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August 2, 1996     The Message
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August 2, 1996

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12 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana August 2, 1996 Partial birth abortion 'never necessary' By NANCY HARTNAGEL Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Members of a new physicians' coalition and several parents who chose to carry to term ba- bies with severe abnormalities say there is never a need to take a child's life with a partial-birth abortion. "Our goal is to bring the rele- vant medical facts to bear" about the controversial procedure, said Dr. Nancy Romer, a Dayton, Ohio, obstetrician-gynecologist who announced a new organiza- tion -- Physicians' Ad-hoc Coali- tion for Truth, or PHACT -- at a congressional briefing in Wash- ington July 24. The briefing, which drew about 150 people, was organized by Reps. Charles T. Canady, R- Fla., and Tom A. Coburn, R- Okla., in anticipation of con- gressional votes to override President Clinton's April 10 veto of a bill that would have banned the partial-birth abortion proce- dure. Canady introduced the bill in the House. Coburn is a physician who has delivered more than 3,000 babies. The doctors and parents had come forward, Canady-said, "to put a stop to the misinformation" that women carrying children with severe fetal abnormalities risk their own health and future fertility by delivering babies who have little chance for survival. They told a different story from that of five women who spoke at the White House veto- signing ceremony. Those women had partial- birth abortions in Bishops oppose abortion training in Kentucky schools By ROY l. HORNER Catholic News Service LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS)- Kentucky's Catholic bishops have said they oppose the intro- duction of abortion training in the state's medical schools on grounds of faith, morals and human dignity. In joint letters to University of Louisville president John Shumaker and University of Kentucky president Charles Wethington Jr., the bishops ex- pressed "profound disappointment" over the intent of the universities' medical schools "to add induced abortion training to their residency training cur- riculum for obstetricians and gy- necologists." "Our vision of health care flows from a common under- standing of the dignity of the human person, including the unborn," the bishops wrote. "This is a vision about which you and we normally agree. We be- lieve that this decision to offer abortion training violates human dignity. We also believe that it is inconsistent with the pro-life stance of the people of Kentucky." The bishops noted that state law forbids the use of public monies for abortion. They said it will be difficult "to provide this training without violating" the law. They said no medical" school needs to provide induced abor- tion training for the sake of cer- tification or eligibility for federal funding, but the new decision could jeopardize any relation- ship between the medical schools and Catholic health care institutions. I FOR COMPLETE ELECTRICAL SERVICE FISCHER ELECTRIC INC. SCHNELLVILLE, IN 389-2418 Signing the letters were Arch- bishop Thomas C. Kelly of Louisville and Bishops Robert W. Muench of Covington, John J. McRaith of Owensboro and J. Kendrick Williams of Lexington. Dr. Emery Wilson, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, said the curriculum addition was in response to a national accredi- tation body's requirement that abortion training be made avail- bortion 'must never be wewed as health care.' able on-site or off-site for "those residents who want to do in- duced abortion." "As a state institution, we don't do abortions and we don't plan to do abortions," he said in a telephone interview with The Record, Louisville archdiocesan newspaper. "From our stand- point nothing has changed as far as the institution is concerned." He said the training would not be offered to the university's medical students, but only to ob- stetrics and gynecology resi- dents. The Record could not reach Dr. Stanley Gall, chairman of the University of Louisville medical school, but his office for- warded a copy of an earlier let- ter to a state official in which Gall outlined the school's posi- tion. The training for abortion pro- cedures is part of new program requirements, tied to accredita- tion, that were "approved for all ob/gyn training programs as of Feb. 14, 1995," the letter said. If the training is not offered in the resident's hospital, it must be done through another institution, Gall wrote. He added that any resident with moral or religious objections would be excused from the re- quirement. Jane Chiles, executive director of the Catholic Con- ference of Kentucky, which represents the state's bishops in public policy matters, said the decision of the state's two major universities to incorporate abortion training is a "major shift in policy." "The bishops think this is a real about-face movement away from Kentucky being the very pro-life state that it has been and (that) is reflected in its in- stitutions," she said. "We believe that when this is incorporated into the curricu- lum, there will be abortions per- formed," Chiles said. "And whether those are in a public fa- cility, which clearly the law pre- cludes, or if they contract with a private facility, we believe that is still an association with pub- lic tax dollars." "We see this.., as a gradual attempt within certain portions of the medical community to try to mainstream the procedure of abortion," she said. "It must never be mainstreamed. It must never be viewed as health care." Wade Funeral Home 119 S. Vine Street. Haubstadt, IN 768-6151 Call about pre-need counseling. Robert J. Wade Alan J. Wade i T F S Box 68 Montgomery, Indiana 47558 Donald J. Traylor President Phone: 486-3285 the late stages of pregnancies in- volving fetal disorders, prompt- ing Clinton to call the procedure a "potentially lifesaving, cer- tainly health-saving" measure for a small group of U.S. women. Used in late-term abortions, the procedure calls for a doctor to partially deliver the unborn child before surgical scissors are stabbed into the base of the in- fant's head. The child's brain is then removed by suction, allow- ing for easier delivery of the rest of the body. Margaret Sheridan of Chevy Chase, Md., a pediatric nurse, has had five healthy children since her first troubled preg- nancy eight years ago. But she said the event in her life she is "most proud of' is carrying her first child, who had a large ab- dominal defect, "to term, giving birth to him and loving him until he died naturally" about 45 min- utes after birth. Sheridan, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda, said doctors who perform partial- birth abortions would have tar- geted her son Gerard "because he had Trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality incompatible with more than a few hours or weeks of life outside the womb." Jeannie French, a health care professional from Oak Park, Ill., said her daughter Mary, whose brain was developing mostly out- side her skull, "was born dying." Though she lived only six hours, her donated organs gave life and sight to other sick babies, French said, proving "that her life had value." "We do not need to help a dying child die," she said. "Not one moment of grief is circum- vented by this procedure." A father, Andrew Morsman of Jenks, Okla., said his son suf- fered from "an extremely rare and massive birth defect known as body stalk anomaly," in which the absence of an abdominal wall causes most internal organs to develop outside the abdomi- nal cavity. Despite the baby's extensive problems, Morsman said his wife, Denise, faced "virtually no increased risk beyond that asso- elated with a normal, preg- nancy." The baby, delivered vagi- nally, was stillborn at seven months. Morsman said he also spoke for his wife, who was at home, 24 weeks pregnant and this time facing a different fetal abner- mality. "While we do not presume to judge other parents faced with similar, unfortunate circum" stances," he said, "we can state unequivocally that our lives, and the lives of our other children, are richer for having carried Calvin and for having given him all we could have." Dr. Joseph Cook, a Michigan obstetrician-gynecologist with 31 years of experience, voiced his concern about the procedure it- self harming the physical safety of women. He noted an increased risk of infection, "which is one of the main causes of later infertil" ity," and the risk of a ruptured uterus and consequent blooa loss. Cook, a member of PHACT, called partial-birth abortion "a maverick procedure that should be banned." Romer, who is affiliated with Miami Valley Hospital, Ohio's second largest maternity hospi" tal with 6,000 births annually, said partial-birth abortion is not an accepted medical procedure and there is no literature on it in peer-reviewed journals. "There is no medical evidence that this procedure is the safest or only alternative," she said. Though the new coalition has fewer than a dozen members., Romer said "contacting prem" dent Clinton is an appropriate next step for us." 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