Roe at 40: There must be a better way!

By Dave Andrusko

Dr. Steve Calvin

Dr. Steve Calvin

Leading up to today, we’ve carried dozens and dozens of stories examining what Roe v. Wade has meant to unborn babies, their mothers, our nation, and our Movement. But now that inglorious day has arrived: January 22, 2013, the 40th anniversary of a decision that roils our culture every bit as much today as it did four decades ago.

We have six more stories specifically on the impact of Roe as well as a number of stories passed along to us by NRLC’s marvelous state affiliates. The March for Life—which takes place this Friday—gathers all of the national attention but it is the pro-life assemblies in the states that going forward will make the most day to day difference.

I’d like to begin differently than we have most of the last five weeks. Steve Calvin is a well-know Minnesota-based pro-life physician who has written on a host of topics, including the reality that the unborn child is capable of experiencing pain. He wrote an op-ed for the (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune yesterday, inelegantly headlined by someone at the newspaper, “How do we face abortion in 2013?” (Hint: with optimism)

Before I talk a little about his excellent column, I’d like to reprint something he wrote about those who—in spite of all the evidence—insist that the unborn either is entirely incapable of feeling pain or not until very, very late in pregnancy. Passing legislation that recognizes that grim reality is a high priority for the Pro-Life Movement. Dr. Calvin wrote

“Twenty-five years of delivering babies and a specialization in high-risk obstetrics provide me some experience to refute the claim that fetuses feel no pain until 30 weeks. Many of the tiny babies that I deliver, some as small as 1 pound at 23 weeks, have required surgery during their difficult neonatal battle for life. All of them receive anesthesia.

“Before the 1970s, many newborns, both term and preterm, were operated on without anesthesia in the mistaken belief that they could not feel pain. They certainly couldn’t tell anyone about their discomfort. With more sophisticated monitoring it became clear that blood pressure and pulse rose dramatically during the trauma of surgery. Subsequently, a subspecialty of pediatric anesthesia developed.

“Those who deny fetal pain claim that hormonal and withdrawal responses to invasive procedures are mere reflexes and are no evidence of pain. Recently, I performed an amniocentesis on a patient at 21 weeks gestation because of a possible infection. On ultrasound, the fetus pulled away from the needle when it grazed her arm. It is clear to me that this fetus felt discomfort, and that she would feel horrible pain if she were dismembered in the exercise of an unjust constitutional right.”

In his January 21, 2013, column Dr. Calvin talks about why the abortion debate continues, even though the #1 item on Abortion Establishment’s wish list—the re-election of Barack Obama—came to pass. There are many explanations, here are a few.

“When I started medical school in 1976, babies born below 28 weeks were not resuscitated. They were not considered viable. Today, the lower limit of viability is 23 weeks. The incredible detail of ultrasound makes it difficult to ignore the obvious humanity of a life before birth. Intrauterine fetal treatment and surgery is an expanding option.”

The unborn as patient, the unborn as capable of experiencing the kind of pain that were it inflicted on you or me would rightly bring down an avalanche of moral indignation. But there is more.

While pro-abortion medical student associations never fail to garner media attention, Dr. Calvin reminds us that under the radar there are pro-life counterparts such as the “self-organized Medical Students for Human Life group.” In addition, he writes,

“As a clinical faculty member at the University of Minnesota, I have the privilege of reading essays submitted by students after their OB/GYN rotations. Many thoughtfully reflect on their clinical experiences with abortion. There are admissions of changed perspectives.”

Finally, Dr. Calvin talks about an undeniable reality that pro-abortionists fight even more than they do acknowledging fetal pain: “the now-undeniable evidence that the choice of an abortion significantly increases the risk for preterm birth in a subsequent pregnancy. This effect is at least as strong as maternal smoking — which we tackle with intensive public-education programs.”

And if he had had more space, Dr. Calvin could have summarized the mounting academically-verified evidence that women who’ve aborted suffer a myriad of emotional and physical aftermaths.

Put simply, abortion kills the unborn and maims their mothers.

Dr. Calvin ends with an intriguing way of explaining where we are as a nation on abortion. He is optimistic “because a growing majority of Americans believe that abortion is not the right answer.”

Yes, it is not the right answer, which covers every shade of opinion from you and me to those many, many Americans who intuitively and viscerally understand there MUST be a better way.

Our job, in season and out, is to help every American grasp this truth.

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