Abortion and the March of Dimes:
Exposing the Hidden Link

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For years the March of Dimes (MOD) has been boycotted by pro-life groups for its involvement in the abortion industry. Unfortunately, many well-meaning pro-life citizens continue to support MOD, not knowing one of the group's methods of preventing what it calls "birth defects" is to promote abortion.

MOD was one of the major forces behind the development and widespread use of amniocentesis in the second trimester of pregnancy. Amniocentesis is a test commonly used to determine if a preborn child has an incurable congenital abnormality, which often facilitates the decision to abort "defective" children.

Henry Foster, who was rejected by the Senate as President Clinton's nominee for Surgeon General, served on MOD's Medical Service Advisory Committee. While on the committee, Foster admitted doing nearly 700 abortions following the results of amniocentesis. Foster also defended fetoscopic prenatal research as "clearly therapeutic" since "it was done for the same reasons that we do amniocentesis, to decide whether or not the pregnancy should continue, and to provide a therapeutic abortion."

Dr. David Nathan, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard University, MOD grantee, and National MOD adviser, explained that one particularly elaborate international prenatal testing arrangement involving scientists in London, New Haven, and Boston was done in order that "knowledge go on, vital clinical testing go on, and when necessary, abortions go on."

In a letter to Congress in 1978, MOD President Charles Massey wrote in favor of legislation to fund this genetic screening. Massey noted, "The financial cost of treating and institutionalizing our severely affected survivors is staggering; we cannot begin to measure the cost."

Pro-life groups are sounding the alarm to society, asking the public to realize the threat to our culture when we define a person's right to exist by whether or not it costs us too much. "Would we have been better off," asked Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition and CBN, "if there had never been a Helen Keller or Beethoven or Einstein -- all of whom had birth defects?" [But see Note 1.]

MOD has given several grants for developing tests which can detect abnormalities in the first trimester. Prostaglandin abortionist Dr. Maurice J. Mahoney of Yale received $35,000 for research on chorionic villi sampling and for developing a prenatal diagnostic technique which would permit the first-trimester abortion of affected preborn children. From 1989 to 1990, MOD gave $50,000 to Dr. Haig H. Kazazian of Johns Hopkins University, a staunch advocate of eugenic abortion, to perfect methods to detect, early in pregnancy, disorders such as Beta-Thalassemia, Hemophilia A, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and Cystic Fibrosisnone of which is treatable in the womb.

MOD has funded fetal experimentation and fetal tissue use for more than two decades. In the early 1970s, MOD gave $19,000 to Dr. John F. S. Crocker of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to study congenital kidney abnormalities. This study involved "60 pairs of embryonic kidneys ... obtained from human therapeutic abortions after five to twelve weeks gestation."

In 1973-74, MOD gave $9,420 for fetal brain metabolism studies in Helsinki on living, human babies aborted by hysterotomy (and still attached by the umbilical cord to the mother) who were then decapitated and their heads mounted on perfusion equipment. Arthur A. Galloway, MOD Vice President for Development, defended this research, saying it was "done legally and ethically" under Finnish law; that "the investigators did not participate in the decision to terminate pregnancy;" and "they were concerned with the ethics of discarding such fetal tissue without seeking to find ways to improve the life and health of live born premature infants."

In the 1970s, an MOD grant was awarded to Dr. A. de la Chapelle of the University of Helsinki for research on maternal and fetal blood cells to detect genetic conditions early in pregnancy. Some cell sources for the experiment were obtained "by open-heart puncture of 10 week fetuses that had been aborted for various reasons, not connected with fetal disease." (healthy babies)

MOD published Strategies in Genetic Counseling: Reproductive Genetics and New Age Technologies in 1990. The book says, "There is no substitution for a constitutional right to abortion which protects our fundamental rights."

Pro-life leaders warn against supporting an organization whose mission is to help children but considers the act of killing them a "fundamental right."

"Telling ourselves for years that children born with disabilities were 'defective' has led us to deny their rights," said David Bunnell, Education Director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. "As a society we now ignore the fact that life is the right of every child, not just a privilege for the fortunate, the planned and the perfect."


1. This statement appears to be inaccurate. Helen Keller was blind and deaf, but this was the result of a fever when she was 19 months old, not a birth defect. Beethoven was deaf, but he did not begin to lose his hearing until he was 26 years old and he was not completely deaf until he was about 50. Again, not a birth defect. Albert Einstein is widely reported to have been dyslectic or suffered some other learning disability. But while he did poorly in grade school and failed the entrance exam to an engineering college, most of his biographers attribute this to his dislike of the highly-structured nature of German education, and not to any real mental or physical handicap.

Thus, none of these three examples are directly relevant to the subject of birth defects. But the basic point remains: That handicapped people can and do contribute greatly to society, and that even from a purely "pragmatic" point of view, it is not at all clear that "society" would be better off if all handicapped people were killed.

We have not investigated whether Mr Robertson is misquoted or mis-spoke.

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Posted 12 Sep 2000.

Copyright 1997 by The Pro-Life Guardian, Harrisburg, PA.
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