New York July 4, 1996
To the Editor:
In past years I was privileged to have assisted in the care
of countless numbers of pregnant women in the Newburgh area and in the delivery
of their babies. My father did as many during the years before me,
Neither of us ever encountered a "medical indication" for
abortion. In fact, even before 1973 (Roe vs. Wade), it was medically legal to
abort a mother as a life-saving procedure.
Records indicate that the total number of abortions done at
the local St. Luke and Cornwall hospitals (both nonsectarian) prior to 1973 was
The unborn baby, then, was considered human, and legal "due
process" was mandatory before it could be destroyed. Indeed, it's debatable if a
medical case can be made for its use.
"Unwanted babies" is another reason used to justify the
killing of babies (unwanted by whom?).
During my obstetrical practice, invariably, an expectant mother would express
misgivings about her condition. These would be transitory thoughts, soon
forgotten. Even the occasional seriously distraught soul would lose her feeling
of rejection once she held her newborn child in her arms.
How demeaning to women it is to be told such emotions should guide her in
making the decision to kill her baby-an act that defies that very maternal
instinct possessed by all women.
It's no small wonder so many aborted women develop guilt and
remorse upon the realization of what was done to them and their child.
For over 2,000 years the medical profession abhorred and
rejected abortion. Forty-six years ago I took the Hippocratic oath, as all
medical graduates did, pledging not to perform or to advise having an abortion.
The American Medical Association annually endorsed its prohibition.
Overnight, the medical community capitulated, and endorsed
Roe vs. Wade as did most traditional establishments in the country.
This approval was not based on any new scientific discovery
or observation that could account for such a dramatic reversal. Cowardly
physicians flowed with the tide created by a Supreme Court vote and abetted by a
well-organized media blitz. My profession knew better and yet did nothing to
I'm convinced only a groundswell of public resentment can
force our president, our Legislature and our courts to have our laws once again
reflect true values. Polls indicate 70 to 80 percent of Americans are appalled
at the specter of partial-birth abortions. Express your revulsion to the
legislators and even your physicians. It may inspire them to re-establish law
and a medical ethic that protects and assists life rather than perpetuating one
that aids and abets its destruction.
Arthur G. O'Leary, M.D.