What is Partial-Birth Abortion (PBA)?
[Caution: Graphic description in the following section]
This gruesome procedure, also known as Dilation and Extraction (D&X), is used to abort pre-born children who are 20 to 32 weeks old—or even later. Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist uses forceps to pull the baby’s leg into the birth canal. The abortionist delivers the baby’s entire body except for the head. (At this point, the baby is alive.) With his head still inside the birth canal and his body dangling outside, the abortionist violently punctures the back of the baby’s skull with scissors and then widens the tips of the scissors to enlarge the wound. A catheter is then inserted into the skull, and the child’s brains are suctioned out. The now-collapsed head is then removed from the uterus, and the baby is discarded.
PBA Ban Act: Present and Past
On April 18, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court (with a 5-4 decision) upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, outlawing this barbaric procedure. The decision marks the first restriction on a particular abortion procedure since the 1973 Roe v. Wade court abomination.
The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act passed in both the U.S. House and Senate in 1996 and 1997 and was twice vetoed by President Clinton (once on Easter Sunday). In June 2000, the previous PBA Ban Act (which Pro-Lifers were still pushing in Congress) was declared illegal in the Stenberg v. Carhart Supreme Court decision. The new, revised ban more clearly noted that the child is almost completely delivered (thereby further distinguishing PBA from other legal abortion procedures). This ban was enacted in 2003 and then blocked from taking effect by three separate federal district court rulings that rendered the ban unconstitutional because it did not include a health exception.
Most doctors argue that PBA is never necessary to save the mother’s life. If a woman’s life was truly threatened by pregnancy, she would not have successfully carried the baby to the third trimester. Since PBA is a two or three day procedure, a woman whose life is threatened could not endure that lengthy procedure. The way to save her life is to deliver the child. Under the court’s new precedent, an abortionist who decides that the partial-birth abortion procedure would be medically appropriate must apply for an exemption.
A Monumental Court Ruling
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion, wrote, “The Act proscribes a method of abortion in which a fetus is killed just inches before completion of the birth process… Congress determined that the abortion methods it proscribed had a ‘disturbing similarity to the killing of a newborn infant.’” The majority ruled that a general ban on the method is permissible and does not violate the general “abortion right” enunciated in past decisions such as Roe v. Wade (1973) and Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992).
As Chuck Colson of BreakPoint commented, “It took thirty-four years to get from Roe v. Wade to the first significant restriction of so-called ‘abortion rights.’ It’s a reminder that when it comes to eradicating social ills, we must never give up.” He went on to compare this victory with British Parliamentarian William Wilberforce’s victory in slowing the British slave trade. His victory came when he was able to pass legislation in 1788 that restricted the number of slaves that a ship was allowed to carry based on the ship’s tonnage. This victory, although small, proved that the slave trade was vulnerable, just as our victory against partial-birth abortion proves that the abortion industry is vulnerable. Mr. Wilberforce, after almost 20 years of fighting, was eventually successful in abolishing the slave trade. Twenty-five years after that, slavery was abolished all together. We too—with patience, hard work, and diligence—eventually will be successful in abolishing the practice of abortion.
“The Supreme Court's decision is an affirmation of the progress we have made over the past six years in protecting human dignity and upholding the sanctity of life. We will continue to work for the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law.” President George W. Bush
“I applaud the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Congress’ prohibition on the awful procedure of partial-birth abortion. This decision is important on two separate fronts. First, it affirms that we have a responsibility to protect innocent human life. Second, it reminds us that we are a nation with laws written and enacted by representatives elected by the people. Our laws are not to be written and enacted by judges unaccountable to the people.” Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst