Wednesday, June 30, 2010

'Discarded anyway'? The rationale for embryo-destructive research

The following is from the March 2009 issue of MCCL News.

Human embryos used for embryonic stem cell research (which results in the embryos' destruction) are donated from fertility clinics, where they are "left over" from the in vitro fertilization process. Advocates of embryo-destructive research say these "excess" embryos would otherwise be thrown away, so rather than letting them go to waste, we ought to use them for research that could possibly benefit others.

This has been perhaps the single most prevalent argument in defense of embryo killing. But it fails for more than one reason.

First, it poses a false dilemma: So-called "excess" embryos need not be discarded or killed for research—they can now be adopted by loving parents. The Snowflakes Frozen Embryo Adoption Program and others have been very successful in facilitating the adoption of frozen human embryos. With so many infertile couples in the United States waiting to adopt, every embryonic human can be given the chance to grow up.

Second, even assuming that excess embryos will be killed anyway, are we thereby justified in slicing them up for experimentation? Not if the embryo is a valuable human being. Human beings ought to be treated with dignity and respect, not farmed for their useful parts. No one suggests that we kill and extract organs from terminally ill patients, death row inmates or dying soldiers on the battlefield—even though they are "going to die anyway." The human embryo, like every other human being, warrants our respect even if she will soon die.

Third, the debate over using spare embryos is actually a red herring. Advocates of embryo-destructive research acknowledge that fertility clinic embryos are not nearly adequate to their demands; the goal, rather, is the mass production of human embryos by cloning. Cloning is necessary to (theoretically) avoid embryonic stem cells' problem of immune rejection, as well as to supply enough embryos for researchers. Only 2.8 percent of the 400,000 frozen embryos in U.S. fertility clinics are designated for research, and even many of these may be unusable (RAND Law & Health). That's why recent legislation around the country has been written to explicitly sanction somatic cell nuclear transfer, or cloning, as a means of creating brand new humans to kill for experimentation.

The "discarded anyway" argument, therefore, fails on every count. "We should offer these extra embryos to infertile couples to implant and allow them to be born, and not kill them either by experimentation or by disposal," says Dr. Micheline Mathews-Roth of Harvard Medical School.

The scientific facts of embryology show that human embryos are distinct, living and whole (though immature) human organisms. Whether the result of natural fertilization, in vitro fertilization or somatic cell nuclear transfer, they are individual members of the human species at a very early stage of their development.

Embryo-destructive research relegates this class of vulnerable humans to the status of a natural resource we may harvest and exploit. It is a profound violation of the equal dignity and rights of human beings.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Obamacare's threats to vulnerable human life

National Right to Life has two new brochures on the threats of President Obama's health care overhaul to vulnerable human life. Go here to see the threat to unborn children, and go here to see the threat of rationing for vulnerable patients.

Monday, June 28, 2010

MN hospital sends starving, disabled boy home without care

The following was published today on It is written by Jordan Bauer, MCCL legislative associate.

By Jordan Marie Bauer

A recent story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Lake City ER sends starving disabled boy home with just a note" (June 17, 2010), has caused quite the stir. An investigative report released last week by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) revealed that a disabled, severely malnourished boy from Lake City, Minnesota, was wrongly sent home from a hospital emergency room without any medical assessment or treatment.

After school nurses found open lesions on the Lake City boy's back, and noted that he could not walk or feed himself and lay on a school cot in the fetal position, the boy's parents were told by social service and law enforcement officials to take him to an emergency room as soon as possible.

The boy was brought to the Lake City Medical Center; however, due to decisions made that were not in the best interests of the boy's health, he was sent home and did not receive the medical treatment he so desperately needed.

The next day social service workers had the boy taken to another hospital, where he was "admitted several days due to severe malnutrition, starvation, bedsores and uncontrolled seizures," according to the MDH report.

Minnesotans understandably reacted with shock to the front-page story of a suffering child released from a medical facility without having received any care. How could medical care providers be so heartless and cruel? Regardless of the circumstances of this particular case, it could serve as a frightening picture of what is to come under the new health care law.

The boy's sad and dangerous experience highlights a very serious threat facing all vulnerable persons — not only the disabled and elderly: the involuntary and intentional denial of medical treatment for those who need it. Obamacare could jeopardize the ability of patients to receive lifesaving medical treatment when it's needed most; scenarios such as the one described above could become standard procedure under federal health care mandates.

From the beginning, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and our national affiliate, National Right to Life Committee, have been as dedicated to protecting older people and people with disabilities from euthanasia as we have been to protecting the unborn from abortion. We have recognized that the denial of lifesaving medical treatment is a form of involuntary euthanasia, and therefore we have opposed government rationing of health care.

The Lake City case touches on a much broader pro-life concern, exacerbated by Pres. Barack Obama's recent health care overhaul. Cases similar to this, in which care is intentionally withheld, will only increase as the new law's mandates are fully implemented. Denial of care is at the heart of the health care overhaul's mission to control costs.

The new law contains provisions that will result in the large-scale rationing of lifesaving medical treatments. When cost-saving health care decisions are made based on patients' perceived "quality of life," including age, predicted degree of disability and other subjective criteria, persons with less favorable predicted "outcomes" will be denied medical resources in favor of other patients whose predicted results are more favorable.

Fiscal constraints and a "quality of life" ethic will likely lead to the denial of essential care for the elderly and disabled and other vulnerable people.

The lives of countless patients are threatened. Pro-life advocates must work harder than ever to protect the dignity of all members of the human family, regardless of age, degree of disability or perceived "quality of life."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New article on fetal pain is 'stunning lack of scholarship'

A new study by a group of British doctors claims that the unborn child cannot feel pain before the age of 24 weeks. National Right to Life (NRLC) has responded with a news release, which quotes NRLC Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D.:
An objective expert in neurobiology would be appalled by the stunning lack of scholarship in the RCOG article. Its authors (predominantly abortion advocates and at least one abortionist) based their claim that unborn children do not experience pain before 24 weeks on the absence of complete nerve connection to the cortex before then.

They ignore the seminal 2007 publication of "Consciousness without a cerebral cortex," in the medical journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences and dismiss its evidence that children born missing virtually all of the cerebral cortex nonetheless experience pain.

Ironically, the article concedes the evidence that by 20 weeks pain receptors are present throughout the unborn child's skin, that these are linked by nerves to the thalamus and the subcortal plate, and that these children have coordinated aversive reactions to painful stimuli, and experience increased stress hormones from it.

This article is an effort by acknowledged abortion promoters to mislead the public at-large – and most tragically women considering abortion – about the increasing evidence demonstrating the unborn child's sensitivity to pain.
A refutation of the new study from is here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

When toys are intrinsically valuable

One theme (of many) running through Toy Story 3, currently the top movie at the box office, is the conflict over "toy nature," so to speak -- the nature, purpose and value of the toy characters.

The toys' owner is all grown up and leaving for college, and they face an existential crisis. Without a child to play with them, what are they supposed to do? Are they unwanted? Will they be thrown out?

The film's chief villain, Lotso, is a toy whose owner replaced him and who, in his despair, came to hold the view that toys are "mere plastic," trash, garbage -- things to be used and then thrown away. It's this nihilistic view that explains and justifies Lotso's tyrannical system of government, in which the powerful toys rule the weak and the rights of the individual are not respected.

The question the film must answer is whether each toy is valuable for its own sake, as an end and not merely a means to something else. And the answer is that every toy, regardless of usefulness or "newness" or brokenness, is special. That's the message Toy Story 3 ultimately affirms.

We're debating the same question in America today -- only about human beings, not fictional toys. And it plays out in the controversies over abortion, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research. Is every human being -- regardless of age, level of development, ability, "wantedness" and perceived "quality of life" -- valuable, a person who ought to be treated as such?

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Abortion debate should include forgotten dads

Gary Bauer writes:
Anti-abortion advocates have long contended that abortion produces two victims: the unborn child, and his or her mother, who, a mounting body of research affirms, risks physical and emotional injury.

But there is evidence that abortion often involves a third victim, one who is typically dismissed when he is acknowledged at all: the child's father. ...

Studies have shown that some men have negative emotional experiences akin to postpartum depression after the birth of their child.

In an article in the May issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the Eastern Virginia Medical School examined 43 previously published studies involving 28,000 male and female adults and found that at least 1 in 10 fathers became depressed after the birth of their child.

A study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology even found that half of male partners experienced varying degrees of psychological malaise following their partner's miscarriage.

If a man can feel negative emotions after every other type of pregnancy outcome, why not after an abortion?

A 2009 study in the journal Public Health examining the associations between abortion and relationship functioning found that "for men and women, the experience of an abortion in a previous relationship was related to negative outcomes in the current relationship."

It also discovered that an "experience of an abortion within a current relationship was associated with 116 percent and 196 percent increased risk of arguing about children for women and men, respectively."

Men whose current partners had an abortion were more likely to report jealousy (96 percent greater risk) and conflict about drugs (385 percent greater risk). The authors conclude, "[A]bortion may play a vital role in understanding the [causes] of relationship problems."

It may be difficult for some to understand why men would react negatively to a partner's abortion. After all, men are often as much a part of reproductive decisions as the women themselves. Surveys of women who had an abortion reveal that they often feel direct or indirect pressure to abort the child from their partners.

But in a culture that teaches that "it's her body, her choice," men are often excluded from the decision, and thus left to feel helpless. Men have no legal voice in the abortion decision.

In Planned Parenthood of Missouri v. Danforth, the Supreme Court ruled that the state was not required to notify or obtain permission from the husbands of women seeking abortion.

Either way, it is something of a taboo for men to talk about feelings of loss or guilt after their partner has had an abortion. Women, after all, are the ones who carry the physical and physiological burden of pregnancy, and they are the ones who are often abandoned to address the consequences of reproductive decisions.

Many men who have watched their partners go through an abortion, some probably feeling shame over having failed in their responsibility to protect and provide, try to repress their feelings.

To many, abortion has become a normal and acceptable part of reproductive health care.

One abortion takes place about every 25 seconds in America (based on the Guttmacher Institute's estimate of 1.2 million abortions in 2005, the last year for which comprehensive data were available) making it one of the most common surgical procedures. But the effects following the abortion of one's child should not ever be discounted when making that kind of decision. Not for the mother, and not for the father.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

NRLC letter opposing Kagan confirmation

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), representing the affiliated Right to Life organizations in all 50 states, today sent members of the U.S. Senate a letter urging them to oppose confirmation of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The letter is posted on the NRLC website here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Abortion shows that we have failed women

"When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society -- so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged."

-- Mattie Brinkerhoff (The Revolution, Sept. 2, 1869)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thousands die from euthanasia in the Netherlands

According to Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition:
The number of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands has significantly risen on a yearly basis for several years. The most recent report suggested that there were 2,636 reported euthanasia deaths, a 13% increase over the 2008 stats, which themselves represented a 10% increase over the previous year.

The problem with the media reports concerning euthanasia in the Netherlands is that they do not include all categories of direct and intentional deaths that are recorded.

The Netherlands has separate categories for assisted suicide and deaths without explicit request or consent.

The most recent full-report concerning euthanasia in the Netherlands stated that there were approximately 400 assisted suicide deaths and 550 deaths without explicit request or consent .

Therefore a more accurate number of reported deaths would be 2,636 reported euthanasia deaths, 400 reported assisted suicide deaths, and 550 deaths without explicit request or consent.

The current number of reported euthanasia deaths has grown significantly. In 2008 there were 2,331 reported deaths, in 2007 there were 2,120 reported deaths, in 2006 there were 1,923 reported deaths, and in 2003 there were 1,815 reported deaths. ...

Meanwhile a study by anthropologist Anne Marie The suggested that many of the reported cases of euthanasia were not voluntarily requested by the person who died. Anne Marie The interviewed physicians who participated in euthanasia and asked them about specific circumstances. She found that often the decision to go ahead with euthanasia was made by the physician. ...

The reality is that euthanasia is out of control in the Netherlands.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Honor dads on Father's Day

Once each year, we set aside a day to honor dads for their contributions. Father's Day acknowledges the part that fathers play in our lives and in our culture.

Fathers are the world's greatest teachers, and they teach some of life's most important lessons. Dads are crucial to the formation of healthy sons and daughters.

This year, make a point to express your thanks to your own father—your biological father and/or your adoptive father—and to honor the other fathers in your family, church and community.

Fathers—who love, protect and provide for their families—deserve the best on this, their special day. Happy Father's Day on Sunday and every day.

For life,

Leo F. LaLonde
MCCL President

Thursday, June 17, 2010

'You can never say again that you did not know'

Learn the hard truth about abortion here (descriptions) and here (videos and photographs -- graphic).

"Having heard all of this, you may choose to look away, but you can never say again that you did not know." -- William Wilberforce

(HT: Live Action)

Supreme Court nominee Kagan is not pro-life

National Right to Life is officially opposing the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court. Here's why.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Call Congress to oppose DISCLOSE Act

From the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC):

The U.S. House of Representatives may vote within days on the so-called "DISCLOSE Act," legislation that would place sweeping new restrictions on the ability of incorporated groups, including NRLC and MCCL, to communicate with the public about the actions of federal lawmakers.

According to press reports, the House Democratic leadership has agreed to add a narrow "carve out" that will effectively exempt the National Rifle Association (NRA) from some of the key restrictions in the bill, in return for which the NRA has agreed that it "will not be involved in final consideration of the House bill."

In a June 15 letter to House members, posted here (in PDF format, here), NRLC reiterated its strong opposition to the bill, which it called "pernicious, unprincipled, and unconstitutional legislation." Regarding the proposed carve out, "With respect to the National Right to Life Committee, this amendment is not only worthless, but adds insult to injury," the letter said, adding that NRLC's congressional scorecard will describe a vote for the bill as a vote for "a blatant political attack on the First Amendment rights of NRLC, our state affiliates, and our members and donors."

For more details on the danger posed by the "DISCLOSE Act," see the alert published on page 1 of the June edition of National Right to Life News, posted here.

Press reports indicate that the House Democratic leadership now plans to force a House floor vote on the bill as early as Thursday, June 17. Please act immediately.

Click here and enter your zip code into the "Call Now" box. Then telephone the office of the lawmaker who represents you in the House, using the number you will be shown. Use the suggested talking points to deliver the message that you are strongly opposed to this bill. (You don't have to use all of the suggestions -- the important thing is to get the main point across.) Ask how your representative intends to vote on the bill.

What is human dignity?

That's the question philosophers Patrick Lee and Robert George answer in this journal article, entitled "The Nature and Basis of Human Dignity." Note the very serious implications for how we treat human beings in their most vulnerable stages and conditions, including the unborn, newborn, elderly and disabled.

U of M offensive tackle defends the unborn

The Catholic Spirit profiles Matt Stommes, an offensive tackle for the University of Minnesota who recently signed a contract to play in the National Football League. Stommes is active in Students for Human Life at the U of M.
As he works and trains for a chance to safeguard NFL passers, he also is trying to protect another type of person — the unborn child.

stommes.jpgA year and a half ago, Stommes joined the U of M's pro-life group, Students for Human Life, and has been an active member ever since.

Recently, he helped the group publicize a debate on the philosophy of abortion held on campus before a standing-room only crowd of about 450 people. He turned aside any concerns about what others might think of his views and tried to tell as many people as possible about the event.

"I sent out invitations to all my friends on Facebook and all the football guys," said Stommes, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound senior. "Because I'm in a position of visibility, it's even more of a responsibility to not hold back and to let people know what my beliefs are."
Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Peter Singer: Should we make ourselves extinct?

Influential Princeton ethicist Peter Singer -- defender of abortion, euthanasia, infanticide and bestiality -- wrote a post for a New York Times blog last week titled "Should This Be the Last Generation?"

The piece has gotten a lot of pro-life attention, including from Dave Andrusko, Wesley Smith, Steven Ertelt, philosopher Michael Liccione, theologian Albert Mohler, professor and blogger Gene Fant, and Megan from Life Training Institute.

Singer flirts with the idea that the human race should become extinct. "Is the continuance of our species justifiable in the face of our knowledge that it will certainly bring suffering to innocent future human beings?" he asks. "Why don't we make ourselves the last generation on earth? If we could all agree to have ourselves sterilized then no sacrifices would be required -- we could party our way into extinction!"

People talk about end-of-the-world scenarios, but I think this is a new one.

In the end, Singer doesn't actually believe "a world with people in it [is worse] than one without." But for him it's a serious question to consider, and we need a utilitarian calculation to find the answer.

He wonders about the impact of climate change. "The people who will be most severely harmed by climate change have not yet been conceived," he writes. "If there were to be no future generations, there would be much less for us to feel guilty about."

He discusses suffering and asks whether life is even worth living. He cites another philosopher who argues that (in Singer's words) "human lives are, in general, much less good than we think they are. ... If we could see our lives objectively, we would see that they are not something we should inflict on anyone."

So, could reproducing and continuing our existence on this planet actually be a bad thing? Could procreation be immoral? Singer is willing to say no, at least for now. "I am enough of an optimist to believe that, should humans survive another century or two, we will learn from our past mistakes and bring about a world in which there is far less suffering than there is now," he explains.

But the key is that, on his view, human life isn't good or worth living in itself. Its value is contingent on external factors (happiness, suffering) that may change. So given tough circumstances, the self-extinction of humanity might be the right thing to do.

(It's not difficult to see how this thinking justifies euthanasia and the killing of disabled infants. But Singer's rejection of intrinsic human value -- claiming instead that certain acquired properties, which human embryos and fetuses lack, are necessary for worth and dignity -- also makes sense of his support for abortion and embryo-destructive research.)

As Michael Liccione puts it, Singer's thinking "bespeaks an attitude toward life that should be treated primarily as a symptom of spiritual disease rather than as suggesting a serious philosophical thesis." But Singer does show us that ideas have consequences, and bad ideas can take us in a very disturbing direction.

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The year of the pro-life woman

By Justine Kuruoglu
MCCL Intern

Currently there are only 13 pro-life women in the U.S. House of Representatives, and no pro-life women in the Senate. Could this be because women are less likely to be pro-life?

The Gallup organization recently concluded that "abortion polling since the mid-1970s finds few remarkable distinctions between men's and women's views on the legality of abortion." It has actually found that 48 percent of American women consider themselves pro-life, while 45 percent consider themselves pro-choice.

So clearly there are millions of pro-life women, but it seems that most of them do not find themselves in the political realm.

Back in the 2008 elections, vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin quickly became the voice and prominent figure for pro-life women across America. Now looking towards the 2010 elections, there is an increasing number of pro-life women who are running for office.

Sharron Angle, Senate nominee for Nevada, Carly Fiorina, Senate nominee for California, and Susana Martinez, nominee for governor of New Mexico, are all pro-life. All three of these women won the nomination for the Republican party in the primary elections. Nikki Haley is also expected to be a gubernatorial nominee for South Carolina, and she too is pro-life.

In addition, Kelly Ayotte, the former attorney general of New Hampshire, and Jane Norton, the former lieutenant governor of Colorado, will also be pro-life Senate candidates in November if they succeed in their primaries.

As stated by Ramesh Ponnuru in the New York Times:
Political journalists called 1992 "the year of the woman" because so many female candidates won Senate seats that year — including Barbara Boxer, who was elevated from the House. All those women supported abortion rights. "We have been waiting for our 1992," says Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which encourages pro-life women to run for Congress. Her wait is coming to an end.

Friday, June 11, 2010

'Women Deliver' conference confiscates MCCL pro-life brochure

On Wednesday at the big "Women Deliver" conference in Washington, D.C., organizers confiscated hand-out bags from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) containing pro-life materials, including MCCL GO's brochure on how reducing maternal mortality -- the subject of the conference -- does not require legalized abortion.

Joel Pavelski from NRLC explains what happened:
Attendees from around the world streamed into the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation's capitol on Wednesday morning for the third day of the second global Women Deliver conference, carrying pink bags with the inscription: "Celebrate Motherhood." But conference organizers made sure the pink bags, and the information they contained, barely made it inside the doors.

The bags were offered by a small band of staffers and interns led by Jeanne Head, R.N., an experienced labor and delivery nurse, who serves as National Right to Life Vice President for International Affairs and also NRL's United Nations Representative. They arrived outside the convention center at 8 am, and were promptly asked to move across the street.

After about an hour, an attendee from Uganda walked across the street to ask for another bag. She had actually wanted to read the contents, she said. It was at this point that the staffers discovered from the Ugandan attendee that conference organizers were confiscating the bags and throwing them away.

According to the Ugandan attendee, conference organizers were heard telling attendees that the pink bags contained information that was "anti-human-rights," "anti-choice," "anti-life," and "anti-woman."

And so it was for that hour that the staff was outside the convention center: attendees received the pink bags, walked across the street, only to be required to dispose of them inside the building by conference organizers. (And from that point on, conference organizers began inspecting every bag being brought in because, in their words, the conference had been "infiltrated by anti-abortionists.")

What was inside the pink bags that warranted such an immediate, censorious response?

The "Celebrate Motherhood" bags contained a small plastic fetal model of a 12-week-old unborn child, a small replication of an unborn child's feet at 10 weeks gestation, a brochure on prenatal development, and a [MCCL GO] brochure containing information on proven means of reducing maternal mortality rates worldwide (the supposed focus of the conference).

"Many international people really loved the information," said Andrew Bair, one of the interns passing out the literature. "There were two women who loved the [12-week-old] baby models."

Head managed to negotiate the return of the confiscated materials from convention center security -- if she came back at 5 pm once the conference was over.

"There is nothing in this bag that tells anyone whether or not to have an abortion," Head said, "It's fetal development, medical facts, and a fetal model. They celebrate motherhood, and taking them is a violation of free speech. And it's certainly anti-choice and anti-woman by denying attendees access to the full range of information on this vital subject."

The three-day Women Deliver conference, co-sponsored by organizations that included United Nations Population Fund, USAID, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, says on its website that the goal for the event is "delivering solutions for women and girls." In practice, this means promoting abortion around the world.

The website also says that this year's conference will "expand on Women Deliver's hallmark of inclusivity, reaching out to new partners and new communities."

But apparently, if you can't include them, just find them, confiscate them, and trash them. It seems that for the organizers of Women Deliver 2010, inclusivity applies only to people who agree with their political platform.

Defense bill could allow abortions in U.S. military facilities

By Justine Kuruoglu
MCCL Intern

The rights of the unborn are under attack once again. Current law does not allow the use of any federal funds for abortion services in military hospitals except in cases of incest or rape. In addition, personal funds cannot currently be used to pay for abortions in military hospitals. However, this will all change if a new abortion provision gets passed in the Senate defense bill. If passed, not only will accessibility to abortions increase, it also has the potential to permit late-term and even sex-selection abortions.

An amendment to the Senate defense authorization bill (S 3280) would allow military servicewomen to obtain abortions at military hospitals if they used private funds. Sponsored by Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., the amendment would repeal a policy implemented in the mid-1990s that prohibits abortion at military hospitals, except in cases of rape, incest or threats to the life of the mother.

Burris said in a statement that it is "critical that we provide the highest quality care for our service members," which "includes allowing women and their families the right to choose at facilities operated under the Department of Defense." The amendment has been endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In a May 28 floor speech, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said the abortion provision would allow military medical facilities "to be used for abortions performed late term, abortions performed for purposes of sex selection, abortions performed for any reason, abortions at will." The amendment is "another piece of social engineering, another vast and serious and consequential departure from long-standing Department of Defense policy," Wicker said, adding, "I guarantee you this will be challenged on the floor for the House and Senate with separate amendments."

The Senate is expected to vote on the defense bill later this month, after which it will go to conference committee.

The House version of the bill (HR 5136) does not include the amendment, and House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton, D-Mo., has said he is opposed to changing the current policy. Pro-life Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said members of the GOP will "stand firm, and I welcome the fight ... if [Democrats] want to bring it."

As a Washington Times editorial puts it, Burris' amendment is "another example of a stealth measure that has become a commonplace tactic in a Democratic Congress bent on sneaking through unpopular legislation." Abortion advocates claim the amendment is necessary for women's safety, but "a safe alternative for all concerned already exists, namely taking leave to come home and give birth," the Times explains.

MCCL celebrates 42 years of protecting, saving human life

The following news release was issued today, June 11.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) tomorrow will celebrate 42 years of dedication to protecting and defending human life. Many hearts have been changed, protective laws passed and lives saved due to the tireless labor of MCCL volunteers and contributors throughout the decades.

"Our many dedicated, compassionate grass-roots members have made MCCL strong and effective," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "MCCL is one of the most effective pro-life organizations in the nation, thanks to these activists. They are steadily transforming our state's culture into one that respects and protects all innocent human life at every stage."

MCCL has taken a three-pronged approach to advancing its pro-life mission. First, citizens are continually educated on the threats to human life posed by abortion, euthanasia, infanticide and embryo-killing experiments. People are then mobilized to become active pro-life citizens who in turn work to educate others and to support passage of lifesaving laws. Third, MCCL members work to establish legal protection for vulnerable lives.

From a handful of pro-life activists in 1968, MCCL has grown to include more than 70,000 member families and 240 chapters across the state. Together they deliver pro-life educational messages through booths at events such as all 93 county fairs and Student Day at the Capitol, call for protective legislation at the annual Jan. 22 MCCL March for Life and as citizen lobbyists, work with public officials to pass legislation protecting the right to life, and much more.

MCCL's innovation and leadership have led to passage of the nation's first Parental Notification law in 1981, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and became model legislation for other states. MCCL also has been instrumental in passage of Minnesota's Human Conceptus law (1973), Baby Doe provisions to protect disabled infants (1985), Fetal Homicide law (1986), tightened law on assisted suicide (1992), Woman's Right to Know law (2003), Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act (2005), Positive Alternatives (2005) and a ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning at the University of Minnesota (2009). MCCL also brought national attention to the brutal partial-birth abortion method when it was uncovered in 1993.

"It is a testament to our effectiveness that the abortion issue is still front and center in Minnesota," Fischbach said. "MCCL's member volunteers refuse to allow the abortion industry to destroy the dignity and sanctity of human life, no matter how small or vulnerable. We will continue to compassionately fight for those who cannot fight for themselves."

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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Eduardo makes it cool to be pro-life

More about Eduardo Verástegui, star of the film Bella and outspoken pro-life advocate.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

From choice to coercion

The Elliot Institute has updated its report entitled "Forced Abortion in America." The report details many, many cases in which pregnant women are pressured or coerced into having an abortion against their wishes. Sometimes coercion escalates into violence and even death.

"Our files contain hundreds of stories from women and girls who were attacked or killed with the intent of getting rid of the pregnancy," says Elliot Institute spokesperson Amy Sobie.

"We've been collecting these stories for more than six years through mainstream media sources and pro-life organizations who have been diligently reporting on these kinds of cases. The information is out there, but many people aren't aware of what might be going on in their own communities."

Dr. David Reardon, director of the Institute, adds:
In many of the cases documented for this report, police and witnesses reported that acts of violence and murder took place after the woman refused to abort or because the attacker didn't want the pregnancy. Even if a woman isn't physically threatened, she often faces intense pressure, abandonment, lack of support, or emotional blackmail if she doesn't abort. While abortion is often described as a "choice," women who've been there tell a very different story.
Lydia McGrew calls this the "choice devours itself" phenomenon: when we "turn a blind eye to coercion in one of the areas that [we] have defined as an expression of freedom." If abortion is about freedom and choice, how can the "pro-choice" community sit back and do nothing about (or worse, facilitate) coercion?

MCCL supports legislation in Minnesota to stop coerced abortions. It should be supported by everyone who claims the "pro-choice" label and actually means it.

Is embryo destruction worse than abortion?

Both abortion and embryo-destructive research are the unjust killing of innocent human beings, and ought to be stopped. But is one actually worse than the other? Professor Richard Stith explains:
Embryonic stem cell research ... is wholly dehumanizing. When parents turn the living human embryos they have begotten over to science, they not only forget them as children but also turn them into commodities, donate them for eventual body parts. The embryos become wholly instrumental, they become resources to be calculated and consumed. They are degraded before they are destroyed. Like human embryos created by cloning, they do not die as unwanted children, or even as human beings, but as things to be used and used up. No greater negation of human dignity is possible.
Read the rest of his argument.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Andrea Bocelli tells a story

(HT: Dave Andrusko)

Monday, June 7, 2010

What accounts for the rise of assisted suicide?

Wesley J. Smith wonders why we're seeing a push for physician-assisted suicide now -- at a time when it's less "necessary" than ever.
100 years ago when people did die in agony from such illnesses as a burst appendix, there was little talk of legalizing euthanasia. But now, when pain and other forms of suffering are readily alleviated and the hospice movement has created truly compassionate methods to care for the dying, suddenly we hear the battle cry "death with dignity" as "the ultimate civil liberty."
Part of the explanation may be the general devaluing of human life that undergirds and connects the issues of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research. Another part may be a kind of "convenience" or "comfort" mentality, a tendency to do what's easiest (abortion for a pregnant woman in distress, euthanasia for a suffering patient) rather than what's right. Smith writes:
Social commentator Yuval Levin, a protégé of ethicist Leon Kass, described the new societal zeitgeist in his recent book Imagining the Future: Science and American Democracy. While not about assisted suicide per se, Levin hit the nail on the head when he described society as no longer being concerned primarily with helping citizens to lead "the virtuous life." Rather, he wrote, "relief and preservation from disease and pain, from misery and necessity" have "become the defining ends of human action, and therefore of human societies." In other words, preventing suffering and virtually all difficulty is now paramount. In such a cultural milieu, eliminating suffering easily mutates into eliminating the sufferer.
These two ideas -- devaluing life, doing what's easiest -- seem to work together whenever we dehumanize or abandon the most dependent and vulnerable members of the human family. One provides justification and the other motive.

'Telemed' abortions hurt women in Iowa

Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director who became pro-life last year, writes (see below) about a creepy new method of dispensing RU486 chemical abortions to women in Iowa. No longer must a pregnant woman talk to a doctor in person before getting the abortion; the abortionist can talk to her long-distance via videoconferencing, then press a button to open a drawer in front of the woman, containing the abortion drugs. The tragic effect of this new method is that (1) abortion becomes much more easily available (i.e., there will be more abortions), and (2) women taking the dangerous RU486 drug may not have a doctor nearby in case of complications.

Johnson's piece in full, published on
Abortion is a risky business. It's risky for the unborn child, of course. But there's also risk for the woman who undergoes the procedure, and that fact is often ignored by those who promote — and profit from — abortion.

Those risks could increase substantially under a new scheme Planned Parenthood has developed for expanding abortion to areas that are not served by its current network of surgical abortion facilities. And Planned Parenthood is certain to downplay these risks because abortion is the organization's biggest moneymaker.

I worked for eight years at Planned Parenthood, and I know that medical abortions — abortions done through the abortion pill, RU-486 — are far from risk-free. This pill is used through nine weeks of pregnancy to abort a child without surgery. According to RU-486's own website, at least six women in the United States have died in the past five years from using the abortion pill. Because the abortion pill can cause severe side effects, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has developed regulations for its use. One of the rules is that the pill can be administered only by a doctor.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartlands (Greater Iowa) dispenses RU-486 to hundreds, if not thousands, of women every year. However, this affiliate has previously been unable to distribute the abortion pill at its rural clinics, some of which are as much as 120 miles from a hospital or emergency care facility, because there is no doctor available.

Their answer is "telemedicine," where a doctor at a remote location conducts patient consultations over the Internet. This scheme completely bypasses the foundational in-person, doctor-patient relationship that is necessary for real health care.

Planned Parenthood stands to make enormous profits if this type of "telemed" abortion is successful.

This method is not being done in other parts of the country – yet. But Planned Parenthood intends to expand the use of this procedure.

Two years ago, I went to a National Abortion Federation meeting and listened to a nurse from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland brag about the new telemed abortion method. He said it would revolutionize the way medical abortions were conducted, starting in Iowa and then expanding throughout the nation.

Last week, at an event in Cedar Rapids, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spoke glowingly of the telemed abortions and indicated hopes to roll out the system nationwide over the next five years.

Even when I was a 2008 Planned Parenthood "employee of the year," I thought this system sounded risky.

Since many of Planned Parenthood's facilities in Iowa are in rural areas, it's downright scary to think of what could happen to any woman who suffers complications from RU-486.

The Iowa Board of Medicine and the FDA must take immediate action to ensure that the dangerous telemed abortions are stopped. Iowans should demand that their elected officials take swift action to strip all taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The facts of fertilization

In responding to a new argument that the human embryo is not yet a human being, Robert George and Patrick Lee explain the facts:
Fertilization in humans and other mammals produces a new member of the species in the embryonic stage of its natural development. That is to say, the entity produced by the union of spermatozoon and oocyte is a complete, though developmentally immature, organism. Unlike the gametes, it is not merely part of another organism; nor is it merely something that can be used to produce a complete organism. At fertilization, the ovum and the sperm cease to be and something new comes to be — an organism (the embryo) whose genetic constitution and epigenetic state orient and dispose it to develop in the direction of maturity as a member of the species.
As Jay Watts puts it, "An embryo becomes a fetus becomes a newborn becomes a child and eventually becomes an adult who posts blogs and argues that his human brothers and sisters in the earlier stages of our development ought not to be destroyed because their deaths profit the rest of us."

The unborn as constitutional 'persons'

In the Spring 2010 Issues in Law & Medicine, Gregory J. Roden, J.D., a Minnesota attorney, argues that unborn human beings are protected as "persons" under the 14th and 5th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court explicitly denied this point in its Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand, but Roden argues that the Court was (and is) mistaken. You can read the lengthy analysis here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When does life begin?

More here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Patrick Lee, David Boonin and the argument from bodily autonomy

Below is the video of a recent abortion debate between philosophers Patrick Lee and David Boonin. (Just a month ago, Boonin debated Peter Kreeft here in Minneapolis; see my reaction here.)

The debate is outstanding. Prof. Lee begins by working through a strong pro-life argument, showing that the unborn is a human organism and a person with rights. Prof. Boonin then concedes Lee's case (i.e., he agrees, though only for the sake of argument, that the unborn is a full person with a right to life), and presents the sophisticated argument from bodily autonomy to try to show that abortion is, nevertheless, morally permissible. The rest of the debate (the bulk of it) is spent going back and forth on the merits of that argument.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The effect of incremental pro-life legislation

"While under the yoke of Roe v. Wade, which essentially prevents state and federal legislative bodies from directly prohibiting abortion for any reason or at any time, it is crucial that pro-life citizens continue to seek incremental restrictions on the practice of abortion which the courts will allow to stand. We must also seek new ways to test the court and focus public scrutiny on abortion on demand.

"Such restrictions have three main results. First, they may immediately save lives. Second, they continue the public legal controversy surrounding abortion, which in turn has a deterrent effect on abortion itself and thus saves more lives. Finally, they teach the public that the law has not yet finished speaking on abortion and thereby help thwart the undesirable instructional effect of Roe v. Wade and its progeny. In other words, such restrictions force the public to at least subconsciously confront questions such as 'If abortion is O.K., then why won't the government fund it?'

"In addition, the process of passing restrictions that enjoy wide public support, such as abortion funding restrictions and parental notification laws, help expose the pro-abortion side's true unreasonable position."

-- David N. O'Steen and Darla St. Martin