Abortion and Abortion Coercion Harms Families

An New York Kindergarten teacher died after an abortion in Maryland. McKenna Morbelli, of New Rochelle, traveled to the Carhart Clinic last week to have a late-term abortion 33 weeks into her pregnancy after it became apparent that her fetus had developed abnormalities. Following a complex multi-day procedure, the 29-year-old married woman allegedly suffered a ruptured uterus and passed away from massive internal bleeding in a nearby hospital. There is little news on this story here in the U.S., but you can read more of its reports in the UK at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2277868/jennifer-McKenna-Morbelli-dies-having-abortion-33-weeks-pregnancy.html#ixzz2LdACssjH.

A woman in Colorado filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and one of its abortionists claiming she was forced her to undergo an abortion without anesthesia and then left part of her baby’s body inside her. “Ayanna Byer, 40, says she changed her mind about having an abortion after Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs informed her they could not give her the agreed-upon intravenous anesthesia. The lawsuit claims the abortionist performed the abortion anyway. Byer was then sent home, but ended up in an emergency room two days later.” There is little news on that story as well, but you can read more about it here at

And a 16-year-old Texas girl who was being coerced by her parents to abort her unborn child requested court intervention on her behalf. ABC news covered the story here at http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/02/texas-teen-wins-right-to-give-birth-over-parents-objections/. CNN wanted was gripped by this story as well - http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/18/us/texas-abortion-teen-lawsuit/?hpt=hp_t3. The young woman was able to obtain an injunction against the coerced abortion with the assistance of several attorneys who are Regent University School of Law graduates who have founded the Texas Center for Defense of Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending women and girls against coerced abortions. "We just achieved an agreed order," Stephen Casey, a lawyer and co-founder of The Texas Center for Defense of Life, told CNN in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. The 16 year-old-girl’s identity is being protected, but her 16-year-old boyfriend and father of the child has faced reporters.

Gregg Terra (Regent ‘01) also co-founder of TCDL, with Stephen Casey (Regent 09), have argued that Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed women the right to have an abortion, works both ways. No one can force anyone else to have an abortion. This case, unlike the first two, has captured some headlines here in America. Lawyers must be willing to deal with the harmful effects of abortion on families. To read more about this concern, and how legal education can make a difference, see the article by Professor Lynn D. Wardle and myself on SSRN at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2201231

Abortion harms families – from a married woman who aborts her mal-formed child (Morbelli), to a woman who changes her mind on the operating table (Byer), to a teen who is forced into an abortion by parents. The Morbelli family is devastated by the death of McKenna. The Byer family is likely devastated by Ayanna’s botched abortion. The Texas family is now exposed and torn apart over the abortion decision of their daughter. A new family has been formed, however, as the teens were married this week after the injunction was issued, and a child has been protected by those who protect women and children and families. Abortion always harms families.

1 comment:

  1. As these tragic cases show, abortion is not always in the best interest of mothers or children. Because America's pro-abortion movement was much the result of the cultural revolution in the 1960s and 70s, it can be helpful to look to a society similar to America's, in many ways, to understand the full scope of support for, and the growth of, abortion: England's. There, abortion became legal on a nation-wide scale somewhat earlier than here (1967) before the influence of the cultural revolution was felt by quite so many people as it was by 1973. It seems that those in support of the law at the time did so with a foundational understanding that abortion was undesirable; that abortion was to be allowed only in a limited amount of circumstances when it was more merciful in situations of danger or tragedy to allow a mother to end her pregnancy. But since then, abortions per year have spiraled (approximately 200,000 in England and Wales).

    When physicians performing abortions insist on continuing procedures against the will of the mother, as in these cases, it signals that society is in need of reflecting again on the moral implications of this important issue. As pre-natal technology increases, and as more Millenials experience unease about the rate and use of abortion (http://www.gallup.com/poll/126581/generational-differences-abortion-narrow.aspx), it is not necessary to argue over an all-or-nothing ban on the procedure--if indeed anyone is even having that debate--but one that challenges assumptions.

    What can be helpful is a conversation begun in light of cases like the woman in Colorado. If society is prepared to recognize certain rights of foetuses, and even enshrine those rights into law (http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/), then a fruitful discussion can continue regarding how such recognition should continue. Since we all recognize it is wrong for any woman to smoke while pregnant--thus depriving the foetus of a choice to be born and live as healthy a life as the foetus could have done but for the mother's choice to smoke--we can open up avenues of conversation questioning the all-out right of mothers to end pregnancies (depriving, it would seem to follow, a foetus of other eventual, important, opportunities).

    As the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has stated (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/oct/21/comment.religion): what we need is a joining-up of our thinking in light of scientific progress, growing unease about abortion among young people--including young women--and perhaps above all: hindsight.