As you are going to be in England and Portugal this winter, why not comment on what is happening in the pro-life area there? Toronto: CLC members.
My Portuguese is not even basic, but so much is happening in Britain that it is hard to choose. Here are three stories.
“Wrong Sex” Abortion
On March 2, 1994, an inquest was opened in Leeds, England into the circumstances of the death, a few days earlier, of an Asian woman. The death followed the abortion of her preborn baby girl, who was killed because she was of the “wrong sex.”
Mrs. Sarjit Lall, aged 28, was the mother of three daughters, aged five, six, and eight. She was in the 19th week of pregnancy. Evidence given at the inquest showed that she had traveled from her home in Bradford to Manchester for tests which showed that the new baby was another girl. Her husband stated: “We were told my wife was carrying a girl and that was absolutely certain. My wife then decided she would have the pregnancy terminated.”
She went to the Marie Stopes Organization, a “family planning advisory bureau” which referred her to the St. James University Hospital in Leeds. It is important to note that “wrong sex” is not an acceptable reason for abortion in Britain. Marie Stopes Organization testified that Mrs. Lall misled them.
Mrs. Lall died in the Leeds hospital after the abortion of “massive internal haemorrhaging, resulting in a heart attack.” Three little girls are left motherless. The inquest verdict was “Misadventure.”
Death from IVF treatment
The tragic story of Jo Ann Harris, (told in full in newspapers February 24, 1994) shows that New Reproductive Technologies have their victims. Jo Ann was 26 years old when she died in a Merseyside hospital from ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. She had longed for children, but after five years of fertility treatments she was told that in vitro fertilization was her only hope. She did not realize – perhaps even care about – its dangers.
Her father gladly lent her money, and on September 2, 1993, she began a series of treatment of daily injections, scans, and blood tests. The treatment to hyperstimulate her ovaries resulted in 13 eggs (ova), and five of these were fertilized with her fiancé’s sperm. Three embryos were transferred to Jo Ann’s uterus and the wait to see if the pregnancy would follow began.
At first all went well, but soon Jo Ann suffered pain and nausea. These increased in severity, and when she finally saw her family doctor she was admitted into hospital as an emergency, and later put in intensive care. She seemed to be improving, and on the evening of October 23, she elatedly told her fiancé she was pregnant. Within a few hours, she was dead.
Drugs are given to stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one egg. If too many ova are created the ovaries become swollen and excess fluid builds up. About one per cent of all IVF patients suffer from this in its mildest form, but this clears with a few days bed rest. In severe cases – ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – fluid is taken from the bloodstream and this can result in blood clots, thrombosis and kidney failure.
Jo Ann’s death occurred despite excellent medical care and careful monitoring – the first such death in Britain.
The House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics issued its report on February 17, 1994. In brief, the committee rejected the legalization of euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. They also rejected the creation of a lesser offence of “mercy killing.” They stressed that the prohibition of intentional killing was “the cornerstone of law and of social relationships,” and they said it embodied the philosophy that the equality of each individual is of fundamental importance.
The committee strongly supported the further development of palliative care in hospitals, hospices and the community, and they asked for increases research and education in the control of pain.
The report was a disappointment to the euthanasia group, but many letters to the editor from leading medical and legal experts say there are some grey areas” which could cause pro-lifers to be concerned. When we have studied the complete report in depth we shall be in a better position to comment on these problems.