From Amanda at Pandagon, who has an insightful post up:
What is medically recognized:
- 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester.
- Intact dilation and extraction (also known as IDX, or sometimes just D&X) is used in approximately .17% of all abortions.
- It is probable (though definitive data do not exist) that the majority of IDX procedures are performed because of fetal abnormalities.
- IDX, because it delivers a fetus whole, creates less risk of uterine perforation from bone fragments than other forms of late-term abortion.
- IDX has less risk of infection than other forms of late-term abortion, because it takes less time and requires the insertion of fewer instruments into the uterus.
- IDX (like other late-term abortion procedures) can prevent a woman who has found that her fetus is dead or not viable from having to undergo labor and delivery of a dead fetus.
- IDX can allow women whose fetuses are not viable to view and hold their dead babies after delivery.
- Most IDX procedures are performed between 20-24 weeks gestation–that is, within the second trimester, and before fetal viability.
In cases where a fetus has severe hydrocephalus (water on the brain, which can cause a fetuses head to be grotesquely enlarged), the options to a woman may be IDX or a Cesarean section–that is, a three-day outpatient procedure or major surgery, with attendant potential complications.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explicitly opposed the ban.
Shorter medical facts: This ruling will not prevent a single abortion. It will, however, endanger women making difficult decisions about doomed pregnancies, and cut down on the options available to doctors in trying to preserve a woman's life, health, and future ability to have children.
From the NYT editorial:
As far as we know, Mr. Kennedy and his four colleagues responsible for this atrocious result are not doctors. Yet these five male justices felt free to override the weight of medical evidence presented during the several trials that preceded the Supreme Court showdown. Instead, they ratified the politically based and dangerously dubious Congressional claim that criminalizing the intact dilation and extraction method of abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy — the so-called partial-birth method — would never pose a significant health risk to a woman. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has found the procedure to be medically necessary in certain cases.
Wait, can we back up again and ask why five men without medical training are making this decision for women and their doctors?
Justice Kennedy actually reasoned that banning the procedure was good for women in that it would protect them from a procedure they might not fully understand in advance and would probably come to regret. This way of thinking, that women are flighty creatures who must be protected by men, reflects notions of a woman’s place in the family and under the Constitution that have long been discredited, said a powerful dissenting opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Stephen Breyer.
And in the full write up from the NYT:
In her opinion, Justice Ginsburg said the majority had provided only “flimsy and transparent justifications” for upholding the law, which she noted “saves not a single fetus from destruction” by banning a single method of abortion. “One wonders how long a line that saves no fetus from destruction will hold in face of the court’s ‘moral concerns,’ ” she said.
Thank God for Justice Ginsburg. Protecting women from making their own decisions? Kennedy is sounding more and more like a pompous and self-righteous misogynist. The NYT's full write up has more, in which Kennedy waxes poetical about the loving bond between mother and child, clearly taxing his imagination to spew paternalistic stereotypes onto women's private medical decisions. But I think I'm going to refrain from quoting him, because it is simply too depressing.