Stop the Tyrants Part II

Integrity Down the Drain

§F   Yet Another Falsehood: Partial-Birth Abortion is Safe!

In their rulings, the majority's members claimed that there was evidence that the partial-birth abortion method might be -- at least in some unspecified instances - safer than other methods of second -- and third-trimester abortion. They based this claim on the testimony of Dr. Carhart and his supporters. But Dr. Carhart is not a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics; he has no admitting privileges in any hospital. And none of the doctors he called to testify on his behalf has ever performed a partial-birth abortion!

This safety assertion is just plain absurd. The partial-birth abortion procedure requires such a large dilation of the woman's cervix that the dilation takes two or three days! This great degree of cervical dilation increases the risk of a miscarriage in a later pregnancy; the length of time required presents a good possibility of infection. And the procedure involves one substantial and unavoidable risk: the abortionist must blindly use a pair of scissors to cut open the baby's skull. That is hardly the safest way to perform surgery! The American Medical Association has concluded that partial-birth abortion is "not medically indicated" and "not good medicine." Nancy G. Romer, M.D. told Congress that the partial-birth procedure "does not meet medical standards set by [the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists], nor has it been adequately proven to be safe." Even proponents of the partial-birth or "breech-extraction D&X" procedure admit that it has "disadvantages" versus other procedures.

In his dissent, Justice Thomas makes it quite clear that the majority is attempting to lie itself out of trouble once again:
There was evidence before the Nebraska Legislature that partial birth abortion increases health risks relative to other procedures. During floor debates, a proponent of the Nebraska legislation read from and cited several articles by physicians concluding that partial birth abortion procedure are risky. One doctor testifying before a committee of the Nebraska Legislature states that partial birth abortion involves three "very risky procedures": dilation of the cervix, using instruments blindly, and conversion of the fetus. (Testimony of Paul Hays, M.D.) [Thomas dissent: Page 39]
The majority justifies its result by asserting that a "significant body of medical opinion" supports the view that partial birth abortion may be a safer abortion procedure. I find this assertion puzzling. If there is a "significant body of medical opinion" supporting this procedure, no one in the majority has identified it. In fact, it is uncontested that although this procedure has been used since at least 1992, no formal studies have compared partial birth abortion with other procedures. [Thomas dissent: Page 40, emphasis added]

The judges in the Stenberg majority are using the dubious testimony of Leroy Stenberg and his allies to hide their own pro-abortion bias. To do so, they mislead the public by calling this testimony a "significant body of medical opinion." On the contrary, this testimony was accurately labeled by Justice Kennedy as "court room conversions of uncertain reliability." Of course, even if the evidence of partial- birth abortion's safety was credible (it isn't), that would not give the Court the authority to interfere. Such conflicts are properly left to the legislature. Justice Kennedy makes this plain:

In light of divided medical opinion on the propriety of the partial-birth abortion technique (both in terms of safety and ethical practice) and the vital interests asserted by Nebraska in its law, one is left to ask what the first Justice Harlan asked: "Upon what sound principles as to the relations existing between the different departments of government can the court review this action of the legislature?" The answer is none. [Kennedy dissent: Pages 17 - 18]

See the Chapter 3 Table of Contents.

The Stop the Tyrants Project [page 16]: Chapter 3 (Section F)
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