Thursday, August 26, 2004

Medically Necessary D&X Abortions

My dad was an OB-GYN and so I grew up talking about C-sections at the dinner table. So I am aware that sometimes a particular medical procedure that can be used for elective abortion, such as a D&C (dilatation and curretage), can also have medically necessary uses (such as removing the remnants of a miscarriage). I am against abortion in most cases, but I definitely would not support an outright ban on the D&C procedure, because it has lifesaving contexts.

I do, however, support a ban on D&X, aka partial birth abortion. I heard on NPR today that yet another judge has decided that the law banning D&X is unconstitutional because it doesn't allow an exception for the health or life of the mother.

Back when the law was passed, I wanted to get an informed opinion on D&X, so I asked my dad if he could tell me of a case where a D&X was necessary to save the life or health of the mother. As soon as I said "D&X" he hung his head and was silent for a while before answering me gravely. Then he told me what I had suspected from descriptions of the procedure, which is that from the mother's point of view, a D&X is exactly the same as a live birth. The only medical difference between a live birth and a D&X is that after a live birth, there's a live baby, and after a D&X, there's a dead baby.

If there are no cases in which the outcome for the mother would be different with a live birth, then it's awfully disingenuous of people to claim that there ought to be an exception in the ban on D&X for the life or health of the mother. Now if anyone out there can give me a scenario where D&X would save the mother's life or health and live birth would not, I may change my opinion. (Any argument hinging on the mother's having to raise the child is moot, since the child could easily be adopted out once it's born. And any argument regarding the quality of life of the baby doesn't count, because we are talking about the mother's health, not the baby.)

So I challenge you all: if you support overturning the D&X ban, give me one scenario where it saves the mother's life.