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November 9, 2006
Partial Birth Abortion

How wonderful to hear NPR run Nina Totenberg reading a NARAL press release and calling it "news."

It's not even worth listening to. It was important enough for NPR to provide a complete transcript, so you can read it if you want, but you will come away misled and unenlightened.

There is one point of real balance in the piece. It's this damning quote:

James Bopp, general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, asserts that this is a procedure that was appropriately criminalized by Congress because it is "too close to infanticide." He asks, "Do we have to approve the performance of partial-birth abortions, which involves the intentional killing of a child that is just inches away from complete delivery of the child? I mean, literally, the child is being held in the doctor's hand alive, and is then killed by the doctor."

The point goes unaddressed in the piece, of course.

Speaking of partial-birth abortion, I understand the powerful propaganda effect of the campaign against it, but more and more it bothers me. Yes PBA is heinous, but apart from being more overt, how is it more heinous that regular abortion? When we say that delivering 85% of a baby before killing it is wrong, are we saying that it's OK to scrape the fetus off of the uterine wall, or to inject it with acid in the womb and then dismember it bit by bit so it fits through the birth canal?

I know that the answer to the question is no, and I know that few people who oppose partial-birth abortion approve of the other ways of killing the baby, but by fighting an all-out war on a specific procedure, are we unintentionally ceding ground on the fact of abortion?

More and more, I just can't get around the fact that we spend a lot of time on PBA, when even the strictest PBA ban doesn't prevent any actual abortions, just abortions by D and X. In the meantime, Republicans can flash their pro-life creds without reducing the number of abortions and Democrats can hurl (often justified) accusations of cynicism and manipulation at their Republican counterparts.

It seems that the main value of the PBA bans are to show that aboriton is in fact akin to infanticide and to make radical abortion proponents oppose the ban and expose themselves as extremists. Are we reaching the point of diminishing returns there yet? I don't know, but it seems like a good question to ask.

Posted by Papa-Lu at November 9, 2006 9:02 AM
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