Saturday, March 15, 2003

While we're on the topic...

Allow me to provide the following and then ask a question.

First some background on the term "partial birth abortion" which is a lay-man term, not a medical term.

"D&X" procedures, an abbreviation of "dilate and extract," or
"Intact D&E," or
"Intrauterine Cranial Decompression" abortions.

The terms "Partial Birth Abortion" and "D&X" were recently created by pro-life groups when the procedure became actively discussed at a political and religious level. We will use the medical term in this essay.

The procedure is performed during the fifth month of gestation or later. The woman's cervix is dilated, and the fetus is partially removed from the womb, feet first. The surgeon inserts a sharp object into the back of the fetus' head, removes it, and inserts a vacuum tube through which the brains are extracted. The head of the fetus contracts at this point and allows the fetus to be more easily removed from the womb.

The exact number of D&Xs performed is impossible to estimate with accuracy. Many states do not have strict reporting regulations.

One often quoted figure was that over 1000 D&Xs had been performed annually in New Jersey. From this number, many inflated national totals were estimated. But the New Jersey figure appears to be an anomaly. A single physician in a single NJ hospital had been ignoring the regulations of the state medical association and performing D&Xs in cases not involving the potential death or serious disability of the woman.

Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, estimated (Nightline program, 1997-FEB-26) a total of 3,000 to 4,000 annually in the US -- about ten a day.

Pro-life groups uncovered an internal memo by Planned Parenthood which estimated that up to 60 (0.24%) of the more than 25,000 abortions performed annually in Virginia were D&Xs. If this figure is accurate nationally, then there would be up to 2,880 D&X procedures per year in the U.S.

My question: Pro-choice advocates, who'd like to see this procedure remain legal, say that this procedure is obviously done to 'protect the life of the mother'. Of course, to a woman considering an abortion she isn't a mother because mother's give birth to babies and this is not a baby, it's an inconvenience... but I am digressing.

Anyways, do people realize that with this procedure, the baby is already ~80% delivered already? The entire body has been passed through the birth canal except for the head. If this procedure is done to 'protect the life of the mother', does passing the head through the birth canal pose a considerably higher risk to the mother than what happened with the rest of the body passing through the birth canal?

I find this extremely hard to believe.

Can anyone explain what appears to be this non-sensical justification? For the life of me, I can't see how the mother can be put in any higher risk at this point in the procedure.

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