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Thalidomide Controversy in Phoenix

July 24, 1962 - Controversy raged in Phoenix today over a proposed abortion for Sherri Finkbine (pictured), a young Phoenix mother and host of the Arizona edition of the syndicated television program “Romper Room,” who fears her baby may be deformed because she has taken the European-made tranquilizer Thalidomide. Mrs. Finkbine, three months pregnant, says she wants the operation and plans to enter a hospital tomorrow. “My husband and I both want the operation performed,” she said in an interview today. “There is only a 50-50 chance the baby would be normal. That’s not enough. His life would probably be tragic and fruitless.” A panel of doctors recommended to the hospital yesterday that the abortion be performed, and her physician-surgeon had tentatively set the operation for Thursday. But a legal tangle threatens. The Maricopa County Medical Society said it could not approve the abortion until a group of lawyers had gone over the legal aspects of the case. Abortion is illegal in Arizona unless the mother’s life is clearly endangered. However, exceptions have been made when a panel of physicians felt the birth of a baby would cause grievous mental and emotional trouble for the mother. In this case, the woman took Thalidomide, which has caused proven deformities in European babies. Many of the babies have died shortly after birth. Some 4,000 abnormal births in West Germany and 1,000 in Britain have been traced to the drug.


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