An Unusual Medical Consensus: Partial-Birth Abortion is Never Necessary

President Clinton has said that he can support a ban on partial-birth abortions if it is shown that a ban will not endanger women's health or future fertility. Recently he said: "What I need to do is be convinced that no woman will be grievously harmed, and that no woman will be put in a position of being so harmed that she will never be able to have further children." (Washington Times, May 17, 1997, p. A4.)

Assurances on this point are now readily available. Prominent medical organizations and medical experts who disagree about abortion in general, all agree that the partial-birth procedure is never medically necessary.

  • "The partial delivery of a living fetus for the purpose of killing it outside the womb is ethically offensive to most Americans and physicians. Our panel could not find any identified circumstance in which the procedure was the only safe and effective abortion method." AMA President Daniel Johnson Jr., M.D., in New York Times, May 26, 1997.
  • "According to the scientific literature, there does not appear to be any identified situation in which intact D & X is the only appropriate procedure to induce abortion, and ethical concerns have been raised about D & X." Report by Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association, May 1997.
  • "A select panel convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which this procedure ... would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman." American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Statement of Policy, January 12, 1997.
  • "I believe that Mr. Clinton was misled by his medical advisers on what is fact and what is fiction in reference to late-term abortions. Because in no way can I twist my mind to see that the late-term abortion as described -- you know, partial birth, and then destruction of the unborn child before the head is born -- is a medical necessity for the mother. It certainly can't be a medical necessity for the baby." Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in American Medical News, August 19, 1996, p. 3.
  • "I have very serious reservations about this procedure ... You really can't defend it. I'm not going to tell somebody else that they should not do this procedure. But I'm not going to do it ... I would dispute any statement that this is the safest procedure to use." Abortionist Warren Hern in American Medical News, November 20, 1995, p. 3.
  • "None of this risk is ever necessary for any reason. We and many other doctors across the U.S. regularly treat women whose unborn children suffer the same conditions as those cited by the women who appeared at Mr. Clinton's veto ceremony. Never is the partial-birth procedure necessary." Drs. Nancy Romer, Pamela Smith, Curtis Cook and Joseph DeCook of Physicians' Ad Hoc Coalition for Truth (PHACT) in Wall Street Journal, September 19, 1996, p. A 22.
Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, National Conference of Catholic Bishops - 202/541-3070