From the Worldwide Faith News archives

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Date 17 Jun 2002 11:57:30 -0400

Note #7238 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


Pro-Life speaker condemns late-term abortion

Doctor urges Presbyterians to hear 'silent screams' of fetuses 

by Evan Silverstein

COLUMBUS, OH - A late-term abortion is a "silent scream" of a fetus that is very much alive, and is a procedure that rarely needs to be performed, the keynote speaker told his audience during the annual Presbyterians Pro-Life (PPL) dinner on June 16.

PPL, known for its twofold commitment to beginning-of-life and end-of-life issues, welcomed more than 200 commissioners, observers and supporters to the event, held in conjunction with the 214th General Assembly.

The principal speaker, Dr. Jean Wright, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, said late-term abortions (often called "partial-birth" abortions) of fetuses who could live outside the womb are matters of  grave moral concern, and should hardly ever be considered.  

"Late-term abortions are unnecessary," said Wright, a pro-life advocate since 1996 who has testified before Congress on abortion-related issues. "The argument that has been put forth in the past is that they were needful because babies had fetal malformation.  Well, nowadays, with what we know about the baby beforehand, either early in the pregnancy or even during the middle of the pregnancy, (there is) enough medical information (to know) that abortion is rarely the best option."

Late-term abortions are those conducted five to seven months after conception, Wright said - "Anything that's past the point of viability, which is the ability of the baby, if delivered, to be able to live on its own outside the womb."

She said the claim that a late-term abortion is necessary because of a fetal malformation or for the sake of the mother's health is a "smokescreen" for taking a life.

"Those arguments don't stand up any longer," she argued. "And, by the way ... these babies in this time period - from 20 weeks' gestation through the time they're delivered - can feel pain. They have all the nerve fibers they need, the neurotransmitters, the synapses are all present."

Wright said statistics compiled by abortion providers indicate that most late-term abortions are performed for "elective" reasons, and have no medical purpose, "meaning, 'I just don't want this baby. I don't want this pregnancy.' It's inconvenient for social reasons, economic reasons ... (because of) family pressure."

She said the pain felt by a fetus destroyed in a late-term procedure "is sort of like a 'silent scream' that no one hears." 

Wright also said that late-term abortions aren't rare, as many people believe.

"I think that was one of the big myths around this," she said. "People thought it was 500 a year. Probably the best statistics put it in the neighborhood of 16,000 a year." 

She commended the Presbyterian Church (USA) for being responsible enough to take another look at the issue.

"So many times, we think we have finished this," she said. "It's closed. We voted on it. What this demonstrates to me is that there's new information."
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