ACOG opposes "PBA" Law
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|Thu, 11-13-2003 - 12:51pm|
Seems some PLers would like everyone to be believe that there IS medical concensus on the PBA ban. Not so. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists OPPOSES the bill.
ACOG NEWS RELEASE
October 3, 2003
ACOG Office of Communications
Statement on So-Called "Partial Birth Abortion" Law
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Washington, DC -- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) continues to oppose so-called "partial birth abortion" laws, including the conference committee bill approved by the US House of Representatives yesterday and sent to the US Senate. "Partial birth abortion" is a non-medical term apparently referring to a particular abortion procedure known as intact dilatation and extraction (intact D&X, or D&X), a rare variant of a more common midterm abortion procedure known as dilatation and evacuation (D&E).
In 2000, the US Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska "partial birth abortion" law in the case of Stenberg v. Carhart, ruling that the law violated the US Constitution by (1) failing to provide any exception "for the preservation of the health of the mother," and (2) being so broadly written that it could prohibit other types of abortion procedures such as D&E, thereby "unduly burdening a women's ability to choose abortion itself." The bill now before the Senate, which its supporters claim can meet any constitutional test, blatantly disregards the two-pronged test the Supreme Court carefully established in Stenberg.
As noted in a 1997 ACOG Statement of Policy, reaffirmed in 2000, and in ACOG's amicus curiae brief filed in the Stenberg case, ACOG continues to object to legislators taking any action that would supersede the medical judgment of a trained physician, in consultation with a patient, as to what is the safest and most appropriate medical procedure for that particular patient.
ACOG's Statement of Policy explains why ACOG believes such legislation to be "inappropriate, ill advised, and dangerous." The policy statement notes that although a select panel convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which intact D&X would be the only option to protect the life or health of a woman, intact D&X "may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman, and only the doctor, in consultation with the patient, based upon the woman's particular circumstances, can make this decision (emphasis added)."
The Statement of Policy further reads that such legislation has the potential to outlaw other abortion techniques that are critical to the lives and health of American women. This was the second basis upon which the Supreme Court struck down the Nebraska law in the Stenberg case. The Court will invariably strike down laws that are overly broad or imprecisely drawn. Bills that frequently use terms -- such as "partial birth abortion" -- that are not recognized by the very constituency (physicians) whose conduct the law would criminalize, and that purport to address a single procedure yet describe elements of other procedures used in obstetrics and gynecology would not meet the Court's test.
In this case, the bill before the Senate fails to respect the Stenberg test because bill supporters flagrantly refuse to include an exception for the health of a woman. Instead, legislators try to circumvent the Court's requirements by issuing their own opinion to the nation's physicians and patients that such a procedure is never needed to protect a woman's health -- notwithstanding opposing opinions from the medical community.
The medical misinformation currently circulating in political discussions of abortion procedures only reinforces ACOG's position: in the individual circumstances of each particular medical case, the patient and physician -- not legislators -- are the appropriate parties to determine the best method of treatment.
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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the national medical organization representing 45,000 members who provide health care for women.