Infants are being killed

By Douglas Johnson, NRLC Legislative Director

[Editor's note. This op-ed first appeared in USA Today.]

A few weeks ago, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a press release that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act would "outlaw a medical procedure used primarily in emergency abortions."

It knows better. Here's the truth:

Thousands of times a year, an abortionist deliberately delivers, feet first, a premature, healthy infant until only the baby's head remains lodged just inside the mother's womb. Then he punctures the base of the baby's skull with 7-inch surgical scissors and suctions out the brain.

"Premature infant" is accurate. The method is usually used in the fifth and sixth months (sometimes later). Babies born just after the start of the sixth month now very often survive. Even during the fifth month, if a woman goes into spontaneous labor, her baby usually will be alive when born and, therefore, legally recognized as a "live birth." Thus, this abortion method is, literally, a partial birth.

Eminent medical authorities have testified that this process must be excruciatingly painful for the baby who is subjected to it.

In Senate floor debate, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said that a partial-birth abortion "killed" a "child." Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., immediately protested that she took "deep offense" at those words. Offended at "child"? But even the inventor of the partial-birth abortion method, the late physician James McMahon, told American Medical News, "After 20 weeks [4-1/2 months] where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it. ... On the other hand, I have another position, which I think is superior in the hierarchy of questions, and that is: 'Who owns the child?' It's got to be the mother."

Offended at "kill"? Faye Wattleton, former president of Planned Parenthood, said in 1997, "I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing." The executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, Ron Fitzsimmons, told the New York Times, "It is a form of killing. You're ending a life."

Fitzsimmons also admitted that the method is used thousands of times annually. He adds 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."

The truth hurts. But not as much as surgical scissors through the base of the skull.