Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 4, 1968
Attorney Says Abortion Bill Ignores Child
Atlanta attorney Ferdinand Buckley questions the wisdom of House Bill 281 which would change the Georgia Code dealing with criminal abortion, foeticide, infanticide and broadens the area of permissible abortions.
Buckley, a member of St. Judes parish and chairman of the Archdiocesan Religious Unity Commission, writes on page 4 of todays Bulletin that House Bill 281 violates the substantive rights of the fetus (and in some instances the mother) by depriving the fetus of life.
In this day when the concept of capital punishment is so seriously questioned, it is sadly ironical to encounter a bill which would permit the destruction of a child because three doctors thought that he might reasonably be expected to be born with a grave and irremediable mental or physical defect.
Buckley said proponents of the bill say that doctors require such legislation in order to be protected against unjust suits.
This argument is fallacious in at least two respects. One, if the purpose of the legislation is to protect doctors against unjust suits, then the General Assembly should address itself to that specific subject.
Two, the proposed new law will actually greatly enlarge the doctors exposure to suits, because they will be sued for the failure to perform certain abortions and for performing other abortions without any semblance of legal protection of the rights of the unborn children and minor parents, the attorney commented.
Buckley said House Bill 281 would repeal Chapter 26-11 of the present Georgia Code and prescribe certain exceptions to general prohibitions on abortion, feticide and infanticide.
He said these exceptions would permit abortions in three very broad and ill-defined set of circumstances:
(1) Where three examining physicians rendered opinions that a continuance of the pregnancy would probably endanger the life of the pregnant woman.
(2) Where three examining physicians rendered opinions that a continuance of the pregnancy would probably seriously impair the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.
(3) Where three examining physicians rendered opinions that a fetus might reasonably be expected to be born with a grave and irremediable mental or physical defect.
The first exception permits an abortion for the purpose of preserving the life of the pregnant woman, Buckley said, but creates certain administrative and medical safeguards not contained in the present law.
To this limited extent, it would seem that House Bill 281 represents an improvement over existing law. However, the second two exceptions represent two marked departures from existing law.
Buckley said no definition of gravity of the mental or physical defect which would constitute a cause for killing the unborn child is given in the bill. Nor does the bill establish any standards of probability which must be found to exist with reference to any such mental or physical defect.