By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

WASHINGTON, DC, June 22, 2009 ( – A former abortionist who is now the president elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists has written a persuasive discourse questioning whether late-term abortion is ever necessary.

Writing in the Family Research Council's website Dr. Mary L. Davenport, M.D., FACOG, observed that following the murder of Kansas abortionist George Tiller on May 31, 2009, and the subsequent announcement of the closing of Tiller's facility, public attention has again focused on the issue of late-term abortion.

The president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, an abortion advocacy legal organization, claimed that the closing of Tiller's clinic left “an immediate and immense void in the availability of abortion.” But Dr. Davenport asks if late-term abortion is ever really necessary, questioning whether the demise of a facility where late-term abortions were performed leave a “void” that is harmful to women.

Referring to a statement by Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, who admitted in 1997 that the vast majority of partial-birth abortions were performed on healthy mothers and babies, Dr. Davenport explains that “contrary to the assertion of abortion rights supporters that late- term abortion is performed for serious reasons, surveys of late abortion patients confirm that the vast majority occur because of delay in diagnosis of pregnancy. They are done for similar reasons as early abortions: relationship problems, young or old maternal age, education or financial concerns.”

“Most of Tiller's abortions conformed to the generally elective character of these late-term procedures,” writes Davenport. “Peggy Jarman of the Pro-Choice Action League stated that about three-fourths of Tiller's late-term patients were teenagers who denied to themselves or their families that they were pregnant until that fact could no longer be obscured.”

Considering the claim that serious maternal health problems require abortions, Dr. Davenport states that “intentional abortion for maternal health, particularly after viability, is one of the great deceptions used to justify all abortion.”

“The very fact that the baby of an ill mother is viable raises the question of why, indeed, it is necessary to perform an abortion to end the pregnancy. With any serious maternal health problem, termination of pregnancy can be accomplished by inducing labor or performing a cesarean section, saving both mother and baby.”

Davenport points out that fetal problems “are the other serious rationale for considering abortion.” However, she says, despite advances in ultrasound diagnosis, these diagnoses are not always accurate, and cases have occurred where women have declined to abort their ostensibly sick child, only for the child to be born perfectly healthy.

Even in the most serious circumstances – fatal fetal abnormalities – writes Davenport, there is no good reason to abort the child. As an alternative to abortion for fatal birth defects, Dr. Davenport proposes a perinatal hospice, which involves continuing the pregnancy until labor begins and giving birth normally, in a setting of comfort and support until natural death of the child occurs.

Dr. Davenport cites the case of Karen Santorum, a nurse and the wife of former Senator Rick Santorum, who was faced with the prospect of her own son, Gabriel, being born with a fatal birth defect.

Mrs. Santorum describes how Gabriel lived only two hours, but how in those two hours “we experienced a lifetime of emotions. Love, sorrow, regret, joy – all were packed into that brief span. To have rejected that experience would have been to reject life itself.”

Dr. Davenport concludes that “although serious threats to health can occur, there is always a life- affirming way to care for mother and baby, no matter how bleak the prognosis. The elimination of late-term abortion would not create a void in medical care, but would instead result in a more humane world in which vulnerable humans would be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”


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