Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What is the leading cause of death?

Abortion ends the life of a human organism—an individual member of the species Homo sapiens. Yet abortions are not classified as deaths in U.S. vital statistics. What would those statistics look like if this omission were corrected?

A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte decided to find out.

"There is no credible scientific opposition to the fact that a new genetically distinct human organism begins with fertilization," James Studnicki, Sharon J. MacKinnon, and John W. Fisher explain in their paper, published in June 2016 in the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine. "Yet, despite the universal acknowledgement that the act of abortion results in a death, abortion is not reported as a cause of death in the vital statistics system in the United States. ... The exclusion of a major cause of death ..., especially one with large racial and ethnic disparities, should be a major concern to the scientific community and society as a whole."

So the researchers, using data from 2009 (the latest year for which all the relevant information is available), considered abortion among other causes of death. They found that induced abortion was by far the leading cause of death (1.152 million deaths), easily surpassing heart disease (599,413 deaths) and cancer (567,628 deaths) and accounting for 32.1 percent of all deaths that year. Disturbingly, among African Americans, abortions made up 61.1 percent of total deaths; among Hispanics, they accounted for 64 percent.

The researchers also calculated the "years of potential life lost," assuming an average lifespan of 75 years. In 2009, the study found, abortion resulted in 68.4 million years of potential life lost. That's 77.1 percent of all years lost in 2009. The second leading offender, cancer, cost 4.4 million years, which is just 4.9 percent of the total.

Indeed, human beings who are killed in utero generally lose far more years of life than those who die from other causes. "When I was a fetus," writes philosopher Alexander Pruss, "I had more to lose by death than I do now. Thus, to have killed me then would, strictly speaking, have been a greater harm."

The statistics, then, show that abortion is responsible for a mind-boggling number of lost human lives and years. If human lives matter, then these human lives matter. Abortion deaths, moreover, are entirely preventable. We ought to act accordingly to save lives.

"The most sinister result of excluding abortion as a cause of death is that this crucial topic is 'scrubbed' from the purview of legitimate scientific inquiry," says Dr. Studnicki, the lead researcher. "As a cause of death, the major one for Hispanics and African Americans, abortion would be at the top of the scientific agenda in the U.S., and with a funding priority consistent with its importance. Imagine the urgent scrambling among federal health bureaucracies if some mysterious new virus or bacteria were killing more than a million children each year."

But it's not just the sheer scale of abortion that separates it from other causes of death. Abortion, unlike natural or accidental death, is intentional killing. Cancer and heart disease are tragic and should be fought with compassion, but they are not injustices. Abortion is an injustice. It is a violation of the right of all human beings to life (the right not to be intentionally killed).

Of course, as Dr. Studnicki and his colleagues acknowledge, the effort to stop the killing of unborn children—unlike work to combat other public health crises—is deeply controversial. Many people, understandably, feel like abortion is or could be in their own best interests. Unborn children are small and largely out-of-sight, and they can't speak for themselves.

These factors make the mission of the pro-life movement more difficult, but also more necessary. Unborn children need a voice. The mortality numbers are not something we are free to ignore.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

MCCL GO argues that Dutch euthanasia violates human rights

GENEVA, Switzerland — Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), an international non-governmental organization working to secure human rights for all human beings, has submitted a written contribution to the Human Rights Council's upcoming review of the Netherlands. The submission argues that the Dutch practice of euthanasia violates human rights protected by international treaties.

"Thousands of Dutch patients are intentionally killed by euthanasia or assisted suicide each year," says Scott Fischbach, executive director of MCCL GO. "Some are killed because they have dementia or psychiatric problems, like depression or post-traumatic stress. And some mentally incompetent patients are killed even though they have made no request to die."

The practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands threatens to deny patients their right to health. A 2016 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, for example, found that a majority of patients euthanized for psychiatric reasons were described as socially isolated or lonely. "The mental health of some Dutch patients has not been adequately addressed," Fischbach observes.

The Human Rights Council, an inter-governmental U.N. body founded to promote and protect human rights worldwide, conducts a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of all nations to determine whether they are fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments. The Council will review the Netherlands during the 27th UPR Working Group session next spring.

MCCL GO's contribution—which is available online—explains how the Netherlands' euthanasia policy violates the "inherent right to life" of every human being guaranteed under international law. It also violates equality and non-discrimination. "The right to life belongs to not only the young, healthy and able-bodied," says Fischbach, "but also the elderly, sick and disabled."

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls on nations to "take all necessary measures to ensure [the] effective enjoyment [of the right to life] by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others." The euthanasia of disabled infants, which is accepted in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol, is an especially clear violation of this requirement.

MCCL GO's contribution also notes that U.N. treaty bodies have criticized euthanasia in the Netherlands. The Human Rights Committee has called for the Dutch law to "be reviewed in light of the … right to life," and has condemned the Dutch practice of infanticide. The Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that euthanasia may (under Dutch law) be applied to children as young as 12 years old.

"To fulfill its international human rights obligations," Fischbach concludes, "the Netherlands should prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide."

MCCL GO is the U.N.- and OAS-accredited global outreach program of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund. Our goal is to protect as many human beings as possible from the destruction of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Learn more at