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Example 5 - Partial Truth Abortion

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.

Groucho Marx

The furor over partial-truth abortion is another example of ideology trumping science. Given the challenges facing our country today, that the Congress and President are so preoccupied with uncommon gynecologic procedures seems strange. But, as that noted political commentator Groucho Marx remarked, that is the nature of politics.

A recent Jeff Stahler cartoon shows a group of physicians preparing for a surgical procedure. Before the surgery begins, one says to another, "Should I call Congress first?" I have read the Constitution of the United States, and licensing and regulation of professions such as law and medicine are the province of the states. We physicians hold state, not federal, medical licenses. Congress does not have jurisdiction over us, unless one views medicine as a form of interstate commerce, like trucking. I have a loftier view of our profession.

Partial-birth abortion is not a medical term, and its use has been successful in a disinformation campaign to further confuse an already confused public. Wild, unsubstantiated claims have been made about the use and safety of the procedures referred to as partial birth abortion. What is the evidence? Chasen and colleagues[20] from Weill Medical College Cornell University recently reported that intact dilation and extraction has the same low morbidity rates as do other methods of midtrimester abortion. Moreover, internal podalic version, total breech extraction, and cephalocentesis are obstetric procedures portrayed in obstetric texts for several centuries.

Given that bans of partial-birth abortion were previously ruled unconstitutional, that the Congress and President eagerly enacted similar laws speaks to their motives. As predicted, 3 different federal courts all ruled the new partial-birth abortion ban unconstitutional.[21] Repeatedly writing bad laws is a shameful waste of time and effort.


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