Saturday, January 22, 2005

Church Plans to Bury the Ashes of Fetuses From Abortion Clinic

-By David Kelly Times Staff Writer
BOULDER, Colo. x A Catholic church plans to bury the ashes of as many as 1,000 aborted fetuses Sunday, raising a storm of protest from those who accuse it of exploiting the pain and grief of women for political purposes.

The Sacred Heart of Mary Church obtained the ashes from a mortuary that had a contract to cremate remains from the Boulder Abortion Clinic. But the clinic said it didn't know the ashes were being given to the church.
"They have taken it upon themselves to make a macabre ritual out of this, inflicting pain on everyone," said clinic director Dr. Warren Hern. "I have women calling me who are very upset over this. These fanatics simply cannot leave other people alone with their most intimate sorrow."
Hern said Crist Mortuary, which does the cremations, had violated a contract that said remains would not be used in religious ceremonies. He called their actions "unconscionable" but declined to say if he planned to sue.
The owners of the mortuary defended its actions.
"First of all, Crist Mortuary obviously cremated these fetal remains at the request of the clinic, and the church had a site and was willing to take them," said Terry Hemeyer, managing director of Service Corporation International in Houston, which operates Crist. "There was no intent of the mortuary to make any political or religious statement at all. They were trying to do the right thing, which I think they are doing."
The church began getting ashes from the mortuary in 1996 and had been doing burial services since 2001. Parishioners went public this year to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
"We never meant this as a political statement; we wanted to give dignity to the unborn child and dignity to the pain and sorrow a woman who has had an abortion feels," Susan LaVelle, a parish volunteer organizing the service, said.
The church cemetery has a Memorial Wall for the Unborn, with tiny plaques put there by women who have had abortions. Each one has a message:
"Forgive Me."
"No less real, No less loved."
The remains of 3,000 fetuses are buried near the wall. On Sunday, 600 to 1,000 small boxes of ashes will be emptied into a tomb and covered.
LaVelle said Chuck Myers, a Crist employee, contacted the church in 1996 after discovering human remains in material received from the abortion clinic.
"The clinic said it was just tissue, but when he opened it up he and his staff were traumatized," she said. "He asked the church what he should do, and our priest offered to bury it."
Myers could not be reached for comment, and LaVelle said she was baffled by the controversy.
"If we had not buried these ashes, they would have been thrown away in the trash," she said. "Why would they be upset that we are treating the remains of unborn children with dignity?"
The Catholic Archdiocese of Denver has expressed support for what the church is doing.
"This parish and other parishes have done this for years," Sergio Gutierrez, the diocese spokesman, said Friday. "This discussion clarifies the distinction between people who believe in the sanctity of life and those who don't. What is their view? To discard unborn children and then worry where they end up."
The Colorado Department of Public Health (news - web sites) and Environment said that neither the church nor mortuary had done anything against the law.
"It's all legal," said Glenn Mallory, a solid waste disposal specialist with the department.
Legal perhaps, but some groups say it's a violation of privacy.
"It's sad the church would take it upon itself to violate the doctor-patient relationship," said Kate Horle, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood (news - web sites) of the Rocky Mountains. "These women went to the doctor in confidence and made a difficult, personal decision. And now it's been dragged all over the media."
Hern said he terminated many wanted pregnancies due to serious fetal anomalies or because the pregnancy might harm or kill the mother. In some cases, he has participated in Jewish and American Indian funeral rituals after the abortion, along with the family members.
"Antiabortion zealots, Catholic or otherwise, have shown that they will stop at nothing to inflict guilt and to compound the grief, sadness and sense of loss that these women experience," he said.
But antiabortion groups applauded the church's actions, saying the real exploiters are abortion providers.
"I can't praise the church enough for giving a human life a proper burial," Leslie Hanks, spokeswoman for Colorado Right to Life, said. "When in the last 2,000 years, except for 1973 with Roe vs. Wade, would we not have thought a proper burial the appropriate thing to do?"

Monday, January 17, 2005

'Jane Roe' appeals to Supreme Court

Plaintiff in landmark abortion case
seeking to overturn 1973 decision

© 2005

The woman known as "Roe" in the landmark case that struck down all state laws restricting abortion is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its 1973 decision.
Norma McCorvey

As WorldNetDaily reported, Norma McCorvey began a quest in 2003 to reopen the case, based on changes in law and new scientific research that make the prior decision "no longer just." She cites the sworn testimony of more than 1,000 women who say they were hurt by abortion.

At a news conference at the Supreme Court tomorrow at 11 a.m. Eastern, McCorvey will announce she wants the high court to reverse Roe vs. Wade, or at least, order a trial on the merits.

"This is the day I've longed for," she said in a statement issued by her legal representation, the San Antonio-based Justice Foundation.

"Now we know so much more, and I plead with the court to listen to the witnesses and re-evaluate Roe vs. Wade," McCorvey said. "It was a dreadful day in America when the Supreme Court allowed a woman to kill her own child."

McCorvey's lead attorney, Allan Parker, president of the Justice Foundation, filed a petition for writ of certiorari Friday that will reach the high court tomorrow, asking it to hear the case.

It was first filed in a district court in Dallas in June 2003.

Parker's argument relies on federal rules that allow an original party to request a ruling be vacated when factual and legal changes make the decision no longer just.

He believes a significant change in most state laws has solved the issue of women being burdened with the unwanted responsibility of raising a child. The new laws allow a woman to take her newborn to a "safe haven" anonymously, providing a safer alternative to abortion.

McCorvey said each aborted child represents another tragedy, the harm to the mother.

"I've worked in abortion facilities, and I've seen firsthand the horrific nature of abortion and its devastation to women and girls," she said.

'Raw judicial power'

In September, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case, saying the issue was moot because it did not present a "live case or controversy."

However, one of the three judges on the panel criticized the Supreme Court that handed down the original ruling, saying it was an "exercise of raw judicial power."

In her concurring opinion, Judge Edith Jones lamented the case was moot, which prevented McCorvey's evidence from being heard: "If courts were to delve into the facts underlying Roe's balancing scheme with present-day knowledge, they might conclude that the woman's 'choice' is far more risky and less beneficial, and the child's sentience far more advanced, than the Roe Court knew."

Jones wrote, "The perverse result of the Court's having determined through constitutional adjudication this fundamental social policy, which affects over a million women and unborn babies each year, is that the facts no longer matter. This is a peculiar outcome for a Court so committed to 'life' that it struggles with the particular facts of dozens of death penalty cases each year."

Among McCorvey's 5,437 pages of evidence are affidavits from more than 1,000 women who testify having an abortion has had devastating emotional, physical and psychological effects.

McCorvey announced in 1995 she had become a Christian and later launched a pro-life ministry called Roe No More. She told WorldNetDaily four years ago she was "used" by abortion-rights attorneys in their quest to legalize the procedure.

'Nightmares, flashbacks'

Among the women who testify of the harm done by abortion is Joyce Zounis, director of women's outreach for Operation Outcry: Silent No More, a national movement that encourages women to speak out on the issue.

"The aftermath of abortion is horrendous," said Zounis, who had the first of seven abortions at age 15. "I was told it would be over 'real quick' – it lasted 27 years!"

Zounis said "not once in eleven years was I told of the emotional complications an abortion can bring – personality changes, numbness, rage, never-ending mental anguish, the exhaustive effort of balancing my fragile state of mind, the tormenting silence of guilt and shame, the constant dissatisfaction with life and the absolute need to grieve the loss of my children.

A witness for McCorvey's case, Caron Strong, who has had four abortions, said: "Nightmares and suicidal thoughts are common, especially around the anniversary of the abortion or the date when the baby would have been born. Everyday sounds or events can act as a trigger."

Other women providing sworn testimony stated:

"It devastated me. I had nightmares, flashbacks, fits of rage, uncontrollable crying, trouble sleeping, and could not look at pregnant women or children without feeling hurt, anger and guilt." – Amy Marie

"No one told me that I would hear cries in the middle of the night." – Brandy

"Twenty-five years later, I still cannot talk about it without tears and pain in my heart. It all looks simple on paper and seems like an easy way out of a bad spot, but no one tells you that the easy way out will cost you later in emotional damage and physical problems." – Scherrie

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Boy faces felony in baseball bat abortion

Law won't allow Macomb teen girl to be charged in helping end her pregnancy.

By Edward L. Cardenas and George Hunter / The Detroit News

RICHMOND TOWNSHIP - Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said his hands were tied when it came time to decide whom to charge in the baseball bat beating death of a fetus being carried by a teenage girl.

He decided Tuesday to do the only thing one state statute allowed: charge the boyfriend who wielded the bat, hitting his girlfriend in the stomach repeatedly over a two-week period, but let the girl off the hook, uncharged.

The Richmond Township boy, 16, who may be arraigned as early as today in Macomb County Juvenile Court, is at home with his parents. He was charged as a juvenile with intentional conduct against a pregnancy or stillbirth, which is a felony. If convicted, he could remain in custody until age 21.

But the girl, also from Richmond - who was a willing participant in the induced abortion, law enforcement officials say - cannot be charged under that law because it specifically excludes the mother from criminal liability.

In part because it still was legal to abort the fetus, the decision renewed debate over the protection of fetuses and the fairness of charging just one of two juveniles who allegedly agreed to kill their unborn child.

Although Smith called the case "shocking and reprehensible," he added, "we are bound by the law. We don't have the option of charging (the girl)."

Smith said if the 6-month-old fetus had been viable, the boy would have been charged with manslaughter of a quick-born child, a 15-year felony.

The girl could have then also received the same charge for aiding and abetting.

Miranda Massie, a Detroit civil rights attorney, believes neither teen should be charged. "My heart went out to these poor kids," Massie said. "I believe it is a terrible mistake to be charged at all. This is a tremendous waste of public resources.

"What is Macomb County going to gain by criminal charges?"

She contacted the family of the boy to represent him. She believes that neither teen deserves to be charged.

Smith charged the boy under a state law passed in 1999 - called the "Prenatal Protection Act" - that states only the person assaulting a pregnant woman resulting in a miscarriage is criminally liable. The pregnant woman, no matter how complicit in the termination, is not.

If that provision had not been written into the statute, it would have clashed with the federal law that allows abortions under the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S Supreme Court decision, said Pam Sherstad, spokeswoman for Right to Life of Michigan, which worked to pass the 1999 state law.

"Abortion is obviously legal in the United States," Sherstad said, "and you can't have a state law that interferes with federal law. The Prenatal Protection Act was designed to protect pregnant women who are assaulted by someone resulting in the death of their unborn child. This is obviously a unique case."

Legally, the baby could have been aborted. Because the girl was a minor, she would have needed a judge's or parental permission to obtain an abortion.

Smith said he waited until final toxicology reports on the fetus were completed by the medical examiner to determine what charges could be brought against the 16-year-old boy. The prosecutor declined to identify the youth because because he is charged as a juvenile.

Arthur Caplan, professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, believes the girl should be charged with planning, plotting or conspiring to murder.

"But it's tough to do, because the law takes a different view of developing potential life than it does of actual life," Caplan said. "If the boy was charged with murder she probably would be facing charges, too.

"But being involved in causing a miscarriage is not as severe as murder," Caplan said. "Ethically, you could argue that this seems wrong, but the law draws a sharp distinction between killing your child and a fetus that's not yet viable. That may strike some pro-life people and conservatives as wrong, but that's the way the law is now."

Sherstad said the case illustrates how "the sanctity of life is not valued in our culture. It's sad that human life can be discarded this way. There's no value on the life of an unborn child, which makes it easier for something like this to happen."

Lori Lamerand, vice president of the Planned Parenthood Mid-Michigan Alliance, said pregnant teens have safer options available than terminating a pregnancy without a doctor.

"It's always tragic when people resort to such drastic measures, when there are appropriate, safe medical measures are available," Lamerand said.

Both the boy and his girlfriend have returned to classes at Armada High School, said Arnold Kummerow, superintendent of Armada Area Schools.

Law enforcement officials were first made aware of the incident in mid-November, when the girl spoke about the series of events that led to the miscarriage while at a high school leadership conference in the Upper Peninsula. The adult facilitator of the conference contacted the Michigan State Police. Detectives from the state police Richmond Post investigated the claim, and went to the boyfriend's home, where they found the buried fetus.

An autopsy was consistent with initial reports from the Michigan State Police that the miscarriage was caused by the girl's boyfriend repeatedly striking her with a 22-inch souvenir baseball bat over a two-week period, Smith said.

The parents of the teens were not aware of the pregnancy or the decision to abort it, investigators said.

Police believe the fetus was aborted in early October, then buried in the back yard of the boyfriend's home with the help of his mother.

The fetus died of premature birth associated with trauma to the mother, according to chief Macomb County Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz.

The fetus could not have survived outside the womb at the time of miscarriage, he ruled.

Detroit News Staff Writer Tony Manolatos contributed to this report. You can reach Edward L. Cardenas at (586) 468-0529 or