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Washington march supports pro-life

"If abortion is not wrong, then nothing is wrong." These were the words of Michael Schwartz of the Free Congress Foundation in his address to the American Collegians for Life at their third annual conference held at Georgetown University, January 20 through January 22. Among the college students from across the country in attendance at the conference, there were 8 students representing MIT Pro-Life, a student organization at MIT dedicated to foster educational support on campus for the pro-life position.

"We are here because we must be. We must respond to the slaughtering of 1.5 million precious babies a year in this country," said Molly Kelly, a Pennsylvanian activist, at the opening session. The conference included such pro-life leaders as New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith, National Right to Life Committee president Dr. Jack Willke, American Victims of Abortion director Olivia Gans, and American Feminists for Life secretary, Sharon Long.

This gathering displays an unmistakable testimony to the objections of many enlightened young people across the nation to the killing of over 25 million pre-born children since abortion became legal. A sign of the rising pro-life activism in campuses, this year's attendance amply surpassed the most optimistic expectations: in its first year, the conference attracted less than 50 students. Last year, there were about 150. This year, a staggering 600 attended -- so many, in fact, that many were told that they could not attend the final banquet and their fees had to be partially refunded. Moreover, a most salient point to ponder regarding the attendance was the overwhelming female majority. The audience burst into applause when, during one of the speeches, a leading Pro-Life woman re-named a well-known national pro-abortion group as "National Organization of (Some) Women."

A busload of Boston area students, including the MIT representatives, left on Friday, Jan. 19, for a weekend to culminate in the Annual March for Life on Monday, Jan. 22. The rally marked the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion.

There was some interesting discourse during the weekend for many present. Mary Beth Seader, from the National Committee on Adoption, cited the state with the highest adoption/abortion ratio in the nation as Utah, with 51.9 adoptions per 1000 abortions. The state with the lowest such ratio is New Jersey, with 1.9 adoptions per 1000 abortions. At the same time, we find that more than half of all adopted babies are "unhealthy" -- there is a large waiting list to adopt Down Syndrome and AIDS babies (there were 11 couples in line to adopt the famous Baby Doe, starved to death in Indiana by her parents). Another grave misconception is that no one wants to adopt blacks and minorities, when many agencies actually prevent white couples from adopting such babies. In fact, couples who foster parent black children and then request to adopt often have the child taken away because they were "becoming too attached." Seader spoke of the many parents who have to go overseas to adopt because the waiting lists are simply too long in the USA. Many students left Seader's presentation wondering why "unwanted" is a term always associated with children but never with whales or snail darters or bald eagles. By the way, a popular T-shirt at the Conference depicted a baby seal with a sign reading "Save the baby humans!"

Perhaps the most striking new development was an innovative possible solution for the so called "hard case" abortions, suggested by Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Nathanson was a co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League and once owned the largest abortion mill in the Western world, until he did an about-face and led the Pro-Life movement, speaking of the fact that he "presided over 60,000 deaths." Dr. Nathanson started by pointing out that many are discouraged by the failure of the Pro-Life movement to come up with a politically satisfying solution for the pro-abortion knockout punch: " What do you do when your 14-year old daughter is raped by six men in an alley and becomes pregnant?" This, coupled with fetal deformity and risk of the mother's life cases are what is scaring politicians and the American people.

However, he added, it has been clearly shown that the majority of Americans do not support "abortion on demand." All polls of the major publications show that the public is against the right of a woman to procure an abortion for any reason that she wants. Barring the hard cases (which together do not account for more than 5% of the total number of abortions of this country), he concluded, America is Pro-life.

Nathanson's solution is one which is sensitive to a woman's desire not to carry a pregnancy to term in any of the hard cases, while still being able to save the babies involved. He showed how in the vast majority of each of the hard cases not a plan is made to terminate the pregnancy, because of the circumstances involved, until around and beyond the 20th week. First, in the case of fetal deformity, tests to diagnose it by amniocentesis are not usually carried out until around the 16th week of pregnancy, plus 2 or 3 weeks needed to analyze the results. Second, in the case of the mother's life being at risk because of the pregnancy (nowadays, these account for less than .1% of the abortions), such risks are not seriously threatening until around the 28th week. Third, and most controversial, in the case of rape or incest, the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of these cases are not reported until it becomes obvious that the woman is pregnant, which is some where around the 17th or 18th week, to which you have to add some time for tests to verify the truth of the nature of the rape.

Next, Nathanson defends that state-of-the-art premature nurseries can offer modern studies which showed 40-50% chance of survival for babies born at this age. The figures are 90-95% chance for babies born at 25 weeks. He also mentioned that great progress was being done with a new fluid which would fill the baby's delicate lungs and could help the baby breathe outside of the mother's womb as early as at 15 weeks of age.

Nathanson's proposition to Pro-Life political candidates on the hard cases, is to advocate saving these "unwanted" babies' lives by inducing premature deliveries with prostaglandin (a safe drug for both the mother and the child) as early as at the 22nd week of pregnancy. These babies would then be nourished and fed until they can be given up for adoption and brought up in a caring home. Finally, he added, if hard core pro-abortion elements oppose this legislation, they will be exposed as not actually wanting to end the pregnancy, but to kill the child.

At the banquet the night before the March for Life, Dr. Jack Willke, president of National Right to Life, spoke of the need of never using the term "pro-choice", as it sanitizes what the choice is -- the choice to kill. The word "choice" was the result of thousands of dollars in research done at the beginning of the seventies in an effort to make the abortion-rights movement sound "nicer." It certainly was ingenious. It has sold abortions better than the golden arches have sold hamburgers.

There were thousands of enthusiastic students (busloads from colleges as far as Ohio and Texas spent several days on the road to get there) making a statement for the Pro-Life young people of America. Popular cheers heard were "Stop the Killing, Life is Great!" and "All we are saying is give life a chance!" There were lots of "Feminists for Life" and "Atheists for Life," and those which carried signs which said "Be glad you are already born." But the majority of the crowd (estimated at over 75,000 by the Boston Globe) were families. There was a mood in the air that Pro-Life America was marching with the confidence that legalized child killing shall soon be no more.

Juan Latasa '91->

Chris Papineau '90->


Editor's Note: Juan Latasa '91 and Chris Papineau '90 are members of MIT Pro-Life.