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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Midweek News Roundup: 03/31/11

Hey All - here's my midweek news roundup.

Domestic News: In Arizona, Governor Brewer (R) just signed into law a bill which will prohibit abortions based on gender or race. Gender selective abortion specifically has been an issue seen internationally. In Indiana, legislation which would require doctors to point out the connection with increased breast cancer risks prior to an abortion passed the Indiana House. The law would also prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. Similar legislation has passed the Indiana Senate, so some form of reconciliation will need to occur before this is sent to Governor Daniels (R). In Ohio, a bill which would prohibit abortions after a heart beat can be detected just passed an Ohio House committee. It is unclear if this legislation will make it much further than that.

International News: A study that came out in March said that in India and China, gender selective abortions have led to a "lost boy" generation. Here's an excerpt from the AP article on the subject:
The trend took root in the 1980s when ultrasound technologies made it easier for families to detect fetal sex early and to abort if it was not what the parents desired, said the analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Sons have traditionally been preferred over daughters in many parts of China, India and South Korea due to social, cultural and financial motivations. Sex-selective abortion is outlawed but can be difficult to enforce.The phenomenon was first spotted in South Korea in the early 1990s, when the sex ratio at birth (SRB) -- typically 105 male births to every 100 female births -- rose to 125 in some cities.

Similar rises in male births were seen in China, "complicated by the one-child policy, which has undoubtedly contributed to the steady increase in the reported SRB from 106 in 1979, to 111 in 1990, 117 in 2001 and 121 in 2005," said the study.

India has seen "sex ratios as high as 125 in Punjab, Delhi and Gujarat in the north but normal sex ratios of 105 in the southern and eastern states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh," it added.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Laws that save lives

A recently published peer-reviewed study by Dr. Michael New of the University of Alabama shows that common state legislation has a significant impact on the abortion rate.
The study, “Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era,” evaluated abortion data from nearly every state over a span of 21 years, from 1985 to 2005 – a longer period than nearly any other peer-reviewed study. It contributes to a substantial body of social science research which finds that parental involvement laws and public funding restrictions are effective. New found in his study that data from both the Centers for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute provide solid evidence that Medicaid abortion funding restrictions, parental involvement laws and informed consent laws effectively lower abortion rates. His findings included that parental involvement laws reduce in-state abortion rates for minors by approximately 15 percent.
With everything that's going on in Washington, D.C., it's easy to overlook state and local action. This study shows that our decades-long efforts to pass pro-life laws on the state level have been worth it. Of course, legislation is not and should not be the pro-life movement's sole focus. Many dedicated pro-lifers focus their work in arenas like education, direct aid to pregnant women and families, etc., and that's wonderful. But neither should we dismiss legislation as just a political game. We've long known, and this study now proves, that laws can make the difference between life and death. I hope that this study emboldens state legislators to take a stand for life!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lautenberg's shocking comment

New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg shocked the pro-life community with his comment that "These people don't deserve the freedoms in the Constitution... but we'll give it to them anyway." In context, it's abundantly clear that "these people" are pro-life advocates. Days later, he still has not responded to demands for an apology.

So, what would our lives look like if we got what Lautenberg thinks we deserve? The freedoms enumerated in the Constitution include...
Freedom of speech. As we have seen time and time again, abortion advocacy groups love to censor pro-lifers. That effort would become far more dangerous if they had the power of the government behind them.
The right to vote. Disenfranchising pro-lifers would be an easy way to ensure that pro-abortion candidates lead the country.
Equal protection of the laws. Without equal protection, pro-lifers would be second-class citizens.
The right to life. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that the government cannot deprive us of our lives without due process. The absence of this protection would be catastrophic. (This is the same part of the Constitution that the Supreme Court refused to apply to the unborn in Roe v. Wade.)

Did Senator Lautenberg actually mean to say that pro-lifers ought to have none of the above liberties? Probably not-- from the context, he seemed to have only freedom of speech in mind (which is bad enough). But the implications of the words he chose show incredible hostility to supporters of prenatal rights. So much for toning down political rhetoric.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Let your voice be heard

Members of Congress are back home in their districts, so it's a great time to contact them about pro-life issues. As you know, Congress is wrestling with the budget, including the question of whether or not Planned Parenthood will receive another $350+ million of our hard-earned money. As usual, the Susan B. Anthony List offers a convenient form for e-mailing your representative.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

NYC pregnancy center burglarized

Chris Slattery from EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers in New York City reports that one of the centers, in the South Bronx, sustained major damage in a burglary. From the email:
This is the second time this has happened in the past 12 months. They broke into our facility through the second story window, stole over $5,000 worth of equipment, and virtually destroyed the office.

. . .

The rampage of these heartless criminals shattered windows, stole all of our audio visual equipment, destroyed displays and supplies, tore up the ceiling, doors, and floor. They even broke into our supply closet and stole our Pampers.
They're not exaggerating. As the following photographs show, it is currently impossible to serve any women at this location.



This is not a new tactic. When I lived in Miami, someone stole a sonogram machine, worth $35,000, from a pro-life pregnancy clinic in Hialeah.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Midweek News Roundup: 03/23/11

Domestic News: As reported last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) signed into law legislation specifically aimed at crisis pregnancy centers in New York City. On Friday, March 18, the Alliance Defense Fund filed a suit against the city regarding this bill. The ADF says that the bill, "threatens non-medical, pro-life pregnancy care centers with steep fines and potential closure if they don’t post signs and publish in their ads that the city health department encourages women to go elsewhere.” As reported last week, similar legislation was found unconstitutional in Maryland. In Texas, abortion advocates are attacking some billboards promoted by pro-life groups trying to call attention to the higher abortion rate among African-American women. Using language specifically done to incite attention, the billboard displayed the following:
Similar billboards designed to spark discussion and raise awareness in New York City were attacked by abortion advocates and pulled within one week. Governor Dennis Daugaard (R) of South Dakota signed a law requiring a 72 hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed. State's Attorneys and private investors are already ready to fight the legal fight to defend this legislation, according to Governor Daugaard.


Baby Joseph: For those of you who have been following this story, LifeSiteNews has a great article detailing the plight of baby Joseph, his flight to the US, and his recovery to date. Check it out if you'd like to learn more.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Video: Secular Arguments Against Abortion

SecularProLife.org president Kelsey Hazzard visited Carnegie Mellon University last Friday. She was hosted by the Life Matters club. Kelsey's speech, and some Q & A with a respectful pro-choice student, below:

Monday, March 21, 2011

That time of the year

Twice a year, for a total of 80 days, the sidewalk counseling scene changes. Today was, I believe, the 13th day of 40 Days for Life. It’s interesting how one organization can have such an impact. Sidewalk counselors, in my experience, have a hard time covering all of a clinic’s operating hours. Here in Tuscaloosa, Dr. Payne is open six days a week. We counsel for maybe 5 or 6 hours a week. With the 40 Days for Lifers, there is someone outside that clinic at least sixty percent of business hours.

They are not sidewalk counselors but their vigil does have some very concrete results. Just being there makes women more likely to keep their babies. Turn-arounds are not uncommon. I encourage anyone who is thinking of sidewalk counseling to stand vigil* with more experienced members first. Joining 40 Days is an easy way to get connected with other sidewalk counselors. (They can point you in the right direction.)

*Standing vigil doesn't have to involve prayer. To me, it's standing witness to the lives that are lost. Someone should be able to mourn and remember them.

That said, you should always be careful. I have lost count of how many drivers slow down so that they can curse at us more audibly. You get used to it. It was a game for a while, count how many positive comments we got versus the negative ones. It’s an informal poll of your community’s views. However, attacks on pro-lifers are not terribly uncommon. You may have read on Jill Stanek or LifeNews that a bomb fashioned out of a water bottle was thrown at a 40 Days participant in Montana.

In my hometown down in sunny Florida, there were complaints made to the local TV station from a woman who felt intimidated by the prayer vigil. However, when you listen to the interview with her, she also mentions the armed security guard. I agree with her, he’s terrifying (and unnecessary). The 40 Days coordinator they interview is a very sweet woman. What’s interesting to me is that the Planned Parenthood down there normally has blackout sheets around the entrance to the clinic and I don’t see them anywhere in the video.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tomorrow: Secular Pro-Life at Carnegie Mellon

You're invited to join SecularProLife.org president Kelsey Hazzard for a presentation at Carnegie Mellon University, tomorrow, Friday March 18, at 4:30pm. Our gracious host is Life Matters, CMU's pro-life student organization. Learn more and RSVP on Facebook.

Tomorrow's presentation will be before a mixed pro-life and pro-choice audience, and the topic is "The Scientific Proof for the Pro-Life Cause." Of course, it's impossible to make all the secular arguments against abortion in an hour-long presentation, but it will serve as a helpful introduction to the big issues in medicine, law, philosophy, and human rights.

CMU is the second university to host a SecularProLife.org speaker. Last November's presentation at Liberty University focused on the changing demographics of the pro-life movement and how crucial it is to reach out to religious minorities.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Midweek News Roundup: 03/16/11

Domestic News: In Montgomery County, Maryland, a Judge struck down laws targeting crisis pregnancy centers. The law required crisis pregnancy centers to post that they do not have a medical person on-staff. Planned Parenthood locations are not bound by that same requirement. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg signed into law legislation requiring the very thing overturned in Montgomery County. The American Center for Law and Justice plans to protest the law, who claim that the signing of this bill violates city ordinances. Specifically, "The law provides that no local law shall be approved by the Mayor unless a public hearing has been held before him and that notice of the public hearing must be made at least five days before the hearing and within ten days of presentation of the introduction." In an oddity of Illinois legislative convention, a bill requiring abortion clinics to meet the same requirements as outpatient medical facilities passed the State House's Agricultural Committee 13-0. Two other bills passed committee, including one to require abortion clinics to report cases of child abuse and one which "...would impose longer waiting periods on women seeking abortions and require them to view an ultrasound of the fetus one hour before an abortion is performed." It's unclear if these laws will pass the greater Illinois House. In New Hampshire, a bill requiring parental notification before a minor can have an abortion passed their State House. The bill should move on to the State Senate.


International News: In Justin Bieber news...the Canadian pop star's quote where he admitted that he was pro-life, was modified by Rolling Stone. They claim, it was because they omitted part of his quote in the original piece. Here's the new quote with the additional section bolded:

I really don't believe in abortion. It's like killing a baby? Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don’t know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that.
It's unclear exactly how that changes the meaning or context of the quote on abortion. An Algerian singer will be released on parole in France after two years in prison for attempting to force a woman to have an abortion. In 2005, the singer Cheb Mami, attempted to force his then girlfriend to have an abortion and fled the country. She delivered the child, a little girl, in France. In 2009, Mami was finally tried for his crime.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Planned Parenthood's child abuse scandals continue

Numerous undercover projects have shown the willingness of Planned Parenthood employees to ignore cases of child abuse that they are legally required to report. The most recent of these was Live Action's Traffick investigation. A few weeks after those videos were recorded, but before they were released, Planned Parenthood realized what was going on and quickly reported the sting to the Justice Department.

It has since become clear that the Justice Department letter was a last-minute attempt by Planned Parenthood to cover its own behind. The individual clinics had plenty of time to contact the police, but almost all failed to do so.
“Out of seven clinic videos released, in only two cases (Roanoke and Charlottesville) has Planned Parenthood publicly said what local law enforcement they contacted,” he added. “When faced with a situation of suspected child sexual abuse, Planned Parenthood doesn’t have the luxury of deciding what cases to report and which ones not to. The law doesn’t give them that decision making power.”

In the case of Charlottesville, Planned Parenthood claimed it contacted the local Albemarle police but a police official reported to the media that he have no record of a child sex abuse report coming from Planned Parenthood.
Incredibly, Planned Parenthood has decided in the midst of this scandal to speak out against proposed child protective legislation in Illinois. The new law would expand mandatory reporting to include counselors at reproductive health clinics. Currently, only medical staff are mandatory reporters, but it makes sense that counselors would be in a position to learn about abuse. Although Planned Parenthood has repeatedly shown that it doesn't mind breaking such laws, they'd prefer that the law not be passed in the first place.

This position is so extreme that even NARAL-- which backs partial-birth abortions, taxpayer funding of abortions, and other extraordinary pro-abortion measures-- disagrees. NARAL initially opposed the measure, but backed off, apparently after moderate pro-choicers flooded their email inbox.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Scatterbrained Sunday: Spring break news

Thank you for bearing with us as we had no posts last week (except of course for Matthew Newman's ever-reliable Wednesday news summary). Here are some tidbits from over the break:

BryanKemper.com, a youth-focused Christian pro-life blog, was hacked. Over a year's worth of content was deleted. They're working on recovering the posts, but may not be able to recover the comments to those posts.

Speaking of which, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America has a spot-on editorial at LifeNews.com about the role of the internet in the pro-life movement:
Today, over 60% of young people get their news online. The majority of young people spend more than 7 hours per day connected to online media via their phone, ipod, or computer, often multi-tasking on sites such as Hulu, YouTube, and Facebook.

People of all generations turn to Google for answers, even for the most difficult questions. I’ve seen hearts and minds change on abortion because of these simple searches, when a student searches the words “unborn baby” and sees a 3D ultrasound a proud parent posted on YouTube or when a scared young girl finds a pro-life pregnancy help center when searching the word “abortion.”
Students for Life recently launched a new website, AbolishAbortion.com, where you can donate your Facebook status, find internships, and lots of other cool stuff.

Via the White Rose Project, if you only have four minutes and eighteen seconds to make the case for defunding Planned Parenthood, this is the video for you:


Finally, Illinois has abolished the death penalty. Students for Life of Illinois praises the move as "a step in the right direction," but says it's high time the right to life apply to the unborn as well. Illinois' 23 abortion facilities kill 40,000 unborn children annually.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Midweek News Roundup: 03/09/11

Domestic News: Pro-life legislators in Minnesota are hoping to establish a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. Why? Much like similar legislation passed in Nebraska, after 20 weeks scientists are more certain that the unborn child can feel pain. In 2009, 1.5% of all abortions in Minnesota were performed after 20 weeks. In Washington, a bill aimed at attacking crisis pregnancy centers has died in committee. The bill would have required crisis pregnancy centers to post signs saying that they did not provide abortions and were not providing medical care. A similar law in Baltimore, Maryland was deemed unconstitutional by the courts, but that law did not require the second disclaimer which, in many cases, is patently false. In Utah, a bill was just passed by the State House to allow doctors to refuse to do abortions on moral grounds and not to lose their jobs. Similar protections existed under the law already in Utah, but this legislation would definitely state that their jobs could not be taken from them for refusal.

International News: United Kingdom health official recommends letting babies born at 23 weeks or earlier to be left to die. She said that trying to save these children did more harm than good with marginal benefits.

Editorial: I wrote an editorial piece at Old Line Elephant specifically the aforementioned UK policy proposal regarding premature babies. Not 100% abortion related, but check it out.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Upcoming events

Two events I'm passing along from the Expose Planned Parenthood coalition:
1) There will be a webcast on Tuesday, March 7 at 9pm Eastern. Pre-register here.
2) Students for Life, Live Action, and other youth-focused groups are sponsoring a video contest for pro-lifers between the ages of 14 and 25. In five minutes or less, share why Planned Parenthood should be defunded. First prize is $1000! Submissions are due Monday at midnight. Learn more here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pregnancy clinics have less 1st Amendment protection than Westboro?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Snyder v. Phelps. The case involved the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), a small but extremely vocal congregation which believes that the deaths of American soldiers are God's punishment for homosexuality. (WBC also has a problem with... well, just about everyone who's not a member of WBC.) It communicates these messages by, among other things, protesting military funerals. In an 8-1 vote, the Justices held that, despite the undoubtedly offensive nature of these protests, WBC's behavior is protected by the First Amendment. Interest groups and media outlets on the political left and right generally agree that this was an important victory for freedom of speech. As the Chief Justice's majority opinion says, "As a Nation we have chosen . . . to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."

How ironic and sad that the New York City Council would choose that same day to enact limitations on pro-life speech.

The new ordinance requires pro-life centers to "warn" their clients that they opppose abortion. Supposedly, this is in the mothers' interests. But no parallel requirement exists to inform women at "pro-choice" clinics that the counseling there is skewed toward abortion. In fact, 97.6% of pregnant women served by Planned Parenthood wind up getting abortions-- and that's according to Planned Parenthood's own data.

The aim of New York City's new ordinance is simple: get rid of the abortion businesses' main competition by discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. Never mind that NYC already has a ridiculously high abortion rate. Never mind that similar legislation has already been found unconstitutional in Maryland. In the minds of extreme abortion advocates, providing women in crisis pregnancies with alternatives to abortion is such a bad thing that it should actually receive less protection than WBC's despicable anti-gay protests at military funerals!

A lawsuit to vindicate pro-life advocates' First Amendment rights is no doubt forthcoming. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Midweek News Roundup: 03/02/11

Welcome to March. Here's your midweek news roundup.


Domestic News: On Monday in Texas, the State Senate passed a bill requiring women to see an ultrasound of the baby prior to an abortion. The House will be reviewing a similar bill today. If passed, it will go to a conference committee to deal with the differences between the two bills. Last week, I discussed a controversial pro-life billboard in New York City. The billboard, paid for by the group Life Always, has come down this week. The billboard said, "The Most Dangerous Place for an African American is in the womb," a reference to the higher abortion rate among African American women.



International News: In the United Kingdom, new guidelines for doctors will not only require doctors to tell patients that there is no link between breast cancer and abortion, but also that abortion is a safer option than continuing a pregnancy to term. Not surprisingly, these new requirements are being slammed as unscientific and partisan. Chile received an international protector of life award from the International Protect Life Committee of the United Nations. Chile has the lowest maternal mortality rate in Latin America.



Discussion Topic: Where do you feel pro-life activists are most effective, at a local or national government level?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stereotypes

A week ago, Jill Stanek’s weekend question was about one of my pet peeves, sidewalk counselors who yell. I’ve never seen an experienced counselor do this in person (and the only people who I’ve ever seen attempt it were immediately ostracized and soon went away). However, because yellers do exist, there is a certain stigma to sidewalk counseling. I’m proudly pro-life and can be vocal about this (in a pleasant way) if necessary. I don’t talk about sidewalk counseling. Yes, my closest friends and family know that I sidewalk counsel, but it’s not something I advertise.

I don’t tell people what I do on Saturday mornings. Work knows that I have a “club meeting,” which is technically true. Other members of Bama Students for Life are there, we’re a club, we’re meeting. It’s not technically a lie. But I could tell my boss that I really can’t work because, hey, I’m trying to save some lives. She’s pro-life, she should understand, right? Unfortunately, the stigma against sidewalk counselors doesn’t seem to be limited to just pro-choicers. It’s fairly common among moderate pro-lifers, too.

I should know. When I first joined the BSFL, I never intended to sidewalk counsel. It was just too extreme an action for me to take, right there with marching and waving signs. I knew that abortion was wrong, I was willing to sedately help to make it illegal, but I didn’t think I would be willing to tell a woman that I even disagreed with her choice. At that point, I saw sidewalk counselors as crazy people, yelling at and condemning women, spitting hellfire and brimstone (not that I had met a sidewalk counselor before).

But after I had been part of the club for a while, I figured that the counselors I knew were pretty normal. I decided to go once and see what it was like. I wanted to be more involved and sidewalk counseling really seemed like the only option at the time. When I arrived, I met several extremely nice and caring individuals. Each experienced counselor I’ve met has been compassionate and calm with women seeking abortions. That first day, I saw such tragedy that my position on sidewalk counseling completely changed. One woman I saw go into that clinic was obviously and heavily pregnant. She must have been about 20 weeks along and she showed every week of it. Still, the counselors never yelled at her. They begged, they cajoled, they offered financial aid and other services. But the entire morning, they remained calm, never once raising their voices. We have to project, this is true. Our voices have a long way to travel, but we never yell.

Yellers have a lot to answer for. It accomplishes nothing. Women only block the yelling out. They already think of us as sign-wielding fanatics, screaming our heads off about nothing, intent on controlling their lives. Women aren’t going to stop unless we can show them compassion. Yellers just continue to provide ammunition for these misconceptions about sidewalk counselors. They are our worst stereotype and it is shameful that we still have them around.