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Partial-birth abortion

Critics of Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision upholding a federal ban on the gruesome procedure known as partial-birth abortion claim the ruling signals the demise of Roe v. Wade.

Wrong.

In fact, the 5-4 decision affects only a specific medical procedure during which the skull of a partially delivered living fetus is punctured with the intent of killing the child.

It’s akin to infanticide.

Nor was the 2003 federal law the product of some far-right, anti-abortion agenda. The measure — which had passed Congress three times previously only to be vetoed by President Bill Clinton — sailed through the Senate with considerable Democratic support. Even Sen. Harry Reid — now majority leader — favored the ban.

Polls consistently show that around 70 percent of Americans support outlawing the procedure.

Defenders of partial-birth abortion sometimes claim the procedure is rare. That’s true, in terms of how often the technique is used as a percentage of all abortions. But the Guttmacher Institute found that 2,200 fetuses were killed via partial-birth abortion in 2000, the last year records are available.

That’s a significant number.

Other procedures can be — and often are — substituted for second- or third-trimester abortions, which remain legal in many circumstances.

So don’t believe the overheated rhetoric: Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision in no way restricts a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

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