The next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God. … Man is more than ... whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke. ... Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such. … And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won't exploit people, we won't trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won't kill anybody.(HT: Frank Pavone)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sen. Ben Nelson has caved and agreed to bad, "compromise" abortion language in the Senate health care bill. He is the crucial 60th vote to pass the legislation in the Senate.
National Right to Life explains the problems with the new abortion language here. Among other problems, it still allows federal dollars to subsidize health plans that cover abortion on demand -- a break from the long-standing, bipartisan Hyde amendment tradition.
The bill may soon pass the Senate, but it must then be reconciled with the House bill that contains the pro-life Stupak amendment, which prevents federal funding of abortion through the programs created by the legislation. Rep. Bart Stupak and other pro-life House Democrats may be able to prevent the final bill from passing unless that pro-life language is retained.
Keeping contacting your two senators and your representative in the House, urging them to oppose the health care bill unless Stupak language is included. Also contact Rep. Stupak to thank him and encourage him to stay strong.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The Senate's one pro-life Democrat, Ben Nelson, is threatening to oppose the bill unless the pro-life abortion funding language is added. Without his vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid may not have enough votes to pass the bill out of the Senate. So this week he offered Nelson a phony "compromise" amendment, but Nelson and pro-life organizations have already rejected it because it still allows federal funding of health plans that cover abortion.
Reid wants to push the bill through by Christmas. Contact Nelson to show your support and urge him to continue opposing any bill that includes abortion funding. Also continue to contact your own senators, urging them to oppose the bill unless it is amended not just to exclude abortion funding, but also to prevent the rationing of care -- a second major pro-life concern regarding the current legislation.
Update: National Right to Life (NRLC) explains what is wrong with the abortion funding "compromise" Sen. Nelson has rightly rejected. NRLC writes that "the Nelson-Hatch (Stupak-Pitts) language is the only acceptable solution to the far-reaching pro-abortion problems in the Reid bill."
To which I respond: I agree that women have profound worth and dignity and rights. But on what basis do women have these things? Because they are human?
If we have dignity by virtue of being human -- that's why we call them human rights, after all -- then it follows that all humans have this dignity. And that includes the unborn human beings who are killed by abortion.
And the dignity of one human being does not require that he or she be able to kill another, innocent human being if that human happens to be inconvenient or unwanted. Such killing is, rather, a total assault on the dignity of the latter.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Most of the human embryos killed for ESCR are "left over" from in vitro fertilization, but these embryos are very limited. For the embryo research enterprise to (possibly) succeed in developing treatments for patients, many new embryos must be created solely in order to destroy them for research. This would involve the cloning method of somatic cell nuclear transfer.
It would also require an incredible number of human eggs, harvested from women, in order to create the embryos. This is a practical problem, but also an ethical one -- the harvesting could be dangerous to women's health, and the demand for eggs could be used to exploit poor, vulnerable and even third-world women.
Concerned Women for America explains:
An alliance of women, including pro-choice feminists who recognize the problems, introduced the "Hands Off Our Ovaries" campaign on March 8  to enjoin its viewers to sign the Web site's manifesto, which condemns biotechnological research that harms women, and to educate about the risks of egg extraction, wherein a woman is given powerful hormones that cause her to produce multiple eggs.The "Hands Off Our Ovaries" campaign says, "We seek a moratorium on egg extraction for research purposes until such time as global discourse and scientific research yields information sufficient to establish adequate informed consent."
Egg harvesting has incited protests from pro-life and pro-choice advocates alike. Both sides argue that reliance on women's eggs for research purposes easily leads to exploitation, particularly of low-income, needy women who could benefit financially.
A recent scandal in South Korea justifies these concerns. Dr. Hwang Woo-suk used more than 2,000 extracted eggs and finally failed to produce a cloned embryo, while payment, compulsion, and lying were used to acquire the eggs from women.
Health risks are also a considerable factor in arguments against the procedure. Two women who have undergone egg extraction in the United Kingdom in the last year have died after developing severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which causes rapid accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, chest, and around the heart. Symptoms include severe pelvic pain, nausea, vomiting, weight gain, ovarian enlargement, respiratory problems, blood clots and liver dysfunction.
According to a congressional testimony by Diane Beeson, a medical sociologist and professor emerita of sociology at California State University, East Bay, "Those who develop severe OHSS may experience a wide range of serious conditions including loss of future fertility, kidney or multiple organ failure, and death. The frequency of severe OHSS is estimated to be as high as 10 per cent of women who undergo the procedure."
Beeson, a founder of the "Hands Off Our Ovaries" campaign, also says that not only are women at risk when they take the fertility drugs that cause OHSS, but potentially their children. Studies of mice with OHSS demonstrate significant abnormalities in offspring, including growth retardation, bone development delays, and a rib deformity which is associated with other abnormalities and cancer in humans.
Many argue that if egg harvesting is to become widely endorsed for the purposes of stem- cell research and therapeutic cloning, the number of cases of severe OHSS will rise considerably. Dr. David Prentice of the Family Research Council points out that of the 80 million women who would be required for egg harvesting to treat diabetes alone, at least 800,000 would experience OHSS.
Moreover, in order to treat the 127 to 128 million Americans with common deadly diseases, 6.4 billion human eggs would be needed. About 640 million women would be required to provide these eggs. Given that only about 60 million women in the U.S. are of reproductive age, large-scale egg harvesting is not only dangerous, but also unfeasible.
Embryo-destructive research is wrong because it requires the killing of young (embryonic) human beings for the alleged benefit of others. But even those who disagree on this point can -- and I hope will, with a good educational campaign -- acknowledge the potential dangers of egg harvesting to women.
WebMD is "the leading health portal in the United States," according to Wikipedia, and "receives information from accredited individuals and is reviewed by a medical review board consisting of four physicians to ensure accuracy."
It is very good to see these facts recognized by respected medical sources outside the pro-life movement. View the slideshow here.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The pro-life cause has indeed resonated in a liberal, rights-oriented culture far more than other "culture-war" issues. ... Young Americans ... are suddenly less pro-choice than older Americans. ...About his own views, Shields says:
This development, however, is not as odd as it appears. I think the pro-life cause continues to inspire activists and cannot be dismissed by secular, socially liberal Americans precisely because it appeals to common liberal values that we all share [e.g., human equality]. ...
The liberalism at the heart of the pro-life campaign, however, is constantly distorted by a generation of scholars who have insisted the right-to-life movement is really about the preservation of traditional gender roles or male control over female sexuality. Such interpretations tend to ignore that the right-to-life movement regards itself as today's civil-rights movement. The failure to grasp this reality renders the passion and dedication of the pro-life movement almost impossible to comprehend.
I believe that many scholars of abortion have resisted this conclusion because they find it difficult to entertain the possibility that these conservatives might be agents in progressive history. ...
On some level, I think most [pro-choice academics] understand that pro-lifers are raising serious human rights concerns. And on a surprising number of occasions, I've had liberal academics confess that their pro-life sympathies run quite deep.
I was raised in a strongly pro-choice household and carried those views with me into my fieldwork. Doing this research, however, forced me to think through my beliefs in a more systematic way. I was exposed to thoughtful activists and images of aborted embryos that I always used to carefully avoid. So, somewhere along the way, I did become far more sympathetic to the moral claims of the pro-life movement than I even imagined when I began talking to activists. I suppose I was particularly moved by the claim that human organisms might have an intrinsic value independent of their characteristics. Above all, though, this work has left me with a deeper respect for the thoughtful partisans on both sides of this issue. Our best hope, in my humble opinion, is to continue deliberating about this issue.This is refreshing, I think, coming from the pro-choice side of the debate. He is thinking clearly about the issue and sincerely looking to find the truth.
The ban on abortion funding [passed in the U.S. House version of the health care reform legislation, but rejected by the Senate] extended the logic of the pro-choice case for abortion rights. Pro-choice advocates, after all, have long argued that we need to respect the private moral choices of American citizens. Public funding of abortion, by this logic, would not respect our moral differences because it would force pro-life citizens to subsidize the practice of abortion. A ban on funding, therefore, is consistent with what is essentially a libertarian case for abortion rights. This is partly why many Americans who are otherwise sympathetic to abortion access nevertheless believe the state should not treat abortion as a welfare right.Even though its proponents claim to be "pro-choice," the Senate bill would force Americans to support elective abortions whether they want to or not.
You must ask yourself a critical question: Are you interested in what's true and right, or are you merely interested in what's pleasurable and convenient?
Here's the reason I ask. I've made an observation based on hundreds of conversations with people on tough moral issues. I've met few who were really interested in doing what's right. This may seem like a strong statement, but in the course of conversation it becomes obvious.
Sure, they give reasons for their views, convincing even themselves that they have a genuine interest in morality. Their true colors show, however, when their reasons turn out to be bad ones. They fish around for other justifications. They begin twisting the facts to fit their views. They reject or ignore contrary points instead of refuting them.
As their options diminish, their search gets more frantic. It soon becomes clear they never had any intention of being ethical at all. Their justifications were only rationalizations all along.
Instead of changing their opinions and, ultimately, their conduct, they become angry. Stripped of the appearance of being moral, they leave mad, still bent on doing what they intended to do in the first place.
Why do we do that? Because the moral demands of the truth are often an unpleasant burden to bear. When self-interest is at stake, we change the rules. We resort to contorted, disfigured arguments. We attack individuals rather than ideas. We take refuge behind the claim that the question is complicated, when it's not really difficult at all. In the end we fire our final salvo, "It's my right!" -- the last refuge of the libertine.
Those who are interested in what's true, however, let their judgments rest on the evidence. When the facts go against what they want, they make the difficult choice for the right reasons. They remain loyal to what's true and good, not to what's convenient.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Most people still believe in human exceptionalism and are unaware that powerful social and cultural forces are working diligently to dismantle the sanctity of life ethic as the fundamental value of our social order. But the time has come to pay attention. If human life is knocked off the pedestal, universal human rights will be impossible to sustain. ...
The bioethical mainstream disdains the sanctity of life ethic as irrational and based on religion. In its place, they promote "personhood theory," that equates moral value with cognitive capacities such as being self aware over time. This "quality of life" ethic, as it is sometimes called, creates a two-tiered system in which some humans have greater value than human non persons [e.g., the unborn killed by abortion or embryo-destructive research]. ...
Personhood theory also denies the equal value of newborn infants. ... Infanticide isn’t just a theoretical. Baby euthanasia is commonplace in the Netherlands. ...
Personhood theory also threatens those who have lost capacities. Thus, people with profound cognitive impairments like Terri Schiavo are increasingly being looked upon as potential sources of organs even though they are clearly not dead.
The animal rights movement goes even farther, fabricating an explicit moral equality between humans and animals ...
Materialistic Darwinists also deny human exceptionalism based on their belief that since all life evolved randomly out of the same primordial ooze, species distinctions are morally irrelevant. This view has potentially deadly implications to the sanctity of human life ...
Radical environmentalism is even more alarming, taking human unexceptionalism to the next nihilistic level. Under this view, we are life's villains whose pillaging threatens the earth. In order to "save the planet" our prosperity must be sacrificed and our population strictly controlled. Some radical environmentalists even look to China's tyrannical one child policy as a model—even though it uses female infanticide and forced abortion as demographic weapons. ...
These, and other, attacks on human exceptionalism are profoundly dangerous to human life and liberty. It is our unique moral status in the known universe that gives rise to both universal (human) rights. It is the sanctity of life ethic that compels us to care for the weak, vulnerable, and elderly among us.
Either we all matter equally, simply and merely because we are human—or our value becomes relative, our rights, and indeed, our continued existence—determined by the reigning power structure of the day. After all, if we are merely another animal in the forest—or worse, the planet’s enemies—why should any of us be treated as if we have any special meaning at all?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
National Right to Life Urges Defeat of Health Care Bill After Senate Votes to Keep Abortion in Federal Programs
WASHINGTON (December 8, 2009) -- By a vote of 54 to 45, the U.S. Senate today tabled (killed) an amendment to remove elective abortion from the new federal programs that would be created by pending health care legislation. The following statement was issued by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life organizations in all 50 states, and may be attributed to NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.
A majority of senators today voted to keep abortion covered in the proposed federal government insurance program, and to subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand. Now, the vote on cloture on the bill itself will become the key vote on whether to put the federal government into the abortion business. We will oppose cloture on the bill, which would require 60 affirmative votes. In addition, a number of pro-life Democrats in the House, who supported passage of health care legislation on November 7, will not vote for the Senate bill in its current form. So, this is a long way from over.
The amendment rejected today, supported by NRLC, was sponsored by Senator Ben Nelson (D-Ne.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). It contained the same substance as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which was adopted by the House of Representatives on November 7, 240-194. Both amendments would prevent the federal government insurance program (the "public option") from paying for abortion (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest). In addition, both amendments would prevent federal subsidies from being used to purchase private health plans that cover elective abortion, but would not restrict the sale or purchase of such policies with private funds.
As NRLC has previously noted, the health care bill pending in the Senate, proposed by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nv.) and backed by President Obama, would authorize the federal government to pay for any and all abortions through a huge new federal health insurance program, the "public option," and would also subsidize purchase of private plans that cover abortion on demand. President Obama and Reid know that the substance of these abortion-promoting policies is deeply unpopular, so they seek to conceal the reality with layers of contorted definitions and money-laundering schemes.
For extensive further documentation on aspects of the health care legislation relating to abortion, visit the NRLC website at www.nrlc.org/ahc.
To go to the Abortion in Health Care index, click here.
To go to the NRLC Home page, click here.
To go to the NRLC Legislative Action Center, click here.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Pro-abortion senators are continuing to claim that the bill as written (which includes the Capps amendment pertaining to abortion), without the Nelson language, would maintain the status quo on abortion and health care, and be consistent with the longstanding Hyde amendment, while the Nelson/Stupak language would dramatically alter it.
But as Mary Harned explains:
The fact that the Stupak-Pitts amendment, not the Capps amendment, maintains existing law can be established from studying the Hyde Amendment and similar laws that apply to other programs. The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds that are appropriated through the LHHS appropriations bill from being used to pay for abortion and prevents federal funds from being used to subsidize health care plans that offer abortion coverage.
In other words, programs like Medicaid cannot directly pay for abortions or subsidize private plans that include abortion coverage. The Stupak Amendment applies exactly the same principles to the new programs created by H.R. 3962. Just as Medicaid dollars cannot be used to subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortions, neither can the new affordability credits created by health care reform.
Other government programs apply these principles to federal funds as well. The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program has a longstanding restriction on abortion funding and coverage. The current law provides: "No funds appropriated by this Act shall be available to pay for an abortion, or the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan under the Federal employees health benefits program which provides any benefits or coverage for abortions."
Learn more and contact your senators here to make sure that the health care legislation does not significantly expand abortion.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The U.S. Senate is working across the weekend, voting on amendments to the massive health care bill (H.R. 3590) proposed by Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nv.). NRLC strongly opposes the bill because of multiple provisions that would promote abortion and the rationing of lifesaving medical care.
Pro-life Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ben Nelson (D-Ne.) plan to soon file an amendment to the bill, which will be supported by the NRLC and other major pro-life groups. The Hatch-Nelson Amendment would make the same critical policy changes to the Reid bill that were accomplished in the House of Representatives by adoption of the NRLC-backed Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the House version of the health care legislation (H.R. 3962) on November 7.
Thus, the effect of the Hatch-Nelson Amendment would be to prevent the proposed new government health insurance program -- the "public option" -- from paying for abortions, and also to prevent federal funds from being used to subsidize the purchase of private health plans that pay for elective abortion.
Time is short! Please telephone the offices of your two U.S. senators. Urge them to support the Hatch-Nelson Amendment to the health care bill (H.R. 3590). The Washington offices of all U.S. senators can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard, 202-224-3121. In most cases, you can also obtain fax numbers, and phone numbers for senators' in-state offices, through the NRLC Legislative Action Center at this internet address:
After the Senate has voted on the Hatch-Nelson Amendment, there will be other critical votes on the health care legislation! The legislative situation may change rapidly. Any time you want to check the current status of the legislation, visit this page on the Legislative Action Center:
For further information on the abortion-related issues in the health care legislation, go to: http://www.nrlc.org/ahc.
For further information on the rationing-related issues in the health care legislation, go to: http://powellcenterformedicalethics.blogspot.com/.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Appel (who's not exactly a fringe figure in bioethics) then suggests that creating a legal market in aborted baby organs is a good idea, both for the women who would benefit financially (by selling the organs) and for the other members of society who would be the recipients of transplantations.
Let me make two points. First, this is incredibly sick, morally speaking -- I believe (I hope) it would shock the sensibilities of most people. Consider, as Appel writes:
The supply [of fetal organs], for all practical purposes, is unlimited. ... Pregnant women who provide fetal kidneys could do so repeatedly ... If only a small percentage of those women [having abortions] could be persuaded to carry their fetuses to the necessary point of development for transplantation, society might realize significant public health benefits. The government could even step into the marketplace to purchase fetal organs for patients on Medicare and Medicaid. ... A market in fetal organs would empower women to use their reproductive capabilities to their own economic advantage. ... Someday, if we are fortunate, scientific research may make possible farms of artificial "wombs" breeding fetuses for their organs.Sounds like science fiction, doesn't it?
Second, the moral permissibility of creating a market for fetal organs follows logically from the pro-choice position on abortion. Appel makes this case well: "I believe we have a moral duty to women to give due consideration to the legalization of such a fetal-organ trade. ... If a woman has a fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy, why not the right to use the products of that terminated pregnancy as she sees fit?"
If the human embryo or fetus merits no moral respect -- and may therefore be killed (by abortion) for any or no reason if the mother chooses, as NARAL, Planned Parenthood and others argue -- then there seems to be no good justification for prohibiting a market in fetal organs. The unborn offspring is the property of the mother, and she may do what she wants with it. And that includes growing babies in the womb in order to kill them to harvest their useful parts.
This disturbing conclusion is absolutely wrong -- evidence of the total bankruptcy of the pro-choice position. It should cause those who are pro-choice to reevaluate their initial premises.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
"The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops advocated that their religious views [i.e., the pro-life position] be added to the House bill," she writes. "The bishops' theological viewpoints should not shape the public policy of all Americans."
Roska continues: "[W]e call on all senators to ensure that health care reform is freed of religious ideology ... We support a health care system that is inclusive and respectful of diverse religious beliefs and decisions regarding childbearing. ... In this religiously pluralistic nation, our health care system should be inclusive and respective of diverse religious beliefs and decisions regarding childbearing."
Roska keeps making the same assertion, but it's remarkably unthoughtful -- she goes on to thoroughly contradict herself:
"As religious leaders, we support public policies that are just and compassionate and prioritize the needs of those who are poor and marginalized in our society. ... A health care system that serves all persons with dignity and equality will include comprehensive reproductive health services. ... Our faith traditions are abundantly clear about living in community with others and being responsible for them. Our traditions share the common goal of taking care of the well-being of those most in need. We join with others in urging a return to the core of our faith traditions and realize that providing access to safe and quality health care makes sense morally, ethically, spiritually, and financially." [italics added]
Note what Roska has done. First, she disqualifies the pro-life position, without any arguments or evidence, by branding it "religious ideology." Then she offers for consideration her own views, and defends them by explicitly appealing to religion. In fact, her organization is all about bringing religious influences/motivations to bear on public policy (in this case, in defense of the pro-choice position).
Roska can't have it both ways. She's using a fallacious trick to discard the views of those who disagree with her without having to engage them or argue for her own position.
(By the way, the pro-life position itself is no more "religious" than the claim that murdering toddlers is wrong. Both are moral viewpoints stemming from a conviction that all human beings have dignity, and taking innocent human life is wrong. A religious perspective may or may not undergird or motivate this position, just as religion influences the views of religious people on many uncontroversial issues, and just as secular worldviews influence the views of those who adhere to them.)
Roska talks about being "inclusive and respectful of diverse religious beliefs," but the truth is that both sides in the abortion debate are seeking to impose their own views. Pro-lifers think the unborn is a valuable human person, like you and me, and ought to be respected and protected by law. Roska thinks the unborn human being is so unworthy of respect that we may kill him or her for any reason and have the killing paid for by the government. Either way, a particular viewpoint is enshrined into law.
The question isn't "religion" or "respecting diverse beliefs," but which view will be reflected in our laws -- and, in our system of democratic government, answering that question should require honest debate and deliberation, which Roska avoids by simply dismissing her opponents without argument. Does abortion unjustly takes the life of an innocent human person? If so, it should not be permitted.