I've always been puzzled by the brouhaha about "partial-birth abortion", at least among people who bother to look past the name the anti-abortion movement has chosen to give to intact D&X. Intact D&X involves sucking a fetus' brains out so that it can be delivered intact. This is pretty gruesome, but less so than the alternative, which is to tear the fetus limb from limb and extract it that way. Since the fetus is anaesthetized (anaesthesia given to the woman passes through the placenta), and since there is considerable doubt about whether second trimester fetuses can feel pain in any case, pain is not an issue, though if it were, intact D&X would seem clearly preferable. It also seem more respectful of the fetus, at least to me.
Most of all, however, I have never seen why this ban matters to those who would like to prevent abortions, since it will not prevent a single abortion from occurring. It will only mean that doctors will use a technique that kills the fetus just as surely as intact D&X, in a more gruesome way, and with a real possibility of producing more complications for the woman.
"In a highly visible rift in the anti-abortion movement, a coalition of evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic groups is attacking a longtime ally, Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson.
Using rhetoric that they have reserved in the past for abortion clinics, some of the coalition's leaders accuse Dobson and other national antiabortion leaders of building an "industry" around relentless fundraising and misleading information. (...)
In an open letter to Dobson that was published as a full-page ad May 23 in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Focus on the Family's hometown newspaper, and May 30 in the Washington Times, the heads of five small but vocal groups called the Carhart decision "wicked," and accused Dobson of misleading Christians by applauding it.
Carhart is even "more wicked than Roe" because it is "not a ban, but a partial-birth abortion manual" that affirms the legality of late-term abortions "as long as you follow its guidelines," the ads said. "Yet, for many years you have misled the Body of Christ about the ban, and now about the ruling itself."
A Focus on the Family spokesman said that Dobson would not comment. But the organization's vice president, Tom Minnery, said that Dobson rejoiced over the ruling "because we, and most pro-lifers, are sophisticated enough to know we're not going to win a total victory all at once. We're going to win piece by piece."
Doctors adopted the late-term procedure "out of convenience," Minnery added. "The old procedure, which is still legal, involves using forceps to pull the baby apart in utero, which means there is greater legal liability and danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus. So we firmly believe there will be fewer later-term abortions as a result of this ruling.""
Brian Rohrbough, president of Colorado Right to Life and a signer of the ads, disagreed.
"All you have to do is read the ruling, and you will find that this will never save a single child, because even though the justices say this one technique is mostly banned -- not completely banned -- there are lots of other techniques, and they even encourage abortionists to find less shocking means to kill late-term babies," he said. (...)
In Rohrbough's view, partisan politics is also involved.
"What happened in the abortion world is that groups like National Right to Life, they're really a wing of the Republican Party, and they're not geared to push for personhood for an unborn child -- they're geared to getting Republicans elected," he said. "So we're seeing these ridiculous laws like the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban put forward, and then we're deceived about what they really do." (emphasis added)
So a spokesman for Focus on the Family thinks it's a good thing that the safer procedure for abortions at this stage has been banned. The greater "danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus" is a plus, for him. Apparently, healthy mothers aren't an important part of the families his group focusses on.
I always thought that the anti-abortion movement's newfound focus on abortion's alleged harms to women was a pretty transparent gimmick. The harms might charitably be described as unproven, and that the idea that women need to be protected from choices they would regret is condescending, especially when it's not accompanied by calls to ban other decisions people might regret, like the decision to take out a mortgage, or join the marines, or get married, or, for that matter, to have a child. (If anyone were to propose banning all choices that people might regret, I assume they would be laughed off the public stage. Why this doesn't happen to people who confine this line of argument to women's reproductive choices is an exercise left to the reader.)
At least Focus on the Family has made their disregard for women's health explicit.