Jay Severin lies about “partial birth abortion”

Jay Severin is getting very creative in his efforts to attack the Obama administration and is playing pretty loose with the facts. Today his target was HHS-nominee Kathleen Sebelius, whom he frequently referred to as the “former governor” of Kansas. (In fact, as of this writing, she is still the governor and she plans to remain so until her confirmation.) Severin decided to attack Sebelius because of her support for “partial birth abortion,” which is known in the medical community as intact dilation and extraction (or evacuation), or D&X. Severin described partial birth abortion as a procedure that was performed “days or weeks” before a viable fetus would otherwise be born “naturally,” by which I assume he means at or close to full term.

Unless by “days or weeks” Jay Severin means 98 days or 14 weeks, he is either ignorant or lying.

A full-term pregnancy lasts about 38-40 weeks, depending on when you start counting. The abortion debate often divides the pregnancy into trimesters: up to about 13 weeks, between 13 and 26 weeks, and beyond 26 weeks. There is no specific definition of viability, but doctors seem to agree that it occurs no earlier than 24 weeks. (At the time of Roe v. Wade, in 1973, viability was generally considered to coincide with the end of the second trimester, which made the viability/trimester conversation much easier.)

Abortions after the 24th week are extremely uncommon. Only eight percent of abortion providers will offer an abortion at 24 weeks, much less later in the pregnancy. And the D&X procedure accounted for only 0.17% of abortions in 2000, which was before the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was signed by President Bush and later upheld by the Supreme Court.

For Jay Severin to suggest that Kathleen Sebelius or any other abortion rights supporter would be in favor of any abortion procedure in the eighth or ninth month is outrageous. Unfortunately, that’s just Jay being Jay.

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