Today’s News & Views
June 24, 2005
Dave Andrusko can be reached at
Revealed and Histories Ignored
For anyone with eyes to see, the ironies were enough to take your
breath away. There they were, the two women cynically used by the
abortion industry and its legion of lawyers to undermine the
abortion laws of all 50 states, bemoaning how they had been
The setting was a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee
called (as chair Sen. Sam Brownback described it) to examine “the
effect certain Supreme Court decisions have had on American life.”
Among others testifying were Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe
v. Wade, and Sandra Cano, the “Jane Doe” of Doe v. Bolton (the
companion case to Roe).
As I explained yesterday, my schedule didn’t permit me to attend,
unfortunately. But judging by press accounts, Ms. McCorvey and Ms.
Cano eloquently reiterated their complaints against the lawyers whom
they angrily insist used them. They also called for Roe's/Doe’s
reversal. It was the first time the two women have testified
together before a congressional committee.
According to the Los Angeles Times, McCorvey, now 58, said she was
"used and abused by the court system in America." She went on to
"accuse lawyers of using her as a 'guinea pig' to encourage a court
decision that enshrined into law a practice she called 'horrible and
evil," the Times reported.
Likewise Cano, now 57, "told the panel she was uneducated, poor and
pregnant with her fourth child when lawyers recruited her to
challenge Georgia's anti-abortion statute," the Associated Press
(AP) reported. "She claims she never authorized lawyers to say she
wanted an abortion."
"I feel like my name, life and identity have been stolen and put on
this case without my knowledge and against my wishes," Cano said.
Forgotten--or never known--is that neither woman had an abortion.
So, what do we have? On one side, the plaintiffs whose personal
hardscrabble backgrounds were manipulated by pro-abortion forces to
overturn abortion laws telling the world that abortion is wrong,
On the other side we have those who insisted that abortion must
remain legal, one of whom was identified as Kenneth Edelin. The AP
described him as an associate dean of Boston University School of
Medicine, who “recounted his experience as a young doctor in 1966
trying to save the life of woman who had a botched illegal
abortion.” Edelin, the AP added, told the lawmakers not to “turn
back the clock" on abortion rights.
Well, it's a little more complicated than that. In the mid-1970s,
Kenneth Edelin was at the center of one of the most famous–-and
horrific–-abortion controversies of a decade that was filled with
In February 1975, a jury found Dr. Edelin guilty of manslaughter in
the death of a 20-24-week-old baby following an abortion. Let me
recount some of the details, quoting the March 1975 issue of
National Right to Life News.
“The case stemmed from a series of events which began in late
September 1973, when a 17-year-old girl, accompanied by her mother,
came to Boston City Hospital to seek an abortion. The girl agreed to
participate in a study involving amniocentesis, a technique that
taps the fluids in the womb to pick up cells from the unborn
children for diagnosis of inherited diseases.
“On October 2 the girl was twice subjected to [a] saline infusion
abortion procedure. A third and similar attempt was made the
following day.All proved unsuccessful. Later the second day Dr.
Edelin performed a hysterotomy and surgically aborted the child. It
was during the hysterotomy that Dr. Edelin was alleged to have
detached the placenta from the uterine wall and then held the child
inside its mother for at least three minutes...
According to NRL News, “The prosecution charged that the infant was
viable at the time the abortion was performed and that it was the
action of Dr. Edelin of holding the child inside its mother’s womb
after detaching the placenta which caused it to suffocate. (One
witness for the prosecution said that holding the baby inside the
mother for three minutes "would be equivalent to cutting the air
hose on a salvage diver.")
“‘Manslaughter is the issue, not abortion, criminal manslaughter,’
the prosecution said.”
Edelin’s attorney responded that “the hysterotomy as performed by
Dr. Edelin is an acceptable medical practice and that the ‘fetus’
never drew a breath outside its mother’s body.”
Edelin was convicted, but went scot-free when the verdict was
reversed in December 1976 by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
Predictably, Edelin later became Chairman of the Board of Planned
Let me add one concluding thought.
When there is
a vacancy on the Supreme Court, whether it is a matter of a week or
two or further down the line, it is essential that truth prevail.
And that cannot happen if crucial contextual information, such as
Edelin’s checkered past, is omitted.
Nor will it prevail if pro-abortionists, such as Sen. Russ Feingold
(D-Wi.), are allowed to get away with saying (as he did yesterday,
according to the AP) that there are estimates that “more than 5,000
women a year had died as a result of complications from botched
abortions in the years leading up to Roe.” That wholly fictitious
number was simply conjured up by the strategists who plotted to
overturn the abortion laws, as former abortionist turned pro-life
activist Dr. Bernard Nathanson wrote in his famous book, “Aborting
Sen. Brownback has not yet set a date for further hearings,
according the AP. Believe me, I won’t miss the next one.