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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gender equality and abortion

The World Economic Forum recently released its 2010 Global Gender Gap Report. By comparing men and women on measures such as salaries, political participation, literacy, and health, the WEF report ranks nations on their achievement of gender equality. Unsurprisingly, high equality was found to correllate with economic prosperity. What I found illuminating is that, despite the usual pro-abortion insistence that abortion is necessary to achieve women's rights, there is little or no correllation between gender equality and abortion on demand. Among the top ten countries, we find a wide range of abortion laws:

#1: Iceland. Abortion on demand.

#2: Norway. Abortion on demand until 12 weeks and in hard cases up to 18 weeks.

#3: Finland. Abortion requires the consent of two physicians. Abortion for socioeconomic reasons is prohibited after 12 weeks; the limit is 20 weeks when there are health risks or the mother is younger than 17.

#4: Sweden. Abortion on demand up to 18 weeks.

#5: New Zealand. Abortion requires the consent of two physicians. Legally accepted reasons include health, mental health, fetal disability, and incest. After 20 weeks, only the life of the mother is a legally accepted reason.

#6: Ireland. Abortion is illegal unless the mother's life is at risk.

#7: Denmark. Abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.

#8: Lesotho. Abortion is illegal unless the mother's life is at risk.

#9: The Philippines. Abortion is illegal unless mother's life is at risk.

#10: Switzerland. Abortion on demand in the first trimester; later abortions allowed for medical reasons.

Canada, which has no restrictions at all on abortion, was ranked #20; the United States came in at #19.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Planned Parenthood stories

Live Action reports that Planned Parenthood has settled a lawsuit against them in Washington state. An audit shows that Planned Parenthood overbilled the state by $629,143. Under the settlement, they only have to pay back a little over half of that ($345k).

Jill Stanek reports that Planned Parenthood is trying to censor the videos which show their student representatives in Colorado spouting lies like "there's research ... that says that the heart doesn't beat until 24 weeks." This is standard practice for dealing with pro-life information that reflects badly on Planned Parenthood.

Why is Planned Parenthood receiving government funding, again?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Beyond XX and XY

If you aren't part of our Facebook group, you really should join. We have lots of interesting discussions there. One such discussion took place in response to Wednesday's post, which featured abortion advocates in Colorado who proclaimed that "anyone who has an X and a Y chromosome is biologically female." That's wrong, of course. But the usual pro-life, pro-science response-- that sex is determined at fertilization, with XX producing girls and XY producing boys-- is a bit simplistic.

That isn't meant to be a criticism. Faced with enormous ignorance of the sort demonstrated in the Colorado debate, I cannot blame anyone for dumbing it down! And of course, sexuality is only one aspect of personhood: we can easily argue for prenatal rights while ignoring sex development altogether. But if you ever do get an opportunity to have a more nuanced conversation about sex, here's a quick guide.

For the vast majority of people, sex is determined at fertilization; those with XY chromosomes are male and those with XX chromosomes are female. But about one person in 2000 is intersex. For intersex people, the genetic sex does not correspond with the outward appearance of genitalia. Intersexuality has many causes, most of which are genetic. For instance, in congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an XX embryo develops "virilized" genitalia due to overproduction of hormones by the adrenal gland; in androgen insensitivity syndrome, an XY embryo will develop feminine genitalia because the body does not respond to certain hormones. In these cases, the basic point still holds: sex is determined at fertilization, just not through the usual XX/XY means. More rarely, intersexuality is caused by factors that are completely external to the unborn baby, such as exposure to pesticides or the mother having an ovarian tumor.

While the relevant genetic factors are present at fertilization, the development of genitalia does not begin until the middle of the first trimester. (Some try to get at this point by saying that we all "start out as female.") Both boys and girls develop what is called a "genital tuber," which will later form a penis in boys and a clitoris in girls. The aptly named "labio-scrotal folds" undergo a corresponding differentiation. By 11 weeks, the external differences are apparent.

For more information on this and other prenatal development topics, visit the Endowment for Human Development.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quick News Roundup: 10/28/10

Domestic News: On Wednesday, a judge in Arizona refused requests to block recently passed abortion legislation. According to local news sources, the legislation "...say[s] doctors must be the ones to do everything from determining the gestational age of the fetus to a remaining on the premises until all patients undergoing any kind of surgical abortion are stable and ready to leave." The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the 107-charge criminal case against Planned Parenthood be remanded to District Court for prosecution. Some pro-life activists are concerned from a timeline of events included in the ruling regarding who knew what, when.

International News: Amnesty International is planning to pressure Peru into legalizing abortion. It is reported that on Wednesday, Amnesty International's Secretary General provided a petition with 11,000 signatures to the Peruvian Vice Minister of Health. In the United Kingdom, Conservative MP Therese Coffey proposed legislation that would require women to be made aware of the psychological risks associated with abortions prior to having one. The proposal is based on recommendations from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2008.

Discussion Topic: Once the election is over, we will see what the makeup of the incoming Congress and many local State Legislatures will look like. What is your hope for the upcoming, 2011 Congressional session or your local legislative sessions?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pro-abortion pseudoscience

This has already been covered by Jill Stanek, Live Action, Stand True, and many others, but SecularProLife.org must comment. The following video contains exceprts from a debate at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, where an "Advocates for Choice" student organization revealed their ignorance of, and contempt for, embryology:
When I heard "[T]here's research on our side that says that the heart doesn't beat until 24 weeks," I immediately thought of Amillia Rose Taylor, the Florida girl who was born at just 22 weeks. I guess her survival was an even greater medical miracle than previously thought, since apparently her heart didn't start beating until two weeks after she was born!

Pro-life viewers have expressed shock, amusement, and disappointment in our educational system. I must admit that, shamefully, my first reaction was anger. Babies are dying because a sizeable portion of the American public swallows this bullshit, pardon my French. (The pro-life measure that was the focus of this debate is expected to fail.)

But upon reflection, I really can't be angry at the Advocates for Choice presenters. After all, it's not as if they're conducting their own medical research. Their fault is simply that they're too trusting of their source; the group is sponsored by Planned Parenthood, which has a long record of disseminating medical and scientific falsehoods.

Nevertheless, I remain hopeful, because the high school and college members of SecularProLife.org show a dedication to the pursuit of scientific truth. They, not the Fort Lewis College presenters, represent the student population. I also have hope that the abortion lobby's blatant pseudoscience will continue to drive atheists and agnostics into our camp. We welcome you with open arms.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Body parts, patient records illegally dumped

LifeNews.com reports on an upcoming press conference from the Michigan organization Citizens for a Pro-Life Society:
State Representative Rick Jones will present legislation introduced in the Michigan State legislature at the press conference. He is expected to talk about how his bill will “bring an end to illegal and unethical abortion clinic practices—particularly the grisly disposal of the remains of aborted babies in clinic trash.”

On Friday, the Michigan Attorney General, and the Eaton County and Saginaw County Sheriff Departments completed a seven month-long investigation of the Woman Care abortion clinics owned by Florida resident Richard Remund.

The investigation was prompted by the February 26, 2010 discovery of the bodies of 17 aborted babies in a trash dumpster.

. . .

The abortion businesses’ trash contained soiled and bloody suction canulas, bloody gloves, soiled and bloody gauze sacking used in first trimester abortions still holding uterine material, blood saturated surgical sheets and padding as well as empty medicine vials and used urine specimen cups—some marked with the first and last names of the female patients.

The bodies of the 17 unborn children killed by abortion and retrieved from the trash are currently in an infant coffin at the Borek-Jennings funeral home, Hamburg, Michigan. They will be buried in a publicized funeral ceremony within the next four weeks.
What blows my mind is that it's actually in the abortionists' interests to use medical waste disposal, because that prevents pro-life advocates from obtaining photographs, holding funerals, and generally showing the humanity of the abortion victims. The proposed legislation could backfire, if the abortion businesses actually followed it. Of course, the Citizens for a Pro-Life Society assume that the abortion businesses will not comply. And they have a good reason for that assumption; if this story sounds familiar, it's because infamous abortionist Alberto Hodari did the exact same thing more than two years ago. They never learn, do they?

Monday, October 25, 2010

We invite you to come to Roanoke Planned Parenthood and show your support!

I think when going out to the abortion clinics or peaceful protests for life, it's so important to have an array of people with different beliefs and perspectives on life there. Women going in to abortion clinics need to see that if they choose life there are so many different people they can relate to and identify with. We want compassionate people to talk and comfort them. That's why I and my friend Tim are wanting to invite any one with a heart to save children to join us on Saturday mornings at the Roanoke Planned Parenthood at 2207 Peters Creek Rd in Roanoke,VA. It don't matter what your age, religion or sexual orientation is, we want you to come and help us support life! Tim, who is gay, wants to show all pro-choicers that being pro-life is not just for straight folks, but even the gay community has strong feelings for the respect for innocent life here in Roanoke. So if you're gay and proud and feel everyone deserves equal rights in life, then please come show your support with us on Saturday mornings for the unborn that have no voice. We usually show up around 7:00 am and park across the street and walk over to our area (which is public property and our presence there is perfectly legal). I personally bring a chair to sit since we are usually there till about 11:00 am but you can stay as long as you would like. So bring signs showing your pride and care for babies and we hope to see you all there!

Hope to see you there! Remember your presence there could save a LIFE!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scatterbrained Sunday: Dan Lipinski

My apologies for not posting yesterday. Don't you hate it when real life gets in the way?

Kristen Day of Democrats for Life of America posted this article on Facebook yesterday, which summarizes the ongoing SBA List/DFLA feud on abortion in health care reform, particularly with regard to the billboard advertisements in Ohio. It's worth reading the whole thing, but let's focus on this excerpt for now:
"The pro-life organizations that are working in concert with the Republican Party strategy to defeat all Democrats are seizing on the public's general lack of knowledge and uncertainty about the health care insurance reform bill,” [Day] commented. “Targeting strong pro-life advocates who are willing to stand up to their own leadership to protect the sanctity of life is mistake. The pro-life movement is now moving toward fully embracing a one-party strategy.”

The SBA List is financially backing one Democratic congressman, Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, who voted against the health care bill in part because of concerns about its restrictions on abortion funding. It has targeted 42 Democratic House candidates for defeat.
Intrigued, I asked where Lipinski fits into all of this. Day responded that "Dan Lipinski is a friend of DFLA and a friend of mine. We have a very good working relationship. We support and endorse Congressman Lipinski."

Who is this master of human interaction?

Well, he's the incumbent Representative of the 3rd District of Illinois. Life issues and health care reform are prominently featured on his campaign website, and he is expected to win his re-election by a landslide.

This gives me an idea. After November, when everybody's had a chance to settle down, let's get Kristen Day and Marjorie Dannenfelser together for a conversation to be moderated by Dan Lipinski! And let's not let them leave the room until they've made up. I'm so sick of the infighting that, if necessary, I will come to D.C. and personally provide their meals for as long as the negotiations last.

Friday, October 22, 2010

An election suggestion

Many state and local pro-life groups are beginning their campaign to get out the pro-life vote by distributing literature in church parking lots. This is a legal and fairly common practice. I don't doubt the pro-life leaders who have found it to be effective through years of experience. But as far as engaging all pro-life voters, including the non-Christian ones, it leaves a lot to be desired. How can we reach this audience, other than through general advertising (which carries the side effect of telling abortion advocates how not to vote)?

In the 23 states that offer Choose Life license plates, it's easy. Just go to your local mall parking lot and place literature on the windshields of cars with pro-life plates! Literature is available through the National Right to Life Committee; unfortunately, since these handouts were made with churches in mind, they contain a Bible verse. I recommend using the information in the NRLC handouts and other sources to create your own.

If anyone challenges your right to distribute pro-life literature, get legal help.

The states with pro-life license plates are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Let us know how it goes by writing in the comments section or emailing info(at)secularprolife.org!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quick News Roundup: 10/21/10

Domestic News: In a seemingly unlikely alliance in Ohio, the ACLU and Susan B. Anthony List are working together to fight attempts to silence Susan B. Anthony List ads against Steve Driehaus (D). Dreihaus filed a criminal complaint against the SBA List that if it went to court could lead to the SBA List president serving jail time and paying a fine. Also in Ohio, a man was charged with attempted murder for putting his girlfriend at gunpoint and trying to force her to get an abortion. He's currently imprisoned on $350,000 bond. At the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the Pro-Life Students of La Crosse had a pro-life display they put together dismantled overnight. The student group has used this display for the past four years and this is the first time anything happened to their display.

International News: In China a woman in her eighth month of her pregnancy was taken from her home and an abortion was forced upon her by the government. The woman's husband is reported to have said that his wife "...was taken kicking and screaming from their home by more than a dozen people on October 10 and detained in a clinic for three days by family planning officials, then taken to a hospital and injected with a drug that killed her baby." In a number of countries including Japan, Russia, and India the abortion rate has decreased over the past 10 years. National Catholic Register has an interesting article on the subject including some interesting analysis.

Discussion Topic: In a little over a week and a half, there will be a big election in the United States where much of Congress will be reelected. Are there specific pro-life candidates you are excited about? Any local candidates specifically you are excited about who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk on pro-life values? My local, Democratic State Senator is strong supporter of life - recently endorsed by Maryland Right to Life, one of only a handful in Maryland who were.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Election Resources

November is fast approaching! Here are some websites to inform your vote:

AUL Action Congressional voting records

State-by-state early voting and voter registration rules from Students for Life

LifeNews.com voters' guide

National Right to Life Political Action Committee

Project Vote Smart

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity

Today is the Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity, in which pro-lifers take a vow of silence in memory of those whose voices were permanently silenced by abortion. The event is sponsored by Stand True: Christ-Centered Pro-Life but is open to people of all faiths. It's a popular way for high school and college students to express their support for prenatal rights. Although I unfortunately am not participating this year, I've done it before and found it to be a great experience. This year, it's gone international, with silent protests from Italy to Africa! Follow along with the Twitter hashtag #prolifeday and on Bryan Kemper's blog.

Other blurbs:
The Open Hearts, Open Minds (OHOM) conference on abortion at Princeton University took place over the weekend. All Our Lives was in attendance and has lots to say about the speakers' attitudes toward the unborn, pro-lifers, and women.

Democrats for Life of America and the Susan B. Anthony List are butting heads again. (Did they ever stop?) I stand by my comments from back in July.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last Saturday

So, we had a very exciting Saturday this week. It was unusually busy for a home game weekend, but that’s explained by the 8 o’clock kick off time. I was a bit late, 8:45 am, so I missed the first rush. About 15 minutes after I got there, this blond woman drives up and drops off a mother-daughter pair. Obviously, the daughter was there for an abortion. They don’t talk to us, and we don’t think anything of it.
At 10:45 (they stop taking patients at 11), the mother walks out, probably to smoke. We see her and wave her over, not really expecting her to come. But she does. We get all excited and about 4 of us stand around and talk to her. We hand her a magazine, then ask her why her daughter was there. Apparently, the poor girl is fifteen years old. She already has a one year old. Her mother is NOT going to raise another baby. So, she’s getting an abortion. One of our counselors had had an abortion 19 years ago (the mother hadn’t had one) and she told her about her experience, about the clots and how she ended up pregnant again a year later.
We asked about adoption and the mother seemed a bit confused, thinking that the baby would end up in foster care The same counselor also has a lot of friends who work for an adoption agency, so she told the mother about open adoptions and how the family would pay for the whole pregnancy. The mother liked the idea, and agreed to get her daughter to come out and talk on the phone to a woman from the adoption agency.
She came out and we handed her the phone. She talked on the phone for about 5 minutes and seemed to like the idea, but expressed concerns about the baby ending up in an abusive home. Afterwards, we talked to her about her 1 year old son. We found out that she’s 9 weeks along, so we showed her two pictures, one at 6 weeks and the other at 10. We talked to her about how she’s already giving that baby everything that he or she needs, about how of course she’s a terrific mother to her son. We told her that she doesn’t need to make up her mind in that instant. The clinic will let her reschedule, if she needs more time to think. We cried with her. She said that she didn’t want an abortion, she just didn’t feel like there was any other option.
And then the blond woman who dropped her and her mother off shows up. She goes inside the clinic, sees that the daughter isn’t there, and then sees her with us. She walks up, puts her arm around the girl’s shoulders, and marches her back into the clinic. We tell the daughter that she’s grown up enough to make her own decisions. The blond woman shouts back “No she’s not, she’s only a 15 year old girl!”
We feel that she’s being coerced. Most of the group goes over to pray, the rest of us wonder if we have grounds to call the police, because it’s illegal to force someone to have an abortion (though, as we found out later, it’s only a misdemeanor). The president of Bama Students for Life decides that he should tell the clinic about it. So he and another member cross the line (our imaginary parking lot line that we are forbidden to cross) and they actually Enter The Building. (This was all very dramatic to the rest of us…crossing the line is a big deal, going inside is unthinkable.)
Apparently, they had immediately taken her back to the other waiting room, so he didn’t get to see her. However, he did tell the receptionist that he felt that the girl was being pressured into the decision. Then the blond woman sees them and freaks out, telling the receptionist that he was one of the “people outside.” They were asked to leave, or the police would be called. So, they immediately come back outside. Afterwards, they’re pretty sure they’ll be arrested. They gave their car keys to other people and told them who to call in case they needed bail. The blond woman came over and gave us the magazine back, and screamed at us that she disagreed with abortion and had been trying to talk to the girl about adoption. Then she screamed at us about why we hadn’t been telling her about adoption. We were pretty confused by that one.
About 15 minutes later, the police showed up. They talked to Gloria (office manager) and the blond woman. Then they came over and talked to us. However, the first thing they addressed was coercion, before we even brought it up. They said that they had talked to the daughter, and that only she could file a charge of coercion. After awhile, they finally got around to the trespassing. They were given a warning and that was it. We don’t know whether the girl went through with the abortion or not. (I had to go to work, I’ll ask around next weekend.) We were able to give her mother some information about post-abortive counseling if she did.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mildred Jefferson has passed away

I learned through LiveActionFilms on Twitter that Mildred Jefferson, one of the original founders of the National Right to Life Committee, has passed away. She was 84 years old. Dr. Jefferson was the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, among many other accomplishments.

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jefferson briefly at the National Right to Life Committee conference in June. She was active in the pro-life movement even in her last months.

From left to right: Julie Schmit-Albin of Nebraska Right to Life, Dr. Jack Willke of the National Right to Life Committee, Kelsey Hazzard of SecularProLife.org, Dr. Mildred Jefferson of the National Right to Life Committee
May she rest in peace.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's October! Be aware!

For some reason, it seems that a disproportionate number of causes have chosen October as their awareness month. We all realize that it's breast cancer awareness month, of course. I also assume that you're aware of the Susan G. Komen Planned Parenthood funding issue. The Bioethics Defense Fund recommends that you give to the National Breast Cancer Foundation instead. [Fun fact: When you Google "pro-life br," Google fills in "pro-life breast cancer research." Glad to see evidence that people are paying attention!]

Several other October awareness months that are relevant to the pro-life movement:

Domestic Violence Awareness Month deserves our attention for the obvious reason that domestic violence is a threat to human life and dignity, but it's worth noting that pregnant mothers are especially at risk; the number-one cause of death among pregnant mothers is homicide.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month is a wonderful opportunity to affirm the rights of children with disabilities. Sadly, the vast majority of babies who are prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome are killed.

It's also Spina Bifida Awareness Month. According to the Spina Bifida Association, "it occurs when the spine of the baby fails to close during the first months of pregnancy." Although the cause is largely unknown, the risk of spina bifida is reduced when the mother takes prenatal vitamins, specifically folic acid. Spina bifida can also be treated with prenatal surgery; you may know about this from the famous Baby Samuel photos (right).

In Canada, it's Child Abuse Awareness Month.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nebraska fetal pain law goes into effect today

It appears that abortion advocates will not bring a lawsuit against a Nebraska law banning abortions after 20 weeks:
The legislation has been hailed by pro-life advocates across the country for its innovative approach and focusing the public's attention on unborn babies who have been medically documented as pain capable at 20 weeks gestation.

“This will take off like wildfire,” Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, predicted in comments to the Omaha World-Herald newspaper.

The Nebraska bill has already inspired Sen. Mike Johanns, a Nebraska Republican, to press for a similar measure on the national level -- and he used it to challenge pro-abortion president Barack Obama.

“How does anybody -- pro-life or pro-choice -- oppose this?” asked Johanns. “If the baby feels pain ... then it is an issue of human compassion.”

The expected opposition -- in the form of lawsuits from pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood or the Center for Reproductive Rights, have yet to materialize.

Mary Spaulding Balch, a pro-life attorney who is the state legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, says abortion advocates may not want to have a national discussion on the pain unborn children feel because it draws attention to their humanity and need for legal protection.
I fully expected a lawsuit, since this gives unborn babies an additional month of protection; the Supreme Court has held that abortion may not be banned until viability, which is usually set at 24 weeks. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 1.5% of abortions take place at 21 weeks or later, which is roughly 18,150 per year in the United States. (Of course, only a fraction of those are in Nebraska.)

But Balch's point is well-taken. Fighting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would be a public relations nightmare, especially against the backdrop of laws prohibiting animal cruelty. As public opinion becomes more pro-life, abortion advocates must disguise their position as moderate if they are to stay relevant.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quick News Roundup: 10/14/10

Domestic News: After a 9-hour hearing on Wednesday in New Jersey, Steven Brigham, the late-term abortionist under fire for his actions across the PA-NJ-MD borders, had his medical license suspended. They said he skirted state laws by beginning an abortion procedure in New Jersey and taking her across state lines to complete the procedure in Maryland. The Associated Content had an editorial recently that discussed years later how different states adapted their local laws following Roe v. Wade. It's an interesting read that shows why much of the front line of the abortion battle is taking place on the state level. In California, an abortionist, Dr. Feliciano Rios, continues to take patients despite legal troubles - including awaiting a hearing on whether or not his medical license should be suspended. In 2010, he was indicted on five charges of Medi-Cal fraud and grand theft by a Grand Jury. He's also been charged with perjury for his statements before the Grand Jury.

Scientific News: A study in Iran confirms the link to an increased risk in breast cancer for women after they have an abortion. How much is the increased risk? Based on the Iranian study, a 195% increase in the risk of breast cancer. Studied performed in the US, Turkey, Canada, and Sri Lanka in the past 18 months have all confirmed similar trends, but with different specific increase in the risk.

Discussion Topic: As a poster on this website, you obviously feel very strongly about abortion. What other political issues do you feel strongly about? Me - I mostly concerned about the fiscal wellbeing of our country and my state. How about you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good news, bad news on free speech

First, the bad news. Most of you have probably already heard that abortion advocates have targeted New York City for an anti-pregnancy clinic effort similar to those in Baltimore and Austin. The proposed measure would force pro-life pregnancy centers to put signs on their doors saying that they don't perform abortions and don't "provide ... contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration."

I have no serious issue with the message that they don't provide contraceptives. Unlike Planned Parenthood, which advertises itself as a "reproductive health" center generally, pregnancy centers and clinics are quite clearly for people who are pregnant. There's not a whole lot of demand for contraceptives in that demographic. But the proposed language makes it sound to me like pro-life pregnancy clinics have some kind of beef with the FDA, which is just strange and ought to be reworded.

Second, I would be okay with the "we don't do abortions" sign if it were a two-way street. But when similar legislation was proposed in Baltimore, pro-lifers proposed an amendment requiring abortion businesses to post what services THEY don't offer-- e.g. baby supplies, parenting classes, adoption services-- and the amendment was shot down. From that, it's pretty clear that the aim of the legislation is not so much to inform women as to divert business. I would be stunned if such an amendment were tacked onto the New York City bill.

Legally speaking, then, there's an equal protection issue on top of the free speech issue. The Baltimore law is currently being litigated. Hopefully, that case will come to a favorable resolution, and New York abortion advocates will think twice.

Anyway, I like to balance bad news with good news, so let's turn our attention to Pittsburgh! There, pro-lifers have gotten an injunction against a local ordinance that hindered their ability to pass out literature.

UPDATE: A commenter on Jill Stanek's blog shared this delightful photoshop:Why aren't pro-lifers fighting fire with fire, and demanding signs like this in cities where the abortion advocates haven't even tried their legislation yet?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Upcoming event in Iowa

A coalition of Iowa pro-life organizations has announced a town hall meeting on the subject of telemed abortions. It will be held on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 5:30pm at the Downtown Church, 323 E Locust St. in Des Moines, Iowa. Invited speakers include a range of pro-life leaders, legislators, and political candidates.

Earlier that same day, the Iowa Board of Medicine will debate possible new guidelines on telemedicine, including telemed abortion.

Unfortunately, I don't live anywhere near Iowa and will be unable to attend. If any SecularProLife.org members plan to go, we'd love to get your report.

Using graphic images as a message- right or wrong?

Do you think graphic images should be used when at abortion clinics? Some say yes but there are a lot of pro-lifers out there that don't feel comfortable with using them. Of course now the graphic images of aborted babies is what abortion really is, so personally I don't feel it's wrong to use them in peaceful protest. Now sidewalk counseling is where people see the most of these signs, and mothers soon to abort also glance over for a quick peek before they go in for the abortion, but do they make a difference?

I can say in all honesty that if I would have seen an aborted baby as I was walking in to the clinic, I would have been bothered a great deal. But I needed to be bothered, I was going to kill my baby. So would other mothers be so upset by the images that they would not abort? I don't know. The pictures though are a dramatic slap of truth in the face of the abortion industry. People walking into the abortion clinics are mostly confused and sad about their situations, and need a dramatic "wake up call" to open their eyes to what their about to do. Pictures of aborted babies will do that, but again is it so "in your face" that the girls will just ignore us and walk in anyways? Again I personally think abortion should be exposed for what is really is, but what do you all think? Should sidewalk counselors use these pictures or not? I want to hear your comments and reasons for why or why not.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Michael Caine admits role in assisted suicide

Actor Michael Caine, 77, revealed in a recent interview that he requested euthanasia for his father back in 1955:
Although the doctor told him he could not hasten his death, Caine said he honoured his request and discreetly gave his father, then aged 56, an overdose.

"My father had cancer of the liver and I was in such anguish over the pain he was in that I said to this doctor, 'Isn't there anything else you could (do)? Just give him an overdose and end this', because I wanted him to go and he said, 'Oh no, no, no. We couldn't do that.' "

"Then, as I was leaving, he said, 'Come back at midnight.' I came back at midnight and my father died at five past twelve. "So he'd done it ... "
Assisted suicide is illegal in the United Kingdom, but it is very unlikely that Caine will be prosecuted.

SecularProLife.org does not have an official position on assisted suicide, except that it ought to be analyzed separately from abortion. Assuming that the decision is made by the dying person, only one human life is involved, and I'm not sure that it's possible to violate one's own right to life. Of course, there are other reasons, religious and secular, to oppose assisted suicide. Chief among these is the concern that the elderly and disabled will face social pressure to relieve the burden on their families by killing themselves, so that it isn't really their decision at all.

Caine says that his father expressed a desire to hasten his death. He makes a distinction between end-of-life decisions made by the patient (which he supports) and those made by others (which he opposes). But he also describes his father's state at the time as "semi-conscious," which deeply disturbs me. Can you ever have true informed consent in that situation?

Whatever your view, I highly recommend that all of our readers write a living will and/or designate a trusted surrogate to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Abortion worker pleads guilty in bomb scare

Back in September, Linda Meek was charged with "making false or misleading statements" regarding a suspicious item in a trash bin at the Reproductive Services abortion center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has now plead guilty. Meek was the executive director of Reproductive Services, but for obvious reasons, she isn't anymore.

At the time, the details were sketchy and abortion advocates came to her defense. For instance, at Jill Stanek's blog, commenter Biggz pointed out that the center had been bombed twice in the 1990s; under those circumstances, he believed it would be reasonable for a 63-year-old to be nervous about a suspicious item on the premises.

And perhaps it would have been, if she hadn't planted the suspicius item there herself:
Meek, who is no longer employed at the clinic, told the court on Thursday that she bought an egg timer at a department store on Aug. 13, set it so that it would start ticking and put it in her trash can. She then called the police and reported a bomb.

Reports at the time said Reproductive Services was evacuated after an employee supposedly noticed a box in a trash can that she reportedly did not recognize to be trash from the clinic.

Officials treated the threat seriously, and the clinic and a building next door were evacuated.

. . .

Meek has never given a reason for falsely reporting a bomb.
I think it's fair to assume that she had some reason. If it wasn't to make local pro-lifers look bad and increase public sympathy toward her abortion operation... what other reason could there possibly have been?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Do the math

In Iowa, Planned Parenthood has done 1900 telemed abortions. In a telemed abortion, the patient is not examined by a doctor in person; instead, the abortionist "counsels" her over a video chat, and then remotely opens a drawer which dispenses RU-486. Operation Rescue has been leading the way as far as legal challenges to this practice, although other pro-life groups are also opposed.

Planned Parenthood claims that not one of these 1900 abortions has resulted in a complication. This is unlikely, to say the least. Statistics compiled by the Australian government show a 4.1% complication rate-- and that's with physician supervision. In short, we would expect at least 78 Iowans to have experienced a serious problem with RU-486. A little deviation from that figure wouldn't mean much, but zero? Statistically, that's nearly impossible:
"Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has incredibly reported no complications in their nearly 2,000 remote controlled telemed abortions where a licensed physician only speaks with the patient for a few minutes over an Internet video connection, then never sees the patient again," spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger told LifeNews.com today.

"The numbers simply do not add up. Either Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is engaging in an intentional cover-up of telemed abortion complications or it is an indication that they provide essentially no follow-up for patients once they load them on abortion pills and send them out the door. Either scenario would be gross misconduct on PPH's part that further endangers the lives of women," she added.

OR says it has an informant with first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of PPH who has come forward to explain how the telemed abortion scheme shows a "revolting lack of concern" for the lives and health of women.

The informant insists that the scheme was developed with a high profit margin in mind, not the best interests of women. According to the informant, who has spoken to OR on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals, PPH has traditionally attempted to distance the organization from any abortion complications.

"Planned Parenthood doesn't deal with complications," said the informant. "They send the women to the ER."
If one of those estimated 78 Iowan women is reading this: please, come forward. It takes courage, but the pro-life movement will stand with you. Your testimony can help prevent this from happening to someone else.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Objectivism and Abortion

I've noticed that some politically conservative Facebook friends of mine are linking to Objectivist articles, becoming fans of Ayn Rand, etc. For those who are unfamiliar with Objectivism, Wikipedia has a decent summary. For those who are too lazy to read it, a key Objectivist belief is that following one's rational self-interest is the moral way to live; in other words, "greed is good." (Another central element is atheism, though I want to be clear that most atheists are not followers of Ayn Rand.)

The Objective Standard, an Objectivist online journal, is reaching out to Tea Partiers, applauding their embrace of limited government and encouraging them to adopt the Objectivist philosophy. The Tea Party page contains a link to an article on the Objectivist position on abortion, by Leonard Peikoff.
Nor should abortion-rights advocates keep hiding behind the phrase “a woman’s right to choose.” Does she have the right to choose murder? That’s what abortion would be, if the fetus were a person.
So far, so good.
But what it actually is during the first trimester is a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman’s body.
Aaaaaand it's all downhill from there.

"It's part of the woman's body" has got to be the most easily debunked pro-abortion lie. No embryologist would ever agree with this ludicrous statement. "Relatively undifferentiated cells" is also a lie. Mr. Peikoff would have us believe that the embryo is "pre-human," not only in the first trimester, but until birth (when suddenly, the Personhood Fairy endows it with rights). And then he has the gall to declare that the pro-life position is based on "mystical notions of religious dogma"!

Along the way, he inadvertently denies the rights of conjoined twins: his argument is that anyone who is physically joined to another is a "part" or "collective," while rights may be enjoyed only by "individuals."

I encourage pro-lifers to think twice before forging any alliances with the Objectivist movement.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Newbies

So, last week was actually a pretty good one for sidewalk counseling. A triathlon closed down most of the road in front of the clinic, which made it a lot harder for people to show up. We only had half as many women come. Also, one woman came specifically to talk to us and show us her beautiful 4 month old baby. Last year she was scheduled for an abortion, but changed her mind after she saw our signs. It’s really encouraging to remember that even if they don’t come and talk to us, our mere presence can make a difference.

Currently 40 Days for Life is going on, which draws a different crowd. We haven’t been able to do 24 hour coverage or anything, but I think that there’s someone out on our patch of parking lot during business hours at least. I sometimes have my qualms about this. Usually, when you get new sidewalk counselors, you only get one or two at a time. They tend not to say anything at all for the first few weeks until they get comfortable with the whole thing. This helps to get newbies comfortable with the rules of counseling. However, 40 Days brings out many fresh faces who are left out there by themselves, without a more experienced counselor to show them what they should be doing. For the most part, 40 Day-ers seem to just stand around with signs and pray, so I’m not too worried about them. But the more active of them do try to sidewalk counsel, which I don’t always agree with.

Sidewalk counselors are nice, normal people. Anyone who lasts 3 months is pretty sane. But sometimes we get crazies. 2 weeks back this woman shows up. She used to be a patient of Dr. Payne (the abortionist) back when he sometimes delivered babies alive. He did an ultrasound and found out that her child had a congenital defect (non-life threatening) and told her that she needed to get an abortion. She refused and demanded to see another doctor. Her son is 30 and he is severely mentally retarded, but they’re both happy. We were all very glad to hear her story and talk to her for a bit. But, while this woman is there, a teenager walks out of the clinic with her parents. It’s obvious that she just had an abortion. And the woman we’ve been talking to starts yelling something awful at the poor girl. Immediately, we stopped her and explained that this was not what we do. She didn’t get a whole sentence out, but this incident really worried me. If something like this can happen while we’re standing right there, what can happen when we’re not?

Don’t get me wrong, I trust the people in Tuscaloosa who organize 40-Days. I’m sure that everyone’s been told just to pray, to not cross this line in the ground, and to make sure that the people in the road can see our signs. Not a single one of them has done anything wrong or weird so far as I can tell. I’m hoping a few of them will turn out to be regulars. But these are my admonishments to newbies:

• For the first few weeks, you’re there to be seen and not heard. Your presence will change more minds than any words you have to hurl across a parking lot any way.

• If you do have to talk to someone, find your compassion. People facing these decisions are going through mental and emotional turmoil. Calling them murderers or damning them to hell isn’t going to do anyone any good.

• Know the resources in your area. Know where they can get free or reduced clothing, sonograms, medical care, housing. When you tell people you can help, you better be able to follow through.

• Try not to be cruel to a woman who just had an abortion. By this I mean, put down your heart beat sign and your happy living fetus signs and remember to tell her that there are still counseling services willing to help her.

• Don’t break the law or encourage others to do so. Don’t joke about violence. Crazy people bombed an abortion clinic or two back in the day. We’re still trying to recoup our reputation from back then. Don’t ruin our hard work by showing off your crazy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Scatterbrained Sunday: Safety tips

Yesterday morning, Tennessee abortionist Gary Boyle was arrested for pulling a gun on pro-life protestors, including a teenager. No shots were fired and no one was injured. Boyle is out on bail.

Although I have never been physically threatened (knock on wood), the incident got me thinking about what steps pro-life activists can take to peacefully protect ourselves. Here are a few ideas; please share yours in the comments section.

Be armed... with a video camera. People tend to be better behaved when they're being recorded. And if not, then at least you have evidence.
Talk to the cops long before any trouble arises. Let them know that you intend to protest, and clarify the boundaries of public and private property. Be their partner in keeping order, and perhaps they will return the favor in your time of need.
Don't escalate. If an abortion supporter gets in your face, the best response is usually silence. You don't have to be a Christian to turn the other cheek.
In the worst case scenario, know who to call. 911 is obviously your first call. Your second should be to a lawyer, even if you know that you did nothing wrong. I personally like the Life Legal Defense Foundation; that number is 707-224-6675.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pregnancy resource funds awarded

Feminists for Life reports that Pregnancy Assistance Fund monies have been awarded to 17 states and 13 tribes for the purpose of assisting pregnant mothers in need:
The first portion of the Fund's legislation is based on FFL's seventeen years of work on college campuses to address the unmet needs of pregnant women, birthmothers, and parents. An FFL-inspired bill in Michigan served as the model for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act, which enjoyed bipartisan support and led to the creation of a core element of the Pregnancy Assistance Fund. Through a matching grant, institutions of higher education will develop resources for the underserved population of pregnant and parenting students, including birthmothers.

The second section of the fund is devoted to teen mothers, and was largely shaped by the first section of the bill creating services for pregnant and parenting students and birthmothers in college.

The third portion of the bill is devoted to serving pregnant women who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. FFL has a long record of activism for victims of violence. "As the only pro-life group active in the coalition to pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1995, and the only feminist organization to support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, Feminists for Life is eager to see grantees working on behalf of this vulnerable population in need."
[Note: There is some discrepancy as to the amount; while Feminists for Life reported $24 million, LifeNews reported $27 million. The Health and Human Services website confirms that $27 million is the correct total.]

You'll recall that, when the funds were first announced, there was some suspicion on the part of pro-life leaders, who essentially argued that the Obama adminstration couldn't be trusted to ensure that this wouldn't become an abortion funding stream. The fact that FFL plans to work directly with universities in administering the program has alleviated my concerns in that regard for now.

This is a step in the right direction, but as Care Net president Melinda Delahoyde pointed out in a LifeNews.com article, it is only a small one. Compare the $27 million to Planned Parenthood's annual federal funding of $350 million. That's a fair criticism.

As for the criticisms by others in the article, I am unpersuaded. That abortion advocates describe the legislation as "common ground on abortion" and claim it for themselves is very annoying, but it is not a good reason to oppose the Fund. Nor is the fact that it addresses other women's issues in addition to abortion; as FFL president Serrin Foster puts it, "Oftentimes these issues overlap, especially when it comes to victims of coercion who are in high school, college, or living in poverty. The Pregnancy Assistance Fund is offering real help for the most vulnerable with long-lasting benefits for all."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Free speech is not terrorism!

You'd think this statement would be obvious to the Department of Justice and the FBI, but as usual, pro-lifers are treated differently. It's come to light that the DOJ and FBI co-sponsored a seminar with various abortion groups on how to censor pro-life activism.

Now, I would have absolutely no problem with this if the program were actually about prevention of violence, which is how they framed the seminar. By all means, combat the "Army of God" and other kooks. The more of them who end up in jail, the better. They don't deserve the pro-life label.

But instead, the program went after legitimate protest activity protected by the First Amendment:
The so-called violence perpetrated by pro-life advocates mostly contained examples of constitutionally-protected free speech, including activities such as praying, providing women outside abortion centers with alternatives information, and peaceful protesting or picketing.

Matt Bowman, a top attorney at the Alliance Defense Fund, told LifeNews.com today that the cooperation between the Obama administration and pro-abortion organizations to target pro-life free speech should cause alarm.

"The information presented in the seminar raises serious concerns over the United States government’s treatment of nonviolent free speech activities as 'violence' subject to investigation and prosecution," he said.
The seminar packet included a list of mainstream pro-life websites, including Students for Life of America, the National Right to Life Committee, and even those (sarcasm alert) radical right-wingers (end sarcasm alert) at the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians.

Whoever put together this list should be sued for libel. There is ZERO evidence that these groups have ever condoned violence, much less participated in it.