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Saturday, July 19, 2008

What Has Been Learned From the Practice of Abortion Since the Roe v. Wade

Dakota Voice is reviewing the Report of the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion, in light of the upcoming November vote on Initiated Measure 11 to end most abortions in South Dakota.

Pertinent sections of the report will be reviewed each week for the next several weeks which may shed light on Initiated Measure 11.

Last week: The Incorrect Assumptions of the Roe v. Wade Decision

The following is from Section II.A.2 on the findings of the report:

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It can no longer be doubted that the unborn child from the moment of conception is a whole separate human being. During the 2005 legislative session, the South Dakota Legislature passed HB 1166 that expressly found that "all abortions, whether surgically or chemically induced, terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." The Act amends SDCL 34-23A-10.1 to require a physician to disclose in writing to a pregnant mother "that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." "Human being" is used in the biological sense as a whole member of the species Homo sapiens (SDCL 34-23A-1(4)).

The Task Force received testimony from numerous experts who reiterated this fact. Of significance were detailed affidavits received from nationally and internationally renowned experts from a number of scientific and medical disciplines, who explained the scientific facts and information that establish the fact that abortion terminates the life of a human being. The Task Force concludes that the scientific evidence not only supports the legislature's finding on this matter, but that it is indisputable.

Dr. David Fu-Chi Mark, a distinguished molecular biologist who has patented certain polymerase chain reaction technologies, provided a declaration (or affidavit) and explained that the new recombinant DNA technologies that have developed over the past twenty years provide scientific evidence about the unborn child's existence and early development and its ability to react to the environment and feel pain prior to birth.

Dr. Mark stated that:

"[U]ntil the development of molecular biology and modern molecular biological techniques first began in the 1970's and exploding throughout the 1980's and 1990's, most scientific knowledge concerning human identity and human development prior to birth was based solely upon gross morphological observations and biochemical studies....The new techniques developed through the exploding revolution over the past ten to eighteen 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." (Mark Declaration, P. 5, Par.6.)

Dr. Mark explained nine different DNA technologies that, in essence, have "turned on the lights" for scientists over the past twenty years. (See Section II-B of this Report.)

A number of other nationally and internationally recognized experts also corroborated the findings of the Legislature found in HB 1166. Dr. Bruce Carlson, a renowned human embryologist and professor at University of Michigan Medical School, has published a text on Human Embryology used in medical schools in many nations. Dr. Carlson, Dr. Mark, and the human geneticist, Dr. Marie Peeters-Ney, all emphasized the significance of the way that genetic information is expressed and the manner in which it is "pre-programmed" for life. Dr. Carlson stated, "The wholeness (or completeness) of the human being during the embryonic ages cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of how the genetic information is packaged, and how the information becomes unfolded and cascades into visible structures." (Carlson Declaration, P. 4, Par. 12.)

The Task Force also reviewed a declaration from Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, a Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.Dr. Nathanson practiced medicine in New York for many decades and was personally responsible for approximately 75,000 abortions. Dr. Nathanson was also one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Laws (NARAL) in the United States in 1969. He stated that: "I was active among the pro-abortion community for a number of years, and I was actively involved in attempting, along with other abortion providers, to win public support for all forms of abortion." (Nathanson Declaration, Par. 1 to Par. 5.)

Dr. Nathanson testified that the fact an abortion terminates the life of a living human being is generally known among obstetricians and scientists. However, Dr. Nathanson stated that abortion doctors and operators of abortion clinics often deny this fact for strategic reasons. He testified that he and other strategists for NARAL, for instance, adopted certain tactics to win the public perception that all forms of abortion should be and remain legal. Dr. Nathanson stated that one tactic was to suppress and denigrate all scientific evidence that supported the conclusions that a human embryo or fetus was a separate human being. He stated that he and others denied what they knew was true: "The abortion industry would routinely deny the undeniable, that is, that the human embryo and fetus is, as a matter of biological fact, a human being." (Nathanson Declaration, Par. 14.) Dr. Byron Calhoun, a specialist in internal fetal medicine, also testified that it cannot be denied that the unborn child is a separate human being.

Specifically, Dr. Nathanson stated that:

"The abortion procedure is an extraordinary one because in it the physician is proposing to terminate the life of one of his patients to whom the physician owes a legal and professional duty. The doctor has no legal authority to do so. Under normal circumstances, if he terminated the life of the unborn child, he would be guilty of a battery upon the mother, and, in fetal homicide states, such as South Dakota, he would be guilty of a homicide. The physician is given his authority to terminate the life of one of his patients only if he receives authority in the form of consent from the pregnant mother.

In order for such a consent to be informed, at a minimum, the physician must be satisfied that the patient understood that the second patient was in existence, and that the procedure would terminate the life of her unborn child. These facts go directly to the risks, and effect the procedure would have on the second patient, but they also explain the nature of the procedure. The nature of the procedure is to terminate the life of the unborn child. Withholding these facts from the pregnant mother deprives her of the ability to make an informed decision for herself. Such informed written consent fails to meet the reasonable patient standard of disclosure and deprives the mother of her rights of self determination." (Nathanson Declaration Par. 10 and 11.)

No credible evidence was presented that challenged these scientific facts. In fact, when witnesses supporting abortion were asked when life begins, not one would answer the question, stating that it would only be their personal opinion.

A number of physicians also testified that it has been recognized for some time that the doctor who has a pregnant mother as a patient has two separate patients – the mother and the child - to whom he owes a professional and legal duty. Dr. Glenn Ridder, a physician who practices in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, testified that the physician has a duty to both patients, that disclosures about the risks or harms to the child must be made to the pregnant mother and that only she can make the decision for the child. (Ridder Declaration, Par. 9.)

Dr. Yvonne B. Seger, and Dr. Cynthia Davis, both of whom practice obstetrics and gynecology in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, also submitted statements that explained that the physician who has a pregnant woman as a patient has two separate patients - the mother and the child - and that the physician must make disclosures about the risks and effect any procedure would have on each. (Davis Declaration, Par. 5; Seger Declaration, Par. 5.)

Dr. Byron Calhoun, Maternal-Fetal Medical Specialist from Rockford, Illinois, explained that the unborn child is considered a separate patient in his or her own right. Dr. Calhoun also stated that there is no outcome data to support the idea that the mother's life is put at risk by allowing her to carry to term a critically ill baby. See, also Harrison, M.R., Golbus, M.S., Filly, R.A. (Eds), The Unborn Patient, 2nd Ed. W.B. Saunders, Phil. 1991; American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Ethics in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 34 (2nd Ed. 2004) (The maternal-fetal relationship is unique in medicine...because both the fetus and the woman are regarded as patients of the obstetrician).

Dr. Mark Rosen, a Fetal Anesthesiologist practicing in San Francisco, California, explained that with the advances of modern medical techniques, fetal surgery is now performed on the unborn child in utero. The procedures include, among others, inserting fetal shunts, blood transfusions, muscle biopsies, and procedures to repair congenital diaphragmatic hernias.

The Task Force concludes the following:


1. That abortion terminates the life of a unique, whole, living human being;

2. That the physician performing an abortion terminates the life of one of the physician's patients to whom the physician owes a professional and legal duty;

3. That the authority for the physician to terminate the life of his or her patient rests exclusively upon the written consent of the pregnant mother, which, at the time it is signed, terminates the doctor's duty to the child; and

4. That the mother has an existing and important and beneficial relationship with her child that is irrevocably terminated by the abortion procedure.

The 2005 South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion was created when the South Dakota legislature passed HB 1233 with a bipartisan majority in both houses. The purpose of the task force was "to study abortion and to provide for its composition, scope, and administration." The report was completed in December 2005 after several months of meetings.


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