When abortion was illegal in America, many women died or suffered serious medical problems from either self-induced or illegal, back-alley abortions. Women streamed into emergency rooms with punctured wombs, massive bleeding, and rampant infections. Thanks to the Roe v. Wade (1973) Supreme Court decision, women today have access to safe abortions by medically trained professionals under sanitary conditions. But anti-abortionists so-called pro-lifers want to change all this.

They are succeeding. If this Partial-Birth Abortion Act becomes law, it will mark the first abortion procedure prohibited since Roe v. Wade. The law will establish a precedent for criminalizing other types of abortion as America slides down the bloody slope to back-alley abortions.

Those who are truly pro-life must grasp the ominous implications of and the underlying motives behind this ban of partial-birth abortions before it's too late. Partial-birth abortion, known medically as intact dilation and extraction (D&X), is designed primarily to be used in the case of 5- and 6-month-old fetuses that are dying, malformed, or threaten the woman's health or life. The extraction part of the procedure involves the fetus being pulled from the womb feet-first, except for the head which is too large to pass without injuring the woman. The head is collapsed to allow removal. This partial birth procedure is designed for the maximum protection of the woman and is the best one available for late-term abortions. The late-term alternative to D&X is to dismember the fetus in the womb before extraction.

According to doctors, this is a riskier procedure. A woman has a right to her own body, and, if she chooses to have the fetus removed, then all effort should be made to protect the woman from injury. To rule otherwise is to negate this right. Banning any type of abortion on the grounds of protecting the fetus necessarily grants rights to the fetus an utter perversion of individual rights.

If an actual human being a woman has no right to her own body, then by what logic does a potential human being the fetus, a parasite have a right to her body? It is a woman's individual rights to her life, to her liberty, and to the pursuit of her happiness that sanctions her right to have an abortion. Once fetal rights are granted to any stage of the pregnancy, nothing will prevent their extension to every stage. Fetal rights are a gimmick to destroy a woman's individual rights. Tragically, many pro-choicers have conceded the partial-birth debate to the anti-abortionists and accept the ban as a compromise. Such pro-choicers have apparently been hoodwinked by the anti-abortionists's trategy of emotionalism and evasion designed to disguise their deeper purpose.

The anti-abortionists's trategy involves focusing solely on what happens to the fetus which they eagerly describe in gruesome detail. Their professed compassion for the fetus apparently leaves no room for considering the woman's health and happiness. For them, waving a picture of a bloody, mangled fetus constitutes an argument. But if it does, then so does waving a picture of a woman whose future was ruined because she was denied an abortion or of a woman bloody and mangled by a back-alley abortion. A picture is not an argument and should not be allowed as a cover-up. While anti-abortionists' attacks are primarily focused on rarely performed late-term abortions, they zealously want all abortions banned.

Helen Alvar e, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Bishops and a staunch enemy of D&X, has declared, In a moral sense all abortions are equally awful. According to anti-abortionists' dogma, God places the soul in the womb at conception. Hence, via a leap of faith, the fertilized egg a tiny speck of cells is granted the status of human being. At that moment, the woman's status is demoted to that of breeding mare and slave and her womb becomes God's property (which, in practice, means the government's property). The rights of the woman have therefore been sacrificed to the alleged rights of the fetus.

According to this dogma, abortion is murder at any stage of the pregnancy (which explains why some pro-lifers feel morally sanctioned to kill doctors and bomb abortion clinics). The anti-abortionists' war against partial-birth abortions is a smokescreen to ban all abortions. Abortion is a woman's moral right. To protect that right, pro-choicers and our Congressmen must reject compromise and fight the partial-birth ban on principle the principle of individual rights the principle upon which this pro-rights country was founded.