Patterico's Pontifications


TAPPED Into a Canard About Partial-Birth Abortion

Filed under: Abortion — Patterico @ 7:42 pm

Dana Goldstein at TAPPED reminds us of the “facts” about partial-birth abortion:

Intact dilation and extraction, aka D&X or — to the antis — “partial birth abortion,” accounts for less than two tenths of one percent of all abortions performed in the United States each year, and is usually reserved for instances in which the pregnant woman is facing severe health risks or when expectant parents learn their fetus will not be viable outside of the womb.

Just one problem: it’s not so.

But don’t take it from me. Take it from two prominent left-leaning journalists.

First, we have leftist Franklin Foer:

After interviewing doctors who perform the procedure, both [the Washington Post and the Bergen Record] concluded that only in very few instances was the IDE actually necessary to protect the woman’s health. Most of them were performed on poor women who could not muster the money to pay for abortions earlier in their pregnancies.

Next, we have leftist David Savage:

Only 1% to 2% of abortions take place after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Of these, about 3,000 to 5,000 per year are done with D&X [partial-birth abortion]. Doctors say only a small percentage of those are done because of medical complications or fetal deformity.

Yet this canard is repeated, again and again, by the “pro-choice” left.

All we can do here is keep repeating the truth, again and again and again.

43 Responses to “TAPPED Into a Canard About Partial-Birth Abortion”

  1. Marvin Haskell M.D., who has the dubious honor of inventing the procedure method of killing, testified before Congress about it and IIRC admitted as much re: the lack of health risks to the mother. The consensus in the medical community is the same. Pretty much all the “medical indications” (for taking the life of a child, mind you) can be detected within the second trimester.

    Down syndrome or other nonlethal fetal medical anomalies are in fact often the “medical” reasons given for the partial birth abortion (see a little less than halfway down for the links re: health reasons).

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  2. procedure = procedure

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  3. I’m thinking that the strike-through function is not working.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  4. Huh, strike doesn’t work, again. Seriously, would that partial birth abortions would fail just as regularly.

    Though we think their lives are valuable too, it’s impossible not to be angry at these “doctors,” taking desperate women’s money and killing babies they know very well are fully formed human beings. A local abortionist is privately known as “The Animal” and shunned by our local medical community (doctors I used to work for told me this). Too bad it doesn’t stop his killing business.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  5. there was this court decision a few years back that prevented the gov’t from getting data to prove that partial birth abortion wasnt necessary in the cases it is usually performed in.

    chas (12a229)

  6. change the s to strike and /s to /strike if you use the buttons.


    kimsch (2ce939)

  7. How is it a canard repeated again and again by the pro-choice left, when you have twice as many examples of leftists debunking the argument as you have promoting the argument?

    You have a good case against Goldstein being wrong on the facts, but I don’t think you have the evidence to claim that the “left” repeats it again and again. In fact you undermine your point by pointing to twice as many of those you say are leftists who support your point.

    Aplomb (d1af53)

  8. I don’t think you have the evidence to claim that the “left” repeats it again and again.

    You sure as hell can’t find any examples of the “right” making such assertions…

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  9. why does quoting two examples v one example prove anything? There are just two examples; no one’s saying “these three quotes represent the split between honest leftists and members of the Democrat Party.”

    steve miller (724340)

  10. Abortion on demand=a program invented by democrats to control the black population.

    I can start a conspiricy theory if every one else does.

    Well, actually it is basically true.

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  11. Steve Miller: Patterico wrote that this canard is repeated again and again by the pro choice left.

    I’m just pointing out that this assertion is not supported. He has one guy (Goldstein) asserting it. If he had multiple examples his assertion would be supported. And the fact that he has twice as many persons he identifies as on the left countering it makes his argument weak. Pat’s argument seems to come more from his own preconception of what leftists probably think, based on just one example even when countered by two others he found himself, than by stats or analysis.

    Aplomb (d1af53)

  12. Aplomb, it still does not prove your point. That he has two examples of one side and one of the other does not show any correlation to the ratio.

    steve miller (724340)

  13. Agreed, Steve, that both Patterico and I have no evidence or reason to state an opinion about the ratio of opinion on the left.

    Which is why I am questioning the assertion by Patterico that this canard is repeated again and again by the pro choice left. He showed that one leftist (according to him) said one thing and two other leftists (according to him) said another, but the point of the post seems to be that this is some sort of canard oft repeated by the left.

    Aplomb (d1af53)

  14. the point of the post seems to be that this is some sort of canard oft repeated by the left.

    Perhaps “oft” might be the wrong adjective. Try “ONLY”. Once again, you will find NO ONE on the pro-life side of this argument making this assertion.

    It may be that this procedure is as rarely defended as it is performed, but that is still too many.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  15. How about take it from a doctor who performs partial birth abortions, Dr. MacMahon, who also co-wrote the manual on the procedure:

    “Dr. McMahon voluntarily submitted to the House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee a sample of 175 partial-birth abortions he performed. In its official report the committee notes that 22% of the total abortions were for reasons of depression, not protection of the mother’s life.[6]

    Interestingly, even in the NAF (National Abortion Federation) material the reasons cited for why some doctors prefer this procedure have nothing to do with the life of the mother. It “prevents unnecessary bleeding and has a low complication rate. Reaction from the patients is positive [and] they found the surgery less painful and difficult than they expected.” Some families just “want a chance to say good-bye.”[7]

    These may all be important considerations, everything being equal, but note that no doctor mentions threat to the mother’s life, even in the pro-abortion material. There’s a reason the doctors don’t emphasize it: there is no threat.

    Dr. Pamela Smith, Director of Medical Education in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago, said, “There are absolutely no obstetrical situations encountered in this country which require a partially delivered human fetus to be destroyed to preserve the life of the mother.“[8]

    Dana (764cb2)

  16. Aplomb,

    Patterico can speak for himself but here is my perspective. NARAL Pro Choice Ohio still publishes this April 2007 post that states:

    “By almost all counts, partial-birth abortion is rare, involving less than 1 percent of abortions.”

    And Jeffrey Toobin’s June 2007 New Yorker essay claims that partial birth abortion is:

    “… a procedure performed rarely, often when there are extraordinary risks to the mother, the fetus, or both.”

    Thus, pro-abortion advocates continue to make these claims despite the fact that it’s been more than 10 years since this 1997 New York Times article in which Ron Fitzsimmons, the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers admitted he “lied through his teeth” when he claimed partial birth abortion was used rarely and only on women whose lives were in danger or whose fetuses were damaged. Fitzsimmons said the vast majority of partial birth abortions were used on healthy mothers with fetuses that were more than 20 weeks along.

    I think Patterico’s point was that pro-abortion advocates are still repeating this canard, and the example in this post is one in a series of examples made here and elsewhere. I believe Patterico linked examples of two liberals who don’t repeat the ‘PBA is rare’ meme to illustrate it’s not just conservatives who acknowledge this is misinformation.

    DRJ (d5bcc5)

  17. Dana, that’s just more evidence that Goldstein is wrong. Now we have both leftists and actual abortion doctors supporting that. What we don’t have is that there is a pro choice left that repeats Goldstein’s canard again and again, which is the thrust of Patterico’s post.

    Drumwaster, I don’t understand your point. I am as certain as you are that no one on the pro-life (as you put it) side is making the assertion. But that does not mean that this canard (i.e. Goldstein’s position) is being repeated again and again by the pro choice left, which is what Patterico asserted. So far, we have gathered evidence of leftists and abortion doctors disagreeing, and no evidence of the pro choice left repeating this canard again and again.

    Aplomb (d1af53)

  18. DRJ: We cross posted.

    Your NARAL Ohio statement is just a position neutral fact, right? Partial-birth abortion is rare, involving less than 1 percent of abortions. Whether right or wrong, that’s just a factual statement. That has nothing to do with when or why they are performed in terms of health risks, and certainly nothing to do with any supposed canards concerning health risks allegedly repeated by the left.

    As for Toobin, toss him in the bin with Goldstein if you wish. He is right that the procedure is preformed rarely, and (perhaps?) wrong that it often happens when there are extraordinary risks to the mother the fetus or both. I’m still not ready to agree that this is a canard repeated over and over by the pro choice left. Toobin has no credibility from anyone, right or left.

    As for Fitzsimmons, did you actually have to go back more than ten years for more evidence that this is a canard that is repeated over and over by the pro choice left? And in doing so, find yet another example of someone you would expect to be parroting the supposed left viewpoint, but in fact refuting it, thus undermining the whole idea that this is in fact the left viewpoint?

    Aplomb (d1af53)

  19. Comment by Aplomb — 7/7/2008 @ 10:39 pm

    Planned Parenthood has very few defenders on the right and almost no detractors on the left. And, with the support of those leftists, including Obama (until recently – but just wait a few minutes, he could change his position again) “Planned Barrenhood” repeatedly defends partial birth abortion, saying that the law should defer to medical judgment and that women’s health is at stake, clearly implying that’s the main reason for these abortions, when that is quite simply a lie, as others have shown above.

    Also, there are lots of other examples of leftists who repeat this canard. Just a few seconds of Googling produced all these links. Am sure others could come up with lots more in a very short time.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  20. Well … I thought I was using the Fitzsimmons’ story to show that the issue shouldn’t be this muddy after all these years. Is the procedure rare and, if so, how often is it used on healthy mothers and fetuses? It seems to me we should be clear on these facts by now but it doesn’t seem that we are.

    DRJ (d5bcc5)

  21. Comment by Aplomb — 7/7/2008 @ 10:59 pm

    As you see, Aplomb, the posts which have dates listed in them in the links I provide are all pretty recent. And again, that’s a few seconds of Googling.

    Yes, this is a defense of partial birth abortion – dishonest as it turns out – propagated by people who know they would never get support saying the truth of what the abortionists themselves admit and the medical community knows: a woman who is far enough along to be carrying a child is not going to have her life or health saved by pulling the baby partway out of the birth canal, and then sucking his or her brains out, as opposed to just finishing the delivery. We’re talking about a sick (or Down syndrome) child, not a sick mother, at the point of partial birth abortion.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  22. And sometimes the child is not even sick, as with the situation mentioned above by Patterico, where poor women who couldn’t afford abortions before pay for a partial birth abortion.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  23. Aplomb,

    The lead article at the National Coalition of Abortion Providers’ “NCAP on the Issues” website is a 1999 position paper on the Partial Birth Abortion Act that “suggests that if the so-called ‘partial birth abortion’ was outlawed, not one abortion would be prevented.”

    That strikes me as odd given everything else I’ve read.

    DRJ (d5bcc5)

  24. I have a previous post citing Nina Totenberg repeating this. But I doubt anyone listens to her.

    The TAPPED post cites the Planned Parenthood site. But probably nobody (well, maybe except TAPPED) (well, and every other pro-choice fanatic on the planet) cites Planned Parenthood for their facts.

    Gimme a break. You want to have a challenge where you put money on the proposition that I can’t find 20 examples of this canard being repeated? Because I’m not wasting my time proving something that obvious unless there’s real money involved. Put up or shut up.

    Patterico (cb443b)

  25. I’m not challenging you to do anything, Patterico. You could find 20 examples in support of your view if you spend enough time, no question. I could find 100 contrary examples if I spend enough time, also no question.

    I’m just pointing out that this supposed canard is probably more in your mistaken preconception than an actual meme that has currency on the left. You took one example of what some idiot wrote and unfairly applied it to the pro choice left, as a canard they repeated over and over, without evidence. And then you supplied two counter examples which undermined your point.

    If you had actually gathered up a bunch of cites to support your thesis, it would be a compelling point of view backed up by evidence.

    Since it is not, it strikes me as you seizing on a single misinformed opinion to try to paint everyone else who differs from you on this issue as people who constantly rely on false canards over and over. This is what I am objecting to, especially when you yourself demonstrate that some on the left who disagree with you on the issue nevertheless acknowledge the underlying data you yourself accept.

    Aplomb (d1af53)

  26. You are “proving” something by a negative.

    You are also backing away from your original position, that the text quoted by the host “prove” that the support is the other way.

    You’re making this up as you go along. Not a bad strategy, but not one that says you know how it will end.

    Do you really think the leftists have been telling the truth all this time, that partial birth abortion is being done for the convenience of the mother and the sure death of “not fit to live” children?

    steve miller (724340)

  27. Comment by Aplomb — 7/8/2008 @ 1:04 am

    I’m not sure you’ll be able to find partial birth abortion supporters defending it without mentioning “health of the mother,” since the 2003 partial birth abortion ban specifically has a exception for the mother’s life, just in case the saving of a womaon’s life requires, after her baby is pulled through her birth canal (let us be clear) the crushing of her baby’s skull instead of it being delivered intact along with the rest of his or her body.

    The whole reaction to the Partial Birth Abortion Act by the left, led by Planned Parenthood just as Patterico pointed out, was first to try to hide the fact of what actually happens in the procedure. When that didn’t work (prolifers reacted by splashing it everywhere) they said that that “of course it’s upsetting to think about, but we need it to preserve women’s health.” The links I cited already address that and as you yourself point out, I could find many more very quickly. Leftists quote Planned Parenthood and its research arm, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, all the time.

    By the way, your statement

    you seizing on a single misinformed opinion to try to paint everyone else who differs from you on this issue as people who constantly rely on false canards over and over

    actually does apply to Planned Parenthood and activist pro-choicers, who utterly rely on these howlers, among other things:


    Embryos and fetuses are unformed masses of tissue, mere “products of conception”

    Embryos and fetuses do not feel pain

    There is no brain activity when children are aborted

    Just because a heartbeat exists doesn’t mean a fetus is alive (I saw this in a legal transcript document I clicked on when Googlomg last night – a female abortionist claimed this under cross-examination in court and I will take the time to hunt down the document again should you want to see it).

    Women’s physical aftereffects of abortion are extremely rare

    Women who suffer emotionally after abortion only feel that way because of guilt put upon them by “anti-choicers.” If others were more tolerant women would not experience suicidal thoughts, depression, drug use, panic attacks, flashbacks, anniversary grief, relationahip breakdown, etc. etc.

    Sex education in schools prevents pregnancy and reduces abortions


    The list could go on and on. It is actually impossible to defend abortion at any depth or length in s serious discussion WITHOUT using (either unintentionally or intentionally) false information, especially given current medical technology where the humanity of the unborn child at all stages of pregnancy cannot only be known scientifically, but can be seen by Joe Sixpack.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  28. I’m just pointing out that this supposed canard is probably more in your mistaken preconception than an actual meme that has currency on the left.

    You can still assert this after admitting that you could find “100 examples” of same?

    The argument is being made on a regular basis. The argument is only made by those supporting and defending the practice.

    The argument is based on falsehoods.

    Ergo, “canard“:

    ca·nard /kəˈnɑrd; Fr. kaˈnar/
    [kuh-nahrd; Fr. ka-nar]
    –noun, plural -nards /-ˈnɑrdz; Fr. -ˈnar/
    [-nahrdz; Fr. -nar]
    1. a false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumor.

    Just because it is a minority view on the Left, and one that those proposing it should properly be ashamed of, doesn’t mean it isn’t being made routinely.

    As you so willingly stipulate.

    (As another example, there are people who still assert that the earth is flat. Just because the facts show otherwise doesn’t mean that the arguments aren’t being made.)

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  29. The leftists cited are not wholly helpful to your argument. They maintain that in a few cases the procedure is medically indicated for the woman’s health, if she is to have an abortion. If one wishes to ban the procedure, you have to show that it is never medically indicated.

    Bradley J Fikes (0ea407)

  30. Another problem with that argument is that you are contradicting yourself from one paragraph to the next.

    “You could find 20 examples in support of your view if you spend enough time, no question. I could find 100 contrary examples if I spend enough time, also no question.


    “If you had actually gathered up a bunch of cites to support your thesis, it would be a compelling point of view backed up by evidence.”

    So you are admitting that Pat could come up with “20 examples” without any difficulty, but then saying that because he didn’t do so, his argument is invalid?

    Just because a POV is a minority one does not mean it is not being argued and defended regularly.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  31. Patrick,
    I responded earlier to a partial birth post recounting on my father and one of his colleague’s (15-20K deliveries between them) were challenged repeatedly at a party by a teacher who told them it could be medically indicated. I can’t think of a medical indication (by that I mean a physical one) for a PBA.And I recall the testimony several years ago of a man who admitted .”We’ve lied about the numbers.”.Could anyone verify this orgive the name?
    ANd ,since I’m not an Ob,could someone give an instance of a medically necessary PBA?

    Corwin (0f5d52)

  32. I can’t think of a medical indication (by that I mean a physical one) for a PBA.

    I can only think of one.

    (Gore warning, and if there are any John Hurt fans, you might want to skip this scene, as well.)

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  33. It was Ron Fitzsimmons. He lied – “through my teeth” – on Nightline about the number of partial birth abortions performed.
    That was the bigger canard.

    Doctors have gotten very good at delivering babies quickly. Making sure the baby is dead takes valuable time.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  34. Testimony of Viki Wilson To the Senate Judiciary Committee

    “My doctor arrived at two in the morning. He held my hand, and informed me that they did not expect our baby to live. She was unable to absorb the amniotic fluid and it was puddling into my uterus.

    This poor precious child had a lethal neurological disorder and been unable to move for almost two months. The movements I had been feeling over the last few months had been nothing more than bubbles and fluid. Her chest cavity was unable to rise and fall to stretch her lungs to prepare them for air, leaving them severely underdeveloped, almost to the point of not existing. Her vital organs were atrophying. Our darling little girl was going to die.

    A perinatologist recommended terminating the pregnancy. For my husband and me, this was not an option. I chose to go into labor naturally. I wanted her to come on God’s time–I didn’t want to interfere.

    It was so difficult to go home and be pregnant and go on with life, knowing my baby was dying. I wanted to stay in bed. My husband looked at me and said, “Coreen, this baby is still with us. Let’s be proud of her. Let’s make these last days of her life as special as possible.” I felt her life inside of me, and somehow I still glowed. At this time we chose her name– Katherine Grace. “Katherine” means pure, and “Grace” represents God’s mercy.

    We went to many more experts over the next two weeks. It was discovered that Katherine’s body was rigid and she was stuck in a transverse position. Due to swelling, her head was already larger than that of a full-term baby. Natural birth or an induced labor were impossible.

    We considered a caesarean section, but experts at Cedars-Sinai Hospital were adamant that the risks to my health and possibly my life were too great. There was no reason to risk leaving my children motherless if there was no hope of saving Katherine.

    The doctors all agreed that our only option was the intact D&E procedure. I was devastated. The thought of an abortion sent chills down my spine. I remember patting my tummy promising my little girl that I would never let anyone hurt or devalue her.

    After Dr. McMahon explained the procedure, I was so comforted. He and his staff understood the pain and anguish we were feeling. I realized I was in the right place. This was the safest way for me to deliver. This left open the possibility of more children. It greatly lowered the risk of my death. Most important, it offered a peaceful, painless passing for Katherine Grace.

    When I was put under the anesthesia, Katherine’s heart stopped. She was able to pass away peacefully in the womb, which was the most comfortable place for her to be. Even if regular birth or a caesarean had been medically possible, my daughter would have died a agonizing death.

    When I awoke a few hours later, she was brought in to us. She was beautiful. She was not missing part of her brain. She had not been stabbed in the head with scissors. She looked peaceful. My husband and I held her tight and sobbed. We stayed with her for hours, praying and singing lullabies. Giving her back was the hardest moment of my life.

    Because of the safety of this procedure, I am now pregnant again.”

    JAR (9c32c0)

  35. Something else you might want to read.

    JAR (9c32c0)

  36. I take issue also with the idea that D&X is used by poor women who could not afford an earlier procedure. A late term D&X is wildly more expensive than a 1st trimester abortion. If one cannot pay for the former, they sure cannot pay for the latter (and probably NEED to pay for neither).

    No, it’s procrastination.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  37. Aplomb: I suggest you change your screen-name to “Distract.”

    Beldar (37c206)

  38. Comment by JAR — 7/8/2008 @ 12:34 pm

    That certainly is an affecting story, and I feel for Viki Wilson and her husband.

    I would respectfully point out that your own post clarifies that the condition was classified as threatening her life and therefore would come under the “life exception” already in the bill.

    risks to my health and possibly my life were too great.

    There was no reason to risk leaving my children motherless if there was no hope of saving Katherine.

    This left open the possibility of more children. It greatly lowered the risk of my death.

    Her life, you understand. Already covered under the existing exception.

    (By the way, as she herself points out, the child was not killed by PBA; it died in the womb.)

    Delivery of a child through the birth canal (part of the PBA method of killing, of course) is a traumatic procedure for a woman. The delivery of the head in cases threatening a woman’s health (as your post points out, this didn’t apply in Katherine Grace’s case; the size of her head threatened her mother’s life) does not pose a significant additional trauma to a sick woman in cases not threatening her life.

    This is in fact a much more common PBA “medical” story. The object being to avoid an “undesirable
    outcome” (read: a deformed or ill or Down syndrome baby). This of course does not count those involving no illness, which several others have mentioned above.

    I stand by my earlier point, which several links provided by posters above (including my own and even more so Dana’s) confirm the medical community agrees with, that PBA is not medically necessary for the mother except in the rarest of cases, all of which I am aware covered under the existing “life” exception.

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

  39. We considered a caesarean section, but experts at Cedars-Sinai Hospital were adamant that the risks to my health and possibly my life were too great.

    Isn’t the caesarian a very common procedure, the most common operation for women? My wife had three live births after one. The procedure took all of 5 minutes.

    This sounds wrong. It would have been better if those experts testified.

    Amphipolis (e6b868)

  40. I find Vicki’s testimony very interesting and truthful.Certainly a C/S could have been done,but a PBA seems a less traumatic procedure.A baby stuckin the birth canal due to cephalopelvic disorder is a frightening and life threatening condition.I will admit there are times when the PBA is the best proceedure.Still doubt I could do it-even if I had the training.(Always refused to do abortions on a live infant when in training)

    Corwin (0f5d52)

  41. I can’t see how a C-section would threaten the mother’s life. I just don’t believe that part of the story. The procedure of D&X is rare except in certain abortion clinics. One in Kansas has claimed 57,000 late term abortions done. This fellow is the one who testified about the number.

    Mike K (b9ce3e)

  42. I didn’t say a C/S would threaten the mother’s life.If the baby is somewhat stuck in the peelvic outlet a nurse (or a resident -a lower form of life) applies pressure from below to lift the baby free.been there ,done that.

    Corwin (3feea9)

  43. Well…Corwin and Mike K, you’re both medical professionals, is that right?

    So, assuming Viki is telling the truth and unconfused about her situation, how can she say

    We considered a caesarean section, but experts at Cedars-Sinai Hospital were adamant that the risks to my health and possibly my life were too great

    if a C-section could not have threatened her life?

    Just asking – am not a medical person (just worked for ’em for 14 yrs) but am just pondering the possibility that Viki is either confused or, how do I say this, had an agenda with her testimony to Congress.

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.0920 secs.