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Friday, July 30, 2010

Quick News Roundup 07/30/10

Happy Friday. Here's your weekly news roundup.

Domestic News: A State Senator in Texas is looking to defund Planned Parenthood. How? According to State Senator Robert Deuell, it's unconstitutional. In a letter he drafted earlier this week to the Texas Attorney General's office, he outlined his case. You can read his letter here. Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey has proposed the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." What does it do? Exactly what it says - it would establish a government-wide policy prohibiting any funding of abortion. It may not see the light of day under current Speaker Pelosi, but after the mid-term elections, hopefully Congress will be a little more friendly to pro-life legislation. As I reported last week, Nebraska's new abortion regulations requiring pre-abortion mental health screening was blocked by a judge. Nebraska's Attorney General is not prepared to defend it. AG Jon Bruning said that he was unsure if it was worth the taxpayer's dime to defend this law as he was unsure if he could win. He said, "Despite the fact I'm very pro-life, I need to be realistic in utilizing the legal resources of the state." He felt it may be more beneficial to redraft the legislation to alleviate the court's issues.

International News: For those interested, I found a recent article which I didn't read in full - BUT, it provides us with an interesting image - the legality of abortion across the globe. Here's a copy of that map:


Discussion Topic: Roe v. Wade sparked into existence the pro-life movement. Have you ever read the court's decision? Or the dissenting opinion? This site has a lot of that information, I specifically linked to Rehnquist's dissent, which I find to be the most compelling. How about you?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Traveling

Be back online Saturday at the latest.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reflections on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed by the first President Bush on this date in 1990. The ADA has undoubtedly done much to improve the lives of some disabled persons. It has improved access to transportation, jobs, and more:
Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, an original sponsor of the legislation, introduced a resolution last week saluting the people who helped bring the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

"Twenty years ago, we heard testimony from Americans who had to crawl on their hands and knees to go up a flight of stairs; who couldn't ride on a bus because there wasn't a lift; who couldn't even cross the street in their wheelchairs because there were no curb cuts,'' the resolution said.

"The ADA has broken down barriers, created opportunities and transformed lives."
Sadly, not all disabled persons have benefitted from the ADA. For all its positives, the ADA does not apply to the youngest of disabled persons. Unborn children with disabilities receive no protection, and they are the ones who need it most. Prenatal genetic diagnosis has been devastating for the Down Syndrome community; 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome prenatally are aborted. (Those who survive may find themselves the subjects of lawsuits for "wrongful life.") There's also pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which ends the lives of "defective" embryos before they even make it to the womb.

Kristan Hawkins, of Students for Life of America, writes in a Washington Examiner editorial that born children with disabilities are also at risk:
While most of America was on vacation, President Obama bypassed the Senate confirmation process and on July 7 appointed a radical, Dr. Donald Berwick, to the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the nation's Medicaid and Medicare system.

While I was helping my 1-year-old son, Gunner, do his life-prolonging breathing treatment, his president betrayed him and others who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Obama appointed a man who advocates rationing of health care and praises the disastrous British National Health Service to head one of the most important positions in the entire U.S. health care system.
Pro-lifers, let us mark the anniversary of the ADA by affirming our commitment to forming and strengthening alliances with disability rights advocates. Our struggle is the same: to ensure the equal rights of human beings who some consider unwanted or unworthy.

Further reading:
KIDS: Keep Infants with Down Syndrome is a great organization. You may also be interested in the work that disabled veteran Wayne Cockfield has been doing at the United Nations.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Scatterbrained Sunday: Pro-life humor

Abortion advocates are discussing the release of Family Guy's banned abortion episode and lamenting the lack of pro-abortion storylines on television. It's true that many TV and film characters choose life in crisis pregnancy situations, which is great. But we can always do better.

I'm reminded of an RH Reality Check article from almost a year ago, in which the author expressed her dissatisfaction with the lack of pro-abortion jokes. There aren't many pro-life jokes out there either, though. It's easy to understand why. Abortion is no laughing matter, and we don't want to be insensitive to the massive tragedy of over a million babies dying every year.

That said, sometimes humor is the best way to spread a message and make it stick. People are much more likely to share a story, article, or video when it's funny. SecularProLife.org is currently working on a viral video that will have an element of comedy. In the meantime, do you have any pro-life jokes to tell?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pro-Life Freedom Rides

The Pro-Life Freedom Rides began yesterday in Birmingham. The event was inspired by the non-violent protests led by Martin Luther King, Jr. to secure the rights of black Americans to use desegregated public transportation. Priests for Life, which is sponsoring the event, describes its goals:
It is therefore time for Freedom Rides for the unborn. The pro-life movement is more ready than ever to proclaim freedom…

Freedom from the lies and the deceit that allow abortion to continue…
Freedom from the fear of speaking up and taking action for the unborn…
Freedom from the shame and guilt of past involvement in abortion, so that those called to speak up and share their testimonies may do so as people who are "Silent No More"…
Freedom from the political oppression that tramples on human rights and denies equality before the law…
Freedom from violence and death itself.
These are basically secular goals that any pro-lifer can support. Of course, Priests for Life's sponsorship will give it a religious flavor. But perhaps that's appropriate, since the original freedom rides were also organized by a religious group: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

So far, everything has gone smoothly. If there is going to be any trouble, it will be today at 4pm, when the campaign will have a service at MLK Jr.'s tomb in Atlanta. Local pro-abortion activists first tried to restrict pro-lifers' right of assembly by banning them from the King Center, but failed. Now, they are planning a counter-protest.

Pro-abortion abuse would actually not be that big a deal. Most pro-life organizations have come to expect it and take the appropriate precautions. The big difference is that this event is getting a good bit of media coverage. To be completely honest, part of me hopes that the cameras capture some of the pro-abortion nuts; the anger of the opposition did a lot to turn public opinion in King's favor:
When they traveled into Alabama, the Freedom Riders were attacked and badly beaten, and CORE called the ride off. Other Civil Rights activists—many of them young members of the Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)—rushed to Alabama to continue the ride. They ran into trouble in Montgomery, Alabama, and the federal government had to send in U.S. marshals to protect the riders. The Freedom Rides continued into Mississippi, where they met with more resistance. By late August, 1961, more than 400 Freedom Riders had been arrested by the state of Mississippi. Images like this one of the burned bus helped create sympathy for the non-violent Freedom Riders and their cause. This event drew national attention, especially from middle-class northerners who were shocked by the brutal violence they saw on television.
But my first concern is for the safety of our pro-life allies in Atlanta. There is safety in numbers, so if you are in the Atlanta area, I encourage you to attend. If you are uncomfortable with a religious service, I recommend standing peacefully outside the King Center with a sign that says "This atheist supports unborn rights" or words to that effect.

If you aren't in Atlanta, you can follow the freedom rides on Twitter.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Quick News Roundup 07/23/10

Domestic News: The story of the day appears to be judges intercepting State legislation. In Oklahoma, a judge extended in injunction blocking the enactment of new legislation regarding abortions. The new law would require an ultrasound and have a detailed description of the fetus delivered to the would-be mother. What specifically is included in this detailed description? According to the AP, this includes, "...fetus' dimensions, age and whether a heartbeat, limbs and organs are present." The argument against this requirement, according to the abortion rights group fighting it, is that this infringes upon the freedom of speech of the people at these abortion clinics. In Nebraska, new regulations requiring mental health screenings prior to an abortion were also blocked by a judge. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sought and received a temporary injunction blocking the legislation which was supposed to go into effect yesterday.

International News: In Argentina, the abortion debate has been intensified recently. Argentina recently became one of the first Latin American nations to legalize same-sex marriage. Liberals in Argentina now feel that the next logical step is to legalize abortion. Currently, abortion is only legal in Argentina in the cases of rape, "feeble-minded" mother, or the woman's life is in jeopardy. The problem with this argument is that it fails to take into account pro-life homosexuals or those like Meghan McCain who support legalizing same-sex marriage, but remain pro-life. But, that's an argument for another day. In the United Kingdom, the number of women traveling to get an abortion has decreased. In 2001, 6,500 women traveled to the UK to receive an abortion. This past year, that number was down to 4,500.

Discussion Topic: According to recent polling, more and more Americans are becoming willing to admit that they're pro-life. Groups like SecularProLife are a great way to reach out to these Americans. What do you think needs to be specifically done to help continue to change the hearts and minds of the American people on this topic? Be as creative as you want.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Georgia RTL: Majority support personhood amendment

Georgia Right to Life approached county chapters of the Democratic and Republican parties asking them to include a vote on support for a state personhood amendment in their primary ballots. A personhood amendment is a law which recognizes the unborn as legal persons who are entitled to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. This would ban abortion except when the mother's life is in danger. (Laws allowing people to kill in self-defense are very common and do not violate the Equal Protection Clause.) The resolution passed by overwhelming majorities in every Republican Party. In one county, they even got a majority of Democrats on board!
Georgia Right to life chapters began work this spring in requesting that their local county parties place this non-binding "party" question on their local party ballots. Both Democrat and Republican parties were approached. Butts county was the only county to succeed in getting both parties to cooperate and approve the measure (Republicans 79% and the Democrats 72%). "There is no question that the people of Georgia would pass a Personhood Amendment IF given the chance!", says Dan Becker, President of Georgia Right to Life. "The ball is now in the Legislature's hands to allow the people a voice on the most pressing human rights issue of the 21st century . . . deny them at your own peril."

In 2011, GRTL will use the results of the ballot to lobby the Georgia Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 general election ballot.
So far, no state has been able to pass a personhood amendment, forcing pro-lifers to focus on measures that provide only partial protection to the unborn.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Michigan Abortions Decrease 13.9%

Whenever possible, I like to share good news. Recently released statistics show that pro-life efforts in Michigan are saving lives. Despite the economic recession, which we would expect to cause an increase in abortions, Michigan's abortion rate decreased dramatically in 2009. Local activists attribute the drop to authentic women's support services offered by pro-life groups.
A total of 22,357 abortions were reported in Michigan in 2009. This is a 13.9% decrease since 2008 and a 54.4% decrease since 1987, which saw the greatest recorded number of abortions in Michigan.

"We are extremely grateful for the continuing decrease in Michigan abortions despite the hard economic times we've faced in Michigan," said Right to Life of Michigan President Babara Listing. "The fact that fewer mothers are having abortions in Michigan shows more and more women are coming to the realization that abortion is not the answer for an unplanned pregnancy."
There are over 150 pregnancy help clinics and centers in Michigan. Right to Life of Michigan maintains a statewide crisis pregnancy referral hotline at 1-800-57WOMAN. Nationwide, the OptionLine, 800-395-HELP, refers to religiously affiliated centers and clinics. The hotline for Birthright International, which has made the commitment not to proselytize, is 800-550-4900. Another good resource is the Nurturing Network, at 800-TNN-4MOM. Priests for Life encourages pro-lifers to memorize the OptionLine number; a good start, but SecularProLife.org hopes you'll memorize all three! You never know when a friend will need your help.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More lies in abortion "counseling" exposed

Live Action has just released another video showing a Planned Parenthood abortion counselor giving false information about the development of the unborn child. You may remember earlier investigations in Appleton, WI and Milwaukee, WI. Now they show the same thing happening in Indianapolis. SecularProLife.org fully supports Live Action in their fight to expose medical misinformation. There's a reason why these "counselors" are afraid of the scientific facts.

For those of you who can't watch the video, here are the highlights.
Undercover client: When does the heart start to beat?
Planned Parenthood: "It's around I think the 8th or 9th week that you can hear the heartbeat."

Notice the tricks they play with language. She wasn't asked when you can hear the heartbeat, but about when the heartbeat begins. By answering a different question, she was able to make the 10-week-old sound less developed-- as if he or she had only had a heartbeat for a week or two.

And the abortion pictures held by sidewalk protestors? "They're fake. There's no way they could have obtained those pictures."
When they're in a tight spot, their favorite strategy is deny, deny, deny. It's too bad we don't know what signs were outside. If they happened to come from the Center for Bio-ethical Reform, Planned Parenthood could have a libel lawsuit on its hands.

Finally, the abortion counselor claims that an abortion won't impact any future pregnancies. Live Action pulls out a host of studies in respected peer-reviewed articles which show increased risks of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and premature birth.

According to Live Action's press release, Indiana has an informed consent law. This video could prompt a state investigation. It may also give pro-life advocates a boost in their effort to defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Student activists deliver anti-Kagan petition

Students for Life of America, which for weeks has been gathering signatures in opposition to the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, will deliver the petition to Washington today. SFLA sent out this bulletin to supporters:
It has been announced that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, will be voted on tomorrow in the Senate Judiciary Committee moving her confirmation process forward.

This afternoon, pro-life students with Students for Life of America will hand-deliver over 7,800 I Oppose Kagan petitions to Senators on Capitol Hill.

As you know, Students for Life of America teamed up with LifeNews.com to create the I Oppose Kagan, an online petition opposing Kagan’s confirmation because of her radical support of abortion. While working for the Clinton Administration, Kagan was a strong advocate for partial birth abortion and cloning, going so far as to change scientific data to influence President Clinton to veto the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.

Friend, you know that America does not need another activist justice on the Supreme Court, but rather one who respects the Constitution and individual rights, including those of the preborn. Confirming Kagan could mean 30 more years of legalized abortion in the United States even though a majority of Americans are now pro-life.

Today, please join me in doing 2 things:

1) Tweet and Facebook post this message:

Students take to Capitol Hill to Deliver "I Oppose Kagan" petitions today! http://bit.ly/a0MTXc #tcot #prolife #abolishabortion #kagan

2) Send a quick "thank you" email to Rick Sadowski (rsadowski@studentsforlife.org) our Assistant Director at SFLA. Rick was up all night printing and sorting all of the petitions for today's drop. Right now, I know he is extremley tired and flooding his inbox with thousands of "thank you" notes would be very encouraging!
Former Surgeon General Everett Koop is also urging a no vote on Kagan. The most recent polling has 44% in favor of her confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Scatterbrained Sunday

I don't know if the xkcd author had the abortion debate in mind when he drew this, but it certainly applies!
(Hopefully I'll have some actual pro-life news to report on tomorrow.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

SecularProLife.org responds to Barna Group poll

The Barna Group has released the results of a poll of 1001 American adults which correlates religious adherence and position on abortion.
Among evangelical Christians, 78% believe that the practice should be illegal in all or most cases.

On the other hand, 72% of atheists and agnostics support keeping most or all abortions legal.

. . .

Looking at other faith groups, Barna found non-evangelical born again Christians favor making abortion illegal (55% illegal versus 39% legal), as did active churchgoers (60% versus 33%) and non-mainline Protestants (58% versus 34%).

Those faith segments that prefer keeping abortion legal were self-identified Christians who are not born again (54% legal versus 31% illegal), Catholics (53% versus 36%), mainline Protestants (53% versus 40%), and faiths other than Christianity (54% versus 42%).
Surveys that simply ask "What is your religion?" and "Where do you stand on legalized abortion?" are not particularly helpful. They do not tell us anything about why people stand where they do. We simply assume that people are following their religious doctrine on the subject. Given that the Catholic Church is not shy about its pro-life stance, but 53% of Catholics apparently support legalized abortion, we should question that assumption. (Alternatively, perhaps this survey just got a bad sample. It happens.)

Our own preliminary research indicates that pro-lifers of all religious stripes tend to explain their stance in secular and scientific ways. (We'd like to do more extensive research in this area, but the project has been postponed indefinitely due to lack of funds.) I don't deny the correlation between pro-life activism and church attendance, but I do not think it is so simple as "I go to church, I hear my pastor say that God is against abortion, I become pro-life." Instead, I think that churches provide a strong infrastructure for activism and outreach. Christian pro-lifers have a natural community in which they can gather and support one another. Atheists and agnostics lack that infrastructure.

That is why SecularProLife.org's work is so important. We are finally beginning to provide that desperately needed infrastructure and community. I cannot tell you how many messages I have gotten from non-religious pro-lifers thanking us for showing that they are not alone.

It is a shame that only 28% of atheists and agnostics took a pro-life stance in this poll. There may be more who would self-identify as pro-life but didn't show up because they belong to the "Roe is what it is, so let's change hearts and minds" school of thought. But even accounting for them, the numbers are depressing. Outreach to atheists and agnostics is crucial to the survival of the pro-life movement-- and ultimately, the survival of babies. There is nothing wrong with being a pro-life evangelical, but we must all do our part to ensure that non-Christians are welcomed.

Please take a look at our religious diversity guide. (Print double-sided, then fold in the middle.) Although it is geared toward campus organizations, it contains tips that any group can use.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Quick News Roundup 07/16/10

Domestic News: In Missouri, without raising a finger the Governor has allowed new legislation to take effect. What legislation? Clinics in Missouri will now be required to perform ultrasounds and allow women to hear the heartbeat of their unborn child prior to performing an abortion. Missouri currently has the 4th most restrictive laws when it comes to abortion, coming in behind North Dakota, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In addition to the ultrasound law, Missouri has become the fifth state to opt-out of abortion funding from the federal health care package passed earlier this year. In Wisconsin, for the first time in a long while, candidates for Governor actively sought out pro-life endorsements. Previous gubernatorial candidates including relatively pro-life former Governor Tommy Thompson did not receive Wisconsin Right to Life's endorsement. In Nebraska, a federal judge ordered an injunction regarding recently passed abortion legislation. The law would require women seeking abortions to be screened for "physical, psychological, emotional, demographic or situational" risk factors and determine if the women felt pressured into receiving an abortion. Another part of the law, requiring the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to post a listing of facilities providing counseling to those with mental health issues following an abortion, was not effected by the ruling.

Spanish News: As previously reported, Spanish law was recently modified to allow unrestricted access to abortions within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. This "right" was also extended to 16 and 17 year old girls without requiring parental consent, parental notification however is required. The more conservative Popular Party had tried to seek a court ordered injunction on the legislation in the Spanish Constitutional Court while they sought an appeal. On Wednesday the court decided not to suspend the new law while hearing the appeals.

Discussion Topic: NICU's are neo-natal intensive care units. My son was in one for 28 days. In fact, as I pointed out in a comment on the post yesterday, my son was in the NICU that was profiled on discovery health yesterday. Ryan was born 10 weeks early, gestationally he was around 30 weeks old. Currently - he's 14 months old, in fine health, growing every day and pulling himself up onto furniture. Watching what they can do to save these babies is miraculous and makes me wonder - when will the "when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb" argument for abortion cutoff going to end? Science is getting better every single day and eventually it may get to the point where any premature baby can be saved outside the womb. At that point - the "point of viability" argument ceases to be valid.

Matthew Newman is happily married, a Christian, a new Dad, a pro-life Republican, a New York expatriate, and an environmental engineer in disguise who also blogs at Old Line Elephant

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mini-series about premature babies premieres tonight

A new show called "NICU" will premiere tonight at 10pm Eastern on Discovery Health Channel. Discovery Health describes NICU as follows:
This 10-episode docu-drama series goes behind the scenes of top national neonatal intensive care (NICU) units, showing the day-to-day care required to sustain the smallest of lives. NICU follows real families as they experience the rollercoaster of emotions that come with having a premature baby and features doctors and nurses from leading hospitals in Baltimore, San Diego and Cleveland, as they work around the clock to ensure the survival of their tiny patients.
According to an e-mail bulletin I received from the March of Dimes, they are working with Discovery Health and Farmer's Insurance to operate a text-to-donate fundraiser during the broadcast. The March of Dimes has been criticized by pro-life groups for its refusal to take a firm anti-abortion stance. After all, when the babies you are trying to save are the same age or not much older than the ones being killed in the late-term abortion wing, trying to be "neutral" is pretty pathetic.

Just watching the show, however, will not result in any money being given to the March of Dimes. As someone who watches Discovery Health on a fairly regular basis, I would say that the channel is, if not explicitly pro-life, at the very least strongly pro-natal. A show about premature infants and their families is inherently pro-life, so I encourage you to tune in.

I have noticed that Discovery Health has occassional language slips, like "first days of life" when they really mean "first days after birth." Their support of programming like Adoption Stories normally balances that out. But if that kind of language happens in NICU, I may ask you to send them a polite email.

Oh, and speaking of birth, I left my mother's womb on this day in 1988! If you want to help make my birthday special, click here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Federal abortion funding begins

As my mom likes to say, "Let me put on my surprise face."
The Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions under the new national government-run health care program. This is the kind of abortion funding the pro-life movement warned about when Congress considered the bill.

The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new "high-risk" insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March.

It has quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of pro-abortion Governor Edward Rendell under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania.

The high-risk pool program is one of the new programs created by the sweeping health care legislation, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama signed into law on March 23. The law authorizes $5 billion in federal funds for the program, which will cover as many as 400,000 people when it is implemented nationwide.

"The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we've discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.
Where's that executive order now, Obama?
This is an excellent demonstration of the principle that votes have consequences. If we had more pro-life politicians at any point in the chain-- the presidency, House, Senate, or Pennsylvania governorship-- abortion could have been excluded from the plan. Please, if you have not registered to vote, do it now. Lives are on the line.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What will the Pregnancy Assistance Fund fund?

The Pregnancy Assistance Fund, announced earlier this month, is supposed to help pregnant and parenting moms in need. No one questions that this is a laudable goal. But there's some skepticism from pro-life groups, who worry that this will just be another stream of income for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood's own annual report statistics show that its parenting and adoption services are relatively dismal (see chart below). For instance, in 2007 they provided prenatal care help or referrals to not quite 11,000 women, but sold abortions to more than 300,000. Nevertheless, funding to abortion groups through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund is a valid concern, especially since the current administration has demonstrated a tight relationship with Planned Parenthood.
"We are encouraged that the government is finally setting aside a small amount of funds in the Pregnancy Assistance Fund to support those women who make the courageous and selfless choice to give life to their babies despite life's challenges," [said Care Net president Melinda Delahoyde]. “Our hope is that the White House will be true to its word and use this money to reduce abortion by giving it to those organizations that truly help women choose life."
The Family Research Council is also skeptical of the end recipient of the dollars from the new program, according to a statement LifeNews.com received on Friday.
“FRC has been a leading voice for life-affirming pregnancy services, but we strongly oppose the idea that these grant recipients should include any group that financially profits from abortions," it said.
“The only way to help these mothers and their babies is by funneling the $25 million to organizations that won't make a profit from their work, namely pregnancy resources centers,” FRC added.
Other organizations, most notably Feminists for Life, are more optimistic:
Feminists for Life of America contacted LifeNews.com today to say it believes the creation of the fund is good news and it is confident the money will end up in the right hands.
. . .
Feminists for Life of America is applauding the new grants, saying they are the "first federal grants of their kind" and they were "inspired by Feminists for Life's work on college campuses to develop resources for this underserved population."
"This is what we have been working towards. Pregnancy and parenting should never terminate an education," FFLA president Serrin Foster told LifeNews.com today.
"No woman, no parent, should be forced to choose between her education and career or her child, a child that needs the very support education can help to provide. Pregnant and parenting students deserve better. That includes birthmothers--and student dads like mine. They deserve equal access to opportunities in higher education," she said.
"And society deserves to benefit from the unique contributions that their education will allow them to make," Foster added.
Foster said FFLA urges state governments to apply for the grants -- which range from $500,000 to $2 million dollars for up to three years -- and that her organization is offering assistance to state offices as they prepare their applications.
"As the creator of the program, FFL will subsequently offer direct assistance to universities and colleges who are awarded the matching funds to implement the program," she said.
Foster says the grants come seventeen years after FFL's College Outreach Program placed a focus on pregnant and parenting students on college and university campuses.
I very much hope that Feminists for Life is right, but there's only one way to find out. If you run a pro-life pregnancy clinic or help center, encourage your state to apply for a grant. The deadline is August 2nd. Let us know how it goes!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Roman Polanski avoids punishment for rape of young teen

Roman Polanski, the famous film director who fled the United States after pleading guilty to sex with a 13-year-old girl, is a free man. He is currently staying in Switzerland, which just announced that it will not extradite him. The case, which has infuriated people on both sides of the life issue, is being extensively covered by the American media. There are over 1000 stories on Switzerland's refusal to extradite Polanski, according to Google News.

It's easy to understand why. Obviously, there's the celebrity factor. And since the rape took place decades ago, we can comfortably read the story knowing that we are expected only to condemn, not to act.

But we should be acting, because statutory rapists are continuing to exploit girls in the United States-- and they are doing it with the help of Planned Parenthoods and other abortion facilities which repeatedly fail to comply with statutory rape reporting laws. These crimes deserve every bit of press that Polanski's crime has received. Thanks to pro-life efforts, the problem is being investigated in several states, although there is admittedly much work to be done. It doesn't help that pro-abortion organizations-- some of which claim to be "women's groups" and have dutifully condemned Polanski-- are fighting us every step of the way.

There's a word for that: hypocrisy.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Excellent pro-life video

And it's secular, too!

When you're done watching that, please take a look at our volunteer opportunities. We have a particular need for someone with experience in writing press releases, but there also a couple of jobs that any willing person can do. These need to get done quickly, so if you are interested, please email me ASAP: info(at)secularprolife.org. Thank you!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Louisiana Abortion Laws and You

Louisiana's state legislature passed a number of abortion related pieces of legislation this year. This past Tuesday, Bobby Jindal signed many of them. We've discussed a few of them previously, but another bill that Jindal signed would exclude abortionists from medical malpractice reform.

This brings up an important point in this election season - a lot of the abortion battles are taking place not at the federal, but State level. A lot of gubernatorial and state legislative elections are up this year. Please make sure you pay attention to local level politics because in the end, they can make a bigger difference than the person you elect to the House or Senate.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Spanish Abortion Laws Loosened

Next Monday, Spanish law will be changed regarding abortion. Abortions will be legal and unrestricted until the 14th week of pregnancy and 16 / 17 year old girls will be allow to have an abortion performed upon them without the consent of their parents. Parental notification will be required. This was part of the reigning Socialist Party's agenda since they came to power, putting their law more in line with other parts of Western Europe. The more conservative Popular Party is planning to challenge the recent law in court, citing a 1985 court decision in Spain which stated that "...a woman's rights could not automatically take precedence over those of an unborn child, and could do so only in cases of rape, fetal malformation or when the mother's health is in jeopardy." The Associated Press has more details here. Here's an excerpt from the article -
A new Spanish law allowing abortion without restrictions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy went into effect Monday but the Constitutional Court could yet intervene to suspend or change it.

The law, approved by Parliament in February, was the latest item on a liberal agenda undertaken by the Socialist government, which took power in 2004. The measure is seen as bringing this traditionally Roman Catholic country more in line with its secular neighbors in northern Europe.

Equality Minister Bibiana Aido told Cadena SER radio the government was unworried by an appeal by the conservative Popular Party to the Constitutional Court challenging the 14-week clause as unconstitutional.

"The government is fully convinced of the constitutionality of the law," she said.

The Popular Party cited a 1985 ruling from the court that said a woman's rights could not automatically take precedence over those of an unborn child, and could do so only in cases of rape, fetal malformation or when the mother's health is in jeopardy.

The Constitutional Court must also decide whether to suspend the law while it studies the appeal. The court said there was no timetable for either decision.

The law allows 16- and 17-year-olds to have abortions without their parents' permission, although the parents have to be informed. It also wipes away the threat of imprisonment for having an abortion and declares it a woman's right.
Prior to this change in law, Spanish abortion law was more restrictive than it is here in the United States - abortion was allowed in the case of rape until the 12th week of pregnancy and for fetal malform up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. The woman who receives the abortion was able to get jailtime under the previous law, but rarely did. According to the AP, women claimed "...mental distress as sole grounds for having an abortion..." and did not receive jailtime. According to the article, approximately 100,000 abortions are performed in Spain annually. Compare that to the United States where 1.37 Million are performed annually.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New Democrats for Life PAC stirs controversy

Last week, Dr. Gerard Nadal wrote a piece on "force concentration," which a number of pro-life bloggers found to be worth sharing. It basically posits that pro-life efforts are more effective when various groups cooperate and share resources. He's undoubtedly correct.

But there's agreeing with someone, and then there's listening. If anything, pro-life infighting has only gotten worse since Nadal posted his comments. The object of everyone's wrath? Democrats for Life of America (DFLA), which recently formed a PAC to support Democratic legislators who were initially part of the Stupak coalition but backed down after Obama promised an executive order on abortion funding. They are essentially pitting themselves against the Susan B. Anthony List, which is trying to get those same legislators voted out in the upcoming elections:
After Rep. Bart Stupak and some of his colleagues yielded to President Barack Obama and his pro-abortion allies in Congress, pro-life groups like National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List began targeting them for defeat.

They have already been successful in West Virginia, where Rep. Allan Mollohan, who enjoyed solid relationships with Right to Life officials who told him he could lose his seat if he voted for the pro-abortion health care bill, has been defeated in the Democratic primary by a candidate who made opposition to the bill a centerpiece of his pro-life campaign.

They have also endorsed pro-life candidates to take on lawmakers like Steve Driehaus in Ohio, Kathy Dahlkemper in Pennsylvania and Brad Ellsworth in Indiana.

Now, DFLA is fighting back to support some of the members and has started a political action committee to support 15 Democratic members, including Driehaus.
I have mixed feelings about this. As I've said, I am incredibly sick of pro-life infighting. And make no mistake, I am with the majority of legal experts, who say that the executive order is crap. A battle between DFLA and the SBA List is going to cause a considerable waste of resources that would be better spent on just about anything else, and will probably bring some bad P.R. to the pro-life movement.

But I also think the pro-life media are coming down too hard on Democrats for Life. We have to remember that DFLA, unlike other nationwide pro-life organizations, is not single-issue. Their aim is a bit different: to increase acceptance of the pro-life position within the Democratic party. With that in mind, what they're doing makes sense. The "Stupak sellouts" aren't what pro-life voters hoped they would be, but they're still better than the usual NARAL-backed, PBA-ban-opposing Democratic candidates. The ultimate goal of attaining a pro-life Democratic Party is certainly a noble one; as Jason Jones (a Republican) said at January's SFLA conference, it's a tragedy that the pro-life flag was not firmly planted in both parties. (Update: Jones has since written his own commentary on the DFLA PAC.) The question is whether or not pursuing this goal is worth the cost: highly public pro-life infighting during a crucial election year.

I'm inclined to answer that question in the negative. But I'm not certain. I'm currently working as a research assistant for my constitutional law professor. She recently wrote a book, Courage to Dissent, which discusses infighting in the civil rights movement. Although conflict between established civil rights leaders and the student sit-in movement was undesirable in the short term, in the end the diversity of opinions may have worked to the movement's advantage. Perhaps the same will be true for us.

What do you all think?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Major Pro-Life Webcast Saturday

A free pro-life webcast will be held all day on Saturday, July 10. Register at EndingAbortion.com. If you (like me) are unable to listen in on Saturday, they will send you recordings of the webcast, but you have to register. It is organized into ten hour-long sessions.

The webcast will feature speakers who represent a wide range of secular and religious organizations. Aside from one session by religious leaders, "The Power of Prayer," it looks like the webcast will be of interest to pro-lifers of all stripes. If you only have time for one session, make it "The Case for Life" at 10am. If you have two hours, add "Pro-Life Youth Advocacy" at 6pm, featuring our friends at Students for Life of America. In light of yesterday's post, I'm also looking forward to hearing from ex-abortionists in the 11am session.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Abortionist found guilty of murder

No, not for the unborn children he killed. Not for the two mothers he killed in botched abortions, either. After years of legal wrangling, Alabama abortionist Malachy DeHenre will serve 20 years in prison for the murder of his wife. He joins the esteemed ranks of abortionists Thomas Neill Cream, Conroy James Hayes, John Gwynne, and John Baxter Hamilton, all abortionists who killed their wives or girlfriends. I do not know of a single CPC director or other prominent pro-life advocate who has killed his or her spouse. If you're aware of any, please share.
Jones County Assistant District Attorney J. Ronald Parrish told the laurel Leader Call newspaper last week that he was informed by the state high court that the conviction was upheld.

“No case I've handled since I've been here gives me as much gratification as this one," he said. “The man is a despicable nasty person."

“He not only killed his wife, that’s what he was convicted for, but I think people need to know about him. He also killed two other women during botched abortion. One was in Alabama and one in Jackson, Mississippi. And according to him, he performed 30,000 abortions on unborn children," Parrish continued.

DeHenre's New Woman Medical Center abortion facility in Jackson closed in 2005 and he was required, in December 2005, to pay substantial damages to a woman who was injured in a failed abortion in 2003.
It's always risky to posit a connection between abortion and postnatal violence. After all, there are hundreds of abortion facilities in the United States, and most of those abortionists have thankfully not gone out and killed their wives! That said, it is a generally accepted theory in psychology that repeated exposure to violence has a desensitizing effect; abortionists themselves admit that abortion is a violent act and that committing one requires emotional detatchment.

So what can we do to end the violence? The Pro-Life Action League suggests that pro-lifers "adopt" abortionists: inviting them to dinner, befriending them, making the argument for life in a peaceful, personal way, and helping them transition to non-violent careers. Taking that first step is scary, but I feel that secular (particularly atheist and agnostic) pro-lifers are in an especially good position to try it. The worst you can hear is "No." For the many SecularProLife.org supporters who are students, check out Medical Students for Life, an initiative of Students for Life of America. Through educational outreach, and by creating a support system for pro-life physicians in training, they aim to prevent abortion practices before they begin.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Correction to last post

Nulono points me to this article, which basically says that Dr. New's statements have been taken out of context and that her efforts are actually meant to treat a serious medical condition. Without knowing the relationship between Dr. Maria New and Dr. Alice Dreger (who first voiced her concern about New's work in Bioethics Forum), I can't say if this is "character assassination" or valid criticism. In any event, the technology itself does not matter nearly so much as how it is used. It remains important for us to make sure that doctors do not abuse dex in a way that violates the rights of little girls.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Experimenting on helpless baby girls

There are a few circumstances in which it may be justifiable to do medical experiments on an unborn child. After all, someone had to be the first to receive in utero surgery to correct spina bifida. This is not one of those circumstances:
Pediatric endocrinologist Maria New—of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University—isn't just trying to prevent lesbianism by treating pregnant women with an experimental hormone. She's also trying to prevent the births of girls who display an "abnormal" disinterest in babies, don't want to play with girls' toys or become mothers, and whose "career preferences" are deemed too "masculine."
There are so many things wrong with this, it's hard to know where to begin. As Dr. David Sandberg understated it, "To say you want a girl to be less masculine is not a reasonable goal of clinical care." Neither is preventing lesbianism, for that matter. There's also the problem of unknown medical risks for both mother and child, which in the child's case may not show up until puberty.

The question of how prenatal environment impacts later sexual orientation is interesting and politically relevant. It is also very dangerous to answer. The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians has often argued that once science identifies a "gay gene" or other prenatal factor, a test won't be far behind. Parents will be able to "select" for a straight baby--just as some currently abort babies of the undesired sex and babies who have congenital disabilities.

But the most serious issue I have with this "treatment" is that it dehumanizes the unborn girl. The whole premise of this experiment is that the unborn baby is just a "potential person" whose "future personhood" can be manipulated by medicine. While I don't deny that our environments and experiences influence our development, this treats unborn children more like recipes-- a dash of dex here, an ounce of androgen there-- than human beings. Can you imagine the enormous outcry we'd have if someone decided to do experimental hormone treatments on newborns or toddlers to try to change their personalities?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Traveling

Blog posts will resume on Monday.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quickie post

Sorry guys, today has been pretty crazy. Here are three stories to check out.

Abortion advocate Rachel Larris--whose résumé includes such "prestigious" employers as RH Reality Check--has created abortion victim cookies. She put a picture on twitter with the comment that they "inspire my evil side." You don't say.

Survivors of the Aboriton Holocaust had an unpleasant encounter with Jimmy Kimmel's crew.

Remember NARAL's supposed mission to move pregnancy center ads out of the "Abortion" section of YellowPages.com and SuperPages.com, in spite of showing no evidence that the centers were ever in the wrong category? Yeah, they actually want to ban pregnancy centers from advertising at all. I'm not even slightly surprised.