Article Used By Freind In His Pregnancy-rape Theory Cites Nazi Study

Posted: March 31, 1988

HARRISBURG — One of the documents Rep. Stephen F. Freind used Tuesday to support his pregnancy-rape theory cited a World War II Nazi study on pregnancy and stress.

Yesterday, the president of the state affiliate of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said Freind's use of the study was ''inappropriate."

Freind (R., Delaware) did not mention the study at a news conference Tuesday, but he repeatedly used as a source for his information Dr. Fred E. Mecklenburg, who cited the study in an article.

In a 1972 article prepared for a publication called Abortion and Social Justice, which was paid for by a group called Americans United for Life, Mecklenburg said "medical research" linked stress and ovulation. Mecklenburg is an obstetrician and gynecologist working in Washington.

"In Germany, during World War II, the Nazis tested this hypothesis by selecting women who were about to ovulate and sending them to the gas chambers, only to bring them back after their realistic mock-killing, to see what effects this had on their ovulatory patterns," Mecklenburg wrote.

According to the study, wrote Mecklenburg, 64 percent did not ovulate.

Freind, the legislature's leading anti-abortion advocate, has been embroiled in controversy over his comments that it is extremely rare for women to become pregnant as the result of rape.

Although he retracted earlier statements about a "secretion" that kills sperm, he said Tuesday that stress is one reason few women who are raped get pregnant.

Freind provided numerous documents and studies, many by anti-abortion organizations, to support that claim.

Mecklenburg has been unavailable for comment.

Dr. James Gilmore, president of the Pennsylvania section of the American

College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that while it was possible that stress could have an effect on ovulation, comparing women involved in Nazi death-camp experiments with rape victims was "inappropriate" and "not an appropriate analogy."

"If you're talking about the average adult female who is raped and who is capable of pregnancy, these people have been in good health," Gilmore said. ''The Nazi death-camp people were not in good health."

Freind said yesterday that he "made a point not to use" the Nazi study in his comments or position papers and said it was "one of the aspects of one of the articles."

"I'm not getting drawn in as to whether that particular study is appropriate or not," he said. "This thing has come down to the fact that I'm not a doctor. I'm still going to be the legislative leader of the pro-life movement."

Gilmore, a Pittsburgh obstetrician and gynecologist, said that as a ''personal choice" he did not perform abortions. The American College, which represents about 27,000 obstetricians and gynecologists nationwide, however, was a plaintiff in the case that struck down portions of Pennsylvania's 1982 Abortion Control Act.

Gilmore said that while he had not seen the specifics of Freind's comments, ''I do not know any secretion, pro or con, that is going to change whether a woman ovulates or does not ovulate. If the egg already left the ovary and is already in the tube, I don't see how you can claim that individual can't become pregnant."

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