Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"I simply miss my baby."

A woman from Australia discusses how she feels after her abortion which occurred about 4 and a half months ago according to another post.

"Thank you for helping to make abortion so unavailable pro-lifers!"

One woman in Edmonton whose web page is entitled "It's Okay to Feel Good About Your Abortion and Random Things that Outrage Me" is quite upset (language warning) she had to wait four weeks to have an abortion. She doesn't explain why she had to wait. She thinks prolifers (in Canada, I presume) are the reason that there aren't a lot of abortion providers and she claims abortion is unnecessarily expensive for rural women even though abortions are paid by the government according to the clinic where she most likely had her abortion. Maybe she's talking about travel costs?

Life Links 1/31/07

Science has finally printed a response from David Prentice to the strawman arguments of Bill Neaves and company. Wesley Smith has posted the complete letter.

More details about South Dakota's new attempt to ban abortion. It sounds like the health exception is fairly specific. UPDATE: South Dakota War College has a pdf of the abortion ban legislation along with a description of another interview with the proponents of this legislation.

Adult stem cells are even helping race horses.

Meanwhile the DesMoines register has a horrible editorial on why Iowa needs to overturn its ban on the cloning of human embryos. They use the "creating stem cells through cloning" language. I'm continually amazed that legislators and newspaper editors think that human cloning experiments are somehow going to revive their state's economy and that not being able to attempt to clone human embryos (something, which if you put aside ethical problems has been an enormous failure scientifically) will force scientists to leave in droves as if there are droves of Iowa scientists who want to try their hand at human cloning. Probably hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted trying to create cloned human embryos and scientists still don't have a single embryonic cell line from a cloned human embryo.

Notice also how the editorial never once tries to engage in any ethical arguments about why human cloning for research should be legal. The only reasons provided are the usual "we can't get in the way of science"/"we'll fall behind" arguments. One wonders if they would have any problems with implanting cloned embryos into wombs and then removing the clone's organs? Because banning that would be "anti-science" and you can't be "anti-science."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"all i know is that i cant bring my baby back!"

A young woman shares how she is feeling after her abortion less than a week ago. It appears from the main page of her myspace account that she has another child and at one point intended on keeping this child.

"Prolife" abortion clinic director?

That's what Karen Kubby thinks she is.

It always amazes me how some pro-choicers can write a long question-begging essay like this and never once address what the unborn are or even try to make an argument that killing them is morally justified. It's like it's much easier for them to simply ignore the question/debate and just assume there is nothing wrong with killing a human fetus. I wonder if you work in an abortion clinic if there's another view to take. It seems like it would be impossible to consider the work you take part in on a daily basis is morally wrong.

Below is Karen's editorial but instead of abortion, let's imagine she's trying to defend infanticide instead. One of the commenters did a similar revision but with killing Down Syndrome children.
I am pro-life. I believe strongly in the value of living beings on this planet. I celebrate life in a variety of ways through my daily activities and spiritual life. I recognize the lives gained through infanticide. I see the lives of women and their children who are stronger and more stable because of a decision toward infanticide.

Women in particular have an amazing set of rights and responsibilities for life. It is the most powerful thing on this earth. Every day women are living out these rights and responsibilities.

Every decision we make results in some form of equilibrium. As we close one door, one or many others open. When women make decisions about a killing a newborn, they are thinking deeply about their equilibrium. If a decision is made to choose infanticide, it is because what is lost to that woman and her family is balanced against what is gained for that woman and her family. A decision about infanticide is decidedly pro-life. It is a respectful and moral option. Luckily, if you do not share this place on the spectrum in the discussion, our legal system also protects women from forced infanticide. Therefore, you have the power to decide that infanticide would not be a good decision for you and focus on the two other options -- parenting or adoption.

Sometimes the decision toward infanticide happens because of the concern for the lives of the other children and other members of the family. Sometimes it is based on the health status of the newborn or the mother. Frequently it is based on economic survival.

Because economic factors play such a large and frequent role in the decision making process around a killing a newborn, we cannot have a discussion about whether to kill a newborn or not without having a discussion about economic development, wages and affordable housing. Economic self-sufficiency and community safety nets are intrinsically linked to decisions about whether or not to kill an infant. All of these issues tie together to create healthy families and healthy communities.

These economic issues may be a place on the spectrum where we can gather together as a community to make improvements, no matter how we may feel about infanticide's re-legalization: ensuring that public assistance goes to businesses that provide living wages, health insurance and that comply with family medical leave act requirements; moving our community's imminent discussion on affordable housing forward (before low-income housing is torn down for fast food restaurants); and seeing how our individual attitudes affect how we approach a rezoning request in our neighborhood.

Our Constitution is rooted in the belief that personal decisions should remain personal. We are fortunate in this country that the government doesn't place us on the spectrum in this discussion, but allows us to choose where we place ourselves.
HT: Prolife Blogs

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

Have you ever heard of the "Federal Abortion Ban?" Yeah, me neither and I especially don't remember anything by that name passing in recent years yet NARAL's new Who Decides report has a page describing how Congress tried to ban abortion after 12 weeks and calls this legislation the "Federal Abortion Ban."

Of course, everyone knows they're talking about the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and NARAL even has to include the term they loathe so much, in quotations of course.

The page also lists Michigan as having an "unconstitutional and unenforceable bans that could outlaw abortion as early as the 12th week of pregnancy, with no exception to protect a woman's health." Are they referring to the Legal Birth Definition Act?

If so, I wonder how they missed the part where physicians are given immunity if they act "to avert an imminent threat to the physical health of the mother, and any harm to the perinate was incidental to treating the mother and not a known or intended result of the procedure performed." Or maybe a health exception is only a "health" exception if allows a woman to get an abortion for any reason?

Life Links 1/29/07

Tim Graham notes the differing coverage in the Washington Post between the recent war protest and the March for Life. My local paper had a good story about a local march for life but I didn't see anything about the D.C. march while having a long front page article about the war protest.

What did I say about the 5,000 to 10,000 myth? Pro-choice advocates and lazy reporters just won't let it die. Here's the latest from Eastern Michigan's newspaper.
The only other option for women was to have an illegal abortion, usually in unsanitary conditions and with dangerous methods. Each year, an estimated 5,000 women would die of botched abortions.
This time it appears the reporter likely got this statistic from NARAL's web site or someone at Planned Parenthood.

It appears the South Dakota legislators will introduce another bill to ban abortion. This time the bill will have exceptions for rape and incest and the health of the woman. I haven't seen yet how "health" is defined.

There's a bunch of letters regarding Justice for All display at the University of Arizona at the Wildcat Online.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Storing umbilical cord blood is now "controversial?"

So says David Robertson writing for the London Times.
Sir Richard Branson will launch his most controversial business to date as he moves into stem-cell storage and the biotech sector, The Times has learnt.

The Virgin-branded company will be launched next Thursday and is expected to offer parents the chance to put the umbilical blood of their newborn children into cold storage.
And how is this "controversial?"

According to Robertson,
Some anti-abortion groups believe that any use of stem cells will lead to human cloning.
Huh? I have never heard of a prolife group saying that the use of umbilical cord blood stem cells will lead to human cloning and neither has Robertson. He just simply doesn't seem to understand the prolife position on this issue at all.

Different state, same playbook

Iowa's Democratic governor, Chet Culver, is "calling on the Legislature to lift a state ban on a certain type of embryonic stem cell research" according to news stories.

What isn't mention in the majority of the articles is what "type" of research Iowa has a state ban on. Does Iowa have a ban on embryonic stem cell research? No , but they do have a ban on human cloning .

A story from the Daily Iowan actually uses the "C" word but then claims "therapeutic cloning" produces embryonic stem cells, sidestepping the fact that cloning doesn't produce stem cells - it tries to produce cloned human embryos who would then be killed for their stem cells.
Democrats Sen. Joe Bolkcom and Rep. Mary Mascher, both of Iowa City, will propose legislation as early as next week that would rescind the state's current ban on therapeutic cloning, which in theory can create human embryonic stem cells.

Both Culver and Bolkcom said Thursday the state's restrictions on human cloning will remain intact.
So we'll rescind the ban on human cloning but the human cloning ban will remain in place? They just get tongue-tied trying to argue that human cloning for research isn't human cloning, don't they?

The article also includes proponents of human cloning for research making the typical and factually bankrupt claims that funding embryonic stem cell research will be an "economic boon" and that the ban on human cloning for research is keeping Iowa from recruiting and keeping the best scientists.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blogroll additions

I've added Mark Pickup's blog Human Life Matters and Nigel Cameron's blog Choosing Tomorrow to the blogroll.

Life Links 1/25/07

Want to adopt in the UK? You better not be Christian and too idealistic. Unbelievable.

Joe Carter: Monty Hall Morality: Our Ethical Obligation to Harvest Organ-Donor Clones

Greg Koukl: The Confusing Moral Logic of ESCR: Part III

The Eagle-Tribune has two long stories dealing with Amber Abreu, a young woman who used Cytotec (also known as misoprostol) to abort her pregnancy in the second trimester. Amber ended up delivering a living child named Ashley who weighed one and a quarter baby and died four days after birth. One article discusses the case and the circumstances around Amber's attempted abortion while another discusses how some immigrants from Latin America will get Cytotec without a prescription to abort their pregnancies.

Crazy letter to editor of the week

This one from Megan Heeren (scroll down a bit) on how the U.S. government controls gas prices. Her evidence for this massive conspiracy: oil prices went under $2 the week President Bush announced the surge in troops plan. Why the gas prices recently jumped up about 20 cents is never explained.

Will the 5,000-to-10,000-women-a-year-died from-abortion-before-Roe myth ever die?

Not if certain pro-choice groups and lazy reporters have anything to do with it. The Oakland Press has a story on a local Life Chain to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the story includes this tidbit from Kris Hamel, founding member and organizer of DANFORR (Detroit Action Network For Reproductive Rights):
Before the ruling in 1973, "an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 women died each year in the United State as a result of a million unsafe, illegal abortions," Hamel said.

Yeah, cause it's not like that myth hasn't been totally destroyed.

DANFORR is a rather nutty group. They're the ones who protest outside of pregnancy care centers and think most Democrats want to ban abortion.

Also note how the reporter describes Roe.
The event was among many events around the United States that mark the 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that allowed abortions in certain situations

As Ramesh Ponnuru says in his book Party of Death (pg. 9):
But saying that Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the first three months of pregnancy is like saying that World War II pitted Germany against Britain.

Scott Klusendorf shares on why "thousands of women died" isn't a valid argument even if it was true.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blogs4Life update

Well, it seems there were some pro-choice people who decided to check up on prolife bloggers on Monday. Both Ann from Feministing and Dana Goldstein from Campus Progress attended the morning session of the Blogs4Life conference and wrote about their experience on their blogs. I left comments on both of their blogs (my comment at Feministing hasn't been accepted as of yet- UPDATE- it has now been accepted) about how they inaccurately describe the age and gender of Blogs4Life attendees.

Ann claims that "the majority of anti-choice bloggers, judging by the attendance, are 50-year-old men, several of whom brought their young sons along. Nearly every younger woman I noticed there was attending as a reporter" while Dana notes "few members of the mostly-male, mostly-middle-aged audience seemed to be bloggers." How does one "seem to be" a blogger? Do you need to be carrying around a laptop and constantly posting while attending a conference? Do you need to be a college-aged? Can middle-aged men not blog?

I don't know if Ann and Dana had blinders on which prevented them from seeing prolife people who don't match their stereotypes of prolifers but their descriptions of the audience are simply inaccurate. I have a sneaking suspicion that the young woman sitting next to my wife during the morning session was Ann. My wife and I are both in our 20's while a friend who was sitting next to me is a woman in her 30's. From my memory, the audience was split fairly evenly with regards to gender and I think there were even more women in the audience than men. I remember one older gentleman who was probably in his 60's. There were a couple of men (3 or 4) who were probably in their 40's. There were a number of middle-aged women, some college students from LSU, and a fair number of men in their 20's like myself. I also noticed a fair number of younger women. I don't know if they were almost all there as reporters as Ann claims. There were a number of young men whom I assumed worked for the Family Research Council who would come in and out and the audience grew larger when Senator Brownback arrived because I'm guessing he brought some of his staff. I think most of the children (2 or 3) there were the children of Charmaine Yoest (FRC's Vice-President of Communications). Tim from Prolifeblogs might have also brought a son along as well.

Ann also claims that "(t)here was also much talk about how the annual March for Life never receives any coverage from the "secular media."" I attended the whole conference (with the exception of David Prentice's speech at the end) and I don't ever recall hearing anything like that. The liberal bent of the mainstream media was mentioned from the podium but I don't recall the March for Life being mentioned with regards to media coverage. Did Ann hear that from a speaker or one of the conference attendees? Who said that exactly? While I know some prolifers feel the March doesn't get the media attention it deserves, I doubt anyone would claim it never gets any.

I think the oddest part of Ann's analysis is when she writes,
See, if you ask Sam Brownback, one of the problems with America is that we treat fetuses as second-class citizens, much like African-Americans were treated in the pre-civil rights era. Does this seem more than a little insulting to anyone else? Saying that black people and fetuses (and really, embryos) should be considered "equally human"? Wow.

Wow indeed. It's amazing Ann seems to be so ignorant of the prolife view that she doesn't understand prolifers view all human beings regardless of race, development, size, etc. as being "equally human." This is the basic premise of the prolife movement yet Ann thinks she came across the Northwest Passage.

Life Links 1/24/07

Why does Lee Silver keep trying to argue with Patrick Lee and Robert George? This is probably one of the most complete and through takedown of an argument (human embryos aren't human beings) I've ever seen. I can't believe Silver would actually think that because a group of stem cells and a human embryo look similar that this somehow proves a human embryo isn't a human being.

George Will discusses his son and the ACOG's proposed guidelines for screening every unborn child for Down Syndrome.

Annie at After Abortion has more on the article about post-abortive women in the NY Times Magazine.

Looks like California won't really be awash in profits from the stem cell cures which would be supposedly created by Proposition 71. Remember this when the embryonic stem cell advocates come to your state and claim they need your tax-dollars so your state will have a chance to bring in the revenue.

Korean researchers have turned stem cells from umbilical cord blood into pancreatic cells which secrete insulin.

Colorado Right to Life continues to put out some really bad arguments for prolife absolutism. Here's the latest from Larimer County Right to Life President Jon Davis. I wonder if Colorado Right to Life will work to remove their state's parental notification law since once the parents are notified then their daughter can have an abortion. Probably not since they somehow consider parental notification laws okay but parental consent laws bad.

Here's a pro-embryonic stem procell researchcolumn from Michigan State's newspaper. The columnist, Ryan Dinkgrave, doesn't seem to understand that prolife opposition to embryonic stem cell research isn't based on whether abortions will go up or down but on the reality that a human embryo is destroyed when their stem cells are extracted. He also doesn't seem to understand that Bush isn't doing anything to stop scientists from conducting embryonic stem cell research (it's going on right now with federal support). He merely vetoed a bill to increase the scope of federal funding.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is there any abortion objectivity at the NY Times?

Emily Bazelon has written a cover story for the New York Times Magazine entitled, "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?" From the title you might get the impression Bazelon scoured through a variety of scientific studies on women who've had abortions and visited with scores of women who regret their abortions.

Not quite. Bazelon follows around a single prolife woman named Rhonda Arias who regrets her abortion and works as an abortion-recovery counselor. She also briefly mentions other women who work in post-abortion ministry. Bazelon supports her take on the issue with a decades-old panel report from the APA and treats it as the final word on scientific evidence relating to PAS. Bazelon also fails to mention a recent study (linked to above) by pro-choice researcher David Fergusson who found connections between abortion and mental health. That, of course, wouldn't fit into the narrative that only prolife researchers could concoct a study where abortion was harmful to the mental health of women.
By concentrating on the babies she feels she has lost (she has named the first two Adam and Jason), Arias has drained other aching memories of some of their power. "I think about the baby girl I gave up for adoption, and I think I made a good parenting choice. I know she had a good life," she said.

Does Bazelon have a degree is psychology? If not, then why is she giving us her armchair opinion on why Arias focuses on her abortions? Could it be possible that Arias is actually glad she gave up a child for adoption instead of having an abortion?
Thirty-four years ago this week, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, and since then the American abortion wars have pitted the rights of "unborn babies" against those of living women

Notice the quotes around unborn babies and the inclusion of the adjective "living" before women as if to somehow show some contrast between those "unborn babies" who certainly aren't living and those real, living women.
Abortion-recovery counselors like Arias could focus on why women don't have the material or social support they need to continue pregnancies they might not want to end. They could call for improving the circumstances of women's lives in order to reduce the number of abortions. Instead they are working to change laws to restrict and ban abortion.
First, talk about some broad generalizations. Does anyone honestly believe there aren't any abortion-recovery counselors who don't work on those things? Are all abortion-recovery counselors focused on banning abortion? From what I've seen most individuals focused on post-abortion ministry aren't focused on passing abortion bans but rather reaching out to women who've been hurt by abortion.

Second, wouldn't the belief that abortion takes an innocent and valuable human life and hurts women typically lead someone to be in favor of prolife laws?

Bazelon eventually finds her way to some scientific studies.
Brenda Major, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, followed 440 women for two years in the 1990s from the day each had her abortion. One percent of them met the criteria for post-traumatic stress and attributed that stress to their abortions.
So if 1% of all women who've had abortion met the criteria for post-traumatic stress and attribute that stress to an abortion, isn't that a large number of women? Say 13,000 women a year? Earlier Bazelon notes the Alan Guttmacher statistic that around 1/3 of women will have an abortion during their childbearing years, yet she doesn't seem to comprehend that 1% of 1/3 of American women is hundreds of thousands of women.

Bazelon does go on to note how some pro-choicers who are somewhat open to discussing pain caused by abortion can be ostracized by the pro-choice movement.
Torre-Bueno says that when she self-published her book and asked if she could hold a book party at Planned Parenthood in San Diego, the director said no. "He called me a ‘dupe of the antis,' " she remembers.

Unfortunately, Bazelon ends the article with a paragraph which I think exemplifies how pro-choice people view women who have had abortions and come to regret them later in life. Bazelon's conclusion is that abortion doesn't really cause any mental problems. Instead, regretting a past abortion is a way for some women with mental problems or depression to find a fake source and then fix those problems by repenting from their abortion. I don't know about you but I find this view of women to be insulting. As if post-abortive women who regret their abortions are totally irrational creatures who can so easily be fooled into what they are feeling.

While it may come off as insulting to me and some post-abortive prolife women, I can see why someone like Bazelon would think like that. If you can't see the unborn as anything worthy of value and abortion as being completely morally unproblematic, then it's much harder to see the grief some women feel as being real.

HT: Get Religion

March for Life Pictures

Some of the pictures I took are here.

I'm always amazed at the number of young people and their enthusiasm , the diverse religious affiliations (I saw signs for a denomiation I was unaware existed before yesterday - Charismatic Episcopalians) and how many people are willing to ride to Washington, D.C. and back on crowded buses through the night to attend the March.

Incrementalism, Adult Stem Cell Research, March for Life Pics, and UCLA prolifers

Michael New (whom I met yesterday at the Blogs4Life conference) shares his thoughts on how incrementalism works.

Here's an article in the Detroit Free Press on the progress of a Michigan woman who underwent olfactory stem cell transplant to help her spinal cord injury.

Barbara Curtis has a ton of pictures from the March for Life.

Prolife students at UCLA have put together a student magazine to share the prolife message. The issue linked above includes excerpts of what pregnant college students face from the university's health center. A quote from one of the health center employees: "I prefer to look at the potential part of it rather than on the child part of it."

There's also an article in the UCLA Bruin about their efforts.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Because sometimes after a hard day you just need to kick your feet up and relax

Stem cell links

Yuval Levin: A Middle Ground for Stem Cells
They argue that the human embryo is just too small, too unlike us in appearance, or too lacking in consciousness or sensitivity to pain or other critical mental capacity to be granted a place in the human family. But surely America has learned the hard way not to assign human worth by appearances.

Jonah Goldberg: Blinding us with Science
Indeed, abortion-rights absolutism provides no defensible terrain to object to that slippery slope. Today's "pro-science" champions may soon see a world where homosexuality is eradicated in utero thanks to their hard work establishing the absolute moral sovereignty of individual choice and science.

Sam Berger and Jonathon Moreno continue to try to argue with Ramesh Ponnuru about stem cell research and again assert, "The scientific community has been clear: no alternative methods of deriving pluripotent stem cells are viable replacements for embryonic stem cell research" without providing any evidence there is a "consensus" or that the scientific community has been "clear" on this issue. They also don't have any response to Ramesh's points about how many stem cell lines could be produced from frozen human embryos or their mischaracterization of James Battey's testimony.

A strategy which works

The question I have chosen to address for the Blogs4Life Online Symposium is:
Defining our Approach Choosing between Incrementalism and Absolutism

Should we approach pro-life issues on an incremental basis, gradually achieving our goals by compromise and exceptions? Or, should we settle for nothing less than full legal recognition of the sanctity for life? What are the merits for these positions? What are the drawbacks?

A couple of general points to start with:

1. Both incrementalists (those who favor working to end legal abortion through incremental laws like parental consent and abortion clinic regulations) and absolutists (those who would favor trying to end legal abortion only through laws that ban abortion outright) have the same goal. Both want legal abortion to end. Their disagreement is over strategy, not what they want the end result to be.

2. There is no place in a rational discourse on this topic for accusations about prolife individuals not being "truly prolife" or having ulterior motives. There is also no place for claims that laws which attempt to restrict abortion are "inherently evil." These claims and accusations do nothing to move the conversation forward.

With those points aside I'd also say I'm not sure I like the phrasing of the question above. For example, those who believe in an incrementalist strategy don't plan on stopping/settling until there is nothing less than full legal recognition of the unborn child. They're just going about reaching that goal in a different way than trying to take the whole cake with one swipe. I'm also not sure incrementalists want or need to compromise with pro-choicers. While laws that force minors to obtain their parents' consent before an abortion don't protect the life of every unborn child, I don't think I would label these laws, which are vehemently opposed by pro-choice organizations, "compromises." They are more like tiny steps which bring us closer to our goal.

I think the main questions in front of us when deciding whether to use an incrementalist strategy or an absolutist strategy is simply:

Which will work better? Which strategy will be more likely to end legal abortion?

And from what I've seen while being part of the prolife movement, the incrementalist strategy works better than an absolutist strategy which will only take an all-or-nothing-right-now approach to abortion legislation. I feel if the prolife movement focused all its legislative efforts on passing laws that banned all abortions at this moment in time then the progress we've made in the last number of years would come to a screeching halt and most likely start to turn in the other direction.

Incremental laws which regulate abortion clinics have done some amazing things. In Mississippi there is only one abortion clinic. All the others have closed up shop. In Michigan, the number of abortions performed annually has been cut nearly in half in the last two decades and is at its lowest point since abortions have been reported to the state. The states with the lowest grades from NARAL typically have much lower abortion rates (usually somewhere around 10 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44) than the states who are favored by NARAL.

These prolife victories certainly aren't the end goal but I believe they bring us closer to it. These laws not only help decrease the number of abortions but also give prolifers a chance to educate the public on abortion and win hearts and minds. Abortion becomes seen no longer as a necessary right but as something which is so onerous it needs to be restricted as much as is currently possible.

Meanwhile, when the absolutist strategy is used as it recently was in South Dakota, the results are less impressive. In South Dakota, which is arguably one of the most conservative and prolife states in our country, a referendum on a law to ban all abortions received only 44.5% of the votes and when not enough votes were garnered, some prolifers quickly starting pointing fingers at other prolifers. One wondered what would have happened if more prolife groups had joined their efforts while another prolifer claimed the ban failed because it focused too much on how abortion hurts women and not enough on how abortion kills unborn children.

Why is it that those in favor of trying to ban all abortions often immediately point the finger at other prolifers when their efforts fail? Instead of possibly rethinking strategy, the response I typically see from absolutists when they fail is to lay the blame on other prolifers who don't agree with their specific strategy.

But what if the South Dakota ban had received a majority of votes? Would it have saved the life of one child or would it have been immediately challenged in court and eventually ruled unconstitutional? If it was ruled unconstitutional, what then? Another complete ban leading to another court battle leading to another unfavorable ruling? How would that move us closer to our goal?

When Roe falls, the national debate over abortion will become 50 separate debates over abortion. In some states like South Dakota, an abortion ban which included exceptions for rape and incest would likely meet the approval of a majority of voters. If such a ban with exceptions passed, this wouldn't mean that prolifers would have to stop in their efforts to gain legal rights for unborn children conceived in rape. Instead, it would allow them to work for the last small piece of the puzzle when they've already put the vast majority of it together.

If the question before us is what strategy works best and is most likely to bring us to a point where every unborn child is protected by law I see the incrementalist strategy as the strategy with the most merits and the least drawbacks.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

How can you tell when someone doesn't have very good arguments?

They start out by claiming that "the scientific community has reached its consensus: there are no viable alternatives to embryonic stem cells." If Jonathon Moreno and Sam Berger actually believe this then they've been spending way too much time in the echo chamber. The fact that researchers continue to explore ways of trying to find pluripotent cells without killing embryos seems to indicate not every scientist thinks there aren't viable alternatives to embryonic stem cells.

Berger and Moreno also show they haven't done their homework:
Yet three percent of 400,000 would yield 12,000 embryos; even a few thousand new stem cell lines would dwarf the 200 or so likely available in the world's labs today and the 21 approved for research under the current administration policy.

It seems that Berger and Moreno are unaware that having 12,000 embryos for research doesn't equal "a few thousand new stem cell lines." In fact, the RAND report which is the source for the 400,000 frozen embryo number noted that:
Using a conservative estimate between the two conversion rates from blastocyst to stem cells noted above (27 percent and 7.5 percent), the research team calculated that about 275 embryonic stem cell lines could be created from the total number of embryos available for research.[1] Even this number is probably an overestimate because it assumes that all the embryos designated for research in the United States would be used to create stem cell lines, which is highly unlikely.

Amazing how a conservative and probable overestimate of 275 becomes a "few thousand new stem cell lines," huh? Does 275 stem cell lines "dwarf the 200 or so likely available?"

Ramesh Ponnuru adds more and notes how Berger and Moreno cut off the testimony of James Battey during the question and answer. If you're interested in seeing how deceptive people like Berger and Moreno are you can examine Battey's testimony without the question and answer (which I haven't been able to find online). In his testimony Battey outlines various possible ways of obtaining embryonic or embryonic-like stem cell lines without killing embryos. It is fairly clear from my reading that he understands these methods aren't going to be treating people soon (just as embryonic stem cell aren't) but he thinks they are worthy of exploring.

Sadly, someone writing for the blog of the American Journal of Bioethics seems to think Moreno's and Berger's piece is quite good.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Life Links 1/17/07

For the first time, one of the embryos saved from the flood caused by Katrina has been born. The parents decided to name him Noah.

Nancy Pelosi says she was involved in a political campaign "no matter how little my babies were, if I was wheeling them in a carriage or carrying them in my stomach."

Maggie Gallagher on Miss New Jersey and her pregnancy.
"Ashley could have kept the chance to compete for the Miss USA title this March by having a safe and legal abortion. Instead she demonstrated that some things really are more important than reaching for Donald Trump's tiara"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Does that line matter?"

William Saletan discusses Abraham Center of Life's foray into creating made to order human embryos.
That's the central question Ryan's venture poses. She didn't invent commerce, quality control, or trait selection in human reproduction. Those trends are rampant in the egg and sperm markets. All she did was extend them across the line of conception. Does that line matter?

If it does, you'd better figure out how to square that with your views on abortion and stem-cell research. But if it doesn't, you'd better figure out where to draw the next line. Because the logic of what Ryan is offering—more control, more customization, higher quality, fewer hassles, lower cost, and lower risk—won't end here.

They're back

So what happens if you signed up to lobby your state legislators on stem cell research (specifically a bill to legalize human cloning and the killing of embryos for research - but they don't tell you that) at the state of Michigan web site?

Well, one of my friends who wanted to keep tabs on what she would get if she signed up just forwarded me an e-mail from the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures promoting their web site which is finally completely back up again after months of reworking that plagiarism glitch.

Isn't it odd/unethical/immoral that Governor Jennifer Granholm is taking the e-mail addresses she obtained by using the state of Michigan's web site to and then giving these addresses to an organization which she is on the advisory committee of?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Life Links 1/15/07

Question: What happens when you believe everything a pro-choice organization tells you, you don't check your facts, you get your story wrong in the New York Times and these errors are eventually noted in the NY Times.

Answer: Your story somehow gets reprinted in the UK's Observer.

Adult stem cells continue to press on while our representatives waste their time on embryonic stem cell hype.

Adam Graham: Bold Incrementalism

Yuval Levin on the recent embryonic stem cell vote and the stem cells from amniotic fluid.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Miss one of your favorite TV shows?

You might be able to watch the show online at Peekvid.


Amanda from Pandagon (language warning): "In fact, it's somewhat tough to characterize abortion as a right when it's only your right if you've got a few hundred laying around to pay for one, and since 1976, women who qualify for Medicaid are basically (expletive) out of luck because Medicaid doesn't cover the costs of abortion."

In fact, it's somewhat tough to characterize the right to property as a right when it's only your right if you can afford a down payment and a mortgage.

In fact, it's somewhat tough to characterize the right for people to have sex as a right when the government won't give individuals unable to find someone to have sex with money for a prostitute.

How mangled does the concept of rights have to become for someone to think they don't really have a right to do something unless the government pays for it?

The Blogs4Life Conference is on January 22

I'll be there. Will you?

Stem cell links

Charles Krauthammer (who isn't prolife) has a column discussing stem cell research and Bush's position.
You don't need religion to tremble at the thought of unrestricted embryo research. You simply have to have a healthy respect for the human capacity for doing evil in pursuit of the good. Once we have taken the position of many stem cell advocates that embryos are discardable tissue with no more intrinsic value than a hangnail or an appendix, then all barriers are down.

Here's the roll call vote on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

More cloning deception, this time with embryonic stem cells from cloned monkeys embryos.

Hypetastic. One U.S. Representative whose son has juvenile diabetes claimed that embryonic stem cell research and the bill the House voted on yesterday was the "only meaningful hope for a cure in my son's lifetime." Maybe Representative Space should read up on how various kinds of stem cells have worked or not worked in humans and in rodents.

Ramesh Ponnuru on the Center for American Progress and their stem cell double standards.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Life Links 1/11/07

South Carolina might soon be catching on to the trend of giving women considering abortion the opportunity to view their ultrasound at abortion clinics.

Here's an article in an Italian paper about the co-author (Paolo De Coppi not Anthony Atala) of the paper on amniotic stem cells. The writer notes (emphasis mine) De Coppi "disclosed that he had the impression since 2001, when he first started presenting his work at conferences, that the scientific establishment, which has invested heavily in embryo research, was resistant to the prospect of amniotic stem cells proving useful." De Coppi also shares how their paper was rejected four times before being published. Things that make you hmmm.....

Meanwhile, the House has passed the bill to expand the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research but fell well short of a veto-proof majority. It should also be noted that the author of the AP article doesn't accurately describe what the bill would do.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Advancing Stem Cell Science Without Destroying Human Life

That's the name of a new report out from the President's Domestic Policy Council.

The report is 67 pages (the majority of which is an appendix which contains the abstracts of various studies) and discusses breakthroughs in adult stem cell research, research to obtain pluripotent cells from sources other than living human embryos and touches on human cloning for research. It also defends the Bush administration's current policy on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Life Links 1/10/07

An update on what's going on with the prolife group at Carleton University in Canada. It appears that even though the motion to deny funding and use of facilities to prolife groups at the Carleton University Students Association passed, a vote among representatives of various school associations to allow the group Carleton LifeLine to be recognized and have the ability to apply for funding.

Wesley Smith shares how he became an anti-euthanasia activist on his podcast.

Yuval Levin on the sorry state of embryonic stem cell debate.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Screening for Down Syndrome

Why is the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommending that every pregnancy be screened towards the end of the first trimester for the possibility of the unborn child having Down Syndrome? Why do they want the test taken before the 20th week of gestation?

The term "search and destroy" seems to work here. I'm not seeing any guidelines calling for improving the counseling of parents who receive whose unborn child's test comes back positive for Down Syndrome. What will the false positive rate be for these tests? How many parents will abort their unborn child because they think she has Down Syndrome when she doesn't?

The Wikipedia page for Down Syndrome notes that the false positive rate for the Nuchal translucency/free beta/PAPPA screen is 5% and one systematic literature review found that around 92% of pregnancies where there was a prenatal diagnosis for Down Syndrome ended in abortion.

Governor hailed as God's instrument

Someone alert TheocracyWatch.

At an inaugural prayer service, one state's governor was compared to various biblical figures by ministers who also claimed the governor may be "God's instrument to help save the state from unemployment, poorly funded schools and other evils."

The governor said it was important to set this upcoming term on "a spiritual foundation" and was anointed with oil at the end of ceremony.

You probably won't hear the leftwing blogs raving out this religious ceremony though because the governor in question is Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, who happens to be a Democrat.

Next time you see someone commenting on how a certain Republican politician is too coozy with religious groups or how churches might be going over the line with their characterizations of certain politicians, just remember it happens on both sides of the political aisle.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Beating Hyde

With new leadership in Congress and the retirement of a certain prolife representative, pro-choice groups are getting excited about the possibility of dismantling a law that has long been a thorn in their side: the Hyde Amendment. They even have a web site which is the work of the National Network of Abortion Funds.

The Hyde Amendment prevents the federal government from paying for the abortions of women on Medicaid except in the cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

According to the article,
In the three decades since passage of the Hyde Amendment, between 18 and 35 percent of Medicaid-eligible women who would have had abortions if funding had been available instead carried their pregnancies to term, according to Ipas, an abortion rights group in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Safe, legal, rare and paid for?

Stopping tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions has a huge impact on how many abortions are performed in a year. Take Michigan, for example.

1988 was the last year Michigan tax dollars paid for abortions. In that year there were an estimated 217,544 pregnancies, 139,635 live births and 45,438 abortion for Michigan residents. In 1989, tax dollars no longer paid for abortion and there were an estimated 216,449 pregnancies, 148,164 live births and 35,138 abortions for Michigan residents.

Life Links 1/8/07

A long article in Newsweek on the potential of stem cell from amniotic fluid and how these cells (which have shown to be possibly pluripotent ability, have long life spans and don't cause tumors) could end the ethical debate over embryonic stem cells. Here's the abstract of the study from Nature Biotechnology.

The New York Times has issued a correction for Jack Hitt's story about abortion in El Salvador.

There don't seem to be a lot of news sources at this point picking up on a recent systematic review of emergency contraception studies which shows how increased use of emergency contraception doesn't lead to a reduction in unplanned pregnancies or abortion.

Maybe someone should let Planned Parenthood know. Their web site claims "EC was responsible for approximately 43 percent of the decrease in the number of abortions from 1994 to 2000."

Friday, January 05, 2007

"I'd do anything to not disappoint my family. Anything. So I did the worst thing possible."

A women shares her experience of healing after having an abortion.

Life Links 1/5/07

Rebecca Taylor on IVM (in vitro maturation) and fetal mating

Wesley Smith on some stem cell scare mongering in the United Kingdom . Scientists would have UK residents believe thousands of patients will die if they aren't allowed to create cloned human/animal hybrids. I'm amazed the HFEA would turn this down since I can't recall them turning down any other morally questionable research.

A pro-choice license plate for Florida will be unveiled at NOW's national conference.

Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a variety of bills to help create a statewide network of umbilical cord blood banks. She did veto one of the bills which would have provided a tax incentive to individuals who donate money to cord blood banks citing the state of Michigan "continues to face enormous fiscal challenges." One wonders if she would have vetoed a bill funding embryonic stem cell research for the same reason.

Dr. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, R.I.P

Dr. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, a scholar, feminist and professor recently passed away. Here's an essay the former professor at Emory University wrote awhile back on how abortion has failed women.
Abortion provides many women with a quick solution to immediate problems. It does not improve the conditions that produced the problems in the first place. If anything, it reinforces them. Abortion begets more abortion -- and more unhappiness for women. Women's growing distaste for abortion demonstrates an emerging consciousness that women's greatest need from society is that it facilitate their lives as women who are both equal to and different from men. But we should not delude ourselves: Women's freedom to bear and nurture children is expensive. And, under present conditions, we should not expect the private sector to shoulder the entire cost. Having permitted the disintegration of marriage, we must now pay the taxes to underwrite support for single mothers. The great challenge will be to meet the needs of single mothers without encouraging the further erosion of marriage. The cultural and moral challenge is as daunting as the economic responsibility, and neither is likely to prove easy. Nonetheless, it behooves us to remember that we are our sister's keeper, not least because in her prospects lie our own.
Robert George also has shared some insights into the life of his friend.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Abortion is a moral good?

So thinks Marcy Bloom, an abortion advocate. She writes,
In a society that talks about everything from the mundane to the sensational, abortion has been the secret that many women have felt uncomfortable discussing openly. Even after 33 years of Roe vs. Wade, the acceptance of abortion as a moral good for women and society still eludes us.
She continues,
Even pro-choice politicians and leaders refer to it as tragic (Hillary Clinton) and bad (Kate Michelman) and the need to make it rare. What should be rare, of course, is unplanned pregnancy - not abortion.

Missing in action is any kind of reasoning for why abortion is a moral good or why abortion shouldn't be rare (abortion advocates rarely supply a sound reason for why they think it should be rare) while unplanned pregnancy should. If unplanned pregnancies are rare wouldn't that mean abortion would also be rare? It's as if Bloom thinks unplanned pregnancies should be rare because they put women in an uncomfortable situation while abortions shouldn't be rare because the decision to have an abortion could be some way to empower women by taking control of their unplanned pregnancy.

She also writes,
Society must continue to examine the moral consequences that befall us when the choice of abortion is not honored. It is, after all, a choice that more than one million women make in the U.S. annually. Above all, abortion needs to be viewed as the most morally responsible and loving choice a woman can make when she believes that this is the best decision for herself.

Bloom seems to think that abortion is the "most morally responsible and loving choice" simply because the woman having an abortion believes the choice to have an abortion is the best choice.

Couldn't this flawed reasoning be used to say the choice to do almost anything is the "most morally responsible and loving choice?" It seems clear that the perceptions of the actor don't necessarily make an action morally right. Unless of course, Bloom thinks misguided individuals who attempt to do physical harm to abortionists are doing the most morally responsible and loving thing.

Life Links 1/4/07

Here's an interesting story about how 1,400 human embryos were rescued from a flooded New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina.

Robert Novak has a column on newly-elected prolife Democrats and the upcoming vote on increased federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. But for some reason Novak calls Jon Tester (the newly elected U.S. Senator from Montana) a "pro-lifer" when it doesn't appear that Tester is what most people consider "prolife" from Tester's web site or the fact that he was endorsed by NARAL in 2006. Does anyone who says they want to reduce the number of abortions now get the label "prolife?"

Feminist health care centers vs. private practice abortionists?
According to one feminist health care provider named Carol Downer, "Women go into those (private practice) provider's offices and no matter how good the medical care is they come out feeling ashamed. Not true with feminist health centers. We REALLY believe in the rights of all women that come through our doors. We treat a woman with respect."

Does that mean that private practice abortionists don't treat women with respect? But from what I read from most abortion supporting organizations abortion provides women almost uniformly with relief?

Thanks to Serge for pointing me to the Reproductive Health Reality Check blog which I'm sure will provide many posts to comment on in the future.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Life Links 1/3/07

Who needs a public editor when he shows the bias and lack of research that goes into some New York Times stories and the inability to correct obvious errors after the fact? HT: The Corner

No Baby Left Behind is a new web site that will keep track of unborn children who haven't been aborted due to the efforts of prolife groups and individuals.

One Chinese province has banned the retail sale of abortion drugs (I'm assuming these are the drugs used in an RU-486 abortion) in the hopes of stopping some abortions done for gender selection reasons.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Time for the NY Times to post a correction on its story about abortion in El Salvador

Remember that long New York Times Magazine story by Jack Hitt about El Salvador's abortion law and how a woman named Carmen Climaco was sentenced to 30 years for supposedly having an illegal abortion at 18 weeks?

Remember how LifeSite News published a story showing how the woman was actually imprisoned for strangling her newborn?

Byron Calame, the NY Times' Public Editor, now has an article exposing the laziness and/or bias of writer Jack Hitt and some of editors of the NYT.
One thing is clear to me, at this point, about the key example of Carmen Climaco. Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect.
Byron also discusses how Ipas, an organization which supports legal abortion, provided Hitt with a translator and then used his story as a way of raising money. Ipas is also currently trying to use Calame's current article to highlight what they do in El Salvador and raise money.