Partial Birth Abortion

A partial birth abortion, also called an intact dilation and extraction, is a controversial procedure that is performed to end a pregnancy usually after 20 weeks gestation. This procedure is more involved and complicated than an abortion performed during the first trimester. Though complicated, the procedure is still an outpatient one, not requiring an overnight stay. However, it is the ethical questions that add controversy rather than the procedure itself.

A partial birth abortion is performed by first administering medication that is meant to dilate the patient's cervix. The fetus is than maneuvered into a position so that the fetus will be delivered feet first. As the name suggests, the fetus is than partially delivered. That is the fetus is partially delivered leaving the head inside the womb.

The last step in a partial birth abortion is the controversial part. The head of the fetus is carefully collapsed with the inside of the skull being suctioned out. After the suctioning, the skull is now small enough to facilitate the easy removal of the fetus otherwise intact.

A partial birth abortion is different from an early abortion because the fetus remains intact and is partially delivered. This carries ethical questions, but is beneficial in some ways. In instances where the fetus is abnormal having an intact fetus can aid an autopsy to explain what went wrong. It can also be easier on the uterus of the patient.

A partial birth abortion is considered very controversial because there are questions about the rights of the fetus and the possibility of life outside of the womb. However, banning partial birth abortions has not been successful because there are times when it may be medically necessary. Still, there are many restrictions imposed on a partial birth abortion by state and federal laws. In addition, some physicians will not perform partial birth abortions.

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