Even though the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act has been in news for quite some time now, very few people actually know what it is all about. In the field of medicine, 'partial born abortion' is known as 'intact dilation and extraction' wherein a living fetus is partially delivered vaginally, and killed before completing the delivery. Basically, the term 'partial-birth abortion' can be traced to the political movement surrounding the issue of abortion and its use in the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act - the United States law which bans this type of abortion except for cases wherein it is necessary to save the mother's life.
Facts about Partial-Birth Abortion
It's highly unlikely that you must have come across this concept ever in life, unless you are actively involved in the political movement surrounding the issue of abortion or you happen to be an avid newsreader. If you are new to this concept, the chances are that you will be left dumbfounded whilst going through these facts about it - especially the ones which stress on the procedure involved.
Intact Dilation and Extraction (IDX)
Also referred to as intact dilation and evacuation, intact dilation and extraction refers to a form of late term abortion which is carried out in the fifth month of gestation or later. In this procedure, the abortionist turns the fetus around in the womb, and pulls it out of the birth canal (vagina) - feet first. Subsequently the entire body of a live fetus is delivered (pulled out), except for its head which lies just inside the opening of the womb. Then the abortionist takes a surgical instrument, and punctures the skull of the fetus. A catheter is inserted inside the skull, and the brain of the fetus is sucked out using a powerful suction device. This - in turn, makes the skull collapse which allows the fetus to pass through the cervix with relative ease, following which the delivery is completed by pulling out the now dead fetus from the womb.
Even though the entire procedure may sound quite inhumane, medical practitioners suggest that it becomes a necessity at times - especially when there exist some psychological or physical health problems associated with pregnancy and it's a question of life and death for the woman. This procedure is also considered to be a viable option when the fetus is malformed or it is suffering from some serious genetic defect which can be only detected in the second trimester. While these reasons sound somewhat convincing, the fact is that most of the illegal partial birth abortions are carried out when the woman takes a delayed decision to abort the child, as she feels she is not yet ready to have a baby.
Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act 2003
"Any physician who, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly performs a partial-birth abortion and thereby kills a human fetus shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both."
- Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (2003)
The Act was signed into law on 5th November, 2003, by the then President of the United States - George W. Bush. This was a welcome change as a similar legislation which was put forth in the 90s was vetoed by the then President Bill Clinton in the United States. More importantly, the 2003 law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court when its constitutionality was challenged in 2007.
Partial-birth abortion has been the focal point for pro-life supporters in their tirade against abortion. Even though it is believed that the rate of such abortion cases is very low in the United States, pro-life supporters question the credibility of this claim citing that there is no concrete evidence to suggest the same. Being an illegal process, partial birth abortion has become one of those dark truths which are conveniently hidden in our society. Those against the practice of abortion also question the credibility of partial-birth abortion statistics which reveal that the rate of such cases is low citing that they are based on voluntary surveys.
PS: Even though the term partial-birth abortion has become more popular than terms like intact dilation and extraction or intact dilation and evacuation of late, the same has also been a subject of raging controversy since it was used for the first time by media on 4th June, 1995. Critics of this term argue that its framing in itself was a political conspiracy which was specifically targeted to gain legal restrictions in favor of those who supported it.