Monday, April 25, 2005

Denial in Action

Emily at After Abortion did a blog entry about abortion advocates who insist that abortion is not legal late in the pregnancy unless the fetus has an abnormality incompatable with life. She provided the link to this page, that says:


...are against the law in every state, except as necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.


The medical terminology (euphemism if you like, but not for "birth") is called Dilation and Extraction. Healthy, viable fetuses that don't put their mother's life and health at risk aren't being killed for frivolous political or financial reasons, and women aren't subjecting themselves to this relatively expensive and physically difficult procedure because they were too lazy to get an abortion earlier in their pregnancy!


Below are a few reasons for the procedure (and do keep them in mind when you view those cute anti-abortion posters of little babies and babies-to-be):

This woman then posts pictures taken from this pediatric pathology web site. (NOT graphic; this is an index to the pictures.) She posted them without crediting the source, and evidently without getting permission to repost them. The site she took them from also does not indicate, in most cases, if the photo in question is of a miscarried baby, a baby carried to term, or a deliberately aborted baby. And none of them are D&X abortions, since that procedure removes the brain and collapses the skull and therefore ruins the baby in question for use as a pathology specimen to illustrate an abnormality. If any of them were deliberately aborted, they would have been aborted via hysterotomy, prostaglandin, or digoxin. Hysterotomy is no longer being done, and prostaglandin and digoxin abortions are not prohibited by the PBA ban this site is addressing.

(WARNING: The links for the conditions below are to the graphic pictures on the pediatric pathology site.)

The first condition she listed is Gastrochisis. I found this page when I did a metasearch for images. It's a brag page for a lovely baby girl!

Two pictures, Acephalus acardius and Acardius, are of parasitic twins, not individual fetuses. Since only the deformed twin is pictured, it appears that the host twin survived delivery, since if the host twin had died the pathology photo would show the parasitic twin and host twin still connected. So these have nothing to do with abortion; they're examples of growths that were removed from live babies, not non-viable fetuses who are aborted. Either the woman in question is confused about her medical terminology and doesn't understand what a parasitic twin is, or she deliberately posted these pictures knowing that they were not pictures of non-viable individual fetuses.

The following pictures she posted are of fatal abnormalities, which would not necessitate an abortion to save the mother's life. If the baby died in-utero, removing it would not be an abortion. If the baby was stillborn, this would not constitute an abortion.

- Sirenomelia.
- Craniothoracopagus picture
- Rachischisis

She includes a photo of multiple abnormalities resulting in intrauterine fetal demise -- in order, a miscarriage. Removing a fetus who has died in-utero is not an abortion, so why she chose this picture is a mystery.

The anencephaly photo is a particularly bizarre selection for an anencephaly photo, since a meta search would have found some verifiably aborted babies with anencephaly. I'm a bit perplexed as to why she chose a photo of a baby who may have actually been brought to term and loved rather than snuffed in-utero.

She chose a particularly appalling teratoma picture, but seems to be operating from out-of-date information. These tumors are currently operable in-utero if they're so large that they endanger the baby. Most are operable after birth.

Well, that addresses the issue of the appropriateness of her choice of pictures to illustrate abortions. I've blogged here about the issue of fetal abnormalities. Now let's look at the issue of late abortions being illegal in every state.

This page has a chart that you can dig through to find out about state restrictions on late abortions. For example, you can go down the the chart on late abortion restrictions and find that there are no restrictions on late abortions at all in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia. When states do have restrictions, you have to plow through to figure out what exceptions there are and if the law is being enforced or if it's blocked by the courts.

NARAL used to have a chart you could consult that would tell you which states had restrictions and which didn't. But now you have to click through state-by-state. You have to really click around to find out what's up. For example, they say that "Utah restricts post-viability abortions." However, when you click for details, you learn that "Utah has an unconstitutional and unenforceable law that provides that no abortion may be performed after 20 weeks gestational age, measured from the date of conception, unless necessary to preserve the woman's life, to prevent "grave damage" to the woman's medical health, or to prevent the birth of a child with grave defects." In other words, there's a law on the book, but it can't be enforced because it's blocked by the courts. So abortion is effectively legal until birth, on demand. It all depends on the doctor's willingness to perform it. The law has no more effect than any pre-Roe laws that were struck down. You can poke through state-by-state here.

But in a nutshell, in 10 states, there are no restrictions at all on late abortions, and in a number of other of states the laws are on the books but can not be enforced. This is a far cry from late abortion being illegal in all states.

I'd try to set this person straight, but I don't think there's any point. Her mind is made up and she won't hear anything to the contrary, even if it comes from sources like the Alan Guttmacher Institute or NARAL.

If you know of anyplace online to get a simple, understandable summary of what restrictions there actually are on late abortions in the US, please let me know!

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