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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

AUL expert to testify at Kagan hearing

Charmaine Yoest, the president of pro-life legal think tank Americans United for Life (AUL), will testify before the Senate tomorrow afternoon. Her written testimony has already been released. The highlights:
I am here to express AUL’s opposition to the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court. Based on our research, we believe that Solicitor General Kagan will be an agenda-driven judge on the Court, and that she will strongly oppose even the most widely-accepted protections for unborn human life.
On the doctrine of stare decisis:
Supreme Court Justices must have a respect for prior Supreme Court decisions, but also recognize that following precedent is “not an inexorable command.” . . . In fact, the Court enhances its legitimacy when it reverses a decision after overstepping its bounds into policymaking. Furthermore, the Supreme Court should never affirm a decision at odds with the Constitution. Under the principles of stare decisis, Roe is a prime example of precedent on shaky ground.
On motive analysis:
Kagan has written favorably about the application of the “government motive” doctrine in the context of First Amendment law. . . . Looking for governmental motive invariably involves looking for bad motives, i.e. reasons to strike down an enactment by legislatures. Pro-abortion academics and judges have long sought to impose an “antiabortion motive” analysis to invalidate state abortion regulations. For example, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun applied a motive analysis to strike down abortion health regulations in 1986 in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. A slight tilt in the Court could again lead to the application of this doctrine to state abortion regulations.
On Kagan's overall record:
The pieces that make up Kagan’s abortion record create the picture of a stanchly pro-abortion ideologue who has devoted her life to serving pro-abortion political candidates, judges, and office-holders. Further, on multiple occasions she has used her positions to voice opposition to the most widely accepted regulations of abortion. Her position is so clear, that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a staunch abortion advocate, voiced support for Kagan: “I have no reason to think anything else except that [Kagan] would be a very strong supporter of privacy rights because everyone she worked for held that view.” (“Privacy rights” is the euphemism under which Justice Blackmun imposed a right to abortion on America in Roe v. Wade.)
AUL has a wealth of information for those who are interested in learning more about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recent Supreme Court ruling worries campus groups

The Supreme Court just ruled on Christian Legal Society (CLS) v. Martinez. The issue in the case was whether or not Hastings College of Law could strip the CLS of its recognized status because of its refusal to allow non-Christian and (more controversially) non-heterosexual students into the club. The Court ruled that Hastings' actions were constitutional.

You may rightfully ask what this has to do with abortion. After all, SecularProLife.org is neutral on all non-life issues, in the interest of unity. But this case may have broader ramifications than it appears on the surface. (If you have access to Westlaw, you can find the opinion at 2010 WL 2555187.)

Hastings has an "all-comers" policy, which means that it not only prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion and sexual orientation, but any restrictions on group membership. "Hastings requires that [registered student organizations] allow any student to participate, ... regardless of [her] status or beliefs. For example, the Hastings Democratic Caucus cannot bar students holding Republican political beliefs." The CLS attempted to narrow the issue to religion and sexual orientation, but failed because of a prior stipulation. Since an "all-comers" policy does not target any particular viewpoint, it was held to be constitutional.

This decision essentially makes it legal for schools to force political student organizations to give up their freedom of association or lose recognition. Students for Life of America fears that this means campus pro-life groups at certain schools will have to allow pro-abortion infiltrators or lose a key source of funding. This goes both ways, of course, but we'd rather not take the sleazy route of joining VOX chapters. Gay rights groups may face a similar problem; after all, it's hard to plan pro-LGBT events when an anti-LGBT contingent at your own meetings is there to sabotage you.

Will it actually go that far? Hopefully not. Hastings' policy has not been universally adopted by other schools; as the Court pointed out, whether a policy is constitutional and whether it is advisable are two very different questions. Nevertheless, if you run a campus group, now would be a good time to review your college's student organization policy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Adult Stem Cell Research in Court

In March 2009, President Obama issued an executive order which simultaneously allowed funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) and rejected funding of adult stem cell research (ASCR). The cutoff of funds for ASCR was accomplished in Section 5, revoking a prior executive order by former president George W. Bush.

Pro-lifers have long supported ASCR as an alternative method which does not require the destruction of human life. We also argue that ASCR has a better track record. The most successful stem cell treatments are those which use a patient's own cells, eliminating the risk of rejection that has long plagued ESCR. Earlier this month, it was announced that experimental adult stem cell treatment in Italy has even cured blindness. And as medical researchers have begun to create pluripotent stem cells, which act like embryonic stem cells but do not require the death of an embryo, many predict that the whole debate will soon become obsolete.

So defunding ASCR is a frankly moronic public policy move. But is it also illegal or unconstitutional? Jill Stanek reports that two researchers who have been denied funding because of Obama's executive order are suing, and the DC Federal Court of Appeal has just ruled that they have standing to bring the claim. I'll let you know what happens. If you want my prediction, it's that the National Institutes of Health will settle the case to avoid bad press.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

NRLC Convention Photos

Photos from the convention are posted on our facebook group. Regular blog posts will resume tomorrow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

NRLC Convention Day Three

The morning general session began with a review of the health care reform law. NRLC's concerns include funding of abortion (obviously), Medicare cuts, and the potential for rationing. In response to Congressman Mike Doyle's comment in the press that NRLC was aligning with the Republican party, NRLC said that they started from pro-life principles and that the Republican party happened to align with them.

General comment: Over the course of the convention, there's been lots of talk about bipartisanship. It might be a moot point, since it looks like all the pro-lifers in close races this election cycle are Republican, but which races are close is continually changing. Various NRLC speakers, at various times, have reiterated that they would support a pro-life Dem over a pro-abortion GOP candidate.

Next, Congressman John Boehner was presented with an award. He gave us a nice pep talk. Toward the end, a man in the audience started screaming--most notably "May God strike you dead!"-- and continued ranting as security escorted him out. The mistress of ceremonies, NRLC co-executive director Darla St. Martin, handled it very gracefully, simply noting that "our opposition can be quite vehement." Ho hum, just another day at National Right to Life.

I went to another fundraising workshop, then to a presentation on pro-life work at the United Nations. This included a discussion of the real relationship between abortion and maternal health; I highly recommend this pamphlet. John Cockfield related the successful battle to get pro-life language in a disability rights document. Most importantly, they have blocked the continual efforts of the Center for "Reproductive Rights" from establishing an international right to abortion.

Finally, I went to a presentation by Rai Rojas, who I only knew on Facebook, about Hispanic outreach. SecularProLife.org has many Hispanic supporters, especially from my old stomping grounds at the University of Miami, but their numbers have not been increasing as quickly compared to white supporters. Rojas gave me some good advice that I hope to implement soon.

And so the convention comes to an end. I've had a wonderful time, met lots of cool people, and learned a ton. I hope I'll see you there next year: June 23-25, 2011 in Jacksonville, FL!

Friday, June 25, 2010

NRLC Convention Day Two

Last night, NRLC marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of Teens for Life. It was a sad occasion in a way, since the pro-life movement always hopes to go out of business, but they kept the tone upbeat. The celebration featured lots of pictures of teens with big hair in the 80's. Next, Dr. Angela Franks presented a history of Margaret Sanger and American eugenics. It was mostly information well-known to pro-life advocates, but she put it all together very nicely.

This morning, Dr. Steven Zielinski kicked things off with a presentation on the current state of fetal pain research. The focus was on evidence for fetal pain at 19-20 weeks, since that was the gestational limit in the recently passed law in Nebraska. He was an excellent speaker and encouraged religious people not to view science as the enemy. I met him afterward and he was enthusiastic about our work. Sadly, Dr. Zielinski is suffering from kidney disease and unable to do as much research as he used to. He is looking for a successor. If you are a medical student interested in fetal pain research, email him at zielinski@hotmail.com.

After lunch, I attended a workshop on the 2010 elections. Things are looking up for us. They presented some interesting statistics on the impact of pro-life voting efforts; pro-lifers are much more likely to be single-issue voters than abortion advocates are, and we routinely swing things by 3-4%. But the speakers did warn us not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. A member of the audience put it best: vote for the outcome, not the candidate. In practice, this means voting for the moderate pro-life candidate who has a real chance over the strong pro-lifer who doesn't. Some people will probably disagree-- it's the classic incrementalism debate--but I think NRLC is right.

Next, I went to an incredibly depressing workshop called "The Future of Planned Parenthood: Building the Abortion Empire Through Mega-Clinics and Chemical Abortion." Dr. Randall O'Bannon showed that over the last few years, Planned Parenthood has demonstrated a pattern of closing smaller, unprofitable centers, merging affiliates, and opening new, large centers to target both low-income and suburban customers. He also discussed the telemedicine scandal, as well as Planned Parenthood's relative numbers of abortions and adoption/prenatal services (guess which matters).
Fun fact: Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has no medical background.

I then attended "Confronting the Abortion of Children with Down Syndrome," a wonderful workshop run by Eileen Haupt, the co-founder of Keep Infants with Down Syndrome and the mother of Sadie. She talked about prenatal testing, the current state of Down Syndrome research, and post-natal threats to DS children from pro-infanticide activists like Peter Singer. She was also very open about her personal experience raising a daughter with DS.
We've been discussing prenatal testing on the Facebook group. Haupt says that she refused testing and that she's glad she did, but that sometimes knowing ahead of time can be helpful, especially if the baby will need heart surgery soon after birth. You should balance that against the likelihood that, if you do get a prenatal diagnosis, many doctors will insensitively push abortion.
Fun fact: There is a waiting list of families who want to adopt children with DS.

Finally, I went to a workshop on IRS compliance. It was as dull as it sounds, but since I'm thinking about registering SecularProLife.org as a 501(c)(3), it was fairly helpful.

Quick News Roundup 06/25/10

Domestic News: Planned Parenthood is bringing an abortion clinic to Omaha, Nebraska. Planned Parenthood had two clinics in the city, neither of them provided abortions. One of them will now and the other will merge in with the abortion clinic. The controversial new "abortion vending machines" in Iowa were recently asked to be probed by the state Attorney General's office and the Iowa Board of Medicine. The AG's office stated that this issue is best left in the hands of the Iowa Board of Medicine first before any criminal issues are discussed.

International News: In the United Kingdom, pro-life members of Parliament are trying to change the law to prohibit abortion after 20-22 weeks of pregnancy. The current cutoff is 24 weeks. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has historically supported this change. A poll was conducted in Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Chile on abortion. The results? Most support legalizing abortion, but only under certain circumstances. Based on the poll, "69 percent of the Brazilians surveyed opposed total legalization of abortion, as did 64.5 percent of the Chileans, 61.4 percent of the Mexicans and 81.4 percent of the Nicaraguans polled."

Discussion Topic: Are you at the National Right to Life Convention? If so, tell us about it here. I know that our fearless leader has been leaving her thoughts, but we'd love to hear more thoughts from the Convention floor.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NRLC Convention Day One

Last night, the Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change had their annual meeting. Papers were presented on a variety of topics, including maternal mortality rates, post-abortion stress meta-analysis, and the impact of state-level abortion legislation. This was followed by a wine and cheese reception, during which I met many of our supporters in person for the first time. (I'll try not to name-drop.)

Today's session kicked off with a presentation on sex-selective abortion by Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute. It was a good presentation, although saying that sex-selective abortion is bad at a pro-life convention is definitely preaching to the choir. But he put a personal spin on it by sharing some stories from PRI's work in China, helping pregnant women hide from one-child policy enforcers.

Next, I went to a presentation by Dr. Gunter Franz on abortion statistics and opinion polls. He noted that the abortion rate suddenly started dropping in 1980-81, and made a persuasive argument that this was caused by pro-life activity and the increased use of sonograms. If the pre-1980 rate had held steady, nine million more babies would have died in abortion. He also pointed out that atheists are more than three times more likely to have an abortion than the general population, highlighting the need for our efforts. On opinion polls, he had several good illustrations of how much wording matters, but we knew that.

I then went to a presentation called "'I had an Abortion.' What do you say next?" It was excellent. Although all the presenters were Christian, their advice was largely secular; when I asked, family counselor Greg Hasek said that he uses a basic grief/loss model in his practice. Some key points:
*Realize that telling someone about an abortion is an act of trust.
*Be humble. Don't go into "fix-it" mode. There is no particular line you can say that will make it all better.
*Shut up and let her talk. Figure out where she is in the grief process.
*When you do speak, be welcoming. Don't jump in to correct contradictions. Honor her defense mechanisms.
*Do NOT say: "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself." "It was the best decision at the time." "God forgives you--now you need to forgive yourself." "Everything happens for a reason."
*Don't respond with your own story or a friend's story. Every person is different. The focus should be on her.
*If you are confronted by someone who is angry--"I had an abortion and I'm FINE!"--disarm her by saying something like "Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate that you trust me enough to be honest."

In Communications 101, I learned about cultivating relationships with reporters and bloggers. If you are accurate and timely, reporters will keep coming back to you for quotes. When a biased article is published, don't be accusatory-- just call the reporter and ask what happened. Often, the editor cut part of the piece.

Finally, I attended a session on using the internet to fundraise. This is going to be a big project, and it will start with putting together an email list. Please let me know if you're available to donate a few hours on this.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gloria Steinem on the Colbert Report

I've long said that if American women's organizations are going to avoid obsolescence, they need to actually represent women. And since a plurality of us are pro-life, that means cutting the pro-abortion rhetoric and focusing on issues of concern to all feminists, like equal pay. So far, there are no signs of that happening. But in last night's interview, I'm happy to report that the focus was on true feminist issues, not abortion. I don't know whether this is to Steinem's credit or whether it was a condition of her appearance, but either way, the interview is worth watching.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Gloria Steinem
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

The closest they come to discussing abortion is at 3:25.
Colbert: Doesn't that mean that the real enemy here is children?
Steinem: Well, some people have come to that conclusion, and the birth rate has plummeted...
Colbert's question immediately brought to mind this Feminists for Life poster, which asks if a baby's face is the face of the enemy. If the personal is the political, Steinem answered Colbert's question in the affirmative when she aborted her own child, a decision she is proud of.

I would have loved to hear Steinem's thoughts on Republican women candidates--Colbert mentioned three, two of them pro-life-- but he didn't let her get a word in edgewise.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Planned Parenthood's "Missing Millions"

Various pro-life news outlets have highlighted this recent Washington Times op-ed. From the title, I initially thought that it would be about the millions of people who are "missing" because they were killed by Planned Parenthood before birth. Actually, the "millions" refers to dollars-- it's about a major financial discrepancy between Planned Parenthood's records and a recently released Government Accounting Office report.

Now don't get me wrong. I do appreciate this kind of investigation. If Planned Parenthood is bilking taxpayers, that's something we should learn. But it's disappointing that these side issues are the only way that we can bring attention to Planned Parenthood in the mainstream media. You will never see a piece strictly about the missing millions of people. The only critical pieces on Planned Parenthood that make it beyond the pro-life blogosphere are investigations of statutory rape coverups, maternal injuries and deaths, and financial misconduct.

Why should we have to dance around the central issue: the fact that Planned Parenthood does more abortions than any other group in America? No doubt Planned Parenthood's sympathizers will protest that abortion is only 3% of what they do. That statement is misleading, but even if it were true, it's irrelevant. Would you support a charity that does good things 99.9% of the time but spends the other .1% of your donation on killing people?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Words from a sidewalk counselor

It seems to me that the sidewalk counseling movement is more religiously oriented than the pro-life movement as a whole, which probably explains why SecularProLife.org hasn't given sidewalk counseling the attention it deserves. For that, I apologize. (Although we did try our hand at a secular sidewalk handout.)

The following is an excerpt from a piece that was originally posted on the blog of Expectant Mother Care, a chain of pro-life pregnancy clinics in New York City. Their interns take part in sidewalk counseling in addition to in-clinic services. Intern Rose Marie describes her experience as a sidewalk counselor in a way that will make people of any faith or no faith outraged.
The nurses and escorts outside the abortion clinic go to great lengths to keep girls going into the clinic from talking to us and take away any literature we give them saying, “This isn’t allowed in our center.” However, when girls come walking out of the clinic crying the nurses and escorts are nowhere to be found and we’re left to pick up the pieces.

On girl came out emotionless. She had opted for a sonogram before her abortion but wasn’t allowed to see her unborn child with her own eyes. The doctor told her she was only 6 weeks along but after the abortion she was given the sonogram picture and found out she was actually 12. When she finally decided to talk she said, “If I had known how far along I was, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A very happy Father's Day to you all

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe of the Mobile Register.
The UnChoice reminds us to reach out to fathers of aborted children who may be going through a hard time today. (Note: link contains both secular and religious resources.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

More censorship of pro-lifers

Pro-abortion censorship is nothing new. It's much easier for them to try to silence us than to explain why, in the face of all scientific evidence to the contrary, unborn babies are "not human" or a "clump of cells." I'd like to bring two recent incidents to your attention.

First, Stand True: Christ-Centered Pro-Life was censored yesterday. You may remember Stand True from their conversation with us on the role that religion should play in the pro-life movement. We disagree on that, but they're great people. Stand True is making the rounds of Christian music festivals this summer, and the Ichthus festival decided that portions of their pro-life exhibit were "offensive":
While they were very polite and cordial to me, I was told again that the term silenced was offensive because women who have had abortions will then think they silenced their babies. I was told to stop playing our slide show that had pictures from the Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity and that I could not have anything with the silenced and duct tape on it. We have two shirts, stickers and buttons with the silenced on them that had to be taken down.
Happy ending, though: A couple of the bands heard what had happened and wore the offending shirts during their performances.

Second, Andy from New Zealand (who will be joining me at the NRLC conference- yay!) shares that pro-abortion students at the University of Auckland are trying to abort the campus pro-life organization by getting its official recognition revoked. Having run such a group in my undergrad days, I can testify that having recognition from the school makes a huge difference in the ways you can advertise, reserve rooms, get funding, run activities, etc. They are seeking to get the organization banned from campus on the ground that pro-lifers are a "hate group," which is of course utter crap.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Quick News Roundup 06/18/10

Domestic News: As pointed out earlier this week, Louisiana's state legislature passed legislation requiring abortion businesses to give women the chance to see ultrasounds of their children. Governor Bobby Jindal (R) is expected to sign the legislation. Following that, on Thursday, a bill passed the legislature which would prohibit use of funds associated with the recently passed healthcare reform package to be used on abortions. compiled by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services discovered that their Denali KidCare program funded 664 abortions in 2009. The Denali KidCare is a state program which provides health care to exists to low income children and pregnant women. Governor Sean Parnell (R) recently vetoed attempts to increase funding for the program. North Dakota lawmakers are shocked at recently compiled abortion statistics according to a local article. In the timeframe of 1998 to 2008, 1,600 abortions were performed on teenagers in North Dakota. There is one abortion clinic in the entire State of North Dakota and teenagers under the age of 18 require parental consent or need to stand before a judge in order to have an abortion performed upon them.

International News: New Department of Health statistcs have been released in the United Kingdom regarding abortions in 2009. The result? Half of all teenage pregnancies end in abortion. In 2009, 18,000 abortions were performed on girls under the age of 18. In March, in Ireland a abortion supporting organization did an online based survey and discovered that...94% of respondents were against changes in the law which would legalize abortion in Ireland. In other statistics news, New Zealand released their abortion numbers from 2009, which dropped since 2008. Pro-life groups are still upset at the numbers because the actual number of births also decreased in 2009. What does this mean? The actual abortions performed to live birth ratio has increased from 217 per 1,000 live / still births and abortions to 218 per 1,000 live / still births and abortions. Yes, that's only 0.1% of an increase - but no one would say that 0.1% of the population is unworthy of our protection.

Discussion Topic: Who are some pro-life politicians that you respect? I've seen a number of high and even low profile people stand up for what they believe in despite it being unpopular to say. In Pennsylvania, people forget that their junior Senator, Democrat Bob Casey, is pro-life. He's part of a dying breed - unashamedly, high profile pro-life Democrats. In Maryland, it's refreshing to see GOP candidates openly discuss being pro-life. I attended a candidate event last night and interviewed GOP US Senate candidate Jim Rutledge. When I asked him his views on abortion - he gave a straight answer, "I'm pro-life." You don't hear that often enough in deep blue states like Maryland, and it really gained my attention. How about you?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

National Right to Life Conference

I originally posted this to Facebook, but I realize that some of you are not members of our Facebook group. (You should join.)
As I've mentioned before, I'm going to the NRLC conference in Pittsburgh next week. I plan to blog about it so that we can all learn something. Are there any workshops that you're particularly interested in hearing about?
Click here for the schedule.
My only restriction is that I am definitely going to "Using the Web to Raise Funds" on Thursday at 5:15. Trust me, we need it.
Please share your recommendations in the comments section. The NRLC conference will take place June 24-26 at the Hyatt by the airport in Pittsburgh, PA. I hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Louisiana ultrasound bill passes state congress

Following in the footsteps of the state senate, the Louisiana house of representatives has just passed a bill requiring abortion businesses to give women the chance to see ultrasounds of their children. Although some abortion businesses do ultrasounds for medical reasons, they often hide the screen from the mother, reducing the chances that she will change her mind. Unlike a similar bill in Florida, which was recently vetoed by governor Charlie Crist, Louisiana's bill is expected to be signed into law.
"Science tells us when life begins," [Bioethics Defense Fund attorney Dorinda Bordlee] told LifeNews.com. "The real question is when love begins. Ultrasound before abortion legislation is highly effective because of the unexpected love women experience when seeing the beauty of their unborn children."

Louisiana Right to Life previously told LifeNews.com it was excited about the bill.

"Over the past six months, we have been working with experts to craft this groundbreaking legislation empowering women to know the truth about abortion," the group said. "Not only will it require abortion facilities to perform ultrasounds before every abortion and show them to the woman (they can choose to look or not), but every woman will receive an ultrasound print out of their unborn child before their abortion. No other state has done this."
Another reason to smile: the bill was sponsored by a Democrat and passed unanimously. Great display of pro-life unity, Louisiana!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NARAL's next line of attack against pregnancy centers

NARAL claims that pro-life pregnancy clinics are posing as abortion mills on SuperPages.com and YellowPages.com. They provide an example ad from "Problem Pregnancy," which (shock and awe!) does not appear to exist. They want all their mindless pro-choice drones to complain until pregnancy center listings are taken down. Jill Stanek points out that there are abortion mills masquerading as "abortion alternatives" centers.

We can of course write our own letters to SuperPages and YellowPages, but on Stanek's blog post, I proposed we do something more impactful:
Superpages counts on its own users to recommend businesses for the Super Guarantee. We should get every mother, father, ob/gyn, volunteer, etc. to vote for their local PRC.
If enough people recommend a business, that business will become part of the SuperGuarantee program. Site users are more likely to choose a business with a Super Guarantee than one without- which means that women are more likely to hear the truth about abortion and get real help.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trouble in Kenya

Back in February, we wrote enthusiastically about Kenya's new constitution, which at the time supported human rights without regard to age. But as MRNewman mentioned on Friday, pro-lifers are now nervous about the revised language:
"It starts out saying life begins at conception but has the well-known abortion exception known as the health of the mother exception, and the way that has been interpreted not just in the United States but around the world by judges and attorneys is that basically that allows for abortion on demand," said [American pro-life attorney] Jordan Sekulow. "That can be for any reason, because you do not feel good, because you are pregnant, so you can have an abortion. So what it does is put conflicting language in a constitution that just does not coordinate correctly."
Saying that this will inevitably lead to abortion on demand, despite the Constitution's otherwise pro-life and pro-woman provisions, strikes me as premature. However, I appreciate what the American experience has shown us, namely that we can't trust the judiciary to protect the right to life when the language of the law is ambiguous. So I appreciate that Kenyan pro-life activists want more clarity and are prepared to vote No on the proposed constitution if they don't get it.

Sadly, their right to campaign peacefully for a pro-life constitution was violated yesterday, when a rally in Uhuru Park was bombed. The Daily Nation states that 6 people were killed and 104 were injured, but the counts vary depending on the media outlet and the time of publication.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Women Deliver's selective censorship

All Our Lives won the contest at Conversations for a Better World that we advertised earlier. Their entry, which unambiguously states that they are "pro every life, born and unborn," will be featured on the Women Deliver website for a month. They deserve it, having earned the most votes, but I was fairly shocked that Women Deliver didn't find an excuse to deny their prize, especially in light of the pathetic censorship that took place at the Women Deliver conference:
According to the Ugandan attendee, conference organizers were heard telling attendees that the pink bags contained information that was "anti-human-rights," "anti-choice," "anti-life," and "anti-woman."

And so it was for that hour that the staff was outside the convention center: attendees received the pink bags, walked across the street, and only to be required to dispose of them inside the building by conference organizers. (And from that point on, conference organizers began inspecting every bag being brought in because, in their words, the conference had been "infiltrated by anti-abortionists.")

What was inside the pink bags that warranted such an immediate, censorious response?

The "Celebrate Motherhood" bags contained a small plastic fetal model of a 12-week-old unborn child, a small replication of an unborn child's feet at 10 weeks gestation, a brochure on prenatal development, and a brochure containing information on proven means of reducing maternal mortality rates worldwide (the supposed focus of the conference).
Who knew that the basics of embryology were "anti-choice," and anti-life too? Sounds like Women Deliver and their pro-abortion friends have a serious issue with the spread of scientific facts.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Birmingham abortion center closes

Beacon Women's Center, which has been on probation since 2007, has closed:
Beacon Women's Center had a long history of health and safety deficiencies on record with the Alabama Department of Public Health that included shoddy record keeping, improper distribution of controlled substances without proper physician authorization, and failure of nurses to administer the correct medication.

Other problems included failure to determine if patients had drug allergies, failure to adhere to the state ultrasound laws that mandate women be offered to view of their ultrasound images, use of expired medication and supplies, an administrator assisting with abortion surgeries, and use of unsterilized medical equipment, including speculums and dilators.

Health inspectors also noted the abortion center engaged in false lab tests, was improperly conducting urinary pregnancy tests, and reading results before prescribed time had expired - staff scored 60% failure for proficiency for conducting pregnancy tests, and had a suction machine that was not removed per order of inspector.
The women and unborn children of Birmingham will be safer with the closing of this so-called clinic. There are now six abortion businesses remaining in Alabama. Operation Rescue continues to offer a $10,000 reward for information about illegal activities at abortion centers that leads to a conviction.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quick News Roundup 06/11/10

I'm trying a new format for my weekly news roundup - let me know what you think and please join in the discussion.
Domestic News - In a strange twist, in Iowa a controversial new program has been set up where women virtually talk to a doctor and then a machine spits out their abortion pills. Some are calling this an abortion vending machine. Currently before Congress is large new Pentagon policy bill which includes a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." While everyone is arguing over the merits / problems with that proposal - hidden with the bill is language which would legalize abortions performed at military hospitals if they are privately financed. Florida Governor Charlie Crist has changed his webpage since switching from the Republican Party to being an independent. One major change? He removed the entire pro-life plank from his platform. Recent polling gives Crist a slim lead over Republican candidate Marco Rubio.

International News - The Pope met with Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero and discussed many topics, but specifically discussed abortion. Why? The Socialist led Spanish government recently passed legislation legalizing abortions for women as young as 16 without parental consent up to the 14th week of their pregnancy. This is a vast loosening of Spanish abortion laws. The law is set to go into effect July 5th. Kenya's controversial new Constitution which provides more rights to its citizens while simultaneously legalizing abortion explicitly may or may not pass a referrendum. Neither side is sure which way the vote will go. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recently urged Kenyans to not allow a Constitutional vote to divide them, taking indirect jabs at the pro-life groups in Kenya who oppose the abortion language.

Discussion Topic - How important is the issue of abortion in how you vote? Would you be willing to vote for a candidate who did not 100% agree with your views on abortion if you agreed with them 90% on every other issue? Or would you be willing to vote for a candidate you did not agree with on most other issues, if they were pro-life and against a "pro-choice" candidate? Personally, it depends on the circumstances. For instance - for President, I would have voted for Rudy Giuliani in 2008 despite his track record when it comes to abortion. Why? In the end, he would be a) more supportive of the pro-life movement than Obama and b) he promised to appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court who could help overturn Roe v. Wade. In the 2008 primary did I vote for Giuliani? No, I voted for Fred Thompson. But, I would have supported him in the general. Thoughts?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mitch Daniels wants a "truce" on abortion

Pro-life leaders are not happy about a recent statement by Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who is widely considered to be on the short list for the GOP presidential candidacy in 2012. The statement was made in an interview that the Weekly Standard published on Tuesday:
Daniels told the conservative publication the next president "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues."

"We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while," by casting social issues like abortion aside so the next president can focus on fixing the beleaguered economy.

Expecting a backlash if the remarks weren't explained further, Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack followed up with the governor. He asked Daniels if his remarks meant the next president shouldn't try to stop the abortion funding in the Obama health care law or put the Mexico City Policy back in place to stop international abortion funding.

Daniels said the United States faces a "genuine national emergency" concerning the economy, budget and national debt and that "maybe these things could be set aside for a while."
Can you imagine the mainstream media outcry that would have occurred if Daniels had proposed ignoring, say, human trafficking or domestic abuse? Social issues don't stop being important when the economy goes bad. Kristan Hawkins wrote an excellent response, which is worth reading in full. The central point:
Governor Daniels, you are correct when you say that we face a “genuine national emergency.” Our age group – the 18-25 year-olds, have had 1/3 of our generation aborted. 1/3 of our peers, our friends, our siblings, and our cousins are dead. It is now our children’s generation – our peers who are aborting their own children at the rate of 1.3 million per year. That, Governor Daniels, is a national emergency.
I agree wholeheartedly. I would also add that if pro-lifers were to shut up until the economy improves, it would give pro-abortion lawmakers a perverse incentive to delay economic recovery--discreetly and with plausible deniability, of course.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2010: Year of the Pro-Life Woman?

For those of you who don't follow American politics, an important bundle of primary elections took place yesterday. The media took notice of the fact that many of yesterday's winners are women: Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Nikki Haley of South Carolina (who faces a runoff election), Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman of California, and Sharron Angle of Nevada.

1992 was dubbed the "Year of the Woman" because five female Senators were elected. Unfortunately, they did not represent the 48% plurality of American women who are pro-life. Pro-life feminists hope that this year will be different. Both Fiorina and Angle were endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List; Haley is pro-life, too.

If you're wondering why the SBA List didn't put its weight behind Haley, it's probably just because the other two races have much higher stakes: Fiorina could replace Barbara Boxer and Angle could replace Harry Reid, who are both reliable pro-abortion votes in Congress.

But before we get too enthusiastic, let's remember the other two winners. Lincoln, an incumbent, has a mixed record: she supported the partial-birth abortion ban but rejected a bill to stop taxpayer funding of abortion facilities. (Her opponent, Bill Halter, was also a mixed bag.) Whitman, who is running for governor of California, is not shy about the fact that she supports abortion funded by tax dollars.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

D.C. activists challenge abortion fence today

Update: Rev. Mahoney did get arrested. The arrest (and the fence) will be challenged in court.

Pro-life activists in D.C. will either be arrested or vindicated today.
Operation Rescue says that during litigation over a decade ago, they discovered that the sidewalk and lawn outside of this Washington, D.C. abortion center were public property. Since then, sidewalk counselors and protestors have regularly stood in the space. Planned Parenthood, always a big fan of the "saying it makes it so" strategy, put up a sign claiming that the sidewalk was private property-- with a lovely matching fence. Relying on the fact that the police would (understandably) not have handy access to the necessary legal documents, the Planned Parenthood has called them to arrest pro-lifers who go past the fence.

Today, a group of pro-lifers led by the Christian Defense Coalition plan to peacefully breach the fence and stand in the space they used to occupy. Rev. Pat Mahoney states that "We've researched, and there's been no changegover of the land." I have not looked at the documents myself, but I will say that as a general matter it is difficult to transfer public land to private entities without leaving a significant paper trail. Either way, this demonstration will hopefully serve to clarify the legal status of the land and the First Amendment rights of the protestors.

This is, by virtue of the groups sponsoring it, going to be a strongly religious protest. It's also likely to get a good amount of press coverage. So if you're in the D.C. area and don't mind possibly getting arrested, please go and carry a sign identifying yourself as a secular pro-lifer. And take pictures! The address is 1108 16th St. NW and the protestors will be meeting at 11am.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gates Foundation announces $1.5 million for maternal health

The Gates Foundation, through Melinda Gates, has announced that the Foundation will spend $1.5 billion dollars promoting maternal health. It sounds great on paper, but the trouble is that their definition of "maternal health" may include legalized abortion-- which is actually associated with higher rates of maternal mortality. The Gates Foundation has acquired a reputation for pro-abortion advocacy, having given millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood.

With $1.5 billion dollars at play, maybe the Gates Foundation will stop emphasizing the "cheap solution" of abortion and instead focus on helping mothers and their babies live. Gates herself stated that "Every child is a promise." But actions speak louder than words, and I remain skeptical.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Scatterbrained Sunday

Today's topic: abortions for really stupid reasons.

I want to be clear that these are not the majority of abortions. In fact, most abortion decisions are made under some form of coercion. Others are influenced by medically inaccurate "counseling" from abortion businesses. I am convinced that the type of abortion I am about to discuss is extremely rare.

All that said: how can we educate women like Belinda, who believes that getting pregnant (but not "having a baby") will help her quit smoking? What about athletes who use abortion for hormone doping? What about the woman who stops using birth control just because she wants to make sure she isn't infertile, and then has an abortion? (My source for this one is Why Women Shouldn't Marry, by Cynthia and Hillary Smith.)

As a pro-woman pro-lifer, these situations are hard for me to wrap my head around. It's usually easy for me to stay non-judgmental, but not in cases like these. How do we reach women who are contemplating abortions for admittedly selfish and irresponsible reasons, without falling into the trap of just sounding preachy? I'm especially interested in reading insights from pregnancy center volunteers and sidewalk counselors.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Big news from Students for Life

You're getting your Saturday post early because of the application deadline in the first item.

Students for Life of America (SFLA) has announced the Wilberforce Fellowship, in which campus pro-life advocates are mentored by leaders of national pro-life organizations. It sounds like a great opportunity for people who are interested in a career in the pro-life movement. It will take roughly 8 hours a week and lasts through the 2010-2011 academic year. Learn more and apply here. The application deadline is June 18.

Another newsworthy announcement from SFLA is that the 2011 SFLA Conference will be held at the Bethesda North Mariott. For the past few years, it has been held at Catholic University of America (CUA). Those were great conferences, and CUA is a lovely campus, but the university administration had too much control over things. They barred the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) from co-sponsoring the 2009 conference and having an exhibition booth. The CUA administration made it clear that PLAGAL's vocal support of gay rights was the issue, and has not objected to other non-Catholic groups like us, Lutherans for Life, etc. Now that the conference will take place in a more neutral forum, SFLA leaders will be able to invite whatever organizations they like, without outside interference.
I should note that I have not spoken to SFLA about the reasons for the move. The 2010 conference was very crowded, and it was clear that they were outgrowing the space. SFLA probably would have decided to move even if the CUA administration hadn't been so intrusive. Freedom from censorship is just icing on the cake.

Quick News Roundup 06/04/10

Decided I liked this format to provide our readers with a quick, easy to follow news roundup. So...here we go around the world in a single post.

State Laws - In Louisiana, the State Senate just passed a law requiring ultrasounds to be performed before an abortion. The ultrasound would be used to determine the age of the unborn child with the hope of preventing illegal abortions performed after 24 weeks. The bill, SB528, now heads to Louisiana's House. The University of Wisconsin may be audited by a state commission for potential violation of state statutes. UoW had been using funds, from the state, to pay for students to participate in / perform abortions. The State will be investigating whether or not this was mandatory, but the mere spending of money on abortions is illegal based on Wisconsin law. And the New York Times has a big story on the fact that state laws are the place to be for pro-life legislation detailing a number of different laws being discussed in Mississippi and Oklahoma, and interviewing some pro-life advocates. Apparently 90% of recent pro-life legislation has been happening on the state level, so your state legislators and Governor's races matter! Pay attention this year.

International News - In the United Kingdom, a new television ad is drawing the ire of pro-life advocates. Why? It's advertising in support of abortion and the offering of abortion services. Check out the previous link to view the ad in question. The ad is currently banned in Northern Ireland. Despite abortion being illegal in Brazil, one in five women has had an abortion according to a new government study. They estimate between 500,000 and 1 million pregnancies are terminated annually.

Gallup Polling - Gallup released the results of their moral issues poll in late May. The results? 50% of Americans find abortion morally wrong, 38% find it morally acceptable. The interesting part comes in the breakdown of the polling data. Everyone expects Republicans as the more conservative American political party to state that abortions are morally wrong - but of those unaffiliated with a major political party only 39% said abortions are morally acceptable. Among women, only 36% stated that abortion was morally acceptable versus 41% amongst men. The results including the opinions on other moral issues can be found here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Abortion Movement as Religion

Our polar opposite, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, has been around for a long time. But recently, I've noticed an uptick in abortion advocates using religious language in their propoganda. Take this bizarre little gem, from RH Reality Check:
Tiller finds good company among the ancient prophets who spoke truth to power, who kept on keeping-on with the faith that one day justice shall "roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream."

Our moral center never died. And, with each abortion delivered in compassion and care, George Tiller . . . [is] resurrected.
"Reality Check" is the most inappopriate name I can think of for this blog of pro-abortion, pseudo-religious fantasies.

Then there's the recent dedication of the Houston abortion supercenter, which an official called "sacred and holy ground."

Abortion advocate Florynce Kennedy is perhaps best known for her quote "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." Now it seems that a new faith is emerging in which abortion is the chief sacrament! Why the shift from painting pro-lifers as religious to painting themselves that way? My theory: their reputation as the "logical" or "scientific" side of the debate is falling apart, so they're grasping at straws. Alternatively, they might actually believe the nonsense they're spouting: a pretty terrifying thought, if you ask me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Miscellany

Our friends at All Our Lives need your votes for their entry at Conversations for a Better World.

Jill Stanek highlights this excellent Wall Street Journal editorial by William McGurn, which asks "When will our media reflect America on abortion?"

Some abortion advocates maintain the fiction that they are not really former fetuses, because their identity or essence emerged sometime after birth. SecularProLife.org member Christopher Robinson suggests that this fiction can be dismantled using the humble belly button, which serves as a reminder that we were once dependant on our mothers. Discuss.

Yesterday, pro-life congressman Chris Smith held a hearing on coerced abortion and China's one-child policy. Experts estimated that 35,000 forced abortions take place in China every day-- one every 2.4 seconds. The unborn victims are disproportionately female.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ewwwww!

From LifeNews.com:
An Australia abortion facility worker is facing more accusations that he infected dozens of women with hepatitis C during abortions. The heath chief of the Australian state of Victoria released the accusations against the abortion practitioner in April.

Since then, the number of potential victims has jumped from 12 to 44 as the outbreak at the Croydon Day Surgery abortion business appears worse than earlier reports as the probe continues.

The Herald Sun newspaper indicates the health department investigation into the abortion operation where James Latham Peters was the anesthesiologist will expand -- potentially to as many as 3,600 women who had abortions at his center since 2006.
So much for the "women's health" veneer. If there's any silver lining to this, it's that the Chicago method should work very well at this center.

Here are some fun facts about hepatitis C from the Centers for Disease Control:
~Hepatitis C is a virus that damages liver function.
~About 70-80% of people infected with hepatitis C are asymptomatic. This means that they are less likely to know they have it, and more likely to spread it. In other words, the 44 infections we know of are probably just be the tip of the iceberg.
~Of every 100 people who get hepatitis C, about 60-70 will develop chronic liver disease, and 1-5 will die of cirrhosis or liver cancer.
~There is no medication that treats acute hepatitis C infection, and no vaccine that prevents it.