Partial-birth abortion – is it legally and ethically justifiable? Lessons for South Africa
Intact dilation and extraction is a surgical abortion procedure dubbed ‘partial-birth abortion’, and is deemed infanticide by conservative pro-life advocates in the USA. Despite its salutary (albeit feticidal) nature, as it is arguably less destructive than alternative surgical abortion procedures, intact dilation and extraction is federally banned in the USA. While ostensibly unrelated, the matter is germane to South Africa (SA) as it may inform legislation and legal policy on the regulation of feticidal abortion procedures, since feticide remains unregulated by law. The objective of this article is to understand why intact dilation and extraction is proscribed, and whether proscription is justifiable in SA. Accordingly, the primary legal, medical and ethical arguments underpinning proscription are presented, followed by an examination of the veracity of each argument before gauging whether intact dilation and extraction is constitutionally and ethically justifiable in SA.