"I went about doing the procedure as usual," she writes. "I used electrical suction to remove the amniotic fluid, picked up my forceps and began to remove the fetus in parts, as I always did. I felt lucky that this one was already in the breech position - it would make grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier."
With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at that moment, I felt a kick - a fluttery "thump, thump" in my own uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a "thump, thump" in my abdomen. 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. Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy; in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder.
Harris concludes that the "visually and viscerally different" component of a second-trimester abortion, as opposed to a first-trimester one, leads to questions such as: "What kind of dissociative process inside us allows us to do this routinely? What normal person does this kind of work?"
Sadly, even this does not sway Lisa Harris from supporting abortion.
"We might conclude at this point that a provider who feels that abortion is violent is simply ambivalent, conflicted, is not really committed to women's abortion rights, and just shouldn't be doing this work," Harris writes. "'Pro-life' supporters may argue that the kind of stories and sentiments I've relayed spell the end of abortion - that honest speech acts regarding the reality of abortion will weaken the pro-choice movement to the point where it cannot sustain itself any longer.
However, she contests the point, arguing that, rather than weakening the argument for abortion, facing abortion with "honesty" can "be the basis for a stronger movement - one that makes it easier for providers and the teams they work with to do all abortions, especially second trimester abortions."