Partial Birth

2 May

Deep in my pro-choice heart, I’m trying to find the place where partial birth abortion lives.

I can’t find it.

I followed a link at This is me Maria, which described the process. Of course, being a pro-life website,  it’s meant to disgust and offend. But I cannot come to term with a procedure like that. Hell, I don’t even want to.

For years I wondered where my line is in the sand is. After having to children-after crowning and waiting to give that last push, I cannot stomach the thought of killing in this manner.

Pre-viability, clump of cells is one thing. 30 weeks is an entirely different story.

And maybe it’s because I don’t understand the point of getting to 7 months, and NOT just going to full term and giving the child for adoption. Maybe it’s cause I’m an adoptee, and that makes more sense. Maybe it’s because I do not see how we can NOT look at this as a child by this point. We fight so hard to save 25 week foetus’, and yet, 30 weeks can be aborted? I can’t make it jive-I just can’t.

I believe in a woman’s right to choice-I always will. But I have trouble stomaching this procedure, because it comes so very close to being murder. Part of me believes it to be murder. If the child delivered at 30 weeks naturally, and it had a hole poked in it, we would call it infanticide. So what’s the difference?

I feel so conflicted, and yet I don’t. There is a large part of my brain standing up to say this procedure is WRONG, horribly wrong. How could you get this far, feeling the creature move under your ribs, and then destroy it? This isn’t potential-this is a being.

It was so much easier when I didn’t have kids.

24 Responses to “Partial Birth”

  1. radicalmama May 2, 2007 at 11:08 am #

    I don’t know about Canada, but most US states do not allow a woman to just “choose” to abort at 30 weeks. And while yes, I do consider it to be a child at 30 weeks, if my life was in danger or if I was carrying a child with, say, no brain or missing vital organs, I would elect to abort at that stage of pregnancy. I do believe there should be exceptions to allow this abortion procedure, which I refuse to call “partial birth” because that was coined by the anti-choice movement to demonize women and doctors who go this route. It is NOT a medical term. I just don’t believe that anyone would make the decision lightly or recklessly, doctor or woman.

  2. thordora May 2, 2007 at 11:28 am #

    oh, don’t get me wrong-if the mother is in danger, or the child will suffer, get rid of it. Absolutely. And I am for choice.

    I don’t know-the name fits in my mind, unless I’m not understanding it. They pull it out, and pop a hole in it’s head. I guess we could call it ‘Intact D&C”, but that seems even cruder. In reviewing the procedure itself, it IS a partial birth. (We could use “Brain Suction abortion” which shockingly, didn’t catch on)

    I don’t believe in demonizing. I just don’t get the need for this, beyond medical concerns. But then, I don’t know how often it occurs.

    I just couldn’t do it. This issue coming to the forefront in the abortion debate in the states has really illustrated my own difficulties in finding where my personal line in the sand is…

  3. Caitlin May 2, 2007 at 12:08 pm #

    I’ve always been under the impression that this was more of a procedure for when something goes drastically wrong – severe defects not caught in the first trimester, fetal death, etc. I would think it’s rare for a doctor to let a woman choose an abortion for non medical reasons after the first trimester is over. I’ve always thought it was more for a case like this when the pregnancy is much further along.

  4. radicalmama May 2, 2007 at 1:13 pm #

    Well, I call it late-term abortion. I think calling it partial-birth abortion, while it may be accurate in some cases, is quite gruesome. One the one hand, one could argue that we shouldn’t mask the brutality of it. It’s like people who tell thier kids, No honey those chickens in the store aren’t the same as chickens we see on farms… But I personally have a lot of compassion for women who endure the experience of a late-term abortion and it feels like rubbing salt in the wounds to call it partial birth. According the the Guttmacher Institute, only 1% of pregnancies beyond 20 weeks gestation are aborted. That was the case in 1992 anyway. It’s probably gone up since then with the rise in reproductive technology and the later age of conception for women which often carries higher birth defect rates. OK, I just double checked that stat and the CDC reports that in 2002 it was 1.4%.

  5. Kimberly May 2, 2007 at 1:26 pm #

    I don’t think 30 week abortions happen because someone suddenly decided that they don’t feel like being a mother afterall. I truly think that that is propaganda. I think that this type of abortion happens when something has gone terribly, catastrophically wrong: When the docotrs tell you that, at best, the child will struggle for a few excruciating hours before sucuumbing to whatever genetic twist of fate was lying in wait for it, or that the odds on scenario is that it is killing the mother, and that her death will take that fetus to the grave with her. And because I believe this, I refuse to jump on the bandwagon to make what is already a heartbreaking, soul destroying experience worse for the women who are forced to endure it.

  6. thordora May 2, 2007 at 1:31 pm #

    that’s what I hope Kimberly. I could not imagine having to endure the pain of killing your infant.

    More than anything, I’ve found it interesting that before I had children, I was pro-choice no matter what. Now, I find I have limitations to that choice. It’s odd.

  7. allyo May 2, 2007 at 2:41 pm #

    This post and the ones before and after explain better than I do why this ban is chilling to me down to my toes and some of the ramifications.

  8. thordora May 2, 2007 at 2:54 pm #

    Thank you for that link allyo. That does sum it up nicely.

    And I WANT to know more about this because the image of having to do this scares me as much as the thought that the chance to do so might be removed. Banning any medical procedure scares me, since almost everything in like has a “but” involved.

    Please continue to yell at me folks. The more knowledge I have about this, the better chance of me having an educated opinion.

  9. Lala May 2, 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    yeah Cecily is the one to read so you can get a better understanding of how her life was in danger and one of her twins had already died. It was a time of awful shock and sadness. I’m pretty sure that you’re only allowed to have that procedure performed when the life of the mother is in danger but now it doesn’t matter, it’s out the window and so is the value of a woman’s life.

  10. allyo May 2, 2007 at 4:32 pm #

    You’re quite welcome and here is some more:

    For more information about Julia’s story, see her “Best Reads” on her sidebar.

    Julia’s post above includes information that seems to confirm discussion I’ve read around the web – that the ban may not be as sweeping as media/propaganda might make you think. However, the perception by the medical community is key and in an emergency situation, it’s what your doctor/hospital is willing to do and how THEY read the ban. All because of the use of a term (partial birth) cooked up by conservatives and/or the religious right to rally the base. That’s part of what disgusts me so much, that not only are they banning a medical procedure, but they can’t even speak in a language that the medical community can clearly interpret. This isn’t about morality or life, it’s politics.

  11. thordora May 2, 2007 at 4:57 pm #

    I still think we should call it brain sucking abortion. Who can get bothered by something out of Day of the Dead?

    If the rates really are THAT low, WTF is the point OTHER than politics to ramp up the retoric and get people not well versed in the actual procedure (like me!) curious in the WRONG direction? I HATE that. Such a transparent ploy to start creeping in on all abortion rates, and ultimately sacrifice the mother, and minimize her value as LaLa has stated.

    Now I’m mad.

  12. radicalmama May 2, 2007 at 5:03 pm #

    Did you know that the anti-choice movement tried calling it brain suction abortion, but huh, it just didn’t stick. IMO, if you have to try that hard to horrify people into taking your “side” you’re probably on the wrong team. Just my humble opinion as always… 😉

  13. Missy May 2, 2007 at 7:56 pm #

    Well, it sounds like everyone else has covered what I was going to say. Basically that it’s very rare, usually the child aborted has zero chance to live after birth, and/or the mother’s life is in danger. And it’s usually ordered or recommended by a physician.

  14. m May 2, 2007 at 11:11 pm #

    Thanks for sharing that link allyo. 🙂

  15. Nicole May 2, 2007 at 11:44 pm #

    I’ve worked with quite a number of women who have had to make a choice about a late-term abortion, in many cases because of the late detection of a serious, if not lethal, abnormality in the fetus. Late term abortions are difficult to get (there are only a handful of centers in the U.S. that do them). In my experience, the decision to pursue an abortion that late is a heart-wrenching decision to end a very wanted pregnancy. And because I’ve been the one to say, “Your child will not live, and may die in utero,” I am against any limitation placed on the how and why of that pregnancy ending. There are any number of medical reasons that a “partial birth abortion” may be indicated to protect the health of a mother when the fate of the fetus has already been determined.

    Having said that. like you, I find that my views on abortion have changed since becoming a parent. While I will always support a woman’s right to choose, it seems to me that when the decision is being made for personal (rather than medical) reasons, it should be done so as early as possible in the pregnancy. And of course, the vast majority of abortions do occur in the first trimester.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there and allowing this discussion to happen!

  16. Melanie May 3, 2007 at 1:27 am #

    And here am I over here, waving a diffident hand in the air, and saying that there IS no black-and-white, clearly defined line to draw on this subject. There is no safe place to stand and point and say, “This, this right here, is always true and always will be true.” Not when you’re discussing abortion.
    This issue is basically one huge gray area. I’d venture to guess that all late-term abortions have mitigating circumstances. Thordora, I am also horrified at the description of the process, but in my opinion, from where I stand, it can be a necessary thing. From where someone else stands, it can be utterly wrong. And we can both be right, because our lives and beliefs have been formed from different experiences and ideas.
    Anyway. I just thought I’d add that your opinion isn’t “wrong.”

  17. Kimberly May 3, 2007 at 7:46 am #

    Melanie, I agree with your assessment of grey areas and the right of all involved to be right in their own minds. The problem comes when some people–the anti-choice conservatives–insist on inflicting their “right” on others, regardless of where those others find their own “right” to be.

    One of the main arguments the anti-choice movement likes to trot out is that pro-choicers are only pro-abortion, while they are the true avenue to choice. However, last I checked, pro-choicers were not frogmarching pregnant women into abortion clinics, nor were they mounting a concerted campaign against adoption. Pro-choice wants to protect the right of every woman to have her “right” respected. Anti-choice just wants to inflict their “right” on the masses to prove that they are right.

  18. radicalmama May 3, 2007 at 9:07 am #

    Kimberly, I could not agree with you more, and I think you have validated some of thordora’s ideas as well. We all have our opinions. But the anti-choice people are the ones attempting to make health and lifestyle decisions for the rest of us.

    Pro-choicers are just that: pro-choice. Don’t want an abortion? DON’T HAVE ONE! Even though thordora is personally struggling to understant this issue, she’s not marching to her capital demanding that no woman have access to it.

    And if you research some of the biggest anti-choice groups, you will find that they are often lobbying for many things besides abortion legislation. Many are against women in the military, welfare, childcare, affirmative action, birth control, gay marriage, sex education. They have a specific religous and anti-woman adgenda. Abortion is the sound-byte issue, but there is so much more going on here.

  19. ann adams May 3, 2007 at 10:49 am #

    The very idea makes me shudder. I don’t say that publicly (is this public?) because the proponents of the law in the USA have an agenda that goes far beyond this one procedure. There is no common ground.

    They chose this admittedly gruesome procedure because it was most likely to draw the support of the “on the fence” or moderately pro-choice people. With the new additions to our Supreme Court, the law would most likely survive challenge.

    The law was unnecessary. They knew that. They didn’t care anymore than they care about the lives of women. I’m not all that sure that many of them even care that much about the “unborn”. They’re chipping away at women’s rights little by little, state by state, until all our protections are gone and Roe will be nothing but a useless piece of paper.

    Once that’s completed, unless they’re stopped somehow, they’ll move on to the next item on their list. It might be birth control, it might be whittling away at church/state separation, it might be eliminating many of the civil rights gains we’ve made over the years.

    They are nothing if not patient.

    This is too long and I apologize but I’ve been watching this gang for a while now. They want a theocracy and will settle for nothing less.

    So I rail against the Supreme Court decision regardless of my personal feelings. We can’t give an inch down here.

  20. thordora May 3, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    What will it take for women to stand together? For women to really say, ‘nu-uh-you back that train up!” and protect their rights?

    I had a knee jerk reaction to what I read-and received many different viewpoints-allowing me to admit and deal with the fact that although I personally find it repugnant, women’s choice needs to remain open, BECAUSE-what’s next? Truly, how far is the slope back that says we’re “too moody and unpredictable” to vote? Women don’t vote anyway, not in the numbers they should.

    Women could have a VOICE, a true voice in politics to prevent this shit. But they don’t. THAT scares me, because it’s that very voice that will help protect our rights.

    Sigh….France had 85% voter turnout in their last election. 85%! Imagine what our countries might look like if everyone educated themselves and voted.

    And you’re right Ann-it drew me in for awhile. Which is why I put this out there-to see if the fuss was warranted, or just propaganda. Although, I should have known what it was, coming from the US Government/Media.

  21. karriew May 3, 2007 at 2:47 pm #

    The only firsthand accounts I have ever read match what pps have said–terrible situations where fetuses were not viable. etc. I’m not sure where the 30 week figure comes into this discussion though since most women have an u/s around the 18-20 week mark, so I assume the majority who were faced with such a terrible decision would be doing so around that time. Which is well before a fetus could live outside the womb.

    I do understand finding abortion to be personally distasteful, and ITA that becoming a parent has made the grey area in these debates even murkier. If indeed there were scores of women choosing to end a pregnancy in their third trimester for non-medical reasons, then yeah, much as I hate to admit–and I’m with Ann about fighting the fight–I would have a problem with that. But like many others who posted, I really do not think that scenario is common or likely.

  22. katsplace May 3, 2007 at 5:03 pm #

    It was nearly impossible to get a later term abortion prior to the ban. There were only a handful of doctors in the US even willing to discuss it and quite a few places where the option is cut off long before 30 weeks. I personally know of someone who terminated a non-viable pregnancy at 24 weeks (the point where they were SURE that the tests were correct and the pregnancy was non-viable) and she had to go to another state.

    The real problem involved with this kind of ban is that it sets the stage for furthering it. It also sets the stage for setting a precedent that allows the courts to intercede on an unborn fetuses behalf regardless of the mother’s health or wishes.

  23. heidi May 4, 2007 at 11:46 am #

    I agree totally with Kat.

    I wanted to chime in with the perspective of someone who used to work in a clinic. We performed abortions to 14 weeks, and the only other clinic in the state maybe went up to 19 or 20. Having had contact with a huge number of women seeking abortions, I really aprreciate the “grey” area. Every single woman had different complex factors in making her decision. The thought of a late term abortion makes me want to vomit and cry. (truth be told, now that I have been pregnant, any abortion makes me feel more sad than before.)

    However, I know that no one ever wants an abortion. It’s such a hard choice, and I can only imagine that coming to terms with the need to terminate a pregnancy so advanced would just be heartwrenching.

    My point is… A lot of staunchly pro-choice women feel just as sad about the procedure as you do, Thor.


  1. IDX - May 3, 2007

    […] rarity on the net, there has been a thoughtful and interesting discussion about abortion happening at the vomit comit. I can’t really write about some of the personal […]

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