Did you know that Senator Barack
O-bortion Obama hates babies enough that he actually opposed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and even criticized the US Supreme Court Ruling which upheld the Act’s constitutionality?!?!?!?!!!
What if I told you that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act doesn’t do what you think it does…
Let’s begin with a little thought experiment: Imagine you live in a country in which criminals are executed by being boiled alive in hot oil. Now imagine that an exemption to this practice exists dictating that, under certain special circumstances, the convict could be executed by a single gunshot, straight through the head. Now imagine that, in this bizarre country, opponents of the death penalty have labeled this new, exceptional form of execution “head mutilation” and have mounted a vigorous and highly effective campaign against it. After years of political and legal battles, opponents of capital punishment have succeeded in getting a ban on head-mutilation written into national law, and the country’s high court has upheld the ban. From now on, no executees will have their heads mutilated, and the country has, in the view of the anti-death (penalty) movement, taken a bold new step in the direction of more fully valuing the life of all people.
Abortion is a divisive issue, even among Latter-day Saints. Yet I would assert that, for the following discussion, we can presume some common ground: we all agree that abortion as a form of birth control is immoral; we all agree (with the findings of Roe v. Wade) that abortion as a form of birth control on fetuses past the point of viability (the point at which the fetus could survive independently of the mother) should not be legal; and, apparently, we all agree that partial-birth abortions are bad, bad, bad.
Intact Dilation and Extraction (IDX) is a procedure for performing late term abortions (after 20 weeks) and making them less invasive to the mother. It involves 4 separate elements: 1) The cervix is partially dilated chemically; 2) The fetus is repositioned; 3) the fetus is partially pulled out (feet, torso, and arms) leaving only the head inside the birth canal; 4) the brain is evacuated and the skull collapsed, enabling the now dead fetus to be delivered vaginally. Pretty gruesome, no? The idea is that, because the head is the largest part of the body and passes through the birth canal with greatest difficulty, and because a typical abortion is much more invasive, involving the in-utero dismemberment of the fetus and its extraction piece by piece, IDX is the most medically safe procedure for terminating a pregnancy in the late second or third trimester. It was a procedure invented not to enable late term abortions, but to make them safer.
The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act does not prohibit late term abortions. Neither the legislation nor the SCOTUS ruling upholding it contain any mention of any gestational stage of pregnancy. It prohibits a procedure — specifically the IDX, outlined above — and threatens any doctor who performs it, except certain cases, with a steep fine and up to 2 years imprisonment. Late term abortions are still legal. If the fetus is past the point of viability (about 21 weeks), states may legally prohibit abortions except in the cases rape or incest, when the life or health of the mother is at risk, or when a competent medical authority rules that a severe fetal defect exists that would prevent the baby from surviving much beyond birth. In such cases, terminating the pregnancy is still legal, still a constitutional right. But if the health of the mother is at risk, terminating the pregnancy via IDX is not.
The term “partial-birth abortion”, of course, was not coined by the medical community to describe this procedure. It was a term invented for political purposes, for legislation writing. “Intact dilation and extraction” sounds so sterile, so technical, so procedural, so morally indifferent. And since we all know that the doctors who developed IDX were really just insidiously developing creative ways to saturate their thirst for innocent blood, to make the process of murdering babies more intimate and up-close, such language obfuscates their evil designs. “Partial-birth abortion” tells the truth, in all its barbarity.
Such logic is both seductive and self-congratulatory. It imagines a group of self-referentially evil evil-doers, conspiring against goodness and decency, and inscribes those who imbibe it in the role of heroically righteous. I mean, who would support such gruesome, horrifying madness? I’ll tell you who: democrats, women’s libbers, abortionists, and Barack Hussein Obama! Enemies of real-American decency, all of them! Seriously, doesn’t knowing that there are such terrible people out there just make you feel soooooooo righteous? It’s really quite wonderful. Of course such people don’t really exist any more than commanders in chief who delight in the shedding of innocent blood.
There’s no dismissing the effectiveness of the Right-to-Life movement’s rhetorical coup here. Labeling IDX “partial-birth abortion” has produced enormous political dividends, culminating in nothing less than what legal experts on all sides uniformly agree is a major blow at Roe v. Wade. But it also reveals something more troubling about the politics of abortion in this country. You see, what is typically lost is that the years-long legal battles over partial birth abortion have resulted in perhaps the most cynical, eye-popping farce in contemporary politics: the staggering specter of pro-life attorneys arguing with a straight face before federal judges that it is more medically acceptable, safe, and humane to insert an enormous pair of scissors into the uterus and tear a fetus limb from limb than it is to instantaneously remove its brain and collapse its skull. The former — the scissor variation — is now the only legal option for women who seek and doctors who perform late term abortions to protect the “health” (those are air quotes) of the mother.
For those of us who consider abortion to be a grievous moral problem, who believe that late term abortions should be especially restricted, and who believe that human life, however and whenever defined, deserves respect, dignity, and protection, I ask you: in what ethically convoluted universe does this constitute a moral victory? It is disturbing indeed that the Pro-Choice movement has not trumpeted these facts in defense of IDX, though not particularly surprising since the efficacy of this argument rests on extending certain human capacities (those, for example, that would render a bullet through the head less inhumane than boiling in hot oil) to the unborn (at least to those in late gestational stages). Yet far more disturbing here is what appears to be the willingness of the Pro-Life movement to throw the unborn under the bus in order to score a symbolic victory over legal abortion and secure an effective flog with which to bludgeon their pro-choice opponents. What seems like a relatively non-controversial and widely supported proposition — that “partial-birth” abortions should be banned — turns out to be a barometric reading for just how positively insane the abortion debate in this country is.
If you’re pro-choice, I’d like to know if this influences your commitment to the idea that abortion should be a constitutional right, effectively forestalling the possibility of its being debated rationally.
If you’re pro-life, I think I’d just like you to go ahead and defend this barbaric little piece of legislation.
Seriously, folks. There are plenty of reasons why rational, well-intentioned people might not want to vote for Obama (though those reasons are not the subject of this thread, neither are the merits of Roe v. Wade, the legality of pre-viability elective abortion, or the ethical status of having or performing abortions under particular circumstances), but his opposition to banning this procedure in cases where the health of the mother is jeopardized is a seriously stupid one.