NEWS RELEASE -- 1984
Date: April 1, 1984
For Immediate Release
(Milwaukee) The sobbing parents of a fifteen-year-old rape victim and the physician who performed an abortion for her were sentenced today to life imprisonment by Fetal Rights judge John Patrick O'Malley under the provisions of the Wisconsin Fetal Rights Act.
The girl herself, raped in January on her way home from an errand for her mother, was sentenced to the Oregon (WI) School for Girls for three years.
"In light of her age, I am showing mercy," Judge O'Malley said. "She could never have arranged an abortion without parental help. However, after her incarceration she will be on probation for thirty years, her presumed span of fertility. Someone who has shown such disdain for life, even though a minor, must be watched closely."
Dr. Jane Beacon, the gynecologist who performed the abortion, is appealing her conviction.
"She'll never win on an appeal," said Prosecuting Attorney Tony Bellano, speaking informally with reporters at the close of the month long trial. "There's no precedent for it. Murder is murder, and this was premeditated murder of the worst kind."
The parents, who have exhausted their financial resources in the current litigation, will start serving their life sentences next week.
Sentences of life imprisonment have become common in Wisconsin for women having abortions, physicians performing them, and those who aid and abet in them since the ratification of the Buckley- Proxmire Human Life Amendment four years ago. That amendment, which bestows full rights of personhood on a conceptus, embryo and fetus, extends homicide and manslaughter laws to cover all abortions except those done to save a woman's life.
To date in Wisconsin no abortions have been done to save a woman's life since the unanimous agreement of a twelve-man panel is required under the Fetal Rights Act.
Judge O'Malley's courtroom is clogged for the remainder of the week with hearings for women charged with minor infractions of the Fetal Rights Act. Most of these involve failure to register pregnancies by the sixth week of gestation. A statewide Pregnancy Monitoring Board was established last year in Wisconsin, but many women are claiming to be unaware of its regulations or unable to meet them. Duties of the Pregnancy Monitoring Board are being carried out principally by the old Selective Service organization. Some communities have Pregnancy Monitoring officers stationed at local post offices. Recently named as Advisory Members to the Wisconsin Pregnancy Monitoring Board are: Cardinal Terrence Cooke, Brent Bozell, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Seals & Crofts, Cesar Chavez, and former President Richard Nixon.
Judge O'Malley's upcoming calendar is crowded with Fetal Rights cases, including alleged attempts at self-abortion, continued use of IUD's (known now to act as abortifacients), inquiries into so-called "spontaneous" abortions which the prosecutors believe were undertaken intentionally, and the charges against a Milwaukee clergywoman, Rev. Ellen Norreo, who is accused of referring a Milwaukee woman for an abortion to Japan where the procedure remains legal.
Next week a trial will start before Judge O'Malley, involving a twenty-eight-old mother of six, who is being charged with failure to register her pregnancy, with the alleged intention of aborting herself by a prolonged motorcycle ride, undertaken to do herself sufficient bodily harm to cause abortion.
"This woman put her selfish concerns above the rights of the new person within her," exclaimed Prosecuting Attorney Joseph O'Hanrahan. "This is a nation under God. She and all women like her must be punished. All human life is sacred. 'Vengeance is mine,' saith the Lord."
Encouraged by the success of the Buckley-Proxmire Human Life Amendment, a national movement is now under way to extend the legal rights of personhood to the egg and the sperm.
"The precedent is already there," said Mrs. Michael Francis Ryan, president of the Wisconsin Voice of the Unconceived. "The wording in the Buckley-Proxmire Amendment says the person is protected at 'every stage of its biological development,' and surely this includes the egg. We should have no trouble ratifying an amendment to protect the innocent egg and the innocent sperm in Wisconsin, since Wisconsin law always has regarded contraception as 'indecent.'
"Think of the babies lost because of contraception and sterilization," Mrs. Ryan continued, "Think of the innocent, immature life of the egg and the sperm. Someone speak out for this unrepresented segment of society cannot speak for itself.
"Of course ours is not a Catholic movement," she added, "but an ecumenical movement. Every child has the right to be conceived."
So it can't happen here?
This book was written because it can happen here! The right of a woman to choose legal abortion can be taken away--unless the political efforts of religious extremists seeking to ban abortion through constitutional amendment are countered in Washington D.C. and in state capitals.
The historic, compassionate Supreme Court ruling of Jan. 22, 1973, freed millions of women from sexual servitude and from the dangerous, traumatic search for illegal abortions. This ruling, our country's greatest step forward in social and moral progress since the abolition of slavery, must be protected politically by the activism of individuals who write letters to legislators, attend hearings, visit their Congresspersons, and support groups working to keep abortion safe and legal.
For the past five years I have been in daily contact with women seeking abortions, and I have learned, as I could in no other way, of the tragedies that have been avoided because abortions are available. The stories of the hundreds of women that I have counseled personally, and the thousands of women from all over the country that I have talked to on the phone, have resulted in my clear understanding that abortion is a positive thing, a cure, a blessing.
I have become impatient not only with those religious zealots who tiresomely hiss "Murderers," but with those apologists who, while granting the right to abortion, insist that somehow a woman must feel guilt and remorse. I have come to suspect that the persons who refer to abortion as "a tragic option," or "a terrible alternative," hold allegiance not to women's freedom but to a male-dominated world gone by.
While recognizing that safe, sure contraception is a preferred alternative to abortion, I deal daily with the casualties of our "modern" contraceptive methods, and I recognize reality, that abortion does what contraception does not necessarily do: it works. I am further aware of the rigid, religious prohibitions against contraception of which certain women remain the victims. I know that far too many women in our country find contraception unavailable, especially if they are young or poor. I know that the teen- aged victim of incest can hardly be expected to be practicing contraception. And I have never heard of a rapist who used condoms.
In a sense I have been privileged to see firsthand the great need for abortion, and I have written this book to share my feelings and experiences so that others might come to see why abortion is a blessing, not only for women but for society. It is my hope that those who read this book will join in the effort to keep abortion safe and legal until that idealistic time when education, medical research, and human behavior combine to make abortion obsolete.
Back to the Abortion Is A Blessing: Table of Contents.