LIFE DIGEST: Abortion doctor pleads not guilty; Planned Parenthood foe defeated

WASHINGTON (BP)--Massachusetts abortion doctor Rapin Osathanondh, charged with manslaughter in the death of a 22-year-old woman last year, has pleaded not guilty.

Laura Smith's death in September became noteworthy not only because it occurred while she was in the presence of a doctor who had just performed an abortion on her but because she was a member of a pro-life, evangelical Christian family. Smith was pronounced dead Sept. 13 at Cape Cod Hospital after being taken there from Osathanondh's Hyannis, Mass., clinic by ambulance, according to the Cape Cod Times.

A pro-life organization has attached the victim's name to an informed consent law it is pressing the state legislature to adopt. The board of directors of Massachusetts Citizens for Life voted to name the proposal Laura's Law, LifeNews.com reported Aug. 11. The bill would require information on abortion's risks, its alternatives and the unborn child's development be provided before a woman undergoes an abortion, according to the report.

Osathanondh, 65, entered his plea July 24, eight days after being indicted by a Barnstable County Grand Jury, according to The Boston Globe. "Suffice it to say, there was an inattention to the kinds of procedures of a life-saving nature that one would expect in a place where an operation with anesthesia is being performed," said District Attorney Michael O'Keefe, The Globe reported.

Osathanondh resigned his medical license in February after he apparently learned the state's Board of Registration in Medicine had voted to suspend him. The resignation is permanent.

Eileen Smith, Laura's mother, did not know her engaged daughter was pregnant. Laura was pro-life and was reared in a Christian home with three other children by Eileen and her husband Tom. Laura had made a profession of faith in Christ and been baptized at the age of 12, her mother said.

Since Laura's death, Eileen Smith has become outspoken in her support for the pro-life cause.

"As I travel around the country speaking about Laura's story, I am encouraged that word is getting out and people are being helped and lives are being saved," she said. "My goal is to also be a catalyst in the laws changing in [Massachusetts] and maybe even beyond."

OREGON FAVORS SUICIDE AGAIN -- Oregon's government-supported culture of death has informed another cancer patient it would not cover chemotherapy but would underwrite death by physician-assisted suicide.

Randy Stroup, 53, of Dexter, Ore., requested the Oregon Health Plan pay for his chemotherapy but was informed it would provide for assisted suicide but not an expensive cancer treatment.

"It dropped my chin to the floor," Stroup said of the letter of notification, according to FOX News. "[How could they] not pay for medication that would help my life, and yet offer to pay to end my life?"

Earlier this year, The Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard reported Barbara Wagner, 64, was informed that the Oregon Health Plan would not cover a drug to combat her recurring lung cancer but would provide for assisted suicide.

Stroup and Wagner both eventually received good news regarding their plights. Stroup resisted the state's refusal, and eventually Oregon agreed to underwrite his chemotherapy, FOX News reported. In early June, Wagner received notification that the pharmaceutical firm marketing the drug she had been prescribed would provide it without charge, according to The Register-Guard.

The Oregon Health Plan provides coverage for about 380,000 low-income residents monthly.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD FOE LOSES -- Phill Kline, Planned Parenthood's primary prosecutorial adversary, lost in the Republican primary for Johnson County (Kan.) district attorney. Steve Howe defeated Kline by about 60 to 40 percent in the Aug. 5 election, blocking Kline's attempt to return to the post, The Kansas City Star reported.

Kline has brought 107 charges against the Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park, Kan. The charges include performing illegal late-term abortions and providing false information. He is the first prosecutor to file charges against a Planned Parenthood clinic since abortion was legalized by the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, according to The Star.

After the defeat, Kline told supporters, according to The Star, "I've been so honored in many ways.... There are some causes that are worth losing for, and in that there is no defeat."

Affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the country's leading abortion provider, performed nearly 290,000 abortions in 2006. PPFA surpassed $1 billion in annual revenue for the first time last year, with more than $336 million of that total coming in grants and contracts from the federal and state governments.

NO REGRETS, 'INCREDIBLE SHAME' -- British single mother Angela Simmons, 39, says she does not regret any of her seven abortions, but she acknowledges she feels "incredible shame."

Simmons, who lives in southwest England with her 8-year-old son Ben, is part of an inglorious category -– the approximately 50 British women each year who undergo at least their seventh abortion. About 1,300 women had at least their fifth abortion in 2007, according to the Daily Mail.

"The reason why I had so many abortions is that I didn't want to bring a child into the world unless my situation was perfect -– but it never was," said Simmons, whose seven aborted babies were conceived with five different men. "With each termination I felt it was my responsibility to get on with my own life and forget about it. After each one I just blanked out the emotions and never thought about it. I felt no remorse at all."

All of her abortions were performed at the same clinic, which provided her with little counseling, she said.

"I do wish that someone in those clinics had really sat down with me and talked it through properly," she said, the Daily Mail reported.


Tom Strode is Baptist Press' Washington bureau chief.

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