Subway censors, doctor kills

National | Pro-life group denied space; court convicts abortionist

Issue: "Dumpsters or hospitals?," June 24, 2000

and Lynn Vincent

A content problem
A national pro-life group has accused the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and its ad agency of censoring a pro-life ad and then "disseminating false information" to cover up that censorship. The Virginia-based American Life League (ALL) said its placement of an ad featuring an eight-week-old baby with the words, "Please don't do it. She's your baby" in New York subways was stopped for months by the TDI Worldwide, Inc. marketing company. ALL marketing director Craig Kapp told WORLD that he contacted TDI executive Jeff Feinstein in January and mailed a copy of the pro-life ad for final approval after orally agreeing to the company's advertising rates. Weeks later he called Mr. Feinstein to confirm approval and received an enigmatic response: "He kept referring me to the legal department," Mr. Kapp said. "I just finally pressed him and said, 'Look, you have to give me a reason for having turned this down.' He finally said, 'It's a content problem.'" Meanwhile, subway riders continued to view Planned Parenthood ads, such as a coat hanger bent into a wire question mark, with the words, "When your right to a safe and legal abortion is taken away, what are you going to do?" ALL fought back with a barrage of press releases that accused TDI of pro-abortion prejudice. MTA spokesman Tom Kelly then told several reporters that MTA had not seen the ad and that negotiations stalled because of a "price disagreement," spurring charges from ALL that the ad agency had resorted to spreading "false" information. "We never had a disagreement over pricing," insisted Mr. Kapp, who produced Federal Express air bill copies as proof he sent the ad. Asked to explain apparent contradictions between MTA and ALL testimony, Mr. Kelly again cited the alleged "price disagreement." He told WORLD, "It's apparently been rectified and the copy is being submitted and will be reviewed." The countdown continued this week as ALL president Judie Brown announced she would give TDI another chance to run the ad before filing a First Amendment lawsuit. "Our ad is positive speech. I am confident the courts will agree," she said. TDI lost a similar censorship case in 1996 after rejecting another pro-life group's request to advertise on Pennsylvania subways. In the 1996 case (Christ Bride Ministries, Inc. vs. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), a federal appeals court said TDI could not deny pro-life groups the same forum it had granted to pro-abortion groups. Death outside the womb
Curtis Bullorck was 3 years old when he sat beside his mother Sharon as she bled to death, the result of a botched abortion. Now Curtis is 7, deprived of his mom. But Bruce Steir, the abortionist who killed 27-year-old Sharon Hamptlon in 1996, will now pay for his crime-with a whole year in prison. In what many pro-life advocates are calling a travesty of justice, a California judge last month sentenced Mr. Steir, 68, to just one year in prison, formal probation for 60 months, and 1,000 hours of community service. Originally charged with second-degree murder, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The California Board of Medicine had accused Dr. Steir, a San Francisco physician, of mishandling six abortion cases prior to performing the procedure on Ms. Hamptlon. He had been on probation with the board since 1988. But Ms. Hamptlon, 20 weeks pregnant, didn't know that. During her December 1996 abortion, Mr. Steir stopped and said, "I think I pulled bowel," the nurse who was assisting him later told prosecutors. That meant he had pierced Ms. Hamptlon's uterus and hit her intestinal wall. Then, said the nurse, Mr. Steir finished the abortion operation and discharged Ms. Hamptlon from the clinic without telling her what he had done. Her mother then drove her home. On the way, Ms. Hamptlon died, with Curtis beside her. Prosecutors argued that the abortionist knew he made a lethal mistake but failed to call emergency personnel because his medical license was already on probation. Mr. Steir admitted he made mistakes but still denies knowing the extent of Ms. Hamptlon's complications. Before he was sentenced, Mr. Steir took responsibility for the death. "While I meant no harm, I did harm," he said. "I'm deeply, deeply sorry." Doris Hamptlon said her grandson Curtis still would have a mother if Dr. Steir had told Sharon Hamptlon what he had done. Ben Hamptlon, Ms. Hamptlon's father, told Judge Sherman he sometimes pulls his car over to the side of the road, looks at his daughter's picture, and cries. "The Bible says do not kill, that's what the Bible says," he said, "and he killed my daughter."

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