Partial healing

By Viki Wilson

By Salon Staff

Published June 30, 2000 7:13PM (EDT)

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While I am pro-choice, and I certainly sympathize with Wilson, isn't it possible to construct a law that would allow late-term abortions in situations similar to hers while preventing others? Does being pro-choice mean I must view every abortion without misgivings? Must I approve of the late-term abortion of a healthy baby to a healthy mother? Would Wilson?

A side note: Wilson points out that "partial-birth abortion" is not a real medical term. She might be interested to know that "privacy" is not a real constitutional right. And doesn't "evacuation" sound just as awful?

-- V. Anton Spraul

It makes no difference to me whether this is called partial-birth abortion or "D&X" or" D&E" (and how ludicrous to even make those distinctions!). What remains is this: a choice made, (by parents!) to kill a baby of 36 weeks' gestation. There are no extenuating circumstances to such a decision. We as a society all suffer when we engage in "a choice" such as this.

-- Mary Schaefer

Although I sympathize with Viki Wilson's agonizing decision (my wife and I had to make a similar one, earlier in her pregnancy with our second child), she describes her D&E as "saving my life" although nowhere in her article is it indicated that her life is at risk. Are we to assume that bringing the baby to term was riskier to Wilson than the D&E? Or is this just another attempt, this time on the pro-choice side, to confuse the issues involved? The argument that reducing the child's suffering on the way to an inevitable death justifies the abortion is a reasonable one. But Wilson's slippery invocation of "saving the life of the mother" only reinforces the perception that such an exception would always be a blank check.

-- Michael Derman

I just finished reading Wilson's article about her "dilation and extraction" procedure. It disturbs me greatly to find her arguing that what she had done was not only the only way to preserve her fertility but that it was an act of compassion and mercy to her unborn daughter.

Wilson may consider me a cold-hearted person for suggesting that it was as much an act of convenience as it was an attempt at compassion. I have no doubt that she wanted her baby. But I have no doubt that the devastating news of its deformity and almost certainty to be still-born made her want to immediately get rid of it.

Wilson should also know that the American College of Gynecologists rejects the medical arguments that she made in her article, stating there are "no circumstances under which" partial birth abortion "would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health" of a woman.

Finally, I note that Wilson describes herself as a practicing Catholic. I think that is a silly statement. The Catholic Church expressly forbids abortion and is particularly opposed to "dilation and extraction" methods. I believe that Catholics who undergo or counsel others to have abortions are considered to have committed mortal sins. I no longer consider myself a practicing Catholic, and I suggest that she should not maintain the pretense either unless she admits what she did was wrong. Loudly proclaiming herself in support of a ghastly measure like this and her status of "practicing Catholic" is roughly equivalent to saying you are pro- and anti-death penalty. In the end, you can't hold both positions at the same time. In the end, you have to choose.

-- Nick Eckert

I write as someone who was once generally in favor of abortion rights. My mind was changed by the birth of my (now completely healthy) daughter at 31 weeks' gestation. It awoke in me an astonishment that anyone could think it an option to abort someone so obviously a real human being. Once in a while, sadly, a pregnancy turns out in a way we would not have chosen. If we find out a few hours after delivery we neither kill the result nor take extreme measures to sustain it. The same should be true if we learn bad news just before a due date.

-- Lilly Canel

Salon Staff

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