Category archives: Life & Bioethics

Abortion as a Moral Good?

by Family Research Council

February 28, 2007

Amanda Marcotte, the blogger who worked for John Edwards campaign before she fell victim to the “right wing noise machine”, has an interesting take on abortion:

To see that abortion is moral, you just need to look at women as human beings with lives that have value. When a woman chooses abortion, shes not indulging some guilty pleasure, like sneaking in a round of adultery at lunch, to bring up a genuinely immoral action that should not be criminal. She is probably thinking about her familys well-being and yes, her own well-being. Taking your own well-being into consideration is called selfish by anti-choicers, but I think valuing yourself is a moral good, even if you are female. In fact, especially if you are female, since you live in a world where having self-esteem can be an act of moral courage that requires some defiance. If I got pregnant, I wouldnt even have to suffer much mental strain to realize that abortion would be the best choice for myself, my family, and my relationship. Abortion, not just the right to abortion but the actual procedure, is a moral good that helps women and families and should be honored as such. Women who get abortions should be recognized as people who can accurately weigh their choices and make the most moral one.

In fairness, most abortion advocates are not as morally deranged as Marcotte. Some even consider abortion to be “morally questionable”, a position Marcotte claims is a “huge insult”:

Updated to add: Also, saying that abortion is morally questionable, even if youre pro-choice, is a huge insult to the brave men and women who risk life and limb to perform them. Being an abortion doctor is a pretty thankless task, because a bunch of Christian men who have emasculation issues are gunning to kill you in hopes that brings their huevos back.

John Edwards must be thanking his lucky stars that this left-wing extremist quit before such nutty statements completely destroyed his campaign. (HT: Mirror of Justice)

An Unborn Plaintiff?

by Jared Bridges

February 27, 2007

The penultimate question with regard to issues of life is “what does it mean to be human?” Courts have effectively sidestepped that question in cases like Roe v. Wade, opting to address questions of privacy instead.

However, courts can’t forever avoid the issue, and a court in Brooklyn, New York has decided that a 7-year-old girl has the right to sue the city for injuries she received when she was still in the womb:

Sarah Elizabeth Leighton was only a 14-week-old fetus when a toilet at a Brooklyn public school collapsed, injuring her schoolteacher mom.

The fall in January 1999 ruptured Esther Portalatin-Leighton’s placenta, and Sarah was born prematurely, less than four months later, the family contends.

[…]

Sarah’s learning disabilities and asthmatic symptoms are the direct result of her early birth, which was caused by the ruptured placenta, her parents argue.

City lawyers tried to get the case dismissed before trial by arguing that the child had to have been able to survive outside the womb at the time the injuries occurred in order for her to recover damages.

Well, Sarah has survived outside the womb, and she can now claim the injuries sustained when she was a 14-week old fetus. Whatever the merits of the case, the fact that court now recognizes “fetus Sarah” as the “girl Sarah” is a step toward justice.

The court, of course, made sure not to draw parity with abortion issues:

Abortion cases are genuinely distinguishable from the [Leighton] case since fetuses which are aborted are not born alive,” Brooklyn Appeals Court Justice Gloria Goldstein wrote.

However, the panel did offer conception as a line of demarcation, saying that “as long as the injuries occurred after conception and the child was born alive, she could make a claim.” It almost sounds absurd (after all, what injuries can one sustain before conception?), but it does lend considerable recognition to the notion that personhood begins at conception.

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.

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