Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Christmas tells us about human dignity and equality

Carson Holloway in Public Discourse writes:
I would suggest that the ethical core of Western Civilization—or at least a key principle by which it distinguished itself from what it regarded as savagery and barbarism—is respect for the dignity of humanity and of the individual human person. This is the moral principle underpinning the more obvious institutional characteristics such as the rule of law, constitutionalism, limited government, and division of social authority among various centers of power. All of these expedients share a common aim: limiting the power of some people over others, and especially limiting the power of the strong over the weak. This aim in turn is informed by the sense that all people deserve such protection, that they all possess a certain dignity that ought not be abused.

The celebration of Christmas has been a powerful teacher of the dignity of the human person. For Christians, Christmas is the feast of the Incarnation—the celebration of the moment when God became a man in order to live among men. It shows that God thought of human beings as worthy of being saved, and that he sought to save them by taking on humanity in a perfected form, thus opening the way to their own perfection. Christian belief in the Incarnation is thus inseparable from belief in the objective, and even transcendent, value of the human race as a whole, and of each human person as an individual.

Belief in the Incarnation further implies a certain egalitarianism that has also been important to Western Civilization. According to Christian teaching, all are sinners, and none can claim to be fundamentally superior to others in this important respect. Conversely, and more positively, God wanted to save all people, of all ranks, from their sins and to open the way to a lofty destiny for them all. Thus the Christian understanding of the Incarnation has been important in fostering the West's sense that, whatever social order may require in terms of hierarchy and rank, there is an irreducible moral equality of all human beings: all are owed a certain respect, even the lowliest among us.

Moreover, the story of the Incarnation, the Christmas story, emphasizes this equality and powerfully presents it to the imagination. As the story goes, the God who became man chose to be born into a family of no outstanding social importance, one supported by a man who had to work with his hands. Jesus was born in circumstances of poverty, and his birth was first announced not to the princes of the earth but to the ordinary shepherds to be found at hand. As he grew to manhood and carried out his public mission, Jesus chose to continue to live, work, and teach primarily among the common working people of the world. According to the Christian story, God teaches not only by his doctrines but by his actions that all men are equal in their fundamental human dignity.
Read the rest of Holloway's piece.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Abortion and the unborn baby Jesus

Frances Kissling, a leading pro-choice advocate and former president of Catholics for Choice, writes on a Washington Post blog about this ad (right), which shows an ultrasound of baby Jesus.

"When I saw the 'Here He Comes' [sic] ad which showed the baby Jesus waiting inside his mother's uterus in a 3D sonogram I just burst into happy laughter," Kissling says. "I want one to hang on my wall. I want it to be my Christmas card."

She continues:
And then, some silly people who are obsessed with abortion tried to spoil a good thing. Pro-life Wisconsin decided to be the grinches who stole Christmas. The [sic] wanted to interpret these joyous billboards as an anti-abortion message and instead of allowing people to feel the joy and inspiration and holiness that the birth of Jesus' [sic] symbolizes they wanted us to think about abortion.

This happens every Christmas. It's a tough time for supporters of abortion rights who have just as much excitement and take just as much joy in expecting a baby in their family as does everyone else, but end up feeling defensive and grumpy about the baby Jesus being hijacked for political gain. ...

Well, I'm hoping that those of us who are pro choice here in America will allow ourselves to enjoy this modern depiction of the baby Jesus awaiting entry into the world in his mom's uterus. It's a great and happy and anticipatory message. Mary and Joseph, certainly a nontraditional family and their precious baby boy are a perfect symbol for the complex modern world in which we live.
I'm certain that the Wisconsin pro-life group does not want to prevent people from "feel[ing] the joy and inspiration and holiness that the birth of Jesus' [sic] symbolizes." (On the contrary, I imagine.)

But they are trying to make an additional point, which is this: the fact that Jesus was once a fetus growing in his mother's womb should give us pause about our nation's widespread practice of abortion (1.2 million abortions per year). Accepting the ultrasound image as "Jesus," as Kissling does without hesitation, entails that Jesus was once a fetus identical to his later, adult self, and that to kill that fetus by abortion would have been to kill Jesus. By extension, all human beings are the same beings as the fetuses from which they developed, just as they were once also newborns, toddlers, adolescents, etc. To have killed the fetus growing in my mother's womb 25 years ago would have been to kill me.

So Kissling presumably agrees that there is a continuity of personal identity throughout the different stages in the life of a human being -- that to kill the unborn Jesus, or the unborn me, really would have been to kill Jesus, or me. And yet her pro-choice position says that would have been morally permissible.

That's a tough pill to swallow -- hence the effectiveness of the ad. Presumably, Kissling would have to argue that having a right to life is a non-essential property that a human being acquires at some point in his or her life, perhaps by virtue of developing certain mental functions or by being "wanted" by others. This view doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

It's also not biblical. The story of the unborn John the Baptist "leap[ing] for joy" in the presence of the unborn Jesus (Luke 1:41-44), as well as other passages in the Bible (e.g., Psalm 139:13-14, Psalm 22:10, Isaiah 49:5), highlight not only the continuity of identity throughout the life of a human being, which Kissling concedes -- they also suggest that human beings have their special dignity and importance from the time they come into existence, simply by virtue of the kind of thing they are: persons made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). That's why "shed[ding] the blood of man" is condemned (Genesis 9:6) -- not just some men, but all men (humans). It follows that abortion is a grave moral wrong.

As thinking, rational creatures, we ought to pay attention to (rather than thoughtlessly dismiss) the implications of our own assumptions.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

From suffering to joy: Rape victim discovers courage and love in the midst of pain

The following is from the December 2010 issue of MCCL News.

By Bill Poehler

Drugged and raped. The words elicit disbelief, anger, compassion and a cry for justice. Rape victims rarely share their experience publicly. This is one teenager's story of courage and hope.

Amanda had completed her U.S. Army Reserve training and was ready for her deployment to Afghanistan in September 2009. At age 18, she was excited to fulfill a dream of serving her country. At a St. Paul party in August, she felt dizzy and sick after drinking a wine cooler, so she lay down in a friend's bedroom.

A half-hour later a guy entered the room and came after her. Amanda pleaded with him to leave, crying, "Stop! Stop!" But she was frozen.

"I was trained to kill, but I couldn't move," she recalls.

In the days that followed, Amanda told no one about the rape. But she felt something had changed. She took one drug store pregnancy test after another. Most were positive. Desperate, she went to urgent care, where her pregnancy was confirmed.

Amanda held strong pro-life convictions. She had written high school papers defending the pro-life position. But she had always viewed rape and incest as special situations.

So Amanda decided to get an abortion. She needed to fulfill her duty to her Army Reserve unit. She needed to get on with plans for her life. She made an appointment, but never got there.

Eight days before her scheduled abortion, Amanda was rushed to the emergency room with symptoms of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. She was given a sonogram and reassured that her pregnancy was normal. It was then that Amanda saw her little unborn child on the ultrasound monitor for the first time.

"I fell in love at that moment," she says.

One image changed everything. What Amanda had thought of as a product of rape that she could not handle suddenly became her child growing inside her. She saw beyond the circumstances of the conception to the reality of her own motherhood.

A heavy weight was lifted as Amanda made a firm decision to give life to her unborn baby. But the challenges were not over.

She contracted the H1N1 virus in November. Amanda was told that one or both of them would likely die.

"The doctor said there was still time to do an abortion to save my life," she says. "But I had already decided not to abort my child, so I left it in God's hands."

The weeks and months ahead were difficult. Amanda was hospitalized 13 times. She suffered pre-term labor seven times. Her boyfriend—the "love of her life"—left her. She suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the rape and became suicidal.

But Amanda persevered through all of these because she loved her little boy.

"If I could take a bad experience and find good out of all of it—that's what I did," she explains.

The day finally came in March 2010 when Kaiden, Amanda's baby boy, was born. "I can't believe something so beautiful could come from such an ugly, horrible situation," she said tearfully to her family and friends who were with her.

The rapist had taken her deployment, her boyfriend and her self-worth, but not Amanda's belief in the sanctity of human life. That conviction carried her through suffering to joy. Kaiden has been a powerful source of healing for her.

"Now I know what a mother's love is. I can't describe it, and I never understood it before," she says.

Mother and child are living with Amanda's loving family, who help care for Kaiden while Amanda works full time. She will begin attending college in January.

Amanda shares two profound lessons from her experience. First, she finally has realized that being raped was not her fault. She could have made different choices that night, but nothing she did would have ever justified what was done to her. Second, life is precious, regardless of circumstances.

"The gift of life is bigger than me—than anything," Amanda says.

What would she say to someone who questions her decision?

"I would show them my child," she says. "I can't imagine my life without him. He is the greatest joy and the greatest love I have ever known. It's hard being young and not knowing if I will ever find someone … but I would not change anything that has happened to me.

"Now I know what real love is."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Doe v. Gomez: 15 years of state-sponsored abortion

The following MCCL news release was issued today, Dec. 15.

ST. PAUL — More than 50,000 unborn babies have been killed in Minnesota with taxpayer funds since a Dec. 15, 1995, Minnesota Supreme Court ruling required taxpayers to fund abortions, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MDHS). The Doe v. Gomez ruling established the most extreme abortion-on-demand policy in the nation.

"The Doe v. Gomez ruling by a handful of extremist judges has been disastrous for Minnesota women and their babies," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "On this 15th anniversary of the decision, Minnesotans continue to believe it is not the mission of the state to abort thousands of innocent unborn children each year, yet that is exactly what is happening under this radical ruling."

The Supreme Court's Doe v. Gomez decision established a new state constitutional "right" to abortion on demand. This supposed right would remain protected by the state Constitution even if Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion in the United States, were to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Doe v. Gomez allows abortions for reasons such as "stress" or "discomfort." It forbids the state to "interfere" in any way with a woman's "decision-making" about abortion.

Doe v. Gomez also obligates the state—and thus, taxpayers—to pay for abortions, something not required by the U.S. Supreme Court. From June 1994 through 2008, state taxpayers paid more than $15.6 million for 50,869 abortions, according to MDHS. In 2008 alone (the most recent statistics available), state taxpayers paid $1.5 million for 3,754 abortions (MDHS). The state does not report how many women have died from these abortions.

While the total number of abortions in the state is declining slightly, taxpayer funding of abortions has risen nearly every year since 1995. Minnesota taxpayers now pay for almost 30 percent of all abortions performed in the state.

"This is not the will of the majority of Minnesotans, who oppose abortion on demand, and it is not the function of state government to fund the destruction of its most powerless innocent citizens," Fischbach said. "The Court took away the people's right to decide whether they want abortion on demand in the state and whether they should be required to pay for others' elective abortions. It's time for change in Minnesota."

MCCL is Minnesota's oldest and largest pro-life organization with more than 70,000 member families and 240 chapters across the state. For more information about MCCL, visit www.mccl.org.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Human Rights Day: Speak up, stop discrimination

The following is a news release from MCCL Global Outreach.

Friday, Dec. 10, 2010, was Human Rights Day as declared by the United Nations. This year's theme was "Speak Up, Stop Discrimination." It is a fitting theme for those of us who work tirelessly in the pro-life movement to protect women and their unborn children from the discrimination and violence of abortion.

The following statement may be attributed to Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of the Global Outreach division of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life:

"There is no greater form of discrimination than to end another human being's life because that human being is unwanted, imperfect or unloved. We must work toward the day when each and every human being is empowered with their full human rights – the paramount of which is life itself.

"The greatest educational system we can build will never teach the unborn child killed by a saline abortion. The greatest roads ever constructed will never be traveled by a disabled person who is denied nutrition and hydration. And the most advanced health care facility will never treat an elderly person abandoned in neglect. Human life itself is the genesis of all rights. It is only with a secured right to life, to be born, from which other rights can flow.

"On this important Human Rights Day of 2010 let us come together as compassionate human beings, understanding of each other's plight, to protect one another.

"Let us remember and call to mind The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 10th, 1948, which states in Article 3, 'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.'

"Let us also recall from the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (Nov. 20, 1959) that 'the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.'"

MCCL GO is a pro-life global outreach program of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund with one goal: to save as many innocent lives as possible from the destruction of abortion. Learn more at www.mccl.org.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let’s be clear: What is killed in an abortion? Learn how to clarify the issue

The following is from the December 2010 issue of MCCL News.

Choice, privacy, reproductive freedom. Bodily autonomy. Rape, incest. Teen pregnancy, economic hardship. Back-alley abortions. Overpopulation. Crime and child abuse.

These are some of the things people talk about when they discuss the ethics of abortion. But none of them is relevant to deciding whether abortion is morally right or wrong. Author and speaker Greg Koukl uses a helpful illustration.

"Imagine that your child walks up when your back is turned and asks, 'Daddy [or Mommy], can I kill this?' What is the first thing you must find out before you can answer him? You can never answer the question 'Can I kill this?' unless you’ve answered a prior question: What is it? [A cockroach? Sure. His baby sister? Hold on a minute!] This is the key question.

"Abortion involves killing and discarding something that's alive," Koukl continues. "Whether it's right or not to take the life of any living thing depends entirely upon what it is."

The morality of abortion hinges on the nature of the entity that abortion kills, the unborn (i.e., the human embryo or fetus). As Koukl puts it, "If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate."

It should be apparent that most pro-choice rhetoric completely misses the boat. Women have a "right to choose" to do many things, but if the unborn is a valuable person, she has no more right to kill him or her than to kill her toddler. The question at hand is whether the unborn, like a toddler, deserves full moral respect and ought not be killed for the convenience or benefit of others.

For every argument or reason given in defense of abortion, ask one question: Would this rationale work to justify killing obvious examples of rights-bearing persons, like newborn babies, toddlers, teenagers and adults? If not, then the pro-choice advocate is assuming that the unborn is not a valuable person like you and me—that is, he is assuming the very conclusion he should be defending. This is a logical fallacy called begging the question.

The real issue is the moral status of the unborn entity who is killed by abortion. Is the unborn a human being (a scientific question)? If so, how should we treat him or her (a moral question)?

The pro-life argument, in brief, runs as follows. From conception the unborn is a distinct, living and whole (though immature) human organism—a member of the species Homo sapiens at a very early stage of his or her development. We know this from the science of embryology.

Morally, no relevant difference exists between human beings before and after birth. Unborn humans differ from older humans (like newborns) in size, level of development, location and degree of dependency, but none of those differences are significant in a way that would justify killing the former.

Rather, human beings have moral value and a right to life by virtue of the kind of thing they are, not because of acquired characteristics or abilities that some human beings have and others do not, and which we may gain or lose throughout our lifetimes.

It follows that all human beings, including the unborn, are equal in having basic dignity and a right not to be unjustly killed. So elective abortion is wrong.

How do pro-choice advocates respond? Usually with the kind of question-begging rhetoric discussed above. Always clarify the issue—the moral status of the unborn—and use science and simple moral reasoning (above) to point them to the truth: Abortion unjustly takes the lives of innocent human beings, and it should not be permitted.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The historical struggle to protect children

"The study of history ... shows us that abortion law [laws against abortion] is simply another chapter in the struggle by society to protect its children from abuse by their parents. The point is worth emphasizing: abortion is not merely similar to infanticide, it is infanticide. This is more than merely a rhetorical flourish. History demonstrates that abortion was a direct replacement of the prior practice of infanticide, and infanticide is merely the most egregious form of child abuse. One should no more applaud a woman's right to privacy in making the abortion decision than one would acclaim a woman's right to privacy in deciding to abuse her three-year-old physically and irreparably. ...

"Viewed in the context of the history of infanticide, attempts to suppress abortion are neither aberrations nor based on unworthy motives. Rather, the crusade against abortion is integral to, and the highest expression of, a crusade against child abuse and in favor of feminism."

-- Joseph W. Dellapenna, Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law

Silent no more: Colleen from Minnesota

Monday, December 6, 2010

Take a stand

"It is inevitable, till man be far more unfeeling and untrue to his convictions than he has always been, that a great wrong asserting itself vehemently should arouse to no less vehement assertion the opposing right. The only wonder is that there was not more of it. The only wonder is that so few were swept away to take by an impulse they could not resist their stand of hatred to the wicked institution."

-- The Rev. Phillips Brooks, speaking of slavery in his eulogy of President Abraham Lincoln, April 23, 1865

Monday, November 29, 2010

The viability criterion for fetal personhood

Among the criteria that have been proposed to exclude unborn human beings from having the status of "person" or bearer of a right to life -- and thus justify killing them by abortion -- one of the least defensible, it seems to me, is viability. I'm not aware of any thoughtful pro-choice advocates who defend viability as the point at which a developing human being acquires a right to life. In fact, distinguished pro-abortion philosophers such as Michael Tooley and Peter Singer have shown that the viability criterion is clearly "untenable" (Singer's word).

But the view that viability is the standard for fetal personhood is common -- maybe because it's the law of the land (sort of). The U.S. Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade, and reaffirmed in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, that viability is the point at which the state first has a serious interest in protecting the life of a developing human being. (That doesn't mean post-viability abortions can be prohibited under the Court's rulings. The post-viability "health" exception, detailed in Doe v. Bolton, is so broad that virtually any reason is sufficient to justify an abortion late in pregnancy, and thus we in effect have a policy of abortion on demand throughout the entirety of pregnancy.)

Why is viability so relevant? Here is the Court's entire argument, in its 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling (decided by a 5-4 vote):
Viability, as we noted in Roe, is the time at which there is a realistic possibility of maintaining and nourishing a life outside the womb, so that the independent existence of the second life can in reason and all fairness be the object of state protection that now overrides the rights of the woman.
That's it. As Francis Beckwith writes, this is fallacious:
For the Court to make its argument valid, it would have to add to its factual premise [the fact of fetal nonviability through roughly the first six months of pregnancy] the normative premise: whenever a human being cannot live on its own because it uniquely depends on another human being for its physical existence, it is permissible for the second human being to kill the first to rid the second of the burden.
That controversial view was assumed (not argued for) by the Court in both Roe and Casey. So American abortion policy -- and all the unborn human lives sacrificed because of it -- hinged on an unmentioned, undefended moral assumption by five philosophically-untutored (clearly) lawyers.

Problems with the viability criterion are not difficult to find. "Viability" is determined not just by the physical maturity of the fetus, but by the current state of medical technology, what facilities and resources are available, and the skill of doctors. That's why the typical point of viability has moved earlier in pregnancy as medical technology has advanced. But if viability determines personhood, then one's basic rights depend on the technology and doctors available, and those rights can be gained or lost depending on the circumstances or time period one finds oneself in (e.g., a developing-world country). That is absurd.

A conjoined twin depends entirely on the body of another for survival, but no one suggests that she is not a person who merits full respect. Further, we are all "nonviable" relative to our environment. Writes Beckwith: "If any one of us were to be placed naked on the moon or the earth's North Pole, we would quickly become aware of our nonviability. Therefore, the unborn prior to the time she can live outside her mother's womb is as nonviable in relation to her environment as we are nonviable in relation to ours."

Ultimately, viability is a measurement of dependency on other people and things. But we are all dependent (on other people and things) to varying, and often-changing, degrees. So dependency seems a shaky basis for determining whether someone has the right not to be killed. It seems more accurate to say that the dependency and vulnerability of some members of the human family impart on us a special obligation toward them -- not a justification for killing them! The viability criterion has it backwards.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Why should pro-lifers get involved in politics and legislation?

There are several good reasons for engaging in politics and legislation. First, basic justice requires that the law protect the rights of every member of the human family, including the unborn, elderly and disabled. A political regime that sanctions the killing of our innocent offspring, even if no one engaged in that practice, would still be deeply unjust, for it relegates one class of innocent human beings to the status of nonpersons who may be killed for the convenience of others. We must work to make our laws more just and more protective of human rights.

Second, government policies clearly affect behavior, including the practices of abortion, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research. For example, legalizing abortion in the United States dramatically increased the number of abortions, and modest pro-life limitations enacted in recent years have been shown to reduce the number of abortions. In a society in which abortion on demand is permitted and widely accepted, the law is perhaps the single most important instrument for reducing abortions and saving lives.

Third, government policies can influence public opinion. Researcher David C. Reardon explains, "Studies in the psychology of morality reveal that the law is truly the teacher. One of the most significant conclusions of these studies shows that existing laws and customs are the most important criteria for deciding what is right or wrong for most adults in a given culture."

Consider that laws against slavery and racial discrimination actually preceded widespread opposition to those practices. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once put it, "Laws can't change men's hearts, but they can change men's behaviors. When the behavior changes, the hearts may follow."

Fourth, the mere controversy over public policy proposals, whether or not they are enacted into law, can help change public sentiment. The decade-long debate over the partial-birth abortion ban exposed a particularly-gruesome abortion procedure to the public and shifted public opinion in the pro-life direction. Pro-life political and legislative involvement helps keep right-to-life issues a subject of public concern.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Should abortion be legalized in Africa? Why the argument fails

Writing on the "Poverty Matters" blog at the UK Guardian's website, Sharon Camp argues that abortion must be legalized in African countries to prevent women from dying as a consequence of dangerous, illegal abortions.

There are two main problems with Camp's case: one is logical, and the other is factual.

The logical problem is that her case rests on the undefended assumption that abortion is morally permissible. This is an example of the fallacy of begging the question, or merely assuming what one ought to prove.

Here's the problem. If abortion unjustly takes the lives of innocent human beings, then Camp's argument amounts to saying that because some women may hurt themselves trying to have their own children killed, we therefore ought to make it legal and safe for women to have their own children killed. This is like saying we should legalize bank robbery because it might be risky for bank robbers.

As pro-choice philosopher Mary Anne Warren writes, "The fact that restricting access to abortion has tragic side effects does not, in itself, show that the restrictions are unjustified, since murder is wrong regardless of the consequences of prohibiting it."

So only by assuming that abortion is not a serious moral wrong does Camp's position make sense. But she gives no reasons at all in support of that assumption.

Factually, Camp is simply mistaken on a number of counts, and thus she arrives at the wrong solution to the problem of maternal mortality in Africa.

First, the maternal mortality numbers she cites should be subject to serious scrutiny. A  2010 study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet shows, contrary to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, that maternal deaths worldwide dropped by 35 percent from 1980 to 2008. The Lancet study cites several reasons for the decline in maternal mortality, but does not include legal abortion or increased access to abortion.

United States history is instructive: Prior to Roe v. Wade in 1973, advocates of legal abortion claimed there were 5,000-10,000 women dying each year due to illegal abortion. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL Pro-Choice America, later admitted the numbers were completely fabricated in order to further the effort to legalize abortion on demand. The Centers for Disease Control reports that only 39 women died from illegal abortion in 1972 (and 24 died from legal abortion).

Second, Camp is mistaken about a causal connection between abortion prohibitions and maternal mortality. Many countries that do not permit abortion have very low rates of maternal mortality (e.g., Ireland, Chile and Poland), and many countries that permit abortion on demand have very high rates of maternal mortality (e.g., India and Russia). It is clear from the evidence that maternal mortality numbers hinge on the quality of care and medicine for women, not on abortion's legality.

In the developed world, the decline in maternal mortality coincided with "the development of obstetric techniques and improvement in the general health status of women" (from 1935 to the 1950s), according to WHO. This took place well before the widespread legalization of abortion.

Third, Camp asserts that laws prohibiting abortion have no effect on the incidence of abortion. Generally speaking, this is wrong, and demonstrably so. A reliable study concluded that abortions in the United States rose dramatically from an average of 98,000 per year to well over one million after legalization in 1973, peaking at 1.6 million per year. Stanley Henshaw of the Guttmacher Institute has explained, "In most countries, it is common after abortion is legalized for abortion rates to rise sharply for several years, then stabilize, just as we have seen in the United States." (For a host of reasons, this correlation may not be as strong in third-world countries, explains Dr. Michael New.)

From these facts, it is reasonable to conclude that if abortion is legalized in an environment lacking adequate maternal health care, more women will pursue dangerous abortions and be hurt or killed. Jeanne E. Head, R.N., UN Representative for the National Right to Life Committee, explains: "Women generally at risk because they lack access to a doctor, hospital, or antibiotics before abortion's legalization will face those same circumstances after legalization. And if legalization triggers a higher demand for abortion, as it has in most countries, more injured women will compete for those scarce medical resources."

The solution to the problems in Africa that Camp discusses is the same as that which has worked in all countries that have successfully reduced maternal deaths and saved women's lives: better health care. Not legal abortion.

Learn more about the "maternal mortality" argument for legalizing abortion here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Couple puts unborn child's life up for a vote

The following MCCL letter to the editor was published today, Nov. 23, in the Star Tribune.

An Apple Valley couple has made waves by asking the online public to help them decide whether to have an abortion ("Apple Valley couple put abortion to an online vote," Nov. 19).

Let me make two points in response to this shocking situation:

Life or death?
First, the couple, Peter and Alisha Arnold, and some news reports have asserted that abortion in Minnesota is illegal after 20 weeks. This is not accurate. The U.S. Supreme Court's Doe vs. Bolton decision in 1973 requires a "health" exception so broad that virtually any reason is sufficient to justify an abortion late in pregnancy. The 2009 abortion report from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that 79 abortions were performed after 20 weeks' gestation in our state last year.

Second, the actions of the Arnolds are entirely consistent with the "pro-choice" position. If abortion is morally permissible, then there is little ground for criticizing the Arnolds' decision to use popular opinion in making their choice.

But most of us know that something is very wrong here. Why? Because abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, one's own offspring. And putting a child's life up for a vote shows an appallingly callous disregard for the value of human life.

I pray that the Arnolds' unborn baby -- whom his parents have already nicknamed "Wiggles" -- will live and be loved.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fetal pain as common ground

Even those bioethicists and philosophers who deny the right to life of every human being (and thus think it is permissible to kill some humans, such as the unborn) agree that pain is generally a bad thing. Some bioethicists even think that pain and suffering is the sole criterion for determining right and wrong.

E. Christian Brugger writes:
Everyone can agree that we have a duty not to cause pain to others without a just cause. Bioethicists endorse the relieving of pain as an expression of the "principle of beneficence." And international bodies concur that access to pain relief without discrimination is a fundamental right. As a society we even take efforts to eliminate pain from the process of executing capital offenders whose guilt is manifestly established.
If evidence shows that unborn human beings at later stages of development feel pain during abortion procedures, then there should be common ground that both pro-life and pro-choice advocates agree on:
First, pro-lifers and pro-choicers should be able to agree on the principle of full disclosure. If fetuses feel pain, then where abortion is legal, abortion providers should disclose to the gestational mother the effects of her choice on the fetus. We may disagree about whether abortion is wrong, but we should be able to agree that withholding information relevant to making an informed abortion decision would be unfair to women.

Second, if fetuses feel pain, then where abortion is legal, abortion providers should also take reasonable measures to suppress the pain. We should be able to agree that it would be wrong not to try to remove the pain, just as it is when political authority fails to take reasonable measures to remove the pain from the process of legal execution.
So, do the unborn feel pain? Very powerful (arguably decisive) evidence indicates that they do. But let's suppose there is some doubt. Brugger writes:
The burden falls on the one who might be doing wrongful harm to rule out reasonable doubt that they are. If you were hunting in the woods and saw something moving in the distance, but were unsure of whether it was a deer or another hunter, you would be bound not to shoot until reasonable doubt was dispelled that what was stirring in the distance was not another hunter. When a doubt of fact bears on settling whether an alternative under consideration is immoral (e.g., it would be immoral to shoot in the face of reasonable doubt), one should withhold choosing till the fact has been settled.
Thus, if we are unsure whether the unborn feel pain, we must act as if they do. Only reasonable certainty that the unborn do not feel pain can justify not taking that possibility into account during an abortion. Can anyone claim such certainty?
Coming from one who is not a scientific expert on the question, but who has read considerably over the past four months on most all dimensions of the question, I conclude strongly that moral certitude that fetuses do not feel pain presently cannot be reached. In other words, fetal pain experience is a reasonable conclusion from the settled evidence. This evidence includes an appeal to fetal anatomical, neurochemical, physiological, and behavioral features, as well as responses to noxious stimuli (behaviors such as facial grimacing, the withdrawing of limbs, clenching of fists, opening of mouth and even crying).

Although we are not warranted in moving from these features and responses to a certain conclusion that fetuses do experience pain [emphasis added]—I realize that fetal consciousness is a central factor in the equation—we are justified in concluding from the evidence—in fact, we are rationally required to conclude—that moral certitude does not exist that fetuses do not feel pain.
What this means is that those who support abortion and think pain is bad (i.e., all "pro-choice" advocates) are rationally compelled to join pro-lifers in support of certain measures (such as Minnesota's Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act). Brugger concludes:
Unless and until contrary evidence is presented, we have a duty to act with the presumption that [the unborn by at least 20 weeks feel pain]. In a territory such as our own where abortion is legal, we have a duty: 1) to inform women considering second- and third-trimester abortions that their actions may cause their babies pain; and 2) to guarantee that suitable analgesics and anesthesia be administered to fetuses during second- and third-trimester abortions.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The limits of pragmatic arguments in the stem cell debate

Pro-lifers argue that we should not conduct biomedical research that requires the killing of human embryos (human beings at the earliest stage of their development), but rather should focus on research that is ethical and life-affirming. It is increasingly clear -- as Chuck Colson explained recently -- that every scientific objection to our position has been answered.

Advocates said that embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) was more therapeutically promising than its alternatives, but only ethical adult stem cell research has produced treatments for patients. Advocates said that only ESCR could provide us with pluripotent stem cells, but then scientists developed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which have all the same potential benefits but are more efficient to use. Now scientists have gone further and -- still without using embryos -- converted skin cells directly into blood cells, bypassing the pluripotent stage and the difficulties it has always posed (for embryonic stem cells).

But as Colson points out, "[ESCR] scientists' first impulse is to say they still need life-killing embryonic stem cell research. ... Why?"
Could it be that this argument isn't ultimately about science, which involves carefully looking at the evidence? The evidence is clear, and is becoming ever more clear by the day. It's really about worldview, and the ... worldview so prevalent among scientists today says that human beings are simply clumps of raw material to be exploited for the greater good. ...

That's why we will never win this argument simply offering pragmatic responses. Such arguments have their place, of course, but we have to help people see the moral implications of their worldview.

And that means showing them why killing innocent human life is always wrong, whatever the latest scientific breakthrough says.
ESCR could cease altogether on pragmatic grounds (because it has become scientifically obsolete), but if our society still views early human life as mere raw material we may use as we wish, then we've still got a problem.

The moral argument will always have to be made in order for the rights of every human being to be safe and secure.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saving lives from abortion in Africa

By Bill Poehler

Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), is in Africa conducting training for pro-life leaders in Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Kenya. He already has met with dozens of pro-life leaders in Tanzania and expects to meet with dozens more during his 12-day tour.

Scott Fischbach with pro-life leaders from Uganda.
Leaders have expressed their gratitude for MCCL GO's partnership over the last 18 months. The international arm of MCCL has provided fetal development literature and other materials for distribution in many African countries. These much-needed resources have been used by local organizations to educate citizens, as well as governmental leaders, about the humanity of the unborn child. MCCL GO's maternal mortality brochure has also provided valuable statistics and practical information about how to save women's lives in the developing world.

MCCL GO's efforts have had a significant impact, according to local leaders. Fischbach has already been told of nine babies whose lives were saved as a direct result of MCCL GO literature shared with pregnant women and their partners.

"It has been so exciting to see the fruits of our African outreach in the arms of loving, grateful mothers," Fischbach said. "I am humbled by the opportunity to work with such wonderful people who are so dedicated to loving and saving the lives of women and their babies."

Fischbach added he is hopeful that MCCL GO's efforts will have a ripple effect in these countries, with leaders training others who will in turn educate and equip many people to share the facts of fetal development and abortion, and save lives. Many are already doing lifesaving pro-life work with joy in their hearts.

One Ugandan woman stated, "With each new baby born, God is smiling on the work of MCCL GO!"

The MCCL GO African speaking tour continues through Nov. 18. Look for the new MCCL GO website to launch soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One day only: Maximize your difference for life!



Dear Friend of Life,

What if you could help us win $1,000 just by giving 10 bucks? For today only – Tuesday, Nov. 16 – you can!

For the next 24 hours, Minnesotans will come together for the second consecutive year to show the power of online giving through GiveMN.org. To celebrate, the charitable giving site will give $1,000 to a random donor's charity every hour. You can increase our odds of winning by donating several times throughout the day.

Plus, through the generosity of an anonymous donor, all gifts given to the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund through GiveMN.org on Tuesday, Nov. 16, will be matched — up to $20,000!

To further our pro-life work and increase the impact of your donation, please consider taking part in this unique giving opportunity with a contribution to the MCCL Education Fund. To be eligible for the matching grant your contribution must be made today, Tuesday, Nov. 16!

I hope you will take advantage of this matching grant – I know I will be making my own $100 tax-deductible contribution, and I hope that you will do the same. MCCL's efforts can save lives, but we need your help to make it happen. Join us!

Sincerely,

Scott Fischbach
Executive Director

Friday, November 12, 2010

When does personhood begin? A biblical perspective

I recently saw a video in which a local pro-life pastor, in discussing the issue of abortion, broaches the question of when "personhood" (not life) begins -- whether it is at conception, or quickening, or a certain stage of brain development, etc. What's troubling is that it appears he's not really sure of the right answer, although he then offers a strong argument for why abortion is wrong regardless (along the same lines as my thoughts here), and earlier he offers powerful theological reflections on why abortion is wrong.

But does his uncertainty about personhood make sense? First we need to determine what he means by that term. He could mean "personhood" in the sense of an acquired moral status -- e.g., you and I come into existence at one point, but only become "persons" with value later on -- but that seems unlikely, since it should be clear according to the pastor's own biblical perspective that we have dignity by virtue of the kind of thing we are (creatures made in the image of God), not because of characteristics we may gain or lose, and thus we have that dignity at all stages of our lives. It follows on that biblical view that all human beings are persons, including the unborn from conception.

More likely, he means "personhood" as a nature or identity. So the pastor is uncertain about when I (what I am, a God-created soul) came to be: at quickening, or brain waves, or whatever. That's fair enough. But it seems clear to me that the Bible teaches a continuity of personal identity throughout the life of a human organism, which we know -- from the science of embryology -- begins at conception.

Consider Psalm 51:5: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." Consider also Luke 1:41-44, Psalm 22:10, Job 31:15 and many other passages. Writers in both the Old and New Testaments use the same word to refer to unborn and already-born children, indicating that they share the same nature.

So, the Bible affirms a continuity of personal identity throughout the life of a human being, and also teaches that we are valuable (such that it is prima facie wrong to kill us) by virtue of what we are. It follows that I was once an embryo and a fetus, and that I had the same basic moral status then that I have now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Federal election analysis, and where we stand

The following is by Doug Johnson, Federal Legislative Director at National Right to Life (NRLC).

The first two years of the Obama Administration have been a time of multiple setbacks for the pro-life cause at the federal level. Behind smokescreens of soft, deceptive rhetoric, the Administration has pushed an abortion-expansionist agenda on both domestic and overseas fronts, employing executive powers, nominations, and legislative attacks. The single greatest pro-life setback has been enactment of the massive [health care] restructuring law ("Obamacare"). ...

Now we have received the judgment of the electorate: The bloc of Democrats who abandoned the pro-life movement to satisfy President Obama and Speaker Pelosi suffered severe losses. In all, at least a dozen House incumbents who had taken high-profile stands against federal funding of abortion, but who ended up voting for the health care law, were defeated by pro-life challengers (or, in Stupak's case, suddenly retired).

Far greater losses were sustained among the ranks of House Democrats who had seldom or never voted pro-life: upwards of 40 were replaced by firmly pro-life Republicans.

It was the assessments of candidates by the mainstream pro-life organizations, such as NRLC, that correlated with the results: According to a national post-election poll conducted by The Polling Company, 24% of those who actually voted remembered receiving a previous communication or hearing an ad from National Right to Life about the candidates.

Fully 30% of voters said that abortion affected their votes, and this group broke nearly 3-to-1 in favor of the pro-life candidates.

Asked, "Did the issue of funding for abortion in the Obama health care law affect the way you voted in today's election?," 31% of voters responded in the affirmative — 27% who said they voted “for candidates who opposed the health care law,” and 4% who said they voted “for candidates who favored the health care law.” In other words, 87% of the voters who said the issue mattered, voted in accord with the NRLC position.

The take-home lesson, for lawmakers in both parties, could hardly be clearer: If you vote against the pro-life position –as defined by the mainstream pro-life groups — on a major abortion-related public policy issue, you will be held accountable by a substantial bloc of the electorate. ...

In addition to the replacement of about 40 career pro-abortion incumbents and about a dozen defectors, in about 25 other cases pro-life House incumbents of both parties are being replaced (through either retirement or defeat) by new, firmly pro-life candidates. In only one district in the entire nation was a firmly pro-life incumbent defeated by a solidly pro-abortion challenger. ...

What's that all boil down to? Overall, there has been a net shift in the pro-life direction in the House of 40 to 55 votes, depending on the issue. This brings within the realm of possibility full House approval of a permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal subsidies for abortion, such as the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act proposed by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), which has already been endorsed as a priority in the "Pledge to America" issued by the incoming Republican majority leadership in October. It also sets the stage for a battle royal over legislation to repeal the Obamacare law itself and replace it with something consistent with pro-life principles.

The election results were good in the Senate, as well, where the net shift in the pro-life direction will be from four to seven votes, depending on the issue. No senator is being replaced by a successor who has a weaker position on abortion.

This shift in the Senate will enhance pro-life prospects for fending off new legislative attacks on existing pro-life policies — among these, an ongoing effort to repeal a ban on performing abortions in U.S. military medical facilities, and a variety of bills intended to further enhance the Administration's ongoing efforts to expand abortion access throughout the developing world. But President Obama's veto pen may still pose a formidable obstacle to enactment of legislation targeted at the gross deficiencies of the Obamacare law, and of the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act.

George W. Bush on abortion

"The abortion issue is difficult, sensitive, and personal. My faith and conscience led me to conclude that human life is sacred. God created man in His image and therefore every person has value in His eyes. It seemed to me that an unborn child, while dependent on its mother, is a separate and independent being worthy of protection in its own right. When I saw [my daughters] Barbara and Jenna on the sonogram for the first time, there was no doubt in my mind they were distinct and alive. The fact that they could not speak for themselves only enhanced society's duty to defend them."

-- George W. Bush (from his new book Decision Points, p. 112)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thinking clearly about 'ethics at the edge of life'

Dr. Scott B. Rae, a professor of philosophy, and Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute, recently taught a seminar for M.A. students at Biola University titled "Ethics at the Edge of Life." All 14 sessions are now watchable on YouTube.

Klusendorf presents on "advanced pro-life apologetics," with the following sessions:

- What is the Issue?
- What is the Unborn?
- What Makes Humans Valuable Part 1: Substance View of Human Persons
- What Makes Humans Valuable Part 2: The Religion Objection
- Abortion: Law, Metaphysics, and Moral Neutrality
- Bodily Autonomy Appeals: Analysis of Thomson, McDonagh, and Boonin
- Catholic Social Justice Teaching, Assumed Moral Equivalence, and other Common Objections
- Equipping Your Local Church to Engage

The detailed notes for Klusendorf's sessions are available here. He follows the basic approach of his book, The Case for Life.

Dr. Rae presents, among other sessions:

- Death, Dying and Assisted Suicide Part 1
- Death, Dying and Assisted Suicide Part 2

Surely watching just one of these videos is more edifying than a typical television program. For pro-lifers, few tasks can be more important than educating and equipping ourselves to make a difference in this great cause.

Monday, November 8, 2010

MCCL GO takes pro-life message to Africa

The following news story is from LifeNews.com.

Over the next 12 days the people of Africa will be able to see a team from the global outreach project of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life in action.

Executive Director Scott Fischbach will speak at meetings in four East African nations, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar, beginning Sunday.

"This is a dream come true to actually meet, speak to and share directly with the pro-life contacts that MCCL GO has been working with via the Internet, phone and fax over the last 18 months," Fischbach told LifeNews.com. "To finally be able to work hand-in-hand with those who fight to defend the unborn and their moms in Africa is a true honor."

The initial schedule includes pro-life addresses at an East African regional conference held at the Mbagala Spiritual Center in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Meetings in Stone Town, Zanzibar, will be held with various Islamic leaders not only from Zanzibar, but also from Pemba. Several high-level meetings will take place in Kampala, Uganda; this is also where MCCL GO has been asked to speak with students at two major Ugandan universities.

The African continent is presently under siege from pro-abortion forces from all corners of the world, which highlights the importance of the trip.

Fischbach says the Obama administration, the European Union, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Marie Stopes International and others "are exerting enormous pressure on African countries to abandon the protections they have in place for the unborn and their mothers."

"Kenya has already lost most of its protections against abortion with the ratification of its new Constitution, approved after massive amounts of U.S. tax dollars funded the effort," he said, referring to the vote on the new constitution that took place in August — a document that contains loopholes allowing abortions.

"I am excited at the opportunity to address African leaders, but I am more eager to listen to and learn from them," Fischbach said.

He concluded: "The population of Africa is very young; African culture is a true culture of life that needs to be protected and defended. It is our hope that MCCL Global Outreach can play some part in sharing with African leaders the knowledge and expertise that we have gained over these last 42 years of pro-life work."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election results and the pro-life movement

Chip Cravaack
Yesterday was a good day for the pro-life movement -- nationwide and here in Minnesota.

Pro-lifers picked up many seats in the U.S. House and Senate. From Minnesota's Congressional delegation, pro-life U.S. Reps. John Kline, Michele Bachmann, Erik Paulsen and Collin Peterson all comfortably retained their seats. The one change came in the 8th District, where pro-life (and MCCL Federal PAC-endorsed) Chip Cravaack ousted Rep. Jim Oberstar in a remarkable upset. Our state will now have five (out of eight) pro-life members of Congress.

The state Legislature saw a huge turnover -- pro-lifers will now have a majority of both the House and Senate, which will enable us to pass key pro-life legislation. The extremely-close governor's race remains undecided.

Find all the election results here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Please vote: What you need to know

Unborn human lives are at stake.
Election Day is tomorrow, Tues., Nov. 2.

The 2010 elections are crucial for the cause of vulnerable persons who are threatened by abortion, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research. The results tomorrow will dictate what the pro-life movement can achieve in the coming years. Please vote for life!

Are you registered to vote? Find out here.
Do you know where to vote? Find out here.

The governorship, state Legislature and Congress will all be on the ballot. A pro-life governor is necessary to preserve recent pro-life gains, veto life-threatening legislation and make possible the enactment of new pro-life measures. A pro-abortion governor would work to unravel lifesaving policies and enact dangerous new legislation. Tom Emmer is the only candidate for governor who will stand up for life. Learn about the candidates.

Every seat in the Minnesota Legislature is up for election in 2010. Pro-life legislators are essential for passing lifesaving bills and stopping pro-abortion ones. Please use our Voter's Guide to find out where your state House and Senate candidates stand on the right to life; their answers to the MCCL candidate questionnaire begin on page 5. Find out which House and Senate districts you live in here.

Minnesota has eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and all are up for election this year. Our Voter's Guide includes the candidates' responses to the MCCL questionnaire (on page 4). Learn about the MCCL Federal PAC-endorsed candidates for Congress here. See also these Congressional race comparisons: Tim Walz (pro-abortion) v. Randy Demmer (pro-life)Tarryl Clark (pro-abortion) v. Michele Bachmann (pro-life) and Jim Oberstar (mixed record) v. Chip Cravaack (pro-life).

For a complete list of where candidates for office (both state and federal) stand on life, see the MCCL Voter's Guide. Read about how to weigh different issues and choose a candidate (e.g., can a pro-life person reasonably vote for a pro-choice candidate?) here.

What can you do to make a difference?

1) Learn where the candidates stand on life issues and tell others
2) Bring five pro-life people to the polls who otherwise might not vote
3) Vote for life on Nov. 2

When you vote, please remember that human lives are at stake! The unjust killing of innocent, unborn human beings -- 1.2 million every year in the United States -- is the greatest social justice issue of our time.

P.S.  You can find all recent election-related posts here, including posts about the importance of the governor's race, the pro-abortion views of Tom Horner, Jim Oberstar's key pro-abortion vote and the MCCL Federal PAC endorsement of Chip Cravaack.

Friday, October 29, 2010

On the obligation to participate in elections

Frank Pavone writes:
While voting is always a moral obligation, sometimes that obligation is stronger than at other times. This is especially true when pro-life people have an opportunity to elect, in a close race, someone who is committed to protect the unborn, and remove from office someone else who isn't. The closer a race is, the more each person's vote matters. And among candidates who have a strong enough base to win, we have a moral obligation to vote in such a way that will do the most to advance the culture of life.

We each have one vote, but we can also influence thousands of other votes. We can directly help candidates by volunteering for their campaigns, and we can help other voters understand their duty and get to the polls.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Video: How Obamacare expands abortion

Why Jim Oberstar lost the support of the pro-life movement

A version of the following MCCL letter ran in Timberjay newspapers in northern Minnesota (in the 8th Congressional District) on Oct. 23.

In a recent Timberjay story ("Oberstar snubbed by pro-life group," Oct. 15), Jim Oberstar's campaign said Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life's (MCCL) endorsement of Chip Cravaack indicates that MCCL has become "increasingly partisan." But Oberstar has only himself to blame for losing the support of the pro-life movement.

Oberstar avidly defends his vote for the Obama health care overhaul—and attacks those who disagree—but it is difficult to see how anyone committed to the pro-life view could find that legislation at all acceptable, which is why it was almost uniformly opposed by pro-life groups comprised of members of every political persuasion.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, explains: "[The new health care law contains] multiple provisions that authorize new programs or expand authorizations for existing programs that are authorized to cover abortion, either explicitly or implicitly. Some of these provisions are entirely untouched by any limitation on abortion in existing law or in the [bill] itself, and others are subject only to limitations that are temporary or contingent." Documentation is available at www.nrlc.org.

On this monumental measure, Oberstar crumbled and came down squarely on the wrong side. "I will not vote for a health care bill that doesn't have the [pro-life] House abortion language in it," Oberstar pledged on Feb. 24, less than a month before voting for the bill even though it did not include the pro-life language. Oberstar reportedly led the effort to convince wavering pro-life Democrats to vote for the pro-abortion legislation.

Oberstar cites President Obama's executive order as a safeguard against federal funding of abortion, but the order can be repealed at any time and fails to trump the law itself, which lacks adequate pro-life protections. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called the executive order a mere "symbolic gesture"—a barely-disguised cover for legislators wanting to vote for the bill regardless of its effect on unborn children and other vulnerable persons.

Already this year, three states began implementing—under the new health care law—federally-funded programs that would explicitly subsidize abortions. The Department of Health and Human Services eventually decided to exclude abortion from those plans, not because it conflicts with federal law or with Obama's executive order (it doesn't) but because National Right to Life had widely publicized the abortion coverage. In the years to come, pro-lifers will face many more battles as provisions of the Obama overhaul that could greatly expand abortion are put into place.

MCCL is not a partisan organization. We support pro-lifers of both parties, including many Democrats. Congressman Collin Peterson of the 7th District once again earned our endorsement this year due to his strong pro-life voting record and his answers to our candidate questionnaire.

In stark contrast, Congressman Oberstar has compiled a disappointing 33 percent pro-life voting record over his last term (2009-2010), and he refused to complete MCCL's candidate questionnaire.

The choice for pro-life voters in the 8th District is clear. Chip Cravaack is a principled pro-life candidate who will work in Congress to uphold the equal dignity of every member of the human family, no matter how small, vulnerable or dependent. Jim Oberstar's vote for the health care overhaul is a career-defining pro-abortion vote and will not be soon forgotten.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where do the candidates for the MN Legislature stand on life?

Every seat in the Minnesota Legislature is up for election in 2010 -- 67 Senate seats and 134 House seats. Pro-life legislators are essential to passing lifesaving bills and stopping pro-abortion ones.

If you live in Minnesota, please use our Voter's Guide to find out where your state House and Senate candidates stand on the right to life. Their answers to the MCCL pro-life questionnaire begin on page 5; view incumbent legislator's pro-life voting records here. (Find out which House and Senate districts you live in here.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The reality of forced abortion



What is the United States doing in relation to forced abortion in China? We seem to be encouraging it. President Obama restored U.S. funding (possibly illegally) to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which reportedly has been complicit in Chinese campaigns of forced abortion and forced sterilization.

President Bush had rightly stripped UNFPA of funding for that reason. As (pro-legalized abortion) former Secretary of State Colin Powell explained at the time, "I determined that UNFPA's support of, and involvement in, China's population-planning activities allowed the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion."

For details on the problem of coerced abortion here in the United States, see our brochure.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where do the candidates for Congress stand on life?

Minnesota has eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and all are up for election this year. Below are the major candidates in each of the eight Congressional races.

Our Voter's Guide includes the candidates' responses to the MCCL pro-life questionnaire (on page 4). Go here to view the pro-life records of the MCCL Federal PAC-endorsed candidates (Demmer, Kline, Paulsen, Collett, Bachmann, Peterson and Cravaack). Go here to view the voting records of Minnesota's current Congressional delegation.

District 1   Tim Walz (pro-abortion) v. Randy Demmer* (pro-life)
District 2   Shelley Madore (pro-abortion) v. John Kline* (pro-life)
District 3   Jim Meffert (pro-abortion) v. Erik Paulsen* (pro-life)
District 4   Betty McCollum (pro-abortion) v. Teresa Collett* (pro-life)
District 5   Keith Ellison (pro-abortion) v. Joel Demos (pro-life)
District 6   Tarryl Clark (pro-abortion) v. Michele Bachmann* (pro-life)
District 7   Lee Byberg (pro-life) v. Collin Peterson* (pro-life)
District 8   James Oberstar (mixed record) v. Chip Cravaack* (pro-life)

* endorsed by MCCL Federal PAC

Friday, October 22, 2010

MCCL and the Duluth News Tribune: A study in logic

Imagine a new "health care" bill that would promote the killing and dismemberment of 10-year-old children, and let's say (for the sake of argument) it would improve the quality of most adults' health care. Would it be fair to characterize an opponent of the bill as saying, "I don't care if people are sick or dying -- just that they live past the age of 10"?

Of course not. The opponent of the bill is not against good health care -- he simply recognizes that the legislation is radically unjust to 10-year-old human beings.

If the unborn are valuable, rights-bearing human beings -- like 10-year-olds and like each of us -- then a bill that promotes their killing by abortion should be opposed on the same grounds. And that is what the Obama health care overhaul does.

But an editorial cartoon in the Duluth News Tribune portrays MCCL as saying (in our opposition to Obamacare), "We don't care if children are sick or dying -- just that they be born." The suggestion that pro-lifers don't care about sick and dying children is obviously wrong, and logically it doesn't follow -- unless one starts with an absurd premise.

It's clear that in principle one could rightly -- without apathy toward the sick and dying -- oppose a bill even if it would help some people (as in the fictional example in which 10-year-old children are killed). So the cartoonist must hold that MCCL's opposition is not such a case -- i.e., MCCL does not believe that the unjust killing of innocent human beings is at stake. For if one does believe that, then opposing Obamacare no more makes one apathetic toward the sick and dying than opposing the fictional bill (on the grounds that it promotes killing 10-year-olds) makes one apathetic toward the sick and dying. So to conclude that MCCL must be apathetic to the sick and dying (as the editorial cartoonist does), one must assume that MCCL, a pro-life organization, does not really believe the pro-life position is true.

And that's ridiculous.

Race for Minnesota governor: Candidates and stakes

Human lives will be at stake on Nov. 2 when voters elect the next governor of Minnesota. Of the three major candidates, only one defends the right to life of every human being, no matter how small, vulnerable and dependent; the other two do not.

Under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, we have enacted pro-life laws that have reduced abortions and saved lives. Abortions in our state have dropped more than 14 percent since Pawlenty took office; the 2009 total was the lowest in 35 years.

But this progress could be reversed under a new governor. Both Mark Dayton and Tom Horner support abortion on demand. Dayton cosponsored the Freedom of Choice Act in the U.S. Senate, which would have wiped out virtually all limits on abortion and made the grotesque partial-birth abortion procedure legal again. Horner says he opposes the Woman's Right to Know informed consent law, which provides basic factual information to pregnant women prior to abortion. Both Dayton and Horner support requiring that every taxpayer pay for elective abortions—a proven means of significantly increasing the number of unborn babies killed.

By contrast, Tom Emmer has a 100 percent pro-life voting record and supports protection for human beings at every stage of development. He coauthored the Positive Alternatives Act to provide help and alternatives to pregnant women in need. He will work to stop taxpayer funding of abortion, forced abortion, sex-selection abortion and other attacks on unborn children and their mothers.

Learn more about where the candidates stand on human life by visiting www.mccl.org.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unborn child at 10 weeks



(Via Live Action)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weighing issues, choosing a candidate

The following is from the 2010 MCCL General Election Voter's Guide.

Some well-meaning people who oppose abortion—you may be one of them—are uncertain about which candidates to vote for in the gubernatorial and other elections this fall. Perhaps you are are tempted by a pro-choice candidate who wants to "reduce the need for abortion," or who advocates other positions with which you agree (on jobs, economics, education, etc.). Some may wonder whether pro-life politicians can actually do anything to stem abortion.

How does one decide? I believe that if you hold to the pro-life view, then it is almost inconceivable that you can reasonably vote for a pro-choice candidate over a pro-life one, regardless of the candidates' positions on other issues. Let me explain why.

If the pro-life position is true, then thousands of innocent human beings are unjustly killed each year in Minnesota, with the blessing of the government, and often using taxpayer dollars. In no other current political issue or debate is such a foundational principle at stake: the equal dignity and right to life of every member of the human family.

Candidates may disagree about how best to grow the economy or balance the budget, but they agree that we should grow the economy and should balance the budget. They only differ on the means to achieving a common goal. That is not the case when it comes to abortion and other right-to-life issues.

A "pro-choice" candidate (i.e., one who supports legalized abortion) by definition thinks a certain class of innocent human beings (the unborn) should be excluded from protection and so may be killed at the discretion of others. It is the very principle (human equality), not a mere policy difference, that is at issue. Just as it would be wrong to vote for a candidate who is "pro-choice" about slavery, it is unjust to vote for a candidate who thinks it ought to be legal to dismember unborn children, when there is a viable alternative candidate.

Apart from principle, a voter can assess the likely consequences if each candidate is elected. I think it is safe to say that the difference between candidates' probable influence on right-to-life issues is usually of greater moral significance than their differences on other issues. In short, a difference over tax policy (while important) cannot outweigh the thousands of human lives at stake with abortion and embryo-destructive research.

Many doubt (or simply don't know) that elected officials, limited by a Supreme Court-mandated regime of abortion on demand, can have a such an impact. But studies show that even modest pro-life legislation saves lives. Governors, state legislatures and Congress really do make a difference for unborn children.

The 14 percent drop in abortions under pro-life Gov. Tim Pawlenty is largely a result of Woman's Right to Know, Positive Alternatives and other pro-life bills passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor. These lifesaving measures could be undone with an abortion advocate in the governor's office, and anti-life measures—such as a 2008 embryo-killing bill vetoed by Pawlenty—could be enacted.

Lives are on the line, and every pro-life Minnesotan must vote accordingly. Use this Voter's Guide to learn where all the candidates stand, and tell others. Then vote for life on Nov. 2!

Video: MCCL endorses Chip Cravaack for Congress

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MCCL endorses Cravaack for Congress after Oberstar breaks with MCCL

The following MCCL news release was issued today, Oct. 12.

Oberstar abandons pro-life position, supports abortion funding, rationing

DULUTH – Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) today announced its endorsement of pro-life Chip Cravaack for Congress in the state's 8th Congressional District at a news conference at the Heaney Federal Building in Duluth. The state's oldest and largest pro-life organization, MCCL was enthusiastic in its support of Cravaack, a new committed pro-life leader.

"Chip Cravaack exemplifies everything the people of Minnesota's 8th District look for in a candidate for Congress," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Cravaack has a passionate dedication to uphold the constitutional right to life and to protect our country's most vulnerable citizens – the unborn."

Cravaack has made the protection of lives threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia central to his campaign. He strongly believes in the inalienable right to life from conception to natural death. Cravaack opposes the destruction of human embryos for experimentation and supports ethical adult stem cell research, which "has shown great possibilities and does not trade one life to save another," he has stated.

Cravaack and Jim Oberstar, the current 8th District congressman, differ sharply on these issues and on the Obama health care overhaul, which instituted health care rationing and taxpayer funding of abortion. Less than a month before voting for the Obama health care bill, Oberstar stated, "I will not vote for a health care bill that doesn’t have the [pro-life] House abortion language in it." The House language, which would have prohibited taxpayer funded abortion, was removed from the final bill, but Oberstar abandoned his pledge and voted in favor of it. He also led an effort to lobby pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House to vote for final passage of the Obama health care bill, even though it included rationing and abortion funding.

"Jim Oberstar has turned away from the pro-life principles he used to hold in common with the citizens of the 8th District," Fischbach said. "He has walked away from the pro-life movement. For years Jim Oberstar has had a 100 percent pro-life voting record and now he has a zero percent pro-life voting record. Just as Jim Oberstar has abandoned the babies, it is time for the voters to retire Jim Oberstar."

Fortunately, voters have a strong pro-life candidate in Chip Cravaack. MCCL Federal PAC urges the people of Minnesota's 8th District to vote for Chip Cravaack. He is the candidate with the courage and conviction to protect unborn babies, senior citizens, disabled persons and everyone else whose life is threatened by abortion, health care rationing and other dangers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

'A lot is at stake,' and the choice is clear

From the Star Tribune:
A lot is at stake on social issues. The Legislature has been grappling with whether the state should fund embryonic stem cell research [and] ban state funding of abortions. ...

In terms of social issues, Independence Party candidate [for governor] Tom Horner and [DFLer Mark] Dayton agree on many points -- few of which align with [Republican Tom] Emmer, according to their records and statements from the candidates. ...

Dayton is an ardent advocate of abortion rights and is endorsed by Minnesota NARAL. Horner shies away from abortion labels, but said he has no plans to change the law that now allows state-funded abortions for very low-income women. "I would maintain the status quo on Minnesota [abortion] laws," Horner said in an interview, adding that his goal is reducing the number of abortions.

Emmer has voted to bar state money from funding abortion, and has a consistent record of opposing abortion.

Both Horner and Dayton support state funding for embryonic stem cell research, which Emmer opposes.

The purpose of government

"In the state of nature—the 'law of the jungle'—the determination of who 'qualifies' as a human being is left to private individuals or chosen groups. In a justly organized community, however, government exists to secure the right to life and the other human rights that follow from that primary right."

-- U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan

Friday, October 1, 2010

Do you believe in human rights?

The Political Dictionary defines "human rights" (in part) as follows:
Human rights are a special sort of inalienable moral entitlement. They attach to all persons equally, by virtue of their humanity, irrespective of race, nationality, or membership of any particular social group.
If these rights are had "by virtue of [one's] humanity," then they are had by all humans, including the human embryo and fetus. Every person who embraces the above concept of human rights (I hope everyone does) rationally must acknowledge what follows from that concept: human rights for the unborn human killed by abortion.

I see one possible escape route for someone who embraces the above concept of human rights but who denies that the unborn has basic rights. One could take issue with my interpretation of "human," contending that while the unborn is biologically human -- i.e., a member of the species Homo sapiens -- he or she is not human in the moral, social or metaphysical sense that we mean when we talk about human rights.

The problem is that any such criterion for "humanity" -- other than being a member of the human species -- provides no basis at all for human equality, which is an important part of the concept of human rights (see above). We are only equal in virtue of the kind of thing we all are (what we all have in common), and we share that same thing in common with the human embryo and fetus.

So the traditional understanding of human rights is incoherent unless unborn human beings are included in the community of rights-bearing individuals.

Tom Horner is no moderate

In the video below, Independence Party candidate for governor Tom Horner answers questions about abortion.



My response to his claims is here.

The bottom line is that Horner does not seem to support any limitations on abortion, and he wants to continue to make taxpayers fund elective abortions. He also opposes Minnesota's Woman's Right to Know law, which informs women about abortion risks, complications and alternatives, as well as fetal development and other facts, prior to an abortion.

These positions put Horner on the radical fringe.