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LIFE DIGEST: Minor defects resulting in abortions in England; poor babies target of letter to Clinton promoting RU 486; …

WASHINGTON (BP)–Unborn babies with correctable defects to their hands and feet are being aborted late in pregnancy in Great Britain.

More than 20 children with club feet and four babies with webbed or extra fingers were aborted in England between 1996 and 2004, according to The Times of London. All of the abortions occurred more than 20 weeks into the pregnancies.

All of the conditions may be corrected by therapy or surgery.

About 600 to 700 children are born each year in Great Britain with a club foot. A club foot is one in which the toes are pointed downward and toward the other foot. Instead of surgery, children with the condition are being successfully treated with recently developed methods of splints, casts and boots, The Times reported.

A Southern Baptist bioethicist decried what he called “cosmetic abortion.”

“Abortion as quality control is an especially heinous form of killing,” said C. Ben Mitchell, a consultant for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and associate professor of bioethics at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in suburban Chicago, Ill. “Who among us would have survived the ‘perfect baby’ criteria?

“This is how far our culture has devolved morally –- unborn babies are being killed for cosmetic reasons.”

According to The Times, Naomi Davis, a pediatric surgeon who specializes in correcting club feet at a Manchester children’s hospital, said of the news, “I think it’s reasonable to be totally shocked that abortion is being offered for this. It is entirely treatable. I can only think it is lack of information.”

David Wildgrove of Sheffield told The Times what happened after prenatal screening showed his son, Alexander, had a club foot before his birth in 1996: “It was strongly suggested that we consider abortion after they found our baby had a club foot. I was appalled. We resisted; the problem was treated, and he now runs around and plays football [soccer] with everyone else.”

Some children were not as fortunate as Alexander. A couple chose abortion last year after their unborn child was detected to have part of a foot missing, The Times reported. “We gave them other families to talk to, but they just didn’t want to know,” said Sue Blanton, whose organization, Steps, aids parents of children with foot disorders. “The baby was aborted just before the 25th week.”

The news is the latest in a series of developments demonstrating the expanding category of defects or health risks for which abortions are being performed in Great Britain:

— British officials announced last year they would not prosecute two doctors who aborted a baby because the child had a cleft lip and palate, a condition that can be treated through surgery, orthodontic care and/or speech therapy.

— England’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority ruled May 10 that fertility clinics could test human embryos for genes that could increase the risk of developing cancer as adults; they can be destroyed if they test positive.

— Babies with Down syndrome are much more likely to be aborted than born, according to a National Health Service report issued in May; there were 657 live births and about 937 abortions of Down syndrome children in 2004; of Down syndrome babies diagnosed in the womb in England, 92 percent are aborted.

ELIMINATE THE UNDERCLASS –- It would be hard to accuse Ron Weddington of mincing words.

The former husband of Sarah Weddington, who successfully argued the Roe v. Wade case before the Supreme Court, wrote a letter to then-future President Bill Clinton urging him to make the abortion pill RU 486 legal as part of a campaign “to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country.”

Weddington’s letter is part of a 64-page report released recently by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal organization, about the Clinton administration’s strategy to bring RU 486 into this country.

“Our survival depends upon our developing a population where everyone contributes,” Weddington wrote. “We don’t need more cannon fodder. We don’t need more parishioners. We don’t need more cheap labor. We don’t need more poor babies.”

In order to prevent more poor babies, Weddington said, the government will not only have to provide condoms and other forms of birth control, but it “is also going to have to provide vasectomies, tubal ligations and abortions … RU 486 and conventional abortions.”

“There have been about 30 million abortions in this country since Roe v. Wade,” Weddington said. “Think of all the poverty, crime and misery … and then add 30 million unwanted babies to the scenario. We lost a lot of ground during the Reagan-Bush religious orgy. We don’t have a lot of time left.”

Upon his inauguration as president in January 1993, Clinton immediately ordered the lifting of the import ban on RU 486, which was developed in France. Finally in September 2000, about four months before Clinton left the White House, the Food and Drug Administration approved the abortion regimen for use in the United States.

Members of Congress are seeking to pass legislation to suspend the sale of RU 486 while an investigation is conducted into its approval process. At least six women in the United States have died after using the drug since it went on the market.

RU 486, also known as mifepristone, is used as the first part in a two-step process in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Mifepristone causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child. A second drug, misoprostol, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby.

Weddington’s letter accompanied a note to Clinton aide Betsey Wright dated Jan. 6, 1992. It was addressed to her in her capacity as an official with Clinton’s transition team, which means it could have been written in 1993 and dated incorrectly. Included with the letter, which was in National Archives files at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., was a memo from Wright dated March 9, 1993.

Sarah Weddington handled a case out of Texas that resulted in the Supreme Court nullifying all state bans on abortion in the Roe decision, which was issued Jan. 22, 1973. Ron Weddington assisted her in that case.

OVERRIDE FAILS –- The Kansas Senate failed to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of legislation requiring more information about late-term abortions.

The Senate voted 23-12 in favor of the measure May 25, but it was four votes short of the two-thirds majority required, according to the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World. Since the override attempt failed in the Senate, the House did not vote. The Senate vote came on the final day of this year’s legislative session.

The bill would have required doctors to notify state health officials about late-term abortions, what harm would have occurred to the mother without the procedure and if the unborn child had an impairment, according to the Journal-World.

According to the newspaper, Sebelius, who supports abortion rights, said in her veto message the legislation would “force women to provide intimate, sensitive health information to the government. Privacy is a fundamental concern to all Kansans.”

Sen. Karin Brownlee, a leader of the override effort, said, the Journal-World reported, “It’s important to note this bill is only an improvement on our reporting system. The privacy of the woman isn’t infringed because the law already says the name is confidential.”