LIFE DIGEST: Woman dies after late-term abortion
A 29-year-old New York woman died Feb. 7 reportedly after undergoing a third-trimester procedure performed by a controversial abortion doctor.
Jennifer Morbelli of New Rochelle, N.Y., passed away at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Md., days after beginning the lengthy abortion method at a clinic in Germantown, Md., according to reports. Her unborn daughter, already named Madison Leigh, was reportedly 33 weeks into gestation when she died.
Also in this edition: State legislatures considering physician-assisted suicide, New York hospital protects pro-life workers after coercion charge, and Arkansas enacts ban on abortion coverage in insurance exchange.
Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek first identified Morbelli, an elementary school teacher, and her daughter Feb. 10. The Journal News, a newspaper that covers New York’s lower Hudson Valley, later confirmed the identities.
LeRoy Carhart, reportedly one of only four third-trimester abortion doctors in the United States, performed the procedure at Germantown Reproductive Health Services, according to pro-life organizations. Morbelli arrived Feb. 3 at the clinic to begin the multi-day procedure and returned the next three days for other steps in the abortion, according to Maryland Coalition for Life. Having experienced great blood loss, she died at the hospital after arriving the morning of Feb. 7, a confidential source told the pro-life organization.
Carhart, likely the best known abortion doctor in the country, performs abortions not only in Maryland but also at clinics in Indianapolis, Ind., and Bellevue, Neb., Stanek reported. He left the Maryland clinic shortly after Morbelli departed from the center for the final time Feb. 6, according to Stanek’s account. He typically performs abortions on Thursdays at one of the other clinics.
Morbelli and her husband, TJ, had learned recently their unborn daughter had some abnormalities, Stanek reported.
“The avoidable death of this young woman dramatically illustrates the dangers of third trimester abortions that are done outside of the safety of obstetrical standards,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said in a written statement. “It is time for medical boards to put an end to these horrifically dangerous and barbaric third trimester abortions. If they do not, we can only expect Carhart and his associates to send more women to the morgue.”
Kathy Morbelli criticized pro-life comments regarding her daughter-in-law’s death.
“They know she was a wanted baby, they know she was named,” she told The Journal News. “I just wish that the people could let my son, who is only 29 years old, mourn in peace. . . . We have no comment on the doctor.”
State legislatures considering physician-assisted suicide
Advocates of physician-assisted suicide are promoting legislation to legalize the practice in several state legislatures.
Legislators in Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont are considering bills in their current sessions, the Associated Press reported Feb. 8. These efforts follow the voters’ rejection in November of a Massachusetts ballot initiative to legalize assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide proponents contend that measure, though defeated, aided their cause by raising “the consciousness of the nation and in particular the Northeast region to this issue . . . ,” said Mickey MacIntyre of Compassion & Choices, a pro-assisted suicide organization, AP reported.
Assisted suicide foes say Compassion & Choices and other outside organizations, not in-state groups, are pushing the legislation in Connecticut.
“There’s no grass-roots cry for assisted suicide in the state of Connecticut,” said Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute, according to AP. “[Outside assisted suicide advocates] look at the Northeast and think this is low-hanging fruit: ‘We can conduct our social experiments here in the Northeastern United States.’”
Assisted suicide has yet to gain approval in any state legislature. It is legal in both Oregon and Washington as a result of voter passage of ballot measures in support of permitting doctors to prescribe lethal drugs for terminally ill patients.
The campaign for assisted suicide is misleading, foes say.
“While assisted suicide is often promoted as a ‘personal decision’ in the hands of the ‘terminally ill,’ this is quite far from reality,” wrote Jennifer Popik, legislative counsel for the National Right to Life Committee. “Disability rights groups, one of the most vocal opponents of these measures, voice opposition . . . anywhere this legislation is promoted.
“Proponents of doctor-prescribed suicide measures often tout so-called safeguards,” she said. “Not only are these safeguards not working, but there are dangerous loopholes in Oregon’s and Washington’s laws. There is no way to know how many people suffering from mental illness have used this law.”
New York hospital protects pro-life workers after coercion charge
A New York City hospital has revised its policies to guarantee conscience protections for pro-life, health-care providers.
Mount Sinai Hospital made the changes after the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights investigated in response to a request from a nurse who said the medical center coerced her to take part in a late-term abortion.
Catherine Cenzon-DeCarlo, a Roman Catholic, alleged she was required to assist in the abortion of a 22-week-old unborn child in 2009. The hospital had been aware of her religious objections to abortion since 2004, she said. In addition, her immediate help was not needed, because the woman who underwent the abortion was not in crisis, she said.
“Pro-life medical personnel shouldn’t be forced to participate in abortions, and the new policies and procedures at Mt. Sinai reflect that,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), in a Feb. 12 written statement. “The hospital seems to have decided to do the right thing and respect the conscience rights of its employees, who are protected by both federal and state law.”
The hospital responded to the federal investigation by agreeing in writing it would obey federal conscience protection laws, train its employees to keep record of those workers who object to taking part in abortions and change its written policy to say it would not discriminate against employees based on their refusal to assist with abortions, according to ADF.
In 2009, Mount Sinai officials told Cenzon-DeCarlo, a senior nurse, she would be charged with “insubordination and patient abandonment” and would face discipline, possibly including the loss of her job and/or nursing license, according to ADF, which filed a lawsuit in her behalf. Her lawsuit continues in a county court.
Arkansas enacts ban on abortion coverage in insurance exchange
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe signed into law Feb. 11 legislation prohibiting coverage of abortion in the state’s health insurance exchange established by the 2010 health-care law popularly referred to as Obamacare.
The measure provides exceptions in the cases of a threat to the mother’s life, rape and incest, according to the Associated Press.
Arkansas becomes the 21st state to bar abortion coverage under Obamacare, the National Right to Life Committee reported.
Pro-life leader Marjorie Dannenfelser commended Beebe, a Democrat. “This simple measure protects taxpayers from being complicit in the deaths of unborn children and shows a good-faith effort to find common ground on this difficult issue,” said Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
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