Aug 6, 2007
Doctors who provide abortions are adding an extra procedure to late-term abortions that they admit increases the risk, pain and inconvenience to the woman – because a federal law upheld by the Supreme Court might be used to make doctors liable for prosecution.
The procedure increases the likelihood of vomiting and other bodily distresses for the woman; in addition, as with any extra procedure, it increases the risk involved; and, since it must be administered 24 hours ahead of the abortion procedure, it forces women to make two trips in two days.
Doctors are increasingly using a drug called digoxin to stop the fetus’ heart before the abortion procedure. The drug has been used for this purpose in the past, in some abortions after 24 weeks where it was medically required.
Now, though, doctors are using the drug in many more kinds of abortion procedures, as early as 18 weeks – purely to fend off possible prosecution under the so-called “Partial Birth Abortion Act.” The Act outlaws a procedure medically known as Intact Dilation and Extraction; but it is also worded vaguely enough that it could be used to outlaw any abortion in the second or third trimesters where a living fetus is extracted.
These doctors are making decisions based not on what is medically advisable, but on the legal consequences of right-wing political grandstanding.
The religious right has already forced through laws requiring parental consent, waiting periods and other limits on a woman’s right to an abortion. All these limitations push some abortions from the first trimester, when they are extremely safe and quick, to later and later in the pregnancy, when they become far more risky.
And then cynical politicians begin outlawing later-term abortions that become more necessary because of the earlier restrictions!
Every step of the way, the message sent by such hypocritical politicians and right-wing activists is clear: women who seek an abortion will be made to suffer – or even die – for the sake of reactionary moral views.