Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Second Thoughts on Abortion

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Second Thoughts on Abortion

Article excerpt

An ethical revolution has begun. For two decades, Americans have accepted abortion as a way of shutting down unwanted pregnancies. Judges declared that a woman's right to self-esteem - or self-determination - outweighed an unborn child's right to life.

Our national certainty has vanished with the advent of a procedure known as partial-birth abortion, or "dilation and extraction." In the operation, doctors dilate a pregnant woman's cervix for a day or so, then induce labor. As the baby begins moving toward the birth canal, the physician reaches in, turns the child and delivers it feet-first. Just before the head appears, the surgeon makes an incision in the base of the skull, inserts a tube, sucks out the brains and, finally, delivers a corpse.

Pro-abortion activists say the ghoulish procedure is used only to save women whose reproductive organs might be shredded by delivering huge and grossly deformed babies. The problem with this argument, which President Bill Clinton cited last year when he vetoed a ban on partial-birth abortion, is that it is utterly false. Ronald Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, admitted recently that clinics perform thousands of dilation and extractions a year and that patients seldom face any prospect of physical harm. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop goes further. He says the procedure "is never medically necessary to protect a mother's health or future fertility" and that it poses "a significant threat to both her imme diate health and future fertility." Dilation and extraction makes little sense as an emergency treatment because it takes too long to complete. If a physician needs to save a woman, a Caesarian section usually will do the trick, sparing the mother without murdering the baby. So why perform this procedure? The people who pioneered the operation boast of its tidiness. Unlike "standard" dilation and curettage, the physician doesn't have to chop up body parts before delivering the dead fetus. These claims persuaded Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York that partial-birth abortion is infanticide - baby murder - and no medical condition demands its use. …

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