Ethics Articles

Articles: Abortion


>> = Important Articles; ** = Major Articles


>>Worth the Fight: Senator Santorum tells the story of a C-SPAN miracle (National Review Online, 030603)

>>Jane Roe’s Journey Home (Christian Coalition)

**The Real Face of Abortion—Choosing Death Rather Than Life (Christian Post, 050924)

**Complicit Guilt, Explicit Healing (Christianity Today, 031027)

The Deadly After-Effect of Abortion: Breast Cancer (940000)

Abortion Risks And Complications (950000)

A line in the sand (Christian American, 970000)

Media downplays abortion-breast cancer risk (Christian Coalition, 970100)

Kids’ Play: NARAL’s incredible spin (National Review Online, 020923)

When Life Begins: A new story in Time bolsters the pro-life case (Weekly Standard, 021114)

Pro-Lifers Should Be Cautiously Optimistic: Looking toward 108 (National Review Online, 021118)

The Lessons of Roe: Thirty years of learning (National Review Online, 030122)

Marching Onward: Pro-lifers save lives (National Review Online, 030122)

Spin No More: Pro-lifers issue a challenge to the abortion sisters (National Review Online, 030122)

Abortion Now: Thirty years after Roe, a daunting landscape (National Review Online, 030122)

National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2003: A Proclamation By President George W. Bush (National Review Online, 030122)

Trimester Trimming: The media’s elastic interpretations of Roe v. Wade (National Review Online, 030204)

Tom Daschle’s Duty to Be Morally Coherent (Weekly Standard, 030417)

A Moral Majority: Soccer moms are more anti-abortion than you think (Weekly Standard, 030801)

Energizing Information For The Pro-Life Community (Free Congress Foundation, 030708)

A New Chapter In Church Hierarchy (Free Congress Foundation, 030811)

Womb with a View (Weekly Standard, 031124)

Inside the Womb: What scientists have learned about those amazing first nine months—and what it means for mothers (Time Magazine, 021111)

God and Man at Bay (National Review, 031208)

Will the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Save Lives? (Christianity Today, 031023)

Cooling Down the Abortion Debate (Foxnews, 040209)

Hearing Women: Abortion cannot be a choice, unless women know what they are choosing (National Review Online, 040309)

Gambling With Abortion: America’s Seared Conscience (Part 1) (Christian News, 041116)

Gambling With Abortion: America’s Seared Conscience (Part 2) (Christian News, 041119)

The Constitutional Wrecking Ball: It all started with Griswold. (National Review Online, 050719)

Is the Sanctity of Human Life an Outmoded Concept? (Christian Post, 051013)

The pro-choice movement: Safe, legal and as often as possible (, 051130)

Studies denying abortion-cancer link debunked: Professor’s review of latest research upholds causal relationship (WorldNetDaily, 051201)





>>Worth the Fight: Senator Santorum tells the story of a C-SPAN miracle (National Review Online, 030603)


On Friday night, Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (Republican) and his wife, Karen Garver Santorum, received an award from the Sisters of Life, the order of religious sisters founded by the late John Cardinal O’Connor in 1991. The Sisters were established, according to the late cardinal archbishop of New York, to “restore to all society a sense of the sacredness of human life.”


The John Cardinal O’Connor Award was given to the Santorums in recognition of “the courage, nobility, and love with which they live their vocation to marriage and family life,” Mother Agnes Mary, the superior general (a former professor at the Teacher’s College at Columbia University) of the Sisters of Life said. “They have publicly witnessed to a private suffering shared by many families throughout the world.” In 1998, Mrs. Santorum published Letters to Gabriel, a memoir of her pregnancy and the 20-week life of their fourth child, Gabriel Michael Santorum. Gabriel was born prematurely and died two hours after being delivered.


After a few weeks under an extra-hot spotlight, following comments made to an Associated Press reporter about homosexuality and other lightening rods, the senator obviously appreciated the warm, familiar audience of mostly Northeast Corridor Catholics on Friday night. To the receptive audience, most, if not all, genuine pro-life advocates — especially the sisters, who as the senator noted with awe, are the face of love, a face the anti-abortion movement needs to be constantly and consistently and forthrightly dedicated to — the senator recounted the story of what was considered a legislative loss, but wound up a true win for human life.


It’s a story he has told a few times now — most recently at his commencement addresses this year at St. Joseph’s University and Christendom College — but that not enough people have heard. It’s a reminder that the fight is often worth the effort, even when you technically lose in the eyes of most of the world — and you may not always know the fruits of your work, either.


Here’s the story, as Santorum tells it; he was fortunate enough to find out how he won during what would have otherwise been considered a legislative defeat:


In 1998, I was on the floor of the United States Senate debating the override of the president’s [Clinton] veto of the partial-birth-abortion bill. The next morning was to be the vote. We did not have the votes to override the president’s veto. The debate had ended that night, it was eight o’clock. The Senate was wrapping up, but there was something inside me that felt that I had to say more, even though there was no one left in the chamber besides the presiding officers. I went back in the cloakroom and called my wife. She picked up the phone and we have six little children and they are all seemingly at once crying in the background, and I said, “Karen, the vote’s tomorrow. We are not going to win and everybody’s gone. But something tells me I need to say more.” And through the din of the children crying, she said, “well, of course, if that’s what you need to do, do it.”


So I went to the presiding officer and said, “I’ll only be a few minutes, I don’t want to keep you late.” Over an hour and a half later, I finished my talk.


….And we finished up the Senate and closed it down, and the next day the vote came, [and] not one vote changed. But five days later, I got an e-mail from a young man at Michigan State University. And this is what the e-mail said: “Senator, on Thursday night I was watching television with my girlfriend. We were flipping through the channels and we saw you standing there on the floor of the United States Senate with a picture of a baby next to you. And so we listened for a while and the more we listened the more we got interested in what you were saying. After a while I looked down at my girlfriend, and she had tears running down her face. And I asked her what was wrong, and she looked up at me and said, ‘I’m pregnant, and tomorrow I was going to have an abortion, and I wasn’t going to tell you, but I’m not going to have an abortion now.’”


In April of that year, a little girl was born and given up for adoption. She is four years old today. Now according to the world, when I spoke on the floor of the Senate that night, I had failed. I did not succeed. But God gave me a gift that many of you as you stand and fight the causes that you believe in may never get, He gave me the gift of knowing that faithfulness to what you believe in can lead to wonderful acts and wonderful miracles.


The Lord works in mysterious ways — even through C-SPAN.




>>Jane Roe’s Journey Home (Christian Coalition)


Norma Mccorvey Shares Her Past and Talks About the Healing Hand of Love That Saved Her From It


“It’s sad to think that the next three generations of children that come after you are being aborted because of you.”


Twenty-five years ago Norma McCorvey became the Jane Roe behind Roe vs. Wade. The lawsuit eventually ushered in abortion on demand in the United States.


Today, McCorvey has left the pro-abortion movement, surrendered herself to Jesus Christ, and joined the pro-life cause. Her story is chronicled in a new half-hour documentary, Reversing Roe: The Norma McCorvey Story. The film, created by award-winning director and producer Dan Donehey, traces McCorvey’s dramatic change from abortion industry icon to pro-life Christian. Reversing Roe details the power of the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. The documentary weaves together the elements of McCorvey’s conversion and explains how such a dramatic change took place.


Ironically, McCorvey’s spiritual breakthrough came about because of a blunder by a pro-life demonstrator, the Rev. Flip Benham.


It happened when Benham, a pro-life leader in Dallas, Texas, showed up at an event where McCorvey was signing copies of her autobiography.


“I yelled at her: ‘Norma McCorvey, your lie ushered in the wholesale slaughter of over 35 million little baby boys and girls,” Benham said. “‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself!’”


Benham knew immediately that his words hurt McCorvey deeply, and he felt guilty about it. The next time he saw McCorvey outside the abortion clinic where she worked, he took her aside and asked her forgiveness.


McCorvey left that encounter, went into her office, closed the door, turned out the lights, and cried.


“That won my heart,” she said.


For the first time in her life, McCorvey realized that someone on the other side had compassion and genuine love for her.


“I cried and thought to myself if he can come to me and say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m out of line,’ then I knew he had a gentle side to him and that got me!”


An Invitation


That’s where 8-year-old Emily Mackey comes into the picture. Eight years earlier, Emily’s mom almost aborted her, but resisted the pressure from family and friends. Often, Emily accompanied her mother to the Operation Rescue offices located next to the Dallas abortion clinic where McCorvey worked. Emily would run to “Miss Norma” and shower her with hugs. During one visit she asked McCorvey to attend church with her.


“How can you refuse an 8-year-old?” McCorvey asked. She finally gave in and went to church with Emily. There, she accepted Jesus Christ.


McCorvey, who frequently abused drugs in an effort to mask the pain and shame she felt, said the presence of Christ topped it all.


“I felt real high inside,” McCorvey recalled. “Higher than I ever felt in my life.”


Today, McCorvey is picking up the pieces of her life and enjoying her new-found relationship with God.


“I’m a Jesus freak,” she said. “The best thing in the world that could ever happen to a young woman is to love God and to love His word and to be His servant.”


Donehey said there’s no doubt in his mind that McCorvey is serious.


“She told me many times that she wanted people to know that Jesus changed her,” Donehey told Christian American. “She didn’t want people to focus on abortion or Roe vs. Wade, but Jesus.”


Empty Playgrounds


Shortly after McCorvey’s conversion, the joy of her new life in Jesus Christ turned to despair. During a visit to a playground with Emily, McCorvey was overwhelmed with grief. She suddenly realized the role she had played in the more than 34 million abortions that have taken place since Roe vs. Wade became law. That awareness inspired her to write a poem she entitled “Empty Playgrounds.”


I sit across from a playground that I visited this eve with a small child.

I know of such places where children play.

I know that I am the cause of them not being here today.

I hope, Lord, that the wonderful playground You have is well guarded with angels.

So that, when that glorious day comes; the children will not hold this sin against me.

All I did was give my baby away, so that women could tear theirs apart.

For this I will never be able to look You in the face without shame.


When Benham read McCorvey’s poem, a Scripture immediately came to mind. “Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)


When Donehey saw the poem and the verse, he knew he needed a strong, redemptive, healing song for the film.


“I read Norma’s poem and called Phil Keaggy the Wednesday before Easter,” Donehey said. “I asked him if he would consider writing a song based on the poem. He said he was pretty busy with Easter and family, but agreed to look at the poem.


“I didn’t hear back from Phil, but the Monday after Easter, Phil had left a voice message on my office phone. ‘Dan, this is Phil. It’s Saturday night and I am just finishing up the song. You’ll have the CD in your office on Monday!’”


Keaggy found the poem strongly inspiring.


“I could really hear her heart cry in the poem,” Keaggy told Christian American. “There was an outpouring and it was a very self-incriminating expression of her emotions and (the) feelings of her struggle in dealing with the part that she played in the whole scenario.


“I tried to conceptualize her words into my own lyrical phrasing, so that there would at least be the idea that all is not lost in God,” Keaggy said.


Keaggy also called his song “Empty Playgrounds,” and it now forms the music bed to the documentary. It is a moving tribute to the forgiveness of God.


And every time I see an empty playground

Yours will be full of children

who have a home

In your presence, Lord and near your throne

Radiant faces, unashamed and whole again

I feel now I am one with them - because of mercy.


“I called Norma and played the song over the phone for her,” said Donehey. “She didn’t make it through the phone call. She just started crying and had to hang up.”


McCorvey is crying a lot these days as her healing continues, but the love that drew her to Christ is helping her through the tough times.


“They (pro-abortion advocates) were always concerned about the cause not the person,” Benham said. “They loved Jane Roe, the name that signed the class action suit. They were always embarrassed by Norma McCorvey, the lady from the other side of the tracks. Then she discovered that there was a Jesus who loved Norma McCorvey and was not ashamed of her past.”


James R. Wallis Jr. is a free-lance writer who lives in Chesapeake, Va.




**The Real Face of Abortion—Choosing Death Rather Than Life (Christian Post, 050924)


At the national level, the abortion debate is often discussed only in terms of laws, court decisions, and public controversies. In reality, every one of the million-plus abortions performed in America each year comes as a result of a private decision, often made without concern for public analysis. This point is made abundantly clear in a major article published in the September 18, 2005 edition of The New York Times. In a story titled “Under Din of Abortion Debate, an Experience Shared Quietly,” reporter John Leland recounted conversations he experienced during a visit to Little Rock Family Planning Services, an abortion clinic located in the Arkansas capital.


Leland’s article is heartbreaking. He takes readers into the lives of the women who have come to the clinic seeking an abortion. Their stories—and the rationales they gave for their abortions—only deepen the sense of tragedy that surrounds the reality of abortion.


Leland opens by introducing four women who arrived at the abortion clinic on the same day, each carefully avoiding making eye contact. Leah is an employee in a clothing boutique. Alicia is a high school student, and Tammy works in an espresso bar. Regina is an army sergeant, recently returned from Iraq. The women are identified only by their first names in order to protect their identities.


Living three decades after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand in the decisions Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, Leland acknowledges that the landscape of the abortion debate has been “altered by shifts in technology, law, demographics and the political climate.” Well over forty million abortions have been performed since 1973, and more than 25 million women have experienced abortions. At present, more than one in five pregnancies ends in abortion.


“Often kept secret, even from close friends or family members, the experience [of abortion] cuts across all income levels, religions, races, lifestyles, political parties and marital circumstances,” Leland explains. Even as abortion rates have fallen somewhat over the last fifteen years, “abortion remains one of the most common surgical procedures for women in America.”


The importance of Leland’s article lies in the brutal honesty of the reality he describes. He minces no words in describing the ugliness of the context, and he allows the women to speak for themselves, explaining why they have come to the clinic in order to abort the developing life within them.


Even on the outside, the picture is ugly. Leland describes “the squat, nondescript brick building” that must be guarded by armed security. Visitors enter only after clearing a metal detector and are warned that they must settle their bill before the procedure—cash or credit cards are the only payment options.


At one point, Leland attempts to individualize the abortion issue. “While public conversation about abortion is dominated by advocates with all-or-nothing positions—treating the fetus as a complete person, with full rights, or as a nonentity, with none—most patients at the clinic, like most Americans, found themselves on rockier ground, weighing religious, ethical, practical, sentimental and financial imperatives that were often in conflict.”


Of course, by the time these women had made their decision for an abortion, the conflict had been decided in favor of terminating human life.


The stories will truly break your heart. Alexia, a 23-year-old student at Delta State University in Mississippi, came to the Little Rock clinic in order to have her third abortion. “My religion is against it,” she acknowledged. “In a way I feel I’m doing wrong, but you can be forgiven, I blame myself. I feel I shouldn’t have sex at all.” In other words, Alexia seems to believe that having an abortion is a sin, but she has settled in her own mind that this sin can be forgiven, even as it is the focus of her premeditated act.


Venetia Grundler, age 21, decided to go through with the abortion even after she had viewed an ultrasound image of the fetus developing in her womb. According to Leland, Grundler was twelve weeks pregnant when she came to the clinic, and she blamed her pregnancy on the failure of birth control pills.


Her statements to the reporter are nothing less than shocking. “I feel pretty messed up,” she said after viewing the image of her developing baby. “It’s different, just knowing. My husband told me not to look. This changes my feelings, but I’m sticking by it. Damn it, $650, I’m sticking by it.”


What are we to make of this? This young woman admits that her heart was moved by the visual image of the baby developing within her, but she has decided to proceed with the abortion because she has already paid her $650 fee. When she said, “I’m sticking by it,” she obviously meant that she had decided to stand by her decision, rather than by her baby.


Leland presents the women and their stories in the context of moral conflict. Some of the women explained their abortion decision primarily in terms of economics, while others claimed that they just could not handle the experience of motherhood.


Leah, 26, expressed some level of inner conflict. “I always said I would never, ever have an abortion. I probably will regret it. I’m pro-choice for cases of incest or rape, but if it’s your own fault, you should accept responsibility. And it’s my own fault.” So, Leah argued against the very decision that had brought her to the clinic.


Intentionally or not, Leland points to the status of the fetus as an important issue in the decision making of at least some of the women at the clinic. Leah offered that she did not believe she would be able to have an abortion if she had seen an actual baby on the ultrasound image. Since she came for her abortion at only the fifth week of pregnancy, the ultrasound image did not show a recognizable infant. “If I saw an actual fetal baby on the ultrasound, I wouldn’t have been able to go through with it,” she explained.


On the other hand, some women gave virtually no evidence of moral conflict at all. Karen, 29, came to the clinic for an abortion in the twentieth week of her pregnancy. “Like nearly half of all women who have abortions, she has had one before, when she was eighteen,” Leland explains.


Karen does not believe that her abortion should be seen as shameful. “All of your past goes into making you who you are,” she commented. That amounts to an abdication of moral responsibility disguised as fatalism.


Parents will want to take note of Leland’s description of Alicia, a seventeen-year-old girl from Oklahoma who traveled to Little Rock in order to obtain an abortion. Alicia did not have parental consent for her abortion as required by Arkansas law, but she was able to get a judge to bypass parental consent.


Leland describes how clinic staff scheduled Alicia an appointment with a local judge who met with her briefly in his chambers. Dr. Tom Tvedten, one of the doctors who performs abortions at the Arkansas clinic, explained, “If you go to the judge and say, ‘I’m afraid to tell my parents because they may harm me,’ that’s all you need to say. It doesn’t have to be true, because how would anybody know?”


Tvedten was more concerned with economic issues and seemed to see abortion as a consumer product. He complained that “every time a restriction is placed on us, it increases our cost, and that cost is passed on to the consumer.”


This depressing article contained other items of interest. Dr. Jerry Edwards, the clinic’s chief physician, expressed frustration that the local medical community had shunned the clinic and its personnel. “We can’t get residents from the hospital to come over and see what an abortion is like,” Edwards complained. He went on to express that he felt an obligation to maintain the abortion clinic in Little Rock because, “If we retired, I’m not sure anybody else would come to Arkansas and practice.”


According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion think tank, the total number of abortion clinics across the nation now stands at 1819 in 2000, down from 2908 in 1982.


Edwards owns the clinic along with his wife, Ann F. Osborne, its director. They acknowledge that they were not accepted by the Little Rock community. As Leland explains, “Even the patients often have a negative view of abortion.” Evidently, their view is not sufficiently negative that they would be convinced to carry their babies to term.


The issue of abortion has been front and center in America’s culture war for the last four decades. The issue is controversial, and the debate over abortion is often contentious. Nevertheless, the reality of abortion is even uglier, as the stories of these women will make clear. Something is missing from this picture, and that missing element is an acknowledgement that the one factor most glaringly excluded from this consideration is the developing baby. The baby has no voice, no say in the decision, and no advocate in this process. But then, the reporter cannot interview the baby, can he?




R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.




**Complicit Guilt, Explicit Healing (Christianity Today, 031027)


Men involved in abortion are starting to find help.


As a Baptist church youth leader, Jerry Little had long preached about the evils of abortion. He and his wife, Debbie, repeatedly opened their home to young, unwed mothers-to-be.


But in 1993, his daughter, Candy, 18, revealed her own pregnancy. Shocked, Little convinced himself that his daughter’s case was different and that only an abortion could resolve the issue.


Candy, however, didn’t want an abortion.


Little drove his daughter 120 miles from their Amarillo, Texas, home to Lubbock for a clandestine abortion. Once inside the facility, Candy became so distraught that the abortionist refused to do the procedure.


But Little persisted, talking her into the procedure. Two days later, Little and his daughter returned. Although Candy continued to cry uncontrollably, this time the abortionist took Little’s money.


When Candy returned to the waiting room, she gazed vacantly in her father’s direction and said, “Let’s go.” He immediately knew their relationship would never be the same, but he tried to push that knowledge aside. For the next two years, the Little family nearly disintegrated while keeping the abortion a secret. The guilt and blame nearly overwhelmed Little, who felt he had nowhere to turn.


Although pregnancy care centers began providing post-abortion syndrome counseling for women soon after Roe v. Wade became law, spiritual and psychological healing for men remains rare. Warren L. Williams has counseled 250 post-abortive men in the past 25 years as founder of Fathers & Brothers Ministries International in Boulder, Colorado. Williams estimates that only 4,000 American men in the past decade have gone through any kind of study about how abortion has affected them.


“Culturally, it has been swept under the rug,” Williams said.


Huge need, tiny budgets


In the 30 years since abortion on demand became the law of the land, little attention has been paid to the effects on men. Books, ministries, and recovery groups to help men overcome abortion grief are slowly making a dent, but most organizations devoted to the problem operate on shoestring budgets.


With more than a million abortions occurring annually, the walking wounded are plentiful. When a baby’s father refuses responsibility, the woman’s father, brother, uncle, or friend sometimes steps in to pay for an abortion. Drexel University sociologist Arthur B. Shostak conducted interviews with 1,000 men in abortion waiting rooms in 18 states in 1984. Shostak reported that 75 percent had a difficult time with the experience.


While a first-year Baylor University student, Stephen Arterburn conceived a child with a classmate. Then Arterburn badgered her into believing she had only one option. “I helped pay for the abortion because it was the convenient thing,” Arterburn said. “Only afterwards did I realize that I had essentially paid to have my own child murdered.”


Arterburn, founder of the Laguna Beach, California–based New Life Clinics, described his subsequent struggles, including 83 life-threatening ulcers, in The God of Second Chances (Thomas Nelson, 2002). Arterburn, now 50, said he didn’t fully come to terms with what he had done until 18 years later, after he and his wife, Sandy, adopted a baby.


Sometimes a woman will abort a child without her partner’s sanction or knowledge. In 1982, Dave Wemhoff found out two weeks after the procedure that his girlfriend had aborted their son. It took him another 17 years to forgive her—and himself.


Effects on men


Research about abortion’s fallout among men is largely anecdotal because of the dearth of major studies. Williams says the repressed angst that men have manifests itself in an array of societal woes.


Williams says that everyone who has gone through the stages of healing with him has expressed “a deep level of anger toward [himself] and others involved in the abortion process.”


Many men are in denial, said Wayne F. Brauning, founder of Men’s Abortion Recovery in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. “Men will not face painful issues that deal with their emotions,” Brauning said. “Men isolate themselves when they are hurt, or they get drunk, promiscuous, or derelict in their work.”


Those who have counseled men complicit in an abortion say that other long-term symptoms include inability to form lasting relationships, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, nightmares, fits of rage, suicidal behavior, and fear of having more children.


Anne Pierson, executive director of Loving & Caring, a crisis pregnancy center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said that men don’t want to appear weak, and that they rarely seek guidance without prodding by the woman.


“Men like to keep abortion a women’s issue, but it’s not,” Pierson said.


Many Christian leaders have privately told Arterburn that they once paid for an abortion but, fearing an unforgiving congregation, they won’t go public.


In Fatherhood Aborted (Tyndale House, 2001), David Hazard and the late Guy Condon maintained that many churchgoing men spend years estranged from God after an abortion. In fact, Christians often consider church involvement a form of payment for their abortion sin, they said.


Olivia Gans, director of American Victims of Abortion, a branch of the National Right to Life Committee in Washington, says it is a complex problem that is difficult to tackle. “There is not some magic pill to make this better,” Gans said. “Emotionally, these men are grappling with a death experience.”


Finding forgiveness


Although he steadfastly maintained the abortion’s necessity, two years later Jerry Little agreed to his daughter’s request to go through a Bible study and counseling at the CareNet Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Amarillo. He grasped the immorality of his actions, admitted his guilt, prayed for God’s forgiveness, and experienced healing.


“I had kept thinking those two years that I was supposed to protect her,” Little, now 50, told CHRISTIANITY TODAY. “But no one could have abused her as much as [I did], because I took her to get an abortion.”


Little, who today is a construction crew manager, has led four men through a 12-week post-abortive Bible study.


Fatherhood Lost (Life Issues Institute, 1998), an eight-step Bible study by Williams, can take up to 16 weeks and often is a one-on-one encounter. The post-abortive man identifies his pain, takes responsibility for fatherhood, deals with the source of anger, grieves the loss of the child, resolves guilt and shame, forgives all involved in the event, reconciles with God, and finds resolution, perhaps through a memorial service.


For Wemhoff, now a lawyer in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the healing involved naming his aborted son Matthew Peter and holding a doll as a proxy.


Scott Best, 50, a therapist in Longmont, Colorado, named his aborted son Jedidiah, participated in a burial ceremony, and placed his son’s name on a plaque for unborn children in Boulder. “Even though I never got to hold him, I knew he was in the arms of the Lord, and we would one day be reunited,” Best said.


Little’s daughter, Candy Gibbs, now directs the Amarillo pregnancy center where she and her father found help eight years ago.


Ignoring the pain doesn’t make it go away, Arterburn said.


“Whenever you make a decision to kill one of your own species, it’s going to have a profound effect on you,” Arterburn said. “Men have to accept Christ’s forgiveness—and forgive themselves—if they don’t want to struggle with this guilt forever.”




The Deadly After-Effect of Abortion: Breast Cancer (940000)


by J.C. Willke, M.D.




A first pregnancy permanently changes the structure of a woman’s breasts. Before she is pregnant, her breasts cannot produce milk, as the gland cells are immature and underdeveloped. When she becomes pregnant, estrogen and other hormones flood her system. This results in rapid growth in size, while the internal structure undergoes dramatic change.


Cells, previously dormant, rapidly grow into a system of branching ducts and gland cells capable of producing milk. Once this growth, change and maturing is complete, there is no further significant change the rest of her life. Once mature, the chance of the breast developing cancer is much less.


When these cells are changing and transitional, they are less stable and have much greater potential of becoming cancerous. If she completes her first pregnancy, this unstable period passes and her gland cells mature and stabilize.


But —if she interrupts her pregnancy, in its early phase, and 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester, she in effect stops the development of the cells at this unstable, transitional phase. It seems apparent that cancerous changes can and do occur more frequently among these transitional cells of a woman who has terminated her pregnancy. If she aborts more than once before completing a pregnancy, her chance for cancer increases even more. A subsequent full term pregnancy helps, but sadly never removes the sharply increased threat of cancer.


There are 1,600,000 abortions each year, 56% are first abortions, 44% second or more [U.S. Figures].


One woman in ten will develop breast cancer, and 25% of them will die.


Increase -How Much?


Women who carry their first baby to term cut their chance for breast cancer almost in half. Women who abort their first pregnancy almost double their chance. With 2 or more abortions, there is a 3-4 fold increase.


For Instance


A 15 year old American girl has a 10% lifetime risk of breast cancer. If she gets pregnant in her teens and has the baby she reduces her risk to 7.5%. However, if she has an abortion, her risk rises to 15% (assuming she has at least one child in her 20’s). If the abortion sterilizes her and/or for other reasons, she never has another pregnancy, her risk rises to 30%.4


10,000 Added Deaths?


Over 800,000 women abort their first pregnancy each year. Of these, 10% or 80,000 would have developed breast cancer. But, because of their abortions, the number of cancer cases will increase to 120,000. Of these extra 40,000 cases, 25%, or 10,000 additional women will die of breast cancer every year.


Abortion Mortality


The abortion industry claims 1 per 100,000 or 16 maternal deaths per year. If, however, we add these 10,000 deaths, a total of 10,016 die annually, or 834 deaths per 100,000. Mortality from childbirth is about 6/100,000, plus the fact that childbirth prevents over 500 deaths from cancer for every 100,000 first pregnancies carried to term.


Scientific Studies


Multi-national WHO studies and MacMahon et al [1] clearly established that the younger she has a full term pregnancy the less chance she has of developing breast cancer.


Pike et [2] all found a 2.4 times increased risk of breast cancer among women under 32 years of age who had aborted their first pregnancy.


Henderson et al [3] found the same risk in Chinese women.


Additional confirmation came from studies in U.S.[4,5,6], Japan[7], Denmark[8], Italy[9], and Russia [10,11] as well as showing that multiple abortions sharply increase the risk of breast cancer.


Meanwhile a series of other studies were done in the hope of disproving this link. Most of these were flawed by: inappropriately crude age matching or adjusting of controls (the main problem); interpreting as statistically insignificant some retrospective case controls with low statistical power; minimizing the actual results obtained in their conclusions; and attributing results to patient’s “recall bias” even though a close exam refutes such a claim.


Dr. Remennick [10] concluded “an initial attitude of researchers toward abortion usually determines the way they interpret results.” e.g. The New England Journal of Medicine [13] reviewed risk factors and didn’t even mention abortion. An 8 page TIME magazine (1-14-91) analysis ignored abortion and only mentioned in passing “delayed child bearing” as a risk factor.


Dr. Howe et al [6] in a well matched study (New York State Department of Health) found a 1.7 times increased risk from one abortion and 4.0 for 2 abortions if there were no intervening live births.


Olsson et al [12] recently demonstrated that pre-menopausal breast cancers grow faster and are more invasive and lethal than those occurring after menopause, and patients who have had abortions have the most invasive and lethal types. The rise in the rate of this, more lethal cancer, directly parallels the use in abortions in the U.S.




[1] MacMahon B, Cole P, Lin TM, Lowe CR, Mirra AP, Ravnihar B, Salber El, Valaoras VG, Yuasa S (1970) _Bull. World Health Org._ 43:209-21.


[2] Pike MC, Henderson BE, Casagrande JT, Rosario 1, Gray CE (1981) _Brit. J. Cancer_. 43:72-6.


[3] Yuan J-M, Yu MC, Ross RK, Gao Y-T, Henderson BE (1988) _Cancer Res._ 48:1949-53.


[4] Brinton LA, Hoover R, Fraumeni IF, Ir. (1983) _Brit. J. Cancer_. 47:757-62.


[5] Rosenberg L, Palmer IR, Kaufman DW, Strom BL, Schottenfeld D, Shapiro S (1988) _Am. J. Epidemiol._ 127:981-9.


[6] Howe HL, Senie RT, Bzduch H, Herzfeld P (1989) _Int. J. Epidemiol._ 18:300-4.


[7] Hirohata T, Shigematsu T, Nomura AMY, Horie A, Hirohata 1(1985) _Nat. Cancer Inst. Monogr._ 69: 187-90.


[8] Ewertz M, Duffy SW (1988) _Brit. J. Cancer_. 58:99-104.


[9] Parazzini F, La Vecchia C, Negri E (1991) _Int. J. Cancer_. 48:816-20.


[10] Remennick LI (1989) _Int. J. Epidemiol._ 18:498-510.


[11] Remennick LI (1990) _J. Epidemiol. Commun. Health_ 44:259-64


[12] Olsson H, Ranstam J, Baldetorp B, Ewers S-B, Ferno M, Killander D, Sigurdsson H (1991) _Cancer_ 67:1285-90.


[13] Harris JR, Lippman ME, Veronesi U, Willett W. (1992) _New England J. Med._ 327:319-328.


[14] J. Brind, Baruch College, 1-27-93, letter to David Kessler, FDA Commissioner




Abortion Risks And Complications (950000)




As the media and activist organizations of all sorts have expounded, breast cancer has risen dramatically in America by 50% since 1973 and is also increasing worldwide. Recent studies, though, have pointed out a dramatic relationship between the rate of abortion and the rising incidence of breast cancer. In fact, as the rate of abortion rises in America, so does the rate of breast cancer, with those women who have aborted having significantly higher rates.


Abortion interrupts natural changes in the breast, leaving millions of cells at high risk. Thus far, twenty-four studies have confirmed this relationship. Dr. George Bonney, Chairman of the Department of Biostatistics at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia reported recent surveys conducted by the center also present evidence which strongly suggests an association between abortion and breast cancer. Although it hasn’t been completely confirmed, Bonney believes “it probably will be revealed in future studies.”


Dr. Bonney, who taught genetics and biostatistics at University of North Carolina, L.S.U., and Howard University, is considered the individual most knowledgeable in the statistical study of breast cancer. He has discussed a Howard University study and studies in France also showing the same correlations as found in various American research. Dr. Bonney indicates that “the breast cancer abortion link demands further research and studies” as well as additional media and organizational attention.


Dr. Ian Schenk, former Chairman of the Committee on Medical Ethics at Fairfax (Virginia) Hospital and a Clinical Assistant Professor at Georgetown hinted abortionists should consider discussing the possible dangers of breast cancer with a mother considering abortion.


Sources: Somerville, Scott, Esq., _Before You Choose_, AIM Publications, 10/1/93. Willke, J.C., M.D. _The Deadly After-Effect of Abortion: Breast Cancer_, Hayes Publishing, 1993. A Forum on Abortion and Breast Cancer: sponsored by PLAGAL, May 21, 1994, Washington, D.C.




24.3% experience complications in future pregnancies. Complications include: excessive bleeding, premature delivery, cervical damage, and sterility. (Acta/Obstetrics and Gynecology Scandinavia 1979; 58:491-4)


Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). A first-trimester abortion can result in bacterial vaginosis, leading to PID, a condition that must be treated quickly. (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1992; 166:100-103)


Uterine perforations. Uterine perforations can often occur and sometimes may go unrecognized and untreated. (Bernadell Technical Bulletin 1989; 1:1:1-2)


Increased Risk of Breast Cancer. In addition to the aforementioned information. One source indicated a 140% increase risk following an abortion. (British Journal of Cancer 1981; 43-72-6)


Tubal pregnancy. Abortion appears to contribute to an increase in ectopic pregnancy in younger women when associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. Statistic show a 30% increased risk of ectopic pregnancy after one abortion and a 160% increased risk after two or more abortions. (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1989; 160:642-6) (American Journal of Public Health 1982; 72:253-6)


Placenta previa -a condition producing extremely severe, life threatening bleeding in future pregnancies. Statistics show a 600% increased risk following abortion. (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1981; 141:769-72)


Increased bleeding in subsequent pregnancies. (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1983; 146:136-140)


Retention of placenta -increased in subsequent pregnancies. (Acta/Obstetrics and Gynecology Scandinavia 1979; 58:485-490)




Women Under 20


2 times greater risk of medical complications (Canadian Journal of Public Health 1982; 73:396-400)


150% greater risk of cervical injury (New England Journal of Medicine 1983; 309:621-24)


Women who have had a previous abortion


200% increased risk of miscarriage after two or more abortions (Journal of the American Medical Association 1980:243:2495-9) 160% increased risk of tubal pregnancy


(American Journal of Public Health 1982; 72:253-6)


Increased risk of abnormal positioning of the baby in future pregnancies after one or more abortion. (American Journal of Obs. and Gyn. 1983; 146:136-140)


Women with previous or existing PID


Decrease in fertility following an abortion (Acta/Obstetrics and Gyn. Scandinavia 1979; 58:539-42)


More days of post-abortion pain and cramping (Acta/Obstetrics and Gyn. Scandinavia 1982: 61:357-60)


Increased risk of tubal pregnancy following an abortion (American Journal of Public Health 1982; 72:253-6)




A line in the sand (Christian American, 970000)


Will President Clinton’s support for partial-birth abortion spur an overdue moral awakening?


There is a short, quick motion of the scissors into the newborn baby’s brain. The baby cannot cry out because its head is still in its mother’s birth canal. It twitches from the searing pain and then goes limp. The doctor works the scissors around to make a bigger hole. Next, the brain of the now-dead baby is sucked out. The soft little skull collapses inward. The doctor pulls the last little bit of the baby out of the mother and throws the body away.


That is the horror of a partial-birth abortion. This technique for murdering babies was developed to allow abortion doctors to deal with very late third-term pregnancies.


It can only be excruciatingly painful for the baby. Defenders of the procedure have tried to argue that the anesthesia given the woman actually kills the baby. Leading anesthesiologists, however, say flatly that it is false, and that the baby cannot help but feel the agony of the sharp tool ramming into its little brain, ending its life at the beginning.


A strong majority of Congress rose up in outrage against this hideous and immoral practice. Lawmakers in the House and Senate voted to make the partial-birth abortion a criminal offense. But President Bill Clinton, obviously not daring to cross the abortion-rights movement, vetoed the bill. Both houses of Congress voted to override Clinton’s veto last fall, but the Senate failed to do so by a wide enough margin to carry the override.


The United States of America was brilliantly conceived as a nation where morality, justice and opportunity would transcend the decadence and corruption of the Old World. Now, 200 years later, it has produced a president who refuses to put a stop to one of the most ghastly, immoral acts the mind can conceive, the deliberate murder of a live baby.


I am the father of seven children and a grandfather of 20. I did my best to teach them all that despite an occasional departure, America is the leading example of justice, decency and morality among the nations of the world. Now I wonder what my grandchildren will say to me when they learn that our own president can veto a law prohibiting this particularly despicable form of late-term abortion.


For years our public morality has been on a downward slope. Newspaper accounts of husbands beating and murdering their wives are now so commonplace as to be put on the inside pages.


The nation faces a rising tide of absolutely senseless murders of innocent people by vicious, cold-hearted predators. Many neighborhoods of our cities are wracked with the curses of drugs, booze, violent crime, sex without commitment, and children without fathers. Meanwhile, as the crisis grows worse every day, our courts are engaged in hair-splitting legal exercises that straight-jacket our police in their efforts to control crime and to prohibit the simple act of prayer in our public schools.


But President Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion ban - and the inability to override his veto in Congress - brings the condition of America’s public morality to a new low.


Americans who believe in morality and decency and humanity, Americans who love their country, Americans who refuse to watch America trickle away into the septic tank of history, must no longer stand mute. We must stand up and say, “No More!”


If President Clinton’s shameful veto sparks a long overdue moral awakening among the people, perhaps his indefensible act will yet serve a purpose.


God works in mysterious ways.


William E. Simon was Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He is a member of the Catholic Alliance advisory board.




Media downplays abortion-breast cancer risk (Christian Coalition, 970100)


Despite powerful evidence, many reporters flocked to pro-abortion criticism of latest study.


WHEN RESEARCHERS AT PENN State University announced they had discovered that abortion is to blame for about 5,000 cases of breast cancer each year, those who thought the media would finally sit up and take notice were once again disappointed.


Despite a media infatuation with behaviors or substances that might increase the risk of cancer (remember the Alar apple scare, power lines, pesticides?), most news outlets moved quickly to discount the latest study - even to question the motives of its researchers.


The latest study - an analysis of 23 studies - looked at research from around the world to examine the possible link between induced abortion and breast cancer. The research analyzed cases dated back to 1957 and included 25,967 women with breast cancer and 34,977 women without it. Researchers found that women who underwent induced abortion were 30-percent more likely to develop breast cancer. Women who miscarried their pregnancies were subjected to no increased breast cancer risk.


Many publications that reported on the study downplayed or questioned it directly in article headlines. “Bias in abortion study is charged,” read a Boston Globe headline. “New breast cancer report debated; study hints 30 percent higher risk after abortion,” read a Chicago Tribune headline. The New York Daily News weighed in with “Disputed study links abortion, cancer.”


Some newspapers crammed as many negatives into their headlines as possible: “Challenged study says abortion increases risk of breast cancer. Even a researcher opposed to abortion disputes study’s findings,” said the Des Moines Register in the headline to its article reporting on the Penn State study.


A few members of the media saw the problem. Seattle Times columnist Michelle Malkin wrote, “Dubious studies on negligible environmental risks trigger apocalyptic front-page headlines with numbing regularity...yet abortion-breast cancer research - over 40 individual studies - is largely shunned by the mainstream media.”


U.S. News and World Report also acknowledged the lack of fair play in its Oct. 21 edition. “Debating abortion and breast cancer,” the magazine’s headline began. “Science is only part of the discussion when two supercharged issues are on the table.”




Kids’ Play: NARAL’s incredible spin (National Review Online, 020923)


By Amy Drake


I guess nothing is beneath the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.


Not even using baby faces to sell abortion. One of their latest TV ads — part of their “Choice for America” campaign — features several little kids playing Red Rover. While we watch these happy little children running around, a voice-over asks us to consider their future — a future that might not include abortion. “And what will we tell them, the children in front of us now? What will we say? Will we tell them that once we were free but now they are not? That we had the right to choose but that right is lost?


Does NARAL, one of the most militant pro-abortion groups around, think that by using little kids and patriotic overtones we will suddenly forget what they really represent? If anything, this ad shows just how low NARAL will go. Children — who just a few years ago were considered worthless in the womb — are now being used to push NARAL’s abortion agenda forward. And, ironically, NARAL chooses to focus on a game of Red Rover, which like so many childhood games, is more fun when more kids play. In a NARAL world, where abortion is commonplace, there would be a lot fewer kids playing Red Rover and a lot more playing solitaire.


Sadly, the real-life mothers of the children in these ads also see nothing wrong with using their sons and daughters to advocate the killing of babes. You can’t help but think that the children in this ad are lucky to be alive. Any parent willing to use her child in a NARAL commercial can’t think abortion is all bad — and in fact, might consider it an option for herself. Fortunately, the kids on screen were not selected for termination, but even they will feel the pain of abortion. It will end the lives of their brothers and sisters, potential playmates, and little boys and girls who could have brought greatness to their generation.


The Red Rover ad is not NARAL’s only commercial to use children. Another one features a little girl, maybe six years old, learning to ride a bike, and what is assumed to be a mother’s voice saying, “I want every good thing in the world for you. I want you to know, right down to your toes, that all of life’s choices are open to you.” Watching a child pedal away for the first time may indeed inspire a parent to start thinking about what else is possible for her child, but I doubt that includes her baby’s future right to abort.


It is simply unsettling to see children used in ads that promote the killing of other children. Certainly, the boys and girls in these commercials don’t understand what NARAL is advocating — as far as they’re concerned, they are just being kids, playing Red Rover and riding bikes. Most of them probably don’t even know what abortion is. If they did, it might make them cry — and well, that wouldn’t be good for TV.


Not surprisingly, NARAL has no problem taking advantage of these children’s ignorance. NARAL neither respects children in the womb, or children who made it out alive. But, somehow, while watching these commercials, NARAL expects us to believe that they care about our children’s futures.


— Amy Drake is a freelance writer and mother in Washington, D.C.




When Life Begins: A new story in Time bolsters the pro-life case (Weekly Standard, 021114)


WE TEND TO ASSUME that science involves demystification: Rainbows are not a sign of God’s covenant with man, science tells us, but simply sunlight refracted through the prism of water vapor; thunderbolts are not products of the wrath of Zeus, but of electrical charges in the atmosphere—you get the idea. But what’s striking is how often modern science actually increases our sense of awe at the ineffable mysteries of the universe.


Nowhere is this more evident than in what science is now telling us about the development of nascent human life, as featured in the cover story of last week’s issue of Time magazine. The article is derived from a remarkable new book, “From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds,” by scientific visualization expert Alexander Tsiaras and writer Barry Werth.


You should read the entire article for all the fascinating details and astonishing images. For a general sense, though, of what advances in fetal imaging and genetic science are revealing about the complex and beautifully choreographed journey from conception to birth, ponder this wonderfully illustrative metaphor from the opening of Tsiaras and Werth’s book: “Imagine yourself as the world’s tallest skyscraper, built in nine months and germinating from a single brick. As that brick divides, it gives rise to every other type of material needed to construct and operate the finished tower—a million tons of steel, concrete, mortar, insulation, tile, wood, granite, solvents, carpet, cable, pipe and glass as well as all furniture, phone systems, heating and cooling units, plumbing, electrical wiring, artwork and computer networks, including software.”


Of course, this astonishing new science will surely reinvigorate debate about the moral status of both the “skyscraper” as it undergoes construction—which is to say, the fetus—and of the “brick”—which is to say, the human embryo. Pro-lifers can find much support for their cause in the Time article and Tsiaras and Werth’s book. By showing just how early the fetus develops all the essential organs and features that make it recognizably human, the latest science substantially bolsters the claim that the unborn child is not just a clump of tissue but a human life with inherent dignity and rights that must be protected. (Nevertheless, Time’s writers make an absurd attempt to “balance” their article’s possible implications, claiming that the enhanced ability to detect diseases in the fetus might also justify more abortions.)


For the majority of Americans, who are not unabashed enthusiasts for unlimited abortion on demand, the difficulty lies in determining how the law should distinguish between human life that must be protected and that which should still be subject to a woman’s “choice.” But science is making it increasingly difficult to draw that line at some arbitrary point such as the end of the “first trimester” or “second trimester.” Given the enormity of the moral implications involved, should we not then err on the side of drawing the line as close to conception as possible? In our ever-roiling debates about abortion, cloning, and research using embryos, the awe and respect for nascent human life that the new science rightfully generates should place the burden of proof on those who would ignore the inherent dignity of human life—those who prefer the interests of the strong over the weak, who prefer those with voices against those powerless to speak for themselves, and who prefer convenience and control over the selfless embrace of the most vulnerable among us.




Pro-Lifers Should Be Cautiously Optimistic: Looking toward 108 (National Review Online, 021118)


By Adam G. Mersereau


When the Republicans assume control of the Senate in 2003, they will start combing through the stacks of bills that have been piling up on Senator Daschle’s calendar since the 2000 elections. One of those bills is the ban on partial-birth abortions that was passed by the House in July, but which has lain almost dormant on the Senate’s calendar ever since. Republican Senator Trent Lott, the new Senate majority leader, reportedly spoke of the stalled bill recently, saying, “I will call it up, we will pass it, and the president will sign it. I’m making that commitment to you — you can write it down.”


Needless to say, pro-choicers are preparing for war. That same day, NOW president Kim Gandy wrote, “With Trent Lott running the Senate and George W. Bush in charge of the White House and Supreme Court, the health and welfare of America’s and the world’s women and families have never been in greater jeopardy . . . We must mobilize and organize as if our lives and the futures of our children and families depended on it. They do.”


How ironic. Even while claiming that her life and the lives of her children are in jeopardy, Gandy remains blind to the fates of the unborn children whose lives actually hang in the balance.


Gandy is right, of course, to be concerned. Even before the Republicans’ big wins on Election Day, pro-life advocates were making some headway. On August 5, President Bush signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, a law Gandy has called “stealth legislation” and a “thinly veiled effort to deprive many more women of their reproductive freedom.” President Bush was apparently never informed that the law was meant to be kept a secret. He signed the bill at a ceremony attended by people such as Jill Stanek, a nurse who has given Congress eyewitness accounts of babies who survived abortions only to be put in a dirty linen closet until they died. Bush explained: “This important legislation ensures that every infant born alive — including an infant who survives an abortion procedure — is considered a person under federal law.” Drawing upon recent genetic research and form his faith, he stated that unborn children are “members of the human family . . . [that] reflect our image, and they are created in God’s image.”


While a Christian president and a Republican Congress could feasibly team up to pass all kinds of pro-life legislation, lasting change in the abortion wars will require strong public support. Unfortunately, Republicans cannot assume that their sweeping victories on Tuesday are attributable to the abortion issue, and so they would be wise to bring a strong pro-life case to the American people before enacting pro-life legislation. Unfortunately, even conservative Republicans have always struggled to make that case, and most shy away from making it at all.


One reason is that conservative Republicans, the pro-life standard bearers, are largely seen as hypocrites on the issue of abortion — and they know it. Most people believe it is hypocritical to advocate less intrusive government while also promoting a legal ban on abortions. A legal ban is thought to require more powerful, more intrusive government. This charge of hypocrisy is often the rhetorical coup de grace in the debate over abortion. It has all but stymied pro-lifers. Al Gore used it in his first presidential debate against then-candidate George W. Bush, and Bush quickly (and conspicuously) changed the focus of the discussion. If conservatives are looking to change the abortion laws by first changing the hearts and minds of pro-choice Americans, then they must learn to face the hypocrisy charge head-on, and overcome it.


Can it be done? Is it reasonable to suggest that a government that outlaws abortion can be less powerful and less intrusive than one that permits them? Absolutely.


Our government’s failure or refusal to act is not always a sign of a less-powerful government. Government that has become too bloated and powerful might also fail or refuse to intervene on behalf of particular citizens, just as a decadent, self-indulgent monarch might yawn and roll his eyes in response to a peasant’s plea for justice. One of our federal government’s most fundamental roles is to protect the lives and liberties of its people. It does not possess the constitutional power to decide which groups of people it will and will not protect. It follows that when our government begins picking and choosing which people deserve protection, it is engaging in an arrogant power grab.


Our federal government appears to have taken a passive posture on abortion that favors the freedom of women to exercise “choice” in their private lives. On the surface, such a government may seem deferential and non-intrusive — the kind of government conservatives prefer. But the government only looks passive because it is delegating its authority. In reality, by permitting abortions, the government delegates to expectant mothers the power to strip an unborn human being of any and all rights, so that it can be put to death with no legal ramifications. In other words, the government delegates to women the right to treat their unborn children as “unpersons” before the law. Of course, before it can delegate a power, the government must first claim that power for itself. By claiming the power to declare certain persons to be “unpersons,” and then delegating that power, our government is choosing to reject its constitutional obligation to protect the lives and liberties of a particular class of people. This is hardly smaller government; it’s a case of government power spinning out of control.


Our government’s tolerance of abortion is reminiscent of our government’s former tolerance of slavery. By failing to ban slavery prior to the Civil War, the government essentially delegated to white people the power to treat African Americans as “unpersons” by enslaving them. Today, Americans agree that a government possessing the power to declare African Americans “unpersons” before the law is one whose power has reached dangerous proportions. It follows that a government that permits abortion — like a government that permits slavery — is far too powerful and intrusive. To pass a law that requires the government to protect the unborn, then, is to limit the government by restoring a sense of proportion to government power. Such a law would stand as a reminder that a legitimate government has no right to declare certain human beings less than human, or to refuse to guarantee their full human rights.


Of course, many pro-choice advocates would claim precisely that an unborn child is something less than a human being — and indeed, if a fetus is not truly a human being, then there is nothing wrong with declaring it an “unperson.” Hence the strange marriage between the pro-choice movement and the scientific theory that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Also known simply as “recapitulation,” this is the theory that a fetus passes through various stages (from protozoan to fish to frog to bird to primate and finally to human) while in the womb. This theory has been a great help to the pro-choice movement, because it makes an early-stage abortion akin to killing germs on a kitchen counter, or flushing a goldfish down a toilet. Clearly, if a fetus is nothing more than a germ or a goldfish, then it should not enjoy government protection at the expense of the mother’s freedom. Such protection would constitute blatant discrimination against women.


Unfortunately for the pro-choice movement, the German scientist who originated the theory of recapitulation, Ernst Haeckel, fabricated his famous drawings of the fetus going through the various stages. Still, the theory is so valuable to proponents of macro-evolution — many of whom are, naturally, pro-choice — that it is still taught in many school textbooks as a scientific fact. Most readers of this article who attended public grade school were taught the theory without qualification, despite the fact that Dr. Haeckel’s fabrications were exposed as far back as 1911! Dr. Hymie Gordon, a physician and professor of medical genetics at the Mayo Clinic, points out that science has now progressed to the point that:


We can now say that the question of the beginning of life — when life begins — is no longer a question for theological or philosophical dispute. It is an established scientific fact. Theologians and philosophers may go on to debate the meaning of life or purpose of life, but it is an established fact that all life, including human life, begins at the moment of conception.


Ironically, pro-choice Democrats ought to find themselves in a much more awkward position than pro-life Republicans. After all, the Democratic party is the self-proclaimed defender of the of the dignity and the rights of all “unpersons” in our society: the elderly, the homeless, minorities, the needy, and the otherwise disenfranchised. And yet the Democratic party is also the undisputed home of the pro-choice movement, which summarily dismisses the rights of the unborn. One cannot help but conclude that the Democrats have turned a blind eye toward the disenfranchisement of millions of unborn children merely to secure the feminist vote. Talk about hypocrisy.


— Adam G. Mersereau is an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia.




The Lessons of Roe: Thirty years of learning (National Review Online, 030122)


I was what the sociologists call an “early adopter” of feminism. Soon after arriving at college, in 1970, I knew that it was the religion for me. I had discarded the religion I grew up with, Christianity, as an insultingly simpleminded thing, but feminism filled the gap. Like a religion it offered a complete philosophical worldview, one that displayed me as victim in the center, a feature with immeasurable appeal to a female teenager. Feminism had its own gnostic analysis of reality, by which everything in existence was decoded to be about the oppression of women; it had sacred books, a secret vocabulary, and congregational gatherings for the purpose of consciousness-raising. It even had a habit and tonsure, in a sense; we didn’t don wimples, but we cast off oppressive undergarments and shunned the razor.


I was the first in my dorm to become a feminist, which caused my friends some worry. I printed up posters, yelled chants at marches, and arranged to bring Ti-Grace Atkinson to campus as a speaker, one of the more interesting disasters of my life. But the real cause, of course, was abortion. Laws varied across the land; in my home state it was illegal, but friends could travel to New York or California to end a pregnancy. Unfair! We wanted all abortion laws everywhere repealed, because otherwise women were slaves. The bumper sticker on my car read, “Don’t labor under a misconception. Legalize abortion.”


When the Roe v. Wade decision came down, in January 1973, I was doing an independent semester in film studies and working in Washington, D.C. I volunteered at the flagship underground feminist newspaper, “off our backs,” and was proud when the first issue I worked on included my review of a French movie. That same issue carried a long editorial about Roe. Mostly, we felt it was OK. However, the Roe decision says that a woman must have a medical reason to have an abortion at the end of pregnancy. That struck us as meddling. What do nine men in black robes know? Why can’t a woman decide for herself whether to end a pregnancy, even in the ninth month?


Thirty years later, there are many things I regret about those years — don’t get me started! — but chief among them is how shortsighted I was about the impact of Roe. What can I say, except that I just didn’t know. I thought that women would only have abortions in the most-dire circumstances. I thought that the numbers of abortions would be small. I thought every child would be a wanted child. I thought the unborn was nothing but a glob of tissue. I thought abortion would liberate women. I was wrong.


Roe has taught us many lessons which now govern our lives in ways we can barely perceive. Instead of being one small tool for women’s advancement, abortion opened a chasm, and a lot of unexpected things fell in. It turned out to be an irresistible force, because abortion makes things so much easier for everyone around the pregnant woman. Before Roe, unplanned pregnancy created many problems for many people — the woman’s lover, her parents, her siblings, her boss, her landlord, her dean. Abortion changes the picture instantly: Just go get it taken care of, dear, and it will be as if it never happened. Women were expected to do the sensible thing and save everyone else a lot of fuss and bother. Overnight, unplanned pregnancy became her private problem, a burden for her to bear alone. Abortion-rights rhetoric compounded this effect with terms emphasizing her isolation: My body, my rights, my life, my choice. The flip side of all that first-person assertiveness is abandonment. The network of support that once existed had been shattered.


To continue a pregnancy came to look like an insane choice, one that placed an unfair burden on others. Having a baby in less-than-perfect circumstances came to look like a crazy and even selfish whim. A woman in an unplanned pregnancy was not just permitted to have an abortion — she was expected to. And that has made all the difference.


There were a number of beliefs I held back then, things that I thought Roe would prove true. One by one I have seen them fall over these 30 years.


1. “Abortion liberates women.” The initial argument about the time of Roe was that exercising self-determination was in itself empowering. This thesis did not stand the test of time. Before long it was obvious that women were choosing abortion in sorrow and distress rather than as daring self-expression. They usually didn’t feel liberated afterwards, but a complex of numbness, sorrow, and relief.


2. “It’s a woman’s choice.” The next argument was that, even if abortion isn’t a fresh blast of emancipation, at least it’s her own idea. But too often women themselves disproved this, saying, “I didn’t have any choice, I had to have an abortion.” Roe didn’t add more options to a woman’s plate; it made one option nearly inevitable, because it would be overwhelmingly attractive to those with an interest in keeping her life unchanged.


3. “Women have abortions only in extreme circumstances.” I believed this in those pre-Roe days, even though my friends were traveling across seven states to have abortions simply because they were in college and not married. That seemed extreme enough at the time. Pro-choice leader Kate Michelman has been credited with saying that Americans believe in abortion under only three circumstances: rape, incest, and “my situation.” Under those generous criteria, the numbers of abortions has risen to over 40 million. About 3,500 each day. No one expected this.


4. “Men don’t have to lose their careers when they’re going to have a baby.” Abortion seemed the perfect solution, allowing women to compete with men in the workplace by discarding pregnancies to keep in fighting trim. But we had accepted a false premise. Men don’t have to lose their children in order to keep their careers.


5. “Men don’t have any right to a say in her decision.” Of course they do; a father has as much right as a mother to care for his biological child. But the majority of unwed dads, of course, greet this proposition with relief. Another way of phrasing it is, “Men don’t have any obligation to be involved in her problem.”


6. “Anti-abortion activists want to turn back the clock.” Not true; whatever America will be post-Roe, it will not be what it was before. Rather, it’s abortion that pretends to turn back the clock, by offering a woman the illusion that she can push the rewind button on her life and go back to the time before she was pregnant. It can’t be done. Once you’re pregnant, a new life has begun. That may have been a topic of debate 30 years ago, but not any more.


7. “It’s just a glob of tissue.” This was probably the biggest shock I sustained in my changing views of abortion. I really thought that the unborn was an unformed mass and not technically alive till some point late in pregnancy. A physician’s pamphlet showed me a being that looked remarkably like a baby at six weeks’ gestation, before most abortions are done. Even prior to that, when it looked more like a crawfish, it still was a human being. From the time the sperm dissolves in the egg it’s alive and has a unique genetic code never before seen on earth, with 100% human DNA. It’s a different shape, that’s all. I’m a different shape now than I was at 8 or will be at 80. When did we start discriminating against people based on their shape?


8. “It’s so small.” When I first began to lean toward pro-life convictions, I had a hard time getting over how tiny the unborn is. How could something so little deserve human rights? I came to realize that that is an irrelevant, and even pernicious, consideration. Do children deserve less protection than adults, because they’re smaller? Why would feminists advocate such a view? Most women are smaller than most men. Should a tall guy get to vote twice?


9. “Every child should be a wanted child.” Now that Roe is 30 years old, every person in America under the age of 30 could have been aborted. Every child is a wanted child — the unwanted ones were all aborted, to the tune of one abortion for approximately every three live births. So how come the rate of reported child abuse is so high? In the early years after Roe there were 60,000 cases of child abuse reported annually. Today there are three million cases reported annually, a fifty-fold increase. The reasons for this increase are debatable, but one thing’s for sure, abortion didn’t prevent it. Aborting “unwanted” children hasn’t helped. Instead, it’s taught us that an unwanted person has no right to live. A child might be wanted very much during pregnancy, and not-so wanted a few months later when she’s crying in the middle of the night. But abortion has taught us that a child deserves to live only if her parent wants her. It’s a bizarre principle for feminists to endorse, who were vigorously fighting on another front against the idea, “I’m nothing unless a man wants me.”


10. “My right to control my body.” When a woman realizes she is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, she may feel understandably panicked. It can feel like her body has been taken over against her will, and she can block out any thought except the desire to get rid of it. As one post-abortion woman told me, “It’s like looking down and seeing a tarantula on your arm; you don’t stop to think that some people keep them as pets.” However, it’s not truly the woman’s body that’s at risk here. The unborn child has a right to control her body, too, and that must at a minimum mean the right to keep her arms and legs attached to her body.


11. “Women are full-fledged adults and deserve more rights than fetuses.” Yes, this is true; adults have the right to vote and drive, and I don’t think anyone is proposing giving such privileges to the unborn. However it’s a long way from regulating rights that come with increasing maturity to denying the right to be alive. This is an abiding fallacy in abortion discussions, and both pro-life and pro-choice advocates fell for it. We both assumed that abortion concerned a conflict between the rights of a woman and a fetus. But in no sane culture are women and their own unborn children presumed to be mortal enemies. If continuing a pregnancy has become that unbearable, the problem is not inside the woman’s body, but in a culture that is placing overwhelming burdens on her. The love between mother and baby is the icon of human connectedness, and when we complacently assume that one may want to kill the other, something has gone seriously wrong.


— Frederica Mathewes-Green writes regularly for NPR’s Morning Edition,, Christianity Today, and other publications. Her latest book is Gender: Men, Women, Sex, Feminism.




Marching Onward: Pro-lifers save lives (National Review Online, 030122)


By John J. Miller


A friend once commented that growing up a fan of the Boston Red Sox (as he had done) was good preparation for being a conservative later in life because it prepares you for perpetual disappointment. Something similar might be said about pro-lifers, thousands of whom will participate in the 30th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. today. They’ve struggled against the regime of Roe v. Wade for three decades, but haven’t come close to claiming the victory they want more than any other: a constitutional amendment protecting unborn children from death by abortion. Even a court decision that trims the galling sweep of Roe has eluded them, as evidenced by recent failures to outlaw the rare but brutal procedure of partial-birth abortion.


To be sure, pro-lifers have made some modest political gains of late; NR’s Kathryn Jean Lopez describes several of them here. Public opinion also looks as favorable as ever: 60 percent of Americans believe abortion should be “legal in only a few circumstances” or “illegal in all circumstances,” versus 38 percent who would have it legal in “any” or “most” circumstances, according to a CNN/USA Today poll released last week. But support for a constitutional amendment is weak: 59 percent oppose one that grants a life-of-the-mother exception. Any realistic pro-lifer must admit that passing such an amendment is a far-off goal, and that there’s a very good chance it won’t ever happen — at least not before the Red Sox win a World Series.


Amid this disappointment, however, there’s heartening news: Both the rate and ratio of abortions are dropping, which means that more pregnant women are choosing life over “choice.” There are still far too many abortions — more than a million a year, and more than 40 million since Roe — but there are also a large number of people alive today because attitudes have changed.


According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which keeps tabs on abortion numbers, the abortion rate has dropped to 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 — the lowest rate since 1974. Perhaps even more important and impressive is the abortion ratio: 24.5 percent of all viable pregnancies end in abortion, another low since 1974.


These numbers are sobering, of course: They still represent a lot of abortions, and some of the decline is probably due to the increased use of so-called emergency contraceptives, and is therefore overstated. But the numbers do show a measurable improvement over the recent past, and this can’t be forgotten. As National Right to Life pointed out in a press release last week, “The numbers indicate a significant decrease in abortion that translates into about 300,000 fewer children dying from abortion in 2000 as compared to [AGI’s] figures for 1990.”


There are plenty of reasons for this drop, and some possible explanations don’t have much to do with the pro-life movement, such as an improving economy. Others are only marginally related, such as the almost providential advent of sonograms and fetal photography (though pro-lifers deserve credit for promoting these). But a few may have direct bearing, such as pro-lifers forcing a public discussion about the horror of partial-birth abortion, including graphic descriptions of what the procedure actually entails. Pro-lifers also have ensured that abortions aren’t something women brag about having — there’s still a stigma attached to them, which is as it should be.


Whatever the causes, pro-lifers frustrated by the pace of progress should take comfort from these new figures. They’re like 300,000 points of light.




Spin No More: Pro-lifers issue a challenge to the abortion sisters (National Review Online, 030122)


By Kathryn Jean Lopez


“Abortion is such an easy, safe way to terminate pregnancies, yet women were dying for lack of safe abortions,” a Minnesota ob-gyn tells Glamour, remembering life before Roe v. Wade liberated women. She helps put fear in the hearts and minds of the magazine’s readers, so that their choice is a no-brainer: The Right wants your only choice to be a coat hanger, starting off a litany of pre-Roe horror stories.


Unfortunately, from Roe-loving ob-gyns and “women’s magazines,” one rarely, if ever, hears a word about the post-Roe horror stories — real ones women are living today.


Speaking on Capitol Hill this summer, the actress Margaret Colin (Independence Day) told a pro-life gathering sponsored by Feminists for Life: “While many will remember the 40 million American children that were never born, I want us to also remember the 25 million women and girls in America today who have personally experienced an abortion.”


Colin continued:


I want you to remember a 13-year-old African-American named Dawn Ravenell, who skipped junior high one January day in 1985 to have an abortion. She died 3 weeks later having never regained consciousness from this legal procedure. Which part of safe, legal, and rare would this be?


I want you to put yourself in the shoes of Marion Syverson, who was raised in a very abusive environment. At age 15, she sought assistance from a local church when she found herself pregnant. Instead of help, Marion was handed $150, so she thought that God wanted her to have an abortion. She wanted to have her baby — where were the resources to rescue her from that abusive family? We let her down. We didn’t give her a place to go, a phone number to call, a safe haven. We could have saved her from the abusive situation and helped her to make choices about her pregnancy. Is abortion the best we could do for her?


I want you to remember Guadalupe Negron, who sought an abortion at age 33 because she thought her husband would not be able to afford another child. After infection set in, one limb after another was amputated until she died, leaving her husband and 4 children motherless. Didn’t she have a right to know assistance is available for women in exactly this situation?


Colin told the gathering: “This is violence against women. This is the failure of medicine to help and heal. This is the failure of our American society to help and protect women. We need to address the reasons that women seek abortions and help them find the resources that are available to ease their situations, to coordinate the resources nationwide.”


That coordination — aided by some star power from Colin, Emmy-winning star of CBS’s Everybody Loves Raymond’s Patricia Heaton, and former “Cover Girl” model Jennifer O’Neill — is the newly launched Women Deserve Better Campaign. The project is sponsored by a coalition of groups, including Feminists for Life, Life Resource Network’s Women’s Task Force, The Second Look Project, Women and Children First, Solidarity With Women/Priests for Life, and the Silent No More Campaign, co-sponsored by NOEL (National Organization of Episcopalians for Life). An associated ad campaign is being sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the pro-life office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (The ads read: “Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion.”)


The idea is to refocus the debate about abortion — by challenging feminists to tell the truth.


As Cathy Cleaver, spokesman for the Catholic bishops on life issues, says, “For thirty years the abortion experiment has been dominated by a public debate that embraces an utterly false dichotomy: women versus children. Pro-lifers are seen as those who fight for unborn children, pro-choicers as those who fight for women. Women and children are of course natural allies, not enemies, and pro-lifers fight for women every day, but the terms of the debate have been set, and they have held . . . the other side of the abortion debate has offered up the false assumption that abortion is good for women, and the culture has swallowed it. It is time to challenge this assumption head-on.”


It’s a significant challenge to those who call themselves feminists. Dead babies aside — they’ve already made clear those lives are not a compelling interest as far as they are concerned — for more than 30 years, abortion advocates (among whom feminists are the most vocal) have ignored the dangers of abortion. They have, in fact, often gone out of their way to ensure that questions are not raised, and information is nowhere to be found when women approach their “choice.” (If I don’t have access to all the available information, is it really a choice?)


As abortion-advocacy groups bend over backward to pretend they are not for abortion — most recently by changing their names (the National Abortion Rights Action League is now NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy is now the Center for Reproductive Rights) — they’re eventually going to have to face women, and their hypocrisy, when it comes to abortion. The concept of post-abortion syndrome, that women suffer emotionally after abortion, despite feminist claims to the contrary, is gradually beginning to penetrate the mainstream, in part thanks to star power — Jennifer O’Neill, who herself had an abortion, was on The View earlier this week talking about it. Despite protests from the media that anyone looking into the linkage between abortion and breast cancer are perpetrating a “war against women,” scientific question-raising is making a facing-of-the-facts unavoidable. Finally, especially as younger doctors increasingly want no part of abortion, the renegade nature of so many of those committed to abortion is slowly being exposed. (The kinds of doctors who are willing to do abortion are inevitably shady).


It’s about time so-called feminists be forced to face the facts, that without the truth about what they are getting themselves into, many women are among the abortion casualties in a real war against women. Mercifully, it looks like the time for feminist silence and spin is running out. For the most-innocent-the unborn — it couldn’t come soon enough.




Abortion Now: Thirty years after Roe, a daunting landscape (National Review Online, 030122)


By Ramesh Ponnuru, from the January 27, 2003, issue of National Review


It is a lucky thing that most pro-lifers profess a religion that forbids despair. It is, of course, possible to be pro-life without being religious (and vice-versa). It is even possible for unbelievers to oppose abortion for the same reasons that impel religious pro-lifers: because the state has a duty to bar the private use of deadly force against human beings, and that’s what abortion is. But the purely secular pro-lifer does not have the consolation of believing in an infinitely just, merciful, and loving God.


It is a consolation much needed as Roe v. Wade nears its thirtieth anniversary. If you do not consider abortion a grave injustice, consider what the world looks like to those of us who do. More than 40 million unborn lives have been snuffed out — which implies that something like a third of American women have had their sons or daughters killed. A quarter of unborn children die this way.


The most respected political institution in the land, the Supreme Court, says that all this killing is protected by the Constitution. So in the event you persuaded your fellow citizens and elected representatives to do something about the death toll, it wouldn’t matter. The courts would just unleash the abortionists again, and lecture you to accept the judicial resolution of the issue. Even peaceful protest outside the places these killings occur is uniquely circumscribed.


Many people agree with you that abortion is wrong. But most people, whatever their view of abortion, do not want to hear a word about the subject. Most people, whatever their view of abortion, regard people like you as fanatics.




Ten years ago was the nadir of the movement. The abortion rate had kept climbing: In 1990, 1.6 million abortions were committed. Public opinion kept moving left. By June 1992, Gallup estimated that 34 percent of the public believed that abortion should be legal in all cases. That same month, the Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe, albeit with qualifications, in Casey v. Planned Parenthood. It did so, moreover, at the direction of three Republican appointees whom many pro-lifers had supported in the hope they would overturn Roe.


Later that year, the most pro-abortion president since Roe [Clinton] was elected. On his first day in office — the same weekend as the twentieth anniversary of Roe — he issued a series of executive orders liberalizing abortion law. It was widely suggested that he had been elected in part because the public supported legal abortion, and that Republicans would have to come around if they were ever to win the White House again.


But the early 1990s turn out to have been high tide for “abortion rights.” The annual number of abortions peaked in 1990. Fewer doctors are performing abortions, and fewer medical students want to learn how to perform them. Surveys attribute this reluctance more to moral qualms than to fear of anti-abortion violence or protest.


Even at the peak, most Americans disappointed pro-abortion ideologues by persisting in seeing abortion as a tragedy rather than a routine medical procedure. Parents do not dream of one day telling people about “my son the abortionist.” Few men brag about pressuring their girlfriends or wives into having abortions. Unease about abortion is so widespread that the politicians most committed to keeping it legal rarely use the word, preferring to talk about “choice.” Abortion is the right that dare not speak its name.


The unease has only grown. Since 1995, the polls have been moving in the pro-life direction. Almost as many Americans now call themselves “pro-life” as “pro-choice.” The numbers appear to have been driven by the debate over partial-birth abortion — a debate in which, for the first time, it was the pro-choicers who looked like extremists to middle-ground Americans. Most Americans still think that abortion should be legal when a pregnancy results from rape or incest, or threatens the life or physical health of the mother. But a majority would ban most abortions. Only a quarter of the population now believes abortion should be legal in all cases.


Even at the high tide of pro-choice sentiment, there was never much evidence that opposition to abortion was politically dangerous. Exit polls have always shown that pro-lifers are more willing to vote on abortion than pro-choicers are, and that pro-life candidates therefore have a substantial advantage. That Republicans can win while opposing abortion is now even clearer. For the first time since Roe was decided, the president, the Senate leadership, and the House leadership are all pro-life. Two months ago, pro-life Republicans won four hotly contested Senate seats — in Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, and North Carolina — partly on the abortion issue. On this thirtieth anniversary of Roe, morale among pro-lifers is high.


The pro-choice side continues to hold the political high ground in one very important sense: It’s the party of the status quo. That makes it easy to portray the pro-lifers as the aggressors, when what the public most wants on abortion is peace and quiet. This perhaps explains why Democratic senators are happy to grill Republican judicial nominees on whether they support Roe, while Republicans hardly uttered a peep about the Clinton administration’s explicit pro-Roe litmus test for its nominees. In his confirmation hearings, attorney general John Ashcroft, following White House instructions, said that he “accept[s] Roe and Casey as the settled law of the land”: “The Supreme Court’s decisions on this have been multiple, they have been recent, and they have been emphatic.”


That was a substantial concession. But it was also an exception for Bush, who has surprised and gratified pro-lifers with his constancy. Many congressional Republicans were ready to abandon pro-lifers by supporting federal funding for research on “surplus” embryos from fertility clinics. Bush came out against such funding. He also called for an outright ban on the cloning of human embryos, even though many scientists want to be able to do research using (and in the process destroying) these embryos.


President Bush cut off government funding for international organizations that commit abortion or advocate it. He signed a bill clarifying that the child who somehow survives an abortion is entitled to legal protection. This year, Bush is expected to seek a bill to ban partial-birth abortions. Should there be a vacancy on the Supreme Court, no doubt he will nominate someone whose judicial philosophy could be expected to please pro-lifers. (The alternative would be to throw away his hard-won credibility in an instant.)


Pro-lifers should push for more. The law on survivors of abortion ought to be toughened. Breaking it should entail penalties, including the withdrawal of federal funds from hospitals. Pro-lifers should move, as well, to ban all elective abortions past, say, the twentieth week of pregnancy. They need to do political work outside Washington, too, especially seeking new recruits among blacks and Hispanics who oppose abortion.




Busy as the pro-life movement is with its traditional work of combating abortion, it is also having to fight new battles. In the last two years, the issue of research on human embryos has suddenly moved to the forefront of pro-life concerns. The public’s initial reaction to cloning embryos, as measured in polls, has been opposition. But that opposition has to be mobilized now if it is not to dissipate as cloning comes to be seen as normal.


The embryo-research debate simultaneously is, and isn’t, the same as the abortion debate. In both cases, pro-lifers are acting to vindicate the same principle: that human beings, from the moment they come into being as distinct organisms, have a right not to be killed. Supporters of the research, meanwhile, have sometimes suggested that a society that allows abortion has no principled basis for forbidding it. Both sides in the embryo-research debate, however, have taken pains to separate it from abortion.


A woman’s rights over “her own body” cannot be asserted here, and people who want the research to be legal do not claim to be “personally opposed” to it. As such, the debate has turned, more than the abortion debate, on the moral claims of the embryo. Many research supporters say that human embryos deserve “respect,” but that this respect cannot be made so absolute as to preclude their intentional destruction for good ends. One gathers that respect for human embryos would instead be manifested in discussions of the importance of having respect for them.


Whatever the rhetoric employed to advance it, the argument for going ahead with the research rests on the premise that merely belonging to the human species does not confer a right not to be killed. This also, ultimately, has to be the argument for a “right” to abortion (although other, prudential arguments could be made against legal prohibitions). On this view, human beings are not intrinsically worthy of protection. If particular human beings may be worth protecting, it is on the basis of accidental qualities they may have: sentience, independence, rootedness in a community, size, or what have you.


The trouble for people wishing to defend these propositions is that these qualities come in degrees. That means, first, that there is no non-arbitrary point at which to start granting protection: How old must a person be, how well must his mind function, for him to enjoy a right to life? Second, on this account there is no basis for asserting an equality of rights among people with different levels of the particular quality held to be crucial — as Lincoln observed in another context. Roe is undemocratic not merely in a procedural sense.


Some contemporary philosophers, most notoriously Peter Singer, have grasped the difficulty of containing the principle behind abortion and embryo research. They concede that the argument for abortion is also the argument for outright infanticide. This is not a reason to prohibit abortion, they say, but rather to reconsider infanticide. American law has not yet achieved this dreadful consistency. But it is moving closer.

The true radicalism of Roe is still not sufficiently appreciated. Many educated people believe that Roe legalized abortion only in the first trimester, allowing it to be restricted in the second and banned in the third. In fact, Doe v. Bolton, handed down the same day as Roe, took back those apparent concessions. Abortions had to be allowed at all stages of pregnancy whenever continued pregnancy was said to jeopardize a woman’s “physical, emotional, psychological, [or] familial” health.


It has often been said that the Court’s error was to fast-forward a process of liberalization that was already taking place democratically. That’s not true either. Before Roe, a few states had substantially weakened protections for the unborn. But the movement for liberalization then stalled, with many more states voting it down in legislatures and in referenda. Justice Blackmun, the author of Roe, tried to downplay its radicalism by depicting it as consistent with American history. Much of the opinion is dedicated to demonstrating that American law never sought to protect the unborn. The shoddy historical work on which he relied has since been thoroughly discredited.


The truth is that Roe was a breathtaking power grab by the Supreme Court, allowing abortion at any stage of pregnancy, nullifying laws in all fifty states, and going far beyond anything contemplated by public opinion before or since. Not even law professors who favor constitutional protection for abortion believe that Roe was well reasoned. Indeed, an academic cottage industry has spent thirty years trying to devise better constitutional foundations for Roe’s result. (What this effort has lacked in plausibility, it has made up for in determination.)




Contrary to John Ashcroft, the Court’s abortion jurisprudence is not settled law, either. The latest abortion decision, issued the year before Ashcroft spoke, kept partial-birth abortion free from state bans. It was a 5-4 split in which the principal authors of Casey disagreed with some bitterness about Casey’s meaning. Casey itself reworked Roe in significant ways, and hinted that a majority of the Court thought that Roe was a mistake.


But it is a mistake from which the Court is unwilling to retreat. The lack of a settlement in abortion law — the fact that Roe has exposed the Court to decades of intellectual ridicule and political resistance — seems to be experienced by the Court as a scandal. When the Court reaffirmed “abortion rights” in Casey, it cited the need for stability in law, which is a real virtue. But it also said that to admit error and reverse itself on Roe would be to undermine its own power unacceptably.


When they struck down state bans on partial-birth abortion, the federal courts showed just how far they were willing to go to protect their abortion jurisprudence. One federal judge noted that such bans were enacted in order to set a firm barrier against infanticide — and that, he implied, was not possible legally. Another disputed the characterization of a baby partly out of the birth canal as partly born: “A woman seeking an abortion is plainly not seeking to give birth.” The baby, whatever the stage of pregnancy, counts for nothing independent of the mother’s desires.


When the Supreme Court followed these judges’ example, it put a lot of weight on the mother’s health. But the Court wasn’t saying merely that a woman has a right to a partial-birth abortion when it is the safest way of dealing with a threat to her health: It said that a woman in the eighth month of pregnancy who wants her baby dead, whatever her reason, has a right to have that baby killed in whatever way is safest to her. What if the safest way is to deliver the baby, fully, and then kill it? Yet another federal judge had asked what difference it made, from the perspective of the fetus, whether part of its body were outside the birth canal when his skull was punctured and his brain sucked out. What difference would it make if his whole body had been delivered? The Born-Alive Act signed into law last year was written to prevent this next logical step from being taken. But it is not yet clear what effect that act will have.


When pro-lifers began their campaign against partial-birth abortion, they knew that they ran the risk of legitimizing infanticide rather than delegitimizing abortion. In the courts and in the academy, that danger may be coming to pass. This is thus as important a moment for pro-lifers as any in the last thirty years. They have new opportunities in Washington. If they succeed in banning cloning, they can establish the principle that human beings have a right to life regardless of their age, size, wantedness, location, stage of development, or condition of dependency. They can save some unborn children, as even fairly modest state laws appear to have done.


What happens if they lose? The idea that widespread infanticide could ever come to America is, of course, crazy. Babies are cute, they cannot be mistaken for globs of cells, and there is a natural human instinct to protect them. Other cultures may not have treated them so tenderly, to be sure. But that could never happen here. We’re nice people.




National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2003: A Proclamation By President George W. Bush (National Review Online, 030122)


Our nation was built on a promise of life and liberty for all citizens. Guided by a deep respect for human dignity, our Founding Fathers worked to secure these rights for future generations, and today we continue to seek to fulfill their promise in our laws and our society. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we reaffirm the value of human life and renew our dedication to ensuring that every American has access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


As we seek to improve quality of life, overcome illness, and promote vital medical research, my Administration will continue to honor our country’s founding ideals of equal dignity and equal rights for every American. Every child is a priority and a blessing, and I believe that all should be welcomed in life and protected by law. My Administration has championed compassionate alternatives to abortion, such as helping women in crisis through maternity group homes, encouraging adoption, promoting abstinence education, and passing laws requiring parental notification and waiting periods for minors.


The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which I signed into law in August 2002, is an important contribution to our efforts to care for human life. This important legislation helps protect the most vulnerable members of our society by ensuring that every infant born alive, including one who survives abortion, is considered a person and receives protection under Federal law. It helps achieve the promises of the Declaration of Independence for all, including those without the voice and power to defend their own rights.


Through ethical policies and the compassion of Americans, we will continue to build a culture that respects life. Faith-based and community organizations and individual citizens play a critical role in strengthening our neighborhoods and bringing care and comfort to those in need. By helping fellow citizens, these groups recognize the dignity of every human being and the possibilities of every life; and their important efforts are helping to build a more just and generous Nation. By working together to protect the weak, the imperfect, and the unwanted, we affirm a culture of hope and help ensure a brighter future for all.


NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 19, 2003, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. As we reflect upon the sanctity of human life, I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies in our homes and places of worship, to rededicate ourselves to compassionate service, and to reaffirm our commitment to respecting the life and dignity of every human being.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.






Trimester Trimming: The media’s elastic interpretations of Roe v. Wade (National Review Online, 030204)


By Tim Graham


Once again, President Bush pledged in his State of the Union address to stretch the word counts of news reporters by signing a bill to ban “what opponents call partial-birth abortion.” That resurfacing bill, along with other pro-life legislation and judicial nominations for strict-constructionist judges, has abortion advocates fearing that someone, somewhere might let a baby survive.


In a Los Angeles Times article on the Roe vs. Wade anniversary, the routinely biased Supreme Court reporter David Savage strained his keyboard by setting up Betsy Cavendish, “legal director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, formerly known as the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.” She warned “Roe is in grave peril...A switch in one vote (at the high court) could ban some abortion procedures and possibly ban second-trimester abortions.” That’s not exactly true. Six justices are currently committed to Roe, and five crumped a Nebraska partial-birth ban in 2000. That’s where NARAL could worry about “one vote away.”


Abortion enthusiasts have spent much of the last 30 years touting the line that Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe created a utopian America where any curtailment of abortion on demand meant the whittling away of the Supreme Court’s “landmark” ruling. In legal reality, the supposed moderation of Blackmun’s clumsy trimester-dividing opinion — allowing regulations for late-term abortions if they didn’t infringe on the health of the mother — was swallowed up by Roe’s companion case, Doe vs. Bolton, which made it clear that “health” would be defined so broadly that the “exception” swallowed the rule. The reality was abortion on demand.


But ever since the New York Times first hailed the decision in 1973, journalists have often used what has become an increasingly misleading shorthand: Public support for abortions in the first trimester are identical to public support for Roe. They’re excluding the fact that Roe led to abortion on demand, and that a repeal of Roe would lead to 50 state regimes of abortion regulation, which would in many states leave abortion legal in the first trimester (and in the “blue [Democrat] states,” long after that).


Take the January 27 edition of Time, where reporters Karen Tumulty and Viveca Novak argued: “For its broader goals, the antiabortion movement still can’t make the political math work. The Senate has a Republican majority, but at least 53 senators are on record as favoring Roe. And the public is not prepared to see it overturned. In the latest TIME/CNN poll, 55 percent of respondents said they support a woman’s right to have an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.” (CNN also touted this poll question on its airwaves.) The poll question in the magazine read: “Do you favor the Supreme Court ruling that women have the right to an abortion during the first three months of their pregnancy?” Time at least acknowledged public uneasiness with the accompanying question “Is it too easy for women today to get an abortion?” Sixty percent said yes, 31 percent no. Somehow, that feeling didn’t penetrate many media accounts mourning that 87 percent of counties don’t have an abortion clinic.


In a summary of key Supreme Court rulings on abortion, Chicago Tribune reporter Leslie Goldman tidily summarized that the court ruled “that in the first three months of pregnancy, the abortion decision must be left to a woman and her physician. In the second trimester, states may restrict abortions to protect a woman’s health. In the third trimester, states may regulate or prohibit an abortion to protect the life of the fetus, except when necessary to preserve the life or the health of the mother.” The intrusion of real life — where were all the convictions for second- and third-trimester abortions in the last 30 years? — didn’t pierce this hermetically sealed history box.


Even conservative media outlets make this mistake. In their largely sympathetic account of the March for Life on January 23, Washington Times reporters Denise Barnes and Arlo Wagner reported “The Supreme Court voted 7-2 on Jan. 22, 1973, to legalize abortions in the first three months after conception. Pro-life demonstrators said 42 million abortions have been conducted since the decision was handed down.”


Supreme Court justices, like other political actors, can often say one thing, and intentionally or unintentionally, the reality becomes something else entirely. The public expects journalists to be able to make fine distinctions, to deliver the news with judgment and context. Too often on this issue, reporters have played games of rhetorical confusion to make America sound more in favor of abortion, as citizens and as human beings, than they really are.




Tom Daschle’s Duty to Be Morally Coherent (Weekly Standard, 030417)


A Weekly Standard Exclusive: The Senate minority leader is ordered to stop calling himself a Catholic.


TOM DASCHLE may no longer call himself a Catholic. The Senate minority leader and the highest ranking Democrat in Washington has been sent a letter by his home diocese of Sioux Falls, sources in South Dakota have told The Weekly Standard, directing him to remove from his congressional biography and campaign documents all references to his standing as a member of the Catholic Church.


This isn’t exactly excommunication—which is unnecessary, in any case, since Daschle made himself ineligible for communion almost 20 years ago with his divorce and remarriage to a Washington lobbyist. The directive from Sioux Falls’ Bishop Robert Carlson is rather something less than excommunication—and, at the same time, something more: a declaration that Tom Daschle’s religious identification constitutes, in technical Catholic vocabulary, a grave public scandal. He was brought up as a Catholic, and he may still be in some sort of genuine mental and spiritual relation to the Church. Who besides his confessor could say? But Daschle’s consistent political opposition to Catholic teachings on moral issues—abortion, in particular—has made him such a problem for ordinary churchgoers that the Church must deny him the use of the word “Catholic.”


Much of the discussion about Daschle’s standing has gone on in private over the last few years, although Bishop Carlson and Senator Daschle had a very public spat about partial-birth abortion in 1997. During the run-up to a Senate vote on the issue, Daschle proposed what he called a “compromise,” banning the procedure while allowing exemptions for any woman who claimed mental or physical health reasons for having such a late-term procedure. Pointing out the way the exemptions gutted the ban, Carlson called Daschle’s proposed compromise a “smokescreen” designed solely to “provide cover for pro-abortion senators and President Clinton, who wanted to avoid a veto confrontation.”


Daschle, in turn, rose on the floor of the Senate in Washington to denounce his own bishop back in South Dakota for speaking in a way “more identified with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership.” Carlson later told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that he remains mystified by Daschle’s position on abortion. “NARAL claims him as one of their number-one supporters. I don’t understand how he can be in touch with South Dakotans as much as he is, and yet consistently have a pro-abortion record.”


This year, on January 16, Bishop Carlson received additional ammunition for his discussions with Daschle when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued in Rome a “Doctrinal Note” on Catholics in political life. “A well-formed Christian conscience,” the note declared, “does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”


The Doctrinal Note marks at least the beginning of the end of the Vatican’s toleration of what the pope’s biographer George Weigel has called “Cuomoism” in the American Church: the effort to finesse abortion by declaring oneself personally opposed but politically supportive of laws allowing abortion. Catholics have a “duty to be morally coherent,” the Doctrinal Note declares, and the Catholic fight on the life issues—abortion, euthanasia, and cloning—is not some merely prudential question, to be decided by political give and take. The Catholic Church doesn’t take political positions—except when politics intrudes into something, like the right to life, that ought to be beyond the power of politicians.


Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento was the first American bishop to use the new note from Rome. At a pro-life Mass on January 22, he spoke of California Governor Gray Davis’s claim to be a “pro-choice Catholic.” After describing the efforts by Davis’s pastor to get the governor to see the moral incoherence of his position, Weigand declared, “As your bishop, I have to say clearly that anyone—politician or otherwise—who thinks it is acceptable for a Catholic to be pro-abortion is in very great error, puts his or her soul at risk, and is not in good standing with the Church. Such a person should have the integrity to acknowledge this and choose of his own volition to abstain from receiving Holy Communion until he has a change of heart.” (Russ Lopez, a spokesman for Davis, responded with the hilarious and deeply revealing complaint that Bishop Weigand was “telling the faithful how to practice their faith.” In Lopez’s mind—as, indeed, in the minds of many—the promise of the separation of Church and state, in which no political figure gets to tell believers how to practice their faith, has turned into a need for the separation of Church and Church, in which not even a religious figure gets to tell believers how to practice their faith.)


There’s quite a list of pro-abortion Catholics in Washington—beginning with Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader in the House—who could use similar instruction in “the duty to be morally coherent.” Just in the Senate, there’s Biden, Collins, Daschle, Dodd, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerry, Landrieu, Leahy, Mikulski, Murray, Reed, and more. But at least Tom Daschle has now been forced by Bishop Carlson to assume some responsibility for moral coherence—even if it is, unfortunately, a coherence achieved in the wrong direction.


The diocese in Sioux Falls would not say what brought the issue of Tom Daschle’s Catholicism to a head at this moment, although one South Dakotan suggested it may have to do with Daschle’s crossing of yet another line recently when he began direct fund-raising for NARAL. Senator Daschle’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment. It’s a serious thing when a bishop breaks a pastoral relation, no matter how tenuous that relation may have grown. But Bishop Carlson is right that the time has come to banish Cuomoism from American politics. This isn’t a matter of favoring Republicans or Democrats. Regardless of their party, public figures who aren’t going to oppose abortion shouldn’t call themselves Catholic anymore.


A native of South Dakota, J. Bottum is Books & Arts editor of the Weekly Standard.




A Moral Majority: Soccer moms are more anti-abortion than you think (Weekly Standard, 030801)


FAYE WATTLETON, former president of Planned Parenthood, announced some “alarming” news in late June. Her organization, the Center for the Advancement of Women, had commissioned Princeton Survey Research Associates to do a major study on contemporary feminism. The result was “Progress and Perils: A New Agenda for Women,” a 140-page report on women’s views on a range of issues, including abortion. The central finding: Far from wanting abortion as readily available as botox or tattoos (1.3 million abortions took place in 2000), most women oppose the procedure. As Wattleton wrote in the introduction, “There is significant and growing support for severe restrictions on abortion rights.”


Of 3,329 women surveyed, 51 percent wanted to ban abortion altogether or to limit it to cases of rape, incest, and where the mother’s life is endangered. Another 17 percent said the procedure should be available under stricter limits than now apply. At a time when pro-choice feminists repeatedly invoke the magical three-word phrase “right-wing extremist” to describe President Bush’s judicial nominees, the study’s results are alarming indeed.


You might think that pro-lifers would be overjoyed by the news. Instead, many have been busy feeling bitter because the press largely ignored the study (only USA Today and the Washington Times ran stories about it). In his syndicated column, L. Brent Bozell III seethed over the “virtual silence” that greeted this report in the “news” media.


But “Progress and Perils” doesn’t just confirm that most women are pro-life. It undermines three political myths about women’s views on abortion. Indeed, if you read the whole report, the study makes plain that Republicans enjoy an advantage on the abortion issue among women. And if conservatives decide to use it, they may have Faye Wattleton to thank.


The first myth the study exposes is that soccer moms are pro-choice. Ever since Clinton pollster Mark Penn coined the term, the mainstream press has depicted them as such. Fortunately, “Progress and Perils” doesn’t take such generalizations for granted. The report classifies women into six groups, based on their attitudes toward women’s roles and social status.


On the conservative end are the “traditionalists” and “family first women.” In the middle are the “separate-but-equals” and “modern feminists.” And on the left are the “movement legacies” and “advocates.”


As Harvard political scientist Anna Greenberg has pointed out, “the differences among women voters are far more interesting and important than the differences between men and women.”


Of these groups, the separate-but-equals correspond most closely to soccer moms. Largely white, they are the second-most educated group. Almost all of them think a woman can be a good mother and have a successful career simultaneously. They sound like a typical Democratic constituency.


But 42 percent of them would ban abortion altogether or limit it to the hard cases, while another 21 percent would impose some restrictions on the procedure. Thus almost two-thirds of them support, minimally, some form of restriction on abortion. Only 35 percent said they thought abortion should be widely available.


The second myth “Progress and Perils” undermines is that Republicans will lose if they openly oppose abortion. Of the six groups profiled in “Progress and Perils,” four heavily favor greater curbs on the procedure. And it’s not only the traditionalists (69 percent), most of whom are evangelical, and family-firsts (70 percent), most of whom are working class and live in small towns, who feel this way. So do the separate-but-equals and the center-left modern feminists (67 percent), many of whom are black and Hispanic and poor.


Of course, these figures will vary around the country. As GOP pollster Whit Ayres says, the popularity of a pro-lifer’s position “depends on where you are. If you look at the Atlanta suburbs, the Dallas suburbs, the Des Moines suburbs, you get a pro-life majority.” And, clearly, pockets of intense pro-choice sentiment can sneak up and bite a candidate: “Look at the Philadelphia suburbs, it was one reason Bush didn’t win Pennsylvania.” Still, a large majority of women can be described as opposing abortion or entertaining serious doubts about its unchecked availability.


The third myth the study calls into doubt is that most women support Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. This belief was recently conveyed in the Washington Post by David von Drehle in an article about the Supreme Court’s decisions on abortion and civil liberties: “Polls consistently show that the majority of Americans have little appetite for reversing the court’s path on social issues.”


Which polls is von Drehle referring to? It certainly wasn’t the poll Wattleton’s organization, then called the Center for Gender Equality, took four years ago, which found that 53 percent of women favored outlawing abortion or restricting it to the hard cases—a pre-Roe standard. Nor could von Drehle be referring to the current study, in which 51 percent of women felt the same way.


Of course, even Republican pollsters acknowledge the difficulty of overturning Roe and Doe. As Gene Ulm of Public Opinion Strategies recently pointed out, pro-lifers “have a lot of persuasion left to do.” Yet pro-choicers also have their work cut out for them.


“The poll was a big surprise,” says CNN political analyst Bill Schneider, who also serves on the board of advisers for Wattleton’s organization. In a June 28 story for National Journal, Schneider wrote, “The message [of the study] is clear: For most women today, quality-of-life issues prevail over women’s rights. This shift is likely to put liberals at a distinct disadvantage in any fight over a Supreme Court nominee.”


Of course, “Progress and Perils” isn’t an exact road map for Republicans. It didn’t ask respondents about specific abortion curbs, such as parental notification, or whether they support the procedure during the first trimester. Also, the study makes clear that some feminist principles remain popular. A strong majority of respondents say that the women’s movement has helped them (60 percent) and that one need not be a mother to live a complete life (72 percent). Neither of those answers, however, is incompatible with pro-life and Republican positions.


Even before this report, the truism that Republican stands on abortion make the party unpopular with women had been undergoing revision, as evidence suggested other GOP positions actually played quite well with women. “Goodbye, Soccer Mom. Hello, Security Mom,” Time magazine said on June 2, in an influential cover story that’s been echoed in many other campaign stories. One California woman who “used to choose the candidates who were most liberal on abortion and welfare” told the magazine: “Since 9/11, all I want in a president is a person who is strong.”


Republicans are listening. Dan Balz recently reported in the Washington Post that Bush advisers are targeting married women in general and security moms specifically. Only it’s not true that national security is a strong issue, while abortion is a weak issue for Republicans, and “Progress and Perils” proves it.


A typical CNN story in September 1996 stated that Bob Dole’s failure among female voters “is often attributed to Republican efforts to restrict abortion.” Such conventional wisdom is mistaken. On abortion, not only are most women not pro-choice, but their position might be described as, well, Republican.


Mark Stricherz is a 2003 Phillips Foundation fellow.




Energizing Information For The Pro-Life Community (Free Congress Foundation, 030708)


By Paul M. Weyrich


When the issue of partial birth abortion first came up some years ago, there was a fierce fight among the faithful. Some said this issue effected so few abortions that it would hardly be worth fighting; moreover this fight would give cover to those who were not really pro-life, but who could cast a vote to outlaw this procedure at the state and national levels and would thereby confuse the voters. Others said that saving babies was what the pro-life movement had to be about, and even if we fought for years and saved only one life, it would well be worth the effort


I must say I had a hard time with this issue. I am for outlawing all abortions and I constantly worry about letting legislators off the hook. I want voters to know where their legislators really stand. But in due course, I came around to the view that this battle had to be fought even if it only saved a few babies and even if duplicitous legislators were given a pass.


I must say that this battle has indeed been worth it. It turns out there are far more of these late term abortions than we had originally believed. So to the extent that the courts have not struck down various state laws, more babies have been saved. And when President Bush finally gets to sign a federal bill, if the Supreme Court doesn’t declare it unconstitutional, perhaps the rest can be saved.


As important as that development has been, what is most remarkable is what this fight has done to public opinion. Faye Wattleton, who was head of Planned Parenthood for 14 years, now directs a group called the Center for the Advancement of Women. That group conducted a national survey on the abortion issue. Talk about shock and awe. Wattleton’s released survey results now showing that 51% of WOMEN want abortion either prohibited or severely restricted to cases of rape, incest and life-threatening complications. Just two years ago that figure was at 45%. Likewise, those wanting abortions readily available fell during the same two years from 34% to 30%.


This is not a poll done by American Life League. This is a poll done by advocates of permissive abortion. They like to be known as pro-choice. Everyone gets a choice except, most often, the father of the baby and certainly not the baby himself.


More disappointing news for Ms. Wattleton. There is a drop of eight percent (to just 41 %) of those who consider protecting abortion a top priority. Of 12 priorities listed in this national survey, keeping abortion legal turned up second to last. According to Grant Schulte of the Washington Times, keep abortion legal beat out only increasing the number of girls participating in organized sports.


Ms. Wattleton released the numbers despite what she rightfully called, from her perspective, a “disturbing” trend. Those are the numbers for just the past two years. If comparable surveys are examined from the beginning of the partial birth abortion fight, the numbers are far more startling. Clearly if the fight is continued (the next step should be to outlaw all late term abortions) this will begin to translate politically. Keep in mind these figures are among women. Men are much more pro-life than women, except in the 18 to 24 year old age group.




A New Chapter In Church Hierarchy (Free Congress Foundation, 030811)


As soon as the landmark decision on Roe vs. Wade was rendered in 1973, the Roman Catholic Church, via the Vatican, condemned it. But many American Catholic politicians saw fit to support abortion rights anyway and the Vatican was silent.


Former Rep. Rob Dornan (R-CA) made several trips to the Vatican following the election of Pope John Paul II to plead with the Pope to speak out against Catholic politicians who supported abortion rights.


On the Pope’s first visit to the United States in 1979, he did not address the issue. Indeed, I recall sitting in on a confidential meeting of Republican Senators soon after the GOP captured control of the Senate in 1980, when then-Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR), the Senate’s strongest proponent of abortion rights, told his colleagues that they need not worry about the abortion issue. If Senators would just support tuition tax credits, which would bring money to cash-strapped parochial schools, Catholic bishops would overlook support for abortion, Packwood told his fellow Senators. He said, correctly, that no Senator was more linked to the abortion issue than he was, and yet he received excellent support from the Catholic hierarchy because of his support for tuition tax credits.


On his second visit to the United States, no doubt due to pressure from Dornan and other pro-life Catholics he organized to put pressure on the Vatican, the Pope did speak out against pro-abortion Catholic legislators. Still, the Catholic bishops were largely silent on the issue. Of course they condemned abortion, but as for speaking out against individual politicians who were for abortion rights, again the church was silent.


Something has been happening of late, however, which suggests a change in the attitude of the Catholic hierarchy. The Archbishop of Sacramento, no conservative he, recently told Democratic California Governor Gray Davis that he could not be a Catholic and still be an advocate for abortion rights. The Archbishop said there was no such thing as a so-called “pro-choice Catholic.” The Archbishop went on to say that Gov. Davis should refrain from receiving Holy Communion lest he continue to place his soul in grave danger.


Roman Catholics believe that Holy Communion is transformed into the body and blood of Christ himself and if you receive Communion while in a state of mortal sin you cut yourself off from the graces of God. The Archbishop made it clear that Davis’s support of Planned Parenthood is a grave scandal and clearly means the Governor is in a state of sin. Gov. Davis defiantly received Communion the very next Sunday, but what the Archbishop said was not lost on the Catholic population of California, since it received considerable statewide coverage. It is part of the reason Gov. Davis faces an unprecedented recall election on October 7th.


Meanwhile, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s Bishop Robert Carlson, last fall scolded then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) for his support of abortion rights. A few weeks ago Bishop Carlson sent a letter to Daschle, now Senate Minority leader, telling him to take the term Catholic out of his official biography since by his support for abortion he can no longer be considered a Catholic.


The other day Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, wrote a stinging commentary in the Denver Catholic Register, about the recent debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee over the nomination of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Pryor is an orthodox Catholic.


“...[T]he committee debate on Pryor was ugly, and the vote to advance his nomination split exactly along party lines,” Archbishop Chaput wrote. “Why? Because Mr. Pryor believes that Catholic teaching about the sanctity of life is true; that the 1973 Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision was a poorly reasoned mistake; that abortion is wrong in all cases, even rape and incest. As a result, Americans were treated to the bizarre spectacle of non-Catholic Senators Orrin Hatch and Jeff Sessions defending Mr. Pryor’s constitutionally protected religious rights to Mr. Pryor’s critics, including Senator Richard Durbin, an ‘abortion rights’ Catholic,” the Archbishop continued.


“According to Senator Durbin (as reported by EWTN) ‘many Catholics who oppose abortion personally do not believe the laws of the land should prohibit abortion for all others in extreme cases involving rape, incest and the health of the mother.’


“This kind of propaganda makes the abortion lobby proud,” the Archbishop went on to say, “but it should humiliate any serious Catholic. At a minimum, Catholic members of Congress like Senator Durbin should actually read and pray over the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the encyclical Evangelium Vitae before they explain the Catholic faith to anyone. They might even try DOING something about their ‘personal opposition to abortion by supporting competent pro-life judicial appointments. Otherwise, they simply prove what many people already believe - that a new kind of religious discrimination is very welcome at the Capitol, even among elected officials who claim to be Catholic.”


That Denver’s Archbishop is not only willing to speak out but to name names represents a new chapter in the life of the hierarchy in the United States. Now if only they will be sure that they handle their sex scandals and the cover-ups in such a way that when they do speak out, they will be taken seriously.


Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.




Womb with a View (Weekly Standard, 031124)


Why the feminists can’t admit that most women favor the partial-birth abortion ban.


WITH ITS UNERRING EYE for what fails to matter, the Femintern seized on a PR mistake on the part of the White House to ram home a defense of its favorite project: unfettered abortion, any kind, any time. The mistake (duly noted and criticized on many conservative websites) was that the people shown surrounding President Bush as he signed the law banning partial birth abortion were (drum roll and flourish) all men. “Not a Womb in the House,” wrote Anna Quindlen in Newsweek, who, with the Boston Globe’s Ellen Goodman, whipped up the predictable narrative: This is a sex war, men against women, young women oppressed by old men.


Except that it’s not. Out of camera range but very much in the picture were the women lawmakers who supported the ban, the women activists who campaigned for the ban, and the 70 percent of American women who supported the ban—all of them with wombs, like Quindlen and Goodman, and therefore just as entitled to speak for their sex.


Or possibly more so. If the sisters could tear their eyes away from the picture and read words instead, they might discover some interesting things.


ONE is that over the past decade support for abortion has been dropping steadily among old and young people; women and men. A second is that sex does not effect people’s views on abortion, except that women are slightly more likely to be pro-life than men. And a third is that, as Will Saletan’s “Bearing Right” tells us, the arguments made by Quindlen and Goodman have always been losers outside of selected newsroom and neighborhoods, and that abortion-rights advocates have only been able to prevail among broad swathes of voters when they use the “conservative”/libertarian “hands-off-my-[anything]” language favored by the NRA.


Polls taken over the preceding decade have not brought the sisters good news. Polls taken in 2003 showed those who described themselves as “pro-life” and “pro-choice” for the first time at parity and showed that support for abortion among college students had fallen 10 points in 10 years. Worse, a poll commissioned by a former head of Planned Parenthood showed that 5l percent of all women questioned (a great number of them with wombs, presumably), were opposed to abortion in all circumstances, except those of incest and rape.


As CNN’s Bill Schneider explained on the AEI website, “Only 30 percent of women endorsed the view that ‘abortion should be generally available to those who want it,’ down from 34 percent two years earlier.” Thirty-four percent thought it should be “against the law except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother,” while 17 percent thought it “should not be permitted at all.” Worse still, Republicans are shrinking the gender gap among women, who do not share this aversion to Bush and his programs. All of this is not exactly a secret, which makes the sisters’ hysterics a matter of truly willed ignorance. They are not fighting the fringe—they are the fringe, camped out in the exurbs of public opinion in a state better known as denial. As Bush said in the bill-signing ceremony, the public isn’t ready yet for a ban on abortion, and perhaps never will be. But it is moving, somewhat, in that direction, and away from les girls, and their theories. And everyone sees it but them.


SOME YEARS AGO, the Goodmans and Quindlens assigned to themselves the power of speaking for “women,” whom they saw as a movement or bloc. But this bloc (or movement) never existed. They were never speaking for women in general, just for themselves and their friends. They have every right to express their opinions, but not to assign them to millions of strangers, who may or may not share their views.


Thus they rise everyday to defend women from “threats” that most women do not see as threatening or to uphold “rights” that most women don’t want. Goodman insists that women who support this ban were conned by a “public relations coup” they were too stupid to see through, and insists at the same time that these very same women, too addled to see through a threat to their interests, are perfectly fit to make sound moral judgments—such as killing a child near term.


They do not explain why Ted Kennedy is allowed to discuss the abortion conundrum, but George W. Bush and his allies are not. (Does Ted have a womb we don’t know of?) Nor do they explain why, if having a womb is all that important, pro-life women aren’t experts, either.


They aren’t experts because the sisters don’t want them to be. They are doing in their heads exactly what they accused the White House of doing in that ill-conceived photo, excising an inconvenient reality. There are plenty of wombs in the house, belonging to women not like them. And they choose not to see them at all.


Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.




Inside the Womb: What scientists have learned about those amazing first nine months—and what it means for mothers (Time Magazine, 021111)


By J. Madeleine Nash


As the crystal probe slides across her belly, Hilda Manzo, 33, stares wide-eyed at the video monitor mounted on the wall. She can make out a head with a mouth and two eyes. She can see pairs of arms and legs that end in tiny hands and feet. She can see the curve of a backbone, the bridge of a nose. And best of all, she can see movement. The mouth of her child-to-be yawns. Its feet kick. Its hands wave.


Dr. Jacques Abramowicz, director of the University of Chicago’s ultrasound unit, turns up the audio so Manzo can hear the gush of blood through the umbilical cord and the fast thump, thump, thump of a miniature heart. “Oh, my!” she exclaims as he adjusts the sonic scanner to peer under her fetus’ skin. “The heart is on the left side, as it should be,” he says, “and it has four chambers. Look—one, two, three, four!”


Such images of life stirring in the womb—in this case, of a 17-week-old fetus no bigger than a newborn kitten—are at the forefront of a biomedical revolution that is rapidly transforming the way we think about the prenatal world. For although it takes nine months to make a baby, we now know that the most important developmental steps—including laying the foundation for such major organs as the heart, lungs and brain—occur before the end of the first three. We also know that long before a child is born its genes engage the environment of the womb in an elaborate conversation, a two-way dialogue that involves not only the air its mother breathes and the water she drinks but also what drugs she takes, what diseases she contracts and what hardships she suffers.

One reason we know this is a series of remarkable advances in MRIs, sonograms and other imaging technologies that allow us to peer into the developmental process at virtually every stage—from the fusion of sperm and egg to the emergence, some 40 weeks later, of a miniature human being. The extraordinary pictures on these pages come from a new book that captures some of the color and excitement of this research: From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds (Doubleday), by scientific visualization expert Alexander Tsiaras and writer Barry Werth. Their computer-enhanced images are reminiscent of the remarkable fetal portraits taken by medical photographer Lennart Nilsson, which appeared in Life magazine in 1965. Like Nilsson’s work, these images will probably spark controversy. Antiabortion activists may interpret them as evidence that a fetus is a viable human being earlier than generally believed, while pro-choice advocates may argue that the new technology allows doctors to detect serious fetal defects at a stage when abortion is a reasonable option.


The other reason we know so much about what goes on inside the womb is the remarkable progress researchers have made in teasing apart the sequence of chemical signals and switches that drive fetal development. Scientists can now describe at the level of individual genes and molecules many of the steps involved in building a human, from the establishment of a head-to-tail growth axis and the budding of limbs to the sculpting of a four-chambered heart and the weaving together of trillions of neural connections. Scientists are beginning to unroll the genetic blueprint of life and identify the precise molecular tools required for assembly. Human development no longer seems impossibly complex, says Stanford University biologist Matthew Scott. “It just seems marvelous.”


How is it, we are invited to wonder, that a fertilized egg—a mere speck of protoplasm and DNA encased in a spherical shell—can generate such complexity? The answers, while elusive and incomplete, are beginning to come into focus. Only 20 years ago, most developmental biologists thought that different organisms grew according to different sets of rules, so that understanding how a fly or a worm develops—or even a vertebrate like a chicken or a fish—would do little to illuminate the process in humans. Then, in the 1980s, researchers found remarkable similarities in the molecular tool kit used by organisms that span the breadth of the animal kingdom, and those similarities have proved serendipitous beyond imagining. No matter what the species, nature uses virtually the same nails and screws, the same hammers and power tools to put an embryo together.


Among the by-products of the torrent of information pouring out of the laboratory are new prospects for treating a broad range of late-in-life diseases. Just last month, for example, three biologists won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which has a few more than 1,000 cells, compared with a human’s 50 trillion. The three winners helped establish that a fundamental mechanism that C. elegans embryos employ to get rid of redundant or abnormal cells also exists in humans and may play a role in AIDS, heart disease and cancer. Even more exciting, if considerably more controversial, is the understanding that embryonic cells harbor untapped therapeutic potential. These cells, of course, are stem cells, and they are the progenitors of more specialized cells that make up organs and tissues. By harnessing their generative powers, medical researchers believe, it may one day be possible to repair the damage wrought by injury and disease. (That prospect suffered a political setback last week when a federal advisory committee recommended that embryos be considered the same as human subjects in clinical trials.)


To be sure, the marvel of an embryo transcends the collection of genes and cells that compose it. For unlike strands of DNA floating in a test tube or stem cells dividing in a Petri dish, an embryo is capable of building not just a protein or a patch of tissue but a living entity in which every cell functions as an integrated part of the whole. “Imagine yourself as the world’s tallest skyscraper, built in nine months and germinating from a single brick,” suggest Tsiaras and Werth in the opening of their book. “As that brick divides, it gives rise to every other type of material needed to construct and operate the finished tower—a million tons of steel, concrete, mortar, insulation, tile, wood, granite, solvents, carpet, cable, pipe and glass as well as all furniture, phone systems, heating and cooling units, plumbing, electrical wiring, artwork and computer networks, including software.”


Given the number of steps in the process, it will perhaps forever seem miraculous that life ever comes into being without a major hitch. “Whenever you look from one embryo to another,” observes Columbia University developmental neurobiologist Thomas Jessell, “what strikes you is the fidelity of the process.”


Sometimes, though, that fidelity is compromised, and the reasons why this happens are coming under intense scrutiny. In laboratory organisms, birth defects occur for purely genetic reasons when scientists purposely mutate or knock out specific sequences of DNA to establish their function. But when development goes off track in real life, the cause can often be traced to a lengthening list of external factors that disrupt some aspect of the genetic program. For an embryo does not develop in a vacuum but depends on the environment that surrounds it. When a human embryo is deprived of essential nutrients or exposed to a toxin, such as alcohol, tobacco or crack cocaine, the consequences can range from readily apparent abnormalities—spina bifida, fetal alcohol syndrome—to subtler metabolic defects that may not become apparent until much later.


Ironically, even as society at large continues to worry almost obsessively about the genetic origins of disease, the biologists and medical researchers who study development are mounting an impressive case for the role played by the prenatal environment. A growing body of evidence suggests that a number of serious maladies—among them, atherosclerosis, hypertension and diabetes—trace their origins to detrimental prenatal conditions. As New York University Medical School’s Dr. Peter Nathanielsz puts it, “What goes on in the womb before you are born is just as important to who you are as your genes.”


Most adults, not to mention most teenagers, are by now thoroughly familiar with the mechanics of how the sperm in a man’s semen and the egg in a woman’s oviduct connect, and it is at this point that the story of development begins. For the sperm and the egg each contain only 23 chromosomes, half the amount of DNA needed to make a human. Only when the sperm and the egg fuse their chromosomes does the tiny zygote, as a fertilized egg is called, receive its instructions to grow. And grow it does, replicating its DNA each time it divides—into two cells, then four, then eight and so on.


If cell division continued in this fashion, then nine months later the hapless mother would give birth to a tumorous ball of literally astronomical proportions. But instead of endlessly dividing, the zygote’s cells progressively take form. The first striking change is apparent four days after conception, when a 32-cell clump called the morula (which means “mulberry” in Latin) gives rise to two distinct layers wrapped around a fluid-filled core. Now known as a blastocyst, this spherical mass will proceed to burrow into the wall of the uterus. A short time later, the outer layer of cells will begin turning into the placenta and amniotic sac, while the inner layer will become the embryo.


The formation of the blastocyst signals the start of a sequence of changes that are as precisely choreographed as a ballet. At the end of Week One, the inner cell layer of the blastocyst balloons into two more layers. From the first layer, known as the endoderm, will come the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract. From the second, the ectoderm, will arise the neurons that make up the brain and spinal cord along with the epithelial cells that make up the skin. At the end of Week Two, the ectoderm spins off a thin line of cells known as the primitive streak, which forms a new cell layer called the mesoderm. From it will come the cells destined to make the heart, the lungs and all the other internal organs.


At this point, the embryo resembles a stack of Lilliputian pancakes—circular, flat and horizontal. But as the mesoderm forms, it interacts with cells in the ectoderm to trigger yet another transformation. Very soon these cells will roll up to become the neural tube, a rudimentary precursor of the spinal cord and brain. Already the embryo has a distinct cluster of cells at each end, one destined to become the mouth and the other the anus. The embryo, no larger at this point than a grain of rice, has determined the head-to-tail axis along which all its body parts will be arrayed.


How on earth does this little, barely animate cluster of cells “know” what to do? The answer is as simple as it is startling. A human embryo knows how to lay out its body axis in the same way that fruit-fly embryos know and C. elegans embryos and the embryos of myriad other creatures large and small know. In all cases, scientists have found, in charge of establishing this axis is a special set of genes, especially the so-called homeotic homeobox, or HOX, genes.


HOX genes were first discovered in fruit flies in the early 1980s when scientists noticed that their absence caused striking mutations. Heads, for example, grew feet instead of antennae, and thoraxes grew an extra pair of wings. HOX genes have been found in virtually every type of animal, and while their number varies—fruit flies have nine, humans have 39—they are invariably arrayed along chromosomes in the order along the body in which they are supposed to turn on.


Many other genes interact with the HOX system, including the aptly named Hedgehog and Tinman genes, without which fruit flies grow a dense covering of bristles or fail to make a heart. And scientists are learning in exquisite detail what each does at various stages of the developmental process. Thus one of the three Hedgehog genes—Sonic Hedgehog, named in honor of the cartoon and video-game character—has been shown to play a role in making at least half a dozen types of spinal-cord neurons. As it happens, cells in different places in the neural tube are exposed to different levels of the protein encoded by this gene; cells drenched in significant quantities of protein mature into one type of neuron, and those that receive the barest sprinkling mature into another.




God and Man at Bay (National Review, 031208)


William Buckley, Jr.


The bill proscribing partial-birth abortions threw off lights, intended and not intended. There was the decision by the White House to give the signing of the new law maximum attention. Accordingly, leading lights in the pro-life legions were there to witness the act. By obvious prearrangement, four abortionists in Lincoln, Neb., were lined up ready to petition a federal court, which granted their petition as soon as the new legislation was signed. However, the Nebraskan judge’s injunction applied only to the four petitioners. It took a New York judge another day to hand down an injunction that may apply nationwide.


But the point of it was clear, that the armies of the day and of the night are engaged for one more struggle.


The friends of abortion have this time around a more difficult front to move on. It used to be relatively simple: A woman has the right to abort, or doesn’t have the right. We know that such a right exists. It was procreated by the Supreme Court in 1973. But the court did not authorize abortion at the near end of fetal life, and the concentration this time around has been on abortion of a fetal substance which was seconds away from becoming an infant child, but found a guillotine in its way.


The approach of pro-choice people is to declare that any limitation on the right to abort threatens the very life of that right. And to add specifically that the act just passed fails to take into account the medical needs of the mother, and for that reason alone is defective.


Defenders of the act will argue that the language of Roe v. Wade does not exclude such protections as are now offered against third-trimester carnage. And of course it is somewhere between hard and impossible to make the case that the mother’s health depends on abortion at that stage. Arguments to the contrary depend on psychological readings of the mother’s medical needs. Congressional argument agreed that there was simply no evidence that prospective mothers could not handle the birth of the child they had already nurtured for six months or more.


But the intensity of the quarrel goes beyond mere political affiliations. At heart, it is widely taken for granted, we have here a religious problem. It is correct that a Catholic risks mortal sin, if she engages in abortion or if he is complicit in it. But these considerations are less important as religious sanctions decline, or are attenuated. A new survey by Harris Interactive tells us that only 26 percent of Americans attend church once a week.


On a broader range, the poll tells us that religious affiliations can mean very little. It is Catholics who as a body are most conspicuously opposed to abortion, but, says this poll, 21 percent of Catholics do not believe in God (this is true of 10 percent of Protestants and 52 percent of Jews). Jews can’t stop being thought of as Jews by simply ignoring the synagogue — they are still thought “Jewish.” Is this also happening to Catholics? Born Catholic, but eschew the Church and its laws, renounce any belief in God — are they still going to be classified as Catholics every time Mr. Harris decides to do a poll? That seems, somehow, not right. Not right for the aspirant ex-Catholic, not right for the Roman Catholic communion.


The abortion figures tell us pretty much the same story: 1.3 million per year. Blacks are three times as likely as whites to abort, Hispanics 2.5 times as likely to abort. Twenty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Catholics. There is no questionnaire, one gathers, that asks: Are you also a believing Catholic?


Seventeen Democratic senators voted for the new bill, 63 Democratic congressmen did so. It is too soon to say that pro-lifers can’t be Democrats, or that pro-choicers can’t be Republicans. But eleven years ago, a pro-life governor was not permitted to speak at a Democratic convention. There are those who hope that the singular atrocity of the partial-birth process, now illegalized, will liberate the Democratic party from the old absolutism.




Will the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Save Lives? (Christianity Today, 031023)


Most prolife groups say the ban in itself is not what is important.


Prolife groups agree that the Partial-birth abortion Ban Act of 2003, which President Bush has promised to sign into law, may not save a single life. While it bans one form of abortion, doctors who want to get around the ban will merely begin to use another late-term procedure. Additionally, a long legal battle awaits, which may prohibit enforcement of the ban for years to come. But prolifers still believe it is a big step forward.


“I think it’s a major victory for prolife Americans,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “This is the first time in 30 years that we’ve seen reflected in public policy the cultural shift that has been taking place, and that is back toward respecting life.” Perkins added, “I think it is significant that on the same day the Senate voted to outlaw this grisly procedure, the [Florida] legislature under the leadership of Governor [Jeb] Bush took action to save Terri Schiavo’s life. So you see two elected bodies stepping in to protect innocent life, both on the front end and on what some consider the back end of life.” Schiavo’s feeding tube had been removed under a court order to allow her to die. Her parents have been fighting to keep her alive.


“Is [the ban] significant in its own right?” said Richard Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals president of governmental affairs. “Of course, for the simple reason that evangelicals have learned over the years that we have to win this incrementally.”


“We have come with our toes to the line of crossing over into barbarism,” said Perkins, “and we’ve said we’re not going to go there.”


But not all prolife groups are so upbeat. “As we’re celebrating this perceived victory, we need to remember that a ban on partial-birth abortion does not save the life of one single baby,” said Mark Crutcher, founder and president of Life Dynamics. “Every baby that would have been killed with partial-birth abortion will be killed with another procedure.” Life Dynamics has opposed working for a ban on partial-birth abortion, saying that all forms of abortion are equally barbaric. Crutcher said the partial-birth abortion issue is a cover for pro-abortion politicians, who tell voters they oppose partial-birth abortion in order to sound moderate while knowing a ban on the procedure will not hurt the abortion industry.


But the ban “is only the start of what will inevitably be a long legal battle,” Cizik said. Wendy Wright, senior policy director at Concerned Women for America, estimates the legal battle could last up to two years, though the bill addresses the problems that the Supreme Court found when it overturned a similar law in Nebraska. FRC’s Perkins said it is anyone’s guess whether the law will stand up in court.


This is the third time a ban on partial-birth abortion has passed Congress. President Bill Clinton vetoed two of them, and a third stalled after the Supreme Court decided a similar ban in Nebraska was unconstitutional. Opponents of the ban have promised to fight the bill in court. CWA’s Wright said the outcome may depend on who judges the case, but it is likely to end up in the Supreme Court.


“In 2000, five Supreme Court justices said that Roe v. Wade guaranteed the right of abortionists to perform partial-birth abortions whenever they see fit,” National Right to Life Committee Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said in a statement.” But Congress is now inviting the Supreme Court to reexamine that extreme and inhumane decision.”


Crutcher said, “The Supreme Court has ruled that unless you have an exception for health in it, it’s unconstitutional. But the minute you put an exception in it, that wipes out the restriction on abortion because the exception includes physical, psychological, familial, the woman’s age—anything relevant to the well-being of the patient is a health exception according to the Supreme Court. Well, that includes everything.”


For Perkins the issue is personal. “I’m finishing up my second term in the Louisiana legislature. I was part of passing our partial-birth abortion ban in Louisiana that was overturned by a federal judge, so I’ve had a number of my own laws that I’ve passed that have been overturned by federal judges.” Abortion groups have promised to file suit as soon as the President signs the bill.


The Congressional debate over the ban included graphic pictures and descriptions of partial-birth abortion. “It has already helped to save some babies lives, because as this issue has been debated over the last eight years, people have come face to face with what happens in an abortion,” Wright said. “It’s made people realize abortion is not just ‘a woman’s right to chose’; it is an actual procedure that kills an unborn child.”


The debate has changed people’s minds, Wright said. “We’ve seen the majority of people, including the majority of women, are now prolife.” In that way, she added, the ban has already saved lives.


“From a strategic point of view,” said Cizik, “it is important because success breeds success. We learned that with the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act in the 106th Congress, the Freedom from Trafficking Act in the 107th Congress; and in the 108th, we passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act. This is all part of a broad-based human rights quest that resembles the efforts of our evangelical forbear William Wilberforce, who led the fight against slavery. Its significance exceeds the actual saving of human life. It is part of a bigger picture that needs concrete victories, which breeds success on other issues. You can’t discount it for what the opponents might say. It’s a step.”




Cooling Down the Abortion Debate (Foxnews, 040209)


This Jan. 22 was the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that de facto legalized abortion in America.


The abortion issue is a reminder that not all problems are created by government … but government can always make them worse.


Apparently, there is an Italian saying that translates as, “It is raining again … PIG OF A GOVERNMENT!” But the basic dilemma of abortion cannot be blamed on government. Nor does basic blame reside with pro-life or pro-choice advocates. The problem is that, with unwanted pregnancies, human reproduction involves a conflict of interest between the woman and the fetus.


I am pro-choice in the full realization that it is a terrible thing to take a human life. The closer a fetus approaches viability, the closer to terrible abortion becomes. I weigh a fetus’ potential against the woman’s actuality. I also realize that if a woman cannot say “everything under my skin is ‘me’ and mine to control,” then there is no foundation for individual rights. If people have no right to control their own bodies, then such rights as freedom of speech become non-sequiturs. And, yet, to the core of my being, I dislike abortion.


I have no doubt that many pro-life advocates are also uncomfortable with their conclusions. Placing a pregnant woman’s body under the de facto control of the law denies her rights to privacy and to medical control. Where is the line of denial to be drawn?


The government did not create the dynamics of reproduction nor the political questions that surround it: When is a human being present? When do rights emerge? Nor did it create the division of opinion that exists. According to a December, 2003, Zogby poll, 53 percent of Americans believe “abortion destroys a human life and is manslaughter.” But a November, 2003, Gallup poll of teenagers found that 51 percent believed abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances.


When a FOX News poll in July, 2003, asked whether people were “more pro-life or more pro-choice,” 44 percent said “pro-life,” 44 percent said “pro-choice.” But government has widened the scope of the problem and deepened division of opinion.


How has it widened the scope? In the most literal sense, involvement in agencies such as the United Nations has led to the exportation of abortion policy at taxpayers’ expense. No government should export reproductive policy — whether directed at abortion or at abstinence — to another nation. Despite the nobility and neutrality of its self-description, the United Nations Population Fund is rampantly political and the United States is correct in finally withholding funds.


Domestically, government also expands the scope of debate by using tax money to support — at different times, in different venues — both pro-choice and pro-life causes. For example, although he included a “conscience clause,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made abortion training mandatory for medical students in that city at its state-supported schools.


On the pro-life side, various states have sanctioned “Choose Life!” license plates that have been described as state-sponsored infomercials against abortion. In each case, some people were forced to financially support a cause they found morally repugnant.


Government also increases the divisiveness of abortion by partisan tactics that turn the issue into a battle of wills. On the federal level, there is Roe v. Wade. But, during a pro-life protest of Roe v. Wade, President Bush beamed a live telephone call to the protesters, praising the pro-life marchers’ “noble cause.”


On the state level, over 600 anti-abortion bills were filed in legislatures nationwide in 2003. But when an “anti-abortion” measure is passed, it risks being overturned in the courts; a U.S. district judge recently struck down Virginia’s ban on partial-birth abortion. Or the measure could be vetoed; Michigan’s governor recently vetoed a bill requiring girls to obtain a judicial waiver if they do not have parental consent.


The divisive machinations of government may be an inevitable reflection of how evenly divided the public is on abortion, but they can be no excuse for politicians to fan the flames of conflict for their own electoral profit. For example, there is no excuse for Hillary Clinton’s claim that anti-abortion forces “are counting on the vast majority of fair-minded Americans to be ignorant, to be unaware ... They think they can accomplish their goals as Americans sleep.” This statement insults about 50 percent of the population. And pro-life rhetoric is often no better.


The best hope of limiting the divisiveness comes from voices in the middle that are not fully committed to pro-choice or pro-life. They know that neither side is populated by monsters. They realize that decent people can disagree. This realization provides space for discussion and better agreement on some of the surrounding issues — for example, on the question of whether reproductive options for children should require parental consent, or whether abortion should be legal in cases of rape, of severe fetal deformity or when the mother’s life is endangered.


The basic question of abortion — is it murder? — may not be susceptible to compromise, but that doesn’t mean all aspects of it should be made as socially destructive as possible. Shrinking the scope and divisiveness of abortion may be equivalent to treating symptoms rather than offering a cure, but, when no cure is available, treating symptoms is prudent.


Wendy McElroy is the editor of and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, “Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century” (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.




Hearing Women: Abortion cannot be a choice, unless women know what they are choosing (National Review Online, 040309)


You know the famous blob of tissue that Americans have been arguing about for more than 30 years? Well, it turns out that the women who have abortions have about as much standing as that “product of conception.”


Last week, Senator Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) sponsored hearings in the Senate to review the impact of abortion on women and, ultimately, to call for greater research. Note well, this was not intended to be an abortion debate. Rather, it was meant to offer a close look at the effects, positive or negative, of abortions on the women who have them.


Approximately 40 percent of American women under 45 have had at least one abortion. Twenty-five percent of all pregnancies end in abortion. Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, over 40 million abortions have taken place. Yet no comprehensive data exists concerning the impact of abortion on women. Consider that the federal government has in place mechanisms to track just about every other medical procedure, but it chooses not to follow this one.


Consider also the responses of the pro-choice voices present at the Senate hearing hearing. When asked by Senator Brownback, “So you don’t want to know the data?,” Dr. Nada Stotland, professor at Rush Medical College in Chicago, replied, “It’s hard to impute [the effects] to a procedure that they had for five minutes.” This she said after the testimonies of Georgette Fourney and Michaelene Jenkins, both women who have had abortions, suffered from them, and are active pro-life leaders. In essence, Dr. Stotland was saying that their experiences, no matter how personal, no matter how painful, don’t matter.


Let’s hear what others had to say. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) commented to these two women who had just spoken of their traumatic experiences, “Your personal experiences are interesting....” But he didn’t understand why it’s an issue at all, when an abortion can be “as simple as a pill the next day.”


The Rev. Dr. Roselyn Smith-Withers, of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, offered her testimony from the perspective of one who regularly counsels women who have had abortions. She commented that women “can learn from that experience [abortion].” (Now there’s someone who will feel your pain.) She also explained, “Women who had great visions for themselves are often diminished by having children.” The 75 million women who are mothers in this country would probably have something to say about that.


While each abortion advocate maintained the importance of abortion access, not one would admit the importance of research on abortion and its effects on women, a strange fact considering that they argue in behalf of women’s health.


From a scientific perspective, Dr. Elizabeth Shadigian, professor, researcher, and ob-gyn, provided perhaps the clearest voice. In her testimony, she explained that while we may have sufficient information on how to perform an abortion or how to deal with the immediate complications of an abortion, we have few studies concerning long-term complications. The issue has been so wrapped in politics that we have not been able to discuss the truth of the matter at hand.


Based on the limited research available, Dr. Shadigian noted four conditions that research has shown to be related to abortion: breast cancer, placenta previa (when the placenta covers the cervix, thereby making it necessary to deliver by C-section), pre-term birth, and maternal suicide.


To date, there is no mandatory reporting of abortion complications in the U.S. Surely a medical procedure that affects over one million women a year would be worthy of careful monitoring — unless the lives and health of these women are expected to be sacrificed to a particular political ideology.


For every other medical procedure, health-care providers must inform patients about the benefits and risks of the treatment. In the case of abortion, a woman’s right to privacy means that she is so isolated in her decision that she is not even given full knowledge of the treatment she has “chosen.”


Unfortunately even professional organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are not exempt from political bias either. Dr. Shadigian, member and fellow of the ACOG, cited the organization’s opinion from its Compendium of Selected Publications, 2004, Practice Bulletin #26:


“Long-term risks sometimes attributed to surgical abortion include potential effects on reproductive functions, cancer incidence, and psychological sequelae. However, the medical literature, when carefully evaluated, clearly demonstrates no significantly negative impact on any of these factors with surgical abortion.”


Interesting. Despite the fact that medical research shows a link to at least four serious conditions, none of them falls under the criteria of “significantly negative.” Since when is maternal suicide a good thing?


Such interpretations of the limited scientific material available can only be due, at best, to ignorance of the facts resulting from blind ideology. In fact, this ideological commitment is so persistent that it refuses to submit itself to the light of authentic science and medicine.


The hearing was intended only to make the case for routine research and study, to better enable women to give informed consent. It was not about abortion per se. From the comments given by the abortion advocates who participated in the hearing, it’s clear that they deny the sacredness and inviolability of both the unborn child’s life and the mother’s life. For our part, pro-lifers maintain that both lives are entitled to the full protection and acknowledgement of their rights. That’s why pro-life groups also serve women who have had abortions.


— Pia de Solenni is director of life and women’s issues at the Family Research Council.




Gambling With Abortion: America’s Seared Conscience (Part 1) (Christian News, 041116)


Americans who care deeply about the protection of human life must face one monumental question: How can the American conscience be so apparently untroubled by the reality of abortion? That is the central question raised in an important article published in the November 2004 edition of Harper’s Magazine. In “Gambling With Abortion,” author Cynthia Gorney looks closely at the controversy over the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and its aftermath, and her article is a wrenching and insightful look at the current status of the abortion issue.



Gorney, a former staff writer for The Washington Post, explains how the partial-birth abortion issue emerged onto the American landscape and why it has functioned as such a volatile and emotion-laden development in the abortion wars.


As Gorney explains, the phrase “partial-birth abortion” is not found in most medical literature. Instead, medical specialists tend to speak of a “dilation and extraction” procedure, as compared to the more common “dilation and evacuation” technique of killing the fetus and removing it from the womb. The label “partial-birth abortion” was developed in the process of forming legislation to ban the procedure. As the pro-abortion movement was soon to find out, public exposure to the reality of this gruesome procedure was to change the very structure of the abortion debate in America.


Abortion rights advocates would eventually refer to the partial-birth abortion controversy as a “silver platter” put in the hands of pro-life advocates. As Kate Michelman, former president of the National Abortion Rights Action League [NARAL], told Gorney, when one of her staff members read the first “Dear Colleague” letter sent by two Republican members of Congress, he told her, “Kate, this is a disaster.”


The letter caused NARAL such consternation that they explained the procedure like this: “During the partial-birth procedure, the abortionist uses forceps to pull a living baby feet-first through the birth canal until the baby’s body is exposed, leaving only the head just within the uterus. The abortionist then forces surgical scissors into the base of the baby’s skull creating an incision through which he inserts a suction tube to evacuate the brain tissue from the baby’s skull. The evacuation of this tissue causes the skull to collapse, allowing the baby’s head to be pulled from the birth canal.”


The procedure came to light in 1992, when an abortion doctor from Ohio spoke to a meeting of the National Abortion Federation and delivered a paper entitled “Dilation and Extraction for Late Second Trimester Abortion.”


The doctor, Martin Haskell, told his fellow physicians and abortionists that he was now “routinely” using this procedure for patients whose pregnancy was at or beyond twenty weeks development. Haskell named his procedure “Dilation and Extraction” and shortened it to the acronym “D and X.” Haskell boasted of performing over seven hundred of these abortion procedures, “with a low rate of complications.”


Gorney helpfully summarizes Haskell’s presentation. “To terminate pregnancies of up to twenty weeks, Haskell reminded his colleagues, surgeons typically perform a ‘classic D and E,’ in which the doctor dismembers the fetus inside the uterus, using forceps, and pulls it out in pieces. After twenty weeks, when the classic D and E is usually hard to accomplish because the fetus’s bones are too strong and the tissues are too tough, the standard procedure is either induction, in which the woman is put through a drug-induced miscarriage, or in some cases a form of D and E in which a feticide is injected into the uterus and the dead fetus is then left inside long enough to soften, making it easier to take apart.”


Those words are difficult to read, much less to imagine as the substance of a medical presentation. Nevertheless, far worse was to come as Dr. Haskell went on to encourage his colleagues to adopt his new procedure.


Haskell explained that his new procedure would allow for the full emergence of the fetus through the birth canal until only the head remains inside the mother’s body. As he continued to explain the procedure, Haskell launched into one of the most gruesome, chilling, and evil descriptions in the annals of medical literature: “The surgeon takes a pair of blunt curved Metzenbaum scissors in the right hand. He carefully advances the tip, curved down, along the spine and under his middle finger, until he feels it contact the base of the skull under the tip of his middle finger. Reassessing proper placement of the closed scissors’ tip and safe elevation of the cervix, the surgeon then forces the scissors into the base of the skull or into the foramen magnum. Having safely entered the skull, he spreads the scissors to enlarge the opening. The surgeon removes the scissors and introduces a suction catheter into this hole and evacuates the skull contents. With the catheter still in place, he applies traction to the fetus, removing it completely from the patient.”


Gorney uses her reportorial skill to go behind Haskell’s claims to the fact that similar procedures were already in use around the nation. In particular, she reports that Dr. James McMahon of Los Angeles “had made a specialty of performing late intacts and then bringing the fetuses to women who would ask to see them.” McMahon died of complications from a brain tumor in 1995, but his widow told Gorney that her late husband had developed the procedure in order to allow women to hold their dead fetuses. “Having it intact was a goal,” she explained, “so that they could do that, and have this closure.”


As Gail McMahon went on to tell Gorney, “I knew what it meant to these women, to be able to hold them, and be able to coo over them and say goodbye. It was profound. I got material, and sewed little tiny sheaths, and we got tiny hats we could dress them in. I would put them on a clean cloth, and I would swath them. Many women spent hours in there, and showed them to their other children. It was always treating the babies with the respect the parents would want them to.”


What macabre madness is this? We are supposed to believe that mothers who made the decision to murder their late-term babies through such an evil procedure would want to hold their fetuses—killed at their own request—in order to coo over them and say goodbye?


As the story of the partial-birth abortion controversy unfolds, we are told that the NAF mailing list “had long since been infiltrated by abortion opponents” including an Oregon woman named Jenny Westberg, who published an article on Haskell’s presentation in Life Advocate, described by Gorney as “a strident little Portland-based magazine.” Significantly, Jenny Westberg is not only a pro-life activist, but she also had experience at cartooning. In order to explain the procedure outlined in Haskell’s paper, Westberg produced a series of pen and ink drawings that demonstrated just how the procedure would take place. Her article—and especially her drawings—were to change the trajectory of the abortion debate in America.


Gambling With Abortion: America’s Seared Conscience (Part 2) (Christian News, 041119)


As “partial-birth abortion” emerged into America’s consciousness, an Oregon woman named Jenny Westberg made a series of simple pen-and-ink drawings of the procedure. Those pictures—striking in their simplicity and devastating in their clarity—would change the trajectory of America’s abortion debate. Evil flourishes in the darkness, and Westberg’s drawings brought the murderous abortion procedure to light.


The pictures gripped the conscience, not only of the pro-life movement, but of many others as well. Keri Folmar, a congressional lawyer who was to write the first version of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, provided first-person testimony of the impact of the description and the drawings. “To think that a human being would actually hold a little baby in his or her hand, and then kill it—that’s what got me,” she said. “If you’re holding that child in your hand, and knowingly killing the child, you can’t argue anymore that it’s not really a human being. You just can’t do it.”


The partial-birth abortion procedure—so proudly described by Martin Haskell—blew the lid off the abortion rights movement. “For two decades the people who frame legal-abortion campaigns in this country have been working assiduously to keep the door to that procedure room shut,” Gorney reports, “redirecting the national attention to the action beforehand, and afterward, the choice to seek an abortion, the decision to have an abortion, the values inherent in a society that gives women the liberty to make this momentous decision without interference from the state. They had worried for years that if the general public were forced into a mangled-fetus-versus-women’s autonomy tradeoff, the mangled fetus would win.”


When the partial-birth issue hit the floor of Congress, organizations like NARAL were left grasping for an adequate response. As political leaders began to describe the procedure whereby “the child’s brains are sucked out,” abortion rights advocates tried to argue that the procedure was both rare and medically necessary. As Gorney acknowledges, the abortion advocates simply lied. Though they had claimed that the procedure was “extremely rare” and was used no more than five hundred times per year, the reality is that thousands are performed on an annual basis.


At one point in the early years of the controversy, a lobbyist for abortion organizations just invented low numbers and fed these to the press. Ron Fitzsimmons later admitted that he “lied through my teeth.”


By overwhelming margins, Congress passed Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Acts, only to have the legislation vetoed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and 1997. As a matter of fact, efforts to outlaw the procedure were not successful until last year, when President George W. Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 into law.


The abortion rights industry immediately went to court in order to nullify the legislation. Significantly, simultaneous cases were heard in California, New York, and Nebraska.


Gorney’s article takes the reader inside the San Francisco courtroom, where an abortion doctor named Maureen Paul, “lead author of a recent medical textbook on abortion,” was being questioned by a lawyer from Planned Parenthood. The doctor testified that she used the procedure in order to kill and evacuate a late-term fetus. As she explained, “sometimes the fetus comes out in pieces, and I make instrument passes until the entire fetus is evacuated, and sometimes the whole fetus will come down into the [birth canal], at least as far as the head.” In other cases, when the head is too large to pass through the canal, the doctor explained: “There are two things you can do. You can disarticulate at the neck . . . . Or what I prefer to do is to just reach in with my forceps, and collapse the skull, and bring the fetus out intact.”


Disarticulate? This word is nothing less than a sinister euphemism used to disguise the dismemberment of a human fetus.


The courts in California, Nebraska, and New York were eventually to rule that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is an unconstitutional abridgement of a woman’s right to an abortion—in other words, a violation of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade. In the New York case, the judge actually described the procedure as “gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized.” Nevertheless, he found this evil procedure to be protected by the Roe v. Wade decision.


The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 now heads to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Bush administration has pledged to put on a full-court defense of the legislation. Eventually, however, the question will reach the U.S. Supreme Court, making the composition of that Court today’s most significant factor in the abortion controversy.


Cynthia Gorney’s article is painful to read, and her detailed analysis is difficult to bear. At the same time, the awful reality of partial-birth abortion points to the deeply immoral and horrific nature of abortion in any form, by any procedure, at any stage.


How can Americans continue to live such apparently untroubled lives as the reality of this procedure is now widely known? How can we go on with “business as usual” in this nation, knowing that millions of unborn human beings have been “disarticulated” in the womb even as thousands of abortions are performed each day?


Even as journalists, political analysts, and commentators are scurrying to explain the 2004 presidential election and the emergence of “values voters” onto the political stage, we have still failed to force the nation to see the horror of the holocaust taking place in American wombs, performed by American doctors, under watchful American eyes.


Before we grow too optimistic about the outcome of the battles that lie ahead, let’s at least be honest with ourselves. We live in a nation with a disarticulated conscience.




R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.




The Constitutional Wrecking Ball: It all started with Griswold. (National Review Online, 050719)


By Senator Rick Santorum


EDITOR’S NOTE:: This is the second in a series of five excerpts from It Takes a Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum. Together they comprise chapter 23, “The Rule of Judges.” (The first part is here.)


How did this all start? Several “strands” of major Supreme Court decisions, bound together, have dismantled older constitutional understandings and enshrined the new morality. On the questions of marriage, family, and sex, that string begins with the 1965 Griswold decision. In that case, a Connecticut law that outlawed the use of contraceptives, even by married couples, was ruled unconstitutional. Now, before you jump to conclusions, let me clearly state that this law was badly written, and I would not have supported it or its intent. Nonetheless, it is in this case that the Court “discovered” a “right to privacy” in the U.S. Constitution. Of course, such a right does not appear anywhere in the text of the Constitution. Rather, the Court’s majority discovered — or invented — such a right from the “emanations” and “penumbras” of rights found in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.


It is significant that what seems to have been decisive in the minds of some of the justices in the Griswold majority was actually something quite traditional in the common law: the notion that marriage was a privileged institution into which law should not interfere. The case involved Planned Parenthood dispensing contraceptives to a married couple, and throughout the decision, it was marital privacy that was discussed. So, an aspect of the traditional moral view was a motivation for the Court’s majority decision: But the jurisprudential novelty it established — the right to privacy — would quickly become a constitutional wrecking ball.


Justices Stewart and Black were scathing in dissent, observing that while both disagreed with the law personally (as do I), they could find nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prevented the Connecticut legislature from making such a law (which had been on the books in the state since 1879). The dissenting justices mocked the reasoning of the majority, which in some cases based itself not on the Constitution’s text, but rather on the “traditions and [collective] conscience of our people.” How, asked the dissenters, could the Court know the conscience of the people better than legislators? Did not such reliance lead only to the substitution of judges’ “personal and private notions” for the decisions of legislatures? “Use of any such broad, unbounded judicial authority would make of this Court’s members a day-to-day constitutional convention,” warned Justice Black. And so it has been! Finally, Justice Black observed that “privacy” is a “broad, abstract and ambiguous concept,” lacking the specificity of a genuinely constitutional rule. However traditional it may appear in the guise of marital privacy, which as a legislator I support, this novel right was bound to do harm in our jurisprudence.


And so it was and so it did. Just seven years later, in Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), the Court struck down a Massachusetts law that made contraception legal only for married persons. The distinction between the married and unmarried was breached, and the “right of privacy” became unhinged, essentially protecting (heterosexual) sex, as such, from any moral regulation.


Again, although I disagree with the Massachusetts law and its intent, the Court’s solution to the problem presented by such a law was neither judicious nor prudent: The Court in effect codified the sexual revolution then underway — with the supremely powerful protection of a constitutional right. Marital privacy had now morphed into “the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” The arguably traditional marital dimension upon which the Court had discovered the new “privacy right” was simply dropped with respect to having heterosexual intercourse. Rather than encouraging the legislature to repeal an outdated law, the Court expanded further the ungrounded right to privacy.


The next step, of course, was Roe v. Wade, the abortion decision of 1973. Today, most honest constitutional experts agree that as constitutional law, this decision is a monstrosity, a pure act of judicial legislating with no warrant in the Constitution’s text. Having invented a “right to privacy,” a right with a special emphasis on sexual matters, the Court was driven by its new moral logic to extend protection to what was all too often the result of the new sexual ethic: unwanted pregnancies and their “termination.”


The Roe decision established an elaborate system of “trimesters” of pregnancy and delimited when the states might and might not have a “compelling interest” in protecting the life of the unborn, “balanced” against the “privacy right” of the mother. In immediately subsequent decisions, however, this elaborate system quickly became meaningless, a dead letter. By the Supreme Court’s lights, no legislative regulation of abortion was permissible, for abortion was, after all, a “fundamental right.” What could possible count as a legitimate weight in the balance against a “fundamental right”? In effect, Roe created a private license to kill a certain category of Americans, the unborn, and raised this license to a constitutional principle.


The strands of these Court cases had made the rope thick. The legal reasoning continued to evolve, and the right to (sexual) privacy approached its terminal point. In the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey, the Court handed down a complex ruling on a Pennsylvania state law that sought to reduce the number of abortions by a whole set of restrictive measures. The Casey decision actually stepped back from some of the most extreme Court decisions that followed Roe: Certain measures to ensure “informed consent” are now ruled constitutional, for example. But finally, the Court would not allow any legislation in America that would actually prevent a woman from procuring an abortion she desired. That is the bottom line. And the reason for this is found in the so-called “mystery passage.” It formed the basis of the ruling: “At the heart of liberty,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The privacy right had now been expanded to its philosophical extreme.


Moral capital involves shared moral aspirations and norms, which for most of our founders was our human, legislative effort to approximate a transcendent moral order. I have been arguing that such moral capital is part of the common good. Here, however, the court tells us that liberty must mean that there is no common good: Each of us is locked in the prison of our own self-created moral universe. We are, each of us, lords of the world, divine legislators. There is no transcendent truth, no common truth, just myriad individual truths.


Where does the right to privacy go from here? As our culture continues to “progress” and old inhibitions are cast off, what boundaries — what guardrails — will be left? In his 1995 book Rethinking Life and Death, Princeton professor Peter Singer liberates moral theory and practice from any truths that pose an obstacle to our will to power and control. In that book he champions “neonaticide” — that is, the legal destruction of newborn human beings with physical handicaps up through the 28th day after birth. Singer has been dubbed by his critics “Professor Death” — but he professes his views from a tenured chair at Princeton.


Is Singer alone in promoting such a radical “concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”? Unfortunately, he is not. Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, suggests that


we need a clear boundary to confer personhood on a human being and grant it a right to life. . . . [T]he right to life must come . . . from morally significant traits that we humans happen to possess. One such trait is having a sequence of experiences that defines us as individuals and connects us to other people. Other traits include an ability to reflect on ourselves as a continuous locus of consciousness, to form and savor plans for the future, to dread death and to express the choice not to die.


Under his definition a newborn is not human, and therefore the reality Pinker constructs would allow for neonaticide as well. Pinker points to that conclusion himself: “[S]everal moral philosophers have concluded that neonates are not persons . . . and thus neonaticide should not be classified as murder.”


How long will it be before the Supreme Court “discovers” that voices like Singer’s and Pinker’s, coming as they do from some of our most elite educational institutions, represent the evolving “[collective] conscience of our people” and bring us yet another expansion of the right to privacy?


— Senator Rick Santorum is the junior United States senator from Pennsylvania. Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, he is the third-highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate.




Is the Sanctity of Human Life an Outmoded Concept? (Christian Post, 051013)


Peter Singer has seen the future, and it does not include the sanctity of life. To be more specific, Singer presents his argument about the future in a forum published in the September/October 2005 edition of Foreign Policy. The magazine asked a number of leading intellectuals to suggest what ideas, institutions, and features of contemporary life will be left behind as human beings rush into a bold new future. As Peter Singer sees it, confidence in the sanctity of human life must be abandoned in order for humanity to be redefined in the new millennium.


Singer is no stranger to controversy, of course. He currently serves as Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University. The very fact that Peter Singer holds a distinguished chair in the field of bioethics at a major American university should signal all morally sensitive persons that the world of academia is in big trouble.


Singer attracted international attention and controversy with the publication of his 1975 book, Animal Liberation. Then a professor at LaTrobe University in Canada, Singer argued that the concept of animal species is, in itself, “as irrelevant to moral status as race or sex.” As he explained his own position, Singer argued that “all beings with interest are entitled to equal consideration.” In other words, animals should be accorded equal rights with human beings, and the very fact that an individual is a member of the species Homo sapiens does not mean that individual is entitled to human rights and the presumption of a right to live. In other words, every human being is not necessarily a human person.


“During the next 35 years, the traditional view of the sanctity of human life will collapse under pressure from scientific, technological, and demographic developments,” Singer asserts in his Foreign Policy essay. “By 2040, it may be that only a rump of hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists will defend the view that every human life, from conception to death, is sacrosanct.”


Looking over the last several months, Singer argues that the year 2005 “may be seen as the year in which that position [the sanctity of human life] became untenable.” In his view, controversy over embryonic stem cell research, the acceptance of human cloning experiments by South Korean scientists, and the tortuous controversy over Terri Schiavo, may lead to a basic change in American public opinion. Singer believes that technological developments will “drive this debate” and lead to a new understanding of the human organism—an understanding that accepts a basic distinction between a human body and a human person. “Hence, a decision to remove the feeding tube will be less controversial, for it will be a decision to end the life of a human body, but not of a person,” he explains.


Singer is also confident that the acceptance of euthanasia in Europe—including the euthanasia of newborns, young children, and the elderly—will lead to a growing acceptance in the United States. “As we approach 2040, the Netherlands and Belgium will have had decades of experience with legalized euthanasia, and other jurisdictions will also have permitted either voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide for varying lengths of time.” Thus, “This experience will puncture exaggerated fears that the legalization of these practices would be a first step toward a new holocaust. By then, an increasing proportion of the population in developed countries will be more than 75 years old and thinking about how their lives will end. The political pressure for allowing terminally or chronically ill patients to choose when to die will be irresistible.”


Singer is consistent in asserting that the sacredness of human life is an outmoded and morally useless belief. In a notorious commentary published in the July 1983 issue of Pediatrics, Singer began by offering a similar prophecy: “The ethical outlook that holds human life to be sacrosanct—I shall call it the ‘sanctity-of-life view’—is under attack. The first major blow to the sanctity-of-life view was the spreading acceptance of abortion throughout the Western world.”


In 1983, Singer was serving as professor in the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University in his native Australia. Nevertheless, his article in Pediatrics incited controversy in the United States. After all, Pediatrics is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


In his commentary, Singer argued that infanticide or euthanasia should be seen as morally acceptable under certain conditions. As a matter of fact, he implied that infanticide could well be a morally superior choice when compared to a decision to allow some infants to live.


Consider this chilling statement: “If we compare a severely defective human infant with a nonhuman animal, a dog or a pig, for example, we will often find the nonhuman to have superior capacities, both actual and potential, for rationality, self-consciousness, communication, and anything else that can plausibly be considered morally significant.”


Singer’s point is clear—a dog who is able to communicate in a rudimentary way is superior to a human infant who lacks an equal ability to communicate.


In his book Practical Ethics, Singer argues, “The fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings.”


Ponder that statement carefully, for it is a manifesto for killing human infants. Furthermore, Singer presses his case to make clear that he is not limiting his argument to the killing of infants who lack the potential to develop such qualities. “This conclusion is not limited to infants who, because of irreversible intellectual disabilities, will never be rational, self-conscious beings,” Singer clarifies. As in his argument for abortion, Singer asserts “that the potential of a fetus to become a rational, self-conscious being cannot count against killing it at a stage when it lacks these characteristics.”


Singer would accept a basic assumption of a right to life only for those beings he judges to have a capacity to envision a future. He would grant the status of human personhood only to those human beings who are able to communicate, to relate to others, and to possess what he would stipulate as a minimal understanding of self-consciousness in time. In short, Singer would grant a healthy dog a greater claim on life than a healthy human infant or an elderly person with Alzheimer’s. But more recently, Singer has courted controversy with his argument that human sexuality should be liberated from any moral limits except consensuality. In an interview with Marvin Olasky of World magazine, Singer asserted that he sees “no moral problem” with necrophilia. He has argued that human beings and animals may be able to have “mutually satisfying” sexual relationships. What he terms “zoophilia” should be illegal, he says, only if it involves cruelty.


Singer’s appointment to a prestigious chair in bioethics at Princeton University led to world-wide controversy. Publisher Steve Forbes took a public stand and pledged to end all financial contributions to his alma mater “so long as Peter Singer remains a tenured professor there.”


Nevertheless, Princeton’s president, Harold T. Shapiro, defended Singer’s appointment.


In a statement published in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin on December 7, 1998, Shapiro defended Singer’s academic credentials. He went on to argue: “But the test in making any faculty appointment is not whether we agree with the findings of a professor’s scholarship; the test is the power of the professor’s intellect and the quality of his or her scholarship and teaching. An important part of our purpose as a university is to ask the most difficult and fundamental questions about human existence, however uncomfortable this may be.” That may sound like lofty academic discourse, but we should note carefully that this argument excludes any consideration other than a potential professor’s intellect and teaching ability. President Shapiro cannot possibly stand by this argument, for it would require him to hire professors who would be proponents of theories, worldviews, and ideologies even he would surely find morally reprehensible. When President Shapiro tries to explain that Princeton serves “these central purposes of a university by appointing faculty members like Professor Singer whose work is intellectually astute, morally serious, and open to engagement with others,” he is defining “morally serious” in a manner that is seriously deficient.


Singer understands what is at stake. “We can no longer base our ethics on the idea that human beings are a special form of creation, made in the image of God, singled out from all other animals, and alone possessing an immortal soul,” he argues. “Our better understanding of our own nature has bridged the gulf that was once thought to lie between ourselves and other species, so why should we believe that the mere fact that a being is a member of the species Homo sapiens endows its life with some unique, almost infinite, value?”


Singer dismisses the Christian confidence in the sanctity of human life as “religious mumbo-jumbo” that must be discarded. In the case of Professor Peter Singer we face the quintessential warning of where the modern, secular, evolutionary understanding of humanity must lead. Unless we believe that human beings truly are “a special form of creation, made in the image of God,” we will inevitably slide into the moral calculations and frightening ideology of Peter Singer and those who share his worldview.


Peter Singer thinks he has seen the future, and he writes with renewed confidence that the sanctity of human life is an idea that will soon be discarded. Christians now face the urgent responsibility to prove him wrong.




R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.




The pro-choice movement: Safe, legal and as often as possible (, 051130)


by Ben Shapiro


Dr. William F. Harrison of Arkansas calls himself an “abortionist.” “I am destroying life,” he proclaims. But Harrison, who estimates that he has aborted over 20,000 unborn children, also sees abortion as a life-giving procedure, describing his patients as “born again.” “When you end what the woman considers a disastrous pregnancy, she has literally been given her life back,” he proudly states. Harrison’s goal is to “try to make sure [a woman who chooses abortion] doesn’t ever feel guilty for what she feels she has to do.”


Dr. George Tiller of Kansas has terminated over 60,000 pregnancies; his website brags that the good doctor’s clinic has “more experience in late abortion services over 24 weeks than anyone else currently practicing in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Australia.” Most babies are considered viable (that is, can live outside the womb with the help of medical technology) at 23-24 weeks. These are viable, living children.


Dr. Dennis Christensen of Wisconsin, who has aborted between 80,000 and 100,000 fetuses, celebrates his career as a moral good. “When I meet my maker,” he grins, “I think she’s going to say, ‘Way to go!’”


Current liberal thought posits that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” in the words of former president Bill Clinton. Only by stipulating that abortion should remain “rare” can liberal politicians escape popular outrage. Yet these same politicians refuse to answer just why abortion should remain rare. If abortion is a moral good under any circumstances (as abortion-on-demand advocates declare), why should it remain rare? And if keeping abortion rare is a rational goal, why should state governments be barred from taking steps to discourage abortion?


The fact of the matter is that mainstream pro-choice liberals are lying through their teeth when they mouth the “safe, legal and rare” mantra. Abortionists are celebrated as heroes, no matter what type of abortions they perform. The Los Angeles Times’ glowing profile of Dr. Harrison ends with a description of the doctor’s solemn determination to “keep at it as long as his stamina holds, or as long as it is legal.” The National Abortion Federation (NAF), dedicated to unfettered access to abortion, awarded Dr. Tiller its prestigious Christopher Tietze Humanitarian Award. Incredibly, New York Times Magazine describes the NAF as “a mini-AMA” (American Medical Association). Of course, the difference between the AMA and the NAF is as simple as the distinction between preserving life and destroying it, but to the pro-choice crowd, all medical procedures are equal.


The pro-choice crowd has never wanted abortion to be rare. Were abortion rare, women considering abortions would feel subtle societal pressure to preserve the life growing within them. Such societal pressure would create a “coercive” environment for women, inhibiting their ability to choose. For abortion to thrive, it must be common.


With abortion statistics shockingly high (25 percent of pregnant women abort their babies, and one third of women will have an abortion by age 45), abortionists and their advocates can make women who abort feel accepted. At Dr. Harrison’s office, abortion statistics are posted on the exam-room mirror; a nurse rhetorically asks, “You think there’s room in hell for all those women?” Of course, no religion has ever considered a population cap on Divine punishment — surely, there is room in hell for whomever God chooses to place there. But the nurse’s point is simple: You are not alone.


And the message works, as Harrison’s patient “Amanda” demonstrates. According to the LA Times, Amanda, a 20-year-old administrative assistant, says it’s not the obstacles that surprise her — it’s how normal and unashamed she feels as she prepares to end her first pregnancy. ‘It’s an everyday occurrence,’ she says as she waits for her 2:30 p.m. abortion. ‘It’s not like this is a rare thing … It’s not like it’s illegal. It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong.’”


This is the pro-choice agenda. For pro-choice activists, abortion is a good in and of itself. It allows a woman to exercise her “freedom of choice” at any time. Context does not matter; moral gradation does not matter; timing does not matter. The high school volleyball player who aborts her child because she does not want to ruin her body for nine months — “I realize just from the first three months how it changes everything” — is just as valid as the woman who aborts because her life is seriously endangered by pregnancy. Abortion must remain an absolute right, commonly exercised, if women are to be truly free.


For years, pro-life advocates have described their opponents as pro-abortion. After viewing the pro-choice movement’s support for across-the-board abortions, that description seems apt.




Studies denying abortion-cancer link debunked: Professor’s review of latest research upholds causal relationship (WorldNetDaily, 051201)


Ten studies touted by those who claim there is no link between abortion and breast cancer have been debunked in a new analysis being released today.


Published in the winter edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, the findings were compiled by Joel Brind, Ph.D., president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and a professor at Baruch College of the City University of New York. Brind’s paper is an update of a similar analysis he completed in 1996.


In his essay, Brind addresses 10 separate studies conducted between 1996 and 2005 – studies used by those who deny a link between induced abortion and cancer – pointing out problems with the each study’s methodology. He asserts those problems skew the results toward the denial of a causal connection between abortion and breast cancer, also known as the ABC link, making them thoroughly unreliable.


Brind criticizes a large study in Denmark done in 1997 that concluded: “Induced abortions have no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer.” But the way the study was conducted is suspect, the professor contends. The study tracked abortions that occurred only since 1973 even though the procedure was legalized in Denmark in 1939 and thousands of older women whose records were part of the research had abortions before 1973.


Also, Brind points out, the study’s authors did find a trend of increased risk for breast cancer in those having abortions after 18 weeks of gestation but did not include that fact in the study’s conclusions.


Brind also takes aim at a Seattle study that included just 138 women, all of whom were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994.


“Strangely, no reason is given by the authors as to why only one year of diagnoses was chosen, why the year chosen was 1994 and not any other year, and no mention is made of the fact that the study is unusually small and the results should therefore be interpreted cautiously, to say the least,” writes Brind. “The authors were nevertheless unjustifiably unequivocal in their conclusion that their ‘results do not support a relation between induced abortion and breast cancer incidence.’”


Another study Brind looks at was conducted in 2000 in Oxford, UK. Though the study was large, Brind says, “more than 90 percent of women in the study who had had an abortion were misclassified as abortion-negative. Even the authors admitted that their ‘data on abortion are substantially incomplete.’”


A 2003 study in Sweden is similarly criticized in Brind’s analysis.


A study this year of Scottish women, Brind points out, purposely left out women who had abortions before 1981. This in a country where abortion is used primarily as a means to delay childbearing.


Writes Brind of the Scottish study: “The most suitable prospective database yet to become available for the study of induced abortion and breast cancer was deliberately distorted beyond recognition. Hence, the authors’ conclusion that induced abortion is not a ‘substantive risk factor’ for breast cancer merits no credibility.”


Mentioning research that does show a causal ABC link, Brind states, “ It is therefore only reasonable to conclude, from all extant evidence, that induced abortion is indeed a risk factor for breast cancer, despite the strong and pervasive bias in the recent literature in the direction of viewing abortion as safe for women.”


The basic biology underlying the ABC link boils down to the fact that breast cancer is linked to reproductive hormones, particularly estrogen. At conception, a woman’s estrogen levels increase hundreds of times above normal – 2,000 percent by the end of the first trimester. That hormone surge leads to the growth of “undifferentiated” cells in the breast as the body prepares to produce milk for the coming baby.


Undifferentiated cells are vulnerable to the effects of carcinogens, which can give rise to cancerous tumors later in life. In the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy, those cells are “terminally differentiated” through a still largely unknown process and are ready to produce milk. Differentiated cells are not as vulnerable to carcinogens.


However, should a pregnancy be terminated prior to cell differentiation, the woman is left with abnormally high numbers of undifferentiated cells, therefore increasing her risk of developing breast cancer.


Spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, are not generally associated with increased risk, since they generally occur due to insufficient estrogen hormones to begin with.


Although this basic biological explanation remains undisputed, establishment cancer organizations and the medical community at large continue to deny or downplay the ABC link, using studies such as those criticized by Brind.


Abortion provider Planned Parenthood claims on its website that there is no ABC link, stating, “Attempts to prove [the cell differentiation] theory … have failed.”


Brind’s 1996 meta-analysis reviewed all the studies done in the previous decade and found a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer for women choosing an abortion after a first full-term pregnancy and a 50 percent risk increase for women choosing an abortion before a first full-term pregnancy.


Brind is the second professional in recent months to accuse scientists of bias and sloppiness in studying the ABC link. Last December, Ed Furton, Ph.D., editor of Ethics and Medics, opined in an editorial that scientists had done “shoddy research” on the issue.


The fear of lawsuits motivates those who deny the ABC link, according to Andrew Schlafly, general counsel for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.


“The abortion industry and medical establishment withholds this information (of an abortion-cancer link) in an attempt to prevent massive lawsuits from being filed,” Schlafly commented.


In an article in the medical group’s journal earlier this year, Schlafy argued the abortion-cancer link is driving the medical malpractice insurance crisis in the United State. Failure to diagnose breast cancer is the most common malpractice lawsuit in the U.S. today.


Commented Karen Malec of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer: “The [ABC link] evidence is a half-century old, and the suppression of it is an atrocity.”




ETHICS: Is Abortion a Moral Issue? A Fascinating Debate on the Left (Mohler, 060227)


America has been embroiled in a seemingly endless debate over the issue of abortion for four decades now, but the most fascinating dispute on this issue may now be among those who consider themselves, in one way or another, advocates of abortion rights.


An unprecedented view into this debate is available on the pages of—a prominent Web site that features some of the liveliest reporting available anywhere today. Nevertheless, this exchange between writers William Saletan and Katha Pollitt did not begin on the Internet, but in the pages of The New York Times and The Nation.


Saletan fired the first salvo, suggesting in an op/ed commentary published in The New York Times that pro-choicers should admit that abortion is “bad” and that those who support abortion rights should work toward a truly dramatic reduction in the total number of abortions.


Saletan’s argument is not exactly new, either for himself or for the movement he supports. In his 2004 book, Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War, Saletan offered some of the most incisive and perceptive analysis of the national abortion debate. In essence, Saletan argued that America has settled on a fragile consensus he described as “conservative pro-choice.” Americans are quite squeamish about abortion itself, but have resisted efforts to eliminate access to abortion altogether.


Even those who disagree with Saletan must take his argument seriously. Those of us who yearn to see America affirm the sanctity of all human life, born and preborn, must acknowledge that we have much work to do in terms of changing public opinion—the task of reaching the hearts and minds of millions of individual citizens.


That process of reaching hearts and minds is Saletan’s concern as well, even as he is a strong defender of abortion rights. As he sees it, support for abortion rights is diminishing as the pro-life movement has been largely successful in focusing upon the moral status of the fetus and the objectionable—even horrible—nature of abortion itself.


Writing on the thirty-third anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Saletan boldly argued: “It’s time for the abortion-rights movement to declare war on abortion.”


That was a rather amazing statement, and Saletan clearly intended to catch the attention of abortion-rights advocates.


“If you support abortion rights, this idea may strike you as nuts,” Saletan acknowledged. “But look at your predicament. Most Americans support Roe and think women, not the government, should make abortion decisions. Yet they’ve entrusted Congress and the White House to politicians who oppose legal abortion, and they haven’t stopped the confirmations to the Supreme Court of John G. Roberts Jr. and . . . Samuel A. Alito Jr.”


In terms of political analysis, Saletan reminded his pro-choice readers that abortion may have been a “winning issue” for their side sixteen years ago, but no more. “You have a problem,” he advised.


His candid analysis was offered so that the pro-abortion movement might awaken from its slumber. “The problem is abortion,” he summarized. In order to make his point, he raised the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act—both passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Bush—and reminded: “And most Americans supported both bills, because they agree with your opponents about the simplest thing: It’s bad to kill a fetus.”


Significantly, Saletan then offered his own moral analysis. “They’re right. It is bad,” he confirmed. “This is why the issue hasn’t gone away. Abortion, like race-conscious hiring, generates moral friction. Most people will tolerate it as a lesser evil or a temporary measure, but they’ll never fully accept it. They want a world in which it’s less necessary. If you grow complacent or try to institutionalize it, they’ll run out of patience. That’s what happened to affirmative action. And it’ll happen to abortion, if you stay hunkered down behind Roe.”


Instead, Saletan argued that the pro-abortion movement should coalesce around an agenda of lowering the total number of abortions and increasing the use of contraceptives.


All this was just too much for Katha Pollitt, a fire-brand liberal who serves as a regular columnist for The Nation, one of America’s most influential journals of liberal opinion.


Pollitt was shocked—absolutely shocked—that Saletan was ready to speak of abortion in moral terms. This is a move she emphatically rejects. “Inevitably, attacking abortion as a great evil means attacking providers and patients. If abortion is so bad, why not stigmatize the doctors who perform them? Deny the clinic a permit in your town? Make women feel guilty and ashamed for choosing it and make them sweat so they won’t screw up again?”


Furthermore, she warned that abortion might soon “join obesity and smoking as unacceptable behavior in polite society.”


Taken by itself, this is a truly amazing comment. At the very least, it suggests that, in Katha Pollit’s social circle, obesity and smoking are taken as genuine moral issues, when abortion—the killing of an unborn human—is not.


But there’s more. Consider this statement: “The trouble with thinking in terms of zero abortions is that you make abortion so hateful you do the antichoicers’ work for them. You accept that the zygote/embryo/fetus has some kind of claim to be born.” Did you get that? Any honest reading of her words would lead to the inevitable conclusion that Pollitt believes that the unborn human has no “claim to be born.”


Pollitt was responding directly to Saletan’s op/ed in The New York Times. In her view, Saletan was simply giving away the store by admitting that abortion was indeed a serious moral issue and that it is a “bad” reality in and of itself.


From their initial exchange in the Times and The Nation, Saletan and Pollitt continued their debate at Their exchange took the form of lengthy letters addressed to each other, with Saletan first clarifying what he really intended to say as he argued about abortion in moral terms. “I’m no fan of the language of sin,” he clarified. “But I don’t see why we have to shrink from words like good and bad. It’s bad to cause a pregnancy in a situation where you’re going to end up having an abortion. It’s bad to cause a pregnancy in a situation where you can’t be a good mom or dad. Our high rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion are a collective moral problem. If we don’t want the government to tell us what to do, we’d better address the problem individually.”


Beyond this, Saletan also told Pollitt that his purpose was not to create a movement that would combine pro-choicers with the pro-life. Instead, “I’m trying to form a coalition with the public,” he suggested.


Saletan is an ardent supporter of abortion rights, but he positions himself in something of a centrist position—at least his position looks somewhat centrist with Katha Pollitt as background. He is concerned that when Pollitt dismisses any claim to life on the part of the fetus, she confuses the fetus with the zygote, “alienating people who see the difference and might support us if they realize we care about it.” This is an interesting move, and a move I believe to be destined to fail.


Why? Because Saletan’s effort to suggest that the fetus might have some claim to life while the zygote evidently does not, is based in no clear or compelling scientific definition of life. The human continuum begins with the union of the sperm and the egg and continues throughout gestation and life until natural death. At no point along this continuum does the life suddenly “become” human. Such arguments are based upon convenient abstractions or arbitrarily chosen capacities or characteristics. Pollitt’s position is truly abhorrent and radical, but it is at least consistent.


Responding to Saletan, Pollitt accuses him of offering no real rationale for why abortion should be seen as “so outrageous, so terribly morally offensive, so wrong.” She is willing to speak of abortion as a “difficult” decision, but that is about all. She explains that opposition to abortion is really an extension of an effort to deny sexual freedom to women, and to stigmatize sex outside of marriage. She identifies this with what she sees as the nation’s “already broad, deep strain of sexual Puritanism, shame and blame.”


Responding to Pollitt, Saletan clarified his position: “This is why I use the word ‘bad.’ It upsets many people on the left, but for the same reason, it wakes up people in the middle. It’s new, and in my opinion, it’s true. (I don’t use the word ‘wrong,’ because to me that implies a prohibitive conclusion. ‘Bad’ is a consideration. Abortion can be a less-bad option than continuing a pregnancy. In that case, it’s bad but not wrong.)”


Pollitt remained unmoved. “Morality has to do with rights and duties and obligations between people,” she insisted. “So, no: I do not think terminating a pregnancy is wrong. A potential person is not a person, any more than an acorn is an oak tree. I don’t think women should have to give birth just because a sperm met an egg. I think women have the right to consult their own wishes, needs, and capacities and produce only loved, wanted children they can care for—or even no children at all. I think we would all be better off as a society if we respected women’s ability to make these decisions for themselves and concentrated on caring well for the born. There is certainly enough work there to keep us all very busy.”


In the end, Saletan appeared to have retreated somewhat from his argument about the moral status of abortion, but the very fact that he addressed the issue so clearly and candidly is telling in itself. As for Pollitt, she was eventually willing to admit that abortion is “icky.” As she explained this term: “I think that expresses rather well how lots of people feel about abortion: They may not find it immoral or want to see it made illegal, but it disturbs them. It just seems like a bad thing.”


Why should pro-lifers pay attention to this debate among advocates of abortion rights? The answer to that question is simple—the exchange between William Saletan and Katha Pollitt demonstrates the inherent weakness of the pro-abortion argument, or its pro-choice variant. Lacking any objective definition of human life and the status of the unborn, the pro-abortion movement is mired in a pattern of endless internal debates and confusions. Saletan’s argument is less radical than Pollitt’s, but his position is morally arbitrary, based more in pragmatic concern than in moral philosophy.


In any event, the exchange between William Saletan and Katha Pollitt indicates that the pro-abortion movement knows that it has work to do in reaching the hearts and minds of Americans. The pro-life movement had better remind itself of the same challenge. Both sides are locked in a race to reach the hearts and minds of those still stuck in the middle.