Late-Term Confusion

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abortion

From Wizbang, which is always a reliable source of examples of rightie stupidity:

Most Americans, even those who are pro-choice, understand how sick this procedure was. If a late term pregnancy was so harmful to the mother’s health, then the mother should just deliver the baby and give the baby a chance to survive. But this procedure wasn’t really about saving the life of the mother. It was about killing an unwanted baby.

I’m seeing many variations of this opinion drizzled around the Right Blogosphere, and it reveals that, once again, righties lack a grasp of basic facts.

Firat off, calling D&E procedures “late term” never was correct, because it’s a second trimester procedure performed before the fetus is developed enough to be viable. Roe v. Wade permits states to ban elective abortions by any means after viability as long as there is an exception for life and health of the mother, and it is very unusual to have to sacrifice a viable baby to save the mother. “Very unusual” is not the same thing as “never happens,” however. The point is that it’s illegal to abort a viable fetus without medical cause in most states already, and has been for years.

The Wizbang post continues —

Here’s a feminist whose first comment was “We’re f***ed.” Sure, lady, if you mean that you can’t go to an abortionist when you’re 6+ months pregnant and have your unborn baby almost completely delivered except for his head and have his brains sucked out while he’s still alive because you just don’t feel like being pregnant any longer, then yes, I suppose you’re f***ed.

And, in fact, what this guy is talking about has been illegal in most states all along, and is no more illegal today than it was yesterday. When you say 6+ months you’re talking about after the 24th week of gestation, and that’s clearly within the time that a fetus might be viable. Therefore, that procedure wasn’t protected by Roe v. Wade unless there was medical need. Also, my understanding is that what procedures are performed after the 18th week or so of gestation are done by another means than D&E anyway.

I’ve seen some arguments that today’s ruling might end up hurting the Right. That’s a complicated subject. I do suspect the Fetus People might be thrown into confusion when it finally dawns on them that second-trimester abortions are still being performed, but that depends on what happens in the states. As I wrote in the last post, I think we can count on conservative state legislators to use today’s ruling as an excuse to write abortion laws that are even more restrictive than the one covered in the case decided today. We can also expect that in some states the ruling will be used to intimidate abortion providers from performing second-trimester abortions by any means. It’s going to get interesting.

Update: Here’s another example of profound ignorance. The rightie assumes that “partial-birth abortion” is a catchall term for all abortions performed after the first trimester:

… after running through some of the reactions on the left, it is clear that many that write those blogs are men because they seem to have no understanding of the differences between an abortion performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and a partial birth abortion.

Unfortunately, as Kennedy pointed out, neither do some women. Then you have women that DO understand the differences between abotion and partial birth abortion and simply do not care. Some seem to feel that it doesn’t matter if the baby is alive or not ater 12 weeks or even after 6 months, they feel their rights should trump the rights of an unborn child, even if the child is already displaying a heartbeat, movement and other signs showing it is alive.

An embryo/fetus is just as “alive” in the first trimester as it is in the second. The writer confuses “alive” with “viable.” Recently an infant survived that was believed to have been born at 21 weeks gestation. This made international news because she was the first baby ever known to have survived after a gestation period of fewer than 23 weeks. That’s very late in the second trimester. About 10 percent of abortions are performed during the 13th to 20th weeks of gestation, and no fetus is viable in that period.

Do not let some of the over heated reactions confuse the two issues, women can still have abortions, that has not changed, they just need to make that decision in a timely manner before a fetus actually becomes a baby that is alive.

The only rights that have been harmed here is a womans right to have her doctor murder her child.

I’d encourage any woman who plans to have an elective abortion to do this as early as possible, for her own safety. But what this dimbulb doesn’t grasp is that many serious complications can occur in the second trimester that can put a woman’s life at risk, and if the pregnancy has to be terminated before 23 weeks gestation (with one exception) the infant is not going to survive no matter how it is delivered. For example, preeclampsia, or pregnancy induced hypertension, is a common complication that can put the mother at risk of convulsion and death. In extreme cases the only way to save the mother’s life is to terminate the pregnancy, and sometimes this must be done before the fetus is viable. Terminating a pregnancy to save her own life doesn’t make a woman a monster, in my opinion.

A great many severe birth anomalies cannot be diagnosed until the second trimester. These include anencephaly, Tay Sachs, and other conditions that will take the baby’s life, with no exceptions. I believe strongly that when these diagnoses are made it must be up to the mother, and preferably her husband or partner also, to decide whether to carry the pregnancy to term. Not the government.

Here’s a heartbreaking story in which one twin might have been saved by sacrificing the other, which had no realistic chance to survive. But this procedure violated the hospital’s abortion policy, so the laboring mother was transported to another hospital several miles away, and both twins were stillborn. The father of the twins writes,

But the greater tragedy here, to my mind, is the straitjacket that a religious worldview imposes on the complexity inherent within clinical medicine. Our world sometimes presents us with situations that cannot be simplistically categorized as pro-choice or pro-life, and other patients across the nation will be faced with decisions like the ones we made on that fateful day.

This is why hospital policies that originate in religion rather than science can be unhealthy and unsafe. Personal religious beliefs can and should guide the lives of clinicians of faith. The extent to which they guide a clinician’s professional life is the clinician’s personal matter, and I hope that clinicians will choose specialties and practice settings that ensure that patients receive needed care regardless of the clinician’s religious beliefs. However, the extent to which these beliefs guide hospital policy is a matter of concern to all of us, whether we are patients or clinicians. The extent to which the US medical establishment succeeds in circumscribing the circle of influence of religion-based medicine will determine the quality of health care that phsycians can offer their patients. Clearly, irrespective of what religion each of us belongs to, this is the very least that our patients deserve.

But no; this twit thinks that people like this father are heartless murderers who kill their babies just because they’re having a bad day.

Update 2: Scott Lemieux explains it all for you.

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9 Comments

  1. John Palmer/LongHairedWeirdo  •  Apr 18, 2007 @7:27 pm

    What’s the most frustrating part of this is, the basis for challenging the law was the lack of a health exception.

    What the SCOTUS decided was either

    1) Congress can make medical decisions better than the doctor at the scene, or
    2) The Federal Government has a right to dictate that women must face additional medical risks if it avoids a medical procedure that some people think is gross.

    Both of these ideas are (or should be) unthinkable in a free country.

  2. joanr16  •  Apr 18, 2007 @7:36 pm

    If a late term pregnancy was so harmful to the mother’s health, then the mother should just deliver the baby…

    Who wrote that sentence? An amphibian? The delivery is the danger, for crying out loud.

    The real reason for the “partial birth” bullshit? Public relations. In the late 1990s, after a spate of murders and bombings, the anti-abortion movement was found to be hypocritical and, frankly, bonkers. And then, suddenly, they discovered a rare and extreme procedure that they’d apparently overlooked for 25 years, and began shrieking that This must not stand!

    Can we say we didn’t see this coming the moment Scalito was confirmed? Now the pro-lifers can be happy, because women will start dying in childbirth again. Can’t wait til Congress tells my doc how to perform a colonoscopy….

  3. maha  •  Apr 18, 2007 @7:41 pm

    Who wrote that sentence? An amphibian?

    Possibly a marsupial.

  4. A Canadian Reader  •  Apr 18, 2007 @8:00 pm

    Maha, what the heck do you have against kangaroos? These idiots are not marsupials or even much maligned amphibians, they are dimwits, fanatics, dingbats, monsters, etc. Leave the poor animals out of it!!

  5. joanr16  •  Apr 18, 2007 @8:55 pm

    Canadian Reader, no offense against amphibians (or marsupials) meant. maha came up with a better example than mine… of a species that doesn’t deliver its young in the same manner as humans. The author of that ridiculous quote at the top of the post seems confused about human reproduction in general.

  6. marijam  •  Apr 18, 2007 @9:06 pm

    They want each state to decide. Personally, I’m sitting on the fence on this one as I’m past child-bearing due to personal decision – as is my daughter.

    Its up to people to vote for a President or have it decided for them by the people who did vote.

    I do think partial birth can seem to be barbaric but then I know about how medicine has outpaced nature, I know about the grotesque results having worked in a state hospital for the “disadvantaged”. I can’t imagine a woman wanting to have such a procedure done, I can only imagine a woman knowing it’s up to her to have the procedure or perhaps die herself or suffer dire consequences such that she can’t take care of herself or her family.

    Righties don’t seem to care about the danger to the mother, or those a dead mother may have to leave behind. In this they are cruel. They are also cruel in not being willing to help the child after it has been born, or the mother – but then that’s welfare and promotes irresponsible behavior. Not the child’s fault, but it’s the principle that matters to them, not the end result.

    If abortion should become illegal, it will only become illegal for those who can’t afford to go to another country or pay for a black market abortion. The rich will do what they want and cover it up.

  7. maha  •  Apr 18, 2007 @9:38 pm

    Maybe a fish. Something that spawns.

  8. skippy  •  Apr 19, 2007 @3:23 pm

    who wrote that sentence? an amphibian?

    possibly a marsupial.

    hey! i resent that remark!

  9. sofla  •  Apr 20, 2007 @9:37 pm

    The alternative to dilated intact extraction, whose existence is the predicate of the claim that so-called partial birth abortion is ‘never medically necessary,’ is to kill the fetus with saline poisoning, and then cut it into pieces in utero with a saw of some description, and then suction out the pieces.

    How that is supposed to be less gruesome, or even less ‘painful’ to the fetus, escapes me.

    And indeed, given this ‘victory’ in the SCOTUS ruling, the FALLBACK option above, which makes ‘PBA” unnecessary, will likely be attacked, on similar grounds.

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