The Magazine

Blood Brothers

From the October 11, 2004 issue: Why the leading practitioners of late abortion wrote checks to Kerry.

Oct 11, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 05 • By DOUGLAS JOHNSON
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MARTIN HASKELL, George Tiller, and Warren Hern have several things in common. All three are abortionists who specialize in late abortions. Haskell's name is closely linked with the partial-birth abortion method. Tiller and Hern may be the only two abortionists in the United States who openly advertise their willingness to perform third-trimester abortions.

Finally, all three men have opened their checkbooks to support Senator John Kerry's bid to be president of the United States. Their contributions to Kerry's campaign total $7,000.

That is not a vast sum compared with the millions being spent by liberal groups to attack President Bush. (Federal law limits a contributor to maximum total donations of $4,000 to a single presidential candidate, split between two types of campaign accounts.) Nevertheless, these contributions are worth scrutinizing because of what they reveal about John Kerry.

Although Haskell, Tiller, and Hern have been controversial figures for many years in national debates about late abortions (as anybody can ascertain by entering their names into Google), the Kerry campaign apparently readily accepted the contributions--money that might very well have originated in fees charged to perform partial-birth abortions or other late abortions.

But why would such men send their hard-earned dollars to Kerry? After all, Kerry told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, on January 25, 2004, "I'm against partial-birth abortion, as are many people." And Kerry told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald in July, 2004, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception."

My bet is that the abortionists know that during his 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has been an absolutely consistent defender of abortion. So why should they be bothered by statements intended only to mislead voters who are strongly opposed to the grisly business that these men are in--voters who are still unfamiliar with Kerry's actual record?

Most likely, these abortionists are quite aware that Kerry has promised to nominate only Supreme Court justices who share his real position on abortion policy--which would guarantee that partial-birth abortions and other late abortions, and of course earlier abortions, would remain almost entirely shielded from scrutiny or restriction by elected lawmakers for the foreseeable future.

DR. MARTIN HASKELL wrote the Kerry for President campaign a check for $2,000, recorded June 30, 2004. Haskell, based in Ohio, owns three abortion clinics, all called Women's Med Center ( In 1992 Haskell published a paper describing how to perform what he called "dilation and extraction." Circulation of this paper led to introduction of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act by congressman Charles Canady, a Florida Republican, in 1995.

Brenda Pratt Shafer, a nurse who worked briefly at one of Haskell's clinics, witnessed close up the partial-birth abortion of a baby boy who she said was at 26 and a half weeks.

"I stood at the doctor's side and watched him perform a partial-birth abortion on a woman who was six months pregnant," Shafer related. "The baby's heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen. The doctor delivered the baby's body and arms, everything but his little head. The baby's body was moving. His little fingers were clasping together. He was kicking his feet.

"The doctor took a pair of scissors and inserted them into the back of the baby's 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. Then the doctor opened the scissors up. Then he stuck the high-powered suction tube into the hole and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. I never went back to the clinic. But I am still haunted by the face of that little boy. It was the most perfect, angelic face I have ever seen."

Haskell wrote that he used this method on all of his clients from 20 through 24 weeks, unless they had certain health problems, and on "selected" clients through 26 weeks. He told American Medical News that 80 percent of his late abortions were "purely elective." The head of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers admitted to the New York Times in 1997 that the method is used thousands of times annually, and that "in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along."