dan, William Wilberforce may have had no effect on the parliament if it hadn’t been for the revival that came from the gospel preaching of John Wesley.
    I never said anything about sanitized conversation.
    I keep thinking how Jesus said that He had defeated the world. How? by going to the cross. Paul and the apostles preached Christ crucified and the Roman Empire and its cruel Colosseum crumbled, the church flourished.
    The Bible tells us that God’s wisdom is the apparent foolishness of the cross, we often seem to think we can come up with a better idea. Maybe confronting people with gross images will affect them, the cross will transform them.

  14. Ross Riggan says:

    I think the points that Dan and Neville have are both well taken. It really comes down to a big question facing the church right now: what is the church’s role in society? Some think that all we should do is focus on the Gospel and its proclamation and go no further. Others would say that the church should be socially active, performing mercy ministries whenever possible, sometimes even at the expense of Gospel proclamation. So which is the true function of the church?

    As always, Scripture must be our guide. Christ’s final charge to the church:

    18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
    19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
    20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

    Therefore, Gospel proclamation and disciple making are nonnegotiables and could be argued based upon it being the final words of Jesus to be the most important function of the church. So does it stop here? No more responsibility for the church than this?

    34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
    35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
    36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
    37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
    38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
    39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
    40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25:34-40

    This passage is equally Scripture and it seems that Jesus Himself sees acts of mercy as very important. He sees them as acts not only done for people, but ultimately done for Him.

    The function of the church to me then is to always be sharing the Gospel because that is the truest act of mercy, but to always be ready to get my hands dirty in real life mercy needs. I think Christians should be active sharing the Gospel as the primary way to stop abortion. I think showing people, saved or unsaved, the horrors of abortion is a form of mercy ministry for these little babies. Let’s do both.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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