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


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, 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, 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 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.