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 are changing all
A law banning “partial-birth” abortions establishes
a precedent for criminalizing other types of abortion, and that
will force more women to unsafe and dangerous procedures. Those
who are truly pro-life must grasp the ominous implications—not
only will there be just as many dead fetuses, there will be more
dead wives, mothers, and sisters. And those who honor a woman’s
right to chose, to control her own body, must understand and
reject the underlying motives behind such anti-abortion laws,
before it’s too late. The price for men regaining control
of women’s bodies is too high.
Intact dilation and extraction (D&X), most commonly known
as “partial-birth” abortion, is designed primarily
to be used in the case of 5- and 6-month-old fetuses that are
dying, malformed, or threatening the woman’s health or
life. The procedure involves pulling the fetus from the womb,
except for the head which, because it is too large to pass without
injuring the woman, is collapsed to allow removal. This procedure
is designed for the maximum protection of the woman.
The late-term alternative to D&X, one that doesn’t
require partial removal, involves dismembering the fetus in the
womb before extraction—a much riskier procedure.
Anti-abortionists coined the term “partial birth” to
suggest that the partially removed fetus is no longer “unborn,” and,
therefore, “Roe vs. Wade” no longer applies (so they
allege). But linguistic manipulation can’t create an essential
distinction when none exists. A woman has a right to her own
body, and, if she chooses to abort, 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 to “protect the fetus” necessarily
grants rights to the fetus—an utter perversion of individual
rights. If a woman has no right to her own body, then by what
logic does a fetus (which, by definition, is a biological parasite)
have a right to the woman’s body? Properly, an infant’s
rights begin after the fetus is removed from the mother’s
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 one stage of the pregnancy, nothing will prevent their
extension to all stages. “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 a ban as a compromise (and
merely quibble about its scope). They may have been hoodwinked
by the anti-abortionists’ strategy of emotionalism and
evasion designed to disguise their deeper purpose.
The anti-abortionists’ strategy involves focusing solely
on the fetus and describing the abortion 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. If so, 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 no picture should 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 Alvare, 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-abortionist dogma, God places the soul in the
womb at conception. Hence, via a leap of faith, the fertilized
egg—a tiny cell—is granted the status of human being.
At that moment, the woman’s status is demoted to that of
slave, a human brood mare, and her womb becomes God’s property
(which, in practice, means the government’s property).
The rights of the woman will 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 still does not
explain 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. “Pro-choicers” must reject compromise
and fight any law prohibiting abortion on principle—the
principle of individual human rights—the principle upon
which this pro-rights country was founded.
Glenn Woiceshyn is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute
in Irvine, CA. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn
Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.