Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Dr. Ben Munson a Rapid City, S. D. physician, is the latest casualty - to the tune of $110,000 - in a war many thought was over when the Supreme Court handed down its pre-abortion decisions in 1973.
"We are," said Munson Wednesday at a fund-raised in his honor here, "more silent and more apathetic. After the Supreme Court decision, we relaxed - we said the battle is won, we don't need to push so hard. We abandoned the traditional defense of politics to our opponents."
Munson's opponents are hard to ascertain in the flurry of public-relations, inspired names that both pro- and anti-abortion groups have coined for themselves - "pro-choice," "prolite" respectively, as if anyone were for death or against choice.
What happened is this: One day before the statute of limitations ran out, South Dakota Attorney General William Janklow filed manslaughter charges against Munson in the 1973 death of Linda Padfield, a 27-year-old woman who died in a hospital three days after Munson performed an abortion on her.
Circuit Court Judge Merton Tice Jr. threw the case out Oct. 21 after hearing the prosecution's case, saying that Janklow had not proved culpable negligence in the woman's death.
Now Munson is trying to pay off $110,000 in legal fees. Wednesday, Sen. James Abourezk (D.S.D.) threw a wine-and-cheese benefit in Munson's honor in one of those old Victorian houses on Capitol Hill, which features Emma Goldman posters in the bathroom, and small offices like the Center of Defense. Information and Stewart Mott's Washington office the owns the building.
Munson, 61, sported tuquoise rings, a three-piece suit, and a lapel pin consisting of a male symbol with a gap in it. He said the pin signified the vasectomy he underwent 20 years ago, after the birth of his fifth child. Always active in liberal causes - "I've always been a loud-month Democrat, writing letters to the editor, giving free medical treatment to the American Indian Movement" - Munson said he thought Janklow brought the case against him for poltical reasons.
Sen. Abourezk said, "It was pretty obvious to me Janklow was running for governor and thought that the groundswell of anit-abortion sentiment would catapult him into prominence with favorable publicity." Abourezk said that he himself was not running for anything "but the border. I'm gonna get the hell out of this chickens . . . outfit (the Senate)," he said. He plans to practice law when his term is up in January 1979.
Others at the party included representatives of the National Education Association, Planned Parenthood Americans for Democratic Action, Abourezk staffers and officers of the National Abortion Rights Action League.