The truth about ‘dilation and extraction’

R.R.S. Stewart lays out an interesting argument against the partial-birth abortion ban in her Wednesday column, “Medical decisions should be left to woman and doctor.” While acknowledging this procedure is “not a pleasant procedure,” she glosses over “dilation and extraction’s” truth and goes on to justify this gruesome procedure on flimsy and ethically frightening grounds.

Dilation and extraction forces the fetus (or baby, but for argument’s sake, I’ll use the pro-choice term) to be born early. The fetus is mechanically manipulated to come out with the feet, legs, torso, arms, and hands delivered and head lodged in the internal cervix opening. The doctor then uses special scissors, Metzenbaum scissors, and jabs them into the fetus’ skull’s lower base. The scissors are then opened to widen the hole in the skull, and a suction catheter empties the skull’s contents. Once the skull is empty, the doctor delivers the rest of the now-dead fetus and disposes of it.

Partial-birth abortion is an accurate name for the dilation and extraction procedure. The fetus is partially born, his or her (it does have a defined sex by the second trimester) head

is stabbed with a pair of scissors, and his or her brain is suctioned out. The horror of such actions causes the media and others to gloss over the factual procedure used to kill fetuses. Dilation and extraction can occur anytime 20 weeks after conception. Babies born early at 21 or 22 weeks and sometimes even earlier are routinely saved.

It should come as no surprise that fetuses show signs of life during partial-birth abortions. Accounts of fetuses wiggling and hands clasping as their heads are being stabbed with scissors have been made.

Even more frightening in Stewart’s column are her reasons for justifying this gruesome and plainly inhumane procedure. She lists many reasons women might choose this procedure, such as losing a job, abandonment by a spouse or boyfriend, or discovering her child has deformities. Does humanity depend on whether your mother has a job, or if your father loves you, or if you are handicapped? Do any of these reasons make you less valuable as a person? We talk continually about human rights, but when it comes to our most vulnerable population – infants – we turn a blind eye.

For too long this nation has allowed partial-birth abortions to occur, ignoring the blatant morbidity of such a procedure. It is time to wake up. It is time to acknowledge the truth. Partial-birth abortion kills, and it is time to put a stop to it.

Laura Watkins is second-year student. She welcomes comments at [email protected]