Thursday, February 28, 2013

Life, liberty and property

Dr. Jean Staker Garton writes (in Who Broke the Baby?):
At one time in our history Native Americans were not legal persons because we did not grant them the protection of our Constitution. We were thus able to take by force anything that belonged to them. Usually what we wanted was their land, so we denied them the right to property.

Next on our national list of nonpersons were black slaves, declared to be chattel and property of their masters as a result of the Dred Scott decision of 1857. What we wanted from slaves was their labor, and so we denied them the right to liberty. We now rightly view this period of our history with shame, but we must remember that slavery then, as abortion now, was a very profitable practice that was accepted socially, condoned by many churches of the day, and held as legal by the United States Supreme Court.

In 1973 [with the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand] another group of human beings was added to the nonperson list: the unborn. If we want his or her space in this world, portion of food, share of resources, part of the budget—or if we simply do not want him or her—we can deny the right to life.

Unborn human beings denied LIFE.
Black human beings denied LIBERTY.
Native American human beings denied PROPERTY.

Our Constitution declares that "No state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." Yet, in fact, we have denied all three for the sake of convenience, economics, and expediency. History has proven us wrong about Native Americans. History has proven us wrong about African Americans. We cannot afford to wait for history to prove us wrong about the unborn.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

MCCL News now available

The latest (January/February 2013) issue of MCCL News has been mailed to subscribers and is also available online. You must be a donor and a registered NetCommunity member to access MCCL News online.

Monday, February 25, 2013

MCCL backs bills related to women’s safety, taxpayer funded abortions

The following news release was issued today, Feb. 25, 2013.

ST. PAUL — Safety and justice are the focus of two measures introduced today at the State Capitol. A bill to license abortion facilities and another to ban taxpayer funded abortions have the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization.

S.F. 752 (H.F. number released later today), authored by Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, and Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed. The legislation would apply existing licensing requirements for outpatient surgical centers to abortion facilities. The bill also authorizes the state commissioner of health to perform inspections of abortion facilities, with no prior notice required.

"This common-sense legislation is important for the safety of women," said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau. "There is no reason for abortion facilities to be given special exemption from licensing that governs other outpatient surgical centers in the state."

The requirement would apply to the state’s five abortion facilities, which together perform the vast majority of all abortions in Minnesota. In 2011, a total of 11,071 abortions were performed in the state.

S.F. 753 (H.F. number released later today), authored by Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault, and Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, would ban taxpayer funded abortions in the state. Because of the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision, taxpayers are forced to fund elective abortions performed on low-income women. Most Minnesotans are opposed to taxpayer funded abortions, including many who support legal abortion.

"Killing unborn babies and requiring Minnesota citizens to pay for it are both great injustices that must be corrected," Rau said.

Taxpayer funded abortions have swelled to 34 percent of all abortions performed in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In 2010 (most recent figures), taxpayers paid more than $1.4 million for 3,757 abortions. Since the Doe v. Gomez decision, the state has paid $18 million to the abortion industry for more than 58,000 abortions.

"Taxpayer funded abortions have become highly lucrative for abortionists, who market 'free abortions' to vulnerable women," Rau added. "This bill would end this exploitation of women."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New study links abortion to higher risk of death than childbirth

A recent study published in the Medical Science Monitor indicates that women who undergo abortions have a higher mortality rate than women who give birth.

The researchers, Priscilla K. Coleman (Bowling Green State University) and David C. Reardon (the Elliot Institute), note the limitations of previous studies on this issue:
All existing studies of mortality rates associated with prior pregnancy outcomes have been limited to pregnancies within an arbitrary range of women's reproductive lives and have lacked information on the subjects' complete reproductive history. Therefore, one of the main purposes of this study is to eliminate the potential confounding effect of unknown prior pregnancy history by examining mortality rates associated specifically with first pregnancy outcome alone.
The authors summarize the findings of their study, which used detailed medical records from Denmark:
A total of 463,473 women had their first pregnancy between 1980 and 2004, of whom 2,238 died. In nearly all time periods examined, mortality rates associated with miscarriage or abortion of a first pregnancy were higher than those associated with birth. Compared to women who delivered, the age and birth year adjusted cumulative risk of death for women who had a first trimester abortion was significantly higher in all periods examined, from 180 days through 10 years, as was the risk for women who had abortions after 12 weeks from one year through 10 years.
"[C]ompared to a first pregnancy ending in a live birth," Coleman and Reardon write, "an abortion prior to 12 weeks is associated with 80% higher risk of death within the first year and a 40% higher risk of death over 10 years."

The study can be downloaded here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Video: 11 weeks after conception

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baltimore Ravens' Matt Birk speaks on abortion

Matt Birk, a St. Paul native and long-time Pro Bowl center for the Minnesota Vikings, won the Super Bowl on Sunday as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. The Cretin-Derham Hall alumnus is an outspoken pro-lifer whose wife has worked at a pregnancy care center. Birk spoke recently to the National Catholic Register about responding to the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand.
The big picture is really ugly, but instead of letting that dominate your thinking, I would say to keep the faith and concentrate on the one or two things you can do. You may not be able to save thousands of lives on your own, but the one life you can save today does mean a lot.

Whether it's teaching our own children to be pro-life, contacting our elected representatives or working at crisis-pregnancy centers, we can all do something. These examples are in addition to prayer, which everyone can do and which everyone should do. Prayer is the basis of any good action. Each little effort helps to bring about a culture of life, a culture in which children are appreciated rather than disposed of.

I spoke at a pro-life rally in Maryland a couple years ago, and it was a life-changing experience. I heard other speakers, including women who deeply regretted their own abortions. Their work, carried out through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, was very persuasive. It wasn't just a theoretical discussion; it was real women who had experienced the trauma of losing a child through abortion. They wanted to prevent other women from going through that same thing.

If people were told the truth about abortion, no one would ever seek out the procedure. We hear about "choice" and "reproductive rights," but no one is ever told by an abortionist, "I will kill your baby by ripping off its arms and legs." The women from Silent No More let people know the facts so that better decisions will be made. It's very admirable work.

Friday, February 1, 2013

From 'choice' to 'not in her shoes': Planned Parenthood sidesteps the issue

The use of "choice" in the abortion debate was never substantive. Everyone understands that some choices are morally unproblematic (choosing to exercise, to eat ice cream, to talk with friends) and other choices are not (choosing to rape, to steal, to abuse children). So the question at hand is What kind of choice is abortion? The question is whether the act of abortion is morally permissible or impermissible and/or whether it is the kind of act that should be permitted under the law. To talk only of "choice" is to completely sidestep the issue.

Planned Parenthood, after commissioning some opinion polls, recently announced that it is moving away from the rhetoric of choice. Why? Because abortion is "complicated" and "not a black and white issue," and the pro-life and pro-choice labels "limit the conversation and simply don't reflect how people actually feel about abortion."

This language strikes me as disingenuous—a ploy to make unlimited abortion more palatable—because Planned Parenthood's own position is not nuanced or ambiguous. It is black and white. The nation's leading performer and promoter of abortion still contends that elective abortion is morally permissible and should be legal (and, in at least many cases, publicly funded) for any or no reason, at any time during pregnancy, with virtually no restrictions. This is the radical abortion-on-demand, no-conceivable-limits view that most Americans reject and have always rejected. Planned Parenthood now touts the high percentage (40 percent, according to the group's polling) of Americans who say the morality of abortion "depends on the situation," but that is not Planned Parenthood's view. It just sounds better than Planned Parenthood's view because it is far less extreme.

Anyway, in lieu of "choice," the organization has introduced a new website and video titled "Not in Her Shoes." The website summarizes: "Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman to make. You can't make that decision for someone else. Nobody knows a woman's specific situation—we're not in her shoes." This approach is not really new, as some have suggested. It is decades old. And though it might serve as an effective rhetorical device, it obscures, rather than clarifies, the truth about abortion.

Is abortion complicated? It can surely be emotionally or psychologically complex for a pregnant woman and other persons involved. But morally the issue of abortion is straightforward, hinging on the moral status of the being in the womb who is dismembered and killed. For if the human embryo or fetus is a rights-bearing member of the human family, like you or me or a five-year-old child, then killing him or her for socio-economic reasons, however complex, is no more justified than killing a five-year-old for those same reasons. The circumstances (and other factors) no doubt affect the subjective culpability of a pregnant woman—whom we should not judge—but they do not affect the objective morality of the act, just as the desperation of a young parent does not affect the morality of child abandonment. "Hardship," observes Francis Beckwith, "does not justify homicide."

The crux of the debate over the ethics of abortion is the nature and value of the unborn: Is the human embryo or fetus a human being? Since, as science has established, the unborn is indeed a living individual of the species Homo sapiens, how should we treat him or her? Do all human beings, at all developmental stages, have a right to life, or do only some? These are the questions that matter, and they are questions that Planned Parenthood continues to ignore when making its case to the public.

Difficult circumstances call for a compassionate response to meet the needs of women and their families. They are not a reason to authorize killing or an excuse to abandon women to that choice (pardon the term). Pregnancy care centers across the nation are doing the hard work of grappling with the complexities of women's lives while affirming the dignity of both mother and child.

They are doing what Planned Parenthood ought to do. They are putting themselves in her shoes.