"I remember sitting in my office," Kate Michelman recalled years later, "and James saying to me: 'Kate. This is a disaster.'" Michelman was the head of NARAL, the abortion lobby, and its vice president, James Wagoner had just brought her a copy of a congressional letter on partial-birth abortion. It was bad enough that the Republicans had just taken Congress a few months previously. Now NARAL and its allies had to deal with a new issue that was tailor-made for their opponents.
They quickly came up with a few defenses. Partial-birth abortions, they claimed, were done rarely and only for medical reasons. Planned Parenthood explained, "The procedure, dilation and extraction (D&X), is extremely rare and done only in cases when the woman's life is in danger or in cases of extreme fetal abnormality." There were only 500 to 600 such cases a year. Moreover, NARAL and Planned Parenthood claimed, the fetus felt no pain, since anaesthesia given to the mother had already killed it.
The press bought it. The Los Angeles Times reported that there were only 200 such abortions a year. "Typically, it is used in late pregnancies to save a mother's life or after the detection of severe fetal abnormalities." A New York Times story also echoed the abortion lobby's talking points. USA Today, the New York Daily News, and syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman all repeated the claim that anaesthesia killed the fetus before the scissors made contact. None of these stories even acknowledged that pro-lifers disputed these claims.
All of them were false.
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