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Abortion Unlimited

Dr. Peter C. GraffagninoThe following is an excerpt from an article ("Abortion Unlimited") that my father, a physician (obstetrics and gynecology), wrote in 1970, two years before the Roe v Wade decision was handed down. My Dad could see the handwriting on the wall. He recognized then that the destructive societal repercussions of the coming cultural scrawl would be ugly. He could see that when the inevitable "abortion-on-demand" mindset of the then just-beginning "sexual revolution" kicked in, the slippery downhill slide would commence in earnest and pick up speed.

My father, as far as I can ascertain and recall, was not a professing Christian when he wrote this piece. I think it is fair to say that he was agnostic when it came to the nature and character of God. I do know, however, that on this particular issue, he was of the opinion that those who would promote and advocate on-demand abortion "rights" were somewhat... (shall we say)... ethically compromised and, perhaps, intellectually challenged. I believe that he understood that the lives of those little ones in the womb were worth fighting for, worth defending. Christian tradition, natural law, common sense and decency informed his conscience on this fundamental spiritual matter...

It seems that unlike some doctors today, Dad was a man of integrity. When he read and swore to the Hippocratic Oath, I know he took it seriously and intended to abide by it.....

"I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art." — Hippocratic Oath

I'm quite positive that Dad would be more than deeply saddened to see the moral state of the culture today. Saddened, but I think not surprised.

Abortion Unlimited

“In the April 1970 issue of Redbook, an article (“Abortion: A Startling Proposal”) by Dr. Michael Halberstam points out clearly why doctors do not like abortions. There is one vital reason. ‘Medicine is basically the business of life…I am talking now of biological life as opposed to life that concerns the psychiatrist, the sociologist, the social worker—the life that has to do with the welfare of, say, the mother, the family or of the society as a whole. By the very nature of his training and function, the physician is committed to the preservation of life, biological life, regardless of its stage or quality…..I have heard people argue that the fetus is no more significant than the tonsils or the adenoids, and that there should be no more fuss when a woman wants an abortion than when she wants a tonsillectomy. Conversly, there is the attitude that the fetus has an immortal soul and that its willful destruction is murder just like any other. These views can never be reconciled, since they are matters of ethics and morality and consequently open to interpretation. The biological facts about the fetus, on the other hand, are incontestable. (It is biologically alive.) The proper function of the physician in society is implicitly agreed upon by physicians and those they serve, and that function is to preserve biological life. If the time has come when our civilization’s sociological interpretation of fetal life has changed, it does not necessarily mean that the physician’s role has changed with it.”

“The article also quotes Dr. Myre Sims of the University of Birmingham, England: ‘The doctor has regard for life. He has regard for fetal life. Society is now telling him that this life is expendable. He knows that if he falls in with this request he will not be much use to you as a doctor. He can be easily tricked into other decisions.” He [Dr. Sims] adds that if general society feels that such action needs to be taken, it could “train crews of abortionists with no medical ethics, supervise them, license them, give them penicillin and so on, so that the job is done cleanly and quickly, and that would be society’s solution to the problem. But don’t dress it up. Don’t be sanctimonious about it.”…..

“This discussion of abortion brings to mind an old, often told medical tale: Years ago an elderly obstetrician in Nashville was approached by his middle aged neighbor who found herself unexpectedly and distressingly pregnant for the eighth time. She asked for an abortion and tearfully pled that this was just one too many, that at her age she could not possibly survive another pregnancy and the rearing of another child. The obstetrician was sympathetic and agreed whole-heartedly. ‘You certainly do have too many children,’ he said ‘and I don’t believe you could raise another one.’ But,’ he added, ‘your eight year old Johnny is the neighborhood terror and absolutely the worst child I’ve ever known. So why don’t we just do away with him and keep this new one instead? It’s bound to be an improvement.’….

“As Dr. Halberstam indicates, it should be evident that abortion on demand is a sociologic, not a medical problem. At the very least, there is no need for doctors to give medical certification to these cases. If population control by means of abortion becomes a necessity, let’s put the curettes in the hands of sociologists and anthropologists who have the enthusiasm for it. But the old obstetrician had a point. Dr. Sim’s warning that one step leads to another is valid. We could be tricked into creating new crusades by beating the drums for euthanasia, for the elimination of all misfits, criminals and no good citizens, and if we throw in all our rabid social engineers and a few politicians, population might be able to balance itself without abortions unlimited.”

—Dr. Peter C. Graffagnino, "The Doctor's Lounge", Muscogee County Medical Journal, 1970