Recently, congress has been going over the issue of partial birth abortions. A partial birth abortion is performed in the second and third trimesters. A partial birth abortion entails (1) inducing a breech delivery with forceps, (2) delivering the legs, arms, and torso only, (3) puncturing the back of the skull with scissors or a trochar, (4) inserting a suction curette into the skull, (5) suctioning the contents of the skull so as to collapse it, (6) completing the delivery. A partial breech delivery is not considered a birth at common law, where it is the passage of the head that is essential (Abortion Laws). Congress is currently in the process of passing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2000. Both bills, H.R. 3660 and S. 1692, prohibit any physician from knowingly performing a partial-birth abortion, unless it is necessary to save the mother’s life that is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury.
There are many people that oppose bans on safe abortion procedures. Although these bans are characterized as a single, late procedure, the bans are in fact not limited to any stage of pregnancy. They define the conduct to be banned so broadly as to reach an array of safe and common methods of abortion. Doctors have testified repeatedly and courts across the country have found that the bans can apply to all procedures used in the second trimester of pregnancy and even to some first trimester abortions. A court stated that the law “has the effect of inhibiting the vast majority of abortion procedures and would significantly increase the health risks for a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus” (ACLU).
Some say that the government should stay out of the operating room. Legislators are not trained to make medical decisions. Therefore, politicians should not regulate medicine in a way that undermines the safety of patients. They should leave decisions about the best surgical techniques for abortion in the hands of doctors, patients, and their families. The bans use of non-medical terminology simply shows that politicians should not try to manage the practice of medicine (ACLU).
The ACLU opposes bans on safe abortion procedures because they infringe on constitutional protections for reproductive freedom. Federal and state courts have found the bans are unconstitutional for their wide-reaching prohibition on the safest, most common methods of abortion; for the harm they impose on women’s health by restricting physician discretion; and for their vagueness. The partial birth abortion bans threaten the right to choose abortion. The Supreme Court has held that the government may not prohibit a woman from making the ultimate decision, in accordance with her won conscience and moral imperatives, to have an abortion. Abortion restrictions are unconstitutional if they place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose abortion. That is, if they would place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking abortions (ACLU). The partial birth abortion bans pose not only a substantial obstacle, but an absolute barrier to many abortions that are now safe and legal. After reviewing evidence that the language of the bans reach most methods of abortion, a court in Iowa held that the ban in that state was “unconstitutional as a matter of law” (ACLU).
Partial birth abortion bans compromise women’s health and drastically limit physicians’ discretion to choose the most medically appropriate abortion method for their patients. A federal court in Florida found that the bans would have an effect of denying women “appropriate medical care.” Similarly, a court in Montana found it would “increase the amount of risk and pain to the woman” (ACLU). Most of the proposed bans unconstitutionally fail to provide adequate life and health exceptions. Most partial birth abortion bans apply throughout pregnancy and yet contain no health exception whatsoever and a dangerously inadequate life exception. The government may never prohibit abortions that are necessary to preserve women’s lives or health. A court in Illinois said the law would impermissibly require a women “to remain pregnant eve in the face of serious health concerns” (ACLU).
Anti-choice legislators are also introducing bans on abortion procedures. Like the federal bill, most of the state measures are so vague and so broad that they cover a wide range of abortion methods. In all, twenty-seven states have banned partial birth abortions. These states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin (Abortion Law Homepage). In nineteen states, medical providers have challenged the partial birth abortion ban on the grounds that they endanger women’s health, jeopardize safe medical practice, and violate the constitutional rights of patients and doctors. In seventeen of these states, the bans are now enjoined, and in an eighteenth, the ban’s effect is severely limited.
While there are many people apposed to the ban, there are many people for the ban. Some of the complications in their arguments are breast cancer, acute grief reaction, emotional disturbances, pelvic inflammatory disease, and uterine perforation. Recent studies have pointed out that there is a relationship between the rate of abortion and the rising incidence of breast cancer (American Life League). Post-abortion grief has been identified in numerous studies as a serious complication of induced abortion. Three in four women experience acute grief reactions if the abortion is for genetic reasons. One in two women experience emotional and physical disturbances. These disturbances may last for months, and may include depression, insomnia, nervousness, guilt, and regret. One in four women experience complications in future pregnancies. These may include excessive bleeding, premature delivery, cervical damage, and sterility (American Life League).
Legal abortion appears to contribute to an increase in ectopic pregnancy in younger women when associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. There is a 30% increased risk after one abortion and a 160% increased risk after two or more abortions (American Life League). They could also lead to placenta previa, which is a condition producing extremely severe, life threatening bleeding in future pregnancies. Also the loss of a baby through abortion may cause a mother to be less affectionate toward future children and may contribute to child abuse (American Life League).
There are a majority of sites on the internet that are pro-choice, and there are also many pro-life choice web sites. The major influences are coming from the public opinions and special interest groups. Also, Congressional leaders have a large influence on how this issue is being voted on. On October 5, 1999, S. 1992 was introduced to the Senate. On October 21, 1999 it was passed with a vote of 63-34. It was then sent to the House on October 25, 1999. On April 5, 2000, H.R. 3660 was passed with a vote of 287-141, then there was a motion to reconsider. It was then receive by the Senate on April 6, 2000.
I believe that if a woman wants to get an abortion, then the women should have the choice. I think that if the woman wants to get an abortion, she must have a good reason to get one. It could be for medical reasons, or for the fact that she is a teenage mother and cannot take care of the baby. I think that there is already to many homeless children out there, and by banning abortions, we are just adding to the number of homeless children. It should be the mothers choice, and the mothers choice only. Not the choice of politicians who think that they know what is right for women when they have never had to make that sort of decision.