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Do you look on that kind of an abortion in the same way look on one based on Tay-Sachs ?
Ms. Katz. Of course, going through the tragedy that we did, knowing that we would lose Joann while she was alive and before I had another child, it made me feel somewhat bitter that somebody essentially was throwing a life away that I might be able to take. But I think I was being very nonobjective, and I feel now that there is more equanimity and normalcy in my own life, this would be, for others for whatever reason they would choose to abort, a decision as personal and as hard to come by and as thought-provoking as my own. Just because their reasons are different for their need or desire to terminate a pregnancy, that does not affect my feelings toward them.
I have friends who have had psychosocial abortions, as they are known, and I do not feel that they were wrong to do so. I feel that it was their right—which, of course, it really is at this time.
Senator Bayh. Would you put a time limit on that?
Ms. Katz. I do not feel I am qualified to make a judgment like that. If I picked out a time it would be very arbitrary. I do not feel that it is my place.
Senator Bayh. Unfortunately anybody who picks out a time has to do it in sort of an arbitrary manner.
Ms. Katz. I realize that. I know that a craniotomy can be done to save the life of the mother even in full-term pregnancy.
Senator Bayh. I am thinking of the point of viability, if we could ever reach it.
Ms. Katz. I really do not feel, personally, that viability is a legitimate idea. I mean it has been pointed out by very reputable people that at the time of conception that the potential for viability is there, and obviously later in the pregnancy more so.
I think that is an irrelevant question. I think that it simply has to be a more personal decision than that, and it cannot just be judged on the basis of time or the stage of the development of the fetus. I think that there are other factors to be considered here.
Senator Bayh. Let me ask you a question or two about the community screening.
This is voluntary?
Ms. Katz. Samples of blood, very small samples of blood from the person's arm.
Senator BAYH. Is this advertised in the newspaper or radio or television?
Ms. Katz. It is advertised that if people wish more information or wish to make an appointment that they should call our foundation, and then we help set up appointments for those people and explain what the testing is and what the cost would be of the test.
Senator Bays. What is the cost of the test?
Ms. Katz. We are told by Johns Hopkins that the cost of the test is approximately $15 per person, but we do not ask that. There is a voluntary contribution which is asked of everyone of $5 per person, but it is waived when the person refuses or cannot pay. It is not a mandatory fee.
Senator Bayh. This test is made before pregnancy or after?
Ms. Katz. This test is made before pregnancy. It can be made during pregnancy if the couple wishes.
Senator Bays. Would you tell us what the cost of your own examination was during the period of pregnancy?
Ms. Katz. The amniocentesis?
Senator Bayh. In the process of the screening in Bethesda that you referred to, were there others that suffered from the possibility of Tay-Sachs discovery that you know of!
Ms. Katz. There were several carriers. Obviously, out of 1,300 people with a 1 in 30 statistic there, there were several carriers detected. However, I do not believe that at that testing any carrier couples were detected. If someone is found to be a carrier they are asked to advise siblings, first cousins, et cetera, to also be tested with their spouses, since it is carried in the family, and therefore other people in the family might be affected.
I know of only one carrier couple that was detected through the testing that had no children, and at the first conception amniocentesis was done, and they had to terminate the pregnancy. These were people who had not even seen a Tay-Sachs baby, but just on the information they knew of made that decision to terminate that pregnancy because the fetus had Tay-Sachs disease.
Senator Bays. The fetus did have Tay-Sachs!
Ms. Katz. Yes; but others have been more fortunate and the pregnancies have gone on to produce healthy babies. Also, I know personally three women whose children had Tay-Sachs or an allied disorder who had amniocentesis with the next pregnancy and aborted ill fetuses. All three then went on to have a healthy baby later. This shows how much these people wanted children, and how positively they regarded the test.
Senator BAYH. How many people are members of the National Capital Tay-Sachs Foundation!
Ms. Katz. Nationwide, I guess we have about 300 to 500 members. I am not sure exactly. The working members in the D.C. area are probably about 20 people. Of course, this is a more or less local group. There is a national association with headquarters in New York which is larger.
Senator BAYH. In the National Capital Foundation, of which you are a member, are all those people folks like yourself who have had the kind of experience you had.
Ms. Katz. No; originally they were, but I would say half the membership now, the active membership of the people who do the work and so on, about half of them are not parents of Tay-Sachs children, but people who are interested in this cause.
Senator Bayh. Thank you very much, Ms. Katz. Our next witness is Mary Hartle, volunteer at the women's center in Minneapolis, Minn.
STATEMENT OF MARY HARTLE, VOLUNTEER, WOMEN'S CENTER,
Ms. HARTLE. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Mary Hartle. I come before you today to support the Buckley and Helms amendments. My remarks will center on two main reasons for arguing against women being allowed to have abortionsGerman measles and rape. When the move to legalize abortion started heavily a decade ago, the proponents originally argued that abortion should be legalized for women who had had German measles during pregnancy and for women and young girls who had been raped.
I would first like to address myself to the German measles question. During the first trimester of pregnancy, with me, my mother contracted German measles. The first trimester is the most dangerous time to contract German measles for the baby has the greatest chance of being affected by the German measles during this time.
I was born in 1952 with a heart defect and cataracts in my eyes. Heart and eye defects are two of the three major handicaps occurring from German measles. My first year of life was in a very precarious state. I underwent heart surgery in December 1952 and eye surgery in October 1952 and again in June 1953. After the operations my health improved immensely.
My heart condition has been corrected such that my heart is now normal. My vision was improved to the point where I can see at 20/200 with correction. Thus, I can see objects clearly and read regular size print at a close distance.
It is said that those who may be deformed should be aborted so they do not have to lead an unhappy life and so as to not cause a great hardship on their families. I wholeheartedly disagree with this argument for several reasons. First of all, many unborn babies whose mothers are exposed to German measles are not born with birth defects do not live unhappy, lonely, unproductive lives. Thirdly, I know my parents would carry me to term again, if they had to do it all over again, and I am sure this is true for most other parents of disabled children.
It is thought by most people that a handicap incapacitates a person so completely that they are rendered unemployable persons who are dependent on their relatives and society at large. However, this is a falsehood. Most physical handicaps can be reduced to a mere physical nuisance if the individual receives medical treatment, the proper training in the use of alternative techniques, and the proper opportunity to use his skills. Because of the medical treatment I received, and the alternative techniques to sight which I use, my blindness has been reduced to a physical inconvenience for me.
The real problem of blindness, and all other handicaps, is not the occasional physical limitation it imposes, but rather societal attitudes toward blindness. Misconceptions and misinformation about blindness which give rise toward prejudice and discrimination against the blind are the real problems of blindness. Thus, I consider blindness to be a social handicap, not a physical handicap.
Rather than eliminating those who might be handicapped from German measles, I propose that the public be educated about the facts about blindness—the real problems of blindness, and the capabilities of blind people. As the public becomes more informed about blindness and attitudes toward the blind improve, the lives of blind people will improve.
Since handicapped people can function independently in society once they have been given the proper training and an opportunity to utilize their skills, I believe it would be wrong to permit abortion for the purpose of preventing the birth of disabled people.
At this point, I would like to turn my attention to the question of aborting women pregnant from rape. It has been argued by the proponents of legalized abortion that women who become pregnant as a result of rape should be allowed to get an abortion.
I do not feel that abortion needs to be legalized for this reason. I worked in a rape counseling center in Minnesota last fall, and so have had a great deal of experience with rape victims. Pregnancy need not occur—and in fact does not occur much anyway-if the woman receives prompt medical treatment soon after the rape.
The doctor can perform a test to determine if sperm has entered the woman's vagina, and to determine if the woman has ovulated. If sperm is present and the woman is ovulating or she might be within the week following the rape, she may be given the morning after pill. This will prevent pregnancy. If pregnancy is not prevented for some reason, the unborn being should be given the right to live. This right should not be denied simply because the child was conceived from a rape experience.
Although abortion is not necessary to prevent pregnancy due to rape, immediate medical treatment is. At present, society tends to forget about the rape victim until she becomes pregnant, if she does.
Gentlemen, I would recommend that an intensive education program be launched to inform women of the immediate steps they should take following a rape. Women should be encouraged to seek medical treatment to prevent pregnancy and venereal disease, and to treat injuries the victim may have suffered. At present many women do not seek such help until several days after the rape because they feel ashamed of having been raped, fear telling their doctor, and/or want to forget about the incident.
Women should also be encouraged to report the crime to the police so that the rapist may be arrested and brought to justice. As many as six out of every ten rapes go unreported because women fear the police will treat them almost as cruelly as the rapist, women believe the police will never catch the criminal, and/or because women believe they will never get the rapist convicted, given the fact that statute and case law tends to protect the defendant and put the victim on trial.
So that the rape victim can come to grips with the physical and emotional problems resulting from a rape experience, I recommend the police be trained to deal with more sensitivity towards rape victims, the laws be amended by deleting the corroboration requirement, making it easier to convict a man who does rape a woman, and that rapists be given psychiatric treatment rather than imprisonment. I believe these are key factors which will result in the reduction in the incidence of rape.
The most important change which must be made to help victims of rape is a change in our attitudes toward rape victims and ideas about rape. The idea that women who are raped somehow asked for it or did something to precipitate it must be dispelled once and for all.
The notion that a woman could not have been raped if she did not struggle must be recognized for what it is—a falsehood. Women who are involved in the most innocent activity are raped every day of the year, and many women who are raped do not struggle either because the man has a lethal or dangerous weapon—a gun, a knife, or even his body-or the woman fears he may pull out a weapon or inflict injury on her by some means.
A rape victim needs empathy and understanding from those close to her. She should be encouraged to talk about the experience when she feels a need to, rather than being told to forget it, so as to prevent psychological problems later. In this connection, more rape centers like those in Minneapolis and D.C. should be established to help victims with immediate and long-term physical and psychological needs.
I feel I am especially well qualified to speak on the problems and needs of rape victims not only because I have worked with rape victims, but also because I too was raped. As it happened, I was beaten and raped by a stranger at night nearly 2 years ago. I received immediate medical care to prevent pregnancy and venereal disease, and to treat the injuries I incurred.
Although I was certain that I would not become pregnant, I often wondered how I would have reacted if I had. Although it would have been difficult to be pregnant under this condition, it would have been even more difficult to have an abortion. I believe I would have received emotional support from my family and friends had I become pregnant.
In conclusion, I would like to say that abortion should not be permitted to prevent the birth of a baby who may be deformed or to prevent the birth of a baby conceived due to a rape. Abortion only rids us of the effects rather than ridding us of the causes of congenital defects or the problems encountered by the disabled and the causes of rape and the immediate problems of the victim.
I have offered some proposals that I believe will help effect longrange change. These recommendations, if acted upon, would improve the lives of disabled people and would help the rape victim deal effectively with any short-term and long-term problems, in addition to preventing pregnancy.
I wish to submit copies of my personal resume to committee members, and I request that my resume be made a part of the record. I am doing this to illustrate that a person whose chance for a normal, independent life looked bleak at birth can, and in my case did, become a productive, normal, independent person in society. I do not consider myself an extraordinary person. I consider myself to be an average person with average abilities who happens to be blind. I have attended regular schools all my life, graduating from Macalester College with a B.A. degree in political science. In addition to my academic work, and the summer jobs I have held, I have also been active in community affairs.
My most important involvement is with the National Federation of the Blind. I am currently first first vice president of the national