Supreme court bans Partial Birth Abortion. A barbaric procedure that is so dangerous to the mother that we don’t even do it for dead babies (danger of perforation and hemorrhage).

So now abortionists will have to kill the kid with injections before doing a safer delivery for mom, at least until we get a few moms dead from the KCl injections…

the dirty little secret is that when we deliver kids early to save the mom’s life or health (e.g. toxemia, lupus, heart disease), it is not an abortion, it is an induction of labor. The difference? We also try to save the kid. Of course, a lot of times you have a 1 lb kid with little chance of living. Should you go and treat a kid with less than a ten percent chance of living (meaning you torture the 90 percent with tubes and isolation before they die) or let mom hold the kid until it dies? They’ve been arguing that for 50 years…but 50 years ago we argued it about 3 lb babies, who with modern care do fine.

So let’s not hear of “mother’s health” as a reason for or against delivering these kids alive. If the mom is in danger, so is the kid, and if she is so sick that we have to remove the kid, the kid’s chances of living is better outside than inside. If you have an easy answer, let me know.

The procedure of “partial birth abortion” goes way back to the days when mothers often had contracted pelvic bones due to rickets. Without anesthesia and antibiotics, this often meant the mom died in agony. You went in and turned the kid around, and then delivered it breech (feet first), but often the head would not go through the small birth canal, so you took scissors and emptied the skull to get the kid out to save the mom’s life.
But there are medical dangers. Internal version, moving the baby’s position by putting in a hand or instruments, can rupture the uterus. Perforating the baby’s head with scissors can lead to the neck of the womb being cut, and hemorrhage.

One obstetric forceps became available, few cases required such treatment.

Such procedures continued to be done, mainly for dead children or where mothers had infections, or where the child’s head was large (hydrocephalus) until the early 20th century. It was a matter of math, since the procedure in a full term baby was 5 percent risk of death in the mom.
Even in Africa, where obstetric complications were common, we never did it. In clnics where Caesarian sections could not be done, we cut the pelvis open (symphysiotomy)…and now with modern “safe” anesthesia like Ketamine, even twenty years ago we taught nurses to do caesarian sections in our larger clinics that lacked doctors.

There are long term risks to the mom aside from hemorrhage, infection, and perforated or ruptured uterus. And that is the dirty little secret of “partial birth abortion”: Cervical tears leading to an incompetent cervix, and repeat miscarriage at six months because the injury to the neck of the womb is too weak to keep the kid inside. (This complication can happen after normal childbirth, and occurs in some people born with an abnormal uterus, and the treatment is bedrest and sometimes sewing it shut with a ribbon).

So if a woman’s health is at risk, a Caesarian section is a lot safer than the partial birth abortion. But of course the dirty little secret is that most late term abortions of these are done for convenience (a teenager who hides the pregnancy and then her parents find out when she is six months along), or when a child with abnormalities is expected. Think Down’s syndrome, average IQ 50. Mom hears the kid will be retarded and often a “vegatable” (which is not true for Down’s syndrome, by the way) and panics into aborting it. Similar scare jobs are done if the child is found to have a myelomeningocele. Most people feel sympathy for such mothers,  but the grief that remains after such a procedure in the parents make even the most pro choice person wonder if aiding the parents to care for such a child would be a better idea.
Of course, with some abnormalities (anencephaly, large myelomeningocoels, bad kidneys,) there is so much amniotic fluid that doctors would induce labour early, and often since the child has a lethal disease it dies. But again, this is not an abortion, although some prolifers who are not docs call it a live birth abortion. Nope. The object is to save mom’s life and health, and the child dies of his disease, not from being delivered early.
No easy answers, but before the “perfect baby perfectly planned to fit into our life” ideas started, it used to be babies were sent by God and even if the child was imperfect, well, somehow you’d find a way to cope. Come to think of it, most of my patients still felt that way, and their daily heroism is something that rarely gets accolades or headlines.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket 

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