Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Biased polling

Gerard Nadal's post on Chapter Three of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life has been postponed until tomorrow. In the meantime, I was intigued by this 2009 article that a facebook friend shared: "Poll Shows Catholics Support Abortion Funding in Healthcare." Wow! Those anti-choice religious fanatics have finally come around! But read the actual article, and you'll realize that:
1) The strong support is for abortions in pregnancies that threaten the mother's life or long-term health.
2) Only 50% support funding for abortion "whenever a woman and her doctor decide it is appropriate."
3) That still seems awfully high, since numerous polls have shown opposition in the 60 to 70% range for Americans generally, regardless of religion. Perhaps that's because...
4) This poll was sponsored by Catholics for Choice.
I'm blogging about this admittedly old news because there's an important moral to this story: Don't trust the headlines, boys and girls! This was a naked attempt to increase distrust between Catholic and secular pro-lifers to fracture our coalition. Of course, we saw in the months after this survey that the pro-abortion lobby shifted back to their usual "portray the pro-life movement as religiously motivated" strategy. Who cares if that's inconsistent?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The new "solution" to the abortionist shortage

Nothing shocks me anymore.
Once again, women's safety has been sacrificed to the abortion lobby's higher goal: unfettered access to abortion. Younger physicians have shown less willingness than their older counterparts to participate in abortions, probably because they have grown up with greater knowledge of prenatal development. This has resulted in the "greying" of abortionists. Abortion advocates worry that when these abortionists retire, the abortion rate will decrease dramatically.
Pro-lifers have so far succeeded, through legal conscience protections, in preventing the abortion lobby from conscripting physicians into abortion practice. So now abortion businesses have a new solution: who says abortion has to be done by a doctor at all?
From Operation Rescue:
According to an undercover phone conversation with a receptionist with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, medical abortions are offered in 16 clinics throughout Iowa, but only four of the clinics actually have doctors. At the other twelve, smaller clinics, telemed abortions have become routine.
A telemed abortion is abortion via a teleconferencing service similar to “Skype.” Patients are put in a room where an off-site abortionist appears on a computer monitor and explains the medical abortion procedure to them over an Internet hook-up. After the brief teleconference, the dangerous abortion drug RU486, also known as Mifepristone, and its counterpart, Methotrexate, are prescribed. The drugs are then administered to the patient by a nurse or “clinician” who may or may not be licensed. The patient presses a button an on computer screen that opens a box containing the abortion drugs. The patient is never physically examined by the medical doctor prescribing the drugs – or any other, for that matter – and never sees the abortionist again.

Bear this in mind the next time you hear abortion advocates criticize pro-life pregnancy centers that refer patients off-site for prenatal care. At least those mothers receive a real exam!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Help find a cure for cystic fibrosis

Jill Stanek posted this on Facebook:
Hi all, our 3 mo old grandson Colt has cystic fibrosis. My DIL is participating in a fundraising event for the Cystric Fibrosis Foundation (which does not support human embryo experimentation or fetal tissue research, fyi). If anyone could like to help reach the goal of $500 in contributions, we would really appreciate. Any little bit would help! Thanks again.

My friend Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, also has a son, Gunner, who has CF. Sadly, many CF children are targeted for abortion through prenatal genetic testing. Please consider donating to save babies and improve the lives of born CF children like Colt and Gunner!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

SBA List announces youth leadership award winners

The Susan B. Anthony List has recognized five young women who have displayed strong pro-life leadership. I'm happy to see that there's a nice balance of secular and religious (both Catholic and Protestant) activism. And I fully agree with the idea that "youth are not the future of the pro-life movement. We are the pro-life movement."
Let's meet the winners:
Amanda Haas is a sophomore at Liberty University, where she leads a pro-life prayer group. She organized a pro-life conference at the university, and has raised nearly $1000 for a local pregnancy center.
Amanda Lahr is Senior Legislative Assistant in the office of Congressman Joe Pitts, where she has worked behind the scenes on a variety of pro-life legislative battles. She is a graduate of Gordon College.
Laura Elizabeth Peters is a graduate of the University of Alabama. She is a leader of Alabama Students for Life, helped coordinate a local 40 Days for Life campaign, and participated in the SFLA summer internship program.
Lila Rose... okay, if you don't know who she is by now, shame on you. She's an obvious choice for the award.
Jill Sanders is a graduate of Fransiscan University and produces EWTN's "Live on the Rock," a pro-life show geared toward Catholic young adults. She is also responsible for covering the annual Walk for Life West Coast.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Change in Nomenclature

The editors at National Public Radio has decided to no longer use the terms pro-life and pro-choice. Instead, when referencing the topic of abortion, they will refer to people who are either "abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)" or "abortion rights opponent(s)." This is a very distinct switch in nomenclature and is an interesting development. I'm not exactly sure what my opinion on the topic is - but I'd be interested to hear what others have to say. To follow is the text of the memo NPR sent out to their staff on the topic:
NPR News is revising the terms we use to describe people and groups involved in the abortion debate.

This updated policy is aimed at ensuring the words we speak and write are as clear, consistent and neutral as possible. This is important given that written text is such an integral part of our work.

On the air, we should use "abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)" and "abortion rights opponent(s)" or derivations thereof (for example: "advocates of abortion rights"). It is acceptable to use the phrase "anti-abortion", but do not use the term "pro-abortion rights".

Digital News will continue to use the AP style book for online content, which mirrors the revised NPR policy.

Do not use "pro-life" and "pro-choice" in copy except when used in the name of a group. Of course, when the terms are used in an actuality they should remain." [An actuality is a clip of tape of someone talking. So if a source uses those terms, NPR will not edit them out.]


David Sweeney
Managing Editor

Thursday, March 25, 2010 featured in the Princeton Tory

The Princeton Tory, Princeton's center-right student magazine, has a piece about us by Aaron Smargon. You should also read the Tory's coverage of the March for Life, in which Katie Fletcher discusses the problems that will confront a faith-based pro-life movement.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Washington school complicit in abortion, mother alleges

The mother of a 15-year-old student at Ballard High School in Seattle, Washington is speaking out against the school's clinic, which she says arranged an abortion for her daughter:

Jill says her daughter, a pro-life advocate, was given a pass, put in a taxi and sent off to have an abortion during school hours all without her family knowing.

"We had no idea this was being facilitated on campus," said Jill. "They just told her that if she concealed it from her family, that it would be free of charge and no financial responsibility."
This sounds highly coercive to me, especially if the school knew that the student was pro-life, but we'd need to hear from her to know for sure. Also, if the school and/or the King County Health Department (which "administers the school-based [clinic] programs") receives federal funds, the use of those funds to pay for an abortion could be illegal.
The teen did not experience any physical complications from the abortion as far as we know. But the next student may not be so lucky. Parents are legally responsible for their children's emergency care, and abortion is the ONLY surgery which can be carried out without a parent's knowledge. I encourage Washington residents to get in touch with Human Life of Washington to see how they can help pass a parental consent law. No one should have to experience what Jill, her daughter, and her unborn grandbaby went through.
By the way, I love Human Life of Washington's motto: Talk of human rights is a charade, if it is only for the "chosen" of the human family.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book study part two

Each Tuesday, we will be cross-posting Gerard Nadal's discussion of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life. Today is the second installment of eight.

There is no way for me to condense all of the biology that the authors present in Chapter 2, Fertilization. They discuss a great deal about which much has been written here. Click here for several lessons in mitosis, meiosis and fertilization. Apart from the recapitulation of the biological fundamentals, I wish to bring out of the chapter a few key points made by the authors.

First, the biology presented in the chapter is flawless! For any who would suggest that perhaps a couple of philosophers miss nuanced features of biology which might lead them into erroneous conclusions, let me state as a molecular biologist that this chapter could easily be mistaken to have been written by an embryologist.


Recalling that the sperm contains half the number of chromosomes and the egg the other half, these two haploid cells join to form a diploid cell, the zygote. A question arises asking when the zygote comes into being. Is it upon penetration of the egg by the sperm, or when the two gametic nuclei join to form a diploid nucleus? Some say the latter, but I tend to agree with the authors in claiming the former, since, as they rightly point out, that after penetration of the egg by the sperm, both gametes cease to be (both structurally and functionally) as they were before. They form a new entity, both structurally and functionally.

Both sperm and egg exist as such as parental tissue types. When joined, a new biological organism comes into existence, with its own unique genetic identity and intrinsically unfolding developmental trajectory.

Despite the slight differences of opinion, the authors note that, “…there is widespread agreement among embryologists both that a new human individual comes into existence when there is a single, unified, and self-integrated biological system, and that this happens no later than syngamy.” (Syngamy=The lining up of the 23 pairs of chromosomes.)

The authors then run us through the various stages of embryological development:

Zygote, cleavage, morula, blastula, gastrula, up to the formation of what is known as the primitive streak. Prior to this, the embryo is capable of twinning, an issue that will be dealt with substantially in chapter 6.

Twinning is an important issue in development, as some would posit that prior to this stage, an individual does not exist. However, the authors quote a number of embryology texts which mark fertilization, not gastrulation, as the beginning of a new human individual.

The events of development described by the authors can be viewed in both 4D sonograms and fiber-optic videography at The Endowment for Human Development.

The authors go on to make several points about the human embryo:

1. It is distinct from any maternal or paternal cell. It is growing and has its own distinct direction.

2. The embryo is human, with a genetic make-up characteristic of human beings.

3, The embryo is a complete or whole organism, though immature.

The bottom line: A human embryo is not something different in kind from a human being. A human embryo is a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens in the earliest stage of his/her natural development.

Are embryos produced by in vitro fertilization and cloning still human organisms?

The authors say ‘yes’.

For IVF embryos, they are the product of sperm and egg union in a Petri dish rather than a fallopian tube.

For cloned embryos, they are the result of an egg that has had its haploid nucleus replaced by a diploid nucleus from a diploid body cell. The resultant ‘clonote’ (as opposed to naturally occurring zygote) functions as any embryo. Because they are the same as any other embryo, they ought to enjoy the same moral worth as any embryo.

Those are the chapter highlights. Chris, if I missed anything, my apologies. It’s been a hectic day.

There’s the red meat of all pro-life argumenation.


Monday, March 22, 2010

What do you think of this cartoon?

By Rainer Hachfeld of Germany:

I think the artist's point is that, after over a year of "gestation," the health care bill that passed is a lot smaller than expected. But as a pro-lifer, for me it also symbolizes the fact that the fates of unborn babies are in Obama's hands.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Abortion funding addressed by executive order, health care reform passage tonight likely

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that pro-life Democrats managed to strike a deal. President Obama will issue an executive order stating that restrictions on government subsidies for abortion will be preserved. With Stupak and company on board, the health care bill is all but guaranteed to be passed in the House tonight.

Pro-life groups are suspicious of the executive order. The Susan B. Anthony List, USCCB, and others point out that an executive order can be rescinded at any time. They are correct. But the same is true of the Mexico City policy, which is widely regarded as a major pro-life victory. We should also remember that many of the bill's key provisions do not go into effect until 2014; if we get a pro-life majority in Congress between now and then, we can clarify the abortion funding policy before any damage is done.

Overall, I think we should be proud of what we've accomplished. We've shown the country that, even when both houses of Congress and the White House are occupied by the Democratic party, the voice of the pro-life public matters. "Pro-life Democrat" might have been thought an oxymoron by many before the health care debate, but now everyone knows; perhaps this will give more Democrats the courage to speak up for the unborn. And while I admit that we're still incredibly outfunded, we've caused the abortion lobby to waste millions of dollars with nothing to show for it.

So pat yourselves on the back. Now, back to work!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What is up with women's groups today?

In response to a proposed last-minute Stupak-like agreement (which is apparently dead now), the president of New York's Chapter of the National Organization for Women had this to say:
Today, women in the United States are fighting for their lives. You must fight too! A woman's right to have safe and legal abortion is about to be traded away. . . . Every woman in Congress should MAKE HISTORY AND WALK OUT ! . . . If you sit back and allow the passage of the health care bill with "Stupak," women in America will not vote for another Democrat, myself included. Because there will essentially be no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.

Where do I even begin? First of all, she knows damn well that "woman in Congress" is not synonymous with "pro-abortion." We have many pro-life female legislators, and nationally, a 49% plurality of women oppose abortion. Secondly, the health care reform bill has absolutely nothing to do with "a woman's right to have a safe and legal abortion" (which, incidentally, has nothing to do with the maternal death rate.) The issue is much narrower: whether people should be allowed to purchase abortion coverage using government subsidies. And no difference between Democrats and Republicans other than abortion? I understand that she's trying to use hyperbole to make a point, but it's so over-the-top and factually incorrect that I don't see how any legislator can take NY NOW seriously.

Then, I got an email from the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports pro-life women in Congress. Don't get me wrong, I generally like the SBA List. I've even guest blogged for them. But this statement baffled me (emphasis added):
Without prayer, I am 100 percent sure we will lose. With it, the consciences of wavering members can be lifted up and emboldened. While we are not a religious organization, we cannot succeed without prayer as the wind in our sails.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Volunteer opportunity

The sex ed game is making progress! I need a volunteer who will gather an image from each week of pregnancy. We're using Visible Embryo for most of the images because their work is free under Creative Commons, but unfortunately they have omitted some weeks. If you're interested, email and I'll send you the details. Also, you can still submit questions. Thank you!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

If you can't beat 'em, bluff

After several high-profile switches from no to yes on the Senate version of the health care bill, including Dennis Kucinich and former Stupak coalition members Dale Kidlee and James Oberstar, Democrats have announced that they are planning a health care vote for this Sunday. There's just one problem: they still don't have the 216 votes needed to pass the bill. According to the pro-abortion blog FireDogLake, they only have 190. FDL points out that "projecting an aura of confidence has been a key to their pressure strategy," and I definitely agree.

Interestingly, some of the bill's opponents are also acting as if its passage is inevitable. Conservatives in Virignia are already preparing to challenge the constitutionality of the law, although not on pro-life grounds. They're more concerned with the provision that requires people to purchase health insurance. And the Associated Press wonders whether the law would survive after the next round of elections:
The legislation would be vulnerable to attack after it passes, since the biggest changes would be phased in slowly. The major expansion of coverage would not come until 2014, when new health insurance marketplaces open for business.

This means that if we can get a solid pro-life majority before 2014, we may be able to pass the Stupak Amendment as a stand-alone bill and prevent taxpayer funding of abortion before the exchange subsidy program opens.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The celebration of Saint Patrick has become 99.9% secularized at this point, but that doesn't mean that we can't add a moral component. member Phil E. has an excellent suggestion:
St. Patrick didn't die so you could drink. Instead of getting drunk tonight, consider donating that money you would have spent damaging your liver to a good charity.

In other news:
Planned Parenthood is once again telling the long-refuted lie that the Stupak Amendment will prevent women from buying private abortion coverage with their own money. And once again, they emphasize the Catholic Bishops, conveniently forgetting the other seventy-plus percent of Americans who oppose taxpayer abortion funding.

A poll by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 46% of American doctors would consider leaving their practice if Obamacare passes. The journal noted that "while a sudden loss of half of the nations physicians seems unlikely, a very dramatic decrease in the physician workforce could become a reality as an unexpected side effect of health [care] reform."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book study part one

Each Tuesday, we will be cross-posting Gerard Nadal's discussion of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life. Today is the first installment of eight.

Today we begin our 8-week reading of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life by George and Tollefsen. Every Tuesday, a new chapter. Author Christopher Tollefsen will be monitoring the comments and answering questions.

In Chapter One, the authors lay out the blueprint for their argument. After appealing to Embryology’s definition of the human zygote as a new human organism, after arriving at that position through a series of questions philosophically asking the kind of thing the human embryo is, the following central questions are asked:

“But does this mean that the human embryo is a human person worthy of full moral respect? Must the early embryo never be used as mere means for the benefit of others simply because it is a human being? The answer that this book proposes and defends with philosophical arguments through the course of the next several chapters is ‘Yes.’”

The authors distinguish between and define the following:

Embryo Science: Tells us two important things. 1. What they are. 2. When they begin. Human embryos are human beings at a very early developmental stage and come into being at conception.

Embryo Technology: The ability of researchers to do things with or to embryos. The ability to make embryos though IVF or cloning. The ability to experiment on them or preserve them indefinitely in cryopreservation.

Embryo Ethics: Both of the above are incapable of providing moral guidance in how we ought to treat human embryos. Are the manipulations of technology morally right? That is the function of embryo ethics.

A discussion of the fundamentals of IVF and its related technologies, including history ensues and leads seamlessly into a discussion of cloning.

The authors raise two points ofeten overlooked in the Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) debate:

1. The promises of embryo-destructive research are speculative, exaggerated and unrealistic, with the perils being swept under the rug.

2. Alternatives such as Adult Stem Cells (ASC’s) are now being pursued. ASC’s have a proven track record of success. ASC’s do not carry the baggage of ESC’s.

Religion and Reason.

Those who approach the embryo from a scientific and philosophical perspective and conclude that embryo-destructive research is wrong are often accused of irrational religious motive, when nothing further from the truth is at work.

The authors reject the issue of “soul” or appeal to religious authority in their work:

“But our position in this book is that claims based in religious traditions or revelation are simply not necessary (and probably are not even sufficient) to arrive at correct understandings of embryo science, technology, and ethics.

“That is to say that we can know from science what the embryo is, just as we know from embryo technology what can be done to and with it. But we can know from philosophically informed reasoning what it is morally permissible to do to human embryos, and how it is morally permissible to treat them. Human embryo ethics is, in this regard, no different from the ethics of our treatment of minorities or dependents. Human beings are capable [of understanding] through reason, that it is morally wrong and unjust to discriminate against someone because he is of a different race or has a different ethnic heritage. And we are capable of understanding that it is wrong and unjust to discriminate against someone because of his or her age, size, stage of development, location, or condition of dependency.”

The Course of the Argument

Embryonic human beings deserve full moral respect. To deny this is to deny one of a few claims:

1. Denial that the early human embryo is a human being. More on this in chapter 2.

2. Denial that persons are to be identified with the biological entities that are human beings.

3. Denial that all human beings deserve full moral respect. Must attain some features beyond merely being human.

Your Thoughts??

Monday, March 15, 2010

Australian pro-life advocate assaulted

A candidate with the Save the Unborn party put up campaign posters featuring a 3D sonogram of an unborn child. A volunteer with the campaign recorded video of abortion advocates vandalizing and tearing down the posters. When they saw that they were being caught on film, they attacked the volunteer, who was treated in a hospital for a possible broken arm.
The best part? Opposing politician Jeanie Walker blames the victim:
Ms Walker says the party's posters are offensive and have been inflaming public emotions over abortion.
"Unfortunately it doesn't surprise me and that's why I've been calling for the posters to be taken down right from the first day they were put up," she said.

Thanks to Simon JM for bringing this to my attention. More commentary on pro-abortion violence can be found here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Miscellaneous stories from last week

While I was on spring break, all kinds of things happened with the health care bill. Other pro-life bloggers have this covered, so I'll just say that abortion funding is still in it and the deciding votes are still up for grabs. Let's move on to some less publicized stories.
~Obama released the names of the charities which will receive his Nobel Peace Prize money. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that Planned Parenthood and company are NOT on the list.
~Amnesty International has launched a new campaign to combat maternal mortality in the United States. Amnesty takes a pro-abortion stance, but this particular campaign seems to be abortion-neutral. Perhaps that's because they realize that maternal death rates decrease when abortion is illegal, and they'd rather not talk about that. Still, I appreciate their petition to ensure access to prenatal care and encourage post-childbirth home visits.
~I was going to make a Citizen Sports Facebook March Madness bracket for, just for fun. But it was rejected because "abortion" is a banned word. How lame is that?
EDIT: Here's our bracket!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gallup Polling Data Shows Pro-Life Trend

Gallup has shown that the number of people who support abortion under any circimustances has consistently declined over time. In fact, the age generational difference between views on abortion has gradually been disappearing. Current polling suggests that the group that has the strongest support of abortion being illegal under any circumstances are those ages 18-29. While it's clear currently people are in the mushy middle on the issue - it appears that the tide has been shifting consistently towards support for life since the mid-nineties. Here's a link to the Gallup article if you'd like to review the statistics in more detail.

Here's an excerpt from their commentary:
Gallup analysis of U.S. public opinion trends on abortion shows that generational differences in support for broadly legal abortion have diminished over the past decade. In the mid-1970s, when Gallup started polling on the issue, adults aged 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 were the most supportive of legal abortion under any circumstances, and those 65 and older the least, with 50- to 64-year-olds falling in between. That pattern continued through the late 1990s. Since 2000, however, all age groups with the exception of seniors have shown similar levels of support for broadly legal abortion.

The convergence of younger adults' (aged 18 to 49) and middle-aged adults' (aged 50 to 64) views occurred because support for legal abortion in all situations dipped among the youngest two age categories and increased slightly among middle-aged adults between the late 1990s and the early 2000s...There is a somewhat different pattern in the trends by age for those choosing the "illegal in all circumstances" position.

Two important changes are apparent. One is a significant drop in the percentage of seniors saying all abortions should be illegal. This fell from 32% in the earliest years of the trend to 16% in the first half of the 1990s, but has since rebounded somewhat to 21%. This long-term 11-point decline among seniors compares with a 9-point increase -- from 14% to 23% -- in support for the "illegal in all circumstances" position among 18- to 29-year-olds since the early 1990s.

As a result, 18- to 29-year-olds are now roughly tied with seniors as the most likely of all age groups to hold this position on abortion -- although all four groups are fairly close in their views. This is a sharp change from the late 1970s, when seniors were substantially more likely than younger age groups to want abortion to be illegal.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

On hiatus

I am home for spring break and spending time with my family. The pro-life news of the day will resume on Monday, March 15. Have a great week!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Utah's Anti-Abortion Bill Withdrawn

After the great defense of the bill earlier this week by some pro-life activists, including our own admin, has been withdrawn. It has been replaced by a new version of the bill with the words "reckless act of the woman" removed. The New York Times has a full write-up on the changed language. Here's an excerpt from the article -
A sweeping anti-abortion statute in Utah that would have allowed up to life in prison for a woman whose fetus died from her intentional or reckless behavior was withdrawn by its sponsor on Thursday and will be revised to be narrower in scope.

The original bill, which was sent to Gov. Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, for his consideration — and set off a firestorm of anxiety and criticism from abortion rights and women’s advocacy groups around the country — now goes back to the Legislature, neither signed nor vetoed.

The sponsor, Representative Carl D. Wimmer, a Republican, said he had removed a key clause that would have allowed prosecution under Utah’s criminal homicide laws for a “reckless act of the woman” that resulted in death to a fetus. Language will remain, he said, that makes a woman’s “intentional” actions, if resulting in the death of her fetus in an illegal abortion, a felony.

The bill was prompted by a case last year in which a 17-year-old who was seven months pregnant sought to induce a miscarriage by paying a man to beat her. She was arrested, but released by a judge who said seeking an abortion was not a crime.

Legal abortions, performed by a doctor, would not be affected by the old bill or its replacement. But Utah has statutes on the books intended to discourage abortions, including a parental consent requirement for minors.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

SBA List poll shows pro-life majority in vulnerable districts

We have long known that most Americans reject federal funding of abortion. A study released by the Susan B. Anthony List today shows that this opposition is strong in the Congressional districts where it matters most. The SBA List conducted a survey in eight districts; the votes of these representatives could decide the future of health care reform. The desires of their constitutents are clear:
In each district, voters were more apt to reject, rather than embrace, a candidate who “votes for healthcare legislation that includes federal government funding of abortion.” In fact, majorities of voters in seven of the eight districts said they would be less likely to support a candidate knowing he or she cast a vote for this type of legislation.

It's time for us to speak the language of politicians, letting them know that their re-elections are at stake. Kudos, SBA List!
Related note: This poll was conducted by the polling company/WomanTrend. is considering doing our own survey with them, and hope to raise the necessary funds by the end of the year. Please read our proposal, and if you like it, consider donating. (You can also donate on facebook.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sweet schadenfreude

Remember when Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson was the holdout vote for the Senate version of the healthcare reform bill? He opposed it on the basis of its funding for abortion, but when legislators offered a deal to reduce Nebraska's Medicaid expenses, he conveniently caved. Pro-lifers criticized him harshly, characterizing his switch as a "betrayal."

So, what's happening to Nelson's dirty deal? According to an ABC News article on the possibility of passing the health care reform bill through reconciliation:
Obama will also herald the removal of extraneous provisions in the bill such as the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback," a deal to secure the support of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., in which the federal government would pay for Nebraska's Medicaid expansion.

Let this be a lesson to "pro-life" politicians who put money over human rights: when you betray your constituents, you might just find yourself being betrayed next time!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Diversifying the Pro-Life Movement

Students for Life of America has posted video from its conference panel on pro-life diversity. Yours truly comes in at about the halfway point. The panel features representatives from Democrats for Life, I Am Whole Life, the National Black Pro-Life Union, and Consistent Life. Please comment and share!

2010 SFLA Conference: Diversifying the Pro-Life Movement from Kristan Hawkins on Vimeo.

For those who are too lazy to watch the whole thing, here's our five-minute bit:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Trouble in Utah

Abortion advocates are angry about a bill, recently passed by the Utah state senate, that imposes penalties on people who perform abortions on themselves. (The law does not include abortions performed by physicians, so this is not a challenge to Roe v. Wade.) The criticism centers on the phrase "reckless act," which they contend includes "women who indulge in an occasional glass of wine, trip on the stairs, or reunite with an abusive spouse." Jezebel goes so far as to imply that the state government will now be harshly interrogating every mother who miscarries. (Of course, they wouldn't like my use of the word "mother." Also, why does their article feature a photo of Amanda Seyfried?) I agree with them that the governor should send the bill back to the legislature for redrafting, but I'm going to reach this conclusion in a bit of a roundabout way, so bear with me.

First of all, let me affirm that the whole debate about "reckless act" is a pretext. Even if it is removed in the final version of the law, abortion advocates are still going to oppose it, because they cannot square any law that protects unborn children with their ideology.

The idea that women can be prosecuted for miscarriage if they drink while pregnant is a shocking one. Fortunately, it has no practical application. The critics seem to be confusing two types of proof: proof of mens rea and proof of causation. Whatever standard of mens rea applies, even recklessness, the prosecution still has to prove that the defendant's act caused the death. In most cases, determining the cause of death in a miscarriage is impossible. No prosecutor will be able to show that "the occasional glass of wine" caused the baby to die, especially since most babies in that situation turn out just fine. Compare this to the case which prompted the legislation in the first place: a woman hired someone to beat her until she miscarried, and the state found it had no law under which she could be prosecuted.

Slate makes the point that chemotherapy on a pregnant mother can cause her baby to die, and worries that Utah has "accidentally criminalized cancer treatment." However, women whose babies die in this way can point to self-defense. Such a defense is so obvious--and the defendant so easy to sympathize with--that the state is highly unlikely to prosecute.

But here's the thing: because the bill has been interpreted in the press to include such things, people with no legal background are likely to believe that's the case. If a mother who drank before learning she was pregnant believes that she could face jail for miscarriage, how might she avoid that fate? Easy: by getting a legal abortion. Even if she wants to keep her baby, she might choose abortion if she believes that her only other choice is to wait and see if she becomes a criminal through miscarriage.

For that reason, the governor must send the bill back in order to clarify--in the law, in the press, and in the minds of Utah women--exactly what conduct is being criminalized. Abortion advocates will still hate it, but at least this time around, they'll have to be honest about their reasons.