Friday, May 29, 2009

Disappointed by embryonic stem cell research? But I thought it was going to cure, like, everything?

Via First Things blog, I've come across this piece by the staff at Scientific America (a hardy embryonic stem cell research proponent) in which they call for the public to accept a reality check regarding the potential of embryonic stem cells.
So scientists at last mostly have what they have been asking for. And the public should now prepare to be disappointed.

Perhaps “disappointed” is an overstatement, but a realistic recalibration of expectations is surely in order. The problem with turning a scientific issue into a political football is that the passionate rough-and-tumble of the game can leave the science itself rather scuffed.
You don't say? Did Scientific America ever discuss this scuffing of science when embryonic stem cell proponents were falsely claiming cures were right around the corner?
When opponents of ESC research likened it to genocide and Nazi concentration camp experiments, its proponents countered by emphasizing how irreplaceable ESCs were and how miraculous the cures arising from them could be. Whether or not those claims wandered into rhetorical excess, at least a few false hopes and misimpressions have probably been left behind.
Oh, I get it. If opponents of ESC likened killing human embryos for research to other kind immoral experiments where human beings were killed for research then it's okay for scientists to lie about how promising ESC are so people could get over their moral qualms about killing human embryos for research. If your opponents make a comparison you don't agree with, it's okay to intentionally mislead people. Got it.

This is a horrible excuse for the hyping of research especially since the claim that how the opponents of ESCR argued lead to the hyping is extremely dubious. The hyping occurred because the first time this debate came around in the Clinton years, scientists were more measured about the prospects of ESCR and they didn't get what they wanted. They learned their lesson. Being realistic about ESCs wasn't going to get them the public support they needed to get the public funding they desired.

The article goes on to say that therapies are still years away, "many if not most of those future therapies based on ESC research may not actually involve ESCs," it would be a "technological headache" to use ESCs which matched a patient's immune system, and adult cells will probably be used instead.

Those claims may sound familiar because they're what opponents of ESCR have been saying for years.

Life Links 5/29/09

As if his career hasn't been floundering enough, Al Pacino is now apparently in talks to play the role of Jack Kevorkian in a gushing HBO biopic.

Jill Stanek attended last night's debate between Robert George and Doug Kmiec and has the details. You can view the debate online here.

Prolifers in the UK are still working to get details about abortions performed there for late term abortions. They basically want to know why some women are aborting children past 24 weeks. Is it because of true medical reasons or because the woman's child was diagnosed with cleft palate.

Making abortion legal in South Africa hasn't stopped women from going to individuals who promise "pain-free abortions," give them abortion pills and are nowhere to be found when complications arise.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Having an abortion is a political statement?

Is it me or does that what Merle Hoffman (the founder and CEO of an abortion clinic in New York) appears to be saying here:
Theory must become practice at one point in time. Our bodies are the place where the power structures make their marks with their laws, their religions, traditions and their prejudices.

Our bodies are lines in the sand. Each one of us proclaims that the power of the state stops at our skin when we lay our bodies down for an abortion, saying, with that action, that it is we who will decide when and whether to bear children.

Life Links 5/28/09

The LA Times has an article entitled, “Abortion rights groups concerned about Sotomayor’s stance.”
"I simply don't know Judge Sotomayor's view on Roe vs. Wade. I will be very concerned if the question is not asked and answered during the Senate hearings," Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Wednesday. "So far, no one has been able to give us an assurance of her views."....

The White House added to the concerns of abortion rights advocates, saying that the president did not discuss the issue with Sotomayor before her nomination.

"The president doesn't have a litmus test, and that question was not one that he posed to her," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said....

"Ironically, both sides in the abortion debate can agree on this," Northup said. "All Americans deserve to know where the next Supreme Court justice stands on Roe vs. Wade."

Here’s National Right to Life’s press release on Sotomayor’s nomination, which stresses concern and the need for questioning Sotomayor’s position on case like Gonzales v. Carhart.

The Denver Post has a piece by David Harsanyi, a self-described atheist who thinks he “practice(s) moral relativism regularly,” on his growing uneasiness with abortion.
But it's difficult to understand how those who harp about the importance of "science" in public policy can draw an arbitrary timeline in the pregnancy, defining when human life is worth saving and when it can be terminated.

The more I thought about it, the creepier the issue got.

Newsweek, for instance, recently reported that 90 percent of women whose fetuses test positive for Down syndrome choose an abortion. Another survey showed only a small percentage of mothers even used the test. So what happens when 90 percent of parents test their fetuses? Does it mean the end of the disease or are we stepping perilously close to eugenics?

What about future DNA tests that can detect any "defects" in a fetus? What happens when we can use abortion to weed out the blind, mentally ill, the ugly, or any other any "undesirable" human being? ....

If you oppose selective abortions, but not abortion overall, I wonder why? How is terminating the fetus because it's the wrong sex any worse than terminating the fetus for convenience's sake? The fate of the fetus does not change, only the reasoning for its extinction does.

Rebecca Taylor reviews what embryonic stem cell research advocates are writing to the NIH about its proposed guidelines.
There were mentions of expanding the funding to including embryos created for research including cloned embryos, but overwhelmingly the response focused on making sure that existing lines that are eligible for funding stay eligible.

What is the upshot? ESC advocates have bigger fish to fry than the funding of research using cells from cloned embryos or embryos created just for research. Their problem is not so much with the restriction of funding to ESC lines created from "leftover" embryos as I thought it would be. Their focus is on the retroactive nature of the new guidelines. For now.

Sam Sedaei’s Sock-Puppet

I got the following comment from a “Tyson” on a post I did a while back discussing this Huffington Post column by Sam Sedaei.
Well, we are all conservatives. But as a pro-life conservative, I have to say Sam has made some quite strong points in support of choice, none of which any of you guys seem to be able to address directly. Gotta give it to him.

The comment sounded absolutely nonsensical coming from a “pro-life conservative.” I also found it odd that the comment was left on post from 4 months ago.

Why would some random prolife conservative named “Tyson” find my post after all this time and then claim Sam Sedaei made some strong points when every prolife conservative I know wouldn’t accept Sam’s ignorant arguments about whether the unborn are living human beings?

Then I checked the e-mail address ( provided by “Tyson” and low and behold, it belongs to Sam Sedaei.

So instead of attempting to defend his arguments in favor of legal abortion, Sam Sedaei choose to use a sockpuppet.

That's really weak Sam.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Froma Harrop doesn't understand Obama's stem cell policy

Columnist Froma Harrop's latest column shows us that she doesn't seem to understand the difference between Obama's embryonic stem cell policy and the proposed NIH guidelines, thinks he should be spending federal funds on non-existent stem cells created by killing cloned human embryos and doesn't understand what biology and religion can teach us.
Foes of embryonic stem-cell research hold that embryos are full human beings. Supporters say that these 6-day-old clusters of cells are not human beings. This is a religious, not a scientific, debate....
Evidence for why whether an organism is a human being or not is strictly a religious question is never given. Harrop's all about making nonsensical assertions and leaving them to fend for themselves.

The only difference between embryos in fertility clinics and the ones cloned for research is the motive of the people who created them. Creating embryos to help couples have children would seem a worthy enterprise — but so too is creating embryos to seek cures for horrible diseases.
So much for that "they're going to be destroyed anyway argument," huh?
Obama’s timidity in rewriting the guidelines has slowed down important research and produced more confusion. And for Americans praying for cures from this science, the choice seems rather clear.
Here's where Harrop's ignorance shines through. Somehow Obama has slowed down research on embryonic stem cell lines from cloned human embryos even though scientists have yet to create embryonic stem cell lines from cloned human embryos and even though his executive order did nothing to prevent the funding of research on these cells which don't yet exist.

And to top it all, Harrop includes the grand-daddy of embarassingly ignorant assertions that some proponents of killing human embryos for their stem cells make: embryonic stem cell research may cure Alzheimer's.

Apparently, Harrop believes in fairy tales so much, she can't take the time to do a simple google search.

Life Links 5/27/09

The University of Washington's paper covers a visit by the Genocide Awareness Project. Some pro-choice students protested the exhibit (one appears to be holding a sign which reads "Pro-Choice is Pro-Life") while others used other means.
The tone of the protest shifted when one student egged the exhibit, and another scribbled on the signs advertising it in Red Square.

Here's another example of pro-choice intolerance. This time in Spain, where the headquarters of an organization called E-Cristians was spray painted with abortion slogans.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have used stem cells placed on contact lenses to treat three patients suffering from damaged corneas.
"The procedure is totally simple and cheap,'' said the university's Dr Nick Di Girolamo.

"Unlike other techniques ... there's no suturing, there is no major operation, all that's involved is harvesting a minute amount - less than a millimetre - of tissue from the ocular surface.''

The lens stayed on for 10 days allowing stem cells to change their form, colonise and repair the cornea.

John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog notes how some of California's stem cell heavyweights have been mum about a patent dispute which is holding up the distribution of live neural stem cells from deceased patients. It's amazing how some scientists want science to go forward regardless of moral costs but don't lift a finger to prevent the slowing of research if their financial interests could benefit.

Which kind of right is abortion?

Jon Shields has an interesting piece at Real Clear Politics which notes the discrepancy between Obama's call for people to open their hearts and minds to individuals on the other side of the abortion debate and his intrepretation on how the Constitution sees abortion.
In (Obama's) account, the right to abortion is similar to the right of assembly-it is an uncontestable right that should never be subject to democratic debate and disagreement. This raises the question of how abortion can be an uncontestable right and an issue we should collectively "work through" with open hearts and minds.

If access to abortion is really like the right to assemble, then we must believe that there are no admissible arguments for the pro-life position. Yet if the case against a fundamental right to abortion is so unreasonable, then why engage it? After all, we do not usually think citizens should "open [their] heart and [their] minds" to those who oppose basic First Amendment rights, such as the right to assemble. We do not think Americans should feel obligated to "work through" their differences with racists or terrorists.....

President Obama simply can't have it both ways. Either abortion access is an uncontestable right that "shouldn't be subject to state referendum" or it is a contestable right we should collectively "work though" in popular and representative institutions.

It is, of course, understandable that Obama wants to please his pro-choice base and appeal to pro-life citizens. But given the gravity of the issue, Obama nonetheless owes all of us a philosophically coherent argument.

Judge Sotomayor Links

The Case Against Sotomayor from the New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen.

Pro-choice blogger Jill Filipovic discusses Sotomayor's single ruling on an abortion-related case and writes, "her conclusion isn't going to warm the hearts of reproductive rights activists."

Sotomayor wouldn't accept the Center for Reproductive Rights' argument that the Mexico City policy (preventing U.S. funds from going to organizations who provide and promote abortion overseas) violated their free speech rights based on previous rulings.

When I read AUL's brief descriptions of the Obama's possible nominees, Sotomayor sounded like the individual who appeared the least likely to be a strong abortion advocate.

The SCOTUS Blog has a post on Sotomayor's appelate opinion in civil cases.

Ed Whelan reviewed how Sotomayor's ruling fared when appealed to the Supreme Court in October of 2008.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Life Links 5/21/09

Jonathan Imler, a 46-year-old man, has been arrested and charged with attempted criminal homicide and aggravated assault of an unborn child after talking about and aiding two teenage boys who attempted to kill one of their girlfriend’s unborn child by spiking her drink with a drug used on cows. The incident occurred in 2008 and the child survived.

Michael Stokes Paulsen wants to know how serious President Obama is on finding common ground.
Mr. President, you say that abortions are never undertaken lightly, and without acute anguish. I wish this were always true; and so do you, apparently. But some abortions - many, actually - are had for many reasons we would find common ground to condemn. Will you join me, and others, in supporting a ban on abortion had for reasons of sex-selection of a born child? Sadly, many seek abortion not because they do not want a child, but because they do not want a girl. This is horrible, would you not agree? Mr. President, if you are serious about seeking common ground, would you not agree that our nation should ban the abortion choice when used for such an awful, human-gender-based reason?

Vicki Saporta’s National Abortion Federation blog has a weekly segment called “Wednesday’s Words from Women” where the testimonies of women (through NAF member clinics) who had abortions are featured. While most of testimonies resemble other testimonies by pro-choice women who’ve had abortions, some of them appear to be fake. For example, this one on May 6:
Having an abortion at a NAF member clinic has granted me a second chance. It has also given me back my choice; I’ve been allowed to make my own decision. I am pro-choice, pro-family, and pro-faith, and I trust this clinic.
Yeah, because a woman who just had an abortion is going to give a specific shout out to the National Abortion Federation. What’s the likelihood that a woman would even know the abortion clinic she went to was a NAF member clinic?

The UK’s Daily Mail has the story of a little girl who was born with “Ivemark Syndrome, an extremely rare disorder, characterised by a poorly-formed cardiovascular system and organs in the wrong place.”
Bethany, dubbed the miracle Jigsaw Kid, has stunned medics with her unique back-to-front body.

The six-year-old was born with five spleens, a hole in her heart, a diseased and back to front liver, two left lungs and her stomach on the wrong side....

Before Bethany was born doctors at Birmingham's Women's Hospital discovered her jumbled-up insides and also warned her worried parents that their child could also be suffering from Down's Syndrome.

But Lisa rejected an offer of an abortion and chose to go ahead with the birth, despite the odds being stacked against her.

The Planned Parenthood in South Dakota is challenging South Dakota’s informed consent law in court because they don’t want to tell clients abortion ends a human life.

Repeat abortions are on the rise in the UK.
One third of women who had an abortion last year were on their second, third or even eighth termination, new figures show.

The statistics will fuel the debate over whether some women are using abortion as a form of contraception.

In total, there were 64,715 repeat abortions in 2008, 33 per cent of the total and up from 64,230 the year before.

A breakdown of the data showed 11,354 women had their third abortion and 2,780 their fourth. The figures showed 46 women had had eight or more terminations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Life Links 5/20/09

The LA Times has another article with the thesis that bad economic times are leading to women having more abortions. The article included this story which I'm guessing was supposed to be horrifying.
She said one woman from Kern County first called ACCESS when she was 11 weeks pregnant. The woman said her insurance wouldn't cover an abortion and she had tried for weeks to enroll in Medi-Cal, the state's healthcare system for the poor.

"She waited five weeks for the Medi-Cal. . . . By that point, she felt it was too late to personally go through with it," Lopez said. "This is a really good example of the barriers that are put in front of women who are trying to make responsible decisions early on."

Dennis Byrne provides his thoughts the recent polls showing a significant uptick in people calling themselves prolife.
I guess what the poll shows is that pro-lifers aren't the oddballs that we're cracked up to be. It also is a pleasure to see pro-choicers squirm, after they have spent years in the comfort of their perceived majority. One commentator counseled that the poll, combined with the objections to the University of Notre Dame honoring Obama, constitutes some sort of incomprehensible "frenzy" against sexuality. Wow.

Mark Rienzi calls Obama to back up his appeal to finding common ground on abortion by asking him to support legislation to inform women about fetal pain.

Americans United for Life provides information on the leading candidates for the opening on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The blog of Center for Genetics and Society (a pro-embryonic stem cell/anti-human cloning organization) notes that an ethics committee in New York has approved women to be paid for their time and the burden of removing their eggs.

More bad research from Glen Stassen on abortion

Mark Tooley completely destroys Glen Stassen's latest foray into attempting to attack President Bush on abortion.

To defend his vote for John Kerry in 2004, Stassen did some incredibly sloppy research and then claimed abortions rose under President Bush in 2001 based on this research. His editorial and statistics were then thoroughly debunked by a variety of organizations and Stassen eventually admitted he was wrong when the Alan Guttmacher Institute released a report saying abortions decreased in 2001.

Yet nearly every bigwig Democratic politician echoed his claims even after he admitted he was wrong. After making so many obvious mistakes, Stassen appears to have not learned a single lesson from the 2004 debacle and now even has the gall to act like the only reason people "attacked (his) data" was he "predicted those cutbacks would increase abortions in 2002."

He's also claiming his prediction about 2002 (his prediction was abortions would go up by 52,000) was right because according to the CDC (whose statistics don't include a few states) the number of reported abortions increased. What Stassen doesn't tell you is the number of abortion reported to the CDC in 2002 didn't increase by anywhere near Stassen's estimate of 52,000 - they increased by 637. The CDC also reports that reported abortions decreased in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Stassen also never notes that according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, U.S. abortions decreased in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

For a professor of Christian Ethics at a rather esteemed place like Fuller Theological Seminary, Stassen's writings on abortion are filled with deception and lack anything resembling Christian ethics. It is extremely unfortunate when someone in Stassen's position intentionally decides to shade the truth in order to justify himself and politicians who favor legal abortion.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Life Links 5/19/09

Yuval Levin has an interesting piece in the National Review pointing out how Obama's rhetoric at Notre Dame should at least slightly encourage prolifers. Levin points out how the popular self-interest arguments formerly used by leading pro-choicers have gone by the wayside.
But his speech should leave pro-lifers optimistic, because it illustrates the transformation of the abortion debate over the past 15 years. Put simply, defenders of the Roe regime seem incapable of making a case for themselves, and when they reach for the vocabulary of American liberal democracy in an effort to make some kind of argument, they end up closer to the case for their opponents....

But the striking thing about his speech, and indeed about the contemporary abortion debate more generally, is the absence of a passionate case from conviction for the Roe regime and for abortion itself. The closest thing to it is the case Obama put at the core of his speech: a defensive case for civility without a substantive position.

There is of course great virtue in civility, but when one side to a dispute argues exclusively for civility, it is often because it understands itself at least implicitly to be on the losing side of the substantive debate. That increasingly seems to be the state of abortion-rights advocates in America, and it is surely part of the reason for the gains abortion opponents have made in public opinion in recent years.
I wish I could agree completely with Levin's take but I fear Obama's inability to make a solid argument in favor of legal abortion (as opposed to merely stating and re-stating his position) is more of a syndrome of politicians talking to a national audience (regardless of their position on abortion) than of specifically pro-choice politicans.

For example, I've seen Sam Brownback make a few prolife speeches to prolife audiences that were forcefully prolife but that same force and the argument behind it (noting the humanity of unborn and how intentionally killing unborn humans is wrong) seem to be rather diminished when I see him on a nationally televised show.

William McGurn provides his thoughts on Obama's appearance at Notre Dame.
We cannot blame the president for this one. During his campaign for president, Mr. Obama spoke honestly about the aggressive pro-choice agenda he intended to pursue -- as he assured Planned Parenthood, he was "about playing offense," not defense -- and his actions have been consistent with that pledge. If only our nation's premier Catholic university were as forthright in advancing its principles as Mr. Obama has been for his.

In a letter to Notre Dame's Class of 2009, the university's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, stated that the honors for Mr. Obama do not indicate any "ambiguity" about Notre Dame's commitment to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life. The reality is that it was this ambiguity that the White House was counting on; this ambiguity that was furthered by the adoring reaction to Mr. Obama's visit; and this ambiguity that disheartens those working for an America that respects the dignity of life inside the womb.

Ramesh Ponnuru's take (which I tend to agree with) is here.
Pro-lifers often get annoyed when they see politicians with hard-line records in favor of legal and subsidized abortion talk, as Obama did, about how much he wants to reduce abortion. But that type of rhetoric, however little follow-through it generates, is itself a concession to the moral and political force of the pro-life case. The more politicians who favor unrestricted, subsidized abortion talk about what a tragedy it is, the more they undermine their own premises. If it's such a terrible thing, why fund it? Why not allow states to try different methods of discouraging it, including restrictions?

Obama has handled the politics of abortion deftly. He is doing the best he can from a position of weakness.

I'm with David Limbaugh. I don't get it either. I don't understand how people can blindly believe someone whose rhetoric hardly ever matches their actions. I guess they just either don't pay any attention to his actions or like this actions so much they can look past his deceptions.
With due respect to the millions who adore President Barack Obama, I just don't understand what causes people to hear only his lofty rhetoric and appeals for unity while turning a deaf ear to his polarizing language and actions, for example, on the subject of abortion.

Life Links 5/18/09

Yahoo News has a Politico piece on the Obama/Notre Dame controversy which does a good job of allowing prolifers to respond to Obama’s speech.
One of the protesters at Notre Dame, Jill Stanek, an anti-abortion blogger who did not support Obama, said the president’s speech sounded eerily familiar.

“It was just a regurgitation of things he’s said for a long time,” Stanek said. “He’s so good at expressing your point of view, so people are lulled into thinking he agrees with them, and he doesn’t. It’s just so typical Barack Obama.”


Greg Mueller, a Republican consultant who works with anti-abortion groups, said Obama’s language Sunday doesn’t match a president that he sees as strongly pro-abortion rights.

“He might have called for toning down the rhetoric but his abortion policies are tuned up on steroids,” said Mueller. “Even considering the revocation of the conscience clause puts Catholic hospitals, Evangelical and Catholic pro-life doctors and nurses in a very tough spot career-wise – this is another example of President Obama’s rhetoric not matching his policies.”

USA Today has an article by Dan Vergano on stem cell research with this noteworthy quote (my emphasis):
"The link between stem and tumor cells in science is a very old one," says Paul Knoepfler of the University of California Davis School of Medicine in the current Stem Cell journal. But no one talks about it much, he adds, even though understanding the link remains "an essential bridge to cross along the way" in someday turning embryonic cells into organ transplants.

After all, the most basic test of whether stem cells are truly "pluripotent" or able to turn into any type of tissue in signature embryonic cell fashion, Knoepfler says, is to inject them into a mouse and see if they grow into tumors. "Why would (embryonic stem cells), supposedly normal counterparts to (cancer cells), also have the ability to cause tumors?" he asks. "The simplest but most troublesome answer is that (embryonic stem cells and cancer cells) are in fact, as was originally assumed, quite similar types of cells."

Time has a piece by Nancy Gibbs entitled, “Understanding America’s Shift on Abortion” discussing the recent polls showing an uptick in the percentage of Americans who call themselves “prolife.” The article is about as decent as any article you’d expect in Time (Michael New’s thoughts on the article here) though unfortunately the picture on the site prominently features two of the handful of pro-choicers who were amid a flood of prolifers at the March for Life.

Here’s Gibbs:
A new Pew poll finds that while a majority of independents said abortion should be legal in most cases as recently as October, just 44% do so now. This may inspire some introspection on the part of political operatives in both parties who attribute the Republicans' present frailty to its orthodoxy on social issues. The GOP may have fielded some hapless messengers, but their message, on abortion at least, may be closer to the mainstream than Democrats care to acknowledge.

I think the numbers, inadequate and simplified though they may be, reflect deeper changes — some generational, some legal, some technological. People under 30 are more opposed to abortion than those older, perhaps because their first baby pictures were often taken in utero. I also wonder if younger women are now sure enough of their sexual autonomy and their choices generally, that they don't view limits on abortion as attacks on their freedom overall. The calculation of rights subtly shifts, and the fetus, as it develops, asserts its claim on the conscience.

Father Frank on FOX News

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life was on the FOX News Sunday morning show discussing Obama’s honorary degree along with Father Richard McBrien, a professor at Notre Dame. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a prolifer on national television speak out so forcefully against abortion. Here’s the transcript.
The problem here is that we're trivializing abortion, and — but the people are speaking out. People are getting angry that 1.2 million children are being aborted every year. Now, this honorary doctorate today is a law degree. Law is for the protection of human rights.

The president admitted on the campaign trail he doesn't know when the child gets human rights. How can you defend human rights if you don't know who has them?


We have to protect children. He's refusing to recognize that these children have rights. Now, I've held aborted children. I've buried them. I've picked up the broken fragments of their skulls. I don't know if Father McBrien has done that.

But the people around this country are tired of trivializing abortion. They're tired of mixed messages coming from Catholic institutions that are supposed to have a pro-life mission. We're tired of looking at abortion as just on an equal level with other issues. It's not.

Obama's Speech at Notre Dame

The New York Times has the text of Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame while the National Catholic Register has the text of Obama's honorary degree. The part of the address dealing with life issues is on the 2nd and 3rd pages.
That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions.

So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let's reduce unintended pregnancies. (Applause.) Let's make adoption more available. (Applause.) Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term. (Applause.) Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women." Those are things we can do. (Applause.)
Not surprisingly, there’s no mention of President Obama’s preference for tax-funded abortions, his votes to keep partial-birth abortions legal, his votes against Illinois’ legislatures attempts to provide basic rights to infants who survive abortions, his complete removal of Bush’s conscience clause regulations, and his order to restore international family planning funding to organizations who provide and promote abortions overseas.

Nor was there any discussion of why abortion is a “heart-wrenching decision” which is “not made casually” and has “moral and spiritual dimensions.” Providing more details about these assertions might actually help the listener form a more substantive idea of what President Obama is talking about. He certainly wouldn’t want that.

Obama’s brilliance is that he understands how lazy the average American voter is. He knows he can say things which contradict the positions he’s taken as an elected official along with the promises he’s made to pro-choice groups and most people won’t realize these deceptions. He knows his nice-sounding rhetoric will get much more air time and print space than his actions.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Life Links 5/15/09

The New York Times has an article on Obama and abortion which discusses his attempts to straddle the issue (at least with his rhetoric) and his upcoming appearance at Notre Dame. The end of the article has this interesting quote from Doug Kmiec:
Douglas W. Kmiec, a constitutional scholar and former Notre Dame professor who was an outspoken critic of abortion when he worked for Presidents Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush, said he had been advising the White House to use the speech at the university on Sunday to tackle the controversy head on, with the president making the case that “we already have agreement, we both respect life, we both view abortion as a moral tragedy.”
Does Obama really view abortion as a moral tragedy? If so, why does he want our tax dollars to pay for these moral tragedies?

The Spanish government (which is currently run by the Socialist Party) has approved plans to change Spain's abortion law to allow unrestricted abortions up to 14 weeks. The current abortion law is Spain is rarely enforced because of a mental health loophole.

Gerard Bradley discusses Notre Dame's decision to honor Obama in the National Review.
It is easy to see the appeal of Obama to Notre Dame. Our country has one president, and he is giving only three commencement speeches this year. One is traditionally at a service academy; this year, at Annapolis. Notre Dame (along with Arizona State) won the prize coveted by almost every university.

So far, Bishop D’Arcy seems to be on the right track: Notre Dame chose prestige.

That is nothing new. Prestige — as measured by U.S. News rankings, academic peer recognition, NIH grants, endowment size, New York Times mentions — has been the gold standard at Notre Dame as long as I have been here. Notre Dame’s Catholic identity has largely become the preserve of campus ministry and, to some extent, of the rules governing student life. On the academic side — in research, teaching, publishing, and the hiring and retention of faculty — the truths of the Catholic faith are missing in action. Notre Dame’s central academic aspiration has nothing to do with Catholicism. It is the Association of American Universities, a group of 62 American research schools — none of them Catholic — that Notre Dame is desperate to join....

At the heart of the matter is the immorality — the sin — of scandal. Scandal is, basically, leading others into sin, in this case by clouding others’ understanding of the truth about abortion. Here, we are talking about the scandalous effects portended by America’s leading Catholic institution when it honors the most pro-abortion president in history. The atmosphere at graduation will be festive, and a packed house will rock it with a standing ovation for Obama. Notre Dame dignitaries and faculty will be photographed beaming as Obama extends his hand to a smiling Jenkins. It will be a visual spectacle of the first order.

This celebration will weaken the belief of some present that abortion is always wrong. For some and perhaps for many, what was before the commencement a conviction that abortion is objectively immoral will become a conviction after that “abortion is wrong for me (I think), but there is reasonable disagreement about that, and everyone has to make that decision for herself, or himself.”

More Americans are "Pro-life" than "Pro-Choice"

According to a Gallup poll released today, 51% of Americans self-identify as "pro-life" while 42% self-identify as "pro-choice." This is the highest percentage of Americans identifying themselves as "pro-life" in the Gallup poll and is a rather huge swing from last year when 44% viewed themselves as "pro-life" while 50% viewed themselves as "pro-choice."

There has also been an uptick with the percentage of Americans who think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. The percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be "illegal in all circumstances" or "legal only in a few circumstances" is now 60%.

The move in attitude change is explained thusly:
The source of the shift in abortion views is clear in the Gallup Values and Beliefs survey. The percentage of Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) calling themselves "pro-life" rose by 10 points over the past year, from 60% to 70%, while there has been essentially no change in the views of Democrats and Democratic leaners.
I wonder if this is kind of a Sarah Palin effect?

Gallup guesses that it could be because of Obama.
With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation's policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans -- and, in particular, Republicans -- seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

“Defend her abortion decision, not matter how illogical”

So sayeth RH Reality Check blogger Elisabeth Garber-Paul when responding to the news of a woman in Sweden who wanted to know if she was carrying a girl so she could abort the child if the child failed to have a Y chromosome. The woman had previously aborted two other female children.
This week, the board ruled that women cannot be refused an abortion up to the 18th week of pregnancy, no matter why they choose to do it. And whether or not you agree with her reasoning, the ruling is sound. It is a woman’s right to have an abortion, no matter how flawed the logic of that woman may be.

We have to be absolute in defending the right to abortion, without parsing the reasons behind it—otherwise, it’s a slippery slope to restricted access. All I can do is disagree this woman, and hold the personal belief that her use of an abortion to control the gender of her children is wrong. But as far as legality, her choice should be protected. No matter what.
I don’t think “flawed logic” is the Swedish woman’s problem. I think it has more to do with morality. It’s not illogical to want to kill your 5th child if she’s a girl (after killing two other female children), it’s morally monstrous.

To defend the legality of all abortions, Elisabeth Garber-Paul must defend sex-selection abortion even though she believes they are “wrong” (though she isn’t “control(ling) the gender of her children” - she’s killing those whose sex she doesn’t like). Why Garber-Paul believes it is wrong for women to choose to kill their daughters simply because they are daughters and not sons is left answered.

What Garber-Paul really wants pro-choicers to do is defend all abortions no matter how repugnant and morally wrong they are.

I always find it interesting when proponents of abortion on demand try to defend sex-selection abortion. Something innate moral sense in them seems to tell them how wrong it is but they typically defend the practice (or at least it's legality) because they can see how attacking the reasoning of one woman's choice quickly shows how fickle "choice" can really be.

Where do those abortion estimates come from?

The International Organizations Research Group has published a paper by Donna Harrison, M.D. focusing on the how the World Health Organization comes up with its statistics on worldwide abortion and maternal morbidity along with the nonsensical manner in which the terms "safe abortion" and "unsafe abortion" are defined. Regarding "safe" and "unsafe" abortions:
According to WHO, induced abortion is defined as “the voluntary termination of pregnancy.”8 WHO defines unsafe abortion as “a procedure for terminating an unwanted pregnancy either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards or both.”9 Subsequent WHO documents, such as a 2007 article co-sponsored by WHO, allow for a purely legal definition of unsafe abortion as “abortions in countries with restrictive abortion laws.”10

According to the article, any induced abortion, even under the most medically pristine conditions, performed in a country where abortion is “illegal” is deemed “unsafe.” Similarly, any induced abortion performed in a country where abortion is legal, regardless of the subsequent morbidity and mortality which follows, is considered “safe.”

Harrison then shares how researchers who come up with estimates for pregnancy-related deaths must be "committed to adjusting the data" aka making it up to fit your preferences.
At a session entitled “Monitoring MDG 5: Innovations in Measuring Maternal Mortality” on October 19, 2007, Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Cindy Stanton said, “To participate in interpretation of pregnancy related deaths requires that one be committed to ‘adjust the data.’” Dr. Stanton, a WHO researcher, explained that adjusting data means “eyeballing it to see if it makes sense from what we expect.” This adjusting is especially necessary with “pregnancy related deaths,” she continued, and said, “We adjust the number of births or the number of deaths and we don’t change the number of pregnancy related mortality.” “In some areas,” Stanton went on, “We make huge adjustments to make the numbers turn out right. More than fifty percent of some numbers are ‘adjusted.’”

"This is My Son"

James Matthew Wilson has post entitled, "This is My Son" which provides his thoughts after seeing an ultrasound image of his son certainly deserves some linkage.
My government operates a labyrinthine bureaucracy that might someday figuratively kill my soul, but it works quite ambitiously to keep my body alive. Its finances have more than once and indirectly also helped my son, young though he is, and yet that same government not only denies that to kill this child would be murder, but puts money in the hands of those who perform such killing with clinical efficiency. Never is it more clear that the eyes of government, the eye of the law, are merely metaphoric, than in this fact, because no human being could look upon this picture and deny what he sees is a fellow human being. And yet, that is precisely what my government says-and then turns away and leaves others to dig a grave, or rather, plow a landfill. True, the functionaries of power occasionally gown their denials of the humanity of unborn children like my son in the taffeta frippery of phrases like “sweet mystery,” and they speak of the “terrible choice” of abortion without explaining why something “terrible” should remain a legal “choice.” They unleash the dulcet strains and plangent tones of thoughtfulness and gravity on just those occasions when they most wish to avoid thinking altogether of the actual weight of the children their laws consign to the tin mass graves of trash cans.

Life Links 5/14/09

Why I am not surprised? Hillary Clinton may have been exaggerating her tale of visiting Brazilian hospitals and claiming that half of the women she saw there were “fighting for their lives against botched abortions.”
The National Catholic Register contacted Department of State spokeswoman Laura Tischler to see if there was any record of Clinton’s trip to Brazilian hospitals. Tischler said, "I am unable to confirm where or when the trip she referred to in her testimony was — where specifically in Brazil she was visiting or when the trip occurred."

CNN has an article on the short list of Obama’s possible Supreme Court nominees. Why Jennifer Granholm would ever be considered for this post, besides the fact that she’s relatively young, a woman and is politically liberal, is beyond me. If she’s selected, it would seem rather obvious that Obama didn’t make the selection based on legal skills and experience. The fact that she’s even on the short list is a rather scary indication of Obama’s selection process.

Desiring God Ministries has put together a well-done YouTube video using part of John Piper’s response to President Obama’s declaration on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. HT: Between Two Worlds

The Telegraph’s Ed West has a piece on sex-selection abortion and how pro-choicers respond to them.

The LA Times has a story by Linda Reid Chassiakos about a mother who delayed surgery to remove a brain tumor so her unborn daughter would have a greater chance of survival. The child survived after being born at 28 weeks while the mother passed away.

The 12th Annual March for Life in Canada will be taking place today.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Life Links 5/13/09

The Local reports that Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare has ruled that doctors can't deny a woman the ability to know the gender of her child when the only reason she wants to know the gender is to have a sex-selection abortion if the child is a girl.
The woman, who already had two daughters, requested an amniocentesis in order to allay concerns about possible chromosome abnormalities. At the same time, she also asked to know the foetus's gender.

Doctors at Mälaren Hospital expressed concern and asked Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to draw up guidelines on how to handle requests in the future in which they "feel pressured to examine the foetus’s gender" without having a medically compelling reason to do so.

The board has now responded that such requests and thus abortions can not be refused and that it is not possible to deny a woman an abortion up to the 18th week of pregnancy, even if the foetus's gender is the basis for the request.

Mark Shea has a nice response to Amnesty International's whimperings about lower donations.
Yes. Well. I have no doubt you are, Mr. Cox. That could have something to do with the fact that you are no longer about helping political prisoners subjected to torture and death, and have instead dedicated yourselves to expanding the abortion license worldwide? When you mutate into another garden-variety promoter of the culture of death, it rather stands to reason that people who think you should be doing what you were founded to do and not the exact bleedin' opposite will find other places to send their money. Somehow your appeal letter neglects to mention this salient fact.

I look forward to the death of your organization soon, and its replacement by apostolates willing to actually do the Lord's work rather than pay homage to Lefty pieties.

Wesley Smith notes that fetal farming experiments are still occurring in animals.
If and when an artificial womb is created, and if and when scientists figure out how to clone human beings and gestate them beyond the first few days of development--the apparent current state of the technology--the pressure will be on to permit this research to proceed. And the arguments in its favor will be the same as those made today about ESCR and early human cloning research: A developed embryo or fetus isn't a "person;" the embryo/fetus will never be born so what does it matter; the embryo/fetus value isn't as important as Uncle Charlie whose Parkinson's we can cure," etc.

A doctor in the UK has been on paid leave for 4 and half years at a cost of 600,000 pounds to taxpayers. She was suspended after allegedly taking her daughter to Spain for 31-week abortion.
Dr Adlakha, of Somerset Road, Edgbaston, and her daughter Shilpa Abrol, were charged with conspiracy to commit child destruction abroad after the GP allegedly arranged for the then 18-year-old to have an illegal late abortion in Barcelona at 31 weeks into her pregnancy, although the legal limit is 22 in Spain.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Life Links 5/12/09

Ross Douthat's latest op-edin the New York Times discusses Obama's differing strategies on abortion and same-sex marriage.
Among their many aspirations for his presidency, Barack Obama’s admirers nurse a persistent hope that he might be able to end the culture wars. And by end, they generally mean win. The real hope is a final victory for cultural liberalism, and social conservatism’s permanent eclipse.

These hopes are overstated, but not necessarily irrational. Four months in, the Obama administration does seem to have a plausible strategy for turning the “social issues” to liberalism’s advantage. The outline is simple: Engage on abortion, and punt on gay rights.

Three women in South Africa have been arrested for murder after one of them allegedly took some abortion pills, the child was born alive and then buried alive.

American Right to Life's Bob Enyart, his brother and another man (who I'm guessing is also involved with American Right to Life) were convicted for trepassing after they delivered a letter for James Dobson to Focus on the Family office and then refused to leave the reception area. They face up to 90 days in jail.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Life Links 5/11/09

The Washington Times has a long article on parents who choose life after receiving dire prenatal diagnoses during pregnancy.
She says most women with problem pregnancies quickly become discouraged and overwhelmed. "People hear these callous, insensitive remarks, things like 'Why do you want to carry a baby like this?' or 'Are you religious or something?'" she says. "The genetics counselors uniformly will hand out support information that assumes you'll terminate."

Marvin Olasky has a piece in World Magazine about Katherine “Abortion is a blessing” Ragsdale.
The tragedy of abortion is bad enough, but the origin of the tragedy, and so many others of our time, emerges from worship not of Christ but of "me, me, me." Katherine Ragsdale may show this tendency in a heightened form, but all of us display it to some degree. May God have mercy on her, on her students, and on all of us.

In USA Today, Rick Garnett explains the Obama-Notre Dame controversy.
The question on the table is not whether Notre Dame should hear from the president but whether Notre Dame should honor the president. A Catholic university can and should engage all comers, but in order to be true to itself — to have integrity — it should hesitate before honoring those who use their talents or power to bring about grave injustice. The university is, and must remain, a bustling marketplace of ideas; at the same time, it also has a voice of its own. We say a lot about who we are and what we stand for through what we love and what we choose to honor. The controversy at Notre Dame is not about what should be said at Catholic universities, but about what should be said by a Catholic university....

The president's error is not failing to submit to "Catholic" authority — why should he? — but aggressively and consistently promoting policies that are unjust because they deny the basic equality of every human being.

Christianity Today’s blog notes that FOX has agreed to air a new prolife ad by during American Idol’s finale.

Slow down the stem cell hype

In Science, James Wilson has a piece (abstract here and what appears to be the full piece here) entitled, “A History Lesson for Stem Cells” where he compares the hype around embryonic stem cell research to previously hyped research into gene therapy. Wilson is a proponent of embryonic stem cell research who applauds President Obama’s decision to overturn President Bush’s restrictions on the funding of embryonic stem cell lines yet he warns about the consequences of pushing research too fast.
The field of gene therapy began with laboratory studies in the mid- to late-1980s and grew linearly during the 1990s (see figure, right). Very early in this evolution, clinical trials were initiated, and their number and overall patient recruitment figures grew in step with the science. During that period, gene therapy was touted as a potential cure for a huge array of ailments. By 2000, researchers had launched more than 400 clinical trials, testing the approach against a wide spectrum of illnesses. Yet the Food and Drug Administration concluded in a September 2000 review, "the hyperbole has exceeded the results" and "little has worked" (2). Although the field has improved since then, with notable successes against inherited blindness (3–5) and immune deficiency (6), those successes are shadowed by several tragic adverse events, including treatment-induced cancers in some volunteers (7) and, in 1999, the death of an 18-year-old, Jesse Gelsinger, in a gene therapy clinical trial that I led (8). Gelsinger's death initiated a chain of events that seriously derailed the field.....

Many of the factors that fueled gene therapy's premature expansion are major drivers of the hESC and iPS research agenda today. A large and vocal population of patients suffering from a wide variety of ailments is pressing for stem cell–based therapies. Disease-specific stem cell research groups are more politically sophisticated than ever, in some cases employing congressional lobbyists. Unrealistic expectations have been fueled by relentless media coverage, driven in part by a factor not present in the gene therapy roll-out: a debate over the ethics of research on human embryos and embryo cells, which has served as a "news hook" that brings media attention to even the most incremental of advances.....

Despite advances, our understanding of the biology of hESCs and iPS cells remains thin with regard to clinical safety and utility. Controlled incorporation of transplanted stem cells into host tissues and organs remains a major challenge. Questions about engraftment, rejection, and toxicity abound.
I find it incredibly interesting that this article was written and published only after the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research funding have been removed. It's almost like Science is saying, "Alright guys, we got what we wanted by hyping this research. Now let's tone it down a bit and make sure we know what we're doing before we get someone killed."

Friday, May 08, 2009

Since when did abortion become a need? I thought it was a "choice."

President Obama's budget proposal for 2010 includes one item (using tax dollars to fund abortions in the District of Columbia) which will anger prolifers and another (not seeking to overturn the Hyde Amendment) which will anger pro-choicers. The Center for Reproductive Rights has issued this press release already claiming that by not providing tax dollars for the abortions of poor women Obama is "ignoring the health care needs of millions of women." I couldn't find the word "choice" anywhere in the press release where as the word "need" was. I always thought those favoring abortion rights thought of it as a "choice." Abortion now (or at least for CRR) appears to have morphed into a "medically necessary health service" which "women need." When taxpayers aren't forced to fund this "need," women are discriminated against and their well-being is threatened.

Friday Baby Blogging

Unfortunately, my daughter doesn't enjoy having newspaper stuffed inside her clothes to make her look muscular.

Buff baby

Unhappy buff baby

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Too many big homes for too few two-parent families

In First Things, David Goldman has a very interesting (at least to me) piece about demographics and the housing bubble burst.
Now, consider this fact: America’s population has risen from 200 million to 300 million since 1970, while the total number of two-parent families with children is the same today as it was when Richard Nixon took office, at 25 million. In 1973, the United States had 36 million housing units with three or more bedrooms, not many more than the number of two-parent families with children—which means that the supply of family homes was roughly in line with the number of families. By 2005, the number of housing units with three or more bedrooms had doubled to 72 million, though America had the same number of two-parent families with children.....

If capital markets derive from the cycle of human life, what happens if the cycle goes wrong? Investors may be unreasonably panicked about the future, and governments can allay this panic by guaranteeing bank deposits, increasing incentives to invest, and so forth. But something different is in play when investors are reasonably panicked. What if there really is something wrong with our future—if the next generation fails to appear in sufficient numbers? The answer is that we get poorer....

We could put this another way: America’s housing market collapsed because conservatives lost the culture wars even back while they were prevailing in electoral politics. During the past half century America has changed from a nation in which most households had two parents with young children. We are now a mélange of alternative arrangements in which the nuclear family is merely a niche phenomenon. By 2025, single-person households may outnumber families with children.....

Unless we restore the traditional family to a central position in American life, we cannot expect to return to the kind of wealth accumulation that characterized the 1980s and 1990s. Theoretically, we might recruit immigrants to replace the children we did not rear, or we might invest capital overseas with the children of other countries. From the standpoint of economic policy, neither of those possibilities can be dismissed. But the contributions of immigration or capital export will be marginal at best compared to the central issue of whether the demographics of America reverts to health.

Life is sacred for its own sake. It is not an instrument to provide us with fatter IRAs or better real-estate values. But it is fair to point out that wealth depends ultimately on the natural order of human life. Failing to rear a new generation in sufficient numbers to replace the present one violates that order, and it has consequences for wealth, among many other things. Americans who rejected the mild yoke of family responsibility in pursuit of atavistic enjoyment will find at last that this is not to be theirs, either.

Life Links 5/7/09

The Wall Street Journal has an article on the meetings and discussions between abortion proponents and opponents selected by President Obama who trying to craft proposals to “prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the demand for abortion.” It seems noteworthy that the leading pro-choice voices like NARAL’s Nancy Keenan and NOW’s Kim Gandy are participants while no one from National Right to Life is participating.

Ten years after having surgery while he was in the womb, 9-year-old Samuel Armas talks about his prolife beliefs with FOXNews.
"When I see that picture, the first thing I think of is how special and lucky I am to have God use me that way," Samuel told "I feel very thankful that I was in that picture."

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are starting a campaign to oppose Obama’s stem cell guidelines. They have a variety of useful resources on their web site.

Greg Johnson calls on Shelby County District Attorney Barry Gibbons to investigate Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis after Lila Rose’s Live Action undercover investigation and PPGM CEO Barry Chase’s embarrassing attempt to defend his organization. Also, here’s Rose’s letter to Tennessee legislators responding to Chase’s various claims.

In Arkansas, the trial date of a man accused of attempting to run over abortion clinic protestors has been rescheduled .
Jason Bryant Shireman, 42, of 1701 E. Mission Blvd. is charged with aggravated assault, a class D felony that carries a prison sentence of up to six years and a fine of up to $10,000 upon conviction.

During an interview with police, Shireman said that he drove onto the sidewalk to show the demonstrators "what he thought about them." He denied trying to run over them.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Life Links 5/6/09

In the Telegraph, George Pitcher shares his thoughts about the recent visit of Phillip Nitschke, Australia's "Dr. Death," to Great Britain.
They are dangerous, yes. They take some sort of control kick from enabling deluded people in their care to kill themselves. But they are essentially simpletons, who have thought and debated no further than a rather babyish notion that if you are able and want to do something, then you should do so. Self-indulgent and dim-witted they most certainly are, but cogent proponents and impressive ambassadors for euthanasia and assisted suicide? Don't make me laugh.

Pfizer will license the University of Wisconsin's embryonic stem cell patents to test drugs.
The license with the university's patent and licensing arm, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, provides Pfizer the rights to work with human embryonic stem cells for drug research and discovery. Terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.
For years, the public was told that embryonic stem cells were the body's repair kits and researchers would soon use them to create cell-based therapies. It seems more and more that if embryonic stem cells ever provide any medical help it will be through drug testing, which is something I think most scientists knew all along. They also knew that "let us test our new drugs on embryonic stem cells instead of animals" wouldn't have been quite as a good of a seller as "we're going to cure diabetes, parkinson's, alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries."

The Daily 49er, the paper of Cal State Long Beach, has another atrocious editorial regarding the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform's display on campus. This one by journalism major Grady Dunne. He writes,
It is no coincidence the pro-life organization known as the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform visited Cal State Long Beach just days after the F.D.A approved that 17 year olds could purchase morning-after contraception pills.
And the evidence for this assertion would be???

Grady doesn't provide any. Which is not surprising considering it usually takes a fair amount of time (like months) and planning (including getting permission ahead of time) to put together the kind of display CBR uses and it's hard to prove CBR somehow knew way ahead of time when the FDA was going to allow 17-year-olds to get emergency contraception without a prescription. Grady then goes on to make a number of arguments regarding Plan B and CBR supposed position against it without ever noting CBR's rather convoluted thoughts on how emergency contraception works.

It's rather clear Grady couldn't come up with any rationale arguments for why displaying pictures of aborted children is so wrong so he just wrote about emergency contraception instead.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Life Links 5/5/09

Mary Cannon reminds us of Jack Kemp's prolife convictions in a piece in the Weekly Standard.

Scott Boie has been sentenced to nearly 10 years in jail after being found guilty of attempting to force his wife to miscarry after putting misoprostol (one of the drugs used in RU-486 abortions) into her food. He was found not guilty of killing his unborn child. It appears the jury couldn't be sure his actions caused the death of the child after his defense attorneys noted his wife's history of smoking and troubled pregnancies in the past.

Ed Whelan highlights a couple of rulings by possible Supreme Court pick Diane Wood in the case of NOW vs. Scheidler.
Might Wood have been driven to such mischief by what President Obama would laud as her own “deepest values,” her “core concerns,” and the “depth and breadth”—and focus—of her “empathy”? Well, consider that in its editions from 1996 to 2005, Sullivan’s Judicial Profiles stated that Wood was a member of NOW, the lead plaintiff in the litigation, and of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Chicago, part of the plaintiff class of abortion clinics.

A woman named June Hartley has been arrested and charged with assisted suicide after allegedly assisting in the suicide of her brother. She has pleaded not guilty even though she doesn't deny helping in his death. Hartley was joined in the courtroom by about 75 supporters, many of them from her church.

A Catholic church in New Jersey has replaced their prolife signs after they were defced several times.
Police have made no arrests in the December vandalism incident and Gerling isn't looking to throw the culprit or culprits in jail.

"Our intention is not to arrest anybody," he said. "The person who did it needs our prayers."

Gerling said he believes the signs were defaced by someone who has had a personal experience with abortion in some fashion.

Prolifers in Spain will be touring the country with buses to educate the public about abortion and efforts to liberalize their nation's abortion laws.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Stephen Waldman’s pointless abortion debate’s editor-in-chief Stephen Waldman wants to scrap our current debate over abortion and start a new one in which the goal is to get women to have abortions sooner as opposed to them having fewer abortions. He believes the average person would favor this debate and the possible changes where abortion would be “safe, legal and early” as opposed to Bill Clinton’s famous mantra of “safe, legal and rare.”

The problem is that Waldman seems to base this new debate on the moral confusion of your average American. Waldman writes,
According to a 2007 survey commissioned by a progressive think tank called Third Way, 69 percent of Americans believe abortion is the "taking of a human life," but 72 percent believe it should be legal.

Let that soak in. Most people think abortion is taking a human life and yet favor the procedure being legal. How grotesque! Are we Americans utterly immoral?
I think immorality certainly has something to do with but it’s more about being confused about what’s morally right and what’s morally wrong. When large portions of our society view moral claims (whether something is right or wrong) as if they were preference claims (whether they like or dislike something), it’s not surprising that a large segment of people who think abortion is the taking of a human life respond in a pro-choice manner when asked whether they agree with an obviously slanted assertion like “The decision whether or not to have an abortion should be left up to a woman,
her family, and her doctor” (that’s how the question was actually phrased in case you were wondering).

For the actual poll question of whether abortion should be legal or not - 12% said illegal in all circumstances, 26% said illegal in most circumstances, 40% said legal in most circumstances and 20% said legal in all circumstances.

Waldman continues,
Actually, what the data proclaim is something that politicians and activists can't: Most Americans believe there are gradations of life. Some living things are more alive than others, and so the later in the pregnancy it gets, the more uncomfortable people become. But in reality they believe both that a life stirs very early on and that a one-week-old embryo is more "killable" than a nine-month-old fetus. For them, determining whether "life" begins at conception really doesn't determine anything.

To a certain extent, he’s right about the last sentence. To some in our society, it doesn’t matter that the unborn are living human beings and abortion kills them. What’s odd is that Waldman wants to base abortion policy not on scientific reality but on what he thinks ignorant people believe. I’m not sure how anyone could believe something as silly as “Some living things are more alive than others.”

So because Waldman thinks average people believe (or is that what Waldman himself thinks?) the nonsense idea that there are certain living human organisms that are “more alive” than other living human organisms, we should base public policy on this incoherence instead of say... I don’t know... trying to educate these massively confused people about embryology.

Should we really be basing our public policy decisions on how ignorant people feel about how alive living human beings are? To me that seems like an exceptionally poor starting point for deciding how we’re going to deal with the issue of abortion.

Waldman’s also piece includes a number of head-scratching quotes which make me wonder how much thought he's put into it. For example,
All in all, birth control would be more available, early abortions would be easier and might increase, second trimester abortions would decline and third trimester abortions would virtually disappear. There would be more abortions before the baby's heart starts beating, less after.
Except only a very small percentage of abortions occur before the baby’s heart starts beating (at about 5 weeks into pregnancy, 3 weeks after conception) because often times the mother doesn’t even know she’s pregnant and because the child is so small, it’s difficult for the abortionist to confirm that he’s removed all of the child’s body parts. No policy prescriptions are really going to ever change this.

Waldman also thinks some press release in which the Alan Guttmacher Institute “estimates” how many abortions emergency contraception prevented in 2000 is a “study.” If Waldman had read the actual study, he would have known the estimates regarding EC’s purported effectiveness come from estimates by James Trussell from 1999 using a different type of EC regimen.

In the decade since Trussell’s 1999 estimate, there have been various studies noting that increased use of EC doesn’t have an effect on pregnancy rates. Trussell has even publicly renounced his previous estimates regarding the effectiveness of emergency contraception.

Friday, May 01, 2009

They don't report statutory rape - let's give them some donations in the name of Lila Rose

That's the idea of one Daily Kos diarist after reading about how Lila Rose poses as a minor and goes undercover and tapes Planned Parenthood employees violating the law by failing to report statutory rape and encouraging her to lie about the age of her boyfriend. It's almost like they're making a statement saying they don't care about Planned Parenthood breaking the law.

What would it take for these people to stop supporting Planned Parenthood?

Life Links 5/1/09

Jill Stanek notes a Pew Poll which shows a rather dramatic change in public opinion from August of 2008 to April of 2009 regarding the legality of abortion.

Reuters has a story on research which follows whether women who are childhood cancer survivors have higher rates of abortion than siblings who didn't have childhood cancer.
Women who survive childhood cancer are no more or less likely to opt for an abortion during pregnancy than unaffected women, new research from Denmark suggests.

These findings run counter to those in a recent report from the US in which induced abortions were significantly more common among female cancer survivors than among their female siblings without a cancer history, according to the researchers.

A member of the Air Force stationed in Alaska is facing jail time after allegedly putting the abortion drug Misoprostol into his wife's food and causing her to miscarry.
When Boie found out his wife Caylinn was pregnant, he asked her to get an abortion, she said Thursday. They fought about it, she said, but in the end Caylinn decided to keep the baby.

Evidence showed Boie's computer had a Google search for "at-home abortion methods."

Boie said he found a drug called Misoprostol, which is used for stomach ulcers and is known to cause miscarriage. He also admitted to tampering with his wife's food.

The Korea Times has another new name for human cloning after the country decided to lift its ban on the research: "somatic stem cell research." The editorial also has this completely ridiculous assertion.
No one can deny the fact that this research has great potential to find cures for intractable diseases.
I deny it along with any honest person who knows how inefficient and wasteful human cloning research is.

Justice Souter to Retire from the Supreme Court

Here are articles from MSNBC and NPR. The MSNBC articles lists some possible replacement picks and the NPR article notes that most Supreme Court watchers expect President Obama to select a woman to replace Souter.

Ed Whelan provides his initial thoughts at Bench Memos.
Indeed, in coming years, Souter’s replacement may well provide the fifth vote for:

— the imposition of a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage;

— stripping “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance and completely secularizing the public square;

— the continued abolition of the death penalty on the installment plan;

— selectively importing into the Court’s interpretation of the American Constitution the favored policies of Europe’s leftist elites;

— further judicial micromanagement of the government’s war powers; and

— the invention of a constitutional right to human cloning.

American citizens have various policy positions on all these issues, but everyone ought to agree that they are to be addressed and decided through the processes of representative government, not by judicial usurpation. And President Obama, who often talks a moderate game, should be made to pay a high price for appointing a liberal judicial activist who will do his dirty work for him.