Author archives: Joy Zavalick

The Best Month for the Unborn in Texas Since 1973

by Joy Zavalick

October 4, 2021

October 1 marks one month since the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect, outlawing abortions past six weeks, which is when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Since its implementation, about 150 unborn lives have been spared from abortion each day, meaning an estimated 4,500 babies will have the opportunity to be born because of the Act. According to estimates from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the six-week ban could save upwards of 33,000 lives in the next year if it continues to remain in effect.

This law has withstood many challenges since its passing and has triumphantly continued to defend human life. Even as radical proponents of abortion desperately seek any avenue to block the democratically enacted legislation, the Texas Heartbeat Act is unapologetically preserving the lives and futures of babies in the womb with each passing day.

Like the obedient servants of God who were protected by the Angel of the Lord in the furnace, Texas’ Heartbeat Act has persevered through fiery attacks. The uproar from pro-abortion advocates was instantaneous following its passage by the state legislature and signing by Governor Abbott in the spring. Members of the abortion lobby, led by Planned Parenthood, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to block the law before it could go into effect. However, in a 5-4 decision, the Court upheld the law on a procedural technicality, allowing it to take effect.

In a reactionary strategy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced a vote on the deceptively-named Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 3755). It should really be called the Abortion on Demand Act, since it would effectively codify Roe v. Wade and eradicate the vast majority of state-level pro-life laws, including the Texas Heartbeat Act. The legislation passed in the House last Friday and has moved to the Senate for consideration in the near future. Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, who has the duty to instruct Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a baptized Catholic in his diocese, declared that H.R. 3755 equates to child sacrifice.

Fortunately, the radically sweeping nature of H.R. 3755 has ruffled the feathers of even some Democrats. Legislators on both sides of the aisle are discomforted by the bill’s mission to overturn democratically instituted laws in the states that are created to promote women’s informed consent and human rights, such as ultrasound requirements, parental notification requirements for minors, and bans on discriminatory sex-selective abortions.

Texas was well-prepared for the surge of mothers requiring assistance after the ban; Texas has about 230 pregnancy resource centers (PCRs) that have been meeting the needs of mothers—more than any other state in the nation. One report shows that 46 percent of Texans support the six-week ban, only 43 percent oppose it, and 11 percent are undecided. Although these statistics are hopeful, they also demonstrate the work that remains to be done to educate all Americans about the inherent dignity of human life from the point of conception. Texas also provides a model for preparedness in resources for mothers that other states implementing pro-life laws ought to pursue.

The Texas Heartbeat Act has opened the eyes of pro-life legislators around the nation, who are now seeking to produce similar bills in their own states. Action to mimic Texas’ law is happening in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has demonstrated his support for a six-week ban that was introduced in the legislature last Wednesday. In Pennsylvania, legislators are anxiously seeking the election of a Republican governor in 2022 who would allow for a six-week ban to be signed into law.

Through its month of life-saving action, the Texas Heartbeat Act has increased hopes that a greater national understanding of the humanity of the unborn will allow for a favorable ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center case, which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear on December 1. As additional pro-life bills are considered around the nation, and the pro-life movement prays for Roe v. Wade to be overturned by the Dobbs case, it is clear that Americans are increasingly valuing life and will increasingly oppose those who seek to end the lives of the most vulnerable humans.

Google Finds Innovative New Method of Exploitation

by Joy Zavalick

September 21, 2021

After a four-month runtime on the internet, Google has banned all of Live Action’s advertisements about the abortion pill reversal treatment. Promotions for the pro-life advocacy group’s Baby Olivia project, which provides a “medically accurate, animated glimpse of human life from the moment of fertilization,” were also temporarily blocked and later reinstated after complaints. Google’s attempt at censoring Live Action is sadly unsurprising given the tendency of Big Tech companies to cater to the whims of the abortion lobby. It demonstrates Google’s commitment to exploiting the vulnerable by any means necessary.

In response to the censorship controversy, Google defended itself by stating, “medical experts have raised serious concerns about abortion reversal pills.” This first claim relies on a drastic mischaracterization of the abortion pill reversal treatment. In reality, it is a simple dose of the hormone progesterone, which counteracts the anti-progesterone effects of the drug mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex, RU-486, or “the abortion pill”). Progesterone supplements are a common and highly successful treatment for women prone to miscarriage, which is what the chemical abortion regimen essentially causes.

Google went on to claim that “beyond protecting users from medical harm, our policies do not distinguish between promoting pro-choice and pro-life messages.” Despite its concern about women receiving information about abortion pill reversal, Google has not implemented similar censorship of promotions for the chemical abortion regimen. Ads for the regimen are still permitted despite the proven dangers, which include severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death.

It is ironic that the Big Tech monarchs that are so concerned with paternalistically controlling the health care information women can access are so thoroughly unconcerned with the wellbeing of women being exploited through the chemical abortion regimen. Advertising mail-order abortion pills provides a direct avenue for women who are being sex trafficked, domestically abused, or otherwise exploited to receive abortions—either willingly or unwillingly—at home without ever being evaluated by a physician. Being seen by a medical professional is one way women trapped in exploitive situations are discovered and ultimately rescued.

For all its concern about women accessing information about reversing regretted abortions, Google appears to have overlooked the autonomy of the women working for it in forced labor camps. Google, along with other Big Tech giants such as Apple and Amazon, has been accused of utilizing the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps in the Xinjiang province of China. A report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute included Google in its list of 82 popular companies that profit from the exploitation of Uyghur slaves in “abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019.”

Governor Abbott of Texas recently signed HB 20 in a move to prevent social media platforms from banning content based on political ideology. If the legislation is not blocked by a federal judge, like a similar Florida law was, it will take effect in November. As expected, representatives of Google, Facebook, and Twitter have pledged to oppose this legislation.

Big Tech’s hesitance to allow users of all viewpoints to express their beliefs begs the question of what exactly being “pro-choice” means when women are not aware of all the options they actually have. Women that use Google’s search engine to research the abortion pill reversal treatment are desperate for the freedom to reverse a mistaken choice.

When Big Tech companies attempt to censor information, the public should always question their motives and seek to identify what they stand to gain. If Google is willing to exploit the forced foreign labor of persecuted ethnic minorities and overlook sexual abuse in the United States, it is unlikely that its desire to block ads for abortion pill reversal is altruistically motivated by a concern for the wellbeing of women.

Suicide (Including Physician-Assisted) Is Never the Answer

by Joy Zavalick

September 9, 2021

In the U.S., the week of September 5-11 marks National Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide is an indisputably painful topic to consider, summoning grief for all those who have lost a loved one to it. This tragedy does not take only one form, however; even as the nation remembers those who grievously have been taken by suicide, a steadily increasing number of states have created an avenue for legal physician-assisted suicide (PAS).

When Oregon passed the nation’s first Death With Dignity Act in 1997, it was an anomaly that can be traced as a root cause of the pervasive devaluing of human life we see in America. Following this legislative model, nine other states and the District of Columbia have created “death with dignity” statutes or provided state Supreme Court protection for PAS: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington. Perhaps most alarmingly, seven of these 11 jurisdictions have created their provisions since 2016.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states their desire for “any person experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors to have a number to call, a system to turn to, that would connect them to the treatment and support they need.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden claims that his state’s Death With Dignity Act “has helped to improve end-of-life health care for thousands of Oregonians. We are proud Oregon leads the way […] providing peace of mind for the terminally ill.”

Though the soothing language of these two perspectives is similar, their messages are decisively contrary; the former urges patients to resist suicidal thoughts, while the latter encourages their fulfillment.

The paradox of the American desire to prevent suicide, while simultaneously creating legal avenues for it, demonstrates a deep disparity between the proclaimed values of the nation and the legislation being passed by its representatives. It is illogical to oppose suicide when a healthy individual performs it, but to champion the “right” to commit it when a person is terminally ill.

Though advocates for these laws cry “Death with dignity,” the message they send to those with terminal illnesses is that their lives are burdensome, unworthy, and less dignified than everyone else’s. When considering that those struggling with depression are more likely to request assisted suicide, it is clear that causing vulnerable patients to regard their own lives as less worthwhile  creates the demand for PAS.

Consistent messaging about the purpose that every human life possesses is crucial in order to successfully advocate for suicide prevention. If terminally ill patients are told that they qualify to end their own lives due to physical suffering or deterioration, how can mentally ill individuals be told to turn away from suicidal thoughts caused by their mental strife? The increasing prevalence of PAS in the states contradicts the culture of suicide prevention, which is so widely accepted that the nation designates a week to recognize it.

The Death With Dignity National Center, which advocates for the legalization of PAS across the states, ironically advises those who have not yet received their suicide prescription, “While you are waiting, don’t forget to live your life and look for a little bit of joy in every day.” Outside of the context of PAS, this advice would ring true; actual “death with dignity” must come naturally, and the life that exists before it must be treasured and lived abundantly.

In order to appropriately recognize the worth and purpose of human life, we must ban PAS and take a consistent stance in opposition to all forms of suicide.

Joy Zavalick is Research Assistant for the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Messing with Texas: Biden Not the Women’s Advocate He Claims to Be

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

September 3, 2021

In a statement issued on September 2, President Biden called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing Texas’s six-week abortion ban to remain in effect “an unprecedented assault on women’s constitutional rights.” Biden went on to say that during his time as president, he has prepared to react to “assaults on women’s rights.”

Unfortunately, the president’s track record makes it abundantly clear that he is not the champion of women he purports himself to be. In the early days of his presidency, President Biden issued an executive order that claimed to combat “discrimination on the basis of gender identity” but, in reality, undermined advances American women struggled for decades to obtain. This order stripped women and girls of privacy and safety in public spaces, ensuring that biological males had the right to use the same restrooms and change in the same locker rooms as little girls.

A few days later, Biden repealed the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (more commonly known as the Mexico City Policy). Through this action, he prioritized the pocketbooks of abortion providers over providing clean water, education, and real maternal healthcare for women in developing nations. 

In April, the Biden administration supported the removal of the Food and Drug Administration’s safety requirements surrounding chemical abortion, thereby casting aside the Clinton administration’s efforts to safeguard women against the known life-threatening risks of the mifepristone regimen, such as hemorrhage, infection, incomplete pregnancy, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death. 

A month later, President Biden released his American Families Plan, which ignored the wants and needs of the majority of American mothers by creating a one-size-fits-all plan in which families work to support a growing economy instead of the economy working to support growing families. 

And most recently, with his decision to abruptly remove the U.S. military from Afghanistan, President Biden abandoned Afghan women to face the horrors of life under the Taliban—where, as one woman put it, everyone is afraid. While mothers in Afghanistan struggle to survive and protect their children from an oppressive terrorist regime, President Biden is more concerned with ensuring that mothers in Texas can end the lives of their own children.

President Biden’s disapproval of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the six-week abortion ban in Texas comes as no surprise. However, his threatening language in addressing the Court, stating that he will “launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision,” demonstrates a new depth of ignorance and hypocrisy.

The implicit statement made by President Biden’s actions is clear: the ability to end the lives of their children in the womb is the only right that women truly need. Forget safety in public restrooms and women’s prisons, access to real health care in developing areas of the world, precautions for the chemical abortion regimen that were in place for two decades, childcare plans that actually benefit mothers, and protection from the oppression of the Taliban—women are fine so long as they can get an abortion. President Biden’s priorities are deeply misguided and representative of a pervasive propaganda in modern culture that insists abortion access is the only way for women to live happy, meaningful lives.

Far from being a defender of women, President Biden has repeatedly made decisions and implemented policies that place women in greater harm. His response to the Supreme Court’s decision is consistent with every other action he has taken during his presidency. Time after time, Biden has disregarded the dignity of the human person. Hopefully, this time he will learn to change his ways. After all, you don’t mess with Texas.

Cuomo’s Disgrace Should Not Surprise Anyone

by Joy Zavalick

August 31, 2021

The disgraced former governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, was deftly swept out of the forefront of the news last week when his former lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, was sworn in as the state’s 57th governor. With the media busy celebrating the establishment of the state’s first female governor, the troubling administration of the past 10 years has been allowed to fade into the shadows.

However, it is important to recognize the shameful legacy Cuomo leaves behind him. The sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo and his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic are only the latest indications of a pattern of disregard for the wellbeing of women and the dignity of human life throughout his decade as governor.

For example, a defining moment of Cuomo’s political career occurred in 2019 when he championed the Reproductive Health Act, which codified the default abortion standards of Roe v. Wade in New York. This law provided a route for women to receive late term abortions by removing restrictions on abortions after 24 weeks. This law also effectively allows a woman to access abortion up until the point of birth, so long as she claims her pregnancy poses a risk to her life or health. Because the law failed to clearly define what standards qualified as a threat to the mother’s health, women in New York can use any degree of mental or emotional stress to obtain a late-term abortion.

The law Cuomo signed also repealed the section of the New York public health code that provided protections for infants born alive after a failed abortion attempt. In combination with the expansion of opportunities for women to receive traumatizing late-term abortions, it is clear that the Reproductive Health Act undermines the human dignity of unborn children, abortion survivors, and mothers.

This law is particularly relevant as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, which directly challenges Roe v. Wade by considering whether states can create pre-viability restrictions on abortion. Because the Reproductive Health Act codified abortion rights in the state, New Yorkers would maintain access to abortion even if the Court overturned Roe.

To celebrate the ghoulish late-term abortion law’s passage, Cuomo ordered the One World Trade Center to be lit up pink. This revelry in unrestricted access to abortion contradicted what Cuomo claimed to be his personal morality, as he stated, “I have my own Catholic beliefs, how I live my life […] That is my business as a Catholic. I don’t govern as a Catholic.”

Cuomo further demonstrated his lack of respect for human life in 2020 when he placed COVID-positive patients in New York nursing homes, jeopardizing the lives of elderly residents who were already at increased risk of contracting the virus. His team has since attempted to cover up the number of elderly people who died as a result of this careless move. In her first week as governor, Hochul has already released an updated COVID mortality statistic, showing an additional 12,000 deaths that Cuomo kept hidden from the public as recently as last Monday. Cuomo proved that he has no regard for the dignity of the human person from the beginning to the end of life; it is no surprise, then, to discover his harassment of those at the stages in between as well.

Galatians 6:7 (ESV) says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Former Governor Cuomo is reaping the consequences for his consistently unethical behavior throughout his tenure in office. The signs have always been there—he has been sowing his disgrace before the eyes of the nation the whole time. When politicians show their true colors in their policy decisions, we ought not to be shocked when their unethical and immoral behavior in private is revealed.

University of Pittsburgh Succumbs to Moral Depravity

by Joy Zavalick

August 17, 2021

The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) continues to demonstrate the depths of human depravity through their unethical experimentation on human fetal tissue derived from abortions. In a horrifying twist, new reports have emerged showing that the university is extracting organs from viable preborn or born infants for use in its GenitoUrinary Developmental Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initially attempted to conceal Pitt’s incriminating grant application. Judicial Watch and the Center for Medical Progress have successfully obtained the documentation, however, following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Among other things, the application stated the university’s intention of becoming a human fetal tissue “hub.” Judicial Watch reported that the nearly $3 million in federal grants Pitt received funded its collection of human fetal tissue, some of which is obtained around 42 weeks gestation—that’s 20 weeks after infants are viable to survive outside the womb.

Multiple physicians have weighed in on the content of Pitt’s grant application. Pitt’s goal was to minimize “ischemia time,” which it claimed to be “the time after tissue collection procedure and before cooling for storage and transport.” In reality, NIH defines ischemia as a “lack of blood supply to a part of the body.” As the Center for Medical Progress commented, “the fetal organs do not undergo ischemia—lose their blood supply—until ‘after the tissue collection procedure.’ This means the organs are still receiving blood supply from the fetal heartbeat during the “tissue collection.” The consensus among both pro-abortion and pro-life OB-GYNs affirms that the university’s statements on ischemia made it clear that the tissue collection in question was being carried out on either live infants or those aborted via illegal partial-birth procedures.

The University of Pittsburgh also set racial quotas for the fetal tissue they collected—50 percent from white aborted infants and 50 percent from minority aborted infants. Targeting minority communities is a favorite habit of the abortion industry, which places 79 percent of surgical abortion facilities within walking distance of minority neighborhoods.

The recent revelations about the University of Pittsburgh cast a dark cloud on the institution’s once-noble reputation for medical advancement. In the 1940s and 50s, the formation of Jonas Salk’s research team at Pitt led to the development of the polio vaccine, allowing for a world where those who receive the vaccine are 99 to 100 percent protected from the crippling disease.

The university’s descent into depravity hit a notable milestone in the fall of 2020 when researchers published a study in which the scalps of aborted human infants had been grafted onto rodent bodies. Coupled with the disturbing fetal tissue “hub” that Pitt has worked to create through harvesting organs from live infants or illegal partial-birth abortions, it is undeniable that the modern activity of the university dishonors the memory of the ethical scientists of Pitt’s past. The craving for scientific discovery has evidently overcome the consciences of Pitt researchers, leading them to use whatever barbaric means necessary to pursue their goals.

The university has been able to receive taxpayer funding for these unethical research projects because of a lack of federal policies protecting fetal dignity. Pitt’s applications for fetal tissue grants date back to 2015 under President Obama, who repealed President Bush’s ban on embryonic stem cell research and had no prohibitions on aborted fetal tissue research. It was not until the summer of 2019 that President Trump issued a strong executive policy precedent that restricted federal funds from being used to support research on aborted fetal tissue. The policy allowed researchers to use ethically obtained, donated fetal tissue derived from miscarriages and stillbirths. The Biden administration moved to repeal Trump’s policy in April 2021, once again opening the door for taxpayer dollars to fund the horrific projects of Pitt researchers.

It is deeply ironic that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can claim on its “Infant Loss” webpage that “the loss of a baby during pregnancy remains a sad reality for many families” as other federal agencies are funding the killing and organ harvesting of viable babies for scientific research. If legislators are genuinely grieved by the tragic loss of life due to miscarriages and stillbirths, then they ought to be equally grieved by the loss of those aborted for their body parts. It is high time for our elected officials to adhere to a consistent ethic, one that values all human life and holds our scientific community and government agencies accountable.

To take action, sign this open letter to the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania state legislature demanding that they stop experimenting with aborted babies.

What Christians Need to Know About the Case that Could Overturn Roe and Casey

by David Closson , Joy Zavalick

July 28, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

Most Americans are familiar with Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Many Americans, however, have not yet heard of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, an upcoming Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe and likely return jurisdiction over abortion legislation to the states.

What should Americans, and especially Christians, know about Dobbs? Is it possible that Roe v. Wade could be overturned? These and other questions are important to consider as the Supreme Court prepares to reconsider its abortion jurisprudence.

Context

Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, there have been an estimated 62 million abortions in the United States. The Roe decision created abortion rights on the basis of a supposed right to privacy provided by the Fourteenth Amendment. Under Roe, the Court initially established a trimester system and prevented states from restricting abortion in the first trimester. An accompanying case, Doe v. Bolton, made it almost impossible to restrict abortion in the later trimesters as well.

In 1992, the Supreme Court revisited Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It replaced the trimester system with the standard that states cannot impose an “undue burden” on pre-viability abortion. Although infants were once thought to reach viability at 28 weeks, modern medicine has determined that children can survive outside of the womb beginning around 22 weeks, thus moving the point of viability to earlier in gestation than it had been understood to be at the time of Roe.

Mississippi’s Law

In 2018, Mississippi passed the Gestational Age Act (known as HB 1510), which prohibits elective abortions post-15 weeks gestation. The law points out that America is out-of-step with international norms regarding abortion:

The United States is one (1) of only seven (7) nations in the world that permits nontherapeutic or elective abortion-on-demand after the twentieth week of gestation. In fact, fully seventy-five percent (75%) of all nations do not permit abortion after twelve (12) weeks’ gestation, except (in most instances) to save the life and to preserve the physical health of the mother.

On the same day that the Gestational Age Act was signed into law, Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis filed suit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion facility in Mississippi.

A district court evaluated the Gestational Age Act and declared it to be unconstitutional on the basis that the point of a baby’s viability outside the womb was the earliest point at which the state could implement a legislative ban to protect fetal life. When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, Mississippi appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mississippi’s law directly challenges the abortion jurisprudence of Roe and Casey, and its brief in the case calls upon the Court to overturn these two decisions, stating, “…[N]othing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.”

If Roe and Casey were overturned, the question of abortion’s legality would likely fall to the states. Twenty-one states currently have laws that would immediately come into effect and restrict abortion in some manner if Roe and Casey were overturned. Ten of those states have “trigger laws” that would immediately ban all or nearly all abortions.

Christian Reflections

The Bible teaches that all people are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). It also affirms the personhood of the unborn. Consequently, abortion is morally incompatible with these truths.

Probably the most well-known articulation of the Bible’s affirmation of the unborn is found in Psalm 139, where David refers to his unborn self as being fully individual, not an impersonal fetus with no moral value:

For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Ps. 139:13-16)

The prophet Jeremiah provides a high view of human life in the womb:

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:4-5)

Notably, the prophet is “consecrated” and “appointed” to his vocation while in utero. God explains to Jeremiah that He “formed” and “knew” him prior to this birth. The passage reveals that God had a personal relationship with the unborn prophet, similar to how He relates to him as an adult.

Other pro-life passages include Isaiah 49:1b, Luke 1:39-45, Psalm 51:5-6, Job 3:3, Judges 13:3-5, and Genesis 25:22-23.

Christians should care about the Dobbs case because it poses a serious legal challenge to a deadly practice that is incompatible with Christian ethics—abortion. We urge you to follow activity related to the Dobbs case and join us in praying that the U.S. Supreme Court would act to defend life.

For a more in-depth survey of what the Bible has to say about abortion and the personhood of the unborn, we invite you to read FRC’s helpful resource Biblical Principles for Pro-Life Engagement. For more information on what would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned, we invite you to read our explainer on this consequential case.

Embracing Modern Science Means Overturning Roe

by Joy Zavalick

July 23, 2021

In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision allowing for virtually unlimited access to abortion through nine months of pregnancy. The Court justified this decision by sidestepping the matter of whether children in the womb are alive. As Justice White explained in his Roe dissent, “The Court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries.”

The Roe decision to prioritize mothers seeking elective abortions rests on the outdated scientific opinions available to the Court in 1973. The Court fallaciously appealed to ignorance by permitting abortion based on a lack of knowledge about when life begins. In the opinion of the Court, Justice Blackmun wrote, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. […] The judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

There can be no doubt, however, that the human understanding of the world has shifted immeasurably in the past 48 years.

In 1973, the disposable camera was 13 years away from being invented, and the rings of Neptune would not be discovered for another decade. The Walkman would not hit the market until 1979. Doctors still operated on infants without anesthesia because they were not yet aware that babies could feel pain.

In terms of science and technological advancements, the practices of 1973 ought not govern the modern world. As lessons are learned and further information is gained, it is senseless to maintain outdated practices. When DNA fingerprinting was discovered in 1984, forensic teams did not insist on maintaining their current practices for the next 50 years; rather, the technology solved its first murder case two years later.

In 2021, the science is clearer than ever that infants in the womb are alive from the point of conception. A modern understanding of DNA reveals that human zygotes have completely unique genetic compositions, determining traits from eye color to aspects of personality, from the very point that they are fertilized. A 2019 study emphasizes that light is visible to children in the womb even as their eyes are closed.

The contemporary practices of prenatal health care have greatly adapted as well. Though the point of viability was thought to be at 28 weeks in 1973, it is now known to be at 22 weeks. The most premature infant to survive was born in 1987 at just 21 weeks gestation. Fetal surgery performed on children in the womb has successfully treated a host of developmental conditions, including spina bifida. Based on the Roe decision, which refused to consider whether infants in the womb were alive, children of the same age to be born or receive operations can just as easily be electively aborted at the mother’s discretion.

The case for reevaluating the substance of Roe is clear. Just as textbooks are updated when new facts become available to ensure that children learn the most recent information, the modern Court’s rulings must be based on current knowledge rather than the claim to ignorance of the Court in 1973. Legal precedent must not triumph over the necessity to acknowledge modern science.

As the Supreme Court will soon consider a direct challenge to Roe in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, they face a pivotal decision: abide by the outdated excuses of 1973, or recognize the evidence presented by modern science and act accordingly. Americans, particularly the unborn ones, deserve to live by the best modern practices of human knowledge, which unequivocally affirms that babies in the womb are alive.

For more information on why Roe should be overturned, see FRC’s issue analysis.

Joy Zavalick is an intern with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Human-Animal Chimeras Are a Bioethical Nightmare

by Joy Zavalick

June 16, 2021

Family Research Council has published a new resource outlining the ethical considerations of human-animal chimera research. In this report, Mary Szoch explains that these lab-developed interspecies creatures are composed of both human and animal DNA.

The report highlights that though the National Institutes of Health (NIH) currently bans federal funding for this area of experimentation, mounting pressure from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and the apathy of the Biden administration pose risks to the ethical future of federally funded research. A recent amendment introduced by Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) that would have banned the creation of human-animal chimeras failed to pass the Senate in a 49-48 party line vote, demonstrating the political division surrounding this issue.

Human-Animal Chimeras: Unethical and Unnecessary delves into the research that has continually blurred ethical lines in the pursuit of “successful” trials and the progression of chimera experimentation. It describes the creation of the 14-Day Rule in 1979, which limits the sustaining of human embryos in vitro to 14 days after fertilization.

When researchers succeeded in sustaining an embryo past nine days in 2016, however, this rule was revisited by the NIH to consider extending researchers the freedom to continue their trials past 14 days. Mary Szoch writes that, “the 14-Day Rule was simply an arbitrary marker allowing scientists to advance to the point science allowed while simultaneously professing that there were ethical limits to the research.” The NIH is once again reconsidering the rule after a scientist partnering with China succeeded in sustaining a human-monkey chimera embryo to 20 days.

The report also considers the purported purpose of human-animal chimera research that occurs despite lack of current federal funding. There is nothing useful to glean from using interspecies chimeras to study human diseases since the research will not consider the factors unique to actual human beings, such as genetic makeup, environment, and diet.

Perhaps most significantly, the report lists major ethical concerns posed by the development of a creature that is part human and part animal: “Is this new creature classified as a human, animal, or both? Will this creature be self-aware? […] Is it ethical to create an organism that has some human characteristics only for the purpose of studying it and using its parts?”

A key conclusion that this report draws from the capricious ethical standards for experimentation with human embryonic cells is that researchers must weigh whether they “should” do something just because they “can” do something.

Christians evaluating the progression of human-chimera research ought to consider 1 Corinthians 6:12, which states, “’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” As believers inhabit a fallen world, they must carefully consider the morality of every decision and advocate for justice when institutions permit evil—especially an evil that denies the dignity of the human person.

Sowing Pro-Life Seeds Among the States

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

June 11, 2021

On May 17, the Supreme Court announced that it would take up the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and review Mississippi HB 1510, which bans abortion at 15 weeks’ gestation. HB 1510 cites modern medical findings about children in the womb during the first 15 weeks of life, including that infants develop a heartbeat between 5-6 weeks’ gestation and that by 12 weeks they have developed all “relevant aspects” of recognizable human form.

Since the bill challenges the precedents of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that prohibit state restrictions on pre-viability abortion, both sides of the political aisle are holding their breath waiting to see whether the Court will finally reset its contorted history of abortion jurisprudence.

There has been a great deal of pro-life legislation that has been passed in the U.S. in recent years. In 2019, seven states (including Mississippi) rolled out laws that banned abortion past six weeks or after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. In 2020, “heartbeat bills” were also passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, and Ohio. In 2021 alone, over 500 pro-life bills were introduced in state legislatures, and as a result, Arkansas and Oklahoma joined Alabama on the list of states to pass total abortion bans. Though these laws have been blocked by federal courts, they represent the gold standard of pro-life legislative advocacy, and reenforce the idea that the Supreme Court has no business declaring a supposed right to abortion under the Constitution in the first place.

Considering this national trend of legislative action against abortion, the pre-viability restrictions that Mississippi HB 1510 implements are increasingly in touch with the convictions of the nation. Though the bill does not meet the global 75 percent norm of restricting elective abortion to 12 weeks’ gestation, which highlights the disparity between the U.S. and the rest of the world, the bill does restrict abortion for 25 more weeks of pregnancy than the rest of the nation does.

Given that 90 percent of abortions occur within the first 12 weeks of gestation, the law addresses only the remaining pregnancies that survive to 15 weeks. This means that the battle to preserve life, even within Mississippi, is far from over. HB 1510 nevertheless demonstrates the earnest attempts of Mississippi legislators to reflect the views of their state, where only 36 percent of citizens believe abortion should be legal in most cases.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the talents, which focuses on a man who goes on a journey and leaves varying degrees of money with each of his servants. When the master returns, he rewards the servants who earned interest on the talents that they were given; to these, he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”

This parable demonstrates that the Lord blesses the intentions and faith of those who seek to serve Him. The servant with two talents made the most of what he was given and pleased his master just as much as the one who doubled five talents.

For Christians across the nation evaluating their state’s abortion laws, some may feel that they have been given a harder lot to work with than other states. Not every Christian lives in Arkansas, where in March, the Arkansas State Legislature passed a total abortion ban with an exception only to save the life of the mother. For those living in Alaska, where virtually no barriers to elective abortion exist, it may seem that even a massive victory such as overturning Roe v. Wade provides no real hope for a state hostile to life.

According to the words of Christ, however, the Lord reaps even where He has not sown.

Christians living in states with radically unrestrictive abortion laws must not give up the fight for the sanctity of life. To these states that have been given less “talents” or opportunities to pass legislation defending life, the Lord will be pleased with attempts to follow His ordinances, even if legislative success is impossible. For the states that are in the position to protect life, the message is clear: utilize the momentum in the Court to take action; invest the talents that have been given to you, and your strivings will lead you into the joy of your Master.

As Mississippi fights for a 15-week ban on abortion, the Lord is able to accomplish His will through even minimal acts of progress. Through this bill, the Lord could work to reward the strivings of generations of pro-life advocates to overturn Roe v. Wade. Though the outcome of Dobbs remains to be seen, it is certain that the Lord is moving in the hearts of the nation to convict many about the brutal truths of abortion.

Advocates across the country ought to take notice of this progress and be encouraged to do what they can to advance life in their own states, knowing that the Lord will reward their work even in the absence of success.

Joy Zavalick is an intern with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Mary Szoch is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

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