I am greatly disturbed by the fact that six of our nine congressional representatives (Jay Inslee, 1st Dist..; Rick Larson, 2nd Dist.; Brian Baird, 3rd Dist.; Norm Dicks, 6th Dist.; Jim McDermott, 7th Dist.; and Adam Smith, 9th Dist.) voted against a ban on “partial-birth” abortions. This is an irrational order of reasoning given the fact that the House and Senate unanimously passed the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” which was signed into law by President Bush on Aug. 5.

The inconsistencies of our laws are apparent when you consider that in the procedure known as “partial-birth” abortion, we can risk the mother’s life by reversing the normal birth position of a child to a breach position (feet first), then almost completely deliver this fully-alive infant, stopping short of allowing the baby’s head to emerge from the birth canal, then severing the brain stem, and vacuuming the brain out, just prior to completing the birth. Because the child has not completely exited the birth canal when he or she is killed in this procedure, we claim that this pre-born infant is not a “person” under the law, and therefore has no right to life.

The very notion in this country that we can deliver the body of an infant then destroy the child by severing its brain stem prior to delivering the head, while at the same time enacting into law that the very same child, if not subjected to this horrific act, would only seconds later be fully delivered and considered a “person” with full protection of the law is incomprehensible

As a physician I am continually astonished that any individual could accept partial-birth abortion as a legitimate medical procedure, let alone by someone in a position of authority in a medical or a legislative profession.

The very notion that partial-birth abortion is justified in order to supposedly “protect the health or life of the mother” is pure propaganda. There is no medical necessity, nor have there ever been any medical indications, for such a procedure. The reality, supported by good evidence in the medical literature, is that partial-birth abortion as is the case for all abortions holds significant risks for the life, health, and well-being of the mother. Most notably this is the case with regard to her future fertility and mental health, which has been most recently supported by a study done in Finland.

There is also very strong evidence from an extensive meta-analysis of the literature that there is a significant increased risk of breast cancer associated with all abortions, especially with the termination of a women’s first pregnancy.

It is an unfortunate state of affairs when “political correctness” carries the day, bowing to the whims of individuals who are bent upon hiding, or denying, reality in order to justify partial-birth abortion. The actual legality of such a procedure is tragic, not only because it destroys the life of a child, but also because it is an overt denial of the true dignity of a woman.

Jan R. Hemstad, M.D.
The Catholic Physicians’ Guild of Washington State

(Catholic Northwest Progress September 19, 2002)