They wave their gory Photo-shopped pictures and SHRIEEEEK: 'See? See? This is what abortion looks like!'
Now, me, I've had two abortions, so I know what it looks like from the prone-and-grateful position, but I've never seen an abortion performed.
Neither had Sarah Kliff.
I've covered abortion for NEWSWEEK for two years. The issue has put me in touch with a young activist in rural Colorado, an embattled clinic just outside St. Louis, and chanting crowds in Washington, D.C. Whether I'm covering abortion's staunchest guardians or its most adamant opponents, there's always the same passion: both sides feel abortion is an issue worth waging war over.
Writing these stories, I'd become well-versed in abortion policy, the pro-choice and pro-life arguments, the latest legislation. But I'd never actually seen an abortion; I'd never watched the procedure that activists vehemently defend or deplore. And, when I flew to Omaha to spend four days at LeRoy Carhart's abortion clinic for a profile in this week's magazine, I wasn't sure I would. I confess I was hesitant to step into Carhart's operating room. I knew that I'd most likely be watching a first-trimester procedure; while Carhart does offer late-term abortions, the majority of his patients, and the majority of abortion patients nationwide, are early in pregnancy. I learned how long the procedure would take (10 to 15 minutes), what equipment would be used (a long plastic tube connected to a suction device), and what the patients would feel (slight pressure and possibly cramping). Yet I still felt uneasy.