The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) continues to oppose so-called “partial birth abortion” laws, including the conference committee bill approved by the US House of Representatives yesterday and sent to the US Senate.ACOG’s Statement of Policy explains why ACOG believes such legislation to be “inappropriate, ill advised, and dangerous.” The policy statement notes that although a select panel convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which intact D&X would be the only option to protect the life or health of a woman, intact D&X “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman, and only the doctor, in consultation with the patient, based upon the woman’s particular circumstances, can make this decision.”The Statement of Policy further reads that such legislation has the potential to outlaw other abortion techniques that are critical to the lives and health of American women.
Courts have found that the measures do not proscribe a specific, late-term abortion method but, rather, are so broad and vague as to effectively outlaw a range of abortion methods, both before and after fetal viability
Because “partial-birth” abortion is a nonmedical term coined by opponents of reproductive rights, the crux of the confusion has to do with what the measures aim to outlaw, and when.
However, the typical “partial-birth” measure has no gestational parameters, and therefore is not limited to postviability abortions.
The medical misinformation currently circulating in political discussions of abortion procedures only reinforces ACOG’s position: in the individual circumstances of each particular medical case, the patient and physician — not legislators — are the appropriate parties to determine the best method of treatment.