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Demagoguery Behind Late-Abortion Bill

June 17, 2003

Re "Pro-Choice Feminists' Shameful Deception," by Norah Vincent, Commentary, June 12: It is indeed shameful to see the amount of irresponsible sloganeering that exists about abortion. The most recent example is not NARAL Pro-Choice America's objections to the partial-birth abortion bill but the demagoguery involved in the birth of this legislation. The basis already exists in Roe vs. Wade to control access to all late-term abortions, not just to a surgical procedure that Vincent doesn't like, and which, not coincidentally, can be used as effective graphic propaganda. But the Republican Congress believes that it can determine moral and immoral surgical procedures, regardless of the end results. What next? Will there be a policeman in every surgery to ensure that this procedure is not used?

I have no idea if "dilation and extraction" makes for a safer method of aborting a late-term fetus (when it is discovered, for instance, that it has no brain), nor do the geniuses in Congress. I believe that physicians should make those decisions, not right-wing pamphleteers. If Congress wanted to restrict the already limited number of late-term abortions, it could have done so. It was not interested in anything but agitprop. And that is the shameful deception.

Jim Hassinger



Please allow one who has climbed onto a surgical table for a late-term pregnancy termination to educate Vincent. Most late-term abortions (and hence, partial-birth procedures) are of planned pregnancies. The women who must undergo these procedures have been through enough, without facing attacks from fools who feel they have to control the lives of others.

In my case, we had to wait for the results of an amniocentesis, which had been taken at the earliest allowable time. Because I desperately wanted my pregnancy to continue, I waited for the results of a second amnio. All this led to a pregnancy termination during the 24th week. Now, Vincent would have declared my son a "human" with rights. Isn't a human supposed to have some sort of functioning central nervous system? For someone like Vincent to come along and declare what type of surgery she thinks my doctor should perform would have been an invasion of my privacy. It was bad enough that I was forced to go through this sad but necessary procedure. To worry about breaking laws for safety would have made it even worse. But I still would have done it, because it was the right thing to do -- for myself, for my fetus and for my family.

Our nation must rethink its opposition to partial-birth abortions. Any "bans" should be left up to the doctors, who have women's best health interests at heart. They know the medicine involved, Ms. Vincent, not you.

Elizabeth Black

Laguna Beach

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