Saturday, December 19, 2015

What Christmas tells us about human life and dignity

A version of the following ran last year.

Christians use the Christmas holiday to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This event (apart from everything else it entails) provides a number of insights about human life and dignity. Here are three.

1. Each of us was once an unborn child. The incarnation—the coming into the world of Christ—did not happen in the manger. It happened some nine months earlier. We know this because that's how human development works according to the science of embryology and developmental biology. And because that's what the scriptural accounts affirm.

Mary was "with child" (Matthew 1:18) after Jesus was "conceived ... from the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20). Earlier, Gabriel told Mary she would "conceive in [her] womb ... a son, [to be named] Jesus" (Luke 1:31). Luke 1:41-44 recounts that the "baby" John the Baptist (who was in his sixth month post-conception) "leaped for joy" in his mother's womb when he entered the presence of the unborn Jesus (who was probably a several-days-old embryo).

Jesus began his earthly existence as an embryo and fetus. So did all of us.

2. The weak and vulnerable matter just as much as the strong and independent. God himself chose to enter the world in the most vulnerable condition possible: as a tiny embryo, and then a fetus, and then a newborn baby lying in a manger. This turned ancient "might makes right" morality on its head. It suggests that human dignity is not determined by age, size, power, or independence.

3. Human life is extraordinarily valuable. Christmas is part of God's larger plan to rescue humanity because He loves us (John 3:16). Jesus came so that we might live. From this Christian perspective, God considers human life to be immensely precious and worth saving at tremendous cost. "Christian belief in the Incarnation is thus inseparable from belief in the objective, and even transcendent, value of the human race as a whole, and of each human person as an individual," writes Carson Holloway.

Christmas proves that human beings matter. All of them, at all stages of their lives—including the youngest and most vulnerable.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Taxpayer funding of abortion in Minnesota: Three reasons it must end after 20 years

Minnesota law prohibited public funding of abortion (except in cases of rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother) until June 1994. That's when Hennepin County District Judge William Posten decided that the state Constitution requires Medicaid coverage of abortion for low-income women. The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the ruling in its Dec. 15, 1995, Doe v. Gomez decision. Not even the U.S. Supreme Court—in Roe v. Wade or subsequent abortion cases—has gone that far.

Twenty years later, taxpayers have funded more than 73,000 abortions at a cost of more than $21.5 million. In 2013 alone (the most recent statistics from the Department of Human Services), Minnesotans paid $810,000 for 3,391 abortions.

One need not support legal protection for unborn children to oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to facilitate their destruction, as we explained in a 2014 op-ed in the Star Tribune. Here's why taxpayer funding must end.

(1) Elective abortion is not a public good deserving of public support. It is not health care—it violently attacks the health and ends the life of a developing human being. "Abortion," the U.S. Supreme Court explained in a 1980 case (Harris v. McRae) upholding limits on public funding, "is inherently different from other medical procedures." Why are Minnesotans required to pay for this?

(2) A substantial body of research has established that government funding increases the incidence of abortion (relative to what it would otherwise be). A literature review by the Guttmacher Institute—a proponent of unlimited abortion—concluded that "approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable." Public funding means more abortions. Limits on public funding mean fewer abortions. Doe v. Gomez has led to the killing of thousands of young human beings who otherwise would have lived.

(3) Taxpayer funding of abortion enables economic exploitation. It allows the abortion industry to generate more revenue by marketing "free" abortions to economically vulnerable women. Minnesota taxpayers are now billed for 38.1 percent of all abortions—the highest percentage ever. Planned Parenthood, which performs more abortions than any other provider, increased its state-funded abortion claims by 13 percent in 2013 (following a 32 percent rise in 2012). The organization collected $295,216 from the state for performing 1,287 abortions on low-income women, a 16 percent revenue jump over the previous year (after a 30 percent increase in 2012).

Abortion doesn't solve anyone's problems. Pregnant women facing difficult circumstances deserve our compassion, care, and support. We can put tax dollars to better use.

That's why MCCL strongly favors current legislation, H.F. 607/S.F. 683, to ban taxpayer funding of abortion. Twenty years is 20 years too long—and 73,000 lives too many.

Monday, December 14, 2015

MCCL News December issue

The November-December 2015 issue of MCCL News is now available online. It includes stories on the upcoming March for Life, dismemberment abortion, assisted suicide, ways to make a difference in 2016, and more.

MCCL News online is only available to registered NetCommunity members who are also current donors. Be sure to keep your membership current by making at least an annual donation to MCCL.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The horror of dismemberment abortion awakens the conscience

In a paper published many years ago, prominent late-term abortion practitioner Warren Hern studied the reactions of abortion center staff to the dilation and evacuation (D & E) dismemberment abortion procedure, which at the time was becoming more and more common (today it is the main abortion method during the second trimester of pregnancy).

"Many of the [clinic worker] respondents reported serious emotional reactions that produced physiological symptoms, sleep disturbances, effects on interpersonal relationships, and moral anguish," Hern and his co-author, Billie Corrigan, conclude.

Hern notes that, among the different abortion facility staff members, "it appears that the more direct the physical and visual involvement with D & E, such as that experienced by nurses and physicians, the more stress is experienced. This is evident both in conscious stress and in unconscious manifestations such as dreams."

It is easy to ignore what we can't see or experience at a visceral level. D & E abortions are impossible for abortion practitioners to ignore. That's why these abortions can powerfully awaken the moral sensibilities—the conscience—of those who are involved.

"The most important challenge in [the practice of] late abortion ... is how we feel about doing it," Hern acknowledges. "Some part of our cultural and perhaps even biological heritage recoils at a destructive operation on a form that is similar to our own," he writes. "We have reached a point in this particular technology where there is no possibility of denying an act of destruction. It is before one's eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current."

Conscience is a stubborn thing.

Clinic workers, Hern explains, respond to D & E using traditional defense mechanisms:
We discerned that the following psychological defenses were used by staff members at various times to handle the traumatic impact of the destructive part of the operation: denial, sometimes shown by the distance a person keeps from viewing D & E; projection, as evidenced by excessive concern or anguish for other staff members assisting with or performing D & E; and rationalization.
Hern and Corrigan try to help staff "cope" with the experience by encouraging them to talk about their feelings and giving them occasional time off.

But this trauma is not merely an emotional response that must be strategically managed and overcome. The anguish of clinic staff reflects a deep knowledge that there is something wrong with tearing off arms and legs and crushing the skulls of tiny human beings. It feels terrible because it actually is terrible.

Dr. Anthony Levatino used to perform dismemberment abortions, but everything changed after the tragic death of his young daughter. "All of a sudden, the idea of a person's life becomes very real," he says. "It is not an embryology course anymore. It's not just a couple of hundred dollars. It's the real thing. ... I couldn't even think about a D & E abortion anymore."

He continued to perform abortions, but the procedure became much more difficult. "If I knew I had an abortion scheduled in the office the next day, I got very surly. I was hard to be around. I was getting very, very rough with the staff in our office," he says. "My own sense of self-esteem went down the tubes. I began to feel like a paid assassin. That's exactly what I was."

Dr. Levatino continues:
It got to a point ... that it just wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth it to me anymore. The money wasn't worth it. I don't care. This is coming out of my hide; it is costing me too much. It is costing me too much personally. For all the money in the world, it wouldn't have made any difference. So I quit. I slept a lot better at night after that.
More than 700 D & E abortions were performed in Minnesota last year. Many tens of thousands are performed nationwide. It's long past time to wake up to what this really is.