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CMA Doctors: South Dakota Abortion Law Parallels Scientific Understanding

Washington, DC, October 18, 2006--The nation's largest faith-based association of physicians today affirmed the medical and ethical principles contained in South Dakota's Referred Law 6, which voters will decide in November.

Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the 17,000-member Christian Medical Association ( www.cmda.org ) and a family physician, said, "From a medical and ethical perspective, this law gets it right on every point. Some may challenge the law on ideological or political grounds, but when it comes to the law's scientific and ethical foundations, it is above reproach.

"The law confirms, for example, the indisputable biological fact that 'life begins at the time of conception.' The law confirms the embryological reality that pregnancy means a woman having a 'living unborn human being within her body throughout the entire embryonic and fetal ages of the unborn child from fertilization to full gestation and child birth.' These are basic scientific facts, and the only way around them is to attempt redefinition on ideological grounds. Unfortunately, some of our colleagues have resorted to redefining the facts in order to advance their political abortion agenda.

"Thanks to advances in medical science, we know today so much more about developing babies than doctors knew when the Supreme Court relied on their testimony in Roe v Wade. The development of advanced ultrasound technology and increased understanding of genetics and fetal pain have heightened our appreciation for the breathtaking complexity and vulnerabilities of the developing human being.

"We now know, for example, that a baby feels pain early in fetal development and at a much higher intensity than adults experience. We also know that infants can also survive at a much earlier age than was ever thought possible in 1973 when Roe v Wade was decided.

"Over two millennia ago, Hippocrates established the foundational principle of medical ethics that a doctor must only heal--never kill. That's why doctors who take the Hippocratic oath plainly pledge, 'I will not perform abortions.' The South Dakota law simply returns medicine to these proven ethical principles that protect patients."

Dr. Gene Rudd, CMA's Associate Executive Director and an obstetrician-gynecologist, noted, "More and more women are realizing that abortion is not the answer to an unplanned pregnancy, and that it can leave scars that last a lifetime. I know because I have treated many women suffering from the emotionally painful aftermath of abortions.

"So many women have an abortion based on propaganda and false assumptions rather than medical facts and ethical considerations. Too often women are led to believe that abortion is simply getting rid of a 'blob of tissue', and that it's the only answer to their immediate crisis. Years later, many of these women still regret that they were not fully informed about the medical realities of developing human life and about alternatives to abortion such as adoption.

"This law protects the life of the developing baby; it protects the life of the mother; and it protects doctors who act to protect life. The law clearly states protections for any "licensed physician who performs a medical procedure designed or intended to prevent the death of a pregnant mother."


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