More Truths About Partial-Birth Abortion
(Printed in the Towanda Daily Review on 5/15/96.)
Editor: I apologize for not including references in my May 8 letter about "Partial-Birth Abortion." Except for the last two paragraphs, which were my opinion, the material is from the testimony of seven women on 11/17/95 to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding H.R. 1833/S. 939, the so-called "Partial-Birth Abortion" bill. The women had several things in common: they were in the third trimester of very much wanted pregnancies; they were deeply religious; they would never consider abortion under ordinary circumstances; and their pregnancies had gone terribly wrong. The women -- Coreen Costello, Viki Wilson, Mary-Dorothy Line, Tammy Watts, Claudia Crown Ades, Vikki Stella, and Ann Wright -- testified individually against the proposed ban. Each had had their very much wanted pregnancy terminated with an Intact D&E.

Their pregnancies had several things in common: fatal anomalies had developed in the fetus but were not diagnosed until the third trimester; multiple medical opinions concurred that the fetus would not survive outside the womb; and the Intact D&E was the safest procedure available to terminate the pregnancy.

On 12/17/95, the above women sent a joint letter to Senator Bob Smith that included, "The bottom line is this: if your bill passes, families with tragedies like ours will have added misery and pain because the surgical procedure that helped us will be unavailable."

On 6/15/95, J. Courtland Robinson, Associate Professor on the full-time ob-gyn faculty at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital, testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Dr. Robinson's career spans 40 years and includes prenatal care and delivery, general and special gynecology, family planning, sterilization and abortion. Excerpts from his testimony about "partial-birth abortion" follow: "I don't know what that is. Never in my career have I heard a physician who provides abortions refer to any technique as a 'partial birth' abortion. That, I suspect, is because the name did not exist until someone who wanted to ban an abortion procedure made up this erroneous, inflammatory term." Also, "With all due respect, the Congress of the United States is not qualified to stand over my shoulder in the operating room and tell me how to treat my patients. If we are to allow the women of this country the right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy, we as their doctors must be allowed to be doctors and treat them to the best of our professional abilities."

On 11/7/95, Senator Barbara Boxer stated, "This would be the first time in history that we can tell that the United States Congress would outlaw a specific medical procedure that is meant and used to save a woman's life."

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 0.5% of all abortions are performed after the 20th week of pregnancy. "Third trimester abortions are extremely rare, and are performed only in very serious circumstances, when there are grave risks to the woman's life or health, or severe fetal anomalies are diagnosed."

It is unfortunate that supporters of this bill do not realize the damage almost done.

John L. Ferri
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