Policeman must guard abortuaries

In a case reminiscent of that of former Toronto police officer David Packer, a U.S. federal court has thrown out the appeal of a Chicago police officer who said that being forced to protect abortuaries violated his religious beliefs. The court ruled that the Chicago Police Department made “a reasonable accommodation” by offering the officer a transfer to a district with no abortuaries.

Angelo Rodriguez, 47, an 18-year veteran of the Chicago force, said he was disappointed after the decision. “I never realized when I took that oath 18 years ago that I would have to forfeit my religious beliefs,” he said.

A Roman Catholic, Rodriguez said he had an informal arrangement with his superiors not to assign him to abortuary duty. But problems arose when he asked them to formalize the arrangement in writing.

Rodriguez filed a suit in 1995, but it was dismissed by a lower court last year, which set the stage for the recent appeal. Rodriguez received no support from his union, whose president, Bill Nolan, said, “As a police officer, you have to go wherever they send you and do whatever they tell you to do.”

David Packer was disciplined by, and ultimately resigned from, the Toronto police force in the late 1980s for refusing guard detail at Henry Morgentaler’s former abortuary on Harbord Street.

Complete gene map moving ahead

In response to challenges from private, gene-mapping companies, leaders of the publicly funded Human Genome Project – a worldwide, $3-billion, 15-year effort to map all genes in the human body – have announced they are sharply accelerating their schedule, and hope to have a rough draft of a gene map ready in three years, and a definitive map by 2003.

“This is a highly ambitious, even audacious goal, given that only about six per cent of the human genome sequence has been completed thus far,” said a government planning document. While HGP leaders hope the definitive map will revolutionize biology and medicine, and provide a big shot in the arm for medical research, pro-life leaders fear such knowledge will be used for eugenics-like purposes.

HGP researchers have also announced another goal: compiling a detailed catalogue of genetic variations among people, which would allow drug companies to tailor treatments to individuals, and reveal such things as why some people are smarter than others, why some are tall and short, and why some get cancer and others get depressed.

If a final gene map is indeed published by 2003, it will come exactly 50 years after the first description of DNA, the molecule that encodes genetic instructions.

Unborn children to be guinea pigs?

Controversial plans to treat unborn children with gene therapy have been given a more contentious twist: a proposal to first test the therapies on unborn children destined to become victims of abortions.

French Anderson of the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, who pioneered human gene therapy in 1990, announced he was seeking approval for “fetal gene therapy.” But because the therapy has the potential to invade reproductive tissues and introduce genetic changes that would be passed down for generations, he proposes to ask women who have already decided to abort their babies to take part in the first trial.

However, Anderson admits his proposal has difficulties. After aborting a child, researchers may discover that they managed to cure the condition. “The parents and researchers will have this guilt that I’m not sure it’s possible to emotionally prepare for,” he said. The only solace would be that the family could attempt another pregnancy, knowing that there was a treatment if the next child inherited the disorder.

At least one health official is deeply troubled by Anderson’s proposals. “Is it morally right to experiment on the (child) when it can give no consent and there is no way for it to benefit from the therapy?” asked Louise Markert, a pediatric immunologist at Duke University Medical Centre in Durham, N.C.

Frozen remains ordered seized

Virginia’s attorney-general has ordered police and a medical examiner to seize frozen remains of an aborted unborn child from the University of Virginia Medical Centre. The baby belonged to a woman who had asked the hospital to send the body to a funeral home for burial. Instead, the hospital sent just the umbilical cord and placenta in a sealed casket.

A state investigation of the incident and hospital procedures is under way. A hospital spokesman said that during the abortion, doctors separated the baby from the umbilical cord and the placenta, before placing the baby in one box and the umbilical cord and placenta in another.

“Two packages rather than one went to the morgue,” said Cantrell. “When the ‘tissue’ was delivered for burial, the placenta was delivered” instead to the funeral home. Doctors did not discover the error until some time later, when a routine inventory was performed of the morgue’s freezer.

The Medical Centre is already under scrutiny for two other recent incidents which saw the switching of two newborns, and a mother being given the wrong body after her baby died.

Pro-lifers demand charges

Kansas pro-lifers are demanding that criminal charges be laid against notorious Wichita abortionist George Tiller for performing illegal abortions. Dave Gittrich, executive director of Kansas for Life, said there is little evidence fewer “post-viability abortions” (done after an unborn child could survive outside the mother’s womb) are being performed at Tiller’s abortuary, even though a state law amended earlier this year prohibits such procedures.

“He’s violated the law. We want him charged,” said Gittrich. Kansas Attorney-General Carla Stovall and District Attorney Nola Foulston both declined to comment, but in the past have said that unsubstantiated reports of what goes on inside Tiller’s abortuary are not enough to warrant investigations.

Gittrich, however, says that a 12-year-old Michigan girl who was 28 weeks pregnant underwent an abortion at Tiller’s abortuary in July. Representative Tim Carmody, an attorney and chairman of the House judiciary committee that helped craft the amended abortion bill, said the situation should be investigated. “There are questions that law enforcement ought to be asking,” he said.

Unborn children given burial

Pro-life activists in Riverside, Calif. said last month they hoped there would be a reminder of the sacredness of human life after they held a memorial service for the remains of 54 aborted unborn children who were illegally dumped in a field by a truck driver for a now-closed Los Angeles abortuary last year. Each child was given a name and received his or her own casket. The cemetery donated a plot of land.

Three hundred people came out for the memorial service organized by 54 area churches, whose congregants served as pallbearers. Some wept as they placed flowers on top of the burial vaults. “I’m hurt because the babies were destroyed the way they were and I’m glad we’re putting them in a resting place forever,” said pallbearer Hazel Alridge.

“I was thinking of the (mass graves) in World War II. It brought back that memory of senseless slaughter,” said Charles Lowers.

The babies’ bodies were released to pro-life groups to the objection of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which threatened legal action. “There is only one way to dispose of this ‘material,'” said ACLU associate director Elizabeth Schroder. “That would be by incineration.”

Ted Turner laments having children

Noted population-control advocate and media mogul Ted Turner is at it again, calling for a worldwide one-child-per-family policy and saying he would never have had five children if he had to do it over again.

“I can’t shoot them now that they’re here,” he said of his children. At a recent environmental conference, he added that the only way to improve the quality of life is to reduce the world’s population to two billion people, a goal that could be achieved if everyone stopped reproducing after a first child.

“We need to have a one-child family (policy) globally, not enforced by governments, but democratically,” Turner said. “We should work to try to convince everybody that they should have one child like China has. People who abhor the China one-child policy are dumb-dumbs, because if China hadn’t had that policy, there would be 300 million more people in China right now.”

Student won’t have abortion

A pregnant Japanese student who was jailed by a Cleveland, Oh. judge on a minor felony in order to prevent her from having an abortion, says she has decided to keep the baby and will try to sue the judge who imprisoned her. She says she had been in touch with Cleveland abortuaries, but because her pregnancy was into the second trimester, none would perform an abortion.

Yuriko Kawaguchi, 21, had pleaded guilty to credit card forgery. She was jailed for two months after serving four months at a women’s prison by Judge Patricia Cleary, who had asked her what she planned to do about her pregnancy. Kawaguchi replied she would have an abortion if released.

“I’m saying that she is not having a second-term abortion,” Cleary is reported to have told a defence attorney. Cleveland Right to Life has offered Kawaguchi medical care, food, shelter and assistance in putting the baby up for adoption.

Church leaders join abortuary fray

Local church leaders have jumped into a fray over a proposed Planned Parenthood abortuary in Lancaster, Pa. More than a dozen church leaders met recently with Mayor Charlie Smithgall to voice their concerns. “We prayed with the mayor and came to see what we could do, legal and otherwise, to help the mayor and the city prevent this from going through,” said Rev. Albert Belton of the Church of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.