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Political Phriday: Abortion Debate After Court Decision

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Postby StlSluggers » Fri Apr 20, 2007 2:45 pm

Absolutely Adequate wrote:Well, first, I think -to avoid trouble - you should refer to the procedure by the name given to it by doctors: "intact dilation and evacuation." The name "partial-birth abortion" is a term that already swings the debate one way. It implies that the procedure involves giving birth to a baby and then hitting it on the head. That's quite misleading.

IDE won't fit in the title, and if I abbreviated it, no one would know what I was talking about. I did call it IDE in the OP, though.

I think we could agree that both names are equally deceptive.

Absolutely Adequate wrote:I wonder if liberterians have it right: to leave it up to the states. I have to go teach class, but here's something from andrewsullivan.com that sums up the argument concisely:

The alleged logic of overturning Roe v. Wade is, for many libertarians, that it will throw the issue back to the states. There, states will rapidly use the legislative process to come to a compromise that makes the majority of people within their borders roughly happy, and both the pro-choice and pro-life groups will lose much of their energy.

This argument has a lot of appeal. As one of my colleagues at The Economist pointed out, Europe had the same conversation as America about abortion in the sixties and seventies. The difference is, European countries either passed laws, or submitted the question to referendum. Even those who weren't happy with the outcome felt the process by which it had been reached was legitimate. In America, neither group feels that the Supreme Court's process was morally legitimate--or at least, I infer that pro-choicers do not, since they seem to view an attempt to ban abortion by exactly the same process as a completely illegitimate usurpation of power by conservative ideologues.

Besides, the more local a problem is, the less anger it generates; American pro-lifers do not, after all, head over to England to hold their candlelight vigils, nor do pro-choicers fly to Germany to protest the country's near-complete (de jure, though not de facto) abortion ban.

I was hoping someone would say that. Would it really quell the nationality of this debate? I mean, if the Supreme Court just says, "Listen, states. This is in your court. Do as you see fit." Will that work? If so, I am all in favor of that.
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Postby knapplc » Fri Apr 20, 2007 3:04 pm

Absolutely Adequate wrote:Well, first, I think -to avoid trouble - you should refer to the procedure by the name given to it by doctors: "intact dilation and evacuation." The name "partial-birth abortion" is a term that already swings the debate one way. It implies that the procedure involves giving birth to a baby and then hitting it on the head. That's quite misleading.

It's actually not misleading at all. I will not describe the procedure here because I'm certain that will earn me a nice, colorful card, but suffice it to say that it is a nasty, nasty procedure.

Absolutely Adequate wrote:In fact, intact dilation is one of the more rare procedures done by doctors. It is often used to save the mother's life.

This is not ALWAYS the case, but it is the case in the vast majority of instances.







The problem with banning abortion is that there are instances where it is medically necessary. The problem with abortion as it is now is that it is often more a matter of convenience than medical necessity.

Nobody here is wise enough to solve these problems. I don't think abortion rates or availability will change anytime soon, either.
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Postby Absolutely Adequate » Fri Apr 20, 2007 4:41 pm

knapplc wrote:
Absolutely Adequate wrote:In fact, intact dilation is one of the more rare procedures done by doctors. It is often used to save the mother's life.

This is not ALWAYS the case, but it is the case in the vast majority of instances.


You might wonder, then, why the Supreme Court decided to make it illegal.

StlS wrote:I think we could agree that both names are equally deceptive.


Er, no. One is the medical term used by doctors. The other is a term invented by anti-abortion activists. Language is important. Rush Limbaugh isn't making a mistake when he calls the democratic party "the democrat party." He's trying to imply that they aren't democratic. Calling it "partial-birth abortion" is incredibly misleading and most people won't do the research necessary to see what it really is.


If the Supremes were to throw the matter to the states, I think it would work, yes. The only problem is that poor women in South Dakota who want to terminate a pregnancy won't be able to do so. Back alley abortions will become much more common.

It's actually not misleading at all. I will not describe the procedure here because I'm certain that will earn me a nice, colorful card, but suffice it to say that it is a nasty, nasty procedure.


It's not that hard to describe. I'll do it and not get a card for it:

It's defined as a procedure in which the fetus is withdrawn from the woman's body before terminating the fetus. I could get more graphic about it, sure, and it would be "nasty, nasty", but I could also describe circumcision in the same way and get a card for it.

Also, it's important to note that this operation only happens in "late-term" abortions. This is only 1.4% of the abortions in the US. And the operation is often used to save the mother's life. It is easier on the mother's body than other forms of late-term abortions.




My main question is simple: Why is it OK to dismember a fetus before withdrawing it from a woman's body but is not ok to withdraw it and then terminate it? I think that's the point of this ban, of course. It sets a precedent. If one is illegal, they both should be.

And, on a larger note, why are Congress and the Supreme Court setting medical standards? Why are they weighing in on baseball proceedings? Why do they tell me how to teach my students? Shouldn't we leave those decisions up to the people who are on the front lines?

The No Child Left Behind act is monstrous. It's killing my school and it's making my life much harder. It's very clearly hurting my kids. Shouldn't we let teachers and administrators decide how to run our schools? Shouldn't we let doctors and hospitals decide which procedures should be legal? The government just seems to screw this stuff up; get them out of my girlfriend's uterus.
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Postby StlSluggers » Fri Apr 20, 2007 4:44 pm

Absolutely Adequate wrote:
StlS wrote:I think we could agree that both names are equally deceptive.


Er, no. One is the medical term used by doctors. The other is a term invented by anti-abortion activists.

Partial-birth abortion... Intact dilation and evacuation... Cutting open a skull and vacuuming out brains...

Glossing over the gruesomeness of the procedure is just as deceptive as insinuating that the child is actually born.
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Postby Tukka » Sat Apr 21, 2007 2:59 am

Justice Ginsberg dissenting opinion put it as well as I ever could. Theology or squeamishness shouldn't trump of the health and liberty of our mothers, sisters and daughters -- at least not as far as our government is concerned.
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Postby Omaha Red Sox » Sat Apr 21, 2007 2:22 pm

Fetal-pain study omits an abortion-rights link
Scientists weigh in on planned legislation.


By Marie McCullough
Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Is a fetus capable of feeling pain, and if so, should fetal pain be treated during an abortion?

In today's Journal of the American Medical Association, five researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, review nearly 2,000 studies on the hotly debated questions. They conclude that legislative proposals to allow fetal pain relief during abortion are not justified by scientific evidence.

But their seven-page article has a weakness: It does not mention that one author is an abortion clinic director, while the lead author - Susan J. Lee, a medical student - once worked for NARAL Pro-Choice America.

JAMA editor-in-chief Catherine D. DeAngelis said she was unaware of this, and acknowledged it might create an appearance of bias that could hurt the journal's credibility. "This is the first I've heard about it," she said. "We ask them to reveal any conflict of interest. I would have published" the disclosure if it had been made.

UCSF obstetrician-gynecologist Eleanor A. Drey, medical director of the abortion clinic at San Francisco General Hospital, said: "We thought it was critical to include an expert in abortion among the authors. I think my presence... should not serve to politicize a scholarly report."

Figuring out when fetuses - and even newborns - are in pain is not easy because the sensation involves both physical and mental processes.

"Until about 1987, the medical community thought newborns do not feel pain," said anesthesiologist Sanjay Gupta, director of the Atlantic Pain and Wellness Institute at Lankenau Hospital. "We were doing circumcisions and even heart surgeries without anesthesia."

The UCSF authors - including a neuroscientist, a pediatrician, and an anesthesiologist - conclude that the fetus cannot perceive pain until 29 or 30 weeks of pregnancy. That's when pain-signaling nerve pathways from the spinal cord to the brain are fully wired.

Other experts - many of them antiabortion activists - believe the fetus may feel pain as early as 13 weeks, when pain receptors are connected to a part of the brain that relays impulses, but not to the part responsible for processing sensory information.

Since no one can remember being a fetus or get into the mind of a fetus, any judgment about fetal pain "will have to be inferred from evidence other than subjective experience," Emory University bioethicist Michael Benetar wrote in a 2001 article that concluded fetuses could feel pain at about 28 weeks' gestation.

Circumstantial evidence - such as fetal stress hormone levels, or standard tests of brain-wave activity - is not conclusive. The UCSF authors point out that a fetus will reflexively pull away from a surgical instrument - but so will an infant born without a brain or a person in a persistent vegetative state.

Legislation proposed in Congress, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, would require physicians to tell women seeking abortions 20 or more weeks after fertilization that the fetus may feel pain, and that the women may opt for fetal pain treatment.

About 1.4 percent, or 18,000, of the 1.3 million U.S. abortions performed annually are done this late in pregnancy. (Most states ban abortion when the fetus can survive outside the womb, about 24 weeks' gestation.)

Not all abortion-rights activists object to the proposed law. NARAL Pro-Choice America "does not intend to oppose" it, president Nancy Keenan said in a January statement, because "pro-choice Americans have always believed that women deserve access to all the information relevant to their reproductive health decisions."

But the UCSF researchers conclude that even if the fetus can feel pain, offering anesthesia or analgesia is not justified because current techniques "provide unknown fetal benefit and may increase risks for the women."

UCSF neuroscientist Henry J. Peter Ralston 3d said he hoped the review would help legislators who were "trying to figure out whether we are causing pain at 12 or 13 weeks."

"The evidence might at least sway their vote," he said.

Not likely, said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life in Washington. "If Congress wanted to know if lambs feel pain," he said, "it wouldn't ask the veal industry for an analysis of the scientific evidence."


Douglas Johnson wrote:"It is no small thing that 60 percent of the House endorsed requiring abortionists to inform women that late abortion may be very painful to the unborn child. The other 40 percent will have to explain why they favor anti-pain laws for animals used for research or food, but not for unborn humans."


"Intact dilation and evacuation":
ImageImageImage

wiki wrote:Intact D&X surgery
Preliminary procedures are performed over a period of two to three days, to gradually dilate the cervix using laminaria tents (sticks of seaweed which absorb fluid and swell). Sometimes drugs such as synthetic pitocin are used to induce labor. Once the cervix is sufficiently dilated, the doctor uses an ultrasound and forceps to grasp the fetus' leg. The fetus is turned to a breech position, if necessary, and the doctor pulls one or both legs out of the birth canal, causing what is referred to by some people as the 'partial birth' of the fetus. The doctor subsequently extracts the rest of the fetus, usually without the aid of forceps, leaving only the head still inside the birth canal. An incision is made at the base of the skull and a suction catheter is inserted into the cut. The brain tissue is removed, which causes the skull to collapse and allows the fetus to pass more easily through the birth canal. The placenta is removed and the uterine wall is vacuum aspirated using a suction curette.
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Postby BritSox » Sat Apr 21, 2007 5:25 pm

Absolutely Adequate wrote:

My main question is simple: Why is it OK to dismember a fetus before withdrawing it from a woman's body but is not ok to withdraw it and then terminate it? I think that's the point of this ban, of course. It sets a precedent. If one is illegal, they both should be.


More to the point- if you're going to allow the baby to be 'partially' extracted- then what the hell's the problem with just going the whole hog, and legalising infanticide? At some point, you have to draw a line. Personally, I find all late-term abortions except in cases of threat to the mother's life abhorrent. And it seems to me that 'Oh, it'll just make it more dangerous' is a neverending argument used by liberals to justify all kind of disgusting and immoral procedures (I actually disagree with all abortions in principle. Each citizen ought to have freedom to commit any self-regarding act they like- but I don't see abortion as self-regarding. Nonetheless, i think early abortions ought to be legal for pragmatic reasons).


The No Child Left Behind act is monstrous. It's killing my school and it's making my life much harder. It's very clearly hurting my kids. Shouldn't we let teachers and administrators decide how to run our schools? Shouldn't we let doctors and hospitals decide which procedures should be legal? The government just seems to screw this stuff up; get them out of my girlfriend's uterus.


I might agree with you on NCLB, but surely leaving everything up to practitioners on the ground pretty much precludes government from prohibiting anything on moral grounds?
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Postby roninmedia » Sat Apr 21, 2007 6:13 pm

Ginsberg summed it up best. This is nothing more than the first step in an attempt to overturning Roe vs. Wade.


The pro-choice side sometimes brings up the cost of supporting the children who would have been aborted and sometimes unwanted by their parents. The pro-life side argues any cost will be provided for these lives saved. Look around the world.

Look at poverty, the despair and the hard daily life many people face in the USA and the even greater number worldwide. I find it hard that we can not and some people will not devote the time and money to properly help them but we can and would support the number of children who would be alive if abortion was illegal (In 2003, Alan Guttmacher Institute reported 1,287,000 and the CDC reported 848,163).

We do not value each and every life the same. We value the lives of those near us in genetic relation, interaction and geography. During the Holocaust, a concentration camp worker switched the numbers of children with senior citizens so the seniors would be sent to the gas chambers. In that case, we value youth. If you were in the center of a burning stem cell lab with a baby in one corner of the room and a container containing hundreds of embryos, which corner would you run to first to save from destruction?

I think a mother should be given the choice of determining life and the value of life in her own body because at the moment, life is an scientific, moral, ethical, or religious definition. Because if someone is defining life strongly based on their religious view, say by referencing passages of scripture, I feel that person is forcing their religious views. I refuse to say one person is right over another because we don't know the right answer.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Sat Apr 21, 2007 6:15 pm

Again, what if the baby is doomed? Out of the millions of babies/ year in the US this is a VERY small number of procedures and the medical reasons behind many of them are not what they are made out to be in the mainstream media. Yes it is a gruesome procedure but neonatal intensive care units are pretty grim places too. AcidDaughter was there for a week after she was born, taking antibiotics and, out of the 6 other babies there w/ her, we saw 4 of their obituaries over the next year, including one whose mom had been killed in an accident, survived to be released from the hospital and passed away shortly thereafter.

If the baby is missing chromosomes that lead to substantial defects, in some cases the procedure may actually be a bit of a blessing for everyone concerned. Of course, wealthy people can just go to civilized countries like Canada for procedures like this, the people w/o dough are the ones who's options are GONE, thanks to judicial intervention....
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Postby BritSox » Sun Apr 22, 2007 5:54 pm

roninmedia wrote:Ginsberg summed it up best. This is nothing more than the first step in an attempt to overturning Roe vs. Wade.



And? Roe was a truly horrible piece of jurisprudence, regardless of its political effects. Pure constitutional eisegesis.

AcidRock23 wrote:If the baby is missing chromosomes that lead to substantial defects, in some cases the procedure may actually be a bit of a blessing for everyone concerned. Of course, wealthy people can just go to civilized countries like Canada for procedures like this, the people w/o dough are the ones who's options are GONE, thanks to judicial intervention....


Suggesting that disabled people's lives are somehow worth less churns my stomach.
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