First of all, I'd like to apologize for my somewhat confrontational tone
initially. Secondly, please understand that I'm only speaking for
myself (much as you're speaking for yourself), not in any official
capacity as a representative of Wikipedia; others may agree or disagree
with what I say.
The current entry in Wikipedia under the heading
"Intact dilation and
extraction" does not treat the subject as a medical abortion procedure - which it
is - but rather as something open to multiple interpretations and with moral
implications, which is not a part of any clinical medical procedure. While
almost any medical/surgical procedure can be said to have a moral component,
the actual procedure is in fact somewhat mechanical and devoid of morality.
This I agree is a problem; you're free to begin making changes to it
yourself if you have the time and inclination, or else hopefully some of
us will find the time to do so. So far from discussion on this mailing
list it appears there is somewhat of a consensus towards separating the
medical procedure and the surrounding issue into separate articles, but
this has not yet been done, so there's a little of both in both
articles. So it seems in principle we all agree that the article titled
"Intact dilation and extraction" should be a strictly medical article,
with nothing but a pointer to other articles discussing social or
ethical issues. Then an article under "partial birth abortion" can
discuss those, as well as disagreement over the term itself.
However, this all takes work, so the separation and rewriting hasn't
actually taken place--we'd like if possible to move the information from
"Intact dilation and extraction" to another article rather than simply
deleting it (except for the factually incorrect information, of course).
Let me refer you to a couple of politically loaded
statements in the current
It suggests that the name of the procedure may be replaced by Late Term
Abortion - which is a synonym - when in fact D&X (ID&X) is *clearly a mid
trimester proceudre*, which under very very rare circumstances might be possible to
use late term. To present LTA as a synonym for this procedure therefore is
just plain incorrect.
This I agree is the case. In some some quick research it appears some
anti-abortion groups are attempting to label anything after the first
trimester "late-term", which I agree is a distortion and not in keeping
with the generally understood definition of "late-term" when it comes to
pregnancies. I will look through your draft and attempt to integrate
some corrections as soon as I get some free time to do so (or perhaps
someone else will first; or you're welcome to make the changes directly
In associating the term D&X with the unequivocally
undefined political term
"Partial Birth Abortion" once more the implication, clearly, is that the
procedure is performed close to a normal birth, or perhaps even during a birth,
when in fact it can be stated without any equivocation that the majority of
such fetuses, if the pregnancy were not deliberately terminated by an induced
abortion at the point D&Xs are performed, but by a medical mishap which caused
the woman's body to prematurely expel them in a spontaneous abortion, would
be considered miscarriages.
Would you object to the association if it had more of a disclaimer, as
in "This procedure has been called a type of 'partial birth abortion' by
some of its critics, who hope to have it banned." or similar? Then the
phrase 'partial birth abortion' could link to the article with that
title, which would discuss the surrounding political issues (including
the fact that it is not clearly defined).
Re: Delerium/Mark's suggestion concerning the use
of "Partial dilation and
extraction". It is a term I am totally unfamiliar with and believe me, if it
were a part of the usual, and possibly even unusual, abortion nomenclature I
would be familiar with it.
I misspoke here; I meant "Intact dilation and extraction".
With respect to the Wikipedia project:
This was a new phenomenon to me but I was indirectly introduced to it
through a reference in an essay I was asked to evaluate. Naturally I am suspicious
of any appeal to authority, which after all is what a dictionary or
encyclopedia reference is, and thought to check the reliability of the source. I was
totally amazed at the lack of real scholarship displayed in that particular
I have mixed feelings on that myself; there is no guarantee that at any
given point any Wikipedia article has useful or correct information, so
I'd be wary of citing it in a paper. There are plans to work on a more
stable and reviewed "release version" of Wikipedia 1.0, which will (we
hope) be much more reliable and worthy of academic citation. That said,
I think Wikipedia is quite useful as a reference even now as long as it
is never your *sole* reference--if you look around a bit, I do think
there are quite a few very good articles on Wikipedia, and some are even
the best of their class, superior to those found in Britannica and other
"professional" encyclopedias. In particular, Wikipedia covers
mathematical and computer science topics with much greater depth and
precision than most encyclopedias, and in political disputes does not
defend mainstream dogma quite as much as others do (you'll find very
little of the controversy over Henry Kissinger in the Britannica article
on Kissinger, for example, which presents a much more whitewashed view).
I was further dismayed to discover that your attempt at
co-operative project lends itself to a tyranny of the loudest voice; or the fastest
editorial pen; or the most persistent objecter. Also disappointing is the
fact that under the guise of a neutral viewpoint political jargon is being
passed of as reliable and accurate information.
This is a continuing problem with disputed issues (Israel/Palestine is
another that frequently causes problems), but I don't think it's solely
a tyranny of the loudest voice. On topics with enough interest,
eventually things will tend to get ironed out in a way that is fairly
neutral and factually accurate. In the meantime there may be conflict
over what should go in an article, but in the long run someone
attempting to insert biased viewpoints into an article will not succeed
in keeping them there. On particularly controversial issues, a neutral
(or as neutral as possible) person will attempt to mediate (this has
happened a bit recently with disputes over Serb and Croat articles
between partisans of either side).
In short, I agree there's some problems with the current system, and
we're always open to suggestions for improvement, but so far it seems to
be the best one. The only alternatives seem to involve some sort of
authoritarian power structure, wherein we appoint "experts" to edit or
review certain articles, and that's the sort of thing we're trying to
avoid (especially since there's no guarantee any given "expert" is him
or herself unbiased).
When an essay/paper uses a dictionary or encyclopedia
as an information
reference source I recognize the danger in this but expect at least some form of
editorial responsibility will ameliorate the gross distortions found in some
less notable journalistic outlets. Your "free for all" approach does not
appear to lend itself to editorial responsibility and overview, however. There
has to be a point where the buck ends and somebody (or perhaps group) takes
responsibility for obviously false content by refusing to permit it to be
printed. This will, of course, require a good deal of intestinal fortitude on the
part of such a person but without such responsibility to readers the result
is an unreliable and unpalatable goulash.
I entered this fray because I thought the Wikipedia concept had merit.
However without a responsible editor or editorial board which will make clear
what will NOT be accepted there is no chance of producing the reliable source of
accurate information I would like to see used.
There is currently no formal editorial board, but that does not mean
that *anything* can be printed. Instead of seeing it that way, I think
a more accurate way would be to think of it as "this article is a work
in progress"--the work in progress may be unfit to be printed, but that
doesn't mean it can't be fixed. (When a Wikipedia 1.0 is finally
released, then the argument that we're printing rubbish will be more
problematic.) Something unfit to be printed will be dealt with when
it's brought to someone's attention (the only rubbish that stays up
indefinitely is really obscure stuff nobody notices--which is
unfortunate, but not really what the current discussion is about).
There is an informal review board of sorts of the most active
Wikipedians, most of whom strive to be as neutral as possible; when
issues (such as this one) become a major controversy, people not
normally involved in the field will step in and try to resolve the
situation. Rather than giving up immediately, I'd ask that either you
start editing yourself to implement your desired changes (there's no
guarantee they'll all be kept intact, but it's at least a start, and
faster than waiting for us to implement them for you), or give us some
time to sort these issues out and see if the articles on this subject a
few weeks from now are more satisfactory. Our goal is to come up with
an article that both abortion choice supporters and abortion opponents
can read and say "well, I might've phrased that a little differently,
but this is an accurate summary of the facts and surrounding debate."
It's clear it's not at that point yet, but I don't think it's an