Abortion Advocates Attack John McCain on Health Exception, Ignore Doctors
by Steven Ertelt
October 16, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading abortion advocacy group attacked presidential candidate John McCain after the third debate and complained about his comments on the health exception to the partial-birth abortion ban. During the debate McCain said a health exception would compromise the integrity of the ban.
As McCain and presidential candidate Barack Obama discussed the partial-birth abortion ban, Obama said he voted against the measure because it did not have a health exception.
"I am completely supportive of a ban … as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health," he said.
McCain responded: "He’s health for the mother. You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything. That’s the extreme pro-abortion position, quote ‘health.’"
Nancy Keenan took exception to McCain’s comments and bashed the Arizona senator for supposedly ignoring women’s health.
"I had to rewind my DVR to make sure that I heard and saw correctly…air quotes, Sen. McCain…really?" the NARAL president said in an email to her supporters.
"I was at a loss for words but not surprised," she continued. "I know John McCain doesn’t respect women enough to allow us to make our own reproductive decisions, but he callously dismissed health exceptions for women with sarcasm and air quotes."
However, leading experts on abortion and physicians who have weighed in on the issue indicate there is no reason a partial-birth abortion would be used to protect women’s health. If anything, it subjects women to dangerous medical and mental health problems.
Rep. Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican who sponsored the partial-birth abortion ban, agreed with McCain’s comments when he told NPR in 2006, "The problem with the health exception is we have a number of abortionists who have testified that any pregnancy is a risk to a woman’s health."
"So if you have a health exception in there, in essence, you have a phony partial-birth abortion ban," explained.
Chabot said doctors told Congress that partial-birth abortions don’t serve any useful medical purpose and there’s never an instance where the abortion procedure would protect a woman’s health.
"We had extensive medical testimony indicating that a partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary, and, in fact, is actually oftentimes harmful to the woman. And that’s the reason we did not include a health exception," Chabot told NPR.
During the hearings, Congress heard about an American Medical Association study conducted by an expert panel it convened. The physicians involved indicated they could not find any identified circumstance where partial-birth abortion was the only appropriate alternative to preserve the health of the mother.
Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has also spoken strongly against the abortion method. "Partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to protect a mother’s health or her future fertility. On the contrary, this procedure can pose a significant threat to both."
As Chabot explained, partial-birth abortions pose additional risks to women in addition to the normal list of physical, medical and emotions damages. Such risks include cervical incompetence, trauma to the uterus, and lacerations or hemorrhaging.
Groups including the Christian Medical and Dental Society, the Catholic Medical Association, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and the Physicians Ad Hoc Coalition for the Truth have all stated that partial-birth abortion is a dangerous practice for both mother and child.
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that there has been "zero peer-reviewed safety data" on partial-birth abortion, which the group describes as "a procedure involving overtly dangerous obstetrical techniques on a mid-trimester uterus over a period of two-to-three days."
Dr. Jane Orient of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons wrote a letter to a Congressional subcommittee, noting that partial-birth abortion "has no medical indications." Orient went on to say that the doctors in her organization "conceive of no circumstance in which it (partial-birth abortion) would be needed to save the life or preserve the health of a mother."
Orient noted that, if a pregnant woman was suffering from a complication such as toxemia, her doctor could either perform a Caesarian section or induce labor. "The only purpose of the partial-birth abortion," Orient wrote, "is to assure that the end of the pregnancy is accompanied by the end of the life of a child about to be born.
Contrary to claims made by the pro-abortion lobbying group NARAL, Orient points out that partial-birth abortion is not a safe practice, since it "carries the risk of maternal injury or death, as by uterine rupture or laceration and hemorrhage."
Moreover, Ron Fitzsimmons, the director of a trade group of abortion businesses, admitted earlier in the partial-birth abortion debate that "I lied through my teeth" when saying abortions were needed for health reasons.
Ironically, even one of the nation’s leading abortion practitioners has said that partial-birth abortion is not safe.
Speaking to the American Medical News in 1995, third-term abortionist Warren Hern said, "You really can’t defend it I would dispute any statement that this is the safest procedure to use Turning the fetus to a breech position is potentially dangerous. You have to be concerned about causing amniotic fluid embolism or placental abruption if you do that."
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