Radio Transcript

LIFE ISSUES NO. 1452

 THE SHERRI FINKBINE STORY - Part II


 Sherri Finkbine, now Sherri Chessen, 25 years after her abortion.  Some of you will remember that story.  It was back in 1962, and Sherri Finkbine, the wife of a teacher, had recently returned with him from a European trip.  While there, she had some minor medical problems and had obtained a drug for pain.  What she did not know was that the drug was Thalidomide.

 What almost no one knew in the United States at that time, and was only beginning to come out in the press in Europe, was that if this drug is taken between the 26th and 60th day after conception, it could hinder the development of one or more of the baby's arms and legs.  In the most unfortunate cases these babies were born with some of their limbs missing entirely, some with only stumps. 

 Mrs. Finkbine had brought the pills back with her and, at just the wrong time, had taken some of them.  The story of Thalidomide babies had shortly thereafter come to the attention of her husband.  Almost out of curiosity he had pursued the story.  Then it occurred to him that his wife had taken some pills brought back in Europe.  He found the empty bottle, traced the number and information on it, and discovered that she had taken Thalidomide.

 They tried to arrange for an abortion, and it had been tentatively agreed upon.  A legal abortion was in the offing at their Phoenix hospital.  But then the story hit the newspapers, the abortion was denied, and the whole thing became a national sensation.

 She ultimately flew to Sweden, had the abortion, and was told afterwards that her three-month-old fetal baby had no legs and only one arm.  It's of interest to note that Thalidomide children, aside from their limb malformations, are almost always entirely normal otherwise, physically and mentally.


 She returned to their home in Phoenix, but her life would never be the same again.  A previous job as a TV host was not renewed.  Her local doctor asked her to see another physician.  Some of her husband's students transferred from his class, and his student assistant quit.  Then, finally she went on to have two children later.

 Her young daughters, Jodi and Kristin, were featured with her in the picture which began the feature story about her in The Washington Post.  It made much of the fact that these two normal young ladies were achieving success in their own lives.

 The story in the Post then traced her present life.  She had divorced, is in a new career, and her children are grown and gone except for one finishing high school.  The gist of the story was that if it all happened again, she would do it again--but the story does indicate that she still entertains some ambivalence about whether she was right or not.

 In history, Sherri Finkbine will not be forgotten.  She is one of the reasons why we have legal abortion today.


[01/28/97]