THE FINE PRINT. Over at Feministing, Ann helpfully linked to Cynthia Gorney�s old Harper�s article on the politics of the SCOTUS-approved ban against dilation and extraction abortions. The article helps to clarify a few questions asked in comments here and elsewhere about yesterday's decision:

  • Yesterday�s Gonzales v. Carhart ruling contains a provision protecting the life of the mother, but not her health. According to Doe v. Bolton, the little-known case decided on the same day as Roe, women�s "health" must be protected under any abortion ban after fetal viability. "Health" was defined as "all factors -- physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age -- relevant to the well-being of the patient." The Supreme Court eviscerated that precedent yesterday.
  • Dilation and Extraction -- re-dubbed "partial-birth abortion" by anti-choicers -- does not equal "late term abortion." It is a procedure by which the fetus is removed intact from the womb instead of in pieces. Why would a doctor and patient choose this procedure? For many women ending a second- or third-trimester desired pregnancy because of a birth defect -- some of which may prohibit a baby from ever living outside of the womb -- holding their fetus is a way to grieve and bring closure to their pregnancies.
  • Another benefit of Dilation and Extraction is that it decreases the likelihood of bleeding and pain inside the woman�s uterus and vagina. This is important to many women who plan on having children in the future.

--Dana Goldstein

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