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Hullabaloo


Saturday, January 31, 2015

 
They've got a new scare term and it's a doozy

by digby

"Partial-birth abortion" was so successful at making people go "ick", close their eyes and agree to ban it no matter what the scientific rationale or personal circumstances that they're upping the ante: "dismemberment abortion" is the new campaign slogan:
In what could represent their next major effort to dismantle the protections under Roe v. Wade, abortion opponents are laying the groundwork for a new attack on reproductive rights that borrows a page out of their old playbook.

Several pieces of similar legislation emerging on a state level could be the beginning of a national trend. The measures are cloaked in emotional language about “fetal dismemberment” that’s reminiscent of the pro-life community’s successful push to enact the country’s first national abortion ban.

The first bill to use “dismemberment” language was introduced in South Dakota last year. Seeking to “prohibit the dismemberment or decapitation of certain living unborn children,” the measure was just a few paragraphs long and didn’t make it out of committee. But that didn’t deter anti-abortion activists. This year, at the beginning of the 2015 session, identical bills entitled the “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act” were introduced in Oklahoma and Kansas.

This time around, the legislation is a little more detailed, providing a graphic definition for “dismemberment abortion.” The term apparently refers to “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off.”

The language is so vague that this would be impossible to enforce.
Despite those evocative details, “dismemberment” is not actually a medical term. The two bills proposed so far this year are written in a way that would significantly complicate the medical field, leaving abortion doctors scrambling to try to figure out what’s still permitted under the law.

“The language is so vague that this would be impossible to enforce,” Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and an abortion provider who has been practicing for four decades, told ThinkProgress. “It reveals a lack of knowledge of the procedures that the bill proposes to outlaw.”

The effort appears to be targeting a specific surgical abortion procedure known as Dilatation and Evacuation, or D&E. This type of abortion, which takes about 30 minutes to perform, has become the standard practice for terminating a pregnancy after 12 weeks. It involves dilating the cervix and using surgical instruments to remove the fetal and placental tissue. This is the method of second-trimester abortion that researchers from the World Health Organization endorse, and it’s now preferred by the vast majority of U.S. patients having midtrimester terminations because it’s a simple outpatient procedure with a low risk of complications.

It’s clear that going after D&E is emerging as a top priority for the pro-life community. The president of National Right to Life published an article this week announcing that “we are determined this year to bring the tragic issue of Dismemberment Abortions to the public’s attention.” Anti-abortion activist Jill Stanek followed suit on her website, advising readers to “keep an eye out for the next big pro-life conquest: dismemberment abortions.”

I predict they'll probably succeed at banning mid-term abortion and also at lowering the first term to 20 weeks, maybe 16. The polling suggests that even young people aren't motivated by this issue and don't support it any more than the older generation. It will inevitably create a lot more illegal abortion in this country and a lot more unwanted kids. More women's lives will be irrevocably altered, their futures restricted and narrowed. But these zealots are going to have to be even more creative if they want to ban early abortions. It's just not very evocative of something violent especially when there are so many miscarriages during those early months. But I'm sure they'll come up with something. They never, ever give up.

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