the President's Desk...
Administration's Stand on
This week in the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, an Ohio ban on a single
late-term abortion procedure referred to in the medical literature as
intact dilation and extraction (D&X) or in the common vernacular
partial-birth abortion was questioned.
The Justice Department filed a “friend of the court” brief, a
nonbinding opinion, in support of Ohio’s ban on this procedure.
Both Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Bush Administration
should be lauded for the pro-life stance against this heinous method
to terminate an unborn child’s life.
Late-term abortions involve leaving only the head inside the
uterus after the rest of the baby’s body has been delivered followed
by the back of the baby’s skull being punctured with scissors and the
child’s brain is removed by suction.
the Supreme Court had earlier ruled in Nebraska (Stenberg v. Carhart)
that this late-term abortion ban commonly called partial-birth abortion
was unconstitutional. There
were two reasons for the 5-4 decision on June 28, 2000:
first, it did not include an exception to protect the health
of the woman, and second, the language defining the procedure was too
broad and could have extended to another method of abortion beyond partial-birth
abortion. Since it did not comply with the 2000 Supreme
Court decision, the Ohio ban was stuck down by the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of Ohio.
However, the Ohio partial-birth abortion ban “satisfies both
these requirements” by limiting the ban only to partial-birth abortions
and providing, “exactly the health exception required by the Supreme
Court” according to arguments in the Justice brief.
lower courts, and the Supreme Court are all wrong when they believe
that an intact D&X is the safest abortion procedure with regards
to protecting the mother’s health.
For an intact D&X that evaluates or attests to its safety,
there exist no credible studies. In medical textbooks the procedure is not recognized;
nor is it taught in medical schools or in obstetrics and gynecology
residencies. In fact, a risk
for potential complications associated with any surgical mid-trimester
termination that include uterine perforation, infection and hemorrhage
is always present for patients who undergo an intact D&X.
patients however are placed at an increased risk of two additional potential
complications by intact D&X. The
first complication is the increased risk of uterine rupture. An
internal podalic version is an integral part of the D&X procedure. The physician instrumentally reaches into the
uterus, grasps the fetus’ feet, and pulls the feet down into the cervix,
thus converting the lie to a footling breech during the procedure. Risk of abruption,
amniotic fluid embolus, rupture and trauma to the uterus is carried
by the internal version. “There
are very few, if any, indications for internal podalic version other
than for delivery of a second twin,” indicates Williams
The risk of iatrogenic
laceration and secondary hemorrhage is the second potential complication
of intact D&X. Scissors
are forced into the base of the fetal skull while it is lodged in the
birth canal following internal version and partial breech extraction. Maternal injury from laceration of the uterus or cervix by the scissors
is risked by this blind procedure and could result in severe bleeding
and the threat of shock or even maternal death. Quantification has not been adequately done for these risks.
Since other procedures
are available to physicians who deem it necessary to perform an abortion
late in pregnancy, none of these risks are medically necessary. Intact D&X is never the only procedure
available. When hydrocephalus
is present, some clinicians have considered intact D&X necessary. A hydrocephalic fetus, however, could be aborted
by first draining through ultra-sound-guided cephalocentesis, the excess
fluid from the fetal skull.
is “potentially dangerous” for women cautions Dr. Warren Hern, former
head of the Center for Disease Control’s Abortion Surveillance Unit
and recognized expert in abortion practice.
Another leading expert
to indicate that the procedure is never medically necessary to protect
a mother’s life or her future fertility has been former Surgeon General
C. Evertt Koop. He has said
that on the contrary this procedure can pose a significant threat to
Tom Coburn (Republican-Oklahoma) is a practicing physician who has delivered
over 3,500 babies. During debate
of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2000 (House of Representatives-April
5, 2000) he indicated that “partial-birth abortion is done only for
the abortionist, not for the woman.
He said, “They would terminate the pregnancy in a very much different
way. They would not put at risk her reproductive future. They would not put her at risk of pulmonary
embolism from amniotic fluid; they would not put at risk the ability
for her cervix to maintain its muscular strength by dilating it against
in this country is not being done for the health of the women. It is being done for the convenience of the
abortion. That is number one. Number two, it is not being done because children
have lethal defects. It is being
done so that late-term abortions can be accomplished. That is why it is being done. Number three, this procedure puts the health
of a women at much greater risk than any of three other procedures that
could be used to terminate her pregnancy.”
Later in the floor
debate Representative Coburn indicated that the vast majority, upwards
of 90 percent of all partial-birth abortions are on absolutely normal,
not abnormal, babies. He said,
“To couch partial-birth abortion on the basis of one or two percent
of those issues, and that is what you are really talking about, one
or two percent, not the vast majority, to justify it as a means to terminate
the life of a well, healthy child is unconscionable.”
Additionally the congressman
said that in this nation, death is defined as the absence of a heartbeat
and the absence of brain waves. He
said, “All 50 states, every territory, upheld by the Supreme Court." The representative added, “If that is death,
let me tell my colleagues what the opposite is: present heartbeat, present
brain waves. That is life. I say to my colleagues, at 41 days past the
last menstrual period every fetus has a heartbeat and brain waves.”
The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade had asked when life begins but decided it could not answer
what it called “that difficult question.” A human heartbeat is detectable 24 days after conception, and brain
waves are detectable within 41 days.
Thus, from this standpoint a baby in the womb deserves Fourteenth
Amendment protection. Furthermore,
Constitutional protection is
afforded the unborn child because in the Preamble of the Constitution
it indicates that this document is to secure the Blessings of Liberty
to ourselves and our Posterity which means succeeding or future generations.
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