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WASHINGTON - - On November 5, 2003, President Bush signed into law the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, a federal law to ban nationwide the abortion method in which the premature infant is mostly delivered alive before being killed.

The new law was promptly challenged by an array of pro-abortion groups, including the National Abortion Federation, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the ACLU. On March 29, federal district courts in New York, Nebraska, and California began to conduct separate trials on these legal challenges.

(Further information on the trials appears on page 24 of this issue. Updates will appear from time to time on the NRLC website at

NRLC led the coalition that resulted in enactment of this federal law after an eight-year fight. The NRLC website contains the Internet's most expansive archive of documents pertaining to all facets of the debate over partial-birth abortion, at:

Anyone examining this issue will benefit from reading, at a minimum, "Partial-Birth Abortion: Misconceptions and Realities," a memo written by NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson, who has played a key role in the long debate over the legislation. This memo addresses common misconceptions and misinformation about partial-birth abortion, with links to primary documents, including interviews with partial-birth abortionists and investigative reports in American Medical News, The New York Times, PBS, and other news media. The memo is posted here:

The memo addresses these topics: the actual language and legal intent of the bill; why "partial-birth abortion" is a legal term of art that is NOT synonymous with various pseudo-medical jargon terms used by the law's opponents; how use of the nebulous label "late-term abortion" distorts the debate; whether President Bush's statement (November 5, 2003) that partial-birth abortion is violence directed against those who are "inches from birth" is medically and legally accurate; evidence regarding minimum numbers of partial-birth abortions; acknowledgments by the National Coalition of Abortion Providers that "in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along"; key turning points in the eight-year congressional debate; how the U.S. Supreme Court currently splits on Roe v. Wade and partial-birth abortion; and polls of doctors, obstetricians, nurses, and the general public regarding the ban.

The memo also discusses how medically documented illustrations of two different abortion methods can allow the public to better evaluate claims and counterclaims on what the law actually covers and does not cover.

The three trials will examine a number of medical issues pertaining to partial-birth abortion. A collection of key documents pertinent to many of those issues - - some of which are real eye-openers - - is posted here:

One of the findings of Congress, enacted in the law, states, "The vast majority of babies killed during partial-birth abortions are alive until the end of the procedure. It is a medical fact, however, that unborn infants at this stage can feel pain when subjected to painful stimuli and that their perception of this pain is even more intense than that of newborn infants and older children when subjected to the same stimuli. Thus, during a partial-birth abortion procedure, the child will fully experience the pain associated with piercing his or her skull and sucking out his or her brain."

The organizations seeking to invalidate the law attempted to exclude expert testimony about fetal pain from the trials, but at least two of the judges have ruled that it is relevant. A collection of documents pertinent to the pain of partial-birth abortion, mostly produced during the congressional hearings, is posted here: Fetal_Pain/index.html

"Partly born, premature infants will continue to die at the point of seven-inch scissors, while the abortion industry pursues these legal challenges," commented NRLC's Johnson. "We believe that this law will ultimately be reviewed by the Supreme Court, where five justices in 2000 said Roe v. Wade guarantees the right to perform partial-birth abortions at will. We can only hope that by the time this law reaches the Supreme Court, there will be at least a one-vote shift away from that extreme and inhumane position."
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Publication:National Right to Life News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Previous Article:More Reason For Optimism at Harvard.

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