Let me preface this by saying that I am terribly conflicted about abortion. I've reluctantly concluded that outlawing abortion is not the right choice, but I won't go into that argument. Instead, I'll discuss "partial birth abortion."
Actually, there is no such thing as a partial birth abortion. This was a term made up by politicians and religious groups to describe a procedure they did not understand (or did not want others to understand.) First, the term "abortion" in the medical sense refers to termination of a pregnancy before the fetus is viable. So there is no "abortion" involved here, though this distinction is rarely made outside of the medical community. Second, there is no birth involved, partial or otherwise. The actual term is a "dilation and extraction," or D&X procedure. I won't go into graphic detail, but from the real name of the procedure, you can probably get a sense of what actually happens.
So why are D&X procedures done? Mostly because women are selfish and doctors wanting research appropriate to the Nazi era. Or at least that's what the D&X opponents want us to believe. In reality, the D&X is an rather rare procedure done only as a last resort to protect the woman's life, a severe threat to her health, to end a pregnancy where the fetus cannot survive, etc. This isn't done on a whim.
Regrettably, the horrifying "partial birth abortion" laws have generally been written to absolutely ban the procedure and possibly ban related procedures. Will giving birth kill you? Too bad. Is the baby expected to live only a day or two? Too bad. The zealotry that can lead people to think that this is a good thing confounds me.
I think, ultimately, that a different question should be asked. While any doctor will admit that he or she can make errors in judgment, for the most part, their judgments are sound. Who do you really want making medical decisions for you? Your priest, your politican, or your doctor? Your life and the lives of others depends on your answer.