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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 21, 1976)
Wednesday, january 21, 1976
Hospitals' abortion policies vary tosfen
By Ann Owens
A woman wanting an abortion in Lincoln can check
into a hospital in the morning, take an anesthetic, have
the abortion at noon and be home by 6 pjn. that same
day-for a total cost between $250 and $400.
According to family practice physician Irving E.
Weston, MJD., most legal abortions performed in Lincoln
are done in hospitals.
When abortions upon request were legalized in
Nebraska, physicians set what Weston calbd a reasonable
fee of about $150. The hospital bill at Bryan Memorial
Hospital, where Weston performed about 40 abortions
during 1974 and 1975, is less than $200. This makes the
total cost of a hospital abortion approximately $350.
"I don't believe the actual physicians' price for an
abortion has decreased as abortions have become more ac
cessible," Weston said. However, most abortions were pre
viously performed in New York City, he said, which con
siderably added to the cost of pre-1973 abortions.
According to Eugene Edwards, Bryan Memorial Hos
pital administrator, about four or five doctors perform
abortions at Bryan.
"I don't know how many (abortions) each doctor does,
but even if I did, I couldn't tell you," he said.
"Although few abortions are done at Bryan (71 were
performed in 1975), we allow competent physicians
trained to perform abortions on our staff to perform elec
tive abortions," Edwards said.
Elective abortions are those performed before the first
20 weeks of pregnancy.
Medical reasons needed
Therapeutic abortions, done usually for medical
reasons rather than elective termination, are performed
after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require consultetion,
"Bryan doesn't actually have a set policy," Edwards
said. "Most abortions are performed as a transaction be
tween a patient and her physician."
Lincoln General Hospital, like Bryan, has no established
abortion policy, according to Tom Smith, director of
Lincoln General, which performed 424 abortions be
tween February 1973 and December, 1975, treats abor
tions as it does other surgical procedures, Smith said.
"If the doctor calls for an abortion, then Lincoln General
allows it to be performed," he said.
Lincoln's St. Elizabeth's Hospital, under the sponsor
ship of a Catholic order, maintains a no-abortion policy.
Many violate law
According to the Coalition on Abortion, St. Elizabeth's
in one of many Nebraska hospitals violating the state's
19A study by e coalition in September, 1974 showed
maf of 1 10 hospitals contacted in an effort to determine
lability of abortions in specific Nebraska geographic
-St&SiSL. only 31 per cent catedthey
would permit therapeutic and elective abortions. Thirty
three per cent said they will not permit any abortion or
will permit only therapeutic abortions.
Another 27 per cent refused to answer the question as
to whether they permitted abortions and 9 per cent said
their doctors are not interested in or qualified to perform
According to coalition members, Nebraska's hospitals
are jeopardizing their tax-exempt status by continuing a
Weston said he thinks doctors and hospitals infringe on
personal liberties when they refuse to perform abortions
for moral or religious reasons.'
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I think the abortion laws arnvea ai oy tne Supremo
Court were arrived at justly and insightfully," Weston said.
Abortion a personal liberty
He added that the evolution of a society involving per
sonal liberties, the women's equal rights movement and
the idea that a person should have control over his or her
own destiny-including his physical body-included the
necessity of having control over one's reproductive system.
"I'm frightened by the minority of ill-advised, ffl.
informed and closed-minded people incapable of being
dynamic," Weston said. "It seems like these people are
always very vocal, unbending pcople-the same group
opposing sex education."
George Adam, family planning director at the Universi
ty of Nebraska Medical Center, where Weston learned how
to perform abortions, said he thinks each doctor inde
pendently should be able to decide whether or not he
wants to perform an abortion. -
"We have no more right to say that a doctor has to
perform an abortion than we do to deny a woman the
right to an abortion," he said.
The medical center would refuse to perform an abor
tion if they thought a woman were being forced by some
one to request the abortion, Adam said. Often a woman's
attitude indicates if she is being forced to have the abor
tion or if she really wants one.
Improves mental health
"However if most women really want the abortion,
their mental health will be better as a result of the
Weston expressed a similar opinion.
"I think that doctors in Lincoln are cognizant of
psychological consequences of an abortion on their
patient and evaluate very carefully before going ahead
with the abortion."
"In some instances, an abortion might not be in the
patient's best interest," he said.
Weston said he thinks a pregnancy beyond 20 weeks
should not be interrupted.
Even though the abortion law now states that
abortions can be performed up until 24 weeks of preg
nancy, Adam said, Nebraska physicians don't perform
abortions after the 20th week.
'This is just to make sure we won't deliver a live fetus
while performing the abortion," Adam said.
The medical center performs three types of abortions,
Adam said. An endometrial aspiration, the simplest
procedure, costs $50 in Nebraska and can be performed in
a physician's office on women who are less than seven
Continued on p. 8
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