II. A Case for Impeachment and Removal


In the Introduction to Part II

  1. The Abortion Methods at Issue in Stenberg v. Carhart
  2. Nebraska's Ban and the Constitution

§A   The Abortion Methods at Issue in Stenberg v. Carhart

As we shall see while examining the case, one of the issues in Stenberg was the difference between two methods of performing second- and third-trimester abortions: the partial-birth method, which abortionists refer to as "Intact Dilation and Extraction" (the "D&X"), and late term "Dilation and Evacuation" ("D&E"). These abortion procedures are carried out on fully formed human fetuses, and not on microscopic clusters of undifferentiated tissue.

The "D&X" ("Intact Dilation and Extraction") method actually has two forms, depending on the position of the fetus within the uterus at the time of the abortion: the vertex-presentation D&X, and the breech-extraction D&X. (The term "partial-birth abortion" refers only to the breech-extraction form of the D&X.) Justice Thomas described these two forms in his dissent:

There are two variations of [intact dilation and extraction], both of which require the physician to dilate the woman's cervix. The first form variation is used only in vertex presentations, that is, when the fetal head is presented first. To perform a vertex-presentation [D&X], the doctor will insert an instrument into the fetus' skull while the fetus is still in utero and remove the brain and other intracranial contents. When the fetal skull collapses, the physician will remove the fetus.
The second variation of [D&X] is the procedure commonly known as "partial birth abortion." ...After dilating the cervix, the physician will grab the fetus by its feet and pull the fetal body out of the uterus into the vaginal cavity. ...Assuming the physician has performed the dilation procedure correctly, the head will be held inside the uterus by the woman's cervix. While the fetus is stuck in this position, dangling partly out of the woman's body, and just a few inches from a completed birth, the physician uses an instrument such as a pair of scissors to tear or perforate the skull. The physician will then either crush the skull or will use a vacuum to remove the brain and other intracranial contents from the fetal skull, collapse the fetus' head, and pull the fetus from the uterus. [Thomas dissent: Pages 7 - 9]

Nebraska's law banned only the the partial-birth/breech-extraction form of the D&X procedure. The other abortion method at issue in this case, Dilation and Evacuation or D&E, was also fully described by both Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy:

Justice Thomas' description:

The primary form of abortion used at or after 16 weeks' gestation is known as "dilation and evacuation" or "D&E." When performed during that stage of pregnancy, the D&E procedure requires the physician to dilate the woman's cervix and then extract the fetus from her uterus with forceps. ...the physician generally removes the fetus by dismembering the fetus one piece at a time. ...The fetus will die from blood loss, either because the physician has separated the umblilical cord prior to beginning the procedure or because the fetus loses blood as its limbs are removed. When all of the fetus' limbs have been removed and only the head is left in utero, the physician will then collapse the skull and pull it through the cervical canal. At the end of the procedure, the physician is left, [in Dr. Carhart's words], with a "tray full of pieces." [Thomas dissent: Page 7]

Justice Kennedy's description:

The D&E procedure requires the abortionist to use instruments to grasp a portion (such as a foot or hand) of a developed and living fetus and drag the grasped portion out of the uterus into the vagina. Dr. Carhart uses the traction created by the opening between the uterus and vagina to dismember the fetus, tearing the grasped portion away from the remainder of the body. ...The fetus, in many cases dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. ...Dr. Carhart has observed fetal heartbeat via ultrasound with "extensive parts of the fetus removed" and testified that mere dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born "as a living child with one arm." At the conclusion of a D&E abortion no intact fetus remains. [Kennedy dissent: Pages 3 - 4]

See the Table of Contents for the Introduction to part II

The Stop the Tyrants Project [page 11]: Part II (Introduction, Section A)
URL: http://www.stop-the-tyrants.com/intropartII/index.html
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