Pro-life news in brief.
The abortion ship launched by Dutch pro-abortion group Women on Waves caused a huge controversy in June when it docked in the pro-life country of Poland and brought Polish women into international waters to give abortion information and perhaps abortifacient drugs. The ship returned to its home country, the Netherlands, July 4.
Polish customs officials boarded the ship, named the Langenort, after it first docked in the port city of Wladyslawowo June 22, according to the Associated Press (AP). The officials discovered 45 pills of Mifegyne and 180 pills of Cytotec, both drugs used to induce abortions, the AP reported. The authorities sealed the bottles in an attempt to prevent their use.
The ship sailed into international waters twice, on June 26 and June 28, with groups of Polish women aboard. After the ship returned from its first brief voyage, authorities searched the ship again and found 12 abortifacient pills missing.
"During the trip the crew said it had broken the seals on its drugs. After returning to the port, customs officers noticed that the number of pills had diminished considerably compared to the previous check," Konrad Kornatowski, spokesman for the public prosecutor in the northern city of Gdansk, told Agence France-Presse.
"Given that Polish citizens were aboard we can not rule out that a violation of the law took place," Kornatowski added.
Abortions can be performed in Poland during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy "only if there has been rape or incest, the mother's health is at risk, or if the foetus risks irreversible malformation," Agence France-Presse reported. The distribution of abortifacient drugs is illegal.
Residents of Wladyslawowo called a special meeting of their town council July 2 to present about 800 signatures from citizens demanding that the council condemn the actions of Women on Waves. By acclamation, the council adopted a resolution insisting that the abortion ship leave the port city immediately, the BBC reported.
Polish pro-life and religious groups also spoke out forcefully against the abortion ship coming to their country. "Even though it's happening in international waters, it's still murder," Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, head of the Papal Academy in Krakow, told Reuters.
Justyna Wlodarczyk, a Polish pro-abortion activist, accompanied the ship on its voyages. She told Agence France-Presse that the women came on board for "educational reasons." However, Polish officials are continuing to investigate the missing abortifacient pills.
Court Hears Appeal of Abortion-Breast Cancer Advertising Suit
The North Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments June 18 in a case brought against an abortion clinic that claimed there was "no evidence" of a link between abortion and breast cancer. Fargo resident Amy Jo Kjolsrud sued the Red River Women's Clinic for false advertising after the clinic published a brochure specifically denying the abortion-breast cancer (ABC) link.
District Judge Michael McGuire ruled in favor of the clinic after a March 2002 trial, and Kjolsrud appealed to the Supreme Court.>TXAt the 2002 trial, Dr. Joel Brind, professor of human biology and endocrinology at Baruch College of the City University of New York, and other experts testified that many studies have shown evidence that women who have abortions have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
"This case is very important to make it clear that you cannot say there is no evidence of the abortion-breast cancer link," Dr. Brind told NRL News. "The clinic definitely went over the line."
At issue is a brochure produced in 1999 by Red River Women's Clinic. According to the Associated Press (AP), the brochure stated in part, "A substantial body of medical research indicates that there is no established link between abortion and breast cancer." The clinic changed the brochure's wording after Kjolsrud filed her suit in December 1999.
Despite testimony directly contradicting the clinic's statements, Judge McGuire ruled that the original brochure was neither false nor misleading, the AP reported.
Kjolsrud's attorney, John Kindley, told the Supreme Court that at least 17 studies show a "statistically significant" increase in the risk of breast cancer after abortion. "It is very difficult, if not impossible, to ever prove ... a causal link," Kindley said, according to the AP. "It's a question of, is there credible evidence there, and do people have a right to know about it, and not be misinformed about it."
The clinic is being represented by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. Attorney Linda Rosenthal questioned whether Kjolsrud, who has never sought an abortion, had standing to sue the clinic.
The justices pointed out, however, that North Dakota law allows "any person" to file a false advertising suit on behalf of the public. Kjolsrud "is any person, is she not?" Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle asked, according to the AP. The justices are expected to make a ruling within 8 to 10 weeks, according to Brind.
Appeals Court Orders Judge to Set Date for Schiavo's Death
A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Florida ruled last month that Terri Schindler-Schiavo could be starved and dehydrated to death. However, Pat Anderson, the attorney for Mrs. Schiavo's parents, has already appealed the June 6 decision.
The court ordered Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge George Greer to set a date for the removal of her feeding tube, according to the Tampa Tribune.
Schindler-Schiavo sustained brain damage when she collapsed in her home on February 25, 1990, after an apparent heart attack deprived her brain of oxygen for several minutes. She currently lives at Hospice House Woodside in Pinellas Park.
Schindler-Schiavo's parents have been fighting to save her life since 1998, when her husband Michael requested the tube removal. Michael Schiavo contends that Terri expressed a wish not to live by artificial means if she ever became incompetent, the Tribune reported.
While the appeals court expressed sympathy for Bob and Mary Schindler, the judges based their opinion on Michael Schiavo's testimony about his wife's wishes. "We understand why a parent who had raised and nurtured a child from conception would hold out hope that some level of cognitive function remained," wrote Chief Judge Chris W. Altenbernd, according to News-day. "If Mrs. Schiavo were our own daughter, we could not but hold to such a faith.
"But in the end, this case is not about the aspirations that loving parents have for their children. It is about Theresa Schiavo's right to make her own decision, independent of her parents and independent of her husband."
Attorney Pat Anderson filed a motion June 20 to present the case to the entire 13-judge appellate court. The motion contends that Schindler-Schiavo is not in a "persistent vegetative state," that while competent she did not reject treatment that may improve her condition, and that the evidence used to support her death is not "clear and convincing."
"The issue of her current medical condition can hardly be said to be clear and convincing, given the videotape and testimonial evidence," the motion states. "The issue of what improvements in her neurological functioning could be achieved is likewise not clear. The Court, in applying a quasi-negligence evidentiary standard, has overlooked the very policy it has articulated in the past: When in doubt, err on the side of life."
"I have prepared [the Schindlers] that the day will come when there will not be any more legal options," Anderson told the Associated Press. "That day has not arrived."
Australia Will Soon Grant Licenses for Stem-Cell Research
Following the December parliamentary approval of lethal stem-cell research on embryos "left over" after fertility treatments, Australian officials are now accepting applications from companies who seek licenses for such experiments.
The federal parliament passed the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 in December. Under its provisions, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) organized a licensing committee, which began its work in May.
"Never before has a committee of this sort been appointed in Australia," committee chair Prof. John Findlay, who is also chair of the World Health Organization's Advisory Committee on Human Reproduction, said in a statement released by the NHMRC. "It will consider applications for a licence to use excess human embryos for research and refuse or grant licences, subject to conditions. The Committee will monitor compliance with the legislation by appointing inspectors and taking necessary enforcement action, such as cancelling or suspending licences."
State parliaments are following the national legislators' lead and passing laws allowing embryonic research in their jurisdictions. New South Wales's lower house of parliament passed a bill June 18, according to the news agency AAP. The Victoria and Queensland parliaments have already approved such legislation.
The laws expressly forbid scientists to allow the embryos to develop outside a woman's body past 14 days or create an embryo by combining human and animal cells, AAP reported.
Australian pro-life groups continue to speak out against the rising tide of embryonic stem-cell research in their country. "The Australian Parliament has determined that weaker, smaller, younger, `unwanted' Australians may be cut up and experimented upon while alive for the benefit of older, bigger, more `wanted' Australians," said David Cotton, public relations manager for New South Wales Right to Life. "This decision is an affront to civilised values."
"Why go down the road of the unnecessary, unethical, and unsuccessful...embryonic stem cell research," he added, "when there is the perfectly necessary, ethical, and successful adult stem cell research that could use the dollars more purposely?"
California Woman Bleeds to Death after Abortion
Diana Lopez, 25, bled to death after her cervix was punctured during a February 2002 abortion at a Los Angeles clinic, according to the Los Angeles Times. Lopez's family has filed a lawsuit against the Planned Parenthood clinic and the abortionist, and the California Department of Health Services issued a report June 18 charging the parties with numerous violations of medical procedures, the Times reported.
Lopez was about 18 weeks pregnant when she went to the clinic for an abortion on the morning of February 28, 2002. Soon after abortionist Mark Maltzer, who also works as the medical director of Pregnancy Consultation Center in Sacramento, began the abortion, Lopez's cervix was lacerated and she began to bleed profusely, the Times reported.
After doctors were unable to stop the bleeding, Lopez was taken to Women's and Children's Hospital at County-USC Medical Center, where she received an emergency hysterectomy. Despite the operation, she died at 2:45 p.m., according to the Times.
The family's lawsuit against Planned Parenthood and Maltzer alleges that the doctor "worked so quickly, recklessly and negligently pulling out sharp body parts of Diana Lopez... unborn infant that severe, irreparable damage was done," the Associated Press reported.
According to a deputy medical examiner at the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, Lopez died from "a hemorrhage due to traumatic anterior cervical perforation due to dilation and evacuation for elective termination of pregnancy at 18 weeks," the Sacramento Bee reported.
The clinic and Maltzer are responsible for several procedure violations, the health department's report alleged. Lopez was given the contraction-inducing drug misoprostol one day before the surgical abortion was performed, despite the policy that requires it to be given 90 minutes before, according to the Bee.
The department also contended that Lopez's hemoglobin levels were too low for the surgical procedure, that the clinic did not keep a detailed health record about Lopez's abortion, and that the state was not contacted until six days after Lopez's death, despite regulations that require notification within 24 hours, according to the Bee.
A spokeswoman for the Medical Board of California told the Times that Maltzer and the clinic are being investigated by the board.>EN
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|Title Annotation:||California woman bleeds to death after abortion; Australia will soon grant licenses for stem-cell research; Appeals court orders judge to set date for Terry Schindler-Schiavo's death; Court hears appeal of abortion-breast cancer advertising suit; Dutch abortion ship visits pro-life Poland|
|Publication:||National Right to Life News|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2003|
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