The Myth of Partial Birth Abortion

Hopefully, this month’s third rebuff of the Bush administration by a US District Court of the 2003 partial birth abortion ban (PBA) act passed in Congress and signed immediately by President George W. Bush, will be an omen of things to come, with the final defeat coming on November Second. Democratic candidate John Kerry is opposed to such a ban and he has pledged he would appoint judges to federal benches that agree with his stand. The debate raised over this issue is clearly much ado about nothing knowing that the 1973 Roe v. Wade landmark decision by the Supreme Court has been so well established in the US. The so-called Right to Life groups, with an Oval Office occupant that is in their back pocket, are attacking this right through the back door. Indeed, all three federal district court judges, from New York, California and now Nebraska, stated Roe v. Wade was being violated by the 2003 PBA, because the health of the parturient was never allowed for. President Bill Clinton twice vetoed a similar passage by the Republican Congress. The Bush signature was not unexpected.

The issue is more convoluted than on the surface. The numbers defy the logic and dramatize the politics of the Bush cabal in its right-to-life stance. Statistics show that there are circa 1.3 million pregnancy terminations performed in the US each year. We know as well that 90 percent are within the first trimester of gestation. That leaves about 130,000 procedures done after the 13th week. But you will never see the figures and rates for PBAs, defined as after prematurity, meaning the 37th week of a 40-week full term pregnancy. Why? Because in this day and age of modern technology of prenatal evaluations including ultrasound for openers, it defies medical knowledge as to what would be the obstetric indication for such a late termination. Any pathology that would indicate the oncoming neonate as having a condition incompatible with life would be diagnosed well before that 37th week. That hullabaloo is strictly hype by the right- to-lifers and nothing more. It is doubtful that these PBAs are done any longer; there is simply no indication. An elective decision is as well a non sequitur.

What is behind it all? A control by the political right to exert its morals and ethics on the US. From all this rubble, there are four basic truths:

1) That the 'abortion debate' is a misnomer; we are not debating abortion, we are debating rights. Rights, not morals; rights, not ethics. Roe v. Wade is very much in effect, as are the other statutes that followed. It states that choice is a Constitutional right, like freedom of speech.

2) Secondly, life and its inception are considered for science to solve, not religion. It is all part of that separation of church and state. Those who attempted to use theopolitics were rejected by the judiciary.

3) Thirdly, that right and that science are being denied to a majority group who have been victims of male dominance since time immemorial—women. This is clearly a battle over sexism and control.

4) Finally, that abortion, at any stage in the gestation, is a microcosm of the state of health care in the US. We are the world’s only developed nation without a national health care plan for everyone. Abortion is but a cog in that wheel. When health care is declared a right rather than a privilege, and that right is provided for as a service instead of a profit-making enterprise, the questions of abortion and choice will fall into place. That is on our horizon. And we start with a November 2nd change in administration so that struggle will be fought on an even playing field.