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Pro-Life News In Brief.

Tennessee Baby Born at 12 Ounces Is Thriving

Born at 24 weeks' gestation, little Olivia Grace Reimers weighed only 12 ounces at birth February 10. To the astonishment of her doctors, she left Centennial Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, four months later weighing over five pounds and expected to live a healthy life, according to the Tennessean.

The survival of such a small baby is quite rare. Other area hospitals found no records of babies under 15 ounces surviving their births, the newspaper reported.

"I have been a high-risk specialist here since the mid-80s, and we've delivered a lot of tiny babies, but a baby under 400 grams - - I think this baby was like 380 grams - - that is incredibly small," Centennial perinatologist Dr. Salvatore Lombardi told the Tennessean. "I don't have any recollection of ever having been involved with a baby this young and this small."

Olivia was born after her mother was struck with what is known as HELLP Syndrome, a serious disease that causes hypertension, elevated liver enzyme levels, and a low platelet count, the Tennessean reported.

Olivia's parents, Elizabeth and Dan Reimers of Winchester, said that their daughter's first months of life were marked by highs and "terrifying" lows. "There were several moments that were life-threatening and scary," Dan Reimers told the newspaper. "We tried not to look too far ahead because for a while there didn't seem to be much good to look for. We tried to just take one day at a time."

The Reimers said they were looking forward to returning to normal life after they brought Olivia home on June 18, since they spent the last four months traveling to and from the hospital, the Tennessean reported.

Dr. Lombardi said that neonatologists at the hospital worked hard to keep Olivia progressing well, and added that she had surprisingly few complications. He also said that there is something special about babies who can thrive after such difficult beginnings.

"The more experience I get, I really feel that there's got to be something greater than the medical care that we give that accounts for these kind of survivals," Lombardi told the Tennessean.

Estranged Husband Charged in Pregnant Woman's Death, Battery of Unborn Child

Chicago police allege that, despite having a protection order against her estranged husband, Maritza Baez died at his hands June 27, shot to death in her car. Baez's eight-month-old unborn baby girl survived the attack and is in critical condition at a local hospital, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Illinois law allows prosecutors to treat an unborn child as the second victim in an assault upon the mother. According to state statute, a person "commits battery of an unborn child if he intentionally or knowingly without legal justification and by any means causes bodily harm to an unborn child." The law exempts those who injure or kill an unborn child during a legal abortion.

Jesus Alvarez-Garcia was charged with the first-degree murder of Baez and aggravated battery of the then-unborn baby. Alvarez-Garcia and Baez were married but had been separated for three years, according to the Sun-Times. Baez was reportedly living with a new boyfriend, who is the baby's father.

Baez, originally from Venezuela, was living in Chicago with her boyfriend and eight-year-old son at the time of her death. She and her sister owned a restaurant in the city, and she was sitting in her car outside the building when a man walked up to her at 12:20 p.m. June 27 and shot her two times, the Sun-Times reported. Her baby was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, but Baez could not be saved.

The Rev. Luis Rivera told the Sun-Times that Baez's son could not accept his mother's death. "He's crying a lot," Rivera said. "He thinks this is still a nightmare."

Baez will be buried in Venezuela.

Washington Court Orders Destruction of Frozen Embryos

Disregarding any ethical or moral issues, the Washington state Supreme Court ordered two frozen embryos destroyed because the contract signed at their conception expired after five years. Since the embryos' parents are divorced and did not sign an extension of the contract, the court ruled June 13 that the embryos should be thawed and discarded.

"It is not necessary for this court to engage in a legal, medical or philosophical discussion whether the pre-embryos in this case are `children' or whether Becky Litowitz is legally their parent," wrote Justice Charles Z. Smith in the 8-1 decision, according to the Seattle Times. "We base our decision in this case solely on the contractual rights of the parties under the pre-embryo cryopreservation contract."

The case began in 1996, when Becky and David Litowitz signed a contract with Loma Linda University Center for Fertility and In Vitro Fertilization in California, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. The Litowitzes, who already had one child together, wanted to have another child even though Mrs. Litowitz had undergone a hysterectomy.

According to the provisions of the contract, "after five years, the embryos would be thawed and `not allowed to undergo any further development' unless the couple requested they be frozen longer, and the center agreed," the Times reported.

Using David Litowitz's sperm and an egg from a donor, five embryos were created, according to the Post-Intelligencer. Three were implanted in a surrogate mother, who gave birth to a baby girl, Micah.

Before her birth, however, David Litowitz filed for divorce. The couple is still fighting over custody of Micah, the newspaper reported. The divorce was final in January 1999.

During divorce proceedings, the couple could not agree on what to do with the two remaining embryos. According to the Associated Press (AP), David Litowitz wanted to donate the tiny human beings to another couple out of state, while Becky Litowitz wanted them brought to birth by a surrogate mother so she could raise them herself.

Lower court decisions awarded the embryos to David Litowitz, both because he is the only one with a genetic link to the embryos and because the judges felt he should not be forced to share another child with his ex-wife, the AP reported.

Becky Litowitz appealed to the state Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court decisions but did not support her claims. Colleen Grady, Becky Litowitz's lawyer, criticized the ruling as a cop-out.

"The case at trial was that David wanted the embryos adopted, Becky wanted to use them," Grady told the AP. "There was never a question of thawing them. For them to take this five-year option is basically throwing out the baby with the bath water."

In contrast, David Litowitz's lawyer applauded the Supreme Court decision. "If the pre-embryos are thawed and destroyed then we're happy," Bart Adams told the AP. "The primary issue is that he did not want to have more children with Becky Litowitz."

Dutch Abortion Ship Will Dispense RU486

The ship operated by the Dutch pro-abortion group Women on Waves will make its second voyage sometime this year, the British newspaper the Guardian reported. The Dutch government, reversing a February decision that had revoked the ship's license, announced July 1 that it has instead approved the ship's operation and will even allow RU486 to be dispensed to kill unborn babies up to six weeks old.

The ship, called the Aurora, moored off the coast of Ireland in June 2001 on its first trip. Since the ship is registered in the Netherlands, it must abide by Dutch abortion law when in international waters. However, the group was not able to obtain a Dutch medical license before the voyage, according to the Guardian, so it could merely "distribute information" and attract publicity.

Women on Waves founder Rebecca Gomperts told the Guardian that the next trip, which should begin within six months, will be different. "This means we can sail again and offer the abortion pill for early stage pregnancies," she said, according to the newspaper.

Gomperts did not specify where the ship would sail, only telling the Guardian that she has received requests from organizations in "several" countries where abortion is illegal.

The Dutch Department of Health had ruled in February that the Aurora lacked sufficient emergency facilities and called into question the department's ability to conduct regular inspections on a ship, CNS reported. The department refused to issue a medical license for the Aurora.

However, Women on Waves appealed the decision, and the government reversed the health department's ruling and issued the license, according to Health Minister Els Borst announced the government's decision July 1, and added that the ship's doctors could administer RU486.

"It makes me laugh and cry at the same time that we are portrayed to the outside world as a silly country that allows people to offer abortions from boats," Bert Dorenbos of the Dutch pro-life group Cry for Life told the Guardian. "The idea is just ridiculous. It is an offense against womanhood and unborn babies."

Dorenbos insisted that there are many in the Netherlands who are strongly opposed to bringing government-approved abortion to other countries. "Normal-thinking people in this country think it is silly," he told the Guardian. "This is more about promoting an ideology than helping people."

"Noah's Law" Goes into Effect in Idaho

As of July 1, the state of Idaho officially recognizes unborn babies as the second victims of a crime.

Known as "Noah's Law," the statute adds unborn babies to the definition of human beings in the criminal code covering murder, manslaughter, and aggravated battery. The law does not apply to legal abortions.

The law was drafted in memory of Noah, a nine-month-old unborn baby who died of a fractured skull in July 2001 when his mother, Lisa Smith, was brutally beaten in her home. When their story was made public, legislators and many others in Idaho were incensed that Noah's killer could not be charged in his death, but only for assaulting his mother, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Unborn Babies Are Not Persons, French Court Rules

The highest court in France, the Cour de Cassation, ruled June 25 that unborn babies do not have the legal status of persons, and therefore a doctor and midwife cannot be held responsible for the death of a baby during delivery, according to Reuters.

The baby's mother, Sophie Potonet, sued gynecologist Patrick Boccara and a midwife after the baby's November 1991 death due to lack of oxygen. The baby was stillborn after being delivered by Caesarean section, Reuters reported.

Boccara and the midwife were found guilty of manslaughter in 2000.

However, the Cour de Cassation overturned the conviction, ruling that since French law does not recognize unborn children as persons, it is impossible for someone to be guilty of their deaths.

"The principle behind the legality of crimes and punishment, requiring strict interpretation of penal law, is opposed to the possibility of trial for manslaughter in the case of a child not born alive," the court ruled, according to Reuters.

The court's latest ruling affirms a 2001 decision that refused to allow a drunk driver to be held accountable for the death of a six-month-old unborn baby, Reuters reported.

Court Strikes Down Oklahoma Parental-Notification Law

Oklahoma's attorney general announced that the state will appeal a June 14 court ruling striking down a 2001 parental-notification law, the Oklahomian reported. The unique law holds doctors liable for monetary damages if a minor suffers post-abortion problems and the parents were not notified before the abortion took place.

U.S. District Judge Claire Egan struck down the law, calling it "unconstitutionally vague" and saying that since it does not include a judicial bypass provision it does not follow U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the issue, the Associated Press reported.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson asserted that the state has a good chance to prevail on appeal, which was filed with the 10th Circuit Court, according to the Oklahoman.

State legislators applauded the appeal. "That's great," the bill's author, state Sen. Scott Pruitt (R-Broken Arrow), told the Oklahoman. "I'm encouraged the attorney general is taking up the matter. I think we have an opportunity to set a precedent on a unique approach.">EN
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Author:Townsend, Liz
Publication:National Right to Life News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2002
Previous Article:What follows is the text of a June 19 letter sent by NRLC to members of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of the new Partial-Birth...
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