National Right to Life wrote about abortion records that were made available to Congress to document the reasons for late-term abortions during the partial-birth abortion trials.
In June, 1995, Dr. McMahon submitted to Congress a detailed breakdown of a “series” of over 2,000 of these abortions that he had performed. He classified only 9% (175 cases) as involving “maternal [health] indications,” of which the most common was “depression.”
The records were examined closely by Dr. Pamela E. Smith:
Dr. Pamela E. Smith, director of Medical Education, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Chicago, gave the Senate Judiciary Committee her analysis of Dr. McMahon’s 175 “maternal indication” cases. Of this sample, 39 cases (22%) were for maternal “depression,” while another 16% were “for conditions consistent with the birth of a normal child (e.g., sickle cell trait, prolapsed uterus, small pelvis),” Dr. Smith noted. She added that in one-third of the cases, the conditions listed as “maternal indications” by Dr. McMahon really indicated that the procedure itself would be seriously risky to the mother.
Of Dr. McMahon’s series, another 1,183 cases (about 56%) were for “fetal flaws,” but these included a great many non-lethal disorders, such as cleft palate and Down Syndrome. In an op ed piece written for the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Katherine Dowling, a family physician at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, examined Dr. McMahon’s report on this “fetal flaws” group. She wrote:
Twenty-four were done for cystic hydroma (a benign lymphatic mass, usually treatable in a child of normal intelligence). Nine were done for cleft lip-palate syndrome (a friend of mine, mother of five, and a colleague who is a pulmonary specialist were born with this problem). Other reasons included cystic fibrosis (my daughter went through high school with a classmate with cystic fibrosis) and duodenal atresia (surgically correctable, but many children with this problem are moderately mentally retarded). Guess they can’t enjoy life, can they?
In fact, most of the partial-birth abortions in that [McMahon] survey were done for problems that were either surgically correctable or would result in some degree of neurologic or mental impairment, but would not harm the mother. Or they were done for reasons that were pretty skimpy: depression, chicken pox, diabetes, vomiting. [“What Constitutes A Quality Life?,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 28, 1996]
Over one-third of McMahon’s 2,000-abortion “series” involved neither fetal nor maternal health problems, however trivial.
“For what reasons are partial-birth abortions usually performed?” National Right to Life” Here.
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