WASHINGTON – A major player in the abortion rights movement admitted lying when he claimed a form of late-term abortion is rare and that it is used primarily to save the lives of women bearing severely handicapped babies.

Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, said he was deliberately misleading in remarks about intact dilation and evacuation abortion (D&E), because he feared the truth would damage the cause of abortion rights. D&E abortion is also known as partial-birth abortion, a technique especially repugnant to pro-lifers and even some pro-abortion supporters.

Fitzsimmons said the procedure is performed far more often than his colleagues has admitted, and on women carrying healthy babies.

Fitzsimmons’ confession is featured in the March issue of American Medical News. He said that as much as he disagreed with the National Right to Life Committee and others who oppose abortion, he said he knew they were accurate when claiming the partial-birth technique is common. The procedure involves the partial extraction of the unborn baby from the birth canal, followed by the brain tissue being suctioned out.

In the fall, President Bill Clinton vetoes a motion which would have prohibited the procedure. The U.S. Right to Life Committee and others have argued that abortion supporters have misled politicians and the media about the frequency of the controversial procedure.

Fitzsimmons appeared to be softening his former hardline in favour of abortion. One of the facts about abortion, he said, is that women enter abortion clinics to kill their unborn child. “It is a form of killing,” he said.

– with files from the New York Times