National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Life Notes

BY Jim Cosgrove

March 19-25, 2000 Issue | Posted 3/19/00 at 1:00 PM


Oregon Court: Accidental Abortion Not a Wrongful Death

ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 2 — Oregon's wrongful death law cannot be used to collect damages for the death of a baby who was mistakenly aborted, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled, reported AP.

Citing a 19th-century dictionary definition stating that “person” is a term “applied to infants from their birth,” the 10-member panel unanimously ruled that a 16-week-old unborn child “was not considered a ‘person’ under the law that permits civil damages to be sought for deaths caused by wrongful acts,” AP said.

The case involves a 1997 incident in which Oregon resident Mary LaDu underwent a hysterectomy because doctors believed she had a pelvic tumor. The pelvic mass turned out to be a 16-week-old fetus, prompting LaDu to sue Portland's Oregon Clinic for $500,000 in damages for the loss of the baby.

LaDu's attorney said they will appeal the decision to the state's Supreme Court.

‘Life of the Mother’ Exception Is Bogus, Doctors Say

AMERICAN LIFE LEAGUE, Feb. 29 — American Life League's medical advisors and many other doctors across the country agree that the “life of the mother” exception found in abortion discussions is “bogus.”

The league this month began circulating a statement concerning this position to a select number of doctors around the country. Already, more than 100 physicians have signed the statement — including former abortionists Bernard Nathanson and Beverly McMillan — and it is anticipated that hundreds more will sign in the coming weeks.

The statement reads, “I agree that there is never a situation in the law or in the ethical practice of medicine where a preborn child's life need be intentionally destroyed by procured abortion for the purpose of saving the life of the mother. A physician must do everything possible to save the lives of both of his patients, mother and child. He must never intend the death of either.”

Teen Charged In Assisted Suicide

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 29 — A 16-year-old who watched his troubled girlfriend shoot herself to death as part of an apparent suicide pact has become the first person charged under Maryland's new law designed to check assisted suicide, the AP reported.

Kristen Riggin, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office, said the boy provided the .38-caliber handgun that Jennifer Garvey, 15, used to kill herself on Oct. 18. The gun had been stolen from the boy's stepfather, Riggin said.

Oregon is the only state that allows assisted suicides. Maryland's law, which took effect Oct. 1, was aimed at preventing the practice. Under the law, anyone who provides the physical means to another person to end his or her life faces up to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Jennifer, who was being treated for depression, went through with the suicide pact. Her family and friends believe that the boy held sway over the impressionable girl, reported the AP.

Teacher Challenges Union Dues for Abortion

ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 3 — A Massachusetts teacher is challenging his union dues, saying it helps support abortion on demand, AP said.

The teacher, Gerard O'Brien, is Catholic and pro-life. He won the first step in his challenge earlier this month when the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination called for a full hearing on the question, said AP.

O'Brien filed the complaint in 1995 when hee was suspended for five days for not paying the required fee.

He said union affiliates, including the National Education Association, back abortion and does not want his union dues to pay to promote abortion.

Some pro-life teachers have formed the Ohio-based Teachers Saving Children, a pro-life group that works to counter the pro-abortion bias in the teacher' s unions.