Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who you are is enough: Unconditional love and the ethics of abortion

Love in its deepest sense (agape love) is concerned for the well-being of others regardless of their talents or accomplishments or other desired qualities. It is unconditional. We ought to love people simply because they are who they are—that is enough.

This kind of love, I think, has something to say about the ethics of abortion.

In his highly-regarded book A Defense of Abortion, David Boonin describes photographs on his desk depicting his son, Eli, at different stages of life. "Through all of the remarkable changes that these pictures preserve," Boonin writes, "he remains unmistakably the same little boy."

Boonin continues:
In the top drawer of my desk, I keep another picture of Eli. This picture was taken ... 24 weeks before he was born. The sonogram image is murky, but it reveals clearly enough a small head tilted back slightly, and an arm raised up and bent, with the hand pointing back toward the face and the thumb extended out toward the mouth. There is no doubt in my mind that this picture, too, shows the same little boy at a very early stage in his physical development. And there is no question that the position I defend in this book entails that it would have been morally permissible to end his life at this point.
It would have been okay to kill Eli, Boonin argues, because at that stage Eli had not yet developed the "organized cortical brain activity" necessary for the kind of conscious desires that Boonin thinks confer a right to life. According to this view, none of us should receive the moral respect of others simply by virtue of who we are. Who we are is not enough. It was not enough that Eli was Eli.

Instead, Boonin—like most other pro-choice philosophers and bioethicists—contends that we must exhibit certain mental functions in order to merit respect and protection. If we do not yet have those abilities (due to age), or if we will never have them (due to disability), or if we do not have them any longer (due to disease or injury), then we may be killed.

I think there are significant flaws in Boonin's position, as many others have argued. But perhaps no flaw is more significant than the fact that this view goes against the nature of love.

Love is a commitment to the good of others irrespective of their abilities (or disabilities), their age, their appearance, their stage in life. Love is a commitment to the good of others simply because they are who they are, and that is enough.

We ought to love others, not kill them, and that's why abortion is wrong.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nov. 20 is Universal Children's Day

The following was released today by MCCL Global Outreach.

The United Nations has declared November 20th as Universal Children's Day. It is a time to celebrate the documents that have been declared on behalf of our youngest members of the human family. Following are excerpts from U.N. documents upholding the right to life of all the world’s children, born and unborn, that we celebrate on the Universal Children's Day.

Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child (League of Nations, Sept. 26, 1924)
(2) The child that is hungry must be fed; the child that is sick must be nursed; the child that is backward must be helped; the delinquent child must be reclaimed; and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Dec. 10, 1948)
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Declaration of the Rights of the Child (Nov. 20, 1959, General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV))
Preamble (excerpt):
Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.
Principal 4
The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.
Principal 5
The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition.
Principal 8
The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.
Convention on the Rights of the Child (Nov. 20, 1989, General Assembly Resolution 44)
Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
Article 6
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
Article 23
1. States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.
Article 24
2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(a) To diminish infant and child mortality
(d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bill to protect unborn children who can feel pain introduced in U.S. Senate

Legislation to protect pain-capable unborn children nationwide was introduced in the U.S. Senate yesterday by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The landmark bill passed the House on June 18.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would prohibit abortion (with a few exceptions) beginning at 20 weeks post-fertilization (22 weeks LMP), the age at which substantial scientific and medical evidence shows that babies can feel pain. The bill is based on  model legislation—crafted by National Right to Life—that has already been enacted in 10 states. The Minnesota Legislature passed the legislation in 2011, but it was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

National Right to Life estimates (based on a Guttmacher Institute study) that at least 140 abortion providers perform abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization or later. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would save lives and prevent suffering. It also draws attention to the humanity and pain-sensitivity of unborn children and the brutality of killing them.

The House version (H.R. 1797), sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), passed by a vote of 228-196. Among Minnesota's U.S. House delegation, Reps. Kline, Paulsen, Bachmann and Peterson voted in favor of the protective measure, while Reps. Walz, McCollum, Ellison and Nolan voted against it (and in favor of unlimited abortion in the sixth month and later).

Anatomical, behavioral and physiological evidence that unborn children can experience pain and suffering at 20 weeks, if not earlier, is compiled at A helpful discussion of the fetal pain debate was published recently in Deseret News.

"There is ample biologic, physiologic, hormonal, and behavioral evidence for fetal and neonatal pain," testified Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, a neonatology professor at Northwestern University, before a U.S. House committee last year. "We now understand the fetus to be a developing, moving, interacting member of the human family who feels pain as we do. If we are to be a benevolent society, we are bound to protect the fetus. We should not tolerate the gruesome and painful procedures being performed on the smallest of our nation."

Dr. Maureen L. Condic, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, explained the scientific evidence for fetal pain before a U.S. House committee in late May. "Imposing pain on any pain-capable living creature is cruelty. And ignoring the pain experienced by another human individual for any reason is barbaric," she concluded. "We simply have to decide whether we will choose to ignore the pain of the fetus or not."

Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortion practitioner, graphically described the dismemberment procedure—called Dilation and Evacuation (D & E)—he used when performing second-trimester abortions. "If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again," he told the committee.

D & E abortions are as barbaric and inhumane as the killings of notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted earlier this year on multiple counts of first-degree murder. The only difference? Location. Gosnell was convicted for brutally killing babies outside—rather than inside—the womb.

The weight of public opinion is decidedly against late abortions. A Polling Company survey in March found that 64 percent of Americans (and 63 percent of women) support protection for unborn children capable of experiencing pain. Similarly, a Gallup poll in January found that 64 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in the second trimester of pregnancy, and 80 percent think it should be illegal in the third.

Senate leaders must be urged to allow a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken should consider the interests of the child suffering in the womb and vote for this reasonable and compassionate measure, which is supported by the majority of Americans and Minnesotans.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Abortion chain with Minneapolis facility cited for more violations in Texas

The following news release was issued today, Nov. 1.

MINNEAPOLIS—The latest inspections of Whole Woman's Health (WWH) abortion centers in Texas have revealed continuing health violations by the abortion chain. Yet WWH's Minneapolis abortion center remains neither licensed nor inspected by the state of Minnesota.

An Oct. 3 inspection of WWH of Beaumont by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) found many different health code violations. "[T]he facility failed to provide safe and sanitary equipment in the patients' procedure rooms," DSHS noted. For example, inspectors found "numerous rusty spots on the suction machines used on the patient" that had "the likelihood to cause infection." The DSHS report concluded, "[T]he facility failed to provide a safe environment for patients and staff."

An Aug. 29 inspection of WWH of San Antonio determined that it "failed to implement and enforce acceptable environmental controls in cleaning and preparing instruments for sterilization." A Sept. 4 inspection of WWH of McAllen found that "personnel ... were not following proper sterilization procedures."

"Whole Woman's Health has a long history of not abiding by health and safety standards," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "But here in Minnesota, the Department of Health doesn't inspect abortion facilities, or even license them. We have no way of holding Whole Woman's Health accountable and protecting women's health."

Texas-based WWH launched its Minneapolis center, Whole Woman's Health of the Twin Cities, in early 2012. Legislation to license and inspect abortion facilities was passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2012, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Four of the five WWH clinics in Texas have been cited for violating safety standards in just the last three years. In 2007 DSHS fined WWH of Beaumont $3,050 for five different violations. In 2011 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality determined that two WWH clinics were illegally disposing of the remains of aborted children; they were penalized $40,410 (and WWH’s medical waste vendor was penalized $42,612). In 2012 the Texas Medical Board disciplined two WWH abortionists for violating standards of patient care.

"In light of the persistent violations by Whole Woman's Health in Texas, as well as horrific practices uncovered in other abortion clinics across the country, it is ridiculous that Minnesota does not ensure minimum health and safety standards in abortion facilities," concluded Fischbach. "Gov. Dayton is letting his commitment to unfettered abortion get in the way of protecting the women of Minnesota."