March of Dimes Update

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March of Dimes -- for the veterans of the pro-life movement this rings a bell.

For 20 years most Right to Life groups nationwide have maintained a boycott against giving any contributions to the March of Dimes. The reason for this started back in 1972.

At that time, the March of Dimes sponsored a major seminar on genetically handicapped unborn babies. It pioneered the technique of diagnostic, mid-trimester amniocentesis. The MOD then began to teach a nation how to take some of the fluid from the sac around the baby, in the middle of the pregnancy, and find out if the child had a genetic problem such as Down's Syndrome or Spina Bifida. Once this was determined, about 95% of these babies were then killed by abortion.

This testing was then funded in many medical centers across the country by the March of Dimes. Cincinnati Right to Life already had a nationally distributed newsletter in 1972. It called this a "search and destroy mission" and recommended that people stop giving contributions to the MOD until it stopped funding this practice.

The boycott spread and was adopted by the National Right to Life Committee not too long after it was organized in mid-1973. The pro-life request was for the March of Dimes to stop funding the creation and maintenance of genetic testing centers. The MOD refused to do this, but did however, pull back on one thing. Some of the centers had required the pregnant woman to sign a statement agreeing that, if the baby were handicapped, she would get an abortion. The March of Dimes told its grantees they could no longer require that an abortion be done.

Dr. Willke was point-man on this during the '70s and '80s. Before leaving the presidency of National Right to Life in 1991, he had several meetings with MOD officials who claimed they were no longer involved in any type of activity that might lead to abortion. Hoping to lift the boycott, he asked the MOD to send a detailed breakdown of all of the grants they had made in the previous two years. They refused. The boycott continued.

Let it be noted that to our knowledge the March of Dimes has never paid directly for a single abortion. They merely made it possible to pinpoint handicapped babies, and then stood aside and allowed them to be killed.

Since the above, the MOD has published the papers of a conference it sponsored in 1990. This 261-page book is entitled Strategies in Cenetic Counseling: Reproductive Cenetics and New Technologies. It is part of MOD's "Original Article Series" Vol. 26, No. 3. Several papers can exemplify its ethical posture.

At this conference, one paper, "Fetal Reduction and Selective Termination in Multi-Fetal Pregnancy," describes in detail the indications for selectively killing one or more babies inside the womb of a mother who has triplets or more. It states you can kill one of the babies inside of her, "to allow the birth of a healthy newborn, without the birth of a coexisting fetus with a congenital abnormality." Another indication is "to reduce a multiple pregnancy to a single pregnancy for social or personal indication."

Another paper is entitled, "Abortion Update." This was written before Clinton was elected, and before the Casey Supreme Court decision. It states, "The constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion has never seemed so precarious," and "There is no substitution for a constitutional right to abortion which protects our fundamental rights."

Another paper is "A Protocol for Genetic Counseling." It discusses how to counsel a couple in the event they may carry a handicapped unborn. Its conclusion is that the counselor must "validate the parents' reason for their decision, if they decide to terminate the pregnancy." Then it states that after "the termination their greatest need is to resolve the psychologic issues surrounding the crisis," and it goes on to discuss the role of the counselor.

In summary, the MOD sponsorship and publication of this conference is a damaging piece of evidence. The March of Dimes is still very much involved in at least the toleration of, if not the rather direct promotion of elective abortion for handicapped children. They help to set the stage so that abortions can be done. They still are part of a wsearch and destroyw mission to discover handicapped babies who, at their parents' decision, are selectively killed.

With very few exceptions the 2,900 Right to Life chapters in the U.S. still maintain a nationwide boycott against working for, or giving money to, the March of Dimes.

Our advice is to not give money to the March of Dimes until they become 100% pro-life, until they get rid of this ugly portion of their activity that Dr. Willke has consistently called "a little Auschwitz on the side."


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Posted 12 Sep 2000.

Copyright 1994 by Life Issues Institute.

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