Thursday, September 03, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
Life saving abortions are rare

By Dr. Anthony Policastro During the recent Republican debate there was a discussion about abortion and whether it might be necessary to save a mother's life. I listened to the discussion and then asked myself whether anyone had a clue as to what they were talking about. The likelihood of such a situation ever occurring in the real world is almost non-existent. There are indeed threats to a mother's life during pregnancy. However, most of them occur during the last trimester of pregnancy. The most common of these threats is eclampsia, a condition where the mother starts retaining fluid and there is protein in her urine. The mother's blood pressure can become exceedingly high. The cure for eclampsia is simple. Delivery of the baby cures the condition. However, since it is only a few weeks before the baby is due to be born, the risk to the baby is prematurity. Thus if the eclampsia occurs particularly early in the third trimester, there is often a waiting period to have the baby mature more. Ultimately, the delivery will solve the problem. Many people fail to realize that this is not an abortion. It is the delivery of a live premature infant. Therefore, this does not fall into the situation where an abortion must occur to save the mother's life. Abortions take place during the first and second trimester. Therefore, we need to ask what medical conditions threaten the mother's life during that period. The most common - and really the only significant - is an ectopic pregnancy. Usually, it is noticed at between four and eight weeks gestation. This refers to a condition in which the fertilized egg does not make it to the uterus. Instead, it implants in the Fallopian tubes. This is called a tubal pregnancy. This location accounts for about 98% of all ectopic pregnancies. Occasionally it may implant in the abdomen or in the upper corner of the uterus. It may also implant in the cervix instead of the uterus itself. These locations together account for less than 2% of ectopic pregnancies. While an occasional ectopic pregnancy can result in a live birth, those situations are very, very rare. In ectopic pregnancies, there is no room for the fetus to grow so the baby will die. In the past the fetus had to be surgically removed. More recently medications are used to terminate the pregnancy. While one can consider this an abortion to save the life of the mother, that is really not the case. This is a situation where the fetus is unable to survive. Therefore, termination of the pregnancy artificially is no different than what will happen physiologically. It is really not an abortion procedure. Long before abortion became legal in the United States, ectopic pregnancies were being treated surgically because that was life saving for the mother. The bottom line is that there is almost never a circumstance in which there is a clear cut choice between a mother's life and a baby's life. In most cases it is a decision about a mother's life and a premature delivery in the third trimester. In other cases it is more related to a pregnancy that has a non-viable fetus growing. In 43 years of pediatrics, I have not seen any other situation present itself. Therefore, it is a theoretical discussion that is much more likely to occur at a political debate than it would ever occur in the real world.

Hospice to provide care to inmates Delaware Hospice has partnered with Connections Community Support Programs to provide hospice care to inmates at James T. Vaughn Correctional Facility in Smyrna and Sussex Correctional Institution (SCI) in Georgetown. Delaware Hospice will provide hospice care that focuses on meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of inmates. Care of the inmates with life-limiting illnesses and their families will come from a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. Delaware Hospice has been working with Connections over the past few months to ensure there is no gap with inmate hospice care as the transition between providers takes place. Through the Eighth Amendment, all inmates receive their constitutional right to healthcare including compassionate end-of-life care, as it is considered "cruel and unusual" punishment for the state not to provide this service.

2015 Blue Jean Ball Individuals and businesses have joined Autism Delaware's mission to help people and families affected by autism by sponsoring and donating items for the 2015 Blue Jean Ball to be held at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center on Saturday, Sept. 26. The Blue Jean Ball raises funds that support Autism Delaware's much-needed programs and services across the state. "With the generosity of our sponsors and donors, we hope to raise $85,000 at this year's event," says Dorian Rowe Kleinstuber, esquire, who, with Susie Kelly, is a long-time co-chair of the hard-working Autism Delaware Blue Jean Ball Committee. This year's title sponsor is the Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships. Rounding out the event's exclusive sponsorship is Peninsula Oil and Propane, of Seaford, thanks to Autism Delaware board vice president John Willey. The event's diamond sponsor is Gilsdorf's Homegrown Produce. This year's raffle item – a 50-inch Magnavox Smart TV – is courtesy of Aaron's. The honorary pit crew experience for two is the featured live auction item, thanks to NASCAR driver David Ragan and Michael Waltrip Racing. "Everyone can participate in the live auction," adds Kleinstuber. "All you have to do is register. Thanks to the Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships, we have a BidPal link set up at" To support the Autism Delaware Blue Jean Ball, contact the event manager, Deanna Principe, at 302-224-6020. The Blue Jean Ball starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. Tickets are $85 each if purchased by Sept. 6; $100 if purchased from Sept. 7-26 or until tickets are sold out. For tickets and sponsorship information, visit

Basket Bingo The Employee Activity Committee (EAC) of Nanticoke Health Services will hold a Longaberger Basket Bingo at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Seaford Moose Lodge, Rt. 13A, Seaford.

The filled basket bingo will consist of 20 games and feature several Longaberger baskets as prizes. Advance tickets are $20 per person, $25 at the door. Advance ticket includes a chance to win the Longaberger Hamper basket and Longaberger Wine & Cheese basket. Nearly 30 chances to win. In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness month attendees wearing pink will receive a ticket for an exclusive drawing. Refreshments will be available. For ticket information, contact the EAC at 629-6611, ext. 8944 or

Better Breathers Club Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Better Breathers Club on the third Monday of each month from 2-3 p.m. This free support group is open to anyone affected by a chronic lung disease including relatives and caregivers. The group's first meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 21, in the Medical Staff Conference Room. Backed by the American Lung Association, the club offers a venue for participants to learn from featured speakers and educational materials, socialize with others affected by a chronic lung disease, and practice skills that will help them better manage their condition and improve their quality of life. Refreshments will be provided and registration is required. For more information and to register, call 3629-6611, ext. 1010.

Grief Support Group Delaware Hospice is offering a six week grief support group, Grief 101: Healing After the Death of a Loved One, for individuals who have lost a loved one. The group offers an opportunity to share and talk to others who are on a similar grief journey. Education is provided on various topics including coping methods. The group will meet on Mondays from 5-6:30 p.m. on Sept. 14-Oct. 26. The group will not meet on Oct. 12. To register or learn about other support groups at Delaware Hospice, contact Bereavement Counselor, Midge DiNatale, BA, GC-C at 856-7717 ext. 4120 or email

Rehoboth Beach ALS Walk Friends, neighbors, acquaintances and supporters of Lou Gehrig's Disease are invited to walk with Don's Angels on Saturday, Sept. 12 in the Rehoboth Beach ALS Walk which begins at 9:30 a.m. Don's Angels walk to raise money for a cure in memory of St. Paul's UMC former pastor, Don Murray. The group, which will meet for registration at the Rehoboth Bandstand at 8 a.m., will be wearing orange shirts with the team name, Don's Angels. For more information, contact Betty at 875-2713 or Kelly at 752-7032. If you are unable to walk but would like to make a donation call Betty or Kelly.

Annual Nanticoke benefit golf tournament set for Sept. 17-18 On Thursday, Sept. 17 and Friday, Sept. 18 over 200 golfers will take to the course at Heritage Shores Club in Bridgeville to show their support for The Campaign for Nanticoke - Emergency Department. This project will enable Nanticoke Health Services to serve patients faster and more efficiently, and accommodate anticipated growth in patient volume in the immediate future. Pink golf ball shaped signs, which are placed throughout the course, are available for a donation of $25 to honor, memorialize or celebrate a loved one. learn more, visit, call the Nanticoke Health Services Foundation at 536-5393, or email

Lunch Bunch Lecture "Mindfulness: Reducing Stress & Staying Open in the Moment" will be the topic of Delaware Hospice's next Lunch Bunch Lecture with Dr. Judy Pierson on Friday, Sept. 4 at Delaware Hospice Center in Milford. Lunch Bunch Lectures are organized to help members of the community re-invest in life and are open to the public. Lunch is from noon to 12:30 p.m. and is $5 per person. The presentation is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and is free of charge. Mindfulness has been defined as "a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience." Mindfulness can be used as a form of meditation and stress reduction. It teaches you how to be fully present in any given moment and provides greater mental clarity and deep contentment. Registration is required as seating capacity is limited. Register by Thursday, Sept. 3, by contacting Michele August at 746-4503 or

DBCC plans fundraiser The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) is preparing for the Sixth Annual "Monster Miles for a Cause" Walk at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 17. The un-timed walk, which takes place during breast cancer awareness month, is a family friendly event for supporters to step onto the NASCAR track to benefit the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. Attendees are encouraged to walk in honor or in memory of someone in their life that has been impacted by breast cancer. The event will include food, vendors, and team prizes. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. and the walk steps off at 10 a.m. To register online, visit Monster Miles will be held rain or shine and costs $25 per individual in advance and $30 for day-of registration. Individuals can also participate as part of a team. Children 10 and under can walk for free with an adult. Sponsorship opportunities are available and those who cannot attend can register as "Sleepwalkers" to make a donation. For more information, contact Michelle Marshall, DBCC event coordinator, at 302-593-9924 or