The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday October 5th

Realities of Partial-Birth Abortion

The one sure way to solicit the wrath and hatred of liberals is to remind them that abortion kills babies. The letters I've received in the last week have proven this to me beyond any doubt. Last week I devoted my column to partial-birth abortion (PBA) - a late-term abortion technique used by abortionists to kill viable unborn babies in the fifth through ninth months of pregnancy. In partial-birth abortion, the abortionist delivers the living, kicking baby feet-first to the neck - and then rams a pair of scissors into the back of her skull. In my column, I noted that partial-birth abortion is a horrible and gruesome practice. I also observed that the Supreme Court has essentially declared that no meaningful laws may be passed against the procedure - even though a majority of Americans favor a partial-birth abortion ban, and even though the Constitution mentions neither abortion nor "reproductive privacy." I called this declaration by the Court a serious abuse of judicial power. Angry letters began to pour in soon after the column was printed. I was called a "moron" and "liar"; my column was "inane" and "preaching." One particularly amusing letter compared me loosely to a 1950s-era white racist and said that I "must've slept through" my political science classes. Only a few of the letters moved beyond insult. All of them were written with total contempt. It was clear that the angry "pro-choice" letter-writers all sincerely believed that anyone who dared to disagree with their "pro-choice" views must be either malicious or idiotic. I stood amazed at the total lack of toleration displayed by the liberal "advocates of tolerance." When the letters did occasionally get beyond insult, their basic thrust was that I was wrong on the facts. I was challenged to support my key statements. This I do gladly - although limited space will force me to handle some now and others later. Two common (and important) claims of the letter-writers are below, followed by the truth. Angry letter-writer claim #1 - PBA is needed to preserve the life and health of the mother. Truth - PBA is never needed to save the life of the mother, and is actually more dangerous to the mother's health than other abortion methods. I made this assertion in my original column. But don't take it from me. Here is just a sample from the experts on partial-birth abortion: "From the evidence that has been presented in standard obstetrical textbooks as well as in the annals of research in OB/GYN, there is absolutely no medical necessity for this abortion technique, portions of which have been clearly documented to be causal factors in the death and reproductive morbidity of women." - Dr. Pamela Smith, Ob/Gyn, correspondence to Lisa Binns of "60 Minutes," May 17, 1996. "[PBA] should not be performed because it is needlessly risky, inhumane, and ethically unacceptable. This procedure is closer to infanticide than it is to abortion." - The American Medical Association, August 26, 1998. "The procedure is not only a brutal mutilation of the baby, but a threat to the health and safety of the mother." - Dr. Dominick Caselnova, correspondence to Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL). "I would dispute any statement that this is the safest procedure to use .Turning the fetus to a breech position is potentially dangerous. You have to be concerned about causing amniotic fluid embolism or placental abruption ." - Warren Hern, Abortionist, American Medical News, November 20, 1995. "Partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to protect a mother's health or her future fertility. On the contrary, this procedure can pose a significant threat to both." - Physicians Ad-Hoc Coalition for Truth (including former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop). I support abortion when the mother's life is at stake - pro-lifers are pro-life about women too. But that is not an issue here. Partial-birth abortion hurts mothers, and is never needed to "save the mother's life." The "health" argument for PBA is a smoke screen - and anyone who has done any real research knows that it is a smoke screen. Angry letter-writer claim #2 - PBA is uncommon. I covered this last time. There are at least 3,000 to 4,000 PBAs annually in the United States. Abortion advocates who originally said there were fewer have since admitted that they "lied through their teeth." Probably the "angry letter people" had old (and false) information. They should look up the more recent "Nightline" reference from my last column. Next week, I'll address some more "angry letter-writer" false claims, including: "Most Americans want PBA to stay legal." (They don't.) "The Supreme Court has already allowed meaningful restrictions on abortion." (It hasn't.) "The `pro-choice' position is mandated by the Constitution, a document which should be changed by judges to fit our times." (It isn't, and it shouldn't.) Until then, I'd like to offer two quick thoughts about my "angry PBA letter (and column) writers." First - all of their claims that I've addressed so far have been demonstrably false. Second - these are the men (all my angry letter-writers are men!) who are defending a procedure so barbaric and gruesome that many of you had trouble eating after just reading about it. They are ignoring reality and defending infanticide - all to protect an extreme abortion policy that most Americans do not support. Enjoy the break - see you next week. Craig Warner is a senior political science major. Reach him at


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