partial birth abortion - page 2

THE OUTCOME of what is almost certain to be a legal battle fought all the way to Supreme Court will hinge on whether the justices accept the findings of Congress that the procedure is never medically... Read More

  1. by   emily_mom
    Originally posted by mark_LD_RN
    yes it is a horrible procedure and to me there is never an excuse for it. at that late in the pregnancy one should go on and deliver it, and if in the rare instance that mothers life is in danger, induce or deliver it early and hope for best
    Agree 110%. This whole issue disgusts me.
  2. by   Texagain
    I just wanted to say that if you have a hydrocephalic anencaphalic fetus whose head is too large to deliver (and some of you may know that the heads can grow to astounding proportions), then this proceedure would be appropriate for delivery. Why have a hysterotomy when you can have a vag?

    Incidently, I do not believe the propaganda about the frequency of the proceedure, nor is the name of the proceedure a medical term, so I doubt that also. The only time I have ever heard of a proceedure remotely close to this involved a severly macerated fetus whose head separated, did not deliver, and had to be removed. Most people cannot imagine the many and horrible ways pregnancies can and do go wrong.

    Personally, I don't like congress deciding how or what my doctor should do to me. Perhaps if any of them were doctors... I think the whole issue is hype and won't change the way doctors treat patients. On OB-GYN-L, many of the docs have offered to be test cases for best practice. These kinds of situations and decisions should remain where they have been, a private situation between a patient and her doc.
  3. by   Katnip
    Yep, it happens. One of our students was just asked to participate in one. She refused. The mother had decided she was just too depressed to take care of a baby.

    Heard of another case a while ago, the mother was 8 months pregnant, had recently been diagnosed with MS, and decided to terminate on the grounds it would injure her health.

    Seems to me we've gotten far too barbaric here.
  4. by   Spidey's mom
    Partial-Birth Abortions: A Closer Look
    What is a partial-birth abortion, and what is the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act?
    This 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). It has often been used much later-- even into the ninth month. The Los Angeles Times accurately and succinctly described this abortion method in a June 16, 1995 news story:

    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. Then the tips of surgical scissors are thrust into the base of the fetus' skull, and a suction catheter is inserted through the opening and the brain is removed.

    In 1992, Dr. Martin Haskell of Dayton, Ohio, wrote a paper that described in detail, step-by-step, how to perform the procedure. ["Dilation and Extraction for Late Second Trimester Abortion."] Dr. Haskell is a family practitioner who has performed over 1,000 such procedures in his walk-in abortion clinics. Anyone who is seriously seeking the truth behind the conflicting claims regarding partial-birth abortions would do well to start by reading Dr. Haskell's paper, and the transcripts of the explanatory interviews that Dr. Haskell gave in 1993 to two medical publications, American Medical News (the official AMA newspaper) and Cincinnati Medicine.

    Aren't "third trimester" abortions rare? At what stage in pregnancy do partial-birth abortions occur? Are these babies "viable"?
    It appears that the substantial majority of partial-birth abortions are performed late in the second trimester -- that is, before the 27-week mark -- but usually after 20 weeks (4 1/2 months). There is compelling evidence that the overwhelming majority of these pre-week-27 partial-birth abortions are performed for purely "social" reasons.

    At least one partial-birth abortion specialist, the late Dr. James McMahon, regularly performed the procedure even after 26 weeks-- even into the ninth month. In 1995, Dr. McMahon submitted to the House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee a graph and explanation that explicitly showed that he aborted healthy ("not flawed") babies even in the third trimester (after 26 weeks of pregnancy). Dr. McMahon's own graph showed, for example, that at 29 or 30 weeks, one-fourth of the aborted babies had no "flaw" whatsoever.

    Does the bill contain an exception for life-of-the-mother cases?
    The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act contains a life of the mother exception.

    For what reasons are late-term abortions usually performed?
    There is no evidence that the reasons for which late-term abortions are performed by the partial-birth abortion method are any different, in general, than the reasons for which late-term abortions are performed by other methods -- and it is well established that the great majority of late-term abortions do not involve any illness of the mother or the baby. They are purely "elective" procedures-- that is, they are performed for purely "social" reasons.

    In 1987, the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), an affiliate of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), collected questionnaires from 1,900 women who were at abortion clinics procuring abortions. Of the 1,900, "420 had been pregnant for 16 or more weeks." These 420 women were asked to choose among a menu of reasons why they had not obtained the abortions earlier in their pregnancies. Only two percent (2%) said "a fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy," compared to 71% who responded "did not recognize that she was pregnant or misjudged gestation," 48% who said "found it hard to make arrangements," and 33% who said "was afraid to tell her partner or parents." The report did not indicate that any of the 420 late abortions were performed because of maternal health problems. ["Why Do Women Have Abortions?," Family Planning Perspectives, July/August 1988.]

    In 1993, the American Medical News-- the official newspaper of the AMA-- conducted a tape-recorded interview with Dr. Martin Haskell, who has performed over 1,000 partial-birth abortions, concerning this specific abortion method, in which he said:

    "And I'll be quite frank: most of my abortions are elective in that 20-24 week range. . . . In my particular case, probably 20% [of this procedure] are for genetic reasons. And the other 80% are purely elective."

    In a lawsuit in 1995, Dr. Haskell testified that women come to him for partial-birth abortions with "a variety of conditions. Some medical, some not so medical." Among the "medical" examples he cited was "agoraphobia" (fear of open places). Moreover, in testimony presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 17, 1995, ob/gyn Dr. Nancy Romer of Dayton (the city in which Dr. Haskell operates one of his abortion clinics) testified that three of her own patients had gone to Haskell's clinic for abortions "well beyond" 4 1/2 months into pregnancy, and that "none of these women had any medical illness, and all three had normal fetuses."
    Brenda Pratt Shafer, a registered nurse who observed Dr. Haskell use the procedure to abort three babies in 1993, testified that one little boy had Down Syndrome, while the other two babies were completely normal and their mothers were healthy.

    In June, 1995, Dr. McMahon submitted to Congress a detailed breakdown of a "series" of over 2,000 of these abortions that he had performed. He classified only 9% (175 cases) as involving "maternal [health] indications," of which the most common was "depression."

    Dr. Pamela E. Smith, director of Medical Education, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Chicago, gave the Senate Judiciary Committee her analysis of Dr. McMahon's 175 "maternal indication" cases. Of this sample, 39 cases (22%) were for maternal "depression," while another 16% were "for conditions consistent with the birth of a normal child (e.g., sickle cell trait, prolapsed uterus, small pelvis)," Dr. Smith noted. She added that in one-third of the cases, the conditions listed as "maternal indications" by Dr. McMahon really indicated that the procedure itself would be seriously risky to the mother.

    Is a partial-birth abortion ever the only way to preserve a mother's physical health?
    In an interview published in the August 19 edition of American Medical News, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said:

    "I believe that Mr. Clinton was misled by his medical advisors on what is fact and what is fiction in reference to late-term abortions. Because in no way can I twist my mind to see that the late-term abortions as described-- you know, partial birth, and then destruction of the unborn child before the head is born-- is a medical necessity for the mother. It certainly can't be a necessity for the baby."

    Dr. Koop, a world-renown pediatric surgeon, was asked by the American Medical News reporters whether he had ever "treated children with any of the disabilities cited in this debate? For example, have you operated on children born with organs outside of their bodies?" Dr. Koop replied:

    "Oh, yes indeed. I've done that many times. The prognosis usually is good. There are two common ways that children are born with organs outside of their body. One is an omphalocele, where the organs are out but still contained in the sac... the first child I ever did, with a huge omphalocele much bigger than her head, went on to develop well and become the head nurse in my intensive care unit many years later."

    In addition, in the summer of 1996, an organization called Physicians' Ad Hoc Coalition for Truth (PHACT) began circulating material directly challenging President Clinton's claims. As of early September, PHACT reportedly consisted of over 230 physicians, mostly professors and other specialists in obstetrics, gynecology, and fetal medicine. In an advertisement published in August, the PHACT physicians said:

    "Congress, the public-- but most importantly women-- need to know that partial-birth abortion is never medically indicated to protect a mother's health or her future fertility."

    The PHACT doctors also referred directly to the specific medical conditions that affected some of the women who appeared with President Clinton at his April 10 veto ceremony, such as hydrocephalus (excessive fluid in the head), and commented:
    At a July 24 briefing on Capitol Hill, PHACT member Dr. Curtis Cook, an ob/gyn perinatologist with the West Michigan Perinatal and Genetic Diagnostic Center, said that partial-birth abortion:

    "is never necessary to preserve the life or the fertility of the mother, and may in fact threaten her health or well-being or future fertility. In my practice, I see these rare, unusual cases that come to most generalists' offices once in a lifetime-- they all come into our office. We see these every day....The presence of fetal disabilities or fetal anomalies are not a reason to have a termination of pregnancy to preserve the life of the mother-- they do not threaten the life of the mother in any way....[and] where these rare instances do occur, they do not require the death of the baby or the fetus prior to the completion of the delivery."


  5. by   ayemmeff
    I have a few questions.
    How late in pregnancy can you get an abortion in the States? Do you just walk into the doctors office and request it?
    Is the law governing this national, or does it differ between states?
  6. by   EmeraldNYL
    I don't agree with the concept of partial birth abortions, I think that at some point women need to make up their mind and decide what they are going to do with their pregnancy. However, being a supporter of the pro-choice movement, I feel that a Republican congress might have some ulterior motive in passing this act. What are they going to ban next??? They start with banning partial-birth abortion, which most people find barbaric anyway, and then they will probably move on to restrict some other aspects of women's reproductive rights. I'm worried that will will start a gradual picking away at the legality of abortion.
  7. by   Spidey's mom
    Emerald - If we find the procedure appalling and there is never a medical necessity for it, it shouldn't matter if the pro-life community may use this as a way to further their agenda. We should be judging the procedure on its own lack of merits. It is intellectually dishonest to do otherwise.

  8. by   passing thru
    I remember when women were trying to get abortions legalized in the 70's. Everyone "assumed" the women were asking for 1st trimester abortions.
    Years later, I heard about "partial birth abortions" and could not/did not believe it was happening.
    I saw one on t.v. last year. The baby was term and "unflawed".
    The t.v. show showed the doctor putting the instrument into the base of the infants neck and then switched to another scene in the delivery room . I could hear the suction machine.
    It made me physically ill.
    If this wasn't murder, I will never know what is.
  9. by   emily_mom
    Originally posted by ayemmeff
    I have a few questions.
    How late in pregnancy can you get an abortion in the States? Do you just walk into the doctors office and request it?
    Is the law governing this national, or does it differ between states?
    This site is pretty good.

    I believe that each state regulates abortion laws.
  10. by   KaroSnowQueen
    Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in all fifty states up to the time of delivery. Up until six months, there is very little restriction, any restrictions are usually the clinic/physician's personal choices. AFter six months, the inidividual state can regulate it, must be in a hospital, as an inpt, for mother's health only, etc.
    There is a rather infamous clinic, I think it is in Kansas City that not only does late abortions, but honest to God offers funeral services for the infant also. I think that is most twisted logic I have ever seen. If I can find the link to it, I will edit my post and put it in here.\
    I found it:
    Last edit by KaroSnowQueen on Mar 15, '03
  11. by   kmchugh
    Actually, the good Dr Tiller is practicing here in sunny Wichita. While I won't really take a stance pro-life or pro-choice, I think we can all agree that the fact that abortions are necessary for any reason is a tragedy. I would not see the law as a whole overturned, because no matter my feelings on the issue, I recognize there are those with different feelings. And in discussions with those folks, I have come to accept that their feelings are equally valid.

    That said, the PBA issue is, to me, entirely different. Generally, a healthy, viable fetus is partially pulled out, then killed. I cannot understand how someone could actually perform the procedure, much less think it is somehow OK. It is a hideous, dehumanizing procedure, reminiscient of Nazi Germany. It must be stopped for anything short of the life of the mother being in IMMEDIATE danger. I'm glad congress has acted on the issue.

    Kevin McHugh
  12. by   VickyRN
    From Tiller's web page:
    Kansas law allows for post-viability abortion procedures when continuing the pregnancy is detrimental to the pregnant woman's health.
    Translation.... That means right up to the time of delivery, folks.

    I, for one, am SO glad that this barbaric pratice is about to be banned. Latest statistics on this procedure... around 2000-3000 occurring annually in the United States... mostly healthy, viable unborn children.
    uyt I've been an obstetrical nurse for 20+ yrs. I can't remember when i was this upset over a so called procedure. I don't believe i'm going to be able to get this picture out of my head tonight.What the heck are we doing? where does this stop?