Category archives: Life & Bioethics

Deal Of A Lifetime? Abortion Clinics Offer Coupons

by Tony Perkins

February 26, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

In Illinois, abortions may be cheaper by the dozen. The online clinics have issued a coupon thats literally to die for. As part of their gimmick to attract new customers, the Illinois Abortion Clinics site is offering $20 off their first visit. Unfortunately, the discount will come in handy for the states minors, who, thanks to a federal ruling, can still have abortions without their parents knowledge or consent. Two weeks ago, a U.S. District judge refused to enforce a parental notification law that was passed back in 1995. And those online coupons show why the law is an important one. For years, the abortion business has been using the lack of family involvement to lure teens to their clinics for secret abortions. Now other young girls are crossing state lines to take advantage of Illinois loose laws. And until the legislature steps in, theyll have to learn the hard way that abortion is a costly mistakedeal or no deal.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

Cloning Concerns Still Cropping Up in Iowa

by Tony Perkins

February 23, 2007

On Wednesday night, before a packed Statehouse gallery, the Iowa legislature held public hearings on an issue that has spawned debate all across the country. The three-hour proceedings on human cloning illustrated just how divided Iowans are. Most of the scheduled speakers favored overturning the state’s human cloning ban, but they were clearly not representative of the crowded audience who voiced strong opposition to the bill.

While researchers insisted that the law would promote embryonic stem cell research, not human cloning, critics point out that the bill would not only promote human cloning but would legally protect it. State Senator Pat Ward (R-West Des Moines) says the repeal is “not needed, period” because stem cell research without cloning is already happening.

Although scientists argued that the current cloning ban hinders Iowa’s ability to treat disease, one biotech executive disagreed, saying, “The fact that we’re located in Iowa has not hurt our ability to do business with other scientists… [even under] Iowa law.” In an effort to expose this deceitful “stem cell” bill, the Iowa Right to Life Committee and Catholic-based Fidelis have launched a radio campaign to educate citizens before today’s vote. In neighboring Kansas, the House has introduced a bill that forbids the government from funding human cloning research.

Unlike measures elsewhere, this version accurately defines cloning in the terms used by the President’s Council on Bioethics. The state’s scientists are outraged by the language because they fear that the reality of the procedure will deter voters from supporting “progressive” research.

Baby Amillia Goes Home!

by Family Research Council

February 22, 2007

People everywhere are talking about the baby born after spending less than 22 weeks in her mothers womb. Baby Amillia has been called everything from the pro-life icon, the new poster child for the pro-life movement, miracle baby to small wonder. Her parents are pleased just to hear her name. Yesterday, the Taylors were informed that they could take their daughter home. And even though her development is continually being monitored by medical staff people everywhere are rejoicing at the news.

The media attention Amillia is getting should WAKE UP AMERICA to the fact that life can not be determined merely by length of time in the womb. At 21 weeks, Amillia Taylor was more than just a blob of tissue as the media and pro-choice advocates would want you to believe. Although not fully developed yet, Amillia has attributes of a full term baby only smaller. She had tiny visible toes, wiggly fingers, and a beating heart! Instinctively Amillia knew she had to fight, and fight she did. Doctors are now saying her prognosis is excellent. Amillas continued success embodies the cliche big things come in small packages.

Despite her small package her life has and will continue to have big impact to the pro-life movement. Pro-choice advocates are no longer left to battle a faceless opponent. With every breath taken, Amillia serves as a living testament of what pro-lifers have been saying all along. For those who have closed their eyes and minds to the debate of when true life begins, Amillia is a loud voice resonating in a small body that calls out for us to WAKE UP.

Sadly, amidst the celebration of Amillias progress; her picture on every media outlet across the country, also reminds us of the countless faces we will never see due to those fighting to keep abortion legal. I know not only what Amillias birth does for the pro-life movement and the advancement of womens health, but also what it does for women in the black community. 40% of African Americans have their babies aborted, yet only represent 17% of the U.S. population. That statistic saddens and disturbs me. As the pro-life movement continues, I pray more women realize life begins at conception not at birth.

A recent article written by Dr. Lillie Epps, VP of Urban Development at Care Net highlights the effect abortion has had on the black community. Epps article quotes statistics that point to the continued dangers the option of choice has done to African Americans. Often convinced by political and social leaders many are told and believe the only option is to abort. Its time for leaders of every community to WAKE UP and help pregnant women understand all of their choices.

One day Amillia may have a lot to say to those who believed her life was not worth fighting for. Reaching hearts of individuals one at a time is what we can continue to do, as we pray for Amillia, her family and our country.

Iowa Puts Cloning Bill under the Microscope

by Tony Perkins

February 21, 2007

The state of Iowa is synonymous with farming, but if a dangerous bill passes the House, it could be cloned human embryo farms, not traditional agriculture, that the Hawkeyes will become known for. Yesterday, legislation that would repeal Iowa’s current ban on all human cloning passed through one of the state’s House committees.

The issue is reaching critical importance in the state, as the Senate narrowly voted to lift Iowa’s human cloning ban last week. A vote by the full House is next. Supporters of the bill are using deceptive tactics, similar to the campaign in Missouri, to convince citizens that the bill would not allow human cloning but only permit SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer) to generate embryonic stem cells.

Unfortunately, what some voters and legislators may not understand through the fog of scientific jargon is that SCNT is human cloning. This fact shouldn’t be lost on the University of Iowa, yet school officials are urging alumni to support the bill, writing, “Opponents of the bill are saying it will lead to human cloning. It [cloning] is unethical, immoral, and we will never support it.” As the University well knows, the bill under consideration will not lead to human cloning, but instead will legally protect human cloning.

Some legislators have been convinced by lobbyists that the SCNT process directly creates stem cells. That’s not true. Under SCNT an embryo is cloned. Period. If the embryo is intended for scientific experiments, that embryo is later destroyed for its stem cells.

SCNT is the same process used to create Dolly the cloned sheep; it’s merely a matter of what’s done with the resulting cloned embryo. Either supporters of the repeal are medically delusional or they are simply bluffing their way into the confidence of state leaders and voters.

Please take a minute to call your representatives at the Iowa State House, (515) 281-3221, and urge them to vote against House File 287.

States shift money from abortion providers

by Jared Bridges

February 14, 2007

The Los Angeles Times noted this week, somewhat disparagingly, that government funding for crisis pregnancy centers is on the rise in many states:

At least eight states including Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania use public funds to subsidize crisis pregnancy centers, Christian homes for unwed mothers and other programs explicitly designed to steer women away from abortion. As a condition of the grants, counselors are often barred from referring women to any clinic that provides abortions; in some cases, they may not discuss contraception either.

Most states still spend far more money subsidizing comprehensive family planning, but the flow of tax dollars to antiabortion groups has surged in recent months, as programs have taken effect in Texas and Minnesota.

Which group doesn’t like this trend of using state funds to encourage women not to have abortions? It’s none other than the number one foe of unplanned childhood everywhere — Planned Parenthood. The nation’s leading abortion provider is apparently sour on its newfound competition:

In 2005, Texas lawmakers redirected $25 million that was to have gone to Planned Parenthood over two years. Most went instead to primary-care health clinics (which provide contraception but not abortion). But $5 million of the money was set aside for antiabortion centers that do not provide medical care and will not refer clients to clinics that prescribe birth control.

To deal with its 62% budget cut, the Planned Parenthood clinic in downtown Austin began charging for services long offered free to low-income women. Since the fees took effect, the clinic has distributed 40% fewer birth control pills and has conducted 50% fewer Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. Several thousand patients have stopped coming.

While the article makes Planned Parenthood seem as if it were ready to cut off the heat and make its staff work for free, it does point out that the national organization did receive over $280 million in public funds last year — hardly a pittance. The article quotes Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, as saying, “It’s reprehensible that taxpayer dollars are going to organizations that regularly and deliberately deceive women.”

Now, that’s a statement we can all agree with.

Dignity as a Litmus Test:
Why Im a Single Issue Voter

by Family Research Council

February 1, 2007

The primaries are still months away, yet conservative Congressman Jim Nussle of Iowa is already coming out in support of Rudy Giuliani. In a note to Rich Lowry at National Review, Nussle wrote:

Perfect has become the enemy of the good, and we saw that borne out during this past Novembers elections. I am hopeful that our Party will avoid needless debates over a non-existent perfect candidate.

It is true that Mayor Giuliani and I dont agree on every issue. My support for a person who doesnt see eye to eye with me on all issues doesnt mean that I am turning my back on those beliefs. But our country is at a crossroads and we cannot forsake progress for perfection.

In examining the letter, Rick Moore makes the connection that Nussle leaves unstated:

Nussle does make the argument that there will never be a perfect candidate, and I fear that too many conservatives have become such single-issue voters (abortion) that they will eagerly back a weaker candidate just because of his views on that one issue alone. In doing so, they not only risk helping elect a Democrat whos not only pro-abortion, but pro-a lot of other stuff that conservatives find abhorrent.

Yes abortion is important, but the president really doesnt have that much control over an issue that has been decided by the courts. President Bush is anti-abortion, but has abortion stopped because hes president? No, and it probably wont until theres a change in the hearts of the people, and while the president may have some effect on that, in reality the president has little to no ability to change abortion in terms of its legal standing.

I am sympathetic to the pragmatism expressed both by Rep. Nussle and my friend Rick. In fact, I agree that the President has little or no control over the issue of abortion. And certain pro-choice candidates, if elected, might even appoint a judge that would help overturn Roe. Even so, I could not endorse anyone who fails on this key litmus test. Why would I hold a candidate responsible for an issue that isn’t under their control? Because I am an unabashed single-issue voter — and that issue is justice.

The justice Im referring to is that which recognizes human dignity as the foundational principle of freedom and human flourishing. Although the terms are not interchangeable, I believe that the term sanctity of life, as defined by philosopher David Gushee, could serve as the standard definition for human dignity within liberal democracies:

The concept of the sanctity of life is the belief that all human beings, at any and every stage of life, in any and every state of consciousness or self-awareness, of any and every race, color, ethnicity, level of intelligence, religion, language, gender, character, behavior, physical ability/disability, potential, class, social status, etc., of any and every particular quality of relationship to the viewing subject, are to be perceived as persons of equal and immeasurable worth and of inviolable dignity and therefore must be treated in a manner commensurate with this moral status.

Gushee notes that this is first and foremost a moral conviction that carries implications for how human beings are to be perceived and treated. This moral conviction is, I believe, a part of what Christians refer to as common grace and is therefore accessible by natural reason (even though it can be illuminated by supernatural revelation). While we may disagree on how these perceptions shape out moral obligations, I believe we can and should agree to accept this as a standard moral conviction and agree that the best way to recognize their dignity is by being just.

Because the State plays such a significant role in meting justice, we have a duty to elect politicians who have both a robust view of human dignity and the temerity to govern accordingly. Recognizing such characteristics in a politician is certainly an inexact science, which is why we often rely on heuristics like litmus tests. Such tests, of course, are not without problems. Indeed, when applied singularly, the tests may produce false positives. For example, a candidate may oppose abortion and embryo destructive research yet may fail to fully appreciate human dignity in later stages of development. Before we can consider her to be solidly pro-life we would need to know how she would treat children in poverty and our neighbors in the Sudan.

On the other hand, failing on a particular litmus test can signal that the candidate has an inadequate view of human dignity, and would therefore be less than just as a President. For instance, knowing that Giuliani favors partial-birth abortion can be a clue to how he would act on foreign policy issues. If he has no qualms with infanticide in America, why should I believe he cares about the plight of infants in Darfur?

As Nussle writes, the Perfect has become the enemy of the good. Indeed this has often been all too true. Politics is the art of the possible, which sometimes requires the sacrifice of the ideal. But we must not compromise too easily or too willingly, lest we forget that the good can become the enemy of the just.

(Cross-posted at EvangelicalOutpost.com)

What a Difference a Day Makes…

by Family Research Council

January 24, 2007

Here is what President Bush said yesterday, to the people at March for Life, about human dignity and protecting life:

Everyone there believes, as I do, that every life is valuable; that our society has a responsibility to defend the vulnerable and weak, the imperfect and even the unwanted; and that our nation should set a great goal that unborn children should be welcomed in life and protected in law.

(…)

A merciful society seeks to expand legal protection to every life, including early life. And a compassionate society will defend a simple, moral proposition, life should never be used as a tool, or a means to an end.

These are bedrock principles. and that is why my administration opposes partial-birth abortion and public funding for abortion; — (applause) — why we support teen abstinence and crisis pregnancy programs; adoption and parental notification laws; and why we are against all forms of human cloning.

Here is what President Bush said tonight, to the American people, about human dignity and protecting life:

(Begin speech)

             

             

             

             

             

             

(End speech)


What changed since yesterday, Mr. President?

Blogs for Life Conference

by Jared Bridges

January 22, 2007

The Blogs for Life Conference is underway, and we’ve already heard from some challenging speakers. There’s more to come when the conference resumes at 2:30 PM ET, following the March for Life.

The live webcast will resume at 2:30 as well.

Also, live liveblogging the event are Tim from prolifeblogs.com, Katie Favazza from Townhall.com’s Elocutio blog, as well as Ivy Sellers from Human Events so be sure to check out their coverage.

The Case for Pro-Life Incrementalism

by Family Research Council

January 20, 2007

In preparation for the upcoming Blogs for Life conference, FRC Blog and ProLifeBlogs.com held a joint symposium on the merits of incrementalism (approaching pro-life issues on an incremental basis, gradually achieving our goals by compromise and exceptions) versus absolutism (settling for nothing less than full legal recognition of the sanctity for life).

One of the most intriguing entries we received comes from Michael New, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama. Because Professor New doesnt have a blog weve decided to post his essay here.

°°°°°°

I really appreciate Family Research Councils willingness to allow me to post a comment on the ongoing debate in the pro-life movement between absolutism and incrementalism. Many young pro-lifers do not realize the extent to which this debate divided the pro-life movement in the years immediately following the Roe vs Wade decision. After all, in recent years, this debate has become somewhat less polarizing. Starting in the mid 1980s absolutists and incrementalists quit fighting over how to design a human life amendment and turned their attention toward changing the composition of the Supreme Court. These efforts enjoyed fairly broad support among various factions of the pro-life movement and tensions cooled somewhat.

The best argument in support of an incremental strategy is that incremental laws have consistently demonstrated their effectiveness at protecting the unborn. I want to begin by

discussing national trends in the incidence of abortion. In 1974, the first full year after Roe vs. Wade, there were 763,476 abortions. These numbers increased consistently until 1990 when there were 1,429,427 abortions according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, starting in 1990 something interesting happened. The numbers started to fall. In fact the number of reported abortions has fallen almost every year from 1990 to 2003, the last year for which the CDC has released data.

Now these declines have not occurred due to demographic shifts or reductions in the number of childbearing age women. For the 47 states reporting data in both 1990 and 2003, the abortion ratio (abortions per thousand births) has declined from 305 to 241 and the abortion rate (abortions per thousand women of childbearing age) has fallen from 21 to 16. This means that women today are less likely to have abortions, and pregnancies today are less likely to result in abortions. Good News.

But what happened in the early 1990s that started this trend?

One factor might be the economy. There is some evidence that a strong economy slightly reduces the incidence of abortion. As such, the fact that the economy grew stronger during the 1990s might be a factor in the abortion decline. However, historical evidence tells us that the booming economy does not tell us the whole story. For instance, the strong economy during the 1980s did not result in such a dramatic abortion decline.

Indeed, the main reason for this reduction in the incidence of abortion during the 1990s was the success of the pro-life movement at passing incremental legislation at the state level. Here are some statistics.

-In 1992, 20 states had parental involvement laws (either parental notification or parental consent) on the books. In 2000, 32 states had enacted some sort of parental involvement law.

-In 1992, no states had an informed consent law on the books. In 2000 27 states had enacted some form of informed consent law.

-In 1992 no states had waiting periods. In 2000 11 states had waiting periods.

-In 1992 no states had partial birth abortion bans in 2000 12 states enacted partial birth abortion bans.

There were two factors that led to this sharp increase in state level pro-life legislation during the 1990s. The first was the Supreme Courts 1992 Casey vs. Planned Parenthood decision. Many in the pro-life movement thought that the Supreme Court would use this case as an opportunity to overturn Roe vs. Wade. The fact that the Supreme Court did not do this was a disappointment for many in the pro-life movement.

However, in the Casey decision, the Supreme Court did find many of the provisions included in Pennsylvanias Abortion Control Act to be constitutional. This gave incremental pro-life laws at the state level greater constitutional protection. Prior to Casey, the only types of pro-life legislation that consistently withstood constitutional scrutiny were parental involvement laws and Medicaid funding restrictions. After Casey pro-lifers had more options at the state level. Pro-lifers could pass informed consent laws. These are laws that require abortion providers to give women seeking abortions information about 1) the development of their unborn child, 2) public and private sources of support if the woman decides to keep their baby, and 3) health risks involved with abortion. After Casey, Pro-lifers also had the ability to enact waiting periods and in some states partial birth abortion bans received constitutional protection.

The second reason for this increase in the passage of pro-life legislation is because pro-lifers enjoyed greater electoral success in state legislative races. It is well known that in the 1994 election Republicans won majority control of the U.S. Senate for the first time since 1986 and won majority control of the U.S. House for the first time since 1954. However, it is less well known that Republicans made some very impressive gains in the state legislatures as well.

Prior to the 1994 election Republicans controlled both chambers of the state legislature in only 8 states. After the 1994 election Republicans controlled both chambers of the state legislature in 19 states. These legislative gains were long lasting as by 2000, Republican still controlled both chambers of the state legislature in 18 states Since Republicans tend to be more sympathetic to pro-life legislation than Democrats at the federal level and in most states, these Republican legislative gains made it easier to pass pro-life legislation in many statehouses.

So what impact has all of this legislation had? My research and the research of other social scientists all indicate that these laws have been effective at reducing the incidence for abortion. In 2004, The Heritage Foundation released the first of my three comprehensive studies on this topic. I obtained data on both the abortion rate and the abortion ratio from the both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI). The dataset I examined included abortion data from every state from every year from 1985 to 1999. Holding constant a variety of demographic and economic variables, I found the passage of public funding restrictions, informed consent laws, parental involvement laws, and partial birth abortion bans were all correlated with reductions in the incidence of abortion.

In subsequent studies, I have been able to document the effectiveness of pro-life legislation in a number of ways.

-Separate regressions run on datasets obtained from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) both consistently indicate that the passage of pro-life legislation is correlated with reductions in the abortion rate and abortion ratio.

-Pro-life laws that are passed by a legislature but later nullified by a judge have a negligible impact on the incidence of abortion. Conversely pro-life laws that are passed and take effect are correlated with statistically significant reductions in the incidence of abortion. This shows that the legislation is having an impact and not changes in local mores and values that might be correlated with the passage of pro-life legislation.

-Consistent with my expectations, different types of pro-life laws have a greater effect on different subgroups of the population. This is consistent with the idea that laws are having an impact and not other factors that happen to be correlated with the passage of legislation. For instance, parental involvement laws have a much larger effect on the minor abortion rate than the overall abortion rate. This is unsurprising since minors are the only group directly affected by parental involvement laws.

-Similarly, my findings indicate that informed consent laws have a larger impact on adults than on minors. This is because most minors are likely seeking abortions because they wish to hide either their pregnancy or their sexual activity from their parents. Information about fetal development or public and private sources of support would be unlikely to change the mind of a minor in this situation. However, such information would have a larger impact on an adult who might be seeking an abortion due to financial pressures.

-Finally, my findings are consistent with those of other social scientists who have examined the issue. Every academic study has shown that public funding restrictions are correlated with substantial declines in both the abortion rate and abortion ratio. Furthermore, nearly every policy and academic study shows that parental involvement laws reduce the number of abortions performed on minors within the boundaries of a given states. However, social scientists are split about the extent to which in-state declines are offset by increases in neighboring states.

Overall it seems that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that incremental legislation has been effective at protecting the unborn. Furthermore, the evidence also indicates that and that the decline in the incidence of abortion since the early 1990s is in large part due to the fact that more and more states were enacting incremental pro-life legislation. One can safely say that unborn children are alive today due to the passage of these laws.

Now, the best reason for pursuing incremental legislation is its demonstrated ability to protect the unborn. However, incremental legislation serves an important educational purpose as well. Many people pay little attention to politics and are unaware of the permissive nature of abortion laws in this country. For instance, many are unaware the abortion is legal through all 9 months of pregnancy and that in some states minors do not even need to notify their parents before having an abortion. Campaigns to enact incremental pro-life legislation highlight the permissive nature of these laws and cause many people who consider themselves pro-choice to rethink their beliefs. Indeed, the campaign to ban partial birth abortions during the mid to late 1990s was effective in shifting public opinion toward a more pro-life position.

Furthermore, the pursuit of incremental legislation gives pro-life activists the real prospect of short term victories which are important for sustaining and building a large scale social movement. Indeed, a noble cause by itself is often insufficient to keep people interested and motivated. If people are going to remain active, they need to be convinced that their continued support has a good chance of making a tangible difference in the future. As such, pro-lifers would do well to highlight the success that we have had in passing incremental legislation. It clearly demonstrates how our movement has enjoyed success in the past and how progress is certainly attainable in the future.

Indeed, when I present my research at pro-life gatherings, the most important point I try to make is that the time and treasure of pro-lifers has not been wasted during the past 34 years. Superficially some people think that the pro-life movement has not been successful because we have not succeeded in overturning Roe vs. Wade. And it is true that progress has not come as fast as we would like. However, the votes cast for pro-life candidates at both the federal level and state level has led to the passage of legislation which has been effective at protecting the unborn. Overall, incremental legislation has saved lives in the past and will continue to save lives in the future if we stay the course.

Brownback, Hunter to Join Blogs For Life Conference

by Family Research Council

January 20, 2007

On Monday, January 22nd at 9:00 am, Family Research Council will host Blogs for Life, the second annual conference of pro-life bloggers. The event will be streamed live via webcast from FRC.org. (Visit the FRC homepage on the day of the conference for more details.)

Blogs for Life is scheduled to take place the day of the 34th annual March for Life, during which thousands of pro-life advocates gather in the Nation’s capitol to celebrate life and demand the reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

The conference will feature Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA). Other featured speakers include Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schindler Schiavo and Ramesh Ponnuru, noted author of The Party of Death and senior editor at National Review.

A panel on new media will also be held with David All (David All Group), LaShawn Barber (LaShawn Barber’s Corner), Mary Katherine Ham (TownHall.com), Rob Bluey (Heritage Foundation), Tim Ruchti (ProLifeBlogs.com), and Peter Shinn (ProLifeUnity.com).

Blogs for Life is an excellent opportunity for individuals and organizations to network with pro-life bloggers and develop an understanding of how weblog technology can be used to strategically promote life and transform ideas into action as we move toward a post-Roe America.

Who: Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Bobby Schindler

Ramesh Ponnuru

What: The second annual conference dedicated to advancing the pro-life message via weblog technology.

When: Monday, January 22, 2007

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Where: Family Research Council

801 G. Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

RSVP: online at www.blogs4life.com

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