Rockville obstetrician and gynecologist William F. Colliton Jr. has brought 6,000 babies into the world. He opposes abortion.
Before retiring, he spent most of his 29-year professional life fighting the issue in Maryland. The 67-year-old father of nine and grandfather of four was even arrested outside an abortion clinic in Prince George's County in 1989 while protesting what he calls the "evil" surgical procedure.
The closest he came to performing an abortion, he says, was delivering a baby at 22 weeks to save the mother's life. He vividly recalls the experience 12 years later with sorrow for the child, who died. He said he still prays for that baby.
He is against Question 6, the referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot that would assure the availability of legal abortions in Maryland even if the Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. Dr. Colliton is a member of the Board of Advisers for the Vote kNOw Coalition, the organization fighting Question 6.
QUESTION: What do you think about the issue of choice for pregnant women?
ANSWER: That is probably the cleverest public relations slogan ever perpetrated on modern man. It is a rhetorical lie.
If the issue were choice, women would be walking on the street to legalize prostitution. Abortion is the killing of the pre-born child. That's the choice.
Q.: Why is it so hard for those who are for choice and for abortion to believe that abortion is, clear and simple, the killing of a pre-born child?
A.: Maybe a possibility is that the Washington Post, the New York Times and The Baltimore Sun have a pro-abortion mind-set and agenda.
I'm disappointed in the professional [demeanor] of the press -- not being forthright with regard to the issue. Many female members of the press have a pro-choice stand. They are all in favor of that perceived right [for choice], and they really don't know anybody who takes part in the opposite view. They don't associate with them.
You are perpetuating a concept of "let's keep the killing neat and clean." It's unconscionable.
Q.: What if the pregnancy is unwanted?
A.: Thousands of couples who are infertile desire to adopt a baby, and the babies aren't there. They are being killed or the mothers are opting to keep the child themselves.
Q.: As a physician, when would you say life begins?
A.: At conception. Life is the ability to divide and reproduce cells. There are test-tube babies out there. Why do we call them test-tube babies? Their lives began in the test tube, of course.
It's a simple distinction.
Q.: Why has abortion become so political?
A.: It's been politicized by the Supreme Court decision . . . the babies are too small to speak for themselves.
Q.: Are you a fundamentalist?
A.: I am a Roman Catholic. I'm not a student of different faiths, so I wouldn't know the definition of a fundamentalist, except to say they are governed by a fairly rigid interpretation of what the Bible says.
The beauty of the Catholic faith is that it reminds us constantly of the love of God and his son, Jesus Christ, for all mankind and each of us individually.
We've got to love each other, and killing each other isn't the way.
Q.: What about the threat to women's health if abortions are ruled illegal?
A.: Abortions will never stop; they have been part of the human experience since recorded time started. What has brought safety to the induced abortion is the suction procedure -- that isn't going to go away.
The same people who are big into the abortion game now -- a small minority of physicians -- will be the same doing them if it is made illegal.
They are not going to throw away the suction machine. They will find a clandestine spot and continue what is a very profitable undertaking.
Q.: What about development of new birth-control methods to help curb the number of abortions?
A.: The people who perceive that contraception is the answer to unwanted pregnancy can't make the connection [between birth control and abortion]. It just isn't the concept that all minds are open to.
We've got birth control today. We've got every approach to avoid pregnancy, but it hasn't impacted at all on the teen pregnancy epidemic. That is not the answer.
Q.: How about a stronger effort at sex education for teen-agers as a means to counter abortion by young women?
A.: Sex education with a value-judgment system attached would be a real boon to mankind.
It would be an enhancement of the beauty and dignity of young women . . . being aware of the tremendous gift of being able to produce another human being.
Sex is not just a female problem, but it is the female who is primarily violated by sex for recreation in today's cultural pattern.
It's the woman who gets pregnant while the man goes walking off.
Q: What in terms of sex do you see going on in the world today?
A: What we are now experiencing is a sexually transmitted disease epidemic, a teen pregnancy epidemic, an increase in the divorce rate and lesions on women's cervices leading to cancer.
We have lived with this and things such as the efforts of Planned Parenthood by way of sex education without a value-judgment system, and it has had zero impact. The government has spent $2.3 billion [for sex education], money spent with no impact on the problem.
A change of sexual mores is the only answer. There is no other answer.
Q.: Do you think it is right to impose a value-judgment code on people?
A.: Whoever designed you and me had some purpose in mind.
It is necessary for people to understand the beauty of their reproductive organs, that these, like ourselves, are gifts from God and are to be used for love-sharing in a monogamist relationship. When you get to using them for fun and games, you have the results that we have today.
Women are the ones who pay the piper with pregnancy and loss of their fertility with sexually transmitted disease.
Q.: How do you see the issues of Question 6 affecting women in Maryland?
A.: It is a threat to women. Women have suffered grave injury and death as a product of abortion in Maryland. I don't think voters are aware of the importance of the bill. It doesn't establish any standards for induced abortion clinics or induced abortion providers.
The most effective thing I can say to people who want Question 6 to go down is to pray. I don't know what will happen. I would say in the interest of protecting the health of women in Maryland and trying to protect unity in the family and the dignity of the family, no matter where one stands on the abortion issue, they should vote against Question 6.
We're not Sodom and Gomorrah yet, but we're nipping at it.
Last Tuesday's Q&A; column was with another doctor whose long experience in Maryland presented a different viewpoint on the abortion issue.