April 18, 2007

Get your abortion now.

A commenter over at Feministe:
Women need to know that if they become pregnant, and decide to keep the pregnancy, it has become that much more dangerous. Should something go wrong, they now have less chance of surviving. Women need to know this, so that they can decide if it’s really worth it (esp the possibility of widowing their husbands and leaving their children motherless), and get their abortions now.


Anonymous said...

So, if you are going to get an abortion, you have a good four months to decide. That's more than enough time to make a decision.

homericsimile said...

And if you're planning a normal pregnancy and something goes wrong, you have (seemingly) one less option to deal with that.

I say seemingly because it feels like this statute is very easy to get around. Similar bans passed by States, however, might not be.

Palladian said...

Yes, wouldn't want to leave any motherless children behind. Better kill them now.

The logic of Medea!

Randy said...

"Operators are standing by!"

"Mention our site and get a 10% discount!"

"Group rates available now!"

"Clearance Sale!"

Roger J. said...

I am assuming this overblown rhetoric on the linked post is really based on the slippery slope argument. Why do I believe many of the pro-abortion folks will turn a blind eye to the pro gun advocates use of the slippery slope argument with respect to gun control? (and vice versa)

Simon said...

It's not accurate, it's not funny, and it's not even original. Tina Fey made the same joke on SNL when Alito was confirmed.

Sloanasaurus said...

I don't get this. As I understand it, the Act allows an abortion if the life of the mother is in danger. How much plainer or simpler can this be?

Maybe liberals are afraid that radical pro-life groups will adopt the liberal strategy of destroying the plain meaning of words in order to get their agenda through the courts?

Randy said...

Sloan, you just said the magic words: "if the life of the mother is in danger." You and I could both drive Mack trucks carrying stately mansions the size of John Edwards's infamous house through that loophole. Almost anything can be described as endangering the life of the mother. Childbirth itself, for instance.

jen said...

I don't get this. As I understand it, the Act allows an abortion if the life of the mother is in danger. How much plainer or simpler can this be? No, it doesn't. That's one of the biggest problems - even the Court admitted as much. According to the Court, the legislature has the right to substitute its medical decision (after hearing arguments from oponents and proponents of the bill) for the medical decisions of individual women and their doctors, based on the individual facts of that woman's situation.

Sloanasaurus said...

I thought the controversy over this bill in the lower court was that they demanded the law say "health" of the mother rather than "life" of the mother. I think the word "life" is self explanatory. The word "health" is something you could drive a truck through.

Meade said...

"As I understand it, the Act allows an abortion if the life of the mother is in danger. "

The Act has nothing to do with allowing abortion, it has to do with disallowing a certain method of abortion.

An abortion doctor is no longer allowed to partially remove the fetus intact from a woman's uterus and then crush or cut its skull to complete the abortion.

That's all.

The doctor is still allowed to dismember the fetus in the mother's uterus.

Wade Garrett said...

This is exactly the problem to which I referred in the previous post. Congress has the power to find facts, not to make up facts. If doctors say that the procedure is sometimes necessary to save the life of the mother, and is more frequently necessary to preserve the HEALTH of the mother, then Congress is just making shit up when it decides that neither of the above are true. It might as well find that unicorns are a threat to national security and allocate $100 billion dollars to unicorn eradication.

Randy said...

Sloan, to you and I, such simple words as "life," "danger" and "threat" are pretty much self-explanatory. To the legal mind, however...

Randy said...

Wade, Congress has the power to pretty much do whatever it wants whenever it wants subjecy only to Presidential veto and Supreme Court review. Facts aren't a prerequisite. If they were, we'd have far fewer laws on the books as it is.

Wade Garrett said...

Facts are a prerequisite.

Randy said...

In this case only or in every case, Wade?

Wade Garrett said...

Every case.

Randy said...

I admire your optimism, Wade.

Anonymous said...

Facts are a prerequisite.

I'm guessing 27.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

The claim that pregnancy has gotten "much more dangerous" is obviously horseshit.

As NARAL and other abortion lobbying groups are fond of telling us, only 0.17% of abortions are partial-birth abortions. Only 24.5% of pregnancies get aborted in the first place, which means that only 0.042% of pregnancies end in a partial-birth abortion. Only a subset of those abortions are done out of medical necessity (as opposed to out of a desire to get rid of the pregnancy). And while, yes, the alternatives available in that remote circumstance of necessary late-term abortion are indeed riskIER, they still aren't riskY.

So no, there's no real increase in danger here. These assholes are just playing on the fear that all pregnant women feel about their condition.

Anonymous said...

24.5% of pregnancies get aborted

I've wondered about this number. Is this correct?

dearieme said...

"decide to keep the pregnancy": either English isn't her mother tongue, or that is a very revealing phrase.

sonicfrog said...

Facts are a prerequisite.

Truth, however, is not!


Revenant said...

I've wondered about this number. Is this correct?

See this survey -- there are 24.5 abortions per 75.5 live births. Since that doesn't count miscarriages and stillbirths the figure should actually be a little lower than 24.5%.

kimsch said...

My thought has always been if the mother is healthy enough for partial birth, how is she not healthy enough for full birth. You're talking about a breech birth of the entire baby except the head with the D&X. Why not just go all the way. If she doesn't want the baby there are plenty of people who do and will gladly take that child off her hands.

Anonymous said...

Legal but rare. Wasn't that the mantra? It may be legal, but it's hardly rare, is it?

Troy said...


I'm no statistician so I can't speak authoritatively on the methodology, but here's the source of the 24% figure. The Guttmacher Institute researches these things and I think is generally thought to be accurate (as much as accuracy is possible).

24% pregnancies end up as induced abortions

Simon said...

Mike said...
"Legal but rare. Wasn't that the mantra? It may be legal, but it's hardly rare, is it?"

Safe, legal and rare. That was the mantra. Which is a convenient way to frame the issue, because it makes it all about the woman and completely dismisses as beneath consideration the validity of the child: an abortion is never "safe" for the child. There's a fatality in 100% of successful abortions.

Der Hahn said...

kimsch...That jogged my memory.

My g/f's daughter just had a Cesarean delivery because the baby was in the breech position. So we're talking about a procedure that deliberately induces such a delivery …… in order to protect the health of the mother (so they say).

kimsch said...

Der Hahn,


Eli Blake said...

We will see whether there will be other attempts to ban abortions. I suspect you will see them move on to some other method or other subcategory of abortions and work on trying to ban it piecemeal. As it is, the whole legality of Roe v. Wade is in jeopardy right now, being dependent only on Justice Kennedy's inconsistent temperment and Justice Stevens' heart.

That said, I would only point out that since 1992, abortions have declined by 30% yearly, and despite a great deal of effort and millions of dollars expended trying to ban abortion, not a single abortion has been banned since that time in America. The decline is due to the quiet successes of the Liberal approach to abortion, which is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies via birth control, education and family planning.

I'm not sure which Liberal it was who said that Liberals would like to get rid of abortion by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies to zero, and while that goal may not be reached, it is what we want. I'd like to see abortion clinics close, not because of abortion bans, and not because of terroristic threats or attacks, but because they became obsolete. The 'morning after pill,' is a great step in that direction too.

As for the Guttmacher Institute, you might find this study interesting:


It profiles the socioeconomic characteristics of women who have abortions and found that there is a strong negative correlation between the woman's economic status and and the likelihood of an abortion-- suggesting that both liberals and conservatives may be wrong. The study suggests that economics (i.e. 'can I afford the hospital bill and/or the baby?) may play a larger role in abortion than either a voluntary and uncoerced choice (as liberals would argue-- economic reality is in fact a type of coercion) or convenience and a desire to duck responsibility (as conservatives would argue). My suggestion would therefore be that a good way to cut down on the number of abortions would be some combination of 1) subsidizing delivery costs for women who can't afford the hospital bill, and 2) much more aggressive pursuit of child support so that economics would not be a factor that either forces a particular choice (which is why liberals should support such a proposal) nor a factor which forces that choice to be abortion (which is why conservative should support such a proposal).

Eli Blake said...

whoops, not 30% yearly, but rather 30% overall.

Anonymous said...

Eli said: "The decline is due to the quiet successes of the Liberal approach to abortion, which is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies via birth control, education and family planning."

Well, if this is the reason for the decline, I say let's do more of it. I'd like some evidence, however, that this is indeed the reason for the decline.

Revenant said...

as liberals would argue-- economic reality is in fact a type of coercion

Being born without wings or gills doesn't mean I'm coerced into being a land-dweller. Coercion is defined as "the use of force to gain compliance". So if liberals truly do argue that economic reality is coercive then that simply indicates that liberals are silly and ignorant, and need to go back to school and pay attention in English class this time.

Fortunately, I don't think many liberals really make the claim you're making.

Revenant said...

the quiet successes of the Liberal approach to abortion

Abortions have declined since the 1990s, but both the abortion rate and the total number of abortions (legal and illegal) were lower prior to Roe vs Wade than they are now. When Liberal Policy X is better than Old Liberal Policy Y but *worse* than Original Conservative Policy Z, claiming victory for Liberal policy is pretty silly.

As someone who is personally pro-choice I would recommend that liberals stick to the personal rights issues and stop trying to argue that they're managing to get rid of abortions too.

Unknown said...

Isn't the commenter at Feminist is essentially correct? Isn't it true that if you're pregnant right now, and have bad health or any reason to believe in a better than average possibility of complications, you could be taking your life in your hands by going through with the pregnancy?

Justice Ginsburg wasn't being rhetorical when she said "For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman's health," was she?

Is it not true that women could die untreated because of this law?

Randy said...

Verso, in the final analysis, the practical effect of this decision will be nil.

Unknown said...

Internet Ronin,
Why? Because alternate procedures exist that will allow doctors to achieve the same result?

kimsch said...

No. Women won't die untreated because of this law. What this ban does is ban one particular procedure in which the baby is partially delivered (feet to neck) and then the practitioner uses some kind of tool to breach the skull and scramble the brains before completing the delivery. Another procedure, where the baby is dismembered prior to delivery is still available...

M. Simon said...

We have a Federal law on the books that says that marijuana has no medical value.

Facts are not required.

unreasonable said...

I don't understand the point of banning a method of abortion.

Its legal to terminate a fetus, but only if you do it in a certain way?

It seems a little like banning murder-by-hitting-someone-over-the-head, but still allowing other murders.

John Stodder said...

Justice Ginsburg wasn't being rhetorical when she said "For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman's health," was she?

The court's "blessing" of this obnoxious concept fortunately does not mean states must embrace it. This decision "permits states to..." but it doesn't "prohibit women from..." That grisly call is still up to the states, and I assume a "lesser included" is also permitted -- such as an exception for protecting the life of the mother.

So, if a stated wanted to ban late-term abortions that were requested for frivolous reasons, now it could. It could also ban them for non-frivolous reasons, but I trust the political process to block that from happening in all but the most backward states, and maybe not even them. It's one thing to decry the practice of late-term abortions, it's quite another to really take away the right.

I have the same gut feeling about Roe v. Wade. In the unlikely event this court were to overturn it, you might have more variety in abortion related laws among the 50 states, but outright bans would be rare.

Freeman Hunt said...

What a monsterous comment. Aside from the fact that there isn't any additional risk, even if there was additional risk, what sort of parent would be unwilling to take even a minimal risk to preserve the life of her own child?

Brent said...

I will seriously consider the opponents of abortion to be worthy of dialog when they insist that all abortions are performed non-profit. No one: the doctor, the clinic, and especially the singers at Planned Parenthood and NARAL should make one buck off of any abortion.

When there are no abortion clinics with directors making $300,000 - $1,000,000+, then I'll believe that there is no conflict of interest in the discussion.

No profit - then you can talk.

Brent said...

By the way, slippery slopers:

Roe v. Wade overturned?

Love to see it.

Will never happen in my lifetime.
Couldn't get it with 3 Republican Presidents and Republican Congress.

Shut up you spinners. Roe is here to stay.

Pride said...

Oh how I miss Sandra Day O'Connor.

Revenant said...

No profit - then you can talk.

That's the single stupidest idea I've seen anyone have in this forum all month -- and I read Freder and Downtownlad's posts regularly.

Unknown said...

On moral issue, we can have a healthy debate on whether it is appropriate for the federal government to permit/ban partial birth abortions. Yet, what I see many people in this thread doing is attacking whether there even could be a medically necessary partial birth abortion. I see doctors, some of the most ethically minded people I have come across, being pilloried by this thread. Do we hold doctors that low in esteem in this country? Do we honestly think that doctors across the board view the partial birth abortion as anything less than a tool to use in the most dire of cases necessary for medical health? As Justice Ginsburg rightfully points to in the dissent, there is NO evidence that partial birth abortions are never a medical necessity, while the predominant medical evidence shows that it is! Where is the evidence showing that partial birth abortions have been committed by doctors without informing their patients what the procedure entails ? Before people make claims that there is no medical necessity for partial birth abortions, a showing that either doctors performing abortions and writing the studies showing that it is a medical necessity are partisan hacks advancing the liberal agenda of "abortion on demand" would be nice.

Brent said...

I highly respect your writings ion the Althouse comments.

My two points:

1)I am tired of being shut down in the abortion debate by the statement from pro-choicers: " If pro-lifers really care about these unwanted babies, then they should take care of them" - see Rosie, Whoopi ("put up or shut up" was her statement), and a similar remark made by Hilary in '97. Not to mention Kate Michelman and Faye Wattleton making similarly thinly-veiled statements about the hypocrisy of pro-lifers on Meet the Press.

That, my dear Revenant, is stupid.

2) I know a former abortion clinic manager (she worked there from through '02). She has become pro-life, and showed us some of us, her recent friends, her earnings as director - approx $260,000 in her last year at the clinic alone. She spoke at our local universities when she was pro-choice. She is uncertain that most of her pro-choice friends realize that it is a huge business that must be protected. And that is, for many spokespersons, a conflict of interest. If the head of Mobil Oil states that oil is the only clean burning, cheap fuel for the foreseeable future, you doubt his motives. But you don't doubt the purity of motives of those leading and performing the pro-choice side?

My pro-life motive, just as with most national pro-life leaders,has nothing to with lining my pockets.

While the average pro-choice person not working in the abortion fields does not have a profit motive, most national pro-choice leaders can not make that same statement.

Let's see the purity of their beliefs on the day when they insist on doing this for cost only - I didn't say free - but not-for- profit.

Or, is the issue not worth it?

Revenant said...

Do we honestly think that doctors across the board view the partial birth abortion as anything less than a tool to use in the most dire of cases necessary for medical health?

That's phrased a bit oddly. If you mean to say "doctors across the board view partial birth abortion as something to be done only in dire, life-threatening cases" then the answer is "no" -- doctors are ethically allowed to perform late-term abortions even if there is no medical reason for one, and are allowed to recommend or perform IDX procedures for convenience reasons (e.g., the woman doesn't have to go into labor or have surgery) having nothing to do with medical necessity.

Brent said...

Dan said:

Do we hold doctors that low in esteem in this country? Do we honestly think that doctors across the board view the partial birth abortion as anything less than a tool to use in the most dire of cases necessary for medical health?

No, Dan, many of us who hold doctors in high esteem in this country do not also worship them or their esteemed societal positions.

Are doctors more saintly - by virtue of degree or choice of profession - than, say journalists or law enforcement?

Are there no Doctors motivated first by the profit motive? Or, how about a fear of a losing some of the "Word of God" authority in the profession? Is it possible for a doctor to testify in a criminal trial with less than pure motives, say, like being paid by one side in the trial?

And, I'm sorry, but "doctors across the board" doesn't cut it with me. I personally know too many pro-life physicians rejoicing at today's decision to go along with that one.

The world is bigger and more diverse than you think - even among that monolith, the medical profession.

Now, lawyers on the other hand . . . .

Revenant said...

Revenant, I highly respect your writings ion the Althouse comments.

The feeling is not mutual, so I'm going to try to keep my response to your drivel short:

(1): You have no evidence that pro-choicers are motivated by greed. You just decided to throw an unsubstantiated charge at us and demand that we prove our innocence. So right away we've established that you're the moral and intellectual equal of a Duke University stripper.

(2): On top of that, you make the crypto-Communist demand that refuse to accept fair pay for what we write and refuse to offer decent salaries to people working for our organizations, lest our motives be suspect. Meanwhile, of course, people like Pat Robertson and Pope Benedict are free to keep living lavish lifestyles in their multimillion dollar estates while bleating pro-life philosophy to hundreds of millions of devoted followers with no restrictions.

Finally, the notion that you'll actually entertain pro-choice ideas from people with no profit motive is an obvious lie, given that some of the groups you say you refuse to listen to -- such as NARAL -- are, in fact, non-profit organizations that make no money off of any abortion.

To sum up: go fuck yourself.

Anonymous said...

We hold doctors in the highest esteem, naturally, and we defer to their superior judgment, of course.

Unless they don't want to prescribe birth control or, as medical students, learn how to perform an abortion.

Note that I am radically pro-birth control (if you want it) and I don't find the abortion issue simple. But it's fraudulent to call doctors beacons of virtue and excellence just so long as they'll do what you want them to do. Because actually, there's another word for people who do what you want them to do: tool.

Eli Blake said...


on your 4:27 post:

Coercion means being pressured or forced to make a decision you don't want to. It doesn't necessarily have to be a human who is doing it. If you read through the report I linked, the trend is very clear. Put it this way: If you are uninsured and trying to raise a family on $8000 per year (which I used to do taxes-- quite a few people are doing exactly that) and have a choice between a $500 abortion or a $3000 hospital bill for a birth (assuming nothing is wrong, if there are complications then the sky's the limit), then the choice will certainly be influence by economics. In other words, there are some women who would, if given the choice and in the absence of economic considerations rather not have an abortion but they are 'coerced' into it by the realities of the health care system. The Guttmacher study I linked to makes this point quite clearly.

and on your 4:39 post:

There is no contradiction in being against something but not wanting to ban it (except in the myopic view of conservatives, where bad=ban). I'm against smoking both tobacco and marijuana, and I tell my kids its stupid. For that matter, four years ago when my then-fifteen year old was pregnant, I advised her against getting an abortion (and I'm glad she didn't get one.) BUT here is the difference between liberals and conservatives: We on the left believe that pro-choice means pro-choice, and the law should not interfere with that. Hence I favor legalization of marijuana and believe that adults who choose to smoke either tobacco or marijuana should be allowed to do so (as long as it is in a place where nonsmokers don't have to be exposed to it.) That does not change the fact that I think it is stupid to use either substance. Likewise, I may personally find abortion repugnant (and I do) but I believe it is a matter of choice, and if my daughter had chosen one four years ago then I would have supported her decision and paid for it.

Anonymous said...

Eli -- Why is smoking marijuana something that can be illegal but having an abortion is something that cannot? I mean, besides the nonexistent penumbra mentioned nowhere in the Constitution?

Unknown said...

What I did not mean to convey:
- Doctors do not fail prey to the same problems that the rest of society falls prey to.
- Doctors or the medical profession in general should not get the scrutiny that every member of society deserves.

What I meant to convey: Some commentators in this thread were, in my mind, content to glibly defame doctors who perform abortion, and those in the profession generally, without anything more than anecdotal evidence. Profit motives, political agendas, and slothfulness can influence any human's decision-making. I just want to see hard facts showing that doctors are in fact influenced by those factors when actually making decisions to perform partial birth abortions on patients or conducting their medical studies on the procedure showing it is a medical necessity in specific circumstances. I would like to see that before making such broad generalizations based on hearsay.

Revenant, I did not realize it was ethically permissible for doctors to commit partial birth abortions, or any late-term abortion, simply on the convenience to the doctor without it being linked to the female's health. If that is the case, I cannot argue that. My questions would then be what is how does the medical community justify it? Can doctors choose between medical procedures for all maladies based on convenience alone?

Revenant said...

Coercion means being pressured or forced to make a decision you don't want to.

co·er·cion /koʊˈɜrʃən/
1. the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.
2. force or the power to use force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.

So no, your use of the term is intellectually dishonest. Doubly so considering that poverty neither forces nor pressures anyone to do anything. A poor person who steals to buy drugs is driven by a desire for drugs -- not by poverty.

You could perhaps construct a haphazard argument that that darned Real World We Live In constantly "coerces" people by "forcing" them to seek out things like food, clothing, and shelter. But even then, poverty just gives you fewer ways to respond to this "coercion" -- it doesn't cause it.

It doesn't necessarily have to be a human who is doing it.

Yes, it does. It is poor English to use the term "coercion" when there is no conscious entity behind the force.

Revenant said...

There is no contradiction in being against something but not wanting to ban it (except in the myopic view of conservatives, where bad=ban).

It is, of course, nonsensical to think that conservatives want to ban everything they dislike (or to overlook liberal "its bad, ban it" causes such as gun control and hate speech laws).

But in any case you missed my point, which is that the "liberal" abortion position results in more abortions than the "conservative" one. You had been talking about "liberal success" in reducing abortions, and that's just silly. If, under conservative policies, drug use climbed 500% and then fell 400% we wouldn't expect conservatives to get away with claiming "conservative success on drug use".

BUT here is the difference between liberals and conservatives: We on the left believe that pro-choice means pro-choice, and the law should not interfere with that.

No, the difference is that you don't think fetuses have human rights, and pro-life people think that they do.

Suppose the controversy was over something such as, say, the right of white men to shoot black men for "messin' with white women". Once again you have a "pro-life" faction that says "that's murder" and a pro-choice faction that says "we think it should be left up to individual choice whether or not to shoot black men for messin' with white women".

The only difference between that scenario and the abortion debate is that you (and me, for that matter) think black men have a right to live and fetuses do not. For people who think BOTH have a right to live there's no difference between the two scenarios, and making posturing comments like "the law shouldn't interfere with personal choice" does NOTHING to help the matter, because obviously only the most profoundly evil people think that whether or not to murder innocent people is just a matter of personal choice.

I would, in closing, note that a majority of liberals oppose peoples' right to choose to prostitute themselves, use drugs, work in dangerous conditions, work for low wages, own firearms, etc. There is no widespread liberal support for peoples' right to choose to do things liberals DON'T want them to do.

Brent said...


Your hateful comments, coming from someone pro-choice, are hurtful. I mean no disrespect to you personally. I continue to respect your writing ability.

But - you are an example of pro-choice haters.

Thank you for that.

You have not engaged my premise - that the abortion industry is greed filled and motivated. Does this make someone who is pro-choice on principal, a bad or evil person - certainly not, in my view.

But, again, the majority of national "talk" on the issue from the pro-choice side is not principaled at all. It is fear-mongering, exagerated and belittling to the other side.

While there are stories of radical pro-lifers, they are no where in existence in numbers like the hate-filled, fearful pro-choicers in this counry.

I was able to engage Susan Estrich in a thoughtful abortion conversation during a q-and-a session after she spoke at a local university. Though we obviously disagree, she was respectful, and thoughtful, and agreed that way too much of the national conversation is way out of emotional proportion.

She also agreed that it is sad that the underbelly of the industry (she meant greed, Revie, does not help in convincing Americans of the rightesouness of the pro-choice side.

She also actually said (and yes, there were 2400 witnesses that night)that the pro-choice side needs to "calm down" and stop looking at every pro-lifer as an enemy Nazi. The likelihood of being blown up by a radical pro-lifer is infinitesimal, she said.
It was great to talk with her.

So, Revenant, why exactly all the hate? Did you lose something today?

Brent said...

PS Revie,

Pope Benedict doesn't make his money primarily from being pro-life -he'd still have it if tomorrow the Church proclaimed abortion a sacrament.

And, sorry if you haven't noticed, but the Right Reverend Robertson doesn't make his primarily from being anti-abortion, either. Not to mention that his influence in pro-life causes has waned drastically among evangelicals in just the last few years.

And, several of NARAL's management members make in the hundreds of thousands - not bad for a "non-profit". And they ARE all about abortion - hmmmm - no possible conflict of interest there, eh?

Peter Hoh said...

I wonder what the law of supply and demand might have to do with the salaries paid to abortion providers.

After 34 years, shouldn't abortion foes expect a little more than this kind of incrementalism?

Outliers said...

In response to kimsch's comment "My thought has always been if the mother is healthy enough for partial birth, how is she not healthy enough for full birth." Here is your answer:

Intact dilation and extraction dilates a woman's cervix, but does not induce labor. It involves the least intrusion into the intact uterus of the procedures available for a woman who discovers late in pregnancy that her infant has a fatal deformity and will not survive birth or will survive only for a matter of hours or days.

If that same woman has preeclampsia, which usually develops after 20 weeks and is the leading cause of mothers dying during pregnancy and childbirth, labor is life threatening. Induced labor or waiting until term for natural labor to deliver is not an option if the woman hopes to live. Mere cervical dilation does not trigger the same risks as induced labor and is life saving for these women.

Labor is also not an option for the mother of a child with extreme hydrocephalus, where the head is so enlarged by fluid that it cannot pass through the birth canal intact. Intact dilation and extraction allows these women to avoid a cesarean section.

Those woman now have only two remaining choices: Dilation and Extraction or cesarean section.

Dilation and extraction involves dilating the cervix as with intact dilation and extraction, but the fetus is then chopped to bits for removal. This procedure deprives families who so desperately wanted their babies of the opportunity to see them intact and grieve their passing. Dilation and extraction also has a greater risk than intact dilation and extraction of perforating the uterus causing hemmorage or death, or creating increased risk in subsequent pregnancies of uterine rupture (which can result in the death of the baby, death of the mother, or a hysterectomy ending her childbearing years).

So many of you contend that a cesarean should be conducted instead of a D&E or D&X in these cases. You seem to assume a cesarean is trivial. It is not: it is major abdominal surgery. It can be life threatening (mine was)or life ending for many women. A cesarean section is 2 to 3 times more likely to result in maternal death than normal delivery. Complications are common, not rare. Women die from anesthesia mistakes, having their bowels or arteries nicked, infection, or from complications from having abdominal surgery--such as a bowel obstruction.

Woman who survive the cesarean with no immediate harm, face a panoply of enhanced risks that could kill or maim her or a future healthy baby, including increased risk of uterine rupture, placenta previa, placenta acrreta, and placental abruption. Because of these risks, woman are advised to not have more than three cesearan deliveries, which deprives them of the opportunity to have larger families.

These are all risks that an exception for a woman's health (present and future) would allow consideration of. The more narrow exception only to preserve a woman's life does not take these into account.

The present ban deprives a woman of the ability to elect a procedure that in her circumstances she judges mostly likely to preserve her health and enable her to care for the children she already has or wants to have in the future.

I have held a baby in my arms after a harrowing bout with preeclampsia and a difficult and life threatening cesarean recovery and he has grown into a beautiful child. If I learned that the sibling I am carrying now was fatally defective, I would without a moment of doubt terminate this pregnancy even though I am in the 8th month, to avoid the risk that my son would be left motherless and to preserve my chance of giving him a sibling in the future. This ban deprives a woman in my circumstances (pre-existing cesarean scar, need to avoid additional scars to have a chance of vaginal birth for future children, and a history of developing a life threatening complication after abdominal surgery) of the safest option for doing so.

These decisions are heart rending for the women and families who undergo them. These procedures are primarily used when wanted pregnancies are discovered to have gone horribly awry late in pregnancy. I am appalled at the lack of compassion on this blog for the women and families who face these unbearable choices. What mother wants to risk leaving her living children motherless to deliver a child who will not survive? What husband wants to risk losing his wife in addition to the child who will die in such a case? What family in these circumstances would not prefer a procedure that avoids these risks and gives them an opportunity to hold their child before laying the infant to rest? Unfortunately that option has been taken from them. This ban will not reduce elective abortions. It will only make an impossibly difficult situation more painful and risky for the families faced with learning late in pregnancy that their unborn child will not survive.

Anonymous said...

35plus -- Well, you won't be terminating any births with partial birth abortion now, will you?

Or do your lofty ethics allow you to not follow federal law?

Fen said...

You have not engaged my premise - that the abortion industry is greed filled and motivated.

Its a fair point Rev - the largest unregulated industry in the US: perhaps there's some corruption and greed driving it?

Gahrie said...

For those of you who support partial birth abortion:

Do you support infanticide of newborns?

If not, why not?

Roger J. said...

Gahrie: a couple of centimeters--amazing what a difference that makes, huh? (sarcasm off)

Outliers said...

Easy answer--supporting the availability of D&X does not mean supporting infanticide: A born child does not pose the same risk to a mother's health or life as an unborn child. There is no conflict that requires privileging one life over another.

When a confluence of factors creates a situation in which a woman's current or future health is at risk if she attempts delivery of a baby with a non-survivable condition, a conflict arises. In such a case, a ban on late term abortions in all cases except those that pose an immediate risk (rather than deferred risk as is the case with a health exception) to the woman's life effectively says a born adult woman has less right to life than an unborn child who will not live for any significant period of time after birth.

Why do those of you who support the ban refuse to acknowledge that you have increased the risk of death or loss of the ability to reproduce for a small, but meaningful subset of women? Why does this have to be an all or none proposition? Just because their numbers are small does not mean they do not have a right to avoid dangerous risks to preserve their ability to bear children safely in the future. Banning this procedure for this subset of women, which the law does, will do more to destroy families (by killing mothers or rendering them unable to reproduce) than tolerating the availability of the procedure for those rare instances when it is the best options among many terrible options.

Bruce Hayden said...

Medicine is an honorable profession, and there are a lot of very ethical doctors out there. I know a number of them.

But I am also reminded that when I was an undergraduate, we had a strong honor code, and the only place where it was routinely challenged was in the pre-med departments (there, biology and chemistry).

There are ob/gyns whom I know, who I would entrust implicitly with this sort of decision - if they said this was the best way to go, then fine.

But I am also reminded of other ob/gyns who will provide ultrasounds on a weekly basis to their customers, as long as they are willing to pay for them to see their "babies" (and, yes, that is what the mothers call them). And, yes, I know the doctors and heard it directly from the mothers.

And, lest you think that all ob/gyns are godlike in their devotion and ethics, what about all of them who did a C-section or induced to make a golf game? And, yes, it is still happening - I know of one mother who was induced recently for the mutual convenience of the doctor and the mother.

My point is that there are good ethical doctors out there, there are incompetent ones, and there are doctors who let their greed affect their judgment. That one doctor states that this is a medically necessary procedure in a certain case or cases does not convince me either that he is right, or that he is god.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am still struck by the parallels between this and the medical marijuana case. In both, Congressional fact finding was used as the rational basis supporting the legislation. And in both, the Congressional findings of fact were questionable as to their accuracy.

But, at least in the past, that is not really that relevant. The law is replete with cases where legislatures have been found to be wrong on their facts, yet the laws survive. The question is not whether the law is rational, but was the law making rational - which really means not clearly irrational.

In reality, if J. Ginsberg were not so closely tied by doctrine to the her pro-abortion position, I think that she would realize that allowing courts to second guess legislatures as to the facts used for making the legislation would open up a significant amount of litigation that would likely gut any number of other laws that she does support.

Remember, what we are really talking about is the standard of review for statutes that don't affect a special class or impact a fundamental right. And that is most laws. The standard right now is quite low (rational basis analysis). And second guessing Congressional fact finding would result in raising this bar, possibly by quite a bit. And note that this is the standard of review for the vast, vast, majority of statutes on the books across this country.

Outliers said...


I fundamentally disagree. While rational basis analysis applies only to whether the law is constitutional with respect to doctors; a higher level of scrutiny applies with respect to the burden on women's reproductive rights. The Supreme Court's decision upholds the ban only with respect to a facial challenge. The ban does not make it unlawful for a woman to seek a D&X, it is only unlawful for a US based doctor to provide one.

I doubt a law that criminalized such behavior for women would survive a constitutional challenge. A woman does not violate the law if she goes to Mexico or Canada for the procedure. Further, the court clearly acknowledges that the law may be unconstitutional as applied to specific women (such as the circumstances I have described above).

Unfortunately with the ban in place, how many doctors will be willing to risk criminal prosecution in those cases where the law is unconstitutional as applied to a specific woman? Women who would be entitled to the procedure will be effectively denied the procedure. Requiring that the law contain an appropriate health exception would have avoided that chilling effect.

The reasoning of the court can just as easily be applied to delivery choices. In the interest of fetal survival, Congress might pass a law requiring doctors to deliver any woman who is 42 weeks past her estimated due date on grounds that stillbirths increase in post-dates pregnancy. Although there is evidence on both sides of this issue today (and due dates are notoriously wrong), the court would allow Congress to conclude that in the face of medical uncertainty it could make it unlawful for doctors to allow a pregnancy to continue until labor spontaneously starts after a certain date. Doctors would have an economic incentive to see such a law in place because it would increase opportunties to force women to accept inductions and cesareans, both of which have a higher economic return for doctors than natural delivery. Woman would be left with the choices of a highly medicalized delivery, with the enhanced risks that brings, trying to find a doctor willing to risk criminal prosecution because he believes the law is invalid as applied to that woman (good luck with that), or attempting to deliver alone at home.

All that said, I think it is highly questionable whether the Congressional ban survives a Commerce Clause challenge unless the four dissenters simply can't bear to side with Thomas on that issue.

Fitz said...

With all the handwringing over Gonzales v. Carhart It is important to note that the United States has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world. This is the case even when compared to abortion laws in western Europe. This is demonstrated when one contrasts the differences between the American solution and the European style solution. The American version resulted from the Supreme Court deciding the issue while the European solutions were formed by their legislatures.

America > No regulation of abortion permitted for the interest of preserving the life of the fetus until viability at 18- 24 weeks (i.e. 6 months)

Europe > All of the western countries reviewed allowed regulation in the interest of the fetus beginning around 10-12 weeks. Sweden latest at 18 weeks

America >No waiting period permitted, even 24 hours is interference with women's freedom of choice.

Europe >Brief waiting period before request for for abortion and the procedure.

America >No alternatives to abortion will be given to women as part of abortion process.

Europe > Women will be informed about alternatives to abortion, including #1. adoption. #2. maternal assistance provided if the women chooses to bear the child.

Europe > Does not have a large private, profit- making abortion industry Abortion procedures are carefully regulated. One of the regulations is a limit to the percent of abortion procedures at any given site.

America > The courts speak about a "constitutional right" to abortion. The U.S. is the only country that states its a "right" to have an abortion. The values advocated are #1. individual privacy. #2. woman's sovereignty over her body

Europe > Statutes start by stating an affirmation of sanctity of human life, but state an abortion is freely available in "distress" (France), or "hardship" (German) in early pregnancy. The values advocated are #1. respect for human life #2. compassion for women in vulnerable circumstances

Anonymous said...

35plusmom: Thanks for the detailed discussion of whether this procedure is ever medically required. For me, that's an important consideration.

Revenant said...

Its a fair point Rev - the largest unregulated industry in the US: perhaps there's some corruption and greed driving it?

I'm not a Democrat. I don't equate "unregulated industry" with "industry driven by greed and corruption". Nor do I call it "greed" to charge market price in a free country, or assume that every American who works for a living only supports their industry because they're drawing a paycheck from it. We don't expect that priests would become atheists if churches quit paying them a salary, do we?

Now, are there greedy and corrupt people in the abortion industry? I would certainly assume so, as there are greedy and corrupt people in every human organization. But nobody has offered any actual evidence that the abortion industry is any more greed-driven or corrupt than, say, anti-abortion groups like the Catholic Church or the Republican Party. Indeed, given how much evidence we've seen recently of rampant greed and corruption within the latter two organizations it would be fair to say that nobody has even offered evidence that abortionists are AS corrupt as Catholics and Republicans.

So, Fen, I have to respectively disagree with your claim that Crystal "B" Magnum has made a fair point here.

Unknown said...

Do you ever wonder why the mother’s health is always talked about? I do. If it was really about the health of the mother, then the abortion chambers would welcome inspections and sanitation checks. If it was really about the health of the mother, then an abortion would involve several steps: the abortionist would counsel the mother in the procedure, insert a laminaria wedge into the cervix to reduce injury, allow 24-48 hours for the laminaria to work, perform the abortion, and require a follow up check in 24-48 hours. If it was really about health, then the abortionist would be required to give information to the mother that the risk of breast cancer, incompetant cervix, suicide and emotional trauma, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage increases two to ten times as much as women who have not had abortions. If it was really about health, then women would be encouraged to talk to their parents and support system before going ahead with an abortion.
Abortion has never been about health. It has always been about exploiting women for sexual pleasures and exploiting their condition. It has always been about killing a living being whose life inconveniences another person. All humans are precious in God’s sight. If this ban on partial-birth abortion leads to bans on other abortions, then it will be a glorious day in heaven and earth.
The next time someone tells you we need abortion for the health of the mother, think again.

Anonymous said...

As a mother who had a c-section, and one who still considers herself pro-choice (albeit with more reservations than I did before I saw my baby boy's heartbeat at six weeks gestation...the most beautiful sight I've ever seen), let me bring up some points in addition to 35plusmom's comments.

I live in an area where VBAC's aren't even an option (vaginal birth after cesarian, for those of you who don't know what it means.) Does this decision affect my chances of avoiding a repeat c-section? Hardly. The general consensus of doctors in my area refusing to consider that option, and my insurance coverage that won't allow me to travel to an area to deliver that might allow that option are the deciding factors. So is my potential refusal to bear any more children so I could avoid a repeat c-section. None of this is impacted in any way, shape or form by this decision.

As for traveling to Mexico to get an abortion, think again. Wealthy Mexicans travel here to get them. I certainly wouldn't risk my health, especially my reproductive health, by going there to get this done.

It still confuses me why what is basically an induced breech birth that ends in a predetermined intentional death of a child should be allowed, especially when we spend thousands upon thousands of dollars keeping alive other children who are born prematurely with defects equally as severe in a NICU. Apparently it boils down to a mother's whim if the child lives. To me, that's unacceptable and illogical.

As a previous poster has mentioned, we do have relatively liberal abortion laws on the books. You can legally get it done virtually any time up to the actual delivery. Up until this decision, you could actually partially deliver a child and still be allowed to kill it, as long as part of it was still inside you.

I don't care what side of the abortion divide you sit on, that's pretty damn abhorrent.

This will not cause a huge rise in c-sections. This will not prevent a rise in maternal deaths or preserve women's fertility. This simply states the obvious: You had more than enough time to make this decision. Now it's the baby's turn for a chance.

If you are looking for a way to make 100% certain that a woman would come through a birth alive, or that her fertility would not be affected, while still allowing her to have a child, good luck. That has never ever happened in all of history. It's not going to happen now, because doctors simply are not that omnipotent.

There are far worse things than a repeat c-section. Partial birth abortion is one of them.

Outliers said...

There seems to be a lack of information among a number of posters on this list about when IDEs are actually used (preeclampsia is a common situation).

Terminating a pregnancy (either through birth or abortion) is the only option when preeclampsia develops if the woman wants to live. Preeclampsia is the leading killer of pregnant women.

For a very compelling example of why use of D&E or IDE is not a "whim" decision, please read Cecily's blog at http://zia.blogs.com/ (read the archives on how she lost her twins). And visit http://www.preeclampsia.org for information about preeclampsia.

I developed preeclampsia in my first pregnancy. It came on very rapidly, I went from healthy to very sick in less than 24 hours. The only treatment for it is delivery. Induction is particularly dangerous because blood pressure soars to dangerous levels during contractions. I did not have "more than enough time to make a decision." This is the typical experience.

Luckily I was 37 weeks along when it happened and my son lived. If I had been like Cecily at 22 weeks, for me to live, my son would have to have died (he would not have been viable).

In that case, having IDE available would allow me to mourn my child's passing best while preserving my ability to have a future child. C-sections, hysteromies (a c-section like procedure for non-viable fetuses), and D&E (the now legal alternatives) all pose dramatically greater to future fertility and current health because they involve substantial (and in the case of D&E repeat) invasions of the uterus with sharp objects, which can damage and scar the uterus. As I noted in previous postings, uterine scarring increases the risk of uterine rupture. And uterine rupture can and does occur well before labor begins so scheduling a c-section is not a ward against uterine rupture. Scarring also increases the risk of placenta accretia, placenta previa, and placental abruption--all of which can be fatal to baby and mother.

IDE is use for about .17% of abortions and rarely for women seeking to abort on a whim. To claim otherwise is to simply not have bothered to learn when it really is used.

There were ways to limit availability of IDE to women who needed them without increasing health risks to women. Neither Congress nor the Supreme Court showed any interest however in a woman's right to choose a procedure that saves her life and best preserves her fertility and future health.

And to Kory claiming that IDE is "far worse" than a "repeat c-section" is imposing your medical experience on others who are not similarly situated. A lot of women have no problems with c-sections. Others, like me, develop dangerous complications from abdominal surgery, and a repeat c-section is not only ill-advised--in fact it specifically advised against. For a women with my medical history, a hysteromy (the pre-viability c-section equivalent) would be "far worse" than IDE. The bulk of IDEs are not about aborting on a whim, they are about whether one (the baby) or two (the baby and mother) die when a pregnancy goes wrong.