Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Terms of Concealment

Your morning newspaper today has a story on something it calls "late-term abortion" or "mid-term abortion" (as though it were a canceled college exam. Chances are if its headlines mention partial-birth abortion, the words "partial birth" are in scare quotes. Indeed, the procedure's scary enough, but that's not what the editors mean.

The media in general is intent upon portraying the procedure Congress barred under the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as a fictive creation with a made-up label. Such an accusation would have more weight if the Associated Press et al deemed it necessary to tell readers just what "'partial-birth' abortion" is supposed to be.

If you'd like to know the truth about the procedure from a source other than pro-life Web sites, the best online article is "Gambling With Abortion," which appeared in Harper's by Cynthia Gorney, who is generally considered the most fair-minded mainstream reporter to tackle the issue. I don't agree with everything she says, but she's quite bold for one writing for a liberal publication. Witness this passage on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act's history:

Year after year, 1995 through the end of the Clinton presidency, the public battles roiled on: Clinton declared that he’d sign the ban, but only if it included a health exception; the ban’s authors refused to write in a health exception, insisting that a partial-birth abortion is never necessary to protect a woman’s health. Clinton vetoed the bill in 1996; a new ban passed in 1997, and Clinton vetoed it again. At one especially dismal point Ron Fitzsimmons made headlines of his own by confessing that he had given a reporter D&X [partial-birth abortion] numbers that he knew were too low to be real. “Lied through my teeth” were Fitzsimmons’s exact words, and although Fitzsimmons says he’s still sorry about the credibility damage done to his abortion-rights colleagues in Washington, the truth was that none of them, himself included, had been eager to sit down with reporters or unfriendly congressmen and explain in plain English what D&X is: one terrible-to-look-at procedure among an assortment of terrible-to-look-at procedures used for second- and third-trimester abortion in the United States, which is relatively uncommon, but only relatively—there are 1.3 million abortions performed annually in this country, 12 percent after twelve weeks—and is protected by repeated rulings of the Supreme Court. “We’ve been talking about ‘choice’ since 1973, but everyone knows there’s this big elephant in the room that we can’t talk about,” Fitzsimmons says. “I mean, come on. It’s insulting to women when we obfuscate. Let’s talk about it.”
For more information on partial birth abortion, here is the Congressional testimony of nurses who witnessed the procedure. Also online: a list of links to documents on the issue and an article on misconceptions and realities about it from National Right to Life.