All Abortions Are Equally Gruesome

Author: Mary Beth Bonacci

All Abortions Are Equally Gruesome

By Mary Beth Bonacci

With the attention in the partial-birth abortion ban turning to the congressional override vote, I thought it was finally time to add my voice to the discussion.

For those of you who don't know the details of this procedure, it's pretty grisly. A late-term baby is breech delivered (feet first) until everything is out but the head. At this point, the "doctor" jabs scissors into the base of the baby's skull and sucks his brains out. Result: a dead baby. Of course, if the baby's head were all the way out, he would no longer be a "fetus" but a "person," and our doctor would be up on manslaughter charges. Amazing what a difference a few inches makes in an American court of law.

What's more, there is absolutely no medical reason to perform this procedure , except to kill the baby legally. Babies at this point are viable. If the pregnancy is jeopardizing the mother's health, the baby could easily be taken out by caesarian section , a procedure much less dangerous to her health than attempting a breech vaginal delivery with a brain-sucking finale. But in a caesarean, you have a living baby at the end , and some people aren't interested in that.

All of that being said, I'm not particularly interested in writing another "Isn't Partial-Birth Abortion Terrible?" or "Isn't Bill Clinton Terrible for Vetoing the Ban?" article. All of that is true and important, of course, but those articles have all been written.

Rather, I'd like to spend a few minutes making some observations on the tone of this whole debate, and what it means for the pro-life movement.

It bothers me a little when I hear people, especially pro-life people, saying "all abortion is bad, but this is really bad." Partial-birth abortion is horrid and evil, to be sure, but it is no worse than any other abortion. What is the difference between sucking the brains out of an 8-month baby and dismembering an 8-week baby with a curette or a suction machine? Either procedure cruelly takes a human life.

Why would we say partial-birth abortion is worse than other forms of abortion? Because the baby is bigger? Because we can see the baby? Because the baby is viable? Is this baby more "real" because he is three-quarters of the way out of the birth canal? Be careful. If we start to believe that a baby is more human or more valuable because she is visible or viable, we have entered the zone of the abortion mindset. They're the ones who try to determine her value based on her size or place of residence. We're supposed to remind people that all human life has value.

I say this not because I believe we should cease trying to outlaw partial-birth abortion. On the contrary, I believe we should redouble our efforts. Bringing this procedure to the attention of the American public has been a very good thing, for one simple reason , it shows the true nature of all abortions. The reality of the abortion procedure has been hidden in the privacy of the womb for so long , giving people the luxury of rationalizing it away. Partial-birth abortion brings that reality into the cold, hard light of day. People need to see that, in order to understand what all abortions do.

My greatest fear is that the 80 percent of Americans who live in the "mushy middle," undecided about abortion and sick of the debate, will see this issue as an opportunity for "compromise" , a way to settle the issue once and for all. They will support outlawing this grossest, most visible type of abortion, and in exchange expect us to quietly capitulate to 1,490,000 other legally sanctioned intrauterine executions every year. We can't let this happen.

Work to outlaw partial-birth abortion. Show anyone and everyone what a hideous, gruesome procedure it is. But don't stop there. Don't waste this opportunity. Use it to show people that any abortion is, in its own way, equally gruesome. Each abortion tries to solve the problems of the mother by killing her child.

And that is wrong, no matter how it's done.

Bonacci is a frequent lecturer of chastity and author of We're on A Mission From God from Ignatius Press.