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News 'Partial Birth' Abortion

  1. Nov 14, 2003 #1
    I'd like to change the subject a little: What are the conditions under which partial birth abortion is necessary? At first I disliked the bill because it didn't allow for that loop-hole, but then I heard that there are NO such circumstances. I have no medical training so I don't know, what do you all think?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2003 #2
    This should be its own thread, but to answer your question: cases where the fetus will either kill its mother, or is so seriously deformed that it had no chance of survival anyways, like having developed major organs outside the body.

    A few points to remember: 1)'partial birth' abortion is an Orwellian phrase with no standing in the medical community; it was created by anti-abortion folks to provoke an inappropriate response. 2)This procedure makes up only something like 0.5-2% of abortions every year, and is almost never done 'on demand'. 3) The procedure is most often used in cases where the child will almost certainly be stillborn, die shortly after birth, or poses some threat to the mother's health. Generally, it could better be described as euthanasia, rather than abortion.

    Mostly though...shouldn't we let the people who went to medical school make medical decisions, and let the divinity students stick to their church's politics?
  4. Nov 14, 2003 #3
    I disagree, i think it was called partial birth because the baby literally has to be partially born to preform this particular precedure. My point was that if the baby was going to die anyway (ie, brain form outside skull type thing) there needn't be an abortion, just let it be born and die naturally. My question is: what are these dangers to the mother's health? I said that I was informed that there are no such occurrences, and this was from someone in the medical community.
  5. Nov 14, 2003 #4
    Something you should consider...I've been doing this for 2 years now. I generally know what is acceptable and what is not. Greg agrees with me 95% of the time, and anyhoo...you all agreed to abide by the decisions of the PF mentors. Were you lying when you agreed to it, or did you not realize it at the time?
    Let's be fair here...I almost never agree with anything that right-wingers say, yet 99.999% of their posts have been left alone. Some folks, I edit their posts to remove the offending term or statement...for teh worst abusers, I just delete their posts, they et mad, they go away for a month or two before trolling PF again.

    No system is perfect, boss...we do what we can.
  6. Nov 14, 2003 #5
    A few things to consider first:

    1. The law is unconstitutional - three federal judges within a day banned enforcing it.
    2. Politicians knew the bill was unconstitutional when they passed it.
    3. A similar bill that would have been constitutional (included exceptions for the health of the mother) was voted down 60-38.

    So, one has to ask one's self, why did congress pass a law they knew would be unconstitutional and shot down a constitutional equivalent bill?

    In response to your health question: There are doctors on both sides, all agree that partial birth abortions are often used because of health issues. The differense is in how one defines "necessary" - are there always other procedures? yeah, pretty much. Are those other procedures as effective, cheap, and readily available? No. In other words "partial birth abortion" is never "absolutly necessay" but it is often "the best, most practical" method.
  7. Nov 14, 2003 #6
    So I will repeat what I said before: Why is it unconstitutional? If it is because of right to privacy, don't bother to answer that.
    Niether has yet stated what they think might hypothetically constitute a health risk to the mother?
  8. Nov 14, 2003 #7
    An almost identical state law was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2000 for the two following reasons:
    1. It had no exception for the health of the mother
    2. It defined "partial birth abortion" in too broad of medical terms

    Number 2 may have been fixed, but the Supreme court said that either reason was big enough to make in unconstitutional. So, again, why did congress shoot down a law that would have been constitutional in favor of one that was unconstitutional?

    I do not know the specific medical reasons and am having trouble finding actual medical studies - many articles on the pro-choice side reference medical studies but I can't find them. The most I know about the medical aspect of this is what I posted: Everyone agrees that the procedure is used in cases of health concern for the mother. Everyone agrees that there are other options. So, the debate is really over whether or not women should be forced to choose the other options.
  9. Nov 14, 2003 #8
    A rotting dead fetus isn't a health risk? Should they wait until it dies before removing it, or save the mother's health and take it out? Again, though, we are talking about a RARE case. The AMA already restricts doctors specifically in when they are allowed to use this procedure...it is NEVER supposed to be used as 'abortion on demand'.

    Further, the law itself is likely to stand, with a few alterations. The wording is a bit...shaky, I think.
  10. Nov 14, 2003 #9
    Here is a better question: Why did congress knowing that without a health exceptiont the law would never make it a day (I think it made 3 hours) before the courts stopped its enforcement not put a health exception in? If it really is never needed or used in cases where the health of the women is at risk, why would it matter if it was in the law or not? Answer that question.
  11. Nov 14, 2003 #10
    It is politics...Bush and some of his cronies have not a single policy bone in their body...all they care about is getting votes by any means necessary. It doesn't matter if the courts later REQUIRE abortions, because they scored their political points.
  12. Nov 14, 2003 #11
    I am not trying to question Bush's motives here, I just want a few or even one example of a medical reason one would need partial birth abortion. Now Zero, I didn't miss your post, I read it, but I don't think that is a legitimate reason. If the fetus is rotting then the fetus is dead, there is no need for an abortion, maybe induced labor though, but I think your body will do that for you: miscarriage. Now for the brain outside skull thing, I think yes, because it is a mercy killing, the baby will die very soon anyway, so make it quicker. The thing is that eventually it will be hard to draw the line between the extremes, how does one define 'very soon'? BUt do not answer that, I don't want to go down that road.
    I came up with that maybe the baby is theoretically viable but that because of some abnormality cannot be born vaginally. So they do a c-section, and discover it is worse than they thought, the baby will probably die soon. I asked about this and was told that once they go to the trouble of a c-section, they won't give up on a baby, that it has been born and so is a developed human by even the most die-hard pro-choice person. So here we have a case that is a health risk, but they would refuse to do the 'post-birth' abortion.
    I tell you, I can't come up with one!
  13. Nov 14, 2003 #12
    Did the bill that was passed have any riders? You know loop holes and such? I woul dlike to compare the on that was passed to the on ethat wasn't. What makes them different?
  14. Nov 14, 2003 #13
    In a way, I have already answered your question: "Everyone agrees that the procedure is used in cases of health concern for the mother. Everyone agrees that there are other options. So, the debate is really over whether or not women should be forced to choose the other options." There are reasons that women choose pba over induced labor. The Supreme Court has decided that this choice is up to the woman. Nuff said.
  15. Nov 14, 2003 #14


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    I will try to answer why the need for parital birth abortions may be necessary even though I am not a obstetrician. The problem is, there are no clean cut or sigular answers. This is what characterizes so much of medical decision making and involves balancing so many variables and options at the same time.

    First of all, less than a thousand or actually 600 of these partial birth abortions were preformed in the last year. The physician who is nationally known for this procedure is a Dr. Warren Hearn who has stated time and time again that it has been done under the most dire emergencies. Second, it is almost never done on demand. Most women who carry a child to late term want the baby!

    The simple decision of PBO involves severe birth defects. One particular that comes to mind is the child with skeletal dysplasia who within moments of birth gasps and suffocates to death. The others have been mentioned regarding anencephelopathy (Born with only mid brain) etc.

    The harder decision comes in aborting the non defective fetus to protect the mother.

    The practice of high-quality medicine requires that physicians be knowledgeable about and able to perform a variety of procedures to accomplish a given treatment or therapy. Planning any procedure is done in consultation with the patient, and it is based on the medical judgment, experience, and training of the provider, and the individual circumstances of the patient's condition. Sometimes, as a result of developments during a surgery or in a patient's condition, it becomes necessary to adapt and choose a different course or modify the procedure as it progresses. These decisions are often quite complex and mandate that physicians use their best professional and clinical judgment, most often right on the spot. These are decisions that should be made by physicians and their patients alone. Indeed, when performing surgery, there is not time for a call to Congress, the Supreme Court, or anyone else in order to obtain clarification of the statutory intent or to request a waiver!

    The conditions that come to mind are the women who have gone into congestive heart failure,chronic renal failure patients, chronic lung diseases like pulmonary hemosiderosis etc. Many have the disease and were advised not to get pregnant due to the dangers of pregnancy but got pregnant and some developed the condition (heart failure, renal failure) while pregnant due to peripartum cardiomyopathy, HELP syndrome etc.etc.

    Late term pregnancy is characterized by huge intravascular increase in plasma volume and an increased coagulopathic state which put a tremendous burden on a weak heart, lungs and strains the capacity of the excretory functions of the kidneys. Some women are tenuously controlled with medicines, dialysis, repiratory devices etc. However, there comes a time when emergency C -sections cannot be done due to the dangers of the anesthesia on failing hearts and lungs. (Remember, anesthesia is still the most dangerous aspect of any surgery and which is why anesthesiologists have higher malpractice rates than any surgeon!). Labor is so intensive on normal hearts and lungs (I was worn out during my 24 hours of labor and I biked 200 miles a week until my third trimester!) it would probably kill these women. In fact, many women are in the throes of labor and both women and child are decompensating quickly and for whatever reason, a c-section may not have been an option after the obstetrician weighed the benefits and risks and felt a paritial birth abortion was necessary. In fact, the child at this point has already suffered permanent hypoxic damage. Once again, no specifics since I am not an obstetrician.

    Of more concern is the fact that disgruntled family members may sue the obstetrician for monetary awards if they can use a flimsy law to prove the doctor had committed a federal crime.

    It is frightening and horrific that the government is becoming more intrusive about playing a role in medical decision making. (Let's not forget the Florida case where Bush's sibling governor, Jeb Bush ,ordered doctors to restart feeding tube on a women in persistent vegetative state after the husband had wanted her care withdrawn.).

    Just my two cents.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2003
  16. Nov 14, 2003 #15
    Good post, adrenaline...too bad the folks on the other side only have one argument: abortion is EVIL!!
  17. Nov 15, 2003 #16
    I have made my decision, adrenalin's post was a clincher, and let it stand forever as a testiment to the fact that I really do consider all the facts I can get before making a decision: They should have put some loop-holes in there. The Supreme Court made the right decision. I believe Bush, contrary to what many claim, is quite smart, and I think a) he has been mislead, or far more likely b) he knew that it would be shot down and had an ulterior motive. You all have been hinting at it, so what do you think his ulterior motive was?
  18. Nov 15, 2003 #17
    Ulterior motive? The simplest one is the fact that signing ANY anti-abortion law looks good for Bush.
    To get a little more speculative, passing a bad bad law allows Bush to defend it, and portray his opponents as being 'anti-baby'.
    I want you to think about the other situation that you posted about: the Ten Commandments case. Judge Moore went out of his way to make the situation as confrontational as possible. He knew he was breaking the law, but he got to smear his opponents as 'anti-God'. He knew which ways he could have displayed the Ten Commandments withoiut a court challenge, but he chose not to do so. He even declines to ask for a stay on the removal of the monument, seemingly to force a scene where the monument was removed on TV, with maximum drama, before his supporters from all over the country had to get back to their jobs.
    I'm feeling like something similar to that situation is going on with the 'partial birth' abortion ban. It is more about grandstanding than good law.
  19. Nov 15, 2003 #18
    I disagree, I think the Alabama judge really does think it should be there, he is a devout Christian. And as we all have undoubtably experienced, some Christians have a hard time reconciling the fact that they have to treat other religions as equals even when they know their's is the true one and a lot of the time you can prove that someone else's religion is made up (say kwansa, which I have heard many times was made up by a black conman in the '60's, which is supported by historical evidence: no one ever heard of kwansa before then, did you?). But that last comment is probably controversial and completely off topic, so lets ignore that.
  20. Nov 17, 2003 #19
    just a general question:

    does anyone here think that a woman should be allowed to abort because she does not want a baby?
  21. Nov 17, 2003 #20


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    Until more white couples will adopt black babies..yes. There are three white babies in georgia waiting for adoption vs. hundreds of black and so carrying a baby to term to give it up for adoption is not realistic for a black woman.

    Until birth control is free.... yes

    until the man who impregnated the woman is forced to pay child support (we have the DNA technology to make it unequivocally certain who is the father)

    then yes......

    Many of these girls or women abort because they are scared and financially unable to raise a child alone even with welfare. It is interesting that there is a greater willingness to keep the babies when the father has decided to take an active role in supporting or raising the child even if there is no union of marriage.

    The more appropriate question is... would all men who got the women pregnant be willing to provide financial support for the child's upbringing until the child turns 18? Would he bear the burden of paying for child day care (expensive in the US) while the woman works or finishes school? Woould he be willing to take a sick day off of work to take the child to the pediatricians? etc. etc. Afterall, he is 50% responsible.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2003
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