By Tim Bullard
MYRTLE BEACH — Dr. Melvin R. Hecker, of Unicare Emergency Specialists at South Strand Ambulatory Care Center in Myrtle Beach, is on the staff of Conway Hospital and Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, and he finds himself in a moral dilemma over abortion referrals.
Hecker spoke Nov. 2 at the Annual Meeting and Pro-Life Conference of Grand Strand Citizens For Life at St. Andrew School cafetorium.
“I was taught to prescribe birth control pills,” he said. “I started thinking, ‘is what I’m doing right?’ It’s legal, but is it right?”
So he stopped. He also created what he calls a “prototypical policy declaration for the physicians of Conway Hospital.”
The document requests that the hospital “… codify Conway Hospitals Physicians and Surgeons current practice, which allows a physician to decline from participating in those legal practices that jeopardize the sentiments declared in the provided document.”
“I understand that non-compliance of a hospital policy may jeopardize my employment at Conway Hospital Inc.,” he wrote in the policy. “I trust that this will never become a necessity. I am, however, prepared to refer patients to a crisis pregnancy center or, for those patients who fit the profile, to counselors who dealt with depression and or family conflict resolution.”
Another speaker at the conference was Len Vercellotti of the new Birthright group in Georgetown.
Vercellotti explained that the Knights of Columbus at Precious Blood Church in Pawleys Island expanded on its effort to raise $3,000 for a monument to the unborn and create the center.
The organization offers friendship, free pregnancy tests, pregnancy education, medical help, financial assistance, parenting skills, continuing education, legal advice and adoption referrals. Maternity and baby clothes are offered with on-going confidential support and encouragement.
Jack Murphy a local radio personality gave a presentation on behalf of Bethany Christian Services.
He said there are four state offices with outlets in Myrtle Beach, Florence, Greenville and Columbia. One of the buildings had been an abortion clinic.
Bethany Christian Services have helped place 15 children in homes this year, Murphy reported. “We have seven children in foster care right now. On the down side we’ve had 29 abortion calls.”
Sister Connie Fahey, a Franciscan Sister of Mary with Mercy Hospice, talked about the group’s annual Tree of Celebration which will be held in December with memorials available for loved ones.
Diane Bullard, regional coordinator for the Pee Dee Office of Catholic Charities in Conway, outlined the pro-life component of Catholic Charities outreach, including post-abortion counseling for women and men who are coping with abortion-related issues.
The Pee Dee Regional Assistance Center also distributes clothing, diapers and children’s items and toiletries at the office on Academy Drive at St. James Church in Conway.
In dealing with pregnant clients, both teens and adults, counselors immediately give the client baby shoes or clothes free of charge to impress the imperative urgency of carrying the pregnancy to term.
Bob Lyncheski of Grand Strand Citizens for Life thanked the speakers.
“Prayer is the strongest weapon in our battle,” he said. “I personally have been energized.”