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Dr. LEBENSOHN. None whatsoever. I would agree with the Supreme Court. I think the Supreme Court decision is excellent. I think that it is very sensible. I think it tends to protect the mother. It was written very, very carefully, and I would subscribe to it wholeheartedly.
Senator Bayu. Inasmuch as in your opening remarks you alluded to the legal question, the moral question and the religious question and ethical, are you at all concerned about the legal, moral and religious issue that is raised, particularly when you get a child beyond viability or even at an earlier stage, but particularly after viability?
Dr. LEBENSOHN. The Supreme Court decision permits abortion only during the first and second trimester, and I am very much opposed to conducting abortions at any time when viability is possible. In other words, the longer the pregnancy continues the greater reluctance I would have in ever recommending it if I had anything to do with it.
For that reason, I think that if women have ready access to abortion they will tend to have abortions during the first 3 months, during which time the amount of trauma is neglible, both physically and mentally. I am also concerned about the religious question. I have a tremendous respect for anyone with religious convictions. I think that they should be strongly respected.
But I feel that those people who are very much opposed to abortion by virtue of their own religious convictions should not need any specific law to support their principles. The late Cardinal Cushing is quoted as saying that Catholics do not need the law to support their moral principles.
Senator BAYH. Was this relative to abortion?
Dr. LEBENSOHN. What he meant to say was that Catholics do not need laws. If they are good Catholics they do not need laws. They adhere to the laws of the church, and they should. That makes eminently good sense. He was a very sensible man.
Senator BayH. May I ask you to give me your thoughts relative to one thing referred to by Dr. Bernstein when he said this was post partum psychosis, and he said in practice a typical woman who develops such a psychosis was not one who wanted an abortion, but rather is an obsessive compulsive patient-for example, a married woman with a strong moral code who had a planned pregnancy and was considered to be a good mother by her peers. I bring that up relative to what you said about the unwanted-child situation.
Dr. LEBENSOHN. Yes; but I think Dr. Bernstein later on hedged a bit and said there were exceptions, and I could not agree more. There are exceptions. But I think in the final analysis we cannot predict those who are going to have post partum psychoses.
I remember a case of a young women who, during her first preg. nancy, was given some very careful psychological and psychiatric tests in the course of a research project which she entered voluntarily. The tests were administered at no cost to the patient, and they were designed to reveal attitudes toward their first pregnancy. The psychoiatrists and psychologists thought that this gal was a pretty healthy young lady. Well, a few weeks after the birth of her first child—the delivery went along quite well-sshe developed an acute post partum psychosis which was really schizophrenic in nature. She had to be hospitalized immediately and responded very quickly and very dramatically to electroshock therapy.
Now, here is a woman who had careful psychological and psychiatric screening. The research team did not anticipate this reaction at all. This example shows that these things cannot be predicted, not even in retrospect. I have followed this young woman for the last 10 years. She now is the mother of three fine youngsters. One would assume from the history that she was going to have another post partum psychosis if she became pregnant again. She did not.
To be sure, I did see her in psychiatric treatment during the entire time and I gave her some medication when it was necessary. She is doing splendidly now and she has been an extremely fine mother to her children.
Senator Bayh. Well, thank you, doctor. I appreciate your taking the time to be with us this afternoon.
Our next witness is Dr. Samuel Nigro, the assistant professor of child psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospital of Cleveland.
STATEMENT OF DR. SAMUEL NIGRO, M.D., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
OF CHILD PSYCHIATRY, CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL OF CLEVELAND
Dr. NIGRO. Mr. Chairman and fellow members of the subcommittee, at least I hope you will pass these remarks on to other members.
Senator, I am Samuel Nigro, M.D. I am a husband of one and a father of four, and a homemaker in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. After that, I am a child psychiatrist at Case Western Reserve and other places on the statement that I have given you, and I am not going to go over those for the sake of time.
However, I do want to make clear that my views represent myself and not any group with whom I am associated.
I am here to address myself to the issue of the effects of unwantedness on children in reference to the abortion issue. Everychild-a-wanted-child: Statements like that, have always been used for a reason for abortion. I think we have to examine that, and I would like members of the committee to address themselves to this issue.
When one talks about unwantedness on a child, there are several distinctions that you have to make, and I am going to try to make four distinctions for you. To confuse the distinctions is to mistake unwantedness as damaging, to mistake abortion as treatment, and to mistake adult advocacy for child advocacy.
The first distinction is that of unwantedness in reference to the child after being born. There is no doubt unwantedness of a child after being born is detrimental to a child. But this is so, I want to emphasize, only if the unwantedness is pervasive, complete, and if the child is unprotected or considered to be and treated as a nonentity without any rights. Children are effectively nonpersons in our society without rights, and until they get rights, children can be treated in a dehumanized and depersonalized manner, whether they are wanted or not. This is why problems occur in children, regardless of their being wanted, becaus ethey have no rights conveyed by esociety, nor do they have rights which are expected to be met by their caretakers.
Unwantedness of a born child makes this all too clear: That is, that children have no rights. But it is not the unwantedness that hurts them; it is their being unprotected and without rights which adults are expected to meet.
Unwantedness of a born child, though, is different from unwantedness of a pregnancy.
Unwantedness of a pregnancy is the second type of distinction we have to make when talking about unwantedness of a child and its effects on the mental well-being of the child in the future. In fact, most often, when people talk about unwanted children are are talking about unwanted pregnancy and the child inside the mother's uterus at that particular time.
Let me emphatically state that unwantedness about the child in the uterus is not the same as the unwantedness associated with a child after he or she is born. And when the issue of abortion is raised in the context of unwantedness of a child, it is almost always in reference to the potential effect of unwantedness of pregnancy continuing on in the form of unwantedness of the child born. However, potential unwantedness of the born child is not the same as real unwantedness on an unprotected child.
I think it is important to understand that unwanted pregnancy does not mean an unwanted child. The evidence, in fact, has been to the contrary for a long time, and this evidence has been known by people and psychiatrists, but it has been generally suppressed by those who have known it.
Senator BAYH. Doctor-excuse me for interrupting.
What would you call a child that would be born from an unwanted pregnancy, where the mother and father do not want children
Dr. NIGRO. What happens ? Let me tell you what happens.
Dr. NIGRO. I think it would be a child from what was probably a previously unwanted pregnancy, and as time went on, the pregnancy probably became unwanted as would the child and the child's needs are going to be met.
Let me give you a little flavor of the evidence for the Senator.
Dr. Edward Pohlman researched unwanted pregnancies thoroughly in 1967 and he ended an extensive review of the literature in this manner:
There is a contention that unwanted conceptions tend to have undesirable effects. The direct evidence of such a relationship is almost completely lacking, except for a few fragments of retrospective evidence. It was the hope of this article
This is Pohlman's article:
To find some convincing systematic research evidence and to give some idea of the amount of relationship between unwanted conceptions and undesirable effects. This hope has been disappointed.
So his hope was disappointed in finding, in a relationship between unwanted conceptions and untoward effects in a child to be born at a later time.
Now it is important to realize that in the context of promoting abortions, the term unwantedness has become a wastebasket term applied to anything and everything without scientific justification, and I think the abortion strategy is rather clear: A public relations promotion such that good is being done for children by abortion. It is an immensely clever technique, and I think somehow our while society has been caught up with it and has accepted it without thinking: A public relations promotion which conveys the attitude that we are sort of saving-a-child by destroying-a-child much like the American colonel in Vietnam who said he was going to save a village by destroying it.
I think you have to remember that articles written justifying abortion or articles written about abortion--usually begin with that very goal, i.e., to justify it. Because almost all of the articles are written by abortionists themselves, it is hard to get unbiased information from them.
Senator Bayh. Well, doctor, I must say, I do not know what articles you are referring to, but I have seen many, many articles against abortion. There has been no lack of publicity and expressions of concern by people on the other side of this issue.
Dr. NIGRO. What I just said is I think most of the abortion literature, especially the medical and psychiatric literature, is written by abortion researchers who are definitely committed to the abortion issue. You get a lot of unwarranted conclusions and unjustified conclusions. They are typically uncritical of themselves about what they are trying to say concerning abortion. This is really bad that they have been rather unscientific, I think, about their ownselves in trying to justify abortion.
It is really rather bad. I will give you an example of one if you want, something I got into a year or so ago. There was an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association which was entitled, Is Abortion a Therapeutic Procedure in Psychiatry? The conclusion was yes; abortion was therapeutic.
Well, this article was so bad scientifically, and I have had some articles turned down from the JAMA not related to abortion, so I know how rigid they usually are in wanting some exact scientific hard evidence. Why they printed that article I suspect, has more to do with trying to promote the abortion business than not.
The article was so bad, Senator, that I filed what we call an original controversy in the structure of the AMA. I filed it against what I thought was the editorial board of the JAMA, accusing them of incompetence accusing them of incompetence. That is how bad the article was. That I could do it, I think, is testimony in itself to the rather unscientific nature of that particular article.
Senator Bayh. What happened to your complaint ?
Dr. NIGRO. Well, I filed it against the editorial board thinking that there was an editorial board, because I had received letters from
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editors of the JAMA saying that “the board has decided, the board has said this * * * "
Well, what they ended up doing was, denying that there was an editorial board ever in the AMA at that particular time, i.e., that it had never been administratively set up. So my complaint was sort of, well, it was what? Misfiled or something like that!
Senator BAYH. Who admits the article? There has to be an editor or somebody.
Dr. NIGRO. There were editors, but there was no editorial board officially set up for the JAMA. Well, they have one now. They set one up a year later, after I filed this.
And by the way, I might tell you that they told me that they were not going to process my complaint, my original controversy, at the legal office of the AMA. So I had to write all members of the judiciary committee of the American Medical Association, who finally reassured me that at the next AMA convention they would look at my complaint.
So the abortion literature—I am getting off the subject but this is a good example of the abdication of science by scientists. We have heard of Watergate. Abortion is medicine's Watergate. Abortion is science's Watergate.
Let me try to get back to what I was talking about: Unwantedness of pregnancy resulting in adverse effects for the future child. These studies typically do not hold up, particularly if you look at them with critical scientific assessment. In fact, Dr. Pohlman in 1967 said that unwantedness as a scientific issue should not be studied; it does not hold up. The evidence is generally to the contrary and it is going to be too difficult to really demonstrate anything anyway.
But they continue using this issue as a justification for abortion.
Now you have heard about Forsmann and Thuwe just a few minutes ago. Forsmann and Thuwe was mentioned by the previous witness. But in that article, too, the conclusion he read to you is really not justified by the data. Now I read from an article which was published, A Scientific Critique of Abortion as a Medical Procedure. Abortion people hardly ever quote this. They usually ignore it. But in this article I wrote this about Forsmann and Thuwe:
Of special interest because it is not included in Pohlman's review is Forsmann's and Thuwe's study of 120 children born after the mother's request for abortion had been refused. This study is popular with abortion proponents, so much so that it has tempted many to misuse it in a most unscientific manner. These 120 children were followed for 21 years and it was clear that they had been born into a worse situation, with greater risks of social and mental handicaps than had peer controls. Yet the outcome was far from a disaster. No significant difference was found between subjects and controls in regard to criminal behavior, drunken misconduct, educational subnormality, the number taking university entrance examinations, the number who entered the university, the fitness of boys for military service, and the number married before age 21. Furthermore, all comparisons pale before the overriding fact that 48.3 percent, also half, had complete freedom from defects in all respects studied.
And I closed with, While it is not completely clear what it means to have been unwanted but unaborted, it seems at least to mean that such an individual has about a 50-50 chance of turning out satisfactorily despite having had to face more than the usual problems of growing up.