Friday, May 31, 2013

Gosnell, Carhart, and the PBA Ban (Part 2)

In Part 1, I gave a bit of background to the whole practice of post-viability abortions, which were invented by the Supreme Court in 1973 and embraced wholeheartedly by a select group of intrepid abortion practitioners who weren't about to let a little thing like a baby thwart their ambitions.

Post-viability abortions are a subset of abortions past the midpoint in pregnancy, at which point the baby is too big and sturdy to easily dismember. It was for these abortions in general, and not post-viability abortions in particular, that a solution was sought.

Hysterotomy (delivering a baby via c-section and just letting it die) is a massively invasive procedure and can lead to unpleasant legal ramifications if somebody in the OR realizes that you're killing a viable baby and is enough of a retrograde throwback to have a problem with that.

The old-style instillation abortions (putting poison in the amniotic fluid) were, like hysterotomy, too dangerous to do outside a hospital. Not only was that prohibitively expensive, but in a hospital, the doctor didn't have as much control over who dealt with the patients, and thus he was risking the problem I mentioned before of buttinski nurses who would see a live baby and wouldn't just drop it in the bucket and stick it in the closet per instructions.

Once ultrasound machines became common, however, abortionists discovered that rather than just load the amniotic fluid down with poison and hope the baby swallows and inhales enough of it to die, they could jab a needle straight into the baby's heart or brain and deliver a lethal dose much more reliably.

Once the baby is dead, the abortionist can let it soften overnight -- "like meat in a crock pot" as LeRoy Carhart said -- and take it out in pieces the next day, or he can induce labor and let the mother deliver it into the toilet, as George Tiller preferred to do.

Some doctors, however, found the crock-put baby thing a bit troubling. Among them was Dr. James McMahon in California, who had two issues brewing.

First of all, he had a strange fascination with the idea of dilating the cervix as wide as he could. He quoted another abortionist as describing opening the cervix "like a lotus in the moonlight." Personally I find that creepy, but then I have a problem with dropping a live baby into a bucket and covering it with formaldehyde so I'm clearly an unenlightened busybody like those troublesome nurses that couldn't be trusted to deal appropriately with saline survivors.

Second of all, many of his patients were aborting wanted babies that had been diagnosed with some problem. These parents wanted to see the baby after it was dead. A macerated, mutilated fetus isn't a pretty sight.

McMahon came up with a solution, which he dubbed "intrauterine cranial decompression." He'd drag the living baby out feet-first, then stop just before delivering the head to suck out the brains, "decompressing" the "cranium." All he'd have to do was have a nurse stuff the collapsed head with cotton batting to round it out and he'd have a very presentable dead baby to show the parents.

"Intrauterine cranial decompression" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, and perhaps because of this it didn't catch on very quickly. Then in 1992, Dr. Martin Haskell made a presentation to the National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminar in Dallas. He tweaked McMahon's technique and dubbed it "D&X," for "dilation and extraction." With such a catchy name, how could it fail?

The method caught on, but the prolifers caught wind of it, and the proverbial shit hit the fan. The prolifers gave the procedure the name that finally stuck -- Partial Birth Abortion -- and managed to get it banned.

What a bunch of killjoys.

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