The Issue of Partial Birth Abortions
Recently, congress has been going over the issue of partial birth abortions. A partial birth abortion is performed in the second and third trimesters. A partial birth abortion entails (1) inducing a breech delivery with forceps, (2) delivering the legs, arms, and torso only, (3) puncturing the back of the skull with scissors or a trochar, (4) inserting a suction curette into the skull, (5) suctioning the contents of the skull so as to collapse it, (6) completing the delivery. A partial breech delivery is not considered a birth at common law, where it is the passage of the head that is essential (Abortion Laws). Congress is currently in the process of passing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2000. Both bills, H.R. 3660 and S. 1692, prohibit any physician from knowingly performing a partial-birth abortion, unless it is necessary to save the mother's life that is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury.
There are many people that oppose bans on safe abortion procedures. Although these bans are characterized as a single, late procedure, the bans are in fact not limited to any stage of pregnancy. They define the conduct to be banned so broadly as to reach an array of safe and common methods of abortion. Doctors have testified repeatedly and courts across the country have found that the bans can apply to all procedures used in the second trimester of pregnancy and even to some first trimester abortions. A court stated that the law "has the effect of inhibiting the vast majority of abortion procedures and would significantly increase the health risks for a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus" (ACLU).
Some say that the government should stay out of the operating room. Legislators are not trained to make medical decisions. Therefore, politicians should not regulate medicine in a way that undermines the safety of patients. They should leave decisions about the best surgical techniques for abortion in the hands of doctors, patients, and their families. The bans use of non-medical terminology simply shows that politicians should not try to manage the practice of medicine (ACLU).
The ACLU opposes bans on safe abortion procedures because they infringe on constitutional protections for reproductive freedom. Federal and state courts have found the bans are unconstitutional for their wide-reaching prohibition on the safest, most common methods of abortion; for the harm they impose on women's health by restricting physician discretion; and for their vagueness. The partial birth abortion bans threaten the right to choose abortion. The Supreme Court has held that the government may not prohibit a woman from making the ultimate decision, in accordance with her won conscience and moral imperatives, to have an abortion. Abortion restrictions are unconstitutional if they place an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose abortion. That is, if they would place a substantial...