By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 9) - Dr. Edmund Griley said he never has performed a partial-birth abortion on Guam or anywhere else, but he said it is a necessary procedure in the event a woman is about to die because of her pregnancy.

He said he would like the option of using the procedure if the woman's life is at risk.

"Somebody's going to be calling me to handle a case like this. It's just a matter of time," he said. "Fortunately, we haven't had that situation yet."

Nobody has the right to decide who should live and who should die, said Deacon Frank Tenorio, chaplain for the Catholic Pro-Life Committee. He said doctors are playing God if they decide to kill a baby in order to save the mother.

"There's no choice. Never can a doctor decide which one to accept and which one to eliminate," Tenorio said.

President Bush recently signed into law a bill that outlaws partial-birth abortions. According to the Associated Press, the procedure usually is performed in the second or third trimester of pregnancy and involves partially delivering the fetus before killing it, usually by puncturing its skull.

Tenorio said he is glad the law was passed and said he hopes it is the first step to a national ban on all abortions.

"We should be very grateful to God and to President Bush and the Congress and the senators," Tenorio said. "The pro-choice are really up in arms to deny that again."

The new law already has been challenged in three federal courts, and Griley said he is confident the U.S. Supreme Court eventually will strike down the law because, he said, it does not take into account the need to save the woman's life.

"The Supreme Court would have to be insane to say, 'We're going to let women die because we're opposed to this procedure.' Only the politicians do things like that," Griley said.

He said partial-birth abortions are performed between 200 and 500 times per year nationwide.

Griley said he is unaware of the procedure ever having been performed on Guam, because it is so rare. He said he never has had to deal with a patient so ill that the procedure was necessary.

It becomes an option when a dying woman is too weak to undergo other types of surgery, such as a Caesarean section, Griley said.

"So what do you do? Let the woman die? No, you're going to do everything to save that woman's life," he said.

Griley, whose Tamuning clinic sometimes is picketed by anti-abortion protesters, said partial-birth abortions should not be part of the debate over a woman's right to choose.

"No doctor in his right mind is going to perform anything like this unless the woman is really dying in the hospital," Griley said. "This is a strictly medical issue. This has nothing to do with choice or anything like this. This is a matter of life or death only."

November 10, 2003

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