Late-Term Abortions Under Fire

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Nevada does allow abortions up to 22 weeks. After 22 weeks, women must obtain a note from their doctor that states that the procedure is medically necessary.

What this new ban does to "medical necessity" and just what procedures it is banning are up for debate.

But what is a late-term abortion.

Abortion providers say this ban is so vaguely worded that it will apply to many abortion procedures or a combination of abortion procedures - not just the so-called partial birth abortion that involves the partial
delivery of a fetus.

We should warn you, some of what you are about to hear may disturb you.

Exactly how many procedures are at stake with this ban is unclear but what is clear is that nearly 90% of U.S. abortions are performed during the first trimester.

What this ban will affect is abortions performed during the second and third trimesters.

The new bill defines what it calls partial-birth abortion as the delivery of a fetus when the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother or, in the case of the breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the naval is outside the body of the mother.

For the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus.

In simple terms, that means killing the fetus after it is partially delivered.

"Partial birth abortion is inhumane because it kills a baby by partly delivering the child and then sucking its brains out to kill the child before it's totally delivered," says Don Nelson of Nevada Life. " And that's just barbaric by anybody's ethical standards."

Says Allison Gaulden of Planned Parenthood: ]"There's no such thing as a partial birth abortion. It's a political term not a medical term and that's part of the reason why planned parenthood has a problem with the legislation President Bush signed because it's all encompasing. It could impact second and third trimester abortions or it may not."

The most common late-term procedure is called dilation and evacuation or d & e. In this procedure, the woman's cervix is dilated and the doctor removes the fetus using both suction and forceps.

A subset of that procedure is the one most analysts agree is clearly targeted by the new ban.

That procedure is called intact dilation and extraction or more commonly, d & x.

In this procedure, the doctor dilates the cervix and then delivers the fetus feet first except the head and then collapses the skull so it will fit through the partially dilated cervix for the delivery of a dead but
intact fetus.

Pro-choice proponents say no woman wants to have a d & x. In fact they say no woman ever wants to have an abortion . . . but sometimes the d & x procedure or a combination of both procedures is the only procedure that is medically safe for her body.

The only thing that both sides do agree on though is that this ban will pave the way for President Bush to completely outlaw abortion in
this country.