Abortion is one of those issues that most people find it hard to have a reasoned debate over. Passions run too high and it’s rare that entrenched positions can be changed. I could give an argument here about reproductive rights being necessary for gender equality, about my body being my choice or about the benefits of planned families and every child being a wanted child. But general arguments about abortion are hardly ever effective. So I choose to focus here on a much narrower topic, but one that probably excites more passions than abortion in general. I’m talking about intrauterine cranial decompression procedures, also known as dilation and extraction procedures and, non-medically, as partial birth abortions.Three weeks ago, on Sept. 8, a federal court judge in Nebraska struck down the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. This was the third court to do so, preceded by federal courts in New York and San Francisco. This did not come as a surprise to most court watchers, as the bill passed by Congress was essentially the same as a 1997 Nebraska law that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2000. This ruling on the Nebraska law nullified about 30 similar state laws.Both the nullified Nebraska law and the 2003 Act contain two basic fatal flaws – there is no exception for the health of the mother, and the prohibition is so vaguely worded that it can be read to ban many other legal abortion procedures.The major argument given by supporters of the ban is that dilation and extraction procedures, often abbreviated as D&E procedures, are never needed to save the life of the mother. There are three main problems with this argument. First, if it is truly never medically necessary, then why object to the exception? If these procedures are never needed, then including the exception would not allow even a single D&E procedure to be performed.Second, what qualification does Congress have to determine medical necessity? Necessity should be determined by doctors on a case-by-case basis. And finally, why should the life of the mother be the only concern? The exception should be expanded to the health of the mother – pregnancies that would result in serious injury or the inability to bear more children should be included.The second problem the courts have found with the bans is the vague wording. This ban is a backdoor way to overturn Roe v. Wade and take away women’s right to choose entirely. The act is worded in such a way as to have much more far-reaching effects than its proponents claim.The entire set of laws banning these procedures is based on a basic falsehood. “Partial birth abortion,” the term which Congress chose to officially designate the procedure, is incorrect. If we are going to pretend to be acting based on science and medicine rather than religious agendas and moral platforms, shouldn’t we at least use the medical term?D&E procedures are rare to begin with, almost exclusively performed when there are serious problems with either the fetus or the mental or physical health of the mother. Three federal courts have now acted to preserve a procedure that can save a woman’s life or health as a last resort. Judging by precedent, and with fingers crossed, it will only be a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court follows.Stoll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Midnight Ramblers to move on to ICCA semifinals
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Graduate Student Collective voices financial grievances in town hall
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