Pennsylvanians for Human Life

Partial Birth Abortion

What is partial-birth abortion? In a partial-birth abortion, known also as “intact dilation and extraction”, or D & X.. the abortionist, guided by ultrasound, uses forceps to pull the baby through the birth canal feet first except for the head. The abortionist jams scissors into the baby’s head and opens them to enlarge the hole. A suction tube is inserted into the baby’s skull and his brains are suctioned out. The dead baby is then removed. Partial-birth abortion is performed on unborn babies from four and one half months gestation sometimes as late as six months, seven months or later.

Dr. Watson A. Bowes testified in recent hearings on partial-birth abortion, that he knew of no instance where the procedure has been needed to protect the health of the mother. Dr. Bowes is professor emeritus of obstetrics & gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. One mother recently wrote an article for NRL News stating that she had severe preeclampsia (a condition for which some think a partial-birth abortion is needed.) Instead her pregnancy was ended by an emergency Caesarean section. Her son had to struggle for life, but won and is now a healthy teenager. While the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was signed by President Bush in November of 2003, it has not been enforced because three judges in Lincoln, Nebraska, New York, NY and San Francisco, CA have agreed to hear evidence in non-jury trials on whether the ban violates the U.S. Constitution. The Bush administration has argued that partial-birth abortion is “inhumane and gruesome” and causes the fetus to suffer pain.

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For additional information on this topic visit:

National Right to Life Committee

Life Issues

PA Pro-Life Federation

Priests for Life
Most Americans do not realize that abortion is legal in late pregnancy. A child of seven months gestation who is wanted by his parents will be taken to the neonatal intensive care unit while another child not wanted by his mother can be aborted. Many unborn children have survived an early delivery, probably even someone you know. Some unborn children have survived at a very early age including Kenya King, born in Orlando, Florida at 21 weeks gestation, just 4 and 1/2 months from her mother’s last menstrual period.

Dr. & Mrs. Jack Wilke in “Abortion Questions and Answers” lists eleven children born between 19 and 24 weeks gestation as reported by newspapers like the Houston Post, the Washington Post, the Cincinnati Enquirer, Associated Press and others. Almost any hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit will have survivors of premature births.

Where is the justice or common sense in aborting children who are capable of surviving outside the womb, especially when there are millions of couples waiting for a baby to adopt?

Senate Gives Final Approval to Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act
October 21, 2003

The Senate gave final approval to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act on October 21, 2003 by a vote of 64 to 33. The bill was sponsored by Pennsylvania’s Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).

Banning the late-term abortion procedure where the living baby is delivered feet first outside the body of the mother before he is killed, has been a priority of many pro-life organizations since 1995. The bill contains an exception if the method was ever necessary to save the life of the mother. The bill was then signed by President Bush on Nov. 5, 2003.

House Passes Partial-Birth Abortion Ban
October 2, 2003

By a 282-139 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives joined its Senate colleagues in passing what would amount to a ban on the heinous partial-birth abortion procedure. “Partial- birth abortion” is defined as the process by which a baby’s brain is removed after that child has partially left the birth canal. Minor differences in the House and Senate versions were resolved in conference committee. President Bush pledged to sign it into law. (see “Bush Signs...”) Included in this bill is a provision whereby an abortionist could be sentenced to two years in prison for “knowingly” violating the law.

President Bush Signs Partial Birth Abortion Ban
November 5, 2003

President Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 on November 5, 2003 in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C. before an enthusiastic audience of 400 people. The following are excerpts of the President’s speech.

“I’m pleased that all of you have joined us as the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 becomes the law of the land. For years, a terrible form of violence has been directed against children who are inches from birth, while the law looked the other way. Today, at last, the American people and our government have confronted the violence and come to the defense of the innocent child. ... Many of you have worked long and hard to see this bill come to fruition, and we thank you for your efforts.” (The President went on to thank the principal lawmakers and others who helped to pass the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003)

“In passing this legislation, members of the House and Senate made a studied decision based upon compelling evidence. The best case against partial birth abortion is a simple description of what happens and to whom it happens. It involves the partial delivery of a live boy or girl, and a sudden, violent end of that life. Our nation owes its children a different and better welcome. The bill I am about to sign protecting innocent new life from this practice reflects the humanity and compassion of America.”

“Each year, thousands of partial birth abortions are committed. As Doctor C. Everett Koop, the pediatrician and former Surgeon General has pointed out, the majority of partial birth abortions are not required by medical emergency. As Congress has found, the practice is widely regarded within the medical profession as unnecessary, not only cruel to the child, but harmful to the mother, and a violation of medical ethics.”

The facts about partial birth abortion are troubling and tragic, and no lawyer’s brief can make them seem otherwise. By acting to prevent this practice, the elected branches of our government have affirmed a basic standard of humanity, the duty of the strong to protect the weak. The wide agreement amongst men and women on this issue regardless of political party government is to defend the life of the innocent. Every person, however frail or vulnerable, has a place and a purpose in this world. Every person has a special dignity. This right to life cannot be granted or denied by government, because it does not come from government, it comes from the Creator of life.

In the debate about the rights of the unborn, we are asked to broaden the circle of moral concern. We’re asked to live out our calling as Americans. We’re asked to honor our own standards, announced on the day of our founding in the Declaration of Independence... We’re asked by our convictions and tradition and compassion to build a culture of life and make this a more just and welcoming society. And today we welcome vulnerable children into the care and protection of Americans.

The late Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey once said that when we look to the unborn child, the real issue is not when life begins, but when love begins. This is the generous and merciful spirit of our country at its best. This spirit is reflected in the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which I am now honored to sign into law. God Bless. The bill is signed. (Applause.) Thank you, all.

Santorum Claims Victory on Passage of Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

March 13, 2003- U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference proclaimed a victory for human life as the U.S. Senate passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 in a 64-33 vote. "Today, we have reached a significant milestone as we continue to build a more compassionate society and a culture that values every human life," said Senator Santorum. "I am certain that my colleagues in the House of Representatives will pass this Act and the President will sign it into law. Futhermore, I am confident the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 includes factual findings of Congress that clearly show that a partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to preserve a woman's health, and should be banned."

"Partial-Birth Abortion is never medically necessary to protect a mother's health or fertility," said former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in 1997. "On the contrary, this procedure can cause a serious threat to both."

Legislation banning partial-birth abortion was approved by the 104th, 105th, and 106th Congress. In the 104th and 105th Congress, President Clinton vetoed the bill and the Senate was unable to override the veto while the House did vote to override. In the 106th Congress, the House and Senate again passed the bill and no further action took place. In the 107th Congress, the House again passed the bill banning partial-birth abortion, unfortunately the Senate was unable to consider the Bill during the 107th Congress due to objections being raised.

"The National Right to Life Committee commends the tireless efforts of Senator Rick Santorum, over the past seven years, to put an end to the brutal practice of partial-birth abortion." said Douglas Johnson, Legislative director of National Right to Life Committee. "Senator Santorum had done a tremendous job guiding this critical legislation through the Senate," said Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). "We are determined to move ahead quickly in the House, and I fully expect that our efforts will again receive strong bipartisan support."

Forty-nine Republicans and sixteen Democrats voted for the partial-birth abortion ban.

Pennsylvania's two Republican Senators, Santorum and Specter, voted to ban partial-birth abortion. Democrat Tom Daschle also voted for the ban.

Twenty-nine Senate Democrats voted for the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion including Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Tom Harkin and Steve Lautenberg.

Three Senate Republicans and one Independent cast pro-abortion votes. Senators Biden, Edwards and Kerry did not vote.

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