An original research paper on the legal and moral aspects of Partial Birth Abortion in America.
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Partial Birth Abortion:
Partial Birth Abortion
1/5 Abortion, 4/5 Infanticide
Let's suppose for just one minute that you are a pregnant mother. The baby that is growing inside of you is almost five months along. You fully consented in the act of making this almost developed baby, yet you decide, for whatever reason, that you do not want to bring a child into this world. So what do you do? Keep the baby, give it up for adoption, or murder it by means of a partial-birth-abortion?
A woman's decision of whether or not to have an abortion, a medical termination of pregnancy, is a very personal and private matter. But in society today, it is a very political issue as well, because of recent laws and issues regarding its legality. Abortion issues and legislation have challenged society for decades now because of the difference of opinion regarding individual rights. Some people believe that the woman carrying the child deserves the ultimate decision, while others argue that a fetus is a life that cannot be taken. There wasn't serious opposition to the belief that the unborn were children until the mid-twentieth century when horrifying practices, such as partial-birth-abortion, became popular (Hadley 61). The partial-birth-abortion procedure is generally used beginning at 20 weeks (4 1/2 months) into pregnancy, and routinely to at least 24 weeks (5 1/2 months). Although it is not used before 20 weeks because of more simple practices, it has often been used much later than this, even far into the ninth month. The procedure requires a physician to extract a fetus, feet first, from the womb and through the birth canal until all but its head is exposed. The tips of surgical scissors are then stuck into the base of the fetus' skull, and a suction device is placed through the opening and the brain is removed, which causes its head to collapse and delivery can be completed (Johnson).
Many laws have been developed to prevent this murder, such as The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (HR 1833). The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (HR 1833) would prohibit partial-birth abortion, except in extremely rare cases where it is necessary to save the life of the mother. HR 1833 explicitly provides that the bill "shall not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother who is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury," if "no other medical procedure would suffice for that purpose" (Johnson).
who violate this law would be subject to both criminal and civil penalties. Partial-birth-abortion is murder. The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (HR 1833) should be passed making partial birth abortions illegal by law.
Partial birth abortions are a huge problem in society today. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, an arm of Planned Parenthood, there are at least 164,000 abortions a year that are performed after the first three months of pregnancy, and 13,000 abortions annually after 4 1/2 months. However, these numbers cannot be regarded as entirely accurate, since they are based on voluntary reporting to the AGI. No one really knows how many late abortions are done by the partial birth procedure. The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy told The New York Times, "The number of procedures that clearly meet the definition of partial-birth-abortion is very small, probably only 500 to 1,000 a year" (qtd. in Johnson). Numbers in which, from the National Right to Live Council denies having any accuracy at all. "Even if such figures were accurate, legislation would be urgently needed. If a new virus swept through natal units and killed 500 or 1,000 premature babies, it would be a top news story -- not dismissed as too "rare" to be of consequence," commented Donald Johnson, the Federal Legislative Director from the National Right to Live Council (Johnson). Soon after these numbers were published, Ron Fitzsimmons, the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers testified in government hearings that only around 450 partial birth abortoins were performed in the United States every year. Yet later, on the program Nightline, he admitted that he had "lied through his teeth" (qtd. in Robinson). He now estimates that four to five thousand is more accurate. That is an average of 10 babies per day being murdered through partial-birth-abortion (Robinson).
It all comes down to a matter of legality and human rights. Many argue that partial birth abortions are protected by the case of Roe verses Wade. Twenty-six years ago the Supreme Court ruled that all women should be allowed to choose whether or not to have abortions, regardless of their individual reasoning. Since then, individual states have enacted laws similar to The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act to prevent partial birth abortions. However, the United States Supreme Court has recently challenged these individual state laws. Of the twenty-eight states that have enacted partial birth banning laws; nineteen have been challenged; and seventeen were then struck down leaving partial birth abortoins legal (Wagner). The first state to prohibit the procedure was Ohio in the summer of 1995. Ohio's law was also the first to be challenged, and then thrown out because it violated the constitutional right to abortions protected by the Roe vs. Wade decision. However, the Supreme Court has never said that it was a constitutional right to kill a baby that is partially born. In Roe, the Supreme Court said, "the word 'person,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn." But a partial-birth abortion does not involve an "unborn fetus." By definition, it kills a child who is partially born; a child that is now a person and is given inalienable rights that are protected by the constitution (Wagner). The Supreme Court could decide that the murdering of a partially born baby is not protected by Roe v. Wade. Many individual state bans were not allowed to take effect, as was the case in the states of Arkansas, Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Arizona, Illinois, Virginia, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, Iowa, and West Virginia. In at least seven other states, the bans have taken effect without legal challenge: Indiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Utah. Portions of the Alabama and Georgia laws have taken effect, yet Virginia and Wisconsin are now the only two states to have had their laws challenged but still take effect (Wagner).
Many issues concerning the fetus have also risen since these state bans have been challenged. Partial birth abortions do in fact harm the baby being aborted. According to Dr. Jean A. Wright, associate professor of pediatrics and anesthesia at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, recent research shows that the stage of development that a fetus could be a "candidate" for a partial-birth abortion (at least 20 weeks) causes the fetus to be more sensitive to pain than a full-term infant who had been through the same procedures (Johnson). Professor Robert White, Director of the Division of Neurosurgery and Brain Research Laboratory at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, agrees. "The fetus within this time frame, 20 weeks and beyond, is fully capable of experiencing pain, " White stated (qtd. in Johnson). After analyzing the partial-birth procedure step-by-step for the subcommittee, Prof. White concluded: "...if it were done on an animal in my institution, would not make it through the institutional review process. The animal would be more protected than this child is" (qtd. in Johnson). Why would society allow doctors to murder children?
Partial birth abortoin is not protected by Roe verses Wade. It consists of a partially born infant who deserves the constitutional rights of any other human being who is murdered and who definitely feels pain. The Ban allows for those extremely rare cases in which the procedure is needed to save the life of the mother. Why hasn't the Partial Birth Abortion Act Ban (HP 1833) been passed and enforced? It has been passed actually, twice in fact, yet is continually vetoed by President Clinton because Clinton said "it would represent an erosion of a woman's right to choose" (qtd. in Wagner). The Senate's vote occurred a week after the second veto, falling just 9 votes short (58 to 40) of the 67 required to override the President Clinton 's veto of the bill (Wagner). A national poll taken during the time of the veto found that 71% of the nation support the partial-birth-abortion ban. Of the five medical doctors who served in Congress, four voted for the bill, including the only family practitioner/gynecologist (Johnson).
Partial-birth abortion has nothing to do with the health of a mother. Barbara Lyons, a pro-life activist, agrees that the mother's health has become the central issue in many partial birth abortoin cases, but she argues that, "Partial birth abortion is never needed for health reasons" (qtd. in Wagner). The pro-abortion industry has always been against any legislation that would restrict any type of abortions. Yet, now they are trying to defend a procedure that is infanticide. Congress has the legal right to restrict this type of abortions, even under the Roe V. Wade decision. Most of the nation as well as major medical associations are against partial birth abortoins. So why do we continue to allow partial birth abortions to be done? Partial birth abortoin is murder and should be punishable as murder under the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (HR 1833).
Hadley, Janet. Abortion: Between Freedom and Necessity. Philadelphia" Temple University Press, 1996.
Johnson, Douglas. "Partial-Birth Abortions: A Closer Look." September 11, 1996. National Right to Live Council. December 4, 1999.
Robinson, B.A. "Partial Birth Abortions: All Sides to the Issue." Novemeber 25, 1999. December 4, 1999. .
Wagner, Teresa R. "The Partial Birth Abortoin War." The World & I. Sept. 99. Family Research Council. December 1, 1999. .
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