Wednesday, January 29, 2014

'The State of Abortion in the United States'

National Right to Life has released a new report titled "The State of Abortion in the United States." It includes the following sections, all of which provide helpful and important information:
  • Synopsis of U.S. Supreme Court Cases
  • Public Opinion & Abortion
  • Federal Legislation & Abortion
  • State Laws & Abortion
  • Abortion in America: A Look at the Numbers
  • Planned Parenthood: The Nation's Largest Abortion Provider
  • Obamacare's Threat to the Born
Although the incidence of abortion has declined in recent years—the result of a variety of pro-life efforts—the report indicates that more than 56 million abortions have taken place since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thousands of Minnesotans come to Capitol

The following news release was issued today, Jan. 22, 2014.

ST. PAUL — Thousands of Minnesotans came to the State Capitol today to urge lawmakers to ban taxpayer funded abortions. Pro-lifers also called on legislators to protect the safety of women by licensing abortion centers. The annual Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) March for Life commemorates the millions of lives lost to abortion.

The 40th annual MCCL March for Life marked the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that have resulted in the deaths of more than 588,000 unborn Minnesota children (Minnesota Department of Health), and more than 56 million unborn babies nationwide.

"In Minnesota, more than one-third of all abortions are paid for with our tax dollars," stated MCCL Development Associate Jan Ochsner. The huge crowd of citizens gathered from across the state responded with thunderous boos. "Rather than turning our backs on women and encouraging them to get a free abortion, we should be using that money—our tax dollars—to provide real help to women."

MCCL's 2014 legislative agenda calls upon lawmakers to end taxpayer funded abortions, which account for 34 percent of all abortions performed in the state. This is the highest percentage since the 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court required taxpayers to pay for abortions performed on low-income women. This percentage has increased nearly every year since the court ruling. Taxpayers have funded 62,252 abortions since the decision, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

MCCL's agenda also seeks the licensing and inspection of abortion facilities, which currently are exempt from licensing and inspection required of other outpatient surgical centers across the state. Such minimal oversight by the Minnesota Department of Health would help ensure a degree of safety for women entering abortion facilities.

MCCL again is calling for passage of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which prohibits abortions at the point when an unborn child can feel pain. MCCL will also continue to support programs that provide help to pregnant and parenting mothers and their children, so that no woman ever feels forced into an abortion due to lack of resources.

Many of Minnesota's pro-life elected officials, including state legislators, were in attendance and were introduced during the brief program in the Capitol Rotunda. Pro-life Congressman John Kline read a list of recent protective legislation he has sponsored and added, "None of these has become law. That's why you're here today. Thank you for being here. Stay with it. We must protect life, and we cannot do it without you." Other pro-life Members of Congress Erik Paulsen, Michele Bachmann and Collin Peterson sent written greetings.

The annual event was moved inside for only the second time in 40 years due to severe weather conditions. View historical photos of the MCCL March for Life and photos from today's event on the MCCL website.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The three intractable problems of Roe v. Wade

On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The Court ruled that abortion must be permitted for any reason before fetal viability—and that it must be permitted for "health" reasons, broadly defined in Doe (so as to encompass virtually any reason), all the way until birth. Roe and Doe legalized abortion on demand nationwide.

The New York Times proclaimed the verdict "a historic resolution of a fiercely controversial issue." But now, 41 years later, abortion is as unresolved and controversial as ever. Three intractable problems will continue to plague the Court and its abortion jurisprudence until the day when, finally, Roe is overturned.

First, and most importantly, the outcome of Roe is fundamentally harmful and unjust. Why? The facts of biology show that the human embryo or fetus (the being whose life is ended in abortion) is a distinct and living human organism at the earliest stages of development. This was established long before 1973, though subsequent scientific and technological advances have greatly improved our knowledge of life before birth. As Dr. Horatio R. Storer explained in a book published in 1866, "Physicians have now arrived at the unanimous opinion that the foetus in utero is alive from the very moment of conception."

Justice requires that the law protect the equal dignity and basic rights of every member of the human family—irrespective of age, size, stage of development, condition of dependency, and the desires and decisions of others. This principle of human equality, affirmed in the Declaration of Independence and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the moral crux of western civilization. But the Roe Court ruled, to the contrary, that a particular class of innocent human beings (the unborn) must be excluded from the protection of the law and allowed to be dismembered and killed at the discretion of others. "The right created by the Supreme Court in Roe," observes University of St. Thomas law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen, "is a constitutional right of some human beings to kill other human beings."

After Roe, the incidence of abortion rose dramatically, quickly topping one million abortions per year and peaking at 1.6 million in 1990 before gradually declining to 1.2 million. Under the Roe regime, abortion is the leading cause of human death. More than 56 million human beings have now been legally killed. And abortion has significantly and detrimentally impacted the health and well-being of many women (and men). The moral gravity and scale of this injustice exceed that of any other issue or concern in American society today.

The second problem with Roe is that it is legally, constitutionally mistaken. Justice Harry Blackmun's majority opinion claimed that the "liberty" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes a "right of privacy" that is "broad enough to encompass" a right to abortion. "As a constitutional argument," notes University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt (who favors legalized abortion), "Roe is barely coherent. The Court pulled its fundamental right to choose more or less from the constitutional ether."

Justice Blackmun
The right alleged in Roe is blatantly contradicted by the history of abortion law in the United States. Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment roughly coincided with enactment of a wave of state laws prohibiting abortion from conception with the primary aim (according to clear and abundant historical evidence) of protecting unborn children. Most of these statutes were already on the books by the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted in 1868, and many of them remained unchanged until Roe struck them down more than a century later. "To reach its result," Justice William Rehnquist thus concluded in his dissenting opinion, "the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment."

Blackmun's reasoning was ridiculous, his facts erroneous, his key historical claims demonstrably false. The process behind the decision was appallingly shoddy. Roe and Doe constituted a full-blown exercise in policy-making—the arbitrary (untethered to the Constitution) invention of a new nationwide abortion policy to reflect the personal preferences of a majority of the justices.

Even pro-choice legal experts don't try to defend Roe on its merits. "What is frightening about Roe is that this super-protected right is not inferable from the language of the Constitution, the framers' thinking respecting the specific problem in issue, any general value derivable from the provisions they included, or the nation's governmental structure," wrote the eminent constitutional scholar and Yale law professor John Hart Ely. "It is bad because it is bad constitutional law, or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be."

Since 1973 the Court has modified Roe while stubbornly clinging to its "essential holding." But the Court's abortion jurisprudence cannot forever withstand the weight of fact and reason.

The first MCCL March for Life on Jan. 22,
1974, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Third, Roe is undemocratic. It struck down the democratically-decided abortion laws of all 50 states and imposed a nationwide policy of abortion on demand, whether the people like it or not. Because the Court lacked any constitutional warrant for this move, it usurped the rightful authority of the elected branches of government to determine abortion policy.

The radical extent of the Roe regime was not and has never been consistent with public opinion, which favors substantial legal limits on abortion. (Polling questions on Roe are often inaccurate, and ignorance of the extent of the decision is widespread). Roe has disenfranchised millions and millions of Americans, fostering divisive cultural and political battles. These Americans will not rest while Roe and abortion on demand persist. They want to have a say. The Court decided they could have none.

Overturning Roe would not make abortion illegal nationwide. It would not end the debate. It would return the question of abortion policy back to the people and their elected representatives, where it had been for almost 200 years, and where it always belonged.

So these are the intractable problems of Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court abused the Constitution to usurp the authority of the people by imposing a gravely unjust policy with breathtakingly disastrous results.

Unjust. Unconstitutional. Undemocratic. Together, these problems will lead, eventually, to Roe's collapse.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What does it mean to be pro-life?

Every human being matters, and we ought to act accordingly

The media often use the label "anti-abortion" to describe pro-life advocates. It's true that we oppose abortion—and infanticide, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research. But we are only against those things because we are for something else.

What we are for

What are we for? We are for the proposition that human life is good, that it is worth living, that it deserves respect and protection. We are for the proposition that every human being has an equal worth and dignity—that every human being has a right to live.

The pro-life position rejects all attempts to divide humanity into those who have rights and those who don't. Our society now recognizes that past discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity and social status was deeply unjust. We recognize that the worth of a human being does not depend on such characteristics.

Nor, however, does the worth of a human being depend on age, size, ability, dependency, stage of development or the desires and decisions of others. The big are not more valuable than the small. The strong do not have more rights than the weak. The independent do not matter more than the vulnerable and needy.

No, we have value and a right to life simply because we are human—not because of what we can do, but because of what (the kind of being) we are. That's why everyone matters. Everyone counts.

What we are against

It is because we support equal human dignity that we oppose the intentional killing of innocent human beings. And that means we oppose abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research.

Pro-lifers oppose abortion because it takes the life of a human being before he or she is born. The scientific facts of embryology and developmental biology make clear that the unborn (the human embryo or fetus) is a distinct and living human organism, a full-fledged (though immature) member of the species Homo sapiens. Each of us was once an embryo and a fetus, just as we were once infants, toddlers and adolescents.

And all human beings, at all stages, have a right to life, whether or not they are "wanted" or "convenient."

We oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide because killing is never the answer to the difficulties of life. All human beings should receive our compassion and care, irrespective of disease, disability or perceived "quality of life."

We oppose embryonic stem cell research (but not adult or non-embryonic stem cell research) and human cloning because they require the destruction of human embryos. Human embryos are human beings in the embryonic phase of life. And all human beings, regardless of appearance or location (e.g., a petri dish), ought to be treated with respect and not as mere raw material to use for the hypothetical benefit of others.

Living our conviction

But being pro-life is about more than just holding an ethical position. To be truly pro-life means to live and act accordingly.

It means treating other people with dignity and respect—even those with whom we disagree. It means helping pregnant women in need and those who suffer from illness or disability.

It means recognizing the moral gravity and scale of abortion—the premier injustice and leading cause of death in American society today—and taking action to save lives. Educating ourselves, talking to others, persuading them. Supporting pro-life educational and legislative efforts through organizations like MCCL.

Being pro-life, ultimately, is about loving others, especially the most vulnerable. It is about loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. And love isn't just a feeling. It is a commitment.

This article was first published in the November-December 2013 issue of MCCL News.