Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The pro-life legacy of Roe v. Wade?

In the January 2013 issue of First Things, political scientist Jon A. Shields writes of "Roe's Pro-life Legacy."
Roe v. Wade did far more than create a constitutional right to abortion—it crippled the pro-choice and energized the pro-life movement, creating one of the largest campaigns of moral suasion in American history. Even while nationalizing abortion politics, the Supreme Court's decision also localized and personalized the issue by pushing it almost entirely out of legislatures, giving an unexpected opening to the pro-life movement to affect the culture, and in turn the wider political debate, in ways no one expected.
You can read the rest online. Shields is right that an energized and effective pro-life movement developed in the wake of Roe and has saved many lives from abortion, and pro-lifers and others ought to take note of our successes. But that is not to say that Roe was a good change (Shields does not say that it was). Making the best of a bad situation does not justify creating the bad situation in the first place. Solving problems does not retroactively justify causing them.

Legally, constitutionally, Roe v. Wade was absurdly mistaken. It wrongly usurped the power of the people to determine abortion policy, shutting down the process of democratic deliberation. Morally, its result was gravely unjust. And the consequences—55 million unborn children killed, many women (and others) hurt both physically and psychologically—have been catastrophic.

Overturning Roe alone would not end abortion, as Shields notes, and it would probably "revitalize a genuine movement for abortion rights." But it is an absolutely necessary step if we care about justice under the law and about saving lives. There's no getting around the moral urgency, forty years later, of ending Roe once and for all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Doe v. Gomez anniversary: Minnesota has sponsored thousands of abortions since 1995

The following news release was issued today, Dec. 14.

ST. PAUL — Since a Dec. 15, 1995, Minnesota Supreme Court ruling required taxpayers to fund abortions, more than 58,000 unborn babies have been killed in Minnesota with taxpayer funds, 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 activist judges has been disastrous for Minnesota women and their babies," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "On this 17th 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" regarding 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 (under an earlier decision) through 2010, state taxpayers paid more than $18.6 million for 58,559 abortions, according to MDHS. In 2010 alone (the most recent statistics available), state taxpayers paid $1.4 million for 3,757 abortions. The state does not report how many women have been hurt or killed from these abortions.

While the total number of abortions in the state is declining gradually, taxpayer funding of elective abortions has risen nearly every year since 1995. Minnesota taxpayers now pay for 34 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 ability 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."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thoughts on rape and abortion following the 2012 elections

By Scott Fischbach

The 2012 elections brought focus on banning abortions for the "hard cases" of rape, incest and where the mother's life is at stake. Reporters were eager to corner candidates and push on the issue of rape abortions and their legality in particular. Rape became the "gotcha" question of the 2012 election cycle. And, unfortunately, several "pro-life" candidates fell into giving some very bad answers that cost them their elections.

It is odd that the media frequently ask about abortion in cases of rape because that issue isn't even relevant to our current public policy debates, which are instead about issues like taxpayer funding of abortion, late-term and sex-selection abortion, etc. The media never ask about those issues. But the question of rape still must be addressed.

The facts concerning abortion and rape seemed to get washed away in the noise of the campaigns. Now that the campaign charges and counter charges have subsided, let's look at some facts.

Of the 11,071 abortions that were performed in Minnesota in 2011, less than one percent were cases of rape, incest or life of the mother. According to the Abortion Report issued by the Minnesota Department of Health every July 1st, never has the total number of abortions for rape, incest and life of the mother topped one percent. To be exact, the 2011 Abortion Report stated that there were 51 abortions performed because of rape and 11 where the pregnancy was the result of incest.

Although 99 percent of all abortions are done for reasons other than rape or incest, these are cases of serious violent crime that need to be addressed and discussed.

There are three very important steps that should be taken when a rape has occurred:
  1. The individual who has been raped needs to get away from the rapist if at all possible. Those who rape often rape again, so it is critical to get physically away from the rapist.
  2. The raped individual needs to seek medical attention (without washing) immediately. Emergency medical facilities are equipped with rape kits that can be used to collect evidence for future justice.
  3. The victim needs to identify/name the perpetrator to law enforcement officials as soon as possible so they can apprehend the rapist. Rape is an act of violence and it won't end if the perpetrator is not apprehended.
The above three steps are critical to protect the individual who has been raped, but also to prevent additional individuals from being raped in the future.

In 2007 the Minnesota Legislature passed MN Statute Sec. 145.4712 that mandates emergency contraceptives be provided and/or initiated to victims of rape. Minnesota is one of only 16 states across the nation that has such a mandate.

MCCL has long held that unborn children have a right to life, regardless of the circumstances of their conception. An abortion added to rape only brings more trauma, more pain and more scars to a very violent and tragic situation.

The political landscape in Minnesota is very diverse and MCCL has supported and worked with pro-life candidates of both parties – those candidates who allow exceptions for those rare abortions in the cases of rape and incest and those who do not allow exceptions.

For candidates on both sides of the exceptions divide, it is best to get up to speed on the facts concerning rape and abortion and to bring some compassion and understanding to the discussion. And for reporters, it would be wise to bring a little less "heat" and a lot more "light" to a very sensitive topic. "Gotcha" politics serve no one.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas gifts

Give a subscription to MCCL News
For those still looking for Christmas presents, below are a number of good options for pro-life givers or receivers.

New on DVD/Blu-Ray (within the last year):
  • October Baby. Feature film released in theaters nationwide last spring; now available on DVD and Blu-Ray in some stores and online. Powerful story of a young woman who learns she was born after a failed abortion. (Reaction here and here.) 
  • The Gift of Life. Pro-life documentary hosted by Mike Huckabee.
Books published recently (within the last two years):
Finally, consider giving a membership to MCCL, which includes a subscription to MCCL News.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Study shows that telemedicine expands abortion access in Iowa

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health analyzes the use of telemedicine to remotely administer "medical" (chemical, RU486) abortions in Iowa. Planned Parenthood began performing these "webcam abortions" in 2008, and by 2010 they were offered at 11 different clinics across Iowa.

The study should be taken with a few grains of salt because the authors strongly favor abortion; one actually worked for Planned Parenthood in Iowa at the time of the study, and two more work for the abortion advocacy organization Ibis Reproductive Health. The research should not be dismissed for that reason -- it must be assessed on its merits -- but readers should know the ideological perspective the authors seek to advance.

MCCL brochure
The study only analyzes the first two years after webcam abortions were introduced -- and they were "phased in" over 21 months, nearly the entire study period -- so the full effect may not yet be clear (a limitation acknowledged by the authors). But here is what the researchers write in their summary:
[T]he proportion of abortions in the [Planned Parenthood] clinics that were medical increased from 46% to 54%. After telemedicine was introduced, and with adjustment for other factors, clinic patients had increased odds of obtaining both medical abortion and abortion before 13 weeks' gestation. Although distance traveled to the clinic decreased only slightly, women living farther than 50 miles from the nearest clinic offering surgical abortion were more likely to obtain an abortion after telemedicine introduction.
The researchers also note that overall abortions in Iowa declined during this period (as they did in many states), but that is clearly despite the webcam introduction, not because of it. Planned Parenthood -- the group performing the webcam abortions -- saw an increase in abortions. And while abortions dropped in the heavily-populated Des Moines area (where abortion was already very accessible), "the data showed ... an increase in the number of abortions performed on women living in the western and eastern portions of the state" -- the places where webcam abortions were introduced. Indeed, "availability of abortion services certainly increased after telemedicine introduction, because the number of clinics providing abortion care increased."

While the number of surgical abortions decreased, the number of RU486 abortions increased. And "most of the increase in the number of medical abortions after telemedicine introduction occurred among women living more than 50 miles from one of the surgical abortion clinics, especially in more remote parts of Iowa, as well as in eastern Nebraska and northwest Illinois. In most cases, the increases occurred in areas surrounding telemedicine sites."

With regard to abortion clinics in general (not just Planned Parenthood clinics), "The proportion of medical abortions among all abortions increased significantly, from 33.4% to 45.3%." So almost half of abortions in Iowa from 2008 to 2010 were RU486 abortions. That is startling, and the percentage is probably higher now than it was over the whole two-year period.

The authors conclude that "telemedicine could improve access to medical abortion, especially for women living in remote areas, and reduce second-trimester abortion." The bottom line is that this study provides evidence that the use of telemedicine for abortion does precisely what one would expect: it increases the incidence of RU486 abortions, increases the percentage of overall abortions that use RU486, and increases the incidence of abortion among women in rural areas -- which increases the overall incidence of abortion relative to what it would otherwise be. None of that is good considering both the unborn children killed and the women who risk their health by this particular abortion method.

Policy analyst Jacqueline Harvey, Ph.D., notes:
While methodologically sound, the study reads more like market research than a treatise on public health, especially since there was no mention of any complications. Using the most conservative numbers in range on incomplete abortions requiring surgical follow-up to a mere 2%, this means that of the study's 9,758 patients, at least 195 women who could not make the trip to a see a physician in person faced this complication alone. While earlier abortions do pose less risk, the authors do not acknowledge the risks involved with unsupervised self-abortion. The authors herald tele-med abortions as increasing access to abortions for women in rural areas, but do not consider a potential danger for women who cannot be treated for complications over a webcam.
The study is especially relevant to us in Minnesota because Planned Parenthood is now offering webcam abortions at its Rochester facility. It could soon expand this practice as it did in Iowa.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When we see abortion with the moral clarity of history

I was thinking the other day about the many adjectives that describe abortion -- about what all of American society will recognize when it comes to see abortion with the moral clarity that too often only history provides.

Abortion is medieval and barbaric. It is the use of surgical and other instruments and/or substances to dismember, disembowel, decapitate, poison and/or burn to death a developing member of the species Homo sapiens. (The medieval period may suffer an unfair reputation, but the connotation is clear, and it clearly applies to abortion.)

Abortion is ignorant and anti-science. It has always been premised on ignorance -- ignorance of the plain scientific facts of human embryology and developmental biology. There are no longer any excuses.

Abortion is childish and morally primitive. It is the use of violence (lethal violence, no less) to get what we want for ourselves.

Abortion is uncivilized. Because decent societies do not solve their problems by eliminating innocent human beings (which doesn't really solve problems anyway). Decent societies solve their problems with an understanding that every human being matters -- that no one may be justly killed or used instrumentally for the convenience or benefit of others. We are all in this together.

Abortion is insulting to the women it tells must kill their offspring in order to succeed and find happiness in their lives and careers. We have come too far for such an attitude.

Abortion is anti-egalitarian. Because it relegates a class of human beings to the status of non-persons who may be killed for any or no reason. Abortion is the exclusion of some from the moral community of those who owe each other respect and protection -- a division of the human family into those who count as bearers of rights and those whose very existence depends on the wants of others.

Abortion is backwards (with due respect to our current president). Because the moral arc of history points toward inclusion and equality. Abortion is perhaps the last acceptable form of discrimination and bigotry.

Abortion is callous to the needs of women. It offers them the quick fix of death -- not support, comfort, resources and hope.

Abortion is the cowardice of men who shirk their responsibilities. They treat their offspring as obstacles to avoid rather than children to protect -- as barriers keeping them from achieving their own ends rather than ends in themselves.

Abortion is a rejection of the basis of human rights, which are held by human beings simply by virtue of being human (hence the term "human rights"), and thus are held equally by all humans. They are not held by only some humans -- and not others -- by virtue of arbitrarily-chosen properties that come in varying degrees and can be gained or lost over time.

Abortion is a shameful disgrace to the medical profession and the very small number of doctors who make money by killing rather than caring.

Abortion is intellectually bankrupt. Its thoughtful and sophisticated defenders have failed to provide a coherent, plausible, sustainable defense of their denial of the equal fundamental dignity and right to life of human beings at all developmental stages. Its primary defenders -- in the media and the public square -- haven't even tried, relying instead on empty and fallacious rhetoric.

I imagine these things will become more and more clear. I do not think that history is a march of inevitable moral progress. I don't think that at all. But we have overcome deeply-entrenched injustices before, and we can do so again.

Perhaps I am wrong about the future. But our obligations in the present are the same regardless.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'The Lancet' perpetuates myth that abortion is necessary to prevent maternal deaths

The following was published today at National Right to Life News Today.

By Dave Andrusko and Paul Stark

The opinions expressed in the prestigious British medical publication The Lancet carry enormous weight, even when the conclusions are at war with the facts. A recent example is "Women's choice is key to reduce maternal deaths."

This November 24 editorial is the latest pro-abortion attempt to exploit the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant Indian woman who died on October 28 in Galway University Hospital, Ireland, from overwhelming infection. Based on the most fragmentary "evidence," the pro-abortion establishment insisted she died because the hospital refused to abort her unborn child by inducing labor.

There are two investigations underway trying to find why she died and what, if any, errors the hospital made in treating her. As Michael Kirke has written, "Many of the facts surrounding the case are not at all clear, but one thing is certain: this tragic case is not the result of Ireland's law protecting the unborn child. At issue is medical practice in a particular Irish hospital and whether or not the medical team involved in this case did everything they could do to save this woman's life, as they were obliged to do by Irish law and the ethics of their profession."

The Lancet editorial takes it as a given that she had been denied an abortion by a "developed" country by way of preface to the real subject of its editorial: the claim that legalized (elective) abortion is necessary to prevent maternal deaths. This is a giant non sequitur, and counterexamples prove that it is simply false.

The editorial acknowledges that "maternal deaths are thankfully now rare in developed countries" but that "the story is a different one in the developing world." Exactly.

Maternal mortality is more a function of the overall medical circumstances than of the legal status of abortion. Ireland and Chile are two of the safest places in the world for women, and they do not permit the killing of unborn children. And some countries, like Guyana, have legalized abortion but have not seen maternal deaths decline (Guyana's rate only increased).

Legalizing abortion, note the authors of a recent peer-reviewed study of maternal mortality in Chile, "is unnecessary to improve maternal health: it is a matter of scientific fact in our study. We think this should be recognized by a scientific community guided by principles of honesty and objectivity in science, no matter how controversial the finding might be." The editors at The Lancet should pay attention.

Developing countries must not neglect the basics of maternal health care in order to promote abortion—or implement WHO's dangerous new abortion "guidelines," as the Lancet editorial recommends. Women and unborn children deserve better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yawning in the womb

PLOS ONE

A study published last week shows that unborn babies yawn in the womb. From the Reuters story:
Growing into a fully formed human being is a long process, and scientists have found that unborn babies not only hiccup, swallow and stretch in the womb, they yawn too.

Researchers who studied 4D scans of 15 healthy fetuses also said they think yawning is a developmental process which could potentially give doctors a new way to check on a baby's health.

While some scientists have previously suggested that fetuses yawn, others disagree and say it is nothing more than a developing baby opening and stretching its mouth.

But writing in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday [Nov. 21], British researchers said their study was able to clearly distinguish yawning from "non-yawn mouth opening" based on how long the mouth was open.

The researchers did this by using 4D video footage to examine all the times when fetuses opened their mouths.

Nadja Reissland of Durham University's department of Psychology, who led the study, said the function and importance of yawning in fetuses is still unknown, but the findings suggest it may be linked to fetal development and could provide a further indication of the health of the unborn baby.
See below for video of an unborn child yawning.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lincoln on giving thanks


In the midst of the bloodiest war in American history (on Oct. 3, 1863), Abraham Lincoln, remarkably, issued this proclamation:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. ...

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.
Last year I wrote the following, and it is equally true in the wake of the 2012 elections:
Despite the continuing scourge of abortion and occasional setbacks to our cause, pro-life advocates have every reason to be thankful on this Thanksgiving. We should be grateful for many lives saved, hearts and minds changed, and pregnant women in need helped. We should "commend to His tender care" unborn children and all those affected by the tragedy of abortion, and "fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it ... to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."

And we should give thanks for the breathtaking privilege of working for the great cause of justice of our time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On Nov. 15, Give to the Max

Give to the Max Day brings Minnesotans together to raise as much money as possible for nonprofits in 24 hours. It is organized by GiveMN.org, a philanthropic website.

Through the generosity of several partner leaders in giving, all gifts given to the MCCL Education Fund on Thursday, Nov. 15, will be matched—up to $25,000! You may give using the widget below, through our page at GiveMN.org, or by calling the MCCL State Office at 612-825-6831. More information is available on our website. Please give to support our educational outreach. Thank you!

Monday, November 12, 2012

What hasn't changed

Last week's election was disappointing for the pro-life movement. Here in Minnesota the results were not so bad. The Minnesota House of Representatives retains a pro-life majority (including a number of newly-elected pro-life Democrats), while the Senate is very narrowly divided on the issue. Three of our four pro-life members of Congress were elected to another term. Most MCCL-endorsed candidates won.

Elections can change the political landscape and impact our laws and public policies, for better or for worse. But the facts of embryology have not changed. The reality of abortion -- the killing of unborn children on an industrial scale -- has not changed. The urgent need to educate, to persuade, to help pregnant women in need has not changed. The importance of involvement in the political and legislative process -- to secure protection for innocent human beings in all stages and conditions -- has not changed. Lives are still at stake. The moral imperative is just as clear.

No election outcome can change the fact that many unborn children have been saved by pro-life efforts (including political and legislative efforts) in the past. No politician can deter our commitment to saving more lives in the future.

And so the mission continues. As it must.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What you need to know before you vote

On November 6 you will vote to elect candidates to public office. I have compiled links to resources to help you make thoughtful, informed decisions in the voting booth.

What is at stake?

Can pro-life voters reasonably support pro-choice candidates?
'Only one issue'
The Golden Rule and pro-life voting
The most important question in our politics

Opposing candidates usually agree about basic goals and principles (e.g., growing the economy, helping the disadvantaged) while disagreeing about the best means to achieve those ends. But abortion is different. Candidates who support abortion (who are "pro-choice") support the legalized and often government-subsidized intentional killing of a class of innocent human beings.

This is unlike any other issue or concern in American society today (excepting the other right-to-life issues of embryo-destructive research, infanticide, assisted suicide 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.

At stake is the principle of the equal fundamental dignity and right to life of every member of the human family, irrespective not only of race, gender, religion and social status, but also of age, size, ability, stage of development and condition of dependency. Human equality is on the ballot.

Lives are also on the line. The candidates we elect will affect our laws and policies in ways that will influence the incidence of abortion, which accounts for more than 11,000 deaths in Minnesota and 1.2 million nationwide every year.

In the presidential contest, one candidate has enacted policies to expand and subsidize abortion on demand; the other has pledged to support policies to limit abortion and protect unborn children. Federal pro-life legislation, Obamacare, abortion funding overseas, and perhaps even the U.S. Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade all hang in the balance. Likewise, our choices for the state Legislature and Congress will determine whether we have state and federal laws that will save lives or sacrifice them.

Minnesota races

For information about where the candidates for the state Legislature (House and Senate) stand, see the MCCL Voter's Guide (pages 3-5, 8). For information about candidates for the Minnesota Supreme Court, see the Voter's Guide (page 11).

For information about where the candidates for the U.S. Congress stand, see their responses to the MCCL questionnaire in the Voter's Guide (pages 9, 11) and the candidate comparison fliers for the first, second, sixth and eighth district races. For information about the U.S. Senate race, see the comparison flier and stories on the positions of Kurt Bills and Amy Klobuchar.

Visit MCCL's PAC site for information about our endorsements.

To find your polling location, and to see the candidates on your ballot, visit http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us. You may contact MCCL for more information.

Presidential race

Barack Obama's record: Expanding, subsidizing abortion on demand
Mitt Romney offers pro-life contrast to Obama
Paul Ryan's commitment to the right to life
Why the Supreme Court matters
The moral confusion of Joe Biden
Obama and infanticide
Obama and the abortion industry
'A politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent'
Obama's convention speech: 'We the people'
Assessing Obama's statement on Roe v. Wade anniversary

Please learn the facts about the candidates and the stakes. Recognize that abortion is the greatest injustice in American society today and that human lives are on the line. And then vote for life on Nov. 6.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Barack Obama and infanticide

Then-state Senator Barack Obama publicly argued in 2001 that babies at this age, even ones who have already been born, should not receive legal protection.
Barack Obama is so committed to unlimited abortion that he voted repeatedly to condone a form of infanticide. He is so committed to winning elections that he spent years misrepresenting those votes.

From 2001 to 2003, as an Illionois state senator, Obama was confronted with legislation called the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA). The bill simply defined "every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development" to be an individual protected under the laws of the state. That's it. So legal protection applies to any baby who has been born ("the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother") and is alive -- even if that baby was born as a result of a failed abortion rather than natural labor. The only point of the legislation was that we shouldn't kill or abandon living, already-born human beings. They are persons who deserve to be treated as such. The bill had no affect on the legality or availability of abortion. A federal version of BAIPA passed Congress in 2002 without a single dissenting vote in either house; even NARAL chose not to oppose the bill.

What prompted BAIPA? Many babies have been born alive during labor-induction abortions and then set aside to die, sometimes without assessing whether they are capable of long-term survival (with the appropriate medical assistance) and without even providing basic comfort care (regardless of whether they have good prospects for survival). Former nurse Jill Stanek helped uncover this practice at a Chicago hospital. In testimony before an Illinois Senate committee, Stanek explained: "It is not uncommon for live aborted babies to linger for an hour or two or even longer. At Christ Hospital one of these babies once lived for almost an entire eight-hour shift." One night Stanek found an aborted Down syndrome baby left to die, she explained to a Congressional committee. "I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old." BAIPA would ensure that newborn babies who are born alive prematurely because of abortion are treated with the same care and respect as babies at the same age who were not marked for abortion.

Then-state Senator Obama voted against BAIPA four different times. In 2001 he was the only state senator to speak out against the legislation. In 2003 he led the committee he chaired in killing the bill. BAIPA finally passed after Obama left for Washington.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Golden Rule and pro-life voting

Pro-life voters recognize, as a matter of biological fact, that the human embryo or fetus is a whole human organism, a living member of the species Homo sapiens no different in nature than you and me. And they are convinced, as a matter of moral principle, that there is a fundamental equality among all human beings, including those very young and vulnerable humans at the earliest developmental stages. All have worth and dignity and deserve respect and protection. The unborn child is "one of us" -- a full-fledged member of the human family. The command to love our neighbor includes our neighbor in the womb.

Given these facts, it is helpful, as Notre Dame professor Gerard V. Bradley writes, to apply a "Golden Rule" test in assessing the claims made by some that pro-life support for pro-choice candidates is justified.
[U]nder what circumstances is it morally permissible to vote for a "pro-choice" candidate, particularly one [e.g., Barack Obama] who promises not just to uphold the abortion license, but even to expand our unjust structure by introducing government funding of abortion and by removing some brakes upon abortion, such as parental notice laws?

To answer this question we have to consider the matter from the perspective of those who suffer the foreseeable harm resulting from the perpetration of "pro-choice" policies -- the unborn who are killed. Then we have to apply the great moral principle we call the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule makes us walk in the others' shoes, makes us count the stranger and his or her well-being just as one welcomes the benefits and avoid the harms of what one does when the beneficiary or victim is oneself or someone near and dear. The Golden Rule pushes back particularly hard against our tendency to discount the harms we visit upon those we do not know -- those who cannot object, those who cannot offer effective resistance. The Golden Rule steers us to the morally right choice despite the fact that, though we may believe everyone is equal, we do not treat them that way. The Golden Rule leads us to be fair to everyone whose lives and fortunes are foreseeably affected by our actions -- as justice requires.
The test is best put like this: Would any given reason for voting for a candidate committed to the legalized killing of unborn children also work to justify voting for a candidate committed to the legalized killing of some other segment of the human family? If not, then in accepting that reason we are not treating unborn human beings as we treat others, or as we would like others to treat us. We are rejecting the Golden Rule.

Consider the candidate who says he wants to address the "root causes" of abortion but refuses to actually restrict the practice. May pro-lifers vote for him? Bradley writes:
Suppose that approximately 1.2 million American women are killed each year by domestic violence. Suppose further that a Presidential candidate said the following: "Friends, I think we must stop wasting resources prosecuting domestic violence. Let us get the law out of the picture. Maybe someday we could arrest men who kill women at home. But that day is not today, for anyone can see that arrests and convictions have not slowed the rate of domestic violence very much at all. Besides, we are talking about private family matters where people make hard choices. Let us instead join together and attack the root causes of domestic violence, causes which have to do with ignorance and poverty. I propose therefore to give angry men jobs and money to attend anger management classes. And I think we should start teaching all of America's children early on that every man and woman deserves to be treated well."

Anyone who refuses to vote for this candidate but who would vote for a "pro-choice" candidate is, at least presumptively, guilty of failure to apply the Golden Rule.
What about pro-life voters who say a candidate's positions on other issues outweigh his position in favor of abortion?
The question which these people must ask themselves is this: Would they vote for a "pro-choice" candidate on the strength of his preference for more government-provided health care than his rival proposes in his comparable plan, if doing so exposed their children to mortal danger? Suppose the candidate's commitment to a policy of "choice" referred, not to so many tiny and invisible people, but instead to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, or to the same number of prisoners or mentally handicapped or physically infirm people. Would they still support that candidate, even if his policies on energy, taxes, and employment were superior to his rival's?

A vote for a candidate who favors "pro-choice" policies on abortion by someone who does not answer the preceding questions "yes" does not, I think, satisfy the Golden Rule.
Applying the Golden Rule might be difficult when victims are small, unseen, without a voice and without a vote. But the point of the Golden Rule is that those factors don't matter morally. Everyone counts.

I explain in detail why pro-lifers should vote for pro-life candidates -- and I respond to objections, including the two Bradley discusses -- here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

'Only one issue'

Amherst College professor Hadley Arkes observes that historian James G. Randall criticized the famous debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858. Why? Because they spent too much time talking about slavery when there were so many other pressing issues. Randall wrote:
With all the problems that might have been put before the people as proper matter for their consideration in choosing a senator -- choice of government servants, immigration, the tariff, international policy, promotion of education, west ward extension of railroads, the opening of new lands for homesteads, protection against greedy exploitation of those lands ... encouragement to settlers ... improving the condition of factory workers, and alleviating those agrarian grievances that were to plague the coming decades -- with such issues facing the country, those two candidates for the Senate talked as if there were only one issue.
Sound familiar? Arkes notes:
That complaint, read today, is bound to strike readers as churlish, even oafish. And yet why? ... [I]s it because there was truly something more fundamental in that question of just who were those beings who were the objects of concern in all of these other issues? [T]he issue had to run back to the root of things, to what John Paul II crystallized as the question of "the human person": Who, after all, are the persons whose injuries count as we scan the landscape and notice injuries or injustices that call out for remedies at the hands of the law?
Who counts as "one of us," entitled to the moral regard of others and the protection of the law? That was the question at the heart of the debate over slavery, and it is also at the heart of the debate over abortion and embryo-destructive research. There is no question more foundational to a just society. The abolitionist answer then, and the pro-life answer today, was and is that all members of the human species, regardless of race or skin color and regardless of age or developmental stage or condition of dependency, bear a profound and equal dignity and a right not to be enslaved, mistreated or killed. This is the position of inclusion, acceptance and equality, what Arkes calls the "expanding ... circle of those who are protected."

As we vote next Tuesday, abortion, like slavery in 1858, isn't "only one issue." Human equality is on the ballot.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Can pro-life voters reasonably support pro-choice candidates?

Not all voters who hold a pro-life position plan to vote for pro-life candidates for public office in the Nov. 6 election. As in 2008, some pro-life Catholic and evangelical protestant Christians are undecided or expect to vote for "pro-choice" (pro-legalized abortion) candidates in contests between pro-life and pro-choice options, such as in the presidential race between Mitt Romney, who supports protection for human beings in the womb, and Barack Obama, who supports unlimited abortion.

Some of these voters simply don't know (yet!) where the candidates stand. But some do know and plan to vote for pro-choice candidates anyway. Public examples include evangelical figures like Jim Wallis and David Gushee and Catholics like Doug Kmiec, Charles Reid and Stephen Schneck. Does this make sense? Here are a number of (often-overlapping) explanations, some of which I have heard from ordinary pro-lifers and some of which are offered by academics and commentators. I respond to each. I also respond to pro-lifers who plan to either sit out the election or vote for third-party candidates.

(1) Abortion isn't the only issue. There are many important issues, and I'm not a single-issue voter.

As Scott Klusendorf notes, abortion isn't the only issue today any more than slavery was the only issue in 1860. But if the pro-life position on the ethics of abortion is true—as those I am addressing here believe—then abortion is a uniquely important issue, as slavery was a uniquely important issue in 1860. First, abortion is a question of basic justice unlike any other issue or concern in American society today. In no other area is a class of innocent human beings placed outside the protection of the law and allowed to be killed for any or no reason. At stake is the principle of the equal fundamental dignity and right to life of every member of the human family, irrespective not only of race, gender, religion and social status, but also of age, size, ability, stage of development and condition of dependency. Human equality is on the ballot. Second, abortion is the leading cause of human death (at 1.2 million unborn children killed annually in the United States), and the candidates we elect will affect our laws and policies in ways that will influence the incidence of abortion. Lives really are on the line. Even if a pro-life voter agrees completely with a pro-choice candidate on every other issue, it is difficult (if not impossible) to see how voting for that candidate can be reasonable given the moral gravity and scale of what is at stake regarding abortion.

None of this is to deny that there are many important political issues. It is just to say that some issues are more important, and more foundational, than others.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Christian Bale honors Chen Guangcheng for exposing forced abortions

Chen Guangcheng is the blind Chinese human rights activist -- and self-taught lawyer -- who spoke out on behalf of Chinese women and families who were victimized by brutal campaigns of forced abortions and sterilizations. For his efforts he was unjustly imprisoned and tortured for years, and later transferred to house arrest, where he and his family were still beaten. This spring he dramatically escaped to the U.S. embassy. He is now living in the United States.

Actor Christian Bale sought to visit Chen in December of 2011 but was literally roughed up by thugs guarding the house in which Chen was imprisoned. "What I really wanted to do was shake the man's hand and say 'thank you,' and tell him what an inspiration he is," Bale explained at the time.

Yesterday Bale presented Chen with an award at a human rights gala. He said:
He [Chen] had exposed a program of forced abortion and sterilization in Shandong. A program of forced abortion means that women are being dragged from their homes against their will. They are being forced to have abortions, sometimes late-term -- imagine that -- with some women reportedly dying in the process. Now this is true horror. And in this insane world, this man, Chen, who was helping these women -- who was living by some of the most simple, brave and universally admired values -- values that we teach our children every day, and helping our fellow man -- for this, this man was imprisoned and beaten for over four years.
The pro-life group Women's Rights Without Frontiers covers the event here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Obama’s record: Expanding, subsidizing abortion on demand

"I'm not going to give any ground" on the issue of abortion, Barack Obama said earlier this year. And he hasn't.

Obama says abortion is a "fundamental constitutional right." He has never wavered or compromised in his commitment to the unfettered killing of unborn children for any reason at any stage of pregnancy. In many cases he wants such killing to be subsidized by taxpayers—as if abortion were a public good.

Below are some of the highlights (or, rather, lowlights) of his record since becoming president less than four years ago.

Abortion promotion overseas

On his third day in office, in January 2009, Obama issued an executive order to fund organizations that perform and promote abortion overseas. His Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, later told Congress that the administration would advocate "reproductive health" worldwide and that "reproductive health includes access to abortion." Obama also restored and increased U.S. funding to the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has aided the enforcement of China's one-child policy that has included barbaric campaigns of forced abortions and sterilizations.

In March 2009 Obama issued an executive order to provide federal funding for research that requires the killing of embryonic human beings (research that, unlike adult stem cell research, has yet to yield any therapeutic benefits). He also, inexplicably, reversed a prior (George W. Bush-issued) order that encouraged ethical and non-controversial forms of stem cell research.

Obamacare, taxpayer funding of abortion

In March 2010, after months of debate, Obama very narrowly won enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a far-reaching health care overhaul. "Obamacare," beginning in 2014, will provide federal subsidies for millions of health care plans that will pay for abortion on demand; it also includes a number of other mechanisms and funding pipelines that can be used to subsidize and expand access to abortion. Obama helped defeat an amendment that would have removed these abortion-expanding elements. Obamacare also contains provisions that will lead to government-imposed rationing of lifesaving medical care.

In 2011 the Obama administration issued formal veto threats against the Protect Life Act, a bill to repeal the abortion-expanding provisions of Obamacare, and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill to permanently stop any federal program from funding elective abortions. Obama also succeeded, for 16 months (2010-2011), in removing a ban on taxpayer-funded elective abortion in the District of Columbia.

In February 2011 the Obama administration rescinded a George W. Bush-issued regulation that protected health care providers from being penalized for refusing to participate in providing abortions.

Planned Parenthood, sex-selection abortion

During a 2011 budget showdown, Obama indicated he would veto the entire federal spending bill—forcing a government shutdown—rather than accept a provision cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading performer and promoter of abortion. He preserved hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars annually for the abortion business. His administration has also blocked efforts by several states to deny government funds to Planned Parenthood.

In 2012 Obama came out against legislation in Congress to prohibit performing or coercing sex-selection abortions, in which abortion is chosen solely because the gender of the child (almost always female) is not desired. Obama is firmly committed, as a matter of "women's rights" and "privacy," to the legality of killing unborn girls simply because they are girls.

Court-imposed abortion on demand

In 2009 and 2010, Obama appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court two justices who (almost certainly) believe that Roe v. Wade and its mandate of nationwide abortion on demand should be preserved. In both cases an opportunity to install the decisive fifth vote to overturn Roe was lost—because Obama had been elected president. Obama fiercely believes that the Court should not allow the American people, through their elected representatives, to determine their own abortion policies. He has even argued that legal protection for newborn babies who survive abortion and bans on partial-birth abortion cannot be permitted under the Constitution. (These facts, though shocking, are a matter of public record.)

Barack Obama will not let us, the people, have a say on abortion, the premier injustice in American society today. But we will have a say on Nov. 6.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pro-abortion Gov. Mark Dayton to be honored by Planned Parenthood

The following news release was issued today, Oct. 23.

ST. PAUL — Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota will honor one of its strongest allies in the business of destroying unborn babies. Gov. Mark Dayton will receive the abortion organization's Courage Award tonight at its "Celebrate!" gala in downtown Minneapolis.

"Abortion and abortion advocacy have become a cause of celebration for Planned Parenthood and its political partners," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization. "Dayton has given them many reasons to praise him, having vetoed no less than seven pro-life measures passed by the Legislature in his first two years as governor."

In 2011, Dayton vetoed five major pro-life provisions: the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act, a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion, bans on human cloning and taxpayer funding of human cloning, and protections to keep tax dollars away from family planning organizations (including Planned Parenthood) that are involved in abortion.

Dayton vetoed two more bills in 2012 that would have protected women's health and safety. One would have brought the state's six abortion facilities in line with the state's other outpatient surgical centers by requiring them to be licensed, and would have authorized the Minnesota Department of Health to perform inspections of abortion facilities. The other bill would have stopped dangerous "webcam" abortions by requiring that a physician be physically present when administering the drugs for a chemical abortion.

"Planned Parenthood is obviously grateful to Dayton for protecting its taxpayer funding and for blocking the state from licensing its new abortion megacenter—the nation's third largest—in St. Paul," Fischbach said. "Dayton has done Planned Parenthood's bidding in every case, at the expense of thousands of human lives. This is hardly anything to celebrate."

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood continues to kill thousands of unborn children in Minnesota, year after year, and wound women physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The state's largest abortionist killed 3,608 unborn babies last year. That's an average of nearly 10 unborn babies killed every single day; less than one percent were in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where do the MN congressional candidates stand on life?

Minnesota's eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election on Nov. 6. Below are links to candidate comparison fliers available on the MCCL website; you may also order copies by contacting MCCL.
Also available are comparison fliers for the U.S. Senate race between Kurt Bills (pro-life) and Amy Klobuchar (pro-abortion) and the presidential race between Mitt Romney (pro-life) and Barack Obama (pro-abortion). All of these, as well as the MCCL Voter's Guide, are available online or for order.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's time to get taxpayers out of the abortion industry, Mr. President

Last night President Obama repeatedly criticized (five times!) Mitt Romney for wanting to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a criticism Obama has made throughout the campaign (often inaccurately, claiming that Romney wants to "get rid" of Planned Parenthood itself rather than its government subsidies). The president's own record is clear. Obama indicated during the 2011 budget showdown that he was willing to force the federal government to shut down rather than cut any of the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that currently go to Planned Parenthood each year. And his administration has blocked the efforts of multiple states to de-fund the abortion provider, even threatening to withhold states' Medicaid money. Planned Parenthood, in turn, has spent millions trying to ensure Obama's reelection and defeat any candidate, like Romney, who dares challenge the organization's hefty take at the public trough.

Obama is very wrong on this issue. Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading practitioner and champion of the greatest injustice in American society today -- and its government funding is fungible and clearly works to support its abortion practice. Planned Parenthood performs hundreds of thousands of elective abortions every year while raking in hundreds of millions of government dollars. As funding has increased the abortion total has increased at a corresponding rate. American taxpayers should not be made a party to this. Obama absolutely, resolutely insists that they be. He has even decided to make this a primary talking point during his campaign. But that can only work if he obscures the facts.

Obama claimed last night that Planned Parenthood's ability to perform mammograms is at stake in this election. Planned Parenthood does not even offer mammograms. It can only refer women to other, better clinics that provide more in the way of actual health care for women in need. There is no "health care" justification for directing valuable funds to a controversial abortion business instead of the many non-abortion health care facilities. Those who oppose taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood don't oppose health care for low-income women, as Obama and his Hollywood supporters falsely claim. But they do think funds can be used more effectively for the genuine benefit of women. Obama is an ideologue who won't even consider such a thing -- because this debate isn't really about health care.

Planned Parenthood is an already-wealthy, hyper-political, scandal-plagued marketing machine that profits immensely from performing abortions on women and from soaking the American taxpayer with the help of political BFFs like Barack Obama. We, the American people, should get out of the abortion industry. The first step is on Nov. 6.

The MCCL Voter's Guide is available

MCCL's 2012 General Election Voter's Guide has already been distributed widely across Minnesota. But you can still order copies for yourself, your family and friends, your church, etc. (this version of the guide does not endorse candidates and is suitable for distribution in churches). Contact MCCL to order copies. It is also available online.

The Voter's Guide includes responses to questions about right-to-life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, health care rationing and human cloning from candidates for the state Legislature, Congress and White House. It also includes information about how to vote, a discussion of the stakes in this election, and more.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The moral confusion of Joe Biden

In yesterday's debate, Vice President Joe Biden said that, as a Catholic, he accepts the position of his church regarding the ethics of abortion, then added:
But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and -- I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman [Paul Ryan].

I -- I do not believe that -- that we have a right to tell other people that women, they -- they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor, in my view. And the Supreme Court -- I'm not going to interfere with that.
This is the cop-out of all cop-outs. If abortion is what Biden says he accepts it to be -- namely, the unjust killing of an innocent human being, as pro-lifers argue using the facts of embryology and sound moral reasoning, and as the Catholic Church unambiguously teaches -- then abortion is precisely the kind of act that only an anarchist would deny should be prohibited by law as a matter of basic justice. Because surely the proper role of government includes securing fundamental rights and protecting people from lethal violence. It is not difficult to connect the dots.

Biden would have no trouble "imposing" his view that suicide bombing is wrong, or that rape is wrong, or that child abuse is wrong. It would be understood as shocking moral confusion, or cowardice, or insanity for him to speak only of the imposition on the perpetrator in arguing that the act, though wrong, must be legal, ignoring completely the actual victim on whom brutal violence is truly "imposed." Yet that is what he does with the issue of abortion.

Biden once strongly opposed the use of taxpayer funds for abortion, and he voted to ban partial-birth abortion and for other modest pro-life legislation. Now he defends an administration that has encouraged the taxpayer funding of abortion at every turn -- here in America and around the world -- and accepts no limits whatsoever on the practice of abortion on demand, even opposing a bill this year to stop the killing of unborn baby girls simply because they are girls. Biden used to hold positions that Barack Obama (in his breathtaking abortion radicalism) considers not just wrong but unconstitutional (e.g., support for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and the Born Alive Infant Protection Act).

Paul Ryan served as a refreshing contrast. He said in the debate that he holds his pro-life position "not simply because of my Catholic faith" but also "because of reason and science." He continued:
You know, I think about 10 and a half years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where I was born for our seven-week ultrasound for our firstborn child, and we saw that heartbeat. Our little baby was in the shape of a bean, and to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child, Liza, "Bean."

Now, I believe that life begins at conception. ... I understand this is a difficult issue. And I respect people who don't agree with me on this. But the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

What troubles me more is how this [Obama] administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they're doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They're infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic Charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals. Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties.

And with respect to abortion, the Democratic Party used to say they want it to be safe, legal and rare. Now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding, taxpayer funding in Obamacare, taxpayer funding with foreign aid. The vice president himself went to China and said that he sympathized or wouldn't second-guess their one-child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That, to me, is pretty extreme.
After a follow-up question, Biden argued:
The court -- the next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. That's how close Roe v. Wade is.

Just ask yourself: With Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for -- for Mr. Romney, who do you think he's likely to appoint? Do you think he's likely to appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court, far right, that would outlaw Planned -- excuse me -- outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen.
Biden is correct that the fate of Roe v. Wade might be at stake in this election, and that the Obama administration will do everything it can to preserve that decision (it has already effectively saved Roe with its two Supreme Court appointments thus far). But he is wrong when he implies that overturning Roe would outlaw abortion. And Justice Antonin Scalia himself is clear that he doesn't think the Court has the constitutional authority to prohibit abortion. What overturning Roe would do -- and what Scalia would do, and what Mitt Romney and Ryan want to do -- is allow the people, through their elected representatives, to once again determine their own abortion policies. Obama and Biden are instead dedicated to ensuring that the Court, with no constitutional warrant, imposes a nationwide policy of abortion on demand whether the people like it or not.

As Ryan put it last night: "We don't think that unelected judges should make this decision; the people, through their elected representatives and reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process, should make this determination."

Joe Biden would rather impose unlimited abortion on the states. And impose abortion funding on pro-life taxpayers. And impose death on the most vulnerable members of the human family. For them -- those he says he acknowledges to be living human beings -- he will do nothing but sit back and help facilitate their destruction on a massive scale. And then he will boast about his moral superiority.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Obamacare, IPAB, and rationing

During the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney criticized Obamacare for creating an unelected Independent Payment Advisory Board that will effectively ration medical care. Barack Obama denied the rationing charge. Burke Balch of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics explains the facts of the matter:
"A rose by any other name," Shakespeare wrote, "would smell just as sweet." Unfortunately, the same is true when the fragrance is less pleasant.

When the role of Obamacare's Independent Payment Advisory Board in rationing life-saving medical treatments is alleged, the law's apologists indignantly point out that the law specifically precludes the board from "rationing." They seem convinced this demonstrates that the charges of "rationing" are unarguably false. But are they right?

Let's review the facts. The law directs the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to report proposals, every two years from 2015 on, "to slow the growth in national health expenditures" to significantly below the rate of medical inflation. (From 2019 on a different, but similarly constraining, target is required.)

To be clear, these recommendations are to apply to what you and I choose to spend on our health care – nongovernmental spending. They are to include recommendations that the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) "can implement administratively."

What are those "administrative" means that the federal bureaucrats at HHS can use to prevent us from keeping up with medical inflation in trying to protect our loved ones stricken by illness or injury? HHS is empowered to impose so-called "quality" standards on doctors, standards they must follow under pain of losing the ability to contract with the health insurance plans that the individual mandate will require Americans to have.

To prevent "too much" private money being spent on health care, those standards could establish just which diagnostic tests and medical treatments are permitted under what circumstances – and which are not. Thus, the government could prevent people from getting particular life-saving medical treatments – even when paid for entirely by their own money. (For details and documentation, go here.)

The Obamacare law doesn't define what it means by the "rationing" it says IPAB can't use. Its apologists will claim that the "quality" standards limiting treatment are simply "cost-effective" means of assuring patients get "appropriate" care. Consequently, the "rationing" prohibition will not be an enforceable restraint courts could use to protect Americans from denial of medical care. It's not so much a shield against treatment denial as it is a rhetorical sword to ward off the law's critics.

The Britannica Concise Encyclopedia describes rationing as "Government allocation of scarce resources and consumer goods, usually adopted during wars, famines, or other national emergencies." Health care does not need be "scarce" (see here). But, when government bureaucrats tell you what treatments, paid for with your own money, you can and can't have – that is certainly "government allocation" of health care.

The Obamacare law authorizes federal bureaucrats to impose limits on what life-saving medical treatments Americans are allowed to get. It may not call this "rationing." But that doesn't mean it won't be.
Go here for more about Obamacare and rationing.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The most important question in our politics

I discussed an essay by Notre Dame professor O. Carter Snead, "Protect the Weak and Vulnerable: The Primacy of the Life Issue," at the time it was published last year, but it is worth reviewing now as voters consider the issues and candidates only a month before the Nov. 6 election.

Here is Professor Snead's introduction:
Why should it matter whether the 2012 candidates for president are pro-life, especially given the vast array of other pressing issues facing the United States, including (though certainly not limited to) crushing national debt, widespread unemployment, existential fiscal strains on the social safety net, multiple wars, and the continuing menace of terrorism? Aren't the American people tired of the intractable bickering of a handful of extremist combatants in what seems to be an endless culture war? Unless you're a radical leftist or a right-wing Christian, why should any serious person in the public square waste time on these issues when there are so many real matters at stake at this moment in our nation's history?

These questions reflect an attitude that seems to be widely shared in certain circles of our polity. But I would respectfully submit that such questions reflect a badly misguided and inadequate understanding of the moral, cultural, legal, and political dispute of which the pro-life movement is a part.

At bottom, the "life issues"—including especially the conflicts over abortion and embryo-destructive research—involve the deepest and most fundamental public questions for a nation committed to liberty, equality, and justice. That is, the basic question in this context is who counts as a member of the human community entitled to moral concern and the basic protection of the law? Who counts as "one of us"? Equally important is the related question of who decides, and according to what sort of criteria? These are not narrow concerns commanding only the attention of a small number of highly motivated activists at the fringes of our society. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a public matter that is more important than this "question of membership."

The stakes could not be higher. "Persons" have human rights and are owed the moral respect and forbearance of others. "Nonpersons" live at the mercy of others, and are routinely instrumentalized, manipulated, or even destroyed in the name of the individual or collective interests of those who are indisputably persons. We, as a nation, must get this question of membership right. And it is imperative for the president of the United States to do so.

The pro-life movement offers the only answer to the question of "who counts" that is consistent with America's grounding norms of equality and justice. Accordingly, it is of paramount importance that the president of the United States be pro-life. My aim here is to show why this is so by giving a compressed account of the pro-life position (including the moral anthropology and foundational grounding goods in which it is nested), unpacking some of its key concrete entailments for law and politics, and explaining how the office of the U.S. presidency is uniquely situated to promote justice (or its opposite) in this profound context.
Be sure to read the entire piece.

Friday, September 28, 2012

And then there were none: Workers leave the abortion industry

From the National Catholic Register:
Over the past five years, a growing number of abortion workers across the country have had a change of heart and left their jobs. It's a trend that is leading others to do the same.

"It does seem to be snowballing," said Jewels Green, a former abortion worker just outside Philadelphia. ...

In 2009, after being asked to assist with and witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion, Abby Johnson realized she could no longer work at the Texas Planned Parenthood where she had worked for the previous eight years.

"I didn't know where to go or what to do," explained Johnson. "All of my friends were involved in the abortion movement."

Yet, says Johnson, she felt she could trust the people praying on the other side of the fence.

"They had always told me, 'If you ever want to leave, we'll be here for you,'" said Johnson. "I decided to put them to the test." ...

"I broke down and told them, 'I know what I've been doing is wrong, and I want out,'" recalled Johnson. "They just looked at me and said, 'We're here to help you.'"

The turning point is different for each worker.

For Jewels Green, that point occurred when she became aware of the abortion of a child who tested positive for Down syndrome.

But that was long after her own abortion and work in the industry.

"I was coerced into having an abortion I didn't want when I was 17," said Green. "Weeks later, I tried to take my own life. Within months after recovering in an adolescent-treatment unit, I marched in a pro-abortion walk and began volunteering as an escort. I was trying to reconcile my guilt."

Green shared that she was always intuitively pro-life. However, after hearing the story of a gestational surrogate, a woman who carries a child for another couple, and learning of the abortion of that child after a genetic test came back positive for Down syndrome, Green made the decision to self-identify as pro-life.

In 2011, Green spoke out publicly, sharing her testimony on what would have been her own aborted child's 23rd birthday.

For Sue Thayer, her conversion came when the Planned Parenthood business she managed decided to start doing "telemed" abortions. A telemed abortion involves an offsite doctor meeting with a patient via webcam and a locked drawer with medication being opened. The woman takes the first set of pills at the abortion business, and then she goes home to take a second set of pills. She then awaits the contractions that expel the baby.

Thayer began working at Planned Parenthood in Storm Lake, Iowa, in April 1991. She worked there until she was fired in December 2008.

"Our business didn't do surgical abortions, and I felt I was doing my part to prevent the need for abortion," said Thayer.

That changed in mid-2008, when Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa announced that they would begin offering telemed/webcam abortions.

"I was being asked to perform invasive vaginal ultrasounds, to stock the drawer with abortifacients, to watch the patient take the first set of pills, and supervise and train others to do that," explained Thayer.

When she became vocal about her concerns and her reticence, she lost her job.

Planned Parenthood, however, didn't have the final word.

In the fall of 2011, Thayer headed up a 40 Days for Life campaign outside her former employer. On March 1, 2012, the Storm Lake, Iowa, Planned Parenthood business closed.

Catherine Adair, a former Boston Planned Parenthood worker, said that she was converted because of the undercover work of Lila Rose's organization Live Action.

"I was present when young girls came in with their abusers and Planned Parenthood performed their abortions," said Adair. "When Live Action came out with their videos, I felt vindicated. I knew it to be true, and they showed it to be true. That allowed me, for the first time, to tell others what I had experienced."

Green said that "deception" is one of the biggest hurdles for abortion workers to overcome in leaving the industry.

"The veil of lies is so thick," said Green. "The euphemisms that surround the culture of death make this psychologically accessible." ...

Johnson went on to write the book Unplanned about her experiences, and she has founded the organization And Then There Were None to assist other abortion workers interested in leaving the industry. ...

Initially contacted by 17 abortion workers who wanted to leave the industry, Johnson and her husband financially supported those individuals so that they could make a transition from the abortion industry. Since the official launch of her ministry this summer, 13 additional abortion workers have left.

"Former abortion workers have seen and heard and experienced things that people cannot imagine," explained Johnson. "Our first goal is to provide stability, so they can get out of where they're working and have families that are healthy and happy. Our second goal is recovery, so that they feel mentally and physically healthy."

In addition, the organization offers spiritual healing and legal assistance.

"People are finally starting to come forward because they realize that if someone else has done it, they can do it," said Johnson. "I hope it's not just a trend, but that there's permanence to it. The more who go public with their story — it will be like a domino effect."

Johnson said there are currently four pending lawsuits against Planned Parenthood over fraudulent billing.

"Former abortion workers have real stories to tell about real clients," she added. "Workers coming out could be the beginning of the end for the abortion industry."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'I had to see what I could do'

Pattie Mallette was sexually abused as a child. She got into drugs and alcohol. She tried to commit suicide. She became pregnant at 17 and was encouraged to have an abortion.

"I just knew I couldn't. I just knew I couldn't. I just know I had to keep him," she explained in a recent interview. "I didn't know how I was going to do it. But I just knew that I couldn't -- I couldn't abort. I had to do my best. I had to see what I could do. And I was determined to do whatever it took."

Mallette's life story is recounted in her new autobiography, Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber's Mom.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Video: 10 weeks after conception

Monday, September 17, 2012

'A politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent'

Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, speaking on Friday:
President Obama likes to say, "We're all in this together." ... -- it has a nice ring. For everyone who loves this country, it is not only true but obvious. Yet how hollow it sounds coming from a politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent of all human beings, the child waiting to be born.

Giving up any further pretense of moderation on this issue, and in complete disregard of millions of pro-life Democrats, President Obama has chosen to pander to the most extreme elements of his party.

In the Clinton years, the stated goal was to make abortion "safe, legal and rare." But that was a different time, and a different president. Now, apparently, the Obama-Biden ticket stands for an absolute, unqualified right to abortion -- at any time, under any circumstances, and even at taxpayer expense.

When you get past all of the President's straw men, what we believe is plain to state: These vital questions should be decided, not by the caprice of unelected judges, but by the conscience of the people and their elected representatives. And in this good-hearted country, we believe in showing compassion for mother and child alike.

We don't write anyone off in America, especially those without a voice. Every child has a place and purpose in this world. Everyone counts, and in a just society the law should stand on the side of life.

Friday, September 7, 2012

We the People

Last night, President Barack Obama said:
We, the people, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only, what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us, together ...

America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place. Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together.

We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up.
"We the people." "Bound together." "Leave no one behind." What the president did not mention is that there is a raging debate in our society today about the scope of "we," "us," "the people" -- about who counts as a member of our human (and, more particularly, American) community, bearing basic dignity and rights, and who or what instead may be discarded or used instrumentally for the benefit of those who do count. Obama once said that this foundational moral and political question is "above my pay grade." But the question of who is one of us and who may be killed by us is not above the pay grade of the president of the United States. A confident answer to that question is a prerequisite for the job, and our president flunked the test.

In fact, though, Obama has taken his stand, and done so with great zeal. He is committed to the proposition that unborn human beings -- members of our species at the earliest developmental stages -- merit no moral regard or legal protection and may be dismembered and killed for the convenience of the older, the stronger, the smarter, the independent. "We the people," for President Obama, does not include the unborn. Our "commitment to others" does not extend to the smallest and most vulnerable. And as we "leave no one behind," Obama is not counting the millions of young human beings for whom he wishes only death. He will not turn back.

"[W]e cannot go on forever feigning agnosticism about who is human," one of Obama's opponents, Paul Ryan, has written. "Now, after America has won the last century's hard-fought struggles against unequal human rights in the forms of totalitarianism abroad and segregation at home, I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect."

But that is the Obama position. His is one of exclusion, discrimination, and the use of violence against the most innocent and defenseless in order to get what we want for ourselves. His opponents, Mitt Romney and Ryan, embrace a position of inclusion, equality, and respect and protection for every human being simply because they, like you and me, are human.

This utterly important question -- who are "We the People"? -- is a big part of what is at stake in the November election.