The Senate has passed it. The House will, too. It’s a matter of time before the President signs it into law.
Interesting, isn’t it, that there actually is no medical procedure called “Partial Birth Abortion” – so when legislation banning such a thing is out there, it tends to be worded very vaguely, and leaves lots of room for interpretation, which when we’re talking about criminal law, is not a good thing. So, I have an issue with most of the legislation that has been written about this – including and especially the piece in the House right now. It uses the term “late term abortion, and again, that’s very vague.
Legislation-wise, I do not like the idea of a law that basically says, “abortion procedures (up for interpretation by the court) performed in the late term (up for interpretation by a court) are unlawful and anyone performing them shall be prosecuted.” There’s a lot of room there for any abortion provider to be prosecuted for doing just about anything. Scary.
Ok, the “procedure” itself. I’m sure you’ve heard details – fetal heads being crushed, brains sucked out. Yes, this is a legitimate abortion procedure; yes I agree it’s gruesome. It’s called dilation and extraction. Though pro-life groups have dubbed it both “Partial Birth Abortion/PBA” and “D&X” – neither are actual medical terms. (I’ll call it D&X for purposes of quicker typing.) Personally, D&X seems extreme, grisly, and creepy to me. However, I am comforted knowing a few facts that aren’t generally publicized – that the procedure represents approximately 0.2% of the abortion procedures performed in this country annually, that, at least anecdotally, it seems to be used in cases of emergency such as the mother’s health, very young girls, etc., and that in the Chicago area, I cannot find one abortion provider who performs abortion past 24 weeks (second trimester), and none who uses D&X. What this says to me is that this is a procedure that’s is fairly rare, even in such a big area as this. It seems to be used in cases where 1) fetus has died 2) the fetus will die shortly after birth or when 3) the pregnancy endangers the mother. It is NOT generally an option in your average abortion clinic. I know. I work for one.
Anyway, all that said, here’s my low-down. Yes, D&X is really ugly. No, I don’t like the idea of it. But, it seems to me a sometimes-necessary procedure in extreme cases. Banning it, and especially attempting to ban it with vaguely worded legislation, seems to me nothing more than a political move. Such a law sets a precedent and an anti-abortion tone in the Government. It also opens the door to prosecution and restriction of abortion providers who are performing constitutionally protected medical services with its very vague definitions. The law will not ban dilation & extraction – it bans a set of phrases: “an overt act designed to kill a partially delivered fetus…” and ” abortion if any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother.” These phrases are open to interpretation, and this potential law opens the doors to broader restriction of abortion. For both pro-life and pro-choice forces, this legislation is about the systematic chipping away of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
No matter how grisly, banning a procedure that accounts of 0.2% of all abortion, used in extreme cases, is not worth losing my rights to choose the best time and manner to have a family with my husband. It is not worth forcing a twelve year-old rape victim to carry a pregnancy to term. It is not worth losing my personhood in favor of a fetus’ personhood.
I love babies; I love children; I love life. And I love the right to live it according to my own choices.