Mary Ann Sorrentino Misunderstands the Partial Birth Abortion Ban

Mary Ann Sorrentino’s Providence Phoenix article on the Federal partial birth abortion ban and the Supreme Court’s decision upholding it in Gonzales v. Carhart repeats a serious factual error multiple times…

The court’s decision to uphold a ban on late-term abortions — even when the mother’s health is endangered — codifies what pro-choicers have suspected (and warned about) for decades. Abortion opponents grant the fetus “paramount right-to-life” status, while pregnant women apparently have no right to any life.
If, in month five of a pregnancy, a woman faces a medical situation guaranteed to injure or even kill her through pregnancy-related complications discovered at that time, compassionate conservatives say, “Tough!”
The assertion that the Federal partial birth abortion contains no exemption for the life of the mother is not accurate. Here is the text of the law
Any physician who, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly performs a partial-birth abortion and thereby kills a human fetus shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both. This subsection does not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.
How could a life of the mother exception possibly be any clearer?
Secondly, the Supreme Court in Carhart did not even hold that all partial birth abortions (except in cases where the mother’s life is threatened) are prohibited. The Court only ruled that its precedents requiring that late-term abortion restrictions include an exception for the health of the mother extending beyond life-threatening circumstances did not justify overtuning the partial birth law as a whole and permitting the procedure in any situation. Because “as applied” challenges to the law are still allowed, the court may still yet find that a health of the mother exception is automatically built into any late-term abortion law.
The issue of abortion ban health exceptions in non-life threatening situations has become a contentious one because many abortion rights activists refuse to draw a distinction between mental and physical health. Froma Harrop has expounded on this point in the past…
Most of us agree that these abortions [to protect the health of the mother] should be done only under extraordinary circumstances. So if by “health” we mean the psychic well-being of someone who decided late in the game that she didn’t want a baby, then no, the pregnancy must go to full term. But if something has gone terribly wrong, and the woman would be physically ravaged by continuing a pregnancy, then we must have a different kind of debate.
If Ms. Sorrentino doesn’t think that physical versus mental health is a legitimate distinction, then why does she limit herself to physical health examples (unless she considers raising or maybe giving a child up for adoption a “pregnancy related complication”) to make her point about the situations where partial birth abortion needs to be allowed?
Mary Ann Sorrentino is not a newcomer to the abortion issue. Her inability to get the basic facts right shows how the abortion rights movement has become consumed by political rhetoric that has little or nothing to do with reality.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.