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.