Helpful Impact of Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Can’t Be Overestimated

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 5, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Helpful Impact of Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Can’t Be Overestimated Email this article
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by Laura Echevarria
July 5, 2007 Note: Laura Echevarria is the former Director of Media Relations and a spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee and has been a radio announcer, freelance writer active in local politics. She is a new opinion columnist for

In 1994, during a job interview with the National Right to Life Committee, the communications director described for me an abortion procedure that was so heinous and repugnant I was stunned.

A couple of months later, as a new staff member, my education about the procedure called partial-birth abortion began.

When I think back about all of the hard work that went into passing the ban and how long it took (NRLC worked for over 14 years to see the ban passed), it seems almost as if it were a revolution of sorts. But it could better be described as a period of enlightenment.

Several key events took place during those fourteen years that have forever changed the way Americans view abortion on demand. And we can thank the drive to pass the ban on partial-birth abortions for the change.

For the first time ever, major national newspapers began describing an abortion procedure. For many people, this was a revelation. Most Americans don’t really think about what happens during an abortion procedure—any abortion procedure—and to have one particular procedure described so thoroughly was truly a coup of sorts.

No longer could your average American ignore the reality or the brutality of abortion.

For the first time on national television, spokespersons for National Right to Life, other pro-life/pro-family groups and pro-life members of Congress were able to hold up medically accurate fetal models to show how the unborn child was stabbed in the back of the neck with medical scissors.

Again, your average American could not longer ignore the very real—and human—victim of an abortion procedure.

Pro-abortion groups immediately set out to discredit pro-life and pro-family groups by literally lying about a number of things. They lied about how many partial-birth abortions were done, they lied about the reasons why they were done and they lied about anesthesia killing the unborn child before the abortion took place. They tried to redefine the scope of the ban from a specific procedure that is done beginning in the 4th and 5th months of pregnancy, to a ban that would put a halt on all abortion procedures. But in doing so, they revealed to the world how brutal and heinous all abortions are.

The tide changed when, in a New York Times article, Ron Fitzsimmons, the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, admitted that he “‘lied through my teeth’ when he said the procedure was used rarely and only on women whose lives were in danger or whose fetuses were damaged.”

The Times quoted an interview Fitzsimmons’s gave AMNews in which he stated unequivocally, “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, Mr. Fitzsimmons said. ‘The abortion-rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else.’”

Mr. Fitzsimmons also admitted that “[abortion] is a form of killing. . .You’re ending a life.”

Then in 1997, PBS’s Media Matters program looked at the poor job reporters did in discerning the truth when reporting on this issue because of their predilection to believe the pro-abortion groups over the pro-life groups.

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek noted in the program, “Journalists are disproportionately liberal on this issue. So they’re more likely to rely on, either consciously or unconsciously, the information that they get from the pro-choice side.”

David Brown, M.D., a medical writer for The Washington Post, was one of two reporters to initially break through the stranglehold of pro-abortion misinformation. He told Media Matters, “My reporting showed that a large number, possibly even a majority of these procedures were done on normal fetuses. . .most of them were done before the period of viability. Cases in which the mother’s life was truly at risk were extremely rare. Most people who got this procedure were really not very different from, uh, most people who got abortions.”

Today, more Americans are willing to identify themselves as pro-life. Just this week a long-term study focusing on the state of Missouri showed that, among young women, those who identify as being strongly pro-life (40%) versus those who identify as being strongly pro-choice (20%) stands at a ratio of 2-1 which is the reverse of the existing ratio in 1992. In addition, the percentage of Protestants calling themselves pro-life is almost identical to Catholics who identify themselves as pro-life.

This is only one state but it is probably a reflection on what is happening all across the U.S.

Yes, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban act was narrowly upheld and, yes, it bans only one procedure, and, yes, abortionists have ways of killing using the same abortion technique but without violating the ban. The point, however, was to save lives—both immediately and long-term. The point was to forever change the way Americans viewed abortion on demand. The point was not to rest on the success of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act but to build on it and move ahead to the next challenge and the next—never to rest.

In all these things, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was a resounding triumph.