Stepping into the most disputed arena of the abortion debate, the American Medical Association board said Wednesday that so-called partialbirth abortions should be used rarely, if at all.
While the AMA Board of Trustees avoided taking a position on partial-birth abortion bills on Capitol Hill, it said there is “no identified situation” that requires the procedure and urged tight limits on its use.
“The AMA recommends that the procedure not be used unless alternative procedures pose materially greater risk to the woman,” the board said in a 35-page report. “The physician must, however, retain the discretion to make that judgment.”
The report - the first-ever AMA paper on the issue will become policy of the 300,000-member group if approved by its House of Delegates at its annual meeting in June.
Pending in Congress is Republican-sponsored legislation that would ban partial-birth abortions unless the woman’s life were in danger. Congress passed something similar last year, and President Clinton vetoed it.
Democrats are fashioning alternative legislation that would limit abortions after the point at which a fetus could survive. Clinton said Wednesday that he would support a ban on late-term abortions with an exception for mothers whose pregnancies put their health in extreme danger.
But the AMA report made a point of staying away from the legislative debate and focused on the health of mother and fetus.
The AMA said it would not use the term partial-birth abortion because that is not standard medical terminology. The AMA prefers to use the term D&X; - for dilation and extraction.