Loading
What is partial-birth abortion?

By William E. May

1. What is 'partial-birth abortion'?

 

The procedure in question is properly called "partial-birth abortion" because, as even secular sources acknowledge, it requires the doctor to deliver the unborn child partially from the uterus, feet first, leaving the baby's head inside the womb. The doctor then uses scissors and a hollow needle to empty the skull of its contents. The unborn baby's head then collapses and the doctor removes the dead baby entirely from the mother's body. (1) Given the nature of the procedure, the congressmen who drafted legislation to prohibit it, the "Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 1995", defined the procedure as follows: "an abortion in which the person performing the abortion partially vaginally delivers a living fetus before killing the fetus and completing the delivery". (2)

 

The doctors who perform this barbaric act and those who seek to justify it attempt to hide its nature by describing it euphemistically as "intact dilation and evacuation/extraction" or as "intrauterine cranial decompression". (3) The procedure is usually performed on unborn children suffering from hydrocephaly, Down's syndrome or other anomalies whose mothers are suffering maternal depression on learning that their unborn children suffer from such problems or on unborn children whose mothers are undergoing major life crises. (4)

 

The claim is sometimes made - and it was made by President Clinton in his veto of legislation to prohibit this form of abortion - that this procedure is necessary at times to protect the life and health of the mother or to preserve her fertility. But as the "Physicians Ad Hoc Coalition for Truth" (PHACT), a group of more than 300 medical specialists organized to counter the misinformation provided by the abortion industry of the United States, pointed out: "Partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to protect the health of a woman or to protect her future fertility; in fact, the procedure can pose grave dangers to the woman". (5)

 

Notes

1. This description of the procedure was given in many secular sources favorable to abortion. Here, for example, I have simply summarized a description given in the pro-abortion newspaper The Boston Globe, in its 24 October 1996 edition, p. A29.

2. This is the precise language used in a bill officially reckoned as "HR [for House of Representatives] 1833" in the "Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 1995".

3. One of the leading advocates of the procedure, Dr Martin Haskell, describes it as "intact dilation and evacuation/extraction", while another leading practitioner, Dr James McMahon, preferred to describe it as "intrauterine cranial decompression". On this, see, for example, Germain Kopaczynski, O.F.M. Conv., "Partial-Birth Abortion", Ethics and Medics, 21.12 (December, 1996) 1.

4. See ibid.

5. Ibid., n. 2.

 

Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology, John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Washington, USA

L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 1 September 1999, pp. 6-7.

Printed with permission from Priests for Life.

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
Dec
19

Liturgical Calendar

December 19, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27

Gospel
Date
12/15/14
12/14/14
12/13/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Judg 13: 2-7, 24-25A
Gospel:: Lk 1: 5-25

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
12/15/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27

Homily
Date
12/15/14
12/14/14
12/13/14
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: