CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Last week, of course, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legislative ban passed by both Houses of Congress banning the practice of DNX abortions, more commonly called Partial Birth Abortion. In the vote, it is useful to remember that the Senate supported the ban by a vote of 64 to 34 and in the House of Representative the ban passed by a vote of 282-139. Both of these votes show strong agreement with the measure.

So, what did the measure say? The precatory language at the outset of the measure speaks volumes:

(1) A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion--an abortion in which a physician deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living, unborn child's body until either the entire baby's head is outside the body of the mother, or any part of the baby's trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother and only the head remains inside the womb, for the purpose of performing an overt act (usually the puncturing of the back of the child's skull and removing the baby's brains) that the person knows will kill the partially delivered infant, performs this act, and then completes delivery of the dead infant--is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited.

(2) Rather than being an abortion procedure that is embraced by the medical community, particularly among physicians who routinely perform other abortion procedures, partial-birth abortion remains a disfavored procedure that is not only unnecessary to preserve the health of the mother, but in fact poses serious risks to the long-term health of women and in some circumstances, their lives. As a result, at least 27 States banned the procedure as did the United States Congress which voted to ban the procedure during the 104th, 105th, and 106th Congresses.

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(13) There exists substantial record evidence upon which Congress has reached its conclusion that a ban on partial-birth abortion is not required to contain a 'health' exception, because the facts indicate that a partial-birth abortion is never necessary to preserve the health of a woman, poses serious risks to a woman's health, and lies outside the standard of medical care. Congress was informed by extensive hearings held during the 104th, 105th, 107th, and 108th Congresses and passed a ban on partial-birth abortion in the 104th, 105th, and 106th Congresses. These findings reflect the very informed judgment of the Congress that a partial-birth abortion is never necessary to preserve the health of a woman, poses serious risks to a woman's health, and lies outside the standard of medical care, and should, therefore, be banned.

(14) Pursuant to the testimony received during extensive legislative hearings during the 104th, 105th, 107th, and 108th Congresses, Congress finds and declares that:

(A) Partial-birth abortion poses serious risks to the health of a woman undergoing the procedure. Those risks include, among other things: An increase in a woman's risk of suffering from cervical incompetence, a result of cervical dilation making it difficult or impossible for a woman to successfully carry a subsequent pregnancy to term; an increased risk of uterine rupture, abruption, amniotic fluid embolus, and trauma to the uterus as a result of converting the child to a footling breech position, a procedure which, according to a leading obstetrics textbook, 'there are very few, if any, indications for * * * other than for delivery of a second twin'; and a risk of lacerations and secondary hemorrhaging due to the doctor blindly forcing a sharp instrument into the base of the unborn child's skull while he or she is lodged in the birth canal, an act which could result in severe bleeding, brings with it the threat of shock, and could ultimately result in maternal death.

(B) There is no credible medical evidence that partial-birth abortions are safe or are safer than other abortion procedures. No controlled studies of partial-birth abortions have been conducted nor have any comparative studies been conducted to demonstrate its safety and efficacy compared to other abortion methods. Furthermore, there have been no articles published in peer-reviewed journals that establish that partial-birth abortions are superior in any way to established abortion procedures. Indeed, unlike other more commonly used abortion procedures, there are currently no medical schools that provide instruction on abortions that include the instruction in partial-birth abortions in their curriculum.

(C) A prominent medical association has concluded that partial-birth abortion is 'not an accepted medical practice', that it has 'never been subject to even a minimal amount of the normal medical practice development,' that 'the relative advantages and disadvantages of the procedure in specific circumstances remain unknown,' and that 'there is no consensus among obstetricians about its use'. The association has further noted that partial-birth abortion is broadly disfavored by both medical experts and the public, is 'ethically wrong,' and 'is never the only appropriate procedure'.

(D) Neither the plaintiff in Stenberg v. Carhart, nor the experts who testified on his behalf, have identified a single circumstance during which a partial-birth abortion was necessary to preserve the health of a woman.

(E) The physician credited with developing the partial-birth abortion procedure has testified that he has never encountered a situation where a partial-birth abortion was medically necessary to achieve the desired outcome and, thus, is never medically necessary to preserve the health of a woman.

(F) A ban on the partial-birth abortion procedure will therefore advance the health interests of pregnant women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

(G) In light of this overwhelming evidence, Congress and the States have a compelling interest in prohibiting partial-birth abortions. In addition to promoting maternal health, such a prohibition will draw a bright line that clearly distinguishes abortion and infanticide, that preserves the integrity of the medical profession, and promotes respect for human life.

(H) Based upon Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), a governmental interest in protecting the life of a child during the delivery process arises by virtue of the fact that during a partial-birth abortion, labor is induced and the birth process has begun. This distinction was recognized in Roe when the Court noted, without comment, that the Texas parturition statute, which prohibited one from killing a child 'in a state of being born and before actual birth,' was not under attack. This interest becomes compelling as the child emerges from the maternal body. A child that is completely born is a full, legal person entitled to constitutional protections afforded a 'person' under the United States Constitution. Partial-birth abortions involve the killing of a child that is in the process, in fact mere inches away from, becoming a 'person'. Thus, the government has a heightened interest in protecting the life of the partially-born child.

(I) This, too, has not gone unnoticed in the medical community, where a prominent medical association has recognized that partial-birth abortions are 'ethically different from other destructive abortion techniques because the fetus, normally twenty weeks or longer in gestation, is killed outside of the womb'. According to this medical association, the 'partial birth' gives the fetus an autonomy which separates it from the right of the woman to choose treatments for her own body'.

(J) Partial-birth abortion also confuses the medical, legal, and ethical duties of physicians to preserve and promote life, as the physician acts directly against the physical life of a child, whom he or she had just delivered, all but the head, out of the womb, in order to end that life. Partial-birth abortion thus appropriates the terminology and techniques used by obstetricians in the delivery of living children--obstetricians who preserve and protect the life of the mother and the child--and instead uses those techniques to end the life of the partially-born child.

(K) Thus, by aborting a child in the manner that purposefully seeks to kill the child after he or she has begun the process of birth, partial-birth abortion undermines the public's perception of the appropriate role of a physician during the delivery process, and perverts a process during which life is brought into the world, in order to destroy a partially-born child.

(L) The gruesome and inhumane nature of the partial-birth abortion procedure and its disturbing similarity to the killing of a newborn infant promotes a complete disregard for infant human life that can only be countered by a prohibition of the procedure.

(M) The vast majority of babies killed during partial-birth abortions are alive until the end of the procedure. It is a medical fact, however, that unborn infants at this stage can feel pain when subjected to painful stimuli and that their perception of this pain is even more intense than that of newborn infants and older children when subjected to the same stimuli. Thus, during a partial-birth abortion procedure, the child will fully experience the pain associated with piercing his or her skull and sucking out his or her brain.

(N) Implicitly approving such a brutal and inhumane procedure by choosing not to prohibit it will further coarsen society to the humanity of not only newborns, but all vulnerable and innocent human life, making it increasingly difficult to protect such life. Thus, Congress has a compelling interest in acting--indeed it must act--to prohibit this inhumane procedure.

(O) For these reasons, Congress finds that partial-birth abortion is never medically indicated to preserve the health of the mother; is in fact unrecognized as a valid abortion procedure by the mainstream medical community; poses additional health risks to the mother; blurs the line between abortion and infanticide in the killing of a partially-born child just inches from birth; and confuses the role of the physician in childbirth and should, therefore, be banned.
The pro-abortion community, led by Planned Parenthood (which has a clear financial stake in the continuing practice of abortion) responded in a . . . well, typical way for them. They continue to pound the table about the fact that decisions such as this should best be left to the discretion of a woman and her doctor. Consider the following from Abortion foes rejoice, abortion rights advocate glum:

Julie Mickelson, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, said it injects politics into decisions that should be for women and their doctors to make, in a state where women seeking abortions already have problems.

Or consider Supreme Court abortion ruling draws local criticism, praise

Eve Gardner of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who argued in front of the justices to allow partial birth abortions, was disappointed by the decision.

"This ruling flies in the face of 30 years of Supreme Court precedent and the best interest of women's health and safety," Gardner said. "This ruling tells women that politicians, not doctors, will make their health care decisions for them"

It is like a broken record that ignores the basis on which the law was passed in the first place. Congress held extensive hearings on this issue and found, almost without exception, that this horrendous procedure is never medically necessary! In such circumstances, it doesn't matter what the doctor says -- the legislative body that is charged with the responsibility under the police power to safeguard the health, safety and morality of the United States -- has determined that this particular procedure is "brutal and inhumane", serves no legitimate medical purpose, and compromises the medical profession. Moreover, at minimum, it broaches the line that separates abortion from infanticide (in my humble opinion, it goes way over the line, but that's another story). Congress has the right, power and responsiblity to act to prevent this procedure -- even if some rogue doctor thinks contrary to the findings that this procedure may be the best suited to his patient.

It seems to me that if the logic of the pro-abortion community were carried to its logical extreme, they would have to support the right of a woman and her doctor to amputate the woman's arms to treat stomach cancer because that is a private medical decision between a woman and her doctor. Hogwash! If the medical treatment recommended by the physician has been found to never be medically necessary and is barbaric, then the Congress has the right to ban it in its entirety.

Really, the pro-abortion community needs to get a new template for arguing on this point because their repeated claims that this is a decision that should be left between the woman and her doctor in light of the proponderance of evidence that the "treatment" is never medically necessary and is both inhumane and brutal appears to be a pathetic half-effort to defend the indefensible.

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