REPORT OF THE SOUTH DAKOTA TASK FORCE TO STUDY ABORTION: A CLOSER LOOK
Not Available for Roe: Scientific Advances Shed Light on Abortion
By Bob Ellis
*The following is the fourth in a series of features Dakota Voice will be publishing which takes a closer look at the report prepared by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion.
A lot of things have changed since the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in America by judicial fiat.
The South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion was commissioned last year by the state legislature to examine what has been learned about abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The task force has just officially released its 71 page report, which found that our understanding of life sciences has profoundly increased since the court ruling.
The task force received testimony from Dr. David Fu-Chi Mark, a renowned scientist in the field of molecular biology; Dr. Mark received the Inventor of the Year award in 1986 for his treatment of skin and kidney cancer.
According to the report, Dr. Mark stated:
"...most scientific knowledge concerning human identity and human development prior to birth was based solely upon gross morphological observations and biochemical studies. Over the past [twenty] years there have been extraordinary scientific, medical and technological advances and discoveries which expose the rather rudimentary level of knowledge and ignorance of science, errors of fact and judgment concerning past scientific understanding of the child's existence as a human being, the child's early development and ability to react to the child's environment and feel pain prior to birth. The new techniques developed through the exploding revolution over the past [twenty years] permits scientists to observe human existence and development at a molecular level, which is applicable in determining genetic uniqueness, genetic diseases and related information through the analysis of human genes well in advance of the old gross, anatomical observation."
The report also stated that DNA fingerprinting techniques developed in the late 1980s and 1990s have proven that human beings are completely unique at fertilization. This means that as soon as sperm fertilizes the egg, a unique person is created; the being is not genetically identical to the mother and is not a piece of tissue belonging to the mother's body.
The report states that "a human being at an embryonic age and that human being at an adult age are naturally the same, the biological differences are due only to the differences in maturity" and that "immediately after conception, all programming for growth of the human being is self-contained." Further, the report notes from Dr. Mark's testimony that at 7.5 days old, before implantation in the uterine wall, the child begins to produce an enzyme that prevents the mother's immune system from attacking the child and rejecting it as a foreign body; the implication of this fact is that, if the embryo were a part of the mother's body, her body would not have the reaction to reject it as something foreign.
The report also points out that research now indicates that the fetus can feel pain, perhaps as early as 8 weeks development. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most abortions (88%) do not occur until the child is at 8-12 weeks in development. According to Department of Health statistics cited by the report, in South Dakota in 2002 and 2003, 95% and 92%, respectively, of all abortions were from 5 weeks to 12 weeks development.
Other scientific testimony to the task force stated:
According to the United States National Library of Medicine:
The task force found that "it is clear to us that abortion terminates the life of a child and the relationship with his or her mother and is an unsafe procedure that places women at significant risk for psychological and physical harm."
Accordingly, the report recommends that abortion be banned. However, the task force realizes that the Roe v. Wade decision is accepted as legalizing abortion, and until that decision is overturned by the Supreme Court, the only option available to legislators will be to regulate and restrict abortion so that the harm to unborn children and their mothers is minimized.
The following members were appointed to the task force by Governor Mike Rounds: State Senator Stan Adelstein (R-Rapid City), Dr. Marty Allison of Pierre, State Senator Julie Bartling (D-Burke), Dr. Maria Bell of Sioux Falls, Travis Benson of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, University of South Dakota law professor David Day, State Senator Jay Duenwald (R-Hoven), State Senator Brock Greenfield (R-Clark), Rapid City therapist Linda Holcomb, State Rep. Roger Hunt (R-Brandon), State Rep. Elizabeth Kraus (R-Rapid City), Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota Director Kate Looby, State Rep. Kathy Miles (D-Sioux Falls), John Stransky, State Rep. Theresa Two Bulls (D-Pine Ridge), Dr. Allen Unruh of Sioux Falls, and Dr. David Wachs of Aberdeen.