>If you don’t want your child to suffer, you don’t choose Partial Birth Abortion (Intact Dilation and Extraction or “D&X”) and you certainly shouldn’t complain about State laws concerning prevention of fetal pain during the abortion.
msnbc.com and Self Magazine have teamed up to discuss “When there is no good choice.”
In the story, we read about abortions – one at 22 weeks and and one at 30 weeks pregnancy, after two mothers learn that their babies have severe birth defects. While the story spends a lot of space trying to explain that the mothers are having the abortions because they don’t want their babies to suffer, the story condemns laws requiring anesthesia, informing the mothers that their children may feel pain during the procedure, or mandating lethal injections to kill the child before dismembering him or her. Of course, we are told how wrong it is to call “D&X” “partial birth abortion,” or to ban the procedure itself.
This is a story about the politics of an election year, written to tug on our heart strings rather than inform.
Obviously, I am pro-life, and so, I must be one of those the article calls “anti-abortion.” The story claims that I “demonize” the mothers who have abortions at 28 weeks, and mentions that because of George Bush, the Republicans, and “red staters,” these women have troubles and the doctors claim that they worry about being charged with breaking the law. However, each woman does abort her child.
The author doesn’t seem to notice the irony that she is practicing demonization, herself.
The good news is that the article reports on perinatal hospice, now available across the country:
Today some 60 U.S. hospitals, hospices and crisis pregnancy clinics offer perinatal hospice services; in Minnesota, women seeking to abort fetuses with fatal anomalies are required by law to be informed about hospice as an alternative. “Women appreciate the grieving process and being able to spend time with their babies,” says Dr. Calhoun, vice chair of obstetrics and gynecology at West Virginia University School of Medicine in Charleston. “Perinatal hospice gives women an alternative that is a better choice than abortion.”
>I'd like to complain about fetal pain laws.I am not a neurologist or an embryologist, but I do have a little understanding of the subject and a good understanding of the politics involved. Like a lot of pro-choice people, I see the fetal pain laws as unscientific and obvious attempts to scare women.It's like the law that requires woman be informed that abortion causes breast cancer – a long-discredited link, anyone with a little scientific understanding knows it to be a false claim, and yet lawmakers still feel women need to be told. The reason is obvious: If abortion can't be banned, pro-life politicians next option is to make it as difficult and unpleasant as possible.Tell the woman it give them cancer. Make it expensive, make them go through mountains of paperwork. Force them to look at 4d images of their really cute fetus in the hope of emotional blackmail, tell them their child will be put through pain. Anything, anything at all, to scare them away from the abortion.Why does the federal government forbid it's employees purchasing health insurance that covers abortion? To place yet another difficulty in the way. To make abortion legal, but unaffordable to many.Returning to fetal pain laws, while I cannot evaluate the capability of a late-term fetus to feel pain, I am be quite confident that the times specified by the fetal pain legislation are *far* too low. The estimate in one law was based on a study that involved poking fetuses, observing they have a reflex, and declaring that to be proof they feel pain. Congress was even lectured by a scientific adviser who represented the Vatican at one point.A reasonable lower-limit is 26 weeks, based on the development of the brain. This isn't the point at which a fetus can feel pain, but rather the first point at which there is any possibility, even estimating low out of caution. Before that point, the required connections just arn't there. The fetal pain laws in the US, in contrast, can set it as low as 13 weeks.I very much doubt even the 26 week limit is low enough – the rough structures are in place by that point, but they must need a bit of sensory input to connect up properly.Few care about the science though. Pro-life politicians have a history of doing anything in their power to make abortion as difficult, expensive and guilt-inducing as possible – and if this means harming women or distorting science, their sense of moral superiority will justify anything.
>their sense of moral superiority will justify anything.Anything, but the destruction of innocent human life. That's reserved for the other camp.
>Both sides are absolutly convinced they are right, and the other is Pure Evil.This is why there is no meaningful dialog between them.
>SR, you protest too much about the "sides." I'm sorry for whatever event causes you so much pain that you now invest in demonizing the pro-life side, but the worries about fetal pain were part of the original article:Now nearly 22 weeks pregnant, Vargas had two choices: terminate immediately or wait, in which case she would miscarry at any point or spontaneously go into labor at as early as 28 weeks. If her son was still alive at his delivery, doctors warned, he would perish within a short time. And that death would likely be very painful for him. “As a parent, your job is to make sure your child doesn’t suffer unnecessarily,” she says. The reflexes, pain receptors, and cortisone/adrenalin responses are present at different areas of the body at 7 weeks or so. The centralized – brain to body part – "wiring" is there at 20 weeks (give or take a few days). The integration with other parts of the nervous system — the connections and chemistry that allow us to suppress or ignore pain — are missing until around 26 to 28 weeks. (Have you ever seen a child "space out" or fall asleep during a painful time? They're escaping.) However, the ability to remember, anticipate and connect a stimulus with a given sensation is not reliably present until well after a year old.This is the source of the argument about anesthesia for newborns at surgery. However, we know that anesthesia leads to better healing and weight gain in these babies.You are right that each side believes that we are doing the right thing.I understand that you identify with the mothers and that you object to identification with the babies. As someone who spontaneously miscarried an unplanned baby at about 10-12 weeks, I probably identify with both. A wise old saying goes: never cut a knot you can untie.I believe that knowing that we did everything we could to make the right decisions is good for the mother as well as the baby. The steps laws put mothers through are helpful later when they worry whether they did the right thing.
>I dislike this concept of sides too, but that is the reality. The abortion has two sides, both hating the other. It's not optimal. It's a terrible situation. But that is how it is. The moderates have been largely forced out – they make themselves known in polls, but in the debate arena they are absent. There are no moderate campaigning organisatios – only the all and the nothing, none in between.
>Although "hate" is not necessarily a motive for opposing elective abortion, the life of the child that is aborted is an either/or matter. Once it's done, it can't be undone.I do keep hearing about prayers for, kindness given, etc., to abortion survivors and the staff of the facilities.
>No, the hate I see is pure hate, and it exists independantly of the issue they are disagreeing over. It's the hate of two sides who have been fighting so long, they are at the point of fighting from habbit.I'm not picking sides in that claim – it goes both ways. Lifeethics is above such pettyness, but elsewhere… I long ago lost count of how many times I was accused of being a nazi because I wrote in support of abortion rights.
>More common ground! I get called a Nazi for opposing abortion.
>I'd like to complain about both fetal pain laws and the new South Dakota law requiring that doctors tell women that abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being."Why? Because both of them enshrine unproven opinion into law. It's obvious that there's still a good deal of argument over when a fetus can feel pain. Why should I, as a physician, be required to parrot one particular side of the debate? It's the same with the South Dakota law. As a conservative Jew, I don't believe that life begins at conception. I believe that it begins with ensoulment (at birth). Yet the law would require me to parrot the (presumably) Christian viewpoint. I see that as a violation of both my religious rights and my free speech rights.
>dr dredd, One of my frequent comments is that it wouldn't matter under the law that the bird is an embryo or fetus if you destroy the egg of a bird on the endangered species list.I'm sure that you understand the difference between a gamete and an embryo. "Living" organism vs. living cell. When "life" begins might be a religious or personal choice. You and I know that some ethical definitions of personhood and the technical definition of "pain" (see this post for the definition of pain as a "psychological construct") entail abilities and characteristics that can't be met until the child is 3 or more years old. How old does a child have to be to be able to connect the stimulus to the neurological event? Do you ignore the pain of premature neonates or of those very old patients who can't However, scientifically there's no doubt about whether the embryo is a living organism. There's definitely no doubt that an intentional, interventional abortion ends that life of a living organism.Further, although Jewish Law counts ensoulment at the first breath, there's no doubt about the status of the child prior to that first breath. He or she is still a member of our species. Wouldn't he or she also be an image of G_d?
>As a mother who was faced with knowing I was carrying a child who would not survive, I have to say that there is a distinct lack of perinatal hospice programs and a definite need for more. The hospital I was transferred to, being a Catholic institution, was as helpful as possible in allowing me to hold my daughter and even allowed me to speak with one of the sisters who was on the ethics committee that approved her early cesarean delivery (there was a risk to my health as well as a definite end to future fertility if I carried her to term). However, that hospital was an hour away from the town where I lived. Had I delivered at home, who knows what type of support, if any I would have received? My hometown hospital is the same one which refused to let me have my child's remains after a miscarriage in 2005. Perinatal hospices are needed whether or not abortion is legal, is what I suppose I am trying to say – because there are families, and sadly, always will be families who need the support.
>I'm so sorry that your local hospital made it hard for you. Believe it or not, they may have thought they were following some law.I may have mentioned it before, but the Tyler Texas medical community gave me so much grief over natural childbirth and nursing (in '77 and '82) that I decided to go to medical school. That punished them!