In Reply: The term "partial-birth abortion"
was carefully crafted to inflame, not to illuminate. It is not a medical term.
As observed by Annas,1 "...what makes the
term ‘partial-birth abortion' politically powerful is its inaccurate
conflation of two polar-opposite results of pregnancy, birth and abortion."
Hence, physicians should not use the phrase.
Dr Stanley's letter compares second-trimester abortion with female genital
mutilation. However, second-trimester abortion, a medical procedure for which
health benefits are well documented,2 is
constitutionally protected under Roe v Wade. In contrast,
female genital mutilation is not a medical procedure, confers no health benefits,
and has no such protection.1 Stanley implies
that second-trimester instrumental abortion causes "massive bleeding, and
incompetent cervix." To support these claims, she cites a newspaper instead
of scientific literature. Stanley also implies that I intentionally used old
data from 1992. When I wrote my Controversies article, 1992 was the most recent
year for which these published data were available.3
More recent data4 have confirmed what I