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Health Exceptions to Abortion Should Fool No one
by Anne Morse

[Anne Morse is a senior writer for the
Wilberforce Forum in Reston, Va.]

A young woman, six months pregnant, suddenly begins to
hemorrhage. Rushed to a hospital, her doctor performs the only
medical procedure that will save her: He amputates her left foot.

You may well wonder: Under what possible circumstances could
chopping off a woman's foot save her from a life-threatening
pregnancy complication?

The answer, of course, is: none.

Keep this illustration in mind the next time you hear someone
claim we need to carve out a "health of the mother" exception to
the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, passed overwhelmingly by the
Senate on March 13, and which the House of Representatives will
likely take up in May. Abortion advocates claim that a "health"
exception is needed because partial-birth abortion is sometimes
the safest option for a pregnant woman in crisis. Whenever I hear
this, I want to scream -- like the wife of Miracle Max in The
Princess Bride: "Lie-yuh! Lie-yuh! Lie-yuh!" The truth is, there
are no possible circumstances under which crushing the skull of
an infant who is mostly dangling outside his mother's body
protects her health, anymore than chopping off her foot would.
Dr. Martin Haskell, who perfected this procedure, says he
routinely uses it on healthy mothers of healthy fetuses simply
because it's quicker than other methods; claims that
partial-birth abortion are performed to preserve maternal health
were concocted later by the abortion lobby -- which is why the
new ban includes 16 pages of findings from prestigious
physicians' groups calling the procedure "bad medicine" and
warning that partial-birth abortion is even riskier to the
mother's health than other abortion methods.

The abortion lobby knows all this, of course. But it also knows
that abortion politics have turned health into a shape-shifting,
silly-putty term that abortionists can fashion to fit any
definition they, or their patients, want it to fit -- including
"emotional distress" over having to endure another day carrying a
child a week shy of his due date. A "health" exception would gut
the ban; abortionists would continue performing thousands of
partial-birth abortions each year, every single one of them for
the mother's "health."

Federal judges are in on this legal fraud: They've shot down
nearly 30 state statutes outlawing partial-birth abortion,
offering such absurd and contradictory reasons that one can't
help wondering if they've had their own brains vacuumed out. Some
judges repeated the medical myth that a "health" exception is
needed. Others claimed that straightforward language describing
the procedure intended to be outlawed is so vague that doctors
will unwittingly perform partial-birth abortions -- reasoning
that implies, says moral philosopher Hadley Arkes, that graduates
of America's top medical and law schools are too dumb to
understand the difference between vacuuming out the brains of an
intact baby that is 70 percent born, and dismembering one limb by
limb while he's still in the womb (Dilation and Extraction, or
D&E abortion.)

When the battle over Nebraska's partial-birth-abortion law
reached the Supreme Court in 2000 (Stenberg v. Carhart), the
Supremes also played dumb: A majority claimed that the law did
not clearly distinguish between partial-birth abortions and D&E
abortions, and that it prevented abortionists from choosing
partial-birth abortion if they thought it was the "healthiest"

If the Supreme Court -- in defiance of medical facts, judicial
ethics, and the will of 70 percent of the American people --
strikes down the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, our
legislators (the real ones) should pass it again and again and
again, until the Court either relents or undergoes . . . regime

If the Supreme Court upholds the ban, pro-lifers will have reason
to cheer: The decision, coming 30 years after Roe, would
represent what Princeton legal philosopher Robert P. George calls
a "values Grenada." Remember the Breshnev Doctrine -- the belief
that where Communism had seized territory, it could never be
retrieved? For years, Western leaders reluctantly accepted this
Communist canon, attempting only to contain the spread. And then,
George says, "President Reagan found a little outpost on the edge
of the Communist empire, the weakest, least defensible, most
vulnerable outpost of Communism. He undid a Communist government
in Grenada, and he put the lie to the Breshnev Doctrine," proving
that Communist territory could indeed be retrieved, and Communism
itself unraveled.

"Partial-birth abortion is a values Grenada," George explains.
"It's the weakest, least defensible, most vulnerable outpost of
the abortion power. By striking there, we can begin to unravel
the logic of abortion -- what could be called the Blackmun
Doctrine -- that abortion can never be pushed back."

George is right. Pro-life sentiment is on the rise in America, in
large part because the lies and the fearful logic that undergird
the abortion regime are finally being exposed. Gruesome (but
accurate) pictures and graphic (but truthful) testimony helped
win the partial-birth abortion battle. Pro-lifers must build on
this victory, urging Americans to begin questioning the morality
of other forms of abortions, performed on other innocents,
thousands of times every day.

To make that happen, those who value life at all stages must hold
the abortion lobby accountable, and insist that its friends on
the courts stop pretending they attended Law School for Dummies
-- trying to defend what is legally and morally indefensible.


Culture of death news ignored by the media
 Babies are murdered at Christ Hospital
 Dirty business of abortion
 The real fanatics on abortion
 Open Letter to Planned Parenthood
 Why killing embryos is wrong
 Has America gone mad?

Current Issues
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