Partial-Birth Abortion Trial Continues, Abortionist Would Risk Jail

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 30, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Partial-Birth Abortion Trial Continues, Abortionist Would Risk Jail

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 30, 2004

New York, NY ( — The three trials over the lawsuits filed to overturn the national ban on partial-birth abortions continued on Tuesday with a doctor testifying for abortion advocates claiming partial-birth abortions are needed because it allows for a proper burial for unborn children after they are killed.

Amos Grunebaum, a specialist in maternal fetal medicine at New York Hospital, said women choose partial-birth abortions in part because they grieve over the loss of an unborn child and want to offer their baby a proper funeral.

Grunebaum said the abortion procedure held the vast number of women who otherwise "really, really, really wanted to have a baby."

He said doctors used to hide the baby following an abortion in the 1970s and 80s, but later studies show women are able to grieve better if they are able to see the child.

"It is the same as any baby dying. People want to hold the fetus," he said, according to an Associated Press report.

Grunebaum disagreed with contentions that such abortions are outside the scope of standard medical practice and said partial-birth abortions occur at hospitals around the country.

"If it was outside standard medical care, believe me those hospitals would quickly forbid it," Grunebaum said.

But Sean Lane, Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, argued on behalf of the Bush administration to defend the new law. He said the trial will show that abortion is never necessary to protect a woman’s health.

"[T]here are no maternal or fetal medical conditions for which partial birth abortion is necessary for the health of the woman," Lane said. "Second, there are no proven safety advantages to partial birth abortion. Third, partial birth abortion blues the line between live birth and abortion is an inhumane and gruesome procedure that causes pain to the fetus."

Lane said "doctors and others will testify that it is never necessary to use the partial birth abortion procedure to treat pregnant women. They will say that never encountered an instance where partial birth abortion was necessary. Indeed, they cannot imagine any actual disease or hypothetical combination of medical conditions for which partial birth abortion would be beneficial to the health of the mother."

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, one abortion practitioner testified that he will continue performing the banned procedure even if the law was found constitutional.

"I’d probably continue" performing abortions, said William Fitzhugh of Richmond, Virgina. "I’d have to take my chances." If convicted, abortion practitioners could face two years in jail for performing the abortion procedure.

Fitzhugh claims the ban is worded vaguely and could apply to other types of abortions.

But Anthony Coppolino, the Justice Department attorney handling the Nebraska lawsuit, says Congress relied on expert medical and legal testimony in drafting the bill and it applies only to partial-birth abortions.