Monday, October 31, 2011

'The unheralded gains of the pro-life movement'

In a cover story for the Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes writes about the state of the pro-life movement. Some excerpts:
That the pro-life movement is bigger is a given. It's also younger, increasingly entrepreneurial, more strategic in its thinking, better organized, tougher in dealing with allies and enemies alike, almost wildly ambitious, and more relentless than ever.

All that is dwarfed by an even bigger change. Pro-lifers have captured the high moral ground, chiefly thanks to advances in the quality of sonograms. Once fuzzy, sonograms now provide a high-resolution picture of the unborn child in the womb. Fetuses have become babies.

Abortion advocates were among the first to understand how this would alter the debate. Two pro-choice leaders, Kate Michelman and Frances Kissling, acknowledged three years ago that "antiabortionists" had gained a significant advantage. Supporters of abortion, they wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "have had a hard time dealing with the increased visibility of the fetus." To "regain the moral high ground," they must deal with "a world that is radically changed from 1973," when the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide.

Pro-life groups, unlike advocates of easy access to abortion, have proved adept in accommodating to this new world. They've begun piling up successes. In 2011 alone, 24 states have enacted 52 new restrictions on abortion. Five now require an ultrasound before an abortion, two insisting that the screen be viewable by the mother. Four bar abortions after the baby is able to feel pain (at approximately 20 weeks). Eight have opted out of Obamacare. Five ban abortions by webcam (in which a doctor, not in person but videoconferencing with the mother, prescribes pills to induce abortion). Six trimmed or eliminated funds for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider. Texas led with a $64 million cut. ...

Three pro-life trends have spiked in 2011. The first is the rise in opposition to abortion among young people. The under-30 cohort was the most pro-choice in the 1970s, second most in the 1980s and 1990s. Now they're "markedly less pro-choice" than any other age group, scholars Clyde Wilcox and Patrick Carr have written. "Clearly, something is distinctive about the abortion attitudes of the Millennial Generation of Americans."

Indeed there is. Millennials haven't grown more religious, politically conservative, or queasy about gay rights. Nor do they go out of their way to vote for pro-life candidates. But they tend to see abortion as a human rights violation. Thus their resistance to abortion is gradually increasing.

You can see a manifestation of this generational shift at the March on Washington each January 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling. For years, the marchers were geezers, initially Catholics, then aging Protestants too. In the past few years, the march has been dominated by teenagers and people in their 20s, often carrying infants.

The second trend is the explosive growth of refuges for pregnant but unmarried women. These safe houses go by a multitude of names: Crisis Pregnancy Center, Pregnancy Resource Center, Pregnancy Health Center, Pregnancy Care Center, or simply Pregnancy Center. ...

They all do the same thing, nurturing single women during their pregnancy and recommending against abortion. The results are one-sided: 80 to 90 percent of the women who have sonograms at pregnancy centers choose to have their baby.

Today there are nearly three times as many of these centers (2,300) as abortion facilities (800 to 850). One reason for the disparity is that women stay for months in pro-life centers, but only briefly in abortion clinics. The Care Net network reflects the growth: 550 centers in 1999, 1,130 today. ...

[L]anguage gymnastics and euphemisms reflect the forlorn condition of the pro-choice flock. They're worn out. Many are in despair. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Newsweek of her anguish as she watched last year's March on Washington. "I just thought, my gosh, they are so young," she said. "There are so many of them, and they are so young." Today, zeal and confidence and perseverance in the abortion battle are all on the antiabortion side. "There are more pro-lifers now, and they're more determined," says Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. ...

Fetal pain is another issue that has invigorated the pro-life movement in recent years. Improved ultrasound revealed to doctors that at around 20 weeks an unborn child reacts visibly to pain. "All the neurological equipment is present at 20 weeks," according to Teresa Collett, a professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minnesota and an expert on fetal pain. Fetal pain was recognized, Collett says, as an "independent basis for a state to protect the life of a child." In Nebraska last year, the first law was passed barring abortions after an unborn baby begins to sense pain. Mary Balch of National Right to Life (NRL) played a key role in drafting the Nebraska statute. ... Fetal pain laws focus on the suffering of the baby ... And who in the pro-choice lobby is eager to gainsay the pain experienced by an unborn child? Dispute it and you'll come across as cruel. ...

[R]eal gains have been achieved by the pro-life movement and many, many lives have been saved—in 2011 alone. And bigger gains are bound to come as more babies are spared the abortionist's knife.
Read the entirety of Barnes' piece.

Friday, October 28, 2011

MCCL Fall Tour Special Edition: Help save lives

The 2011 MCCL Fall Tour has ended after 39 pro-life educational meetings in towns all across the state of Minnesota. If you were unable to attend a meeting, the MCCL News special edition for Fall Tour attendees is now available to our members online.

The issue includes an outline of the Fall Tour presentation, a message from MCCL President Leo LaLonde, stories of pregnant women helped by the Positive Alternatives program, a calendar of 2012 events, and an extensive action list of ways that you personally can make a difference and help save lives from abortion, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research.

If you are not a member, you can join MCCL today by making a donation to our lifesaving work. To donate, go to our website or contact MCCL at or 612-825-6831. Thank you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The most important political issue in America today

If the pro-life position is true, then abortion is the most important political issue in America today. There's no getting around it. But I believe many pro-life voters do not properly recognize or understand this clear implication of their own view.

In the case of abortion, our government has legalized and sanctioned the intentional killing of a class of innocent human beings. At stake, then, is the equal fundamental dignity and right to life of every member of the human family. This is unlike any other issue or concern in American society today (excepting the other right-to-life issues of embryo-destructive research and euthanasia). In no other area are some human beings placed outside the protection of the law and allowed to be killed for any reason.

Moreover, abortion is the leading cause of human death in the United States. About 1.2 million innocent human beings are unjustly (yet legally) killed by abortion every year. So both the gravity and scale of the abortion problem make it the most important (domestic, at the very least) political issue. This conclusion is inescapable if the pro-life position is true.

Voters should prioritize accordingly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Video: Fact, not opinion, about RU486 abortion

The following video shows a fictional consultation between a doctor and a woman seeking an RU486 (chemical) abortion. Unlike most such consultations, this abortionist is honest and factually accurate. The nonprofit educational organization behind the video, the Human Development Resource Council, has provided medical documentation backing up every statement the abortionist makes.

(HT: Josh Brahm)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

David Frum's confusion over the legal question of abortion

David Frum, author, commentator and former aide to Pres. George W. Bushwrites:
But the political debate over abortion is not a debate over morality. It is a debate over legality.

Today's pro-life movement goes beyond arguing that abortion is immoral to argue that abortion should be punishable. Morality and punishability are two very different categories. ...

It is the demand that abortion be punished that divides America so passionately.
Of course, it is true that what is rightly kept legal is not necessarily ethical, and that what is rightly prohibited is not necessarily unethical. But it is also obvious that the legal question of abortion is hugely dependent on the ethics of abortion. If abortion is a morally trivial act, then it is difficult to see why government should interfere (beyond regulations for the health of women, etc.). But if abortion is the unjust killing of an innocent human being -- like, say, the intentional drowning of a toddler in the bath tub -- then abortion is precisely the sort of practice that almost everyone agrees should not be permitted by law. Indeed, prohibiting abortion would be necessary to fulfill perhaps the most foundational and uncontroversial purpose of government: protecting innocent people from unjustified homicide.

So Frum is wrong: It is not really the legal question of abortion that "divides America so passionately," but the ethical question. For if an ethical consensus was truly reached, a legal consensus would follow naturally.

Frum thinks the pro-life movement should stop trying to prohibit abortion, and instead focus on reducing the number of abortions without the force of law. Of course, we will continue working to reduce abortions using education, persuasion and compassionate assistance. But Frum does not seem to understand that the pro-life position, properly understood, is necessarily political, just as the movements to end slavery, bring about women's suffrage, and ensure civil rights for black Americans were necessarily political. Basic justice requires that human beings not be treated as property; that women, who are equal in fundamental human dignity to men, be equal participants in democracy; and that people not be discriminated against on the basis of skin color. It is not enough to try to use persuasion to reduce the incidence of some people enslaving other people under a legal regime that permits slavery; even if slavery did not in practice exist, such a legal regime would be gravely unjust, for it says that human beings may be treated as property for the benefit of others.

So it is with abortion. The truth of the pro-life position entails that we work to restore legal protection for innocent human beings at all developmental stages, including the unborn. It is a matter of justice.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Planned Parenthood brings 'webcam' abortions to Minnesota

Minnesota, apparently, was next in line for Planned Parenthood's webcam abortion expansion.

MCCL reported on Aug. 30 that Planned Parenthood had begun performing RU486 chemical abortions at its Rochester (Minnesota) clinic. It was the first time that Planned Parenthood in Minnesota -- the leading performer and promoter of abortion in our state -- had expanded its abortion operation beyond its St. Paul abortion center.

We then learned and reported in the Sept.-Oct. issue of MCCL News that these RU486 abortions in Rochester are being done via webcam. This is a very troubling development.

So-called "webcam" or "telemedicine" abortions were pioneered by Planned Parenthood in Iowa. Rather than meeting the abortionist in person, a pregnant woman converses with him long-distance via webcam before receiving the abortion drugs. (RU486 abortions are a two drug process: the first is mifepristone, or RU486, which kills the developing human being in utero; the second is a prostaglandin that expels the dead child.)

The webcam method allows Planned Parenthood to bring RU486 abortions to more women, especially in rural areas, who no longer have to travel to meet with a doctor in person. Women at the Rochester clinic talk with an abortionist who is located at Planned Parenthood's St. Paul center. The predictable result is more abortions performed and more revenue for Planned Parenthood.

Explains Dr. Randall K. O'Bannon of National Right to Life:
Webcam abortions generate buzz and open up a whole new customer base in locations where Planned Parenthood can't afford to post an abortionist. It gives some of their smaller offices a chance to bring in a very profitable product without having to make a lot of changes or buy a whole lot of new equipment.
Webcam abortions also pose serious dangers to women. RU486 itself is a particularly dangerous abortion method for pregnant women: Fourteen women are known to have died from RU486 in the United States since 2000, according to the FDA, and thousands of women have suffered complications. Moreover, the webcam technique means that women can receive RU486 in areas in which there may be no doctors (or no doctors familiar with the RU486 abortion process) available in the event of such complications.

It is true, of course, that many legitimate medical procedures are offered via telemedicine, as a means of helping more people, especially in emergency situations; but abortion is not a legitimate medical procedure. It is an elective procedure that kills young members of the human family and risks the health of women. Webcam abortion expands destruction, not health care.

Planned Parenthood's webcam abortion operation in our state must be opposed because it will increase the number of unborn human beings who are unjustly killed, and because it needlessly endangers pregnant women, who deserve care and support, not chemical abortion with little medical supervision.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Aristotle, the poor pregnant mom, and true happiness

From a new interview Kathryn Jean Lopez conducted with philosopher Christopher Kaczor, author of the recent book The Ethics of Abortion: Women's Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice:
LOPEZ: What does Aristotle have to do with the poor mom who feels as if she has no alternatives when she realizes she is pregnant? The desperate teenager? The single professional who can't both do her job and have this child?

KACZOR: I believe that everyone, including the poor mom, the desperate teenager, and the single professional, desires to find true happiness. I also believe that Aristotle, and even more fully Thomas Aquinas, showed that the way to true happiness consists in activity in accordance with virtue. There can be, therefore, no authentic happiness found in activity that is unjust. Aristotle's perspective has found a powerful analogue in the findings of contemporary positive psychology, which emphasizes the concept of flow in activity, strong relationships with others, and forgiveness.

I know that many women face unbelievably difficult circumstances in their pregnancy. For this reason, I think that all people of good will have an obligation to help them, to celebrate their heroism when they choose life, and to love them even when they do not. I can think of one case in particular: a young student, not yet finished with her education, who found herself pregnant with a man she did not know well. With so many responsibilities, both to her extended family and to her studies, she felt desperate, alone, and trapped. It was truly an act of heroism for that woman to decide to place that child for adoption. I know the woman in the story very well. She is my birth mother. I feel such an enormous debt of gratitude to her. Even though her choice was unbelievably difficult, I know and she knows that she made the right decision not to end my life. I don't think there is any woman who in the long term regrets, even in the most difficult of circumstances, making the choice for life. But I know there are many thousands of women who still remember and mourn, even decades later, the date that their baby would have been born.
Read the rest of the interview here.

International law protects the dignity of every human being

The following is taken from the footnotes of the recently-introduced San Jose Articles. To learn more, go here.

The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states: "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world," and UDHR Article 3 states, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 6 states: "Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." The preamble to the ICPPR likewise states: "In accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world[.]" The ICCPR preamble also recognizes that "these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person." The ICCPR also implicitly recognizes the human rights of unborn children by providing in Article 6 that capital punishment "shall not be carried out on pregnant women."

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the preamble to the Convention on the Rights of the Child both state 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."

Likewise, the American Convention on Human Rights stipulates in Article 4.1: "Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."

See also the preamble to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights which states: "[R]ecognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world[.]"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adult stem cells increasingly used to treat sports injuries

ESPN The Magazine has a story in its Oct. 17, 2011, issue about the use of stem cell therapies to help professional athletes heal from injuries:
Doctors in athletic circles are particularly optimistic about a specific [stem cell] line called mesenchymal stem cells, which they can extract in sizable numbers from fat and bone marrow. When properly cultivated and injected into an injured body part, the cells might be able to repair a banged-up jock's cartilage, bones, tendons and muscles dramatically faster than conventional surgical methods.

Clinics around the world report amazing results using these minimally invasive cellular procedures to repair torn ACLs. ...

In Europe, healthy top-level soccer players are already having their stem cells harvested and grown into lines of bone and connective tissue in case of injury.
The story is critical of FDA safety requirements in the United States that have caused some athletes -- among them superstar quarterback Peyton Manning -- to travel overseas for experimental procedures, which may or may not prove therapeutically successful. Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon received an FDA-approved stem cell injection in 2010, which seems to have significantly improved his right shoulder and elbow following rotator cuff surgery.

The most notable feature of the ESPN article? It does not mention unethically-derived embryonic stem cells even once. Such cells have never benefited a single patient. The buzz surrounding the use of stem cells for sports injuries is focused entirely on the only stem cell type that has successfully treated patients (and saved lives), and the only type that promises much more therapeutic success in the future: ethical and uncontroversial adult stem cells.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Does rape justify abortion? Three points

"Having lived through rape, and having raised a child 'conceived in rape,' I feel personally assaulted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal for rape and incest. I feel that we're being used to further the abortion issue, even though we've not been asked to tell our side of the story." -- Kathleen DeZeeuw, quoted in Victims and Victors
Abortion defenders frequently appeal to cases of pregnancy resulting from rape. Surely abortion should be allowed in such tragic and unfair situations, they argue. What can one say in response?

Rape is a truly horrifying crime. Rapists should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Victims of rape should be supported and treated with enormous compassion. But rape as an argument for the permissibility of abortion fails completely and decisively. Here's why.

(1) The vast majority of abortions have nothing to do with rape. Less than one percent of abortions end pregnancies that are a result of rape or incest. Thus, rape cannot justify the standard pro-choice position (and current legal regime in the United States) of abortion on demand. Pro-choice advocates must offer reasons to think that the other 99-plus percent of abortions are permissible. Appealing to rape is very often a red herring.

(2) Even in the cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, abortion is impermissible. Why? Because abortion is the unjust killing of an innocent human being (as I argue elsewhere), and the circumstances of sexual assault pregnancies do not change the ethics of such killing. Consider the following.

First, the fact that one has been the victim of a horrible crime does not justify inflicting a similar injustice against another innocent person. If abortion is such an injustice, then abortion in cases of rape is clearly wrong, for two wrongs do not make a right. An innocent child may not be put to death for the crime of her father.

Second, the circumstances of someone's conception have no bearing on his or her moral status as a human being. The people alive today who were conceived in rape (many of whom are now pro-life activists) may not be killed on those grounds. To argue for the permissibility of abortion in cases of rape -- indeed, to argue for the permissibility of abortion in all other cases -- one must show that the unborn (the embryo or fetus) who is killed by abortion is not a valuable, rights-bearing member of the human family, like you and me. The circumstances of conception are obviously irrelevant.

Third, we many not kill valuable, rights-bearing members of the human family in order to relieve or prevent emotional or psychological distress. The reasons for having an abortion after rape do not justify the killing of human persons. So, again, if the unborn is a valuable person, then abortion in cases of rape is not justified.

Finally, an abortion defender might argue that because a woman who is pregnant as a result of rape didn't consent to the sex that led to pregnancy, she has no obligation to let the unborn human being "use" her body as a "life-support system" (as a defender of the argument might put it). But a lack of special obligation does not justify intentional and direct killing, which most abortions entail. And not all of our obligations are voluntarily assumed. For more, see my critique of the bodily autonomy argument famously proposed by Judith Jarvis Thomson.

None of this is to deny that a woman who is raped is brutally victimized, and that she is further wronged if she subsequently becomes pregnant, unfairly tasking her with the gestation of a child (who is also an innocent victim, having come into existence in such a terrible way, through no fault of her own). Carrying to term a child conceived in rape is a heroic act, but sometimes heroism is the only acceptable course of action. Explains philosopher Christopher Kaczor:
The weight of philosophical discussion from Plato through Kant up to such twentieth-century writers as Dietrich Bonhoeffer urges us to do good and avoid doing evil, even when the personal cost is great, even if we are forced to choose between the morally impermissible and the morally heroic in cases where the merely permissible is not available due to the evil choices of others.
Fortunately, pregnancy care centers all across the state and nation stand ready to help women suffering after sexual assault. They are not alone.

(3) Research shows that abortion does not benefit women who have been victimized by rape. The rationale for rape victims getting abortions in the first place -- it will spare them emotional or psychological pain -- is simply not true in the real world. In their book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault, David C. Reardon, Julie Makimaa (herself conceived in rape) and Amy Sobie document the cases of women who became pregnant as a result of sexual assault. They write:
It is a little known fact that the vast majority of sexual assault victims do not want abortions. In addition, when sexual assault victims do have abortions, the long term, and even short term, psychological effects are devastating. Most of these women describe the negative effects of abortion on their lives as even more devastating than sexual assault.

Sexual assault is actually a contraindication for abortion. A doctor treating a pregnant sexual assault victim should advise against abortion precisely because of the traumatic nature of the pregnancy. ... [B]oth the mother and the child are helped by preserving life, not by perpetuating violence. ...

Abortion only adds to and accentuates the traumatic feelings associated with sexual assault. Rather than easing the psychological burdens, abortion adds to them.
Abortion and rape are both wrong because they are the unjust, brutal, dehumanizing treatment of innocent human beings. Abortion when pregnancy is a result of rape makes no moral sense. Notes Kaczor in his recent book The Ethics of Abortion: Women's Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice:
Unfortunately, nothing, including having an abortion, can undo a rape. However, to bear a child conceived in these most difficult of circumstances is to perform an act that is in complete contradiction of what takes place in a rape. In rape, a man assaults an innocent human being; in nurturing life, a woman protects an innocent human being. In rape, a man undermines the freedom of another; in nurturing life, a woman grants freedom to another. In rape, a man imposes himself to the great detriment of another; in nurturing life, a woman makes a gift of herself to the great benefit of another. While, unfortunately, rape once perpetrated can never be undone, the rationalizations, maxims, and motives of rape are never so completely rejected as when someone chooses life in the most difficult circumstances, circumstances that make such a choice heroic.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Breast cancer, abortion, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Americans rightly want to help breast cancer victims and prevent future suffering and death from the terrible disease. Why? Because we recognize the dignity of our fellow human persons, who deserve our care, regard and compassion.

Tragically, one major breast cancer organization -- Susan G. Komen for the Cure -- actively supports Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading performer and promoter of abortion. Many of the group's affiliates award grants to the abortion chain. In 2010 18 Komen affiliates gave a total of more than $569,000 to Planned Parenthood; affiliates gave almost $4 million from 2004 to 2010. It does not appear that the Minnesota Komen affiliate gives to Planned Parenthood.

Support for Planned Parenthood contradicts the very same principle of human dignity that undergirds our commitment to helping breast cancer victims in the first place. Abortion is the unjust killing of young human beings, whose age, size, ability (or inability) and dependency do not disqualify them from the respect and protection that is owed to every member of the human family.

Komen says the money it gives to Planned Parenthood does not go toward abortion. But the money is fungible, and any funding supports Planned Parenthood's continued existence and work, which is centered on abortion. To subsidize Planned Parenthood is to subsidize the abortion industry, effectively increasing the number of abortions that take place. Moreover, breast-related care is better provided by other organizations and programs. Planned Parenthood does not even perform mammograms -- women must go elsewhere for serious health care. (Learn more about Planned Parenthood and the debate over its funding here.)

Komen's support for Planned Parenthood is tragically ironic in a second way: A large body of evidence suggests that abortion increases a woman's risk of breast cancer. Dr. Gerard Nadal explains:
For a half-century now, well over a hundred studies have indicated a link between abortion and breast cancer, with increased risks being upward of 50% for abortions before a first full-term pregnancy, with many showing increased risks above 100%.

The biological explanation for this link is very simple and has been demonstrated repeatedly in animal studies. Prior to a first full term pregnancy a woman's breasts are not fully developed, with her lobules made up of immature and cancer-prone Type 1 and Type 2 cells. When she conceives a child, estrogen levels rise dramatically, along with the pregnancy hormone HCG, which stimulate the lobules to undergo massive cell proliferation, roughly doubling in number. These first trimester events leave the woman with twice as many cells where cancer can start.

At the end of the second trimester, the baby begins to protect the mother by secreting the hormone human placental lactogen. This hormone matures the lobule cells into cancer-resistant Type 4 cells, which will produce milk. By the end of the pregnancy 85% of the lobule cells will have undergone this differentiation. The remaining 15% will undergo differentiation to Type 4 Cells during breastfeeding and subsequent pregnancies.

As animal studies bear out, if pregnancy is ended by abortion the woman is left with twice as many immature, cancer-prone cells where cancer can start, but she does not derive the protective effect of the third trimester.
Learn more about the link between abortion and breast cancer here and here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

San Jose Articles refute claim of international right to abortion

The San Jose Articles were introduced in a press conference yesterday at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Drafted by a large group of experts in law, medicine and public policy, the Articles refute the claim that there is a right to abortion under international law that all nations must accept. They also show that international documents actually recognize the rights of unborn human beings.

Austin Ruse explains the problem:
It is commonplace now for UN officials and American law professors to tell foreign governments that they are required by international law to liberalize their abortion laws. Just last month the UN Special Rapporteur on Health issued a report making this claim. The Secretary General endorsed his report. Shortly thereafter the UN High Commission on Human Rights said the same thing.

Pro-life activists have been saying for years that this is a false assertion. Even so, some governments have started to listen and to liberalize their laws. The High Court of Colombia changed their abortion laws based on these assertions from a UN committee. Two judges on the Mexican High Court have made these assertions also.
Jeanne Head, UN Representative for National Right to Life, notes:
Ireland is the latest target of UN "human rights" bodies which are pressuring countries to legalize abortion. The treaty-monitoring bodies are particularly notorious in this regard.

For example, the monitoring committee of the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) has gone beyond its mandate, pressuring more than 90 countries to liberalize abortion laws despite the fact that there is no mention of abortion or even "reproductive health" in the treaty.
Joseph Rees, former US Ambassador to East Timor and one-time US representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, spoke of his own experiences at yesterday's press conference:
When I was in Timor I witnessed first-hand a sustained effort by some international civil servants and representatives of foreign NGOs to bully a small developing country into repealing its pro-life laws. The problem is that people on the ground, even government officials, have little with which to refute the extravagant claim that abortion is an internationally recognized human right.
That's why the San Jose Articles were written. According to Professor Robert P. George of Princeton, who also spoke at the press conference, "The Articles will support and assist those around the world who are coming under pressure from UN personnel and others who say falsely that governments are required by international law to repeal domestic laws protecting human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development against the violence of abortion."

Read the Articles here, and see the detailed footnotes here.

Abortion advocates at the United Nations and elsewhere seek to legalize and expand abortion into every corner of the globe. People and governments around the world must know that legal abortion is in no way an international mandate.

They must also know, as MCCL Global Outreach has explained in "Why legalized abortion is not good for women's health" (produced jointly with the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund), that the right to life of unborn human beings must be protected as a matter of basic justice; that abortion poses serious risks to women, especially in developing countries; and that legal abortion does nothing to solve the problem of maternal mortality, which can only be addressed by improving medical care for women.

U.S. House to take up Protect Life Act on Oct. 13

The following is from National Right to Life (NRLC).

WASHINGTON (October 6, 2011) — The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the NRLC-backed Protect Life Act (H.R. 358) on or about Thursday, October 13, 2011. This bill would correct the numerous abortion-expanding provisions of the federal health care law ("ObamaCare") enacted in early 2010. The bill, sponsored by Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), is similar to the "Stupak-Pitts Amendment" which initially passed the House in 2009, but which was kept out of the final health care law due to opposition from pro-abortion Democratic senators and President Obama.

Please click here to send a message to your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, urging him or her to support the Protect Life Act and to oppose all attempts to weaken the bill. You can modify the suggested message as you see fit.

To read the October 6 letter sent by NRLC to House members in support of the bill, click here. To read detailed testimony by NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson, presented to a House subcommittee in February 2011, about why H.R. 358 is needed, click here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Celebrating International Day of Older Persons

The following is a news release from MCCL GO.

Today, Oct. 6, 2011, has been declared the International Day of Older Persons by the United Nations. It is a day to focus on the issues of aging and demographics and to celebrate the treasures that older persons are in every society around the globe.

According to the July 2011 United Nations Report of the Secretary General, Follow-Up to the Second World Assembly on Aging:
"The composition of the world population has changed dramatically in recent decades. Between 1950 and 2010 life expectancy worldwide rose from 46 to 68 years, and it is projected to increase to 81 by the end of the century.

"For the first time in human history, in 2050 there will be more persons over 60 than children in the world. Almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. By 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 percent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older."
With this demographic information in mind, some are beginning to question the worth and dignity of older persons. It has even been suggested that older persons are a "burden" to societies.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO). "Older persons ought to be protected with the full weight of national laws ensuring their right to life."

Older persons face greater challenges today than ever before, as is highlighted in a U.N. press release quoting the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health Anand Grover.

"As we take note of the International Day of Older Persons, let us together find ways to ensure that our older persons have the legal rights and protections they need to live out their natural lives," Fischbach added.

A breakthrough in embryo-destructive research?

The journal Nature reported yesterday that scientists have derived embryonic stem cells from abnormal cloned human embryos. Here's some background and explanation.

Organisms can be cloned through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), in which the nucleus of a somatic cell from the patient to be cloned is inserted into an enucleated egg, which is then stimulated, resulting in a new embryonic member of the species who is genetically virtually identical to the patient. Researchers have long tried, unsuccessfully, to develop cloned human embryos to the stage at which the derivation of stem cells (thereby killing the embryo) is possible.

In the new research, published in Nature, a team of scientists tinkered with the standard SCNT technique. They inserted the somatic cell nuclei into eggs that had not had their nuclei removed. Thus, the resulting cloned embryos each had 23 extra chromosomes. They were "triploid," a genetic abnormality that prevents a human being from living very long (at most, triploid babies live for some months after birth).

The "breakthrough" is that the researchers successfully derived stem cells from those triploid embryos (destroying the embryos in the process, of course). But those stem cells are useless because they are triploid, so the scientists are hoping in the future to somehow remove the extra set of chromosomes.

Even if they succeed, the merit of this approach is questionable. The main purpose of human cloning research has been to create patient-specific pluripotent stem cells. But we can do that already, and do so ethically, by using direct reprogramming to create induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Making iPSCs is also much more efficient. According to the Wall Street Journal story, "The [new] technique [reported yesterday] is very inefficient. Dr. Egli and his colleagues said they started with 270 eggs and created 13 early-stage embryos. From these, they obtained only two viable stem cell lines."

Moreover, human pluripotent stem cells -- whether iPSCs or embryonic stem cells derived from either cloned embryos or embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization -- have not been therapeutically useful in any way. Every successful stem cell treatment has used ethically-derived adult stem cells.

Most importantly, the new research is deeply unethical. First, human cloning is wrong in itself, and these researchers are using it to create new human organisms to then kill for their useful parts, which is even worse. In fact, as scientist-blogger Rebecca Taylor writes, "These scientists intentionally created human lives that they knew would have a devastating genetic condition and then destroyed them for cells that they knew could never be used to treat anyone. This is beyond morally offensive, it is downright evil."

Second, egg harvesting poses a real risk to women, and according to the Washington Post:
The research [announced yesterday] was possible because for the first time scientists paid women for their eggs for human embryonic stem cell research, stirring worries about women being exploited and putting their health at risk. At the same time, the researchers made the cells by producing and then destroying mutant embryos, whose moral status immediately became a matter of sharp debate. ...

A political cross section of scientists, women's health advocates and bioethicists also expressed concern about paying women for the millions of eggs that would be demanded if the work ever led to treatments for common diseases. Egg donation requires risky hormone injections.
For more on this latest development in embryo-destructive research, see comments from Wesley J. Smith and Dr. David Prentice. Learn why human cloning is wrong here, and learn more about the dangers of human egg harvesting here. Learn more about ethical adult stem cell research -- the only kind that is actually helping patients and saving lives -- here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Latest issue of MCCL News now available

The September-October issue of MCCL News has just been mailed to MCCL members, and is also available to members online. Contact us to start or renew a subscription.

The contents of the current issue include:

  • Planned Parenthood brings 'webcam' abortions to Minnesota
    • Using dangerous new technique, abortion giant now performing abortions in Rochester
  • 2011 Fall Tour informs, motivates citizens to save lives
  • Local infanticide case highlights importance of Safe Place for Newborns law
    • Baby girl found abandoned in Mississippi River near Winona
  • What you need to know about stem cell research and human cloning
    • Excerpts from recently-updated MCCL brochure
  • The moral status of unborn human beings: Part Two
    • Why 'personhood' criteria fail to justify excluding the unborn
  • U.K. Journal: Abortion increases women's mental health risk by 81%
    • Landmark analysis exposes falsehood of abortion industry's no-risk claims
  • Join pro-lifers for MCCL's one-day, $50,000 fundraiser
    • On Give to the Max Day, maximize your gift in defense of vulnerable human life
  • Students: Write a winning pro-life essay
    • National essay contest will challenge you to articulate pro-life position

National Geographic: In the womb