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July 7, 1999

The Law, the AMA, and Partial-Birth Abortion

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;282(1):23-27. doi:10.1001/jama.282.1.23

To the Editor: The 3 articles on late-term abortion13 circled around the point on this issue: criminal laws against so-called partial-birth abortion go beyond banning any 1 abortion procedure or just "late-term" procedures. Even the authors define late term differently: Dr Gans Epner et al1 define it as 27 weeks or more from the last menstrual period and Drs Sprang and Neerhof 2 as beyond 20 weeks from the last menstrual period. Neither the phrase "late term" nor "intact dilation and evacuation" is present or defined in any of the partial-birth abortion laws passed in 27 states or in the federal bill. Although antichoice activists have perpetuated the myth that partial-birth abortion laws apply to a limited set of circumstances, 17 courts across the nation have blocked partial-birth abortion laws as unconstitutional, finding such laws could, at any point in a pregnancy, outlaw an abortion performed using the most common and safest procedures.4

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