My Turn: Abortion battle continues on anniversary of legalization

Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2004

Thirty-one years ago the Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalized abortion. The court decided women had the right to destroy their unborn children up until the moment of birth. An entire generation, over 40 million, has died as a result of that decision. In 1973 the court stated that they could not determine when life began and so could not tell if the one being killed was a person. The court is still having trouble recognizing a baby even when the infant's body is extended out from the mother's womb, except for his head.

In 2003 Congress passed and the president signed a ban on partial-birth abortion. In June, 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Nebraska state partial-birth abortion ban as unconstitutional on two grounds: It did not clearly distinguish between partial-birth abortion and another late-term method called dilation and evacuation (D&E) and it did not include an exception for the health of the mother. The court's action against Nebraska effectively nullified 27 other state bans, including Alaska's.

President George W. Bush stated, "The best case against partial-birth abortion is a simple description of what happens and to whom it happens." The president's signing of this bill marked a milestone in the long battle to stop partial-birth abortion in America. However, it was not the end of the fight. The Bush administration is already defending the bill against three lawsuits in three different courts. Hence, the battle still rages.

The procedure outlawed is a particular method whereby the unborn baby (24 weeks or older) is delivered feet first except for the head. The abortionist uses scissors to puncture the skull and then with a suction catheter he evacuates the skull contents followed by delivery of the dead infant. This form of legalized murder shocked Americans and set into motion an effort to outlaw this abortion/infanticide procedure more than 10 years ago.

The Supreme Court's concern that partial-birth abortion could be confused with D&E brings up an interesting point. These methods do have some things in common. Is dilation and evacuation (D&E) less violent? No. In fact, the details of all late-term abortion methods are heart-wrenching and base.

Dilation and evacuation is the most commonly used late-term abortion procedure. It involves the dismemberment of the unborn infant with his or her removal from the womb piece by piece. During a D&E, an arm or leg is sometimes pulled into the birth canal before being twisted off, while the baby is still alive in the womb. So the Supreme Court justices in a five to four decision thought this might be considered a "partial-birth abortion" under the Nebraska definition. The bill signed by President Bush avoids any possibility of confusion by more clearly defining a partial-birth abortion.

The Supreme Court's second objection to the Nebraska ban was that it did not contain a "health exception" for the mother. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D. stated that "partial-birth abortions are not needed to save the life of the mother and the procedure's impact on a woman's cervix can put future pregnancies at risk." The American Medical Association stated, "Our panel could not find any identified circumstance in which the procedure was the only safe and effective abortion method." Indeed, the danger to a woman's health is from the partial-birth abortion itself! Physicians avoid breech births whenever possible because of the health risk to women. Forcibly dilating the cervix and purposely causing a breech delivery risks creating an "incompetent cervix", the leading cause of premature deliveries.

The question of whether the federal ban is constitutional is sure to eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. President Bush said, "The most basic duty of government is to defend the life of the innocent." We have looked at the method called "partial-birth abortion" and recognized it as brutality performed on a baby. Who could be more innocent than the child in his mother's womb? We see that it is a baby. Congress saw that and the president has acknowledged it. Will the U. S. Supreme Court ever recognize a baby when they see one?

• Debbie Joslin, a Delta Junction resident, is the National Committeewoman for the Alaska chapter of the Republican National Committee and the president of Eagle Forum Alaska.

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