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Beware of "Maternal and Fetal Indications"

Docs put real medicine on a back burner.
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Sometimes the death of the unborn child is the unwanted but tragically necessary side effect of treatment necessary to save the mother's life. A conscientious doctor will struggle with such cases, and will make all reasonable efforts to preserve the child's life if possible. The trouble lies in the fact that abortion advocacy efforts have created a climate in which many doctors feel safest recommending abortion at the first sign of trouble.

Over a decade before widespread legalization of abortion, even Planned Parenthood's Medical Director, Mary Calderone, recognized that "it is hardly ever necessary today to consider the life of a mother as threatened by a pregnancy."1 But thanks to the efforts of abortion advocates, pregnancy is perceived as dangerous, and women are being steered by litigation-shy doctors into needless, unwanted abortions, ostensibly for maternal or fetal indications.

Dr. Thomas Murphy Goodwin is affiliated with an obstetrical service specializing in high-risk cases. His reflections on cases he has seen in his practice are described by him in The Silent Subject.2 Goodwin tells poignant stories of women who had been sent to his practice for unnecessary abortions. Although these women were put through needless anguish, they were spared the trauma of abortion. Goodwin and his coleagues were able to demonstrate that the risks were not as grave as the women had been led to believe. Other women have not been so fortunate.

When researching Lime 5, I encountered numerous cases where women were told that their lives were in danger, or that their unborn children were grievously ill, only to learn after their abortions that there had been no cause for alarm at all.

One woman, whose boyfriend wanted her to abort, insisted that she was against abortion and would never consider abortion except as a last resort to save her life. The boyfriend arranged for her to see a doctor for some problems she was experiencing, and chose none other than George Tiller, the famous Wichita late term abortionist. The woman expressed to Tiller, as she had to her boyfriend, that she wished very much to continue the pregnancy unless her life was in danger. Tiller told her that the pregnancy was ectopic and that immediate surgery was necessary to save her life. Reluctantly, the woman allowed Tiller to perform a procedure on her to end her pregnancy. Afterward, she sought aftercare elsewhere and learned that the pregnancy and fetus had been normal. Tiller had performed an ordinary abortion procedure upon her. The woman filed suit against Tiller and his "extreme and outrageous conduct, going beyond all possible bounds of decency."2

Another case, even more tragic, never made it into Lime 5, because Mark Crutcher chose representative cases and not the most heinous cases. Forty-on-year-old Allegra Roseberry was undergoing treatment for liver cancer. An ultrasound was done in preparation for enrolling her in an experimental treatment program. It was discovered that many of the symptoms she and her doctor had been attributing to the cancer and the chemotherapy were actually symptoms of an advanced pregnancy. This came as quite a surprise to Allegra, who had only concieved her son 21 years earlier through infertility treatments. She was told that the pregnancy disqualified her from the experimental cancer program (though this was not true), and was advised to abort. The pregnancy was already past 20 weeks, and Allegra balked at the idea of abortion. Doctors then informed her that the chemotherapy had fatally injured the unborn child anyway. She consented to the abortion. She was sent to an Atlanta hospital, where the abortion was done. She developed sepsis and died three days later, on August 13, 1988. Her widower ordered an autopsy on the aborted baby girl and learned that there had been nothing wrong with the child -- she could have been delivered live. A jury awarded the man a settlement for the needless death of his daughter, but ruled that he had not been injured by the death of his wife since she had cancer and probably would have survived less than six months anyway. Nevertheless, the woman was deprived of the last six months of her life -- possibly more, because she still could have entered the experimental program after delivering her daughter. She was deprived of the joy of being a mother a second time, of being the mother of a daughter as well as of a son. And her husband and son were robbed of precious time with her, and lost a daughter and sister who would no doubt have been a great comfort to them. What could have been a miracle baby was turned into a double tragedy.

These are the fruits of abortion enthusiasts' "wrongful birth" suits, of their cries that abortion is a "right," of their insisting loudly and frequently that abortion is a victimless crime. Their claims that legalizing abortion only makes it available to women who want abortion ring hollow when compared to the reality of women browbeaten into unwanted abortions. We as a society need to decide which we prefer: for women who truly want abortion to have to go to some trouble to arrange it, or for women who want to have their babies to have to fight tooth and nail against a medical establisment urging them to abort. We're told that legalization is at worst the lesser of two evils. Evidence is that legalization has unleashed a whole new set of evils upon mothers and children.


1. Calderone, Mary; "Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem;" AJPH v. 50 n. 7. pp. 948-9, July 1960
2. Sedgewick (KS) County District Court Case No. 92C1280

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Related Links
"Don't Like Abortions? Don't Have One!"
Hodgkin's Disease and Pregnancy
Hyperemesis Gravidarum
James
National Cancer Institute: Breast Cancer and Pregnancy
Pregnancy and Cancer: Breast Cancer
Pregnancy and Cancer: Cervical Cancer
"The Doctors Are Often Wrong"

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