Communications Department

National Right to Life Comments on Court Orders and President Bush’s Statement

Nov 6, 2003 | 2003 Press Releases

Issues Memo Distilling and Linking Key Documentation on Disputed Issues Regarding Partial-Birth Abortion

WASHINGTON (Nov. 6, 2003) — On November 6, federal judges in New York and California issued temporary restraining orders that will severely impede enforcement of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act for the time being.  Earlier, on November 5, a federal district judge in Nebraska issued an order that prevented enforcement against four specific abortionists.

“Partly born, premature infants will continue to die at the point of seven-inch scissors, because of these judicial orders,” NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson commented.  “But we believe that this law will ultimately be reviewed by the Supreme Court, where five justices in 2000 said Roe v. Wade guarantees the right to perform partial-birth abortions at will.  We can only hope that by the time this law reaches the Supreme Court, there will be at least a one-vote shift away from that extreme and inhumane position.”

NRLC, the nation’s major pro-life organization, has strongly commended President Bush for signing the bill into law.  NRLC took note of the President’s statement just before he signed the bill:  “For years, a terrible form of violence has been directed against children who are inches from birth, while the law looked the other way.”

“President Bush’s statement that a partial-birth abortion kills a baby who is ‘inches from birth’ is the literal, painful truth,” Johnson said.  “Most partial-birth abortions are performed in the fifth and sixth months — stages at which most babies, if expelled by premature labor, are live births.  This abortion method is, literally, a partial birth.”

In a partial-birth abortion, usually performed in the fifth and sixth months, a living premature baby is mostly delivered, feet first, until only the head remains in the womb, after which the abortionist punctures the skull and removes the brain with a suction machine.  The abortion industry has acknowledged that the method is performed thousands of times annually, and in the “vast majority” of cases, on healthy babies of healthy mothers.

President Bush’s complete remarks at the signing ceremony are posted here:

On November 5, NRLC released a memorandum containing specific information addressing the major disputed issues regarding partial-birth abortion, including the language and the effect of the bill; why “partial-birth abortion” is not synonymous with various pseudo-medical jargon terms used by the law’s opponents, or with the nebulous label “late-term abortion”; how the term “partial-birth” conforms to the structure of current laws governing what constitutes a legal “live birth”; documentation that the National Coalition of Abortion Providers has conceded that “in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along”; and how medically documented illustrations of two different abortion methods can allow the public to better evaluate the claims and counterclaims on what the bill actually covers and does not cover.  On each point, the memo contains links to key documents, including reports of investigative journalists and interviews with abortionists.

The memo also addresses the question of what’s next on the agenda for the pro-life movement in Congress.

The memo, “The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act:  Misconceptions and Realities,” is posted on the NRLC website here:

NRLC’s archive of documentation on partial-birth abortion — the most extensive on the Internet — is at: