Saturday, June 20, 2009

Is Late-Term Abortion Ever Necessary?

Mary L. Davenport:

Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, shocked the general public in 1997 when he admitted that the vast majority of partial-birth abortions were performed on healthy mothers and babies.5 Contrary to the assertion of abortion rights supporters that late-term abortion is performed for serious reasons, surveys of late abortion patients confirm that the vast majority occur because of delay in diagnosis of pregnancy.6 They are done for similar reasons as early abortions: relationship problems, young or old maternal age, education or financial concerns.7


Peggy Jarman of the Pro-Choice Action League stated that about three-fourths of Tiller’s late-term patients were teenagers who denied to themselves or their families that they were pregnant until that fact could no longer be obscured.8


T. Murphy Goodwin, M.D., a distinguished professor of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Southern California, has written an eloquent article describing how women are told they need abortions for their own health, when this is patently untrue.10 A major reason for unnecessary abortion referrals is ignorance, to put it bluntly, especially on the part of physicians in medical specialties inexperienced in treating women with high-risk pregnancies. According to Goodwin, there are only three very rare conditions that result in a maternal mortality greater than 20% in the setting of late pregnancy.11 Even in these three situations there is room for latitude in waiting for fetal viability if the mother chooses to accept that risk.


For fatal birth defects, abortion is sometimes presented as the only option. But a better alternative is perinatal hospice. This involves continuing the pregnancy until labor begins and giving birth normally, in a setting of comfort and support until natural death occurs.