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Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2002/ 3 Adar, 5762

Don Feder

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Bush weighs in on partial-birth abortions -- THE partial-birth abortion fight is back. Nowhere is the barbarity of abortion more apparent than here, and nowhere is the demented dogmatism of the movement that supports it more dramatically displayed.

Last week, the Justice Department asked the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower court ruling overturning Ohio's ban on partial-birth abortions. George Bush is behaving exactly as advertised in the campaign -- as a pro-life president.

The move has abortion forces apoplectic. "It clearly represents ... a new attempt at finding a way to eviscerate Roe vs. Wade," shrilled Kate Michelman of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. "President Bush is ... willing to sacrifice the health of American women to further his goal of eliminating the right to choose abortion," charged the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy.

The administration's assault on the well-being of American women comes as a request that an appellate court uphold an attempt to limit "choice" at its most macabre. Some 30 states have tried to regulate partial-birth abortions. In 2000, the Supreme Court struck down Nebraska's ban because it contained only a life-of-the-mother exception, but none for her health. Also, the court noted the law was written in such a way that it might prohibit a more common abortion method.

The Ohio law is more narrowly drawn and contains a health exception. That wasn't enough for Judge Walter Rice of the federal district court in Dayton.

To invalidate the statute, Rice broadened the definition of "health." By the mother's health, the Supreme Court means the woman has a serious health condition that would be substantially worsened by the continuation of her pregnancy. Rice ruled that since partial-birth abortions pose less of a health risk (because fewer instruments are inserted into the uterus) in certain late-term abortions, a woman's health requires her unimpeded access to the procedure.

In its law, Ohio invoked its interest in "maintaining a strong public policy against infanticide" and preventing "a form of cruelty that should not be unnecessarily inflicted upon any being of human origin."

Partial-birth abortions fall short of infanticide by inches. The abortionist delivers all of the child but its head, jams a medical instrument into the base of the skull and suctions out the brains.

Planned Parenthood claims these abortions are "extremely rare and done only in cases when the woman's life is in danger or in cases of extreme fetal abnormality." None of this is true.

A spokesman for abortion providers admitted that each year 3,000 to 5,000 unborn children are killed in this way. One physician told a congressional committee that 80 percent of the partial-birth abortions he performs are on perfectly healthy women with perfectly normal fetuses.

The American Medical Association notes the procedure is "ethically different from other destructive abortion techniques," because the child is "killed outside the womb," where it has "an autonomy which separates it from the right of the mother to choose treatments for her own body." The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons calls it "aberrant and troubling because the technique ... blurs the medical, legal and ethical line between infanticide and abortion."

Groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood aren't troubled in the least. The degree of suffering inflicted on a fellow creature concerns them not at all. They are indifferent to the fact that, at the time of its death, the child is three-fourths out of the womb -- perhaps with its tiny legs and arms twitching.

They insist that there be no limitations on what can be done to the objects of choice. And the humanity of the most vulnerable among us must never be recognized or even alluded to.

That's why they were outraged when the Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it was extending prenatal care benefits to low-income women under a federal program that insures children.

In opposing partial-birth abortion, Bush is fighting for all of us. If we allow this evil to continue, we will have lost something basic. The debate isn't just about the humanity of the unborn child, but ours as well.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate