Monday, September 30, 2002

GREAT NEWS! Nepal discovers the precise point when life begins!

It's 13 weeks after conception! Except in cases of rape and incest, in which case it's 19 weeks after conception! Woohoo! Now we know!

A groundbreaking law approved by King Gyanendra legalizes most abortions in Nepal, where women who terminated their pregnancies formerly could have faced a prison term... Under the new law, women may have abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy, and up to 18 weeks in case of a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.

PP official: Don't feel bad about abortion. Go ahead. Have as many as you like.

Safe, legal, and rare, my a**. Sorry, I've got a wee touch of the mighty angry. Okay. Deep breaths.

If abortion is akin to, say, an appendectomy, why try to make it rare? In other words, if the unborn child (translation for PP officials: "products of conception") is no more to be mourned than the appendix, then why try to make abortion rare? Ever see a campaign to make appendectomies rare?

Along these lines, a Planned Parenthood official has, as they always do, turned my stomach anew. This time the story comes from sunny FL, where a Catholic effort called Project Rachel seeks to help women cope with abortion's emotional effects. A PP official attacks the program:

"Anything that truly helps women is fine," said Wendy Grassi, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. "It sounds to me like it's planting the seeds of grief and making them feel badly about something they shouldn't feel badly about... It's a choice that should be respected and not turned into something to be ashamed of.""

Memo to Grassi: Check w/ Planned Parenthood central on the rationale for making abortion rare. I think it had something to do with abortion being sad, unfortunate, etc.

Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

The tides, they are a-turnin'?

Seems the young folks are much keener than the older folks on abortion restrictions. The piece is in the L.A. Times. The nugget:

The nation's youth are more conservative than older adults on issues relating to religion and abortion, a study by UC Berkeley has found... Roughly one-third of those surveyed over the age of 22 say they support restrictions on abortion. But among those aged 15 to 22, 44% say they would favor restrictions.

It's interesting that 15-22 year-olds were all born during the era of legal abortion. But if this line of thinking is right, 23-29 year-olds should also be more enthusiastic about abortion restrictions, eh?

Pro-life Democrats to figure prominently in the West and South

Interesting article in today's Washington Post about rural congressional races. Check out this passage:

Knowing they must bridge the cultural chasm that divides their party from many voters in the rural South and West, Democratic leaders have made special efforts to recruit candidates who break ranks with the party's platform on abortion rights, gun control and religion. Party liberals generally embrace such nominees in hopes of gaining the House majority and advancing Democratic priorities.

"Before they can even talk about prescription drugs, Social Security and economic issues, they have to show they represent the conservative values of these districts," said Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Interesting. As one of the staunchest defenders of abortion in the House, Lowey surprises me. Granted, there's a lot a House majority can do that a minority can't. And abortion doesn't rank at the top of most voters' list of priorities. But to hear Lowey defend abortion rights with such passion and zeal, as though defending her very right to breathe, and then to hear her support pro-life Dems, is just a little, umm, weird.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Unborn children, not "unborn children."

Ever notice how pro-choicers always put that in quotation marks? As though the unborn child is not an unborn child. Let's step through this. We are talking about a being who has yet to be born, so unborn and pre-born both seem reasonable. Now to the child part. Well, we're talking about a human being, as opposed to a wolf or a jackrabbit. And young human beings have this funny way of being referred to as children, so that part seems reasonable, too.

We all know that referring to the unborn child as a "fetus" is a clever way to dehumanize the unborn child, a way that masquerades as scientific but is just as much a rhetorical tool. And did you ever hear an expecting mother who wanted the child refer to the baby inside her as a fetus? I haven't. All of a sudden he or she graduates fetus-hood & becomes a baby. Magic.

Folks, words matter, so I propose that all pro-lifers begin putting fetus in quotation marks, as in: The "fetus" is obviously unborn and obviously a young human being (i.e., a child), so pro-choicers should start calling unborn children, well, unborn children, or perhaps even pre-born children. Be it resolved.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey on the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.

Just noticed this very nicely done letter to The Washington Times. Armey's opening is fantastic:

The vast majority of all hospitals — public and private — do not get involved in abortion. In fact, 86 percent of all hospitals did not perform a single abortion last year. There is a reason for that. Most health care providers are interested in protecting and saving human life, not taking it.

Friday, September 27, 2002

A reader at Dawn Olsen's blog asked me about abortion in cases of rape.

This is what I tried to post before finding out I was banned:

Re: abortion in the case of rape. There's plenty of disagreement w/in the pro-life community on this issue. I don't have the poll numbers handy, so I'm not sure what the split is. But I can tell you my position. I struggled with this issue for a long time. I like to point out to my pro-choice friends that women have a choice, the choice whether or not to have sex. Then rape enters the conversation. For a long time I was stumped.

But then I focused in on guilt and innocence, and punishment. I decided that the ruling principle must be: never punish an innocent. After all, punishing the innocent is exactly what I'm against as a pro-lifer. So I changed my mind and have never looked back. FWIW, I think rapists should be punished as severely as murderers, for in many cases they steal away women's lives just as surely as if they had been murdered. I pray that rapists occupy the most fiery, horrible circle of Hell.

Re: why I cited the 13,000 number [concerning the annual number of abortions that involve rape]. Pro-choicers, including my former rabbi, invariably bring up the tiny minority of cases that give many people pause in order to justify abortion. Just once, I want to see a pro-choicer be true to their slogan, "safe, legal, and rare," beyond just working to keep abortion legal, and in some cases, safe. I left my synagogue b/c the rabbi refused to concede the point, refused to grow a set and speak out, even though he said that abortions shouldn't be used as post facto birth control. The AGI stats I cited confirm that's exactly what abortion is for the vast majority of women who abort.

Re: whether I think calling attention to the tiny number makes a bit of difference to a woman who's been raped. Not at all. But like the early feminists (e.g., Susan B. Anthony), I believe abortion is a sort of rape in itself, an exploitation and wronging of women, rather than support for them in their time of need, and a voice telling them that good can come of a seemingly hopeless situation.

Finally, you might wonder why, if I believe innocents shouldn't be punished, I also believe raped women (i.e., innocents) should have to carry their children to term. Two points. First, from what I've read on post-abortion emotional problems, I believe abortion often brings women a whole new set of emotional problems. Check out the Feminists for Life web site for info on these post-abortion problems. They have an awesome billboard campaign with the slogan, "abortion has two victims: one dead, one wounded." Second, I don't mean to sound callous, but I believe the baby's right to life trumps any other non-life-and-death considerations. Remember, though, that in my ideal world, the rapist is punished in the most draconian fashion consistent with the Eighth Amendment.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Call me ignorant, but...

... Until yesterday, I had never heard about STOPP International, an organization devoted to stopping Planned Parenthood. Someday I hope to see such an organization with a star of David in its title, just as STOPP has a cross in its own. Maybe. Someday. Say a prayer.

In the meantime, let me just ask G-d to bless STOPP's work! A brucha for STOPP. Amen.

#1. BlogOut is back. #2. I've been banned from commenting for the first time!

Yep, I guess the calm, polite way in which I addressed Dawn Olsen and her readers was too much to take. I'm going to have to go back and talk about this whole calm, polite thing with my fiancee. Or was this just a bad sample? Hmm... I wonder.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Here's a great piece on the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, by Kathryn Jean Lopez.

I guess the whole "pro-choice" idea only applies, when you're, well, pro-choice.

There's more back-and-forth about abortion on Dawn Olsen's blog.

The latest and greatest is that another reader called me insensitive, rude, and stupid. A great person once said that if the other side isn't angry with you, you're not accomplishing anything. My fiancee, on the other hand, who's also a great person, says that if the other side is angry with you, you'll never accomplish anything re: abortion. I suppose she's right. Now I understand why she bought me the Tasmanian Devil mug that says, "I don't play well with others."

Update: The reader who called me insensitive, rude, and stupid did so because I argued that no woman in this country is forced to have an abortion, whereas in China, women are. Please see the comments just below for the full story -- the reader's side and mine. And sorry for quoting out of context!

How would YOU proceed?

My fiancee tells me I need to be less harsh in my attempts to bring people over to the pro-life view. She has converted a number of people, me for instance, so I figured I'd try it her way.

Yesterday I came across a post on Toogood on Dawn Olsen's blog. In her last paragraph, Ms. Olsen wrote:

People ask me why I am Pro-Choice – this is just one reason – but a very good reason. A clump of cells isn’t sentient. It doesn’t know rejection or pain. For every abortion, as sad and unfortunate as they are, that is one less child who may be abused, it is one less child who will be unwanted and used as a punching bag by a parent who doesn’t value the inherent worth of themselves or their own flesh and blood.

In accordance with my fiancee's advice, I e-mailed the following to Ms. Olsen and then posted it in her comments box:

Dear Ms. Olsen:

In defense of your pro-choice position you wrote, "A clump of cells isn’t sentient." The scientific community agrees that at 24 days after conception, the average fetus's heart begins beating, at 40 days, brain waves and organ foundations are detectable, at 8 weeks, all five areas of the adult brain are present, at 10 weeks, the fetus is sensitive to touch and squints/swallows/frowns (i.e., is clearly sentient), and at 3 months, the fetus sleeps/kicks/curls toes/makes fist when touched. I recommend you visit this site to get a better idea. Don't worry -- it's benign.

You also wrote, "For every abortion, as sad and unfortunate as they are, that is one less child who may be abused, it is one less child who will be unwanted and used as a punching bag by a parent who doesn’t value the inherent worth of themselves or their own flesh and blood." There's some risk that all children will be abused, so does that mean no children should be born? And anyway, as a previous commenter wrote, what of the long waiting lists of loving people who want to adopt newborns -- surely you would prefer adoption to something you view as "sad and unfortunate," right?

I invite you to take a look at my blog, where I welcome people on both sides of the issue: Prolifeguy's take.

It appears she didn't appreciate my comment or that of other pro-lifers, because she responded with the following post:

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I WILL BECOME PRO-LIFE THE DAY PRO-LIFERS STOP BEING JUDGEMENTAL

Abortion is more evil than what? Beating your child mercilessly? Blowing up an abortion clinics full of innocent people? Killing doctors?

I understand that life is precious and we should do all we can to preserve it. Does that mean that every pregnancy should be carried out to its conclusion? The twelve-year-old girl who is raped by her father should be forced to carry that child and then do what? Give it up for adoption? Care for the child herself? What about an adult woman who had been raped? Should she is also be forced to carry out a pregnancy that has been foisted on her? What about the family who has far more children than they can possibly afford and by misfortune, through no fault of their own (yes not all preventative measures are 100% all the time), should they subject their family to more hardship and strife? Adoption is a wonderful thing, but there are emotional consequences to that as well. Pro-life people are far more concerned with the unborn than with the children who are already here and in need of attention. I want to see every pro-lifers offer to adopt one of these unborn children and take on the responsibility of caring for he or she for the rest of their lives. Parenting is a job that last as long as you live - assuming you are doing it correctly.

Instead of standing at the abortion clinic hurling insults at women or girls who are already in a dire situation, offer to adopt their baby. Be supportive and a friend.

Why not stand outside the oncology ward of hospitals with billboards of diseased lungs preaching the dangers of smoking? Don't pro-lifers have better things to do with their time? Like raise their own families to be moral yardsticks by which all others should be judged.

This is my rant. I will present my argument later. You have been warned pro-lifers - now shoo - shoo - off with you.

I tried to be polite. I tried to have a conversation with this person, but she doesn't want to talk. She doesn't want to listen, either. I could continue the conversation with her through comments, e-mails, etc., but I'm inclined not to, even though my goal is to persuade pro-choicers, not just rally pro-lifers. How would YOU proceed?

More generally, how do you proceed with pro-choicers? Almost invariably, I find that they end the conversation or change the subject immediately, usually after getting extremely emotional, whether I'm polite or not, whether they're friend or merely acquaintance. I value your feedback, whether you're pro-life or pro-choice. Thanks in advance...

Friday, September 20, 2002

How far could a boycott take us? What do YOU think?

Poll numbers consistently show a nearly even split between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. While not all folks who identify as pro-life would participate in a boycott of firms that support abortion, if even half did, it could have a big effect. I realize there are groups out there that promote such boycotts, but quite frankly, it's a herculean task to organize a successful one, and they haven't gotten the kind of response we need. I'm not casting aspersions, just stating facts.

What would it take to get YOU to boycott a firm? Would getting an e-mail with a well-documented list, like this one from Ohio Right to Life, do it? If you found out that the company that makes your soap donates to NARAL, would you switch brands?

I'm trying to implement a reasonable "personal boycott policy" of my own (yes, I took economics and realize one person's actions won't make a difference), but am having trouble figuring out where to draw the line. Should we buy a pro-choice musician's CD? I confess to having a bookcase full of them. Should we buy coffee from a company that donates to a charity that advocates for abortion? Is that link too weak? A little help, por favor.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Got chutzpah?

I love a pro-life group that has chutzpah. Don't know from chutzpah? What, you don't know your punim from your pupik? Hurry, go get a copy of Arthur Naiman's Every Goy's Guide to Common Jewish Expressions: Also Recommended for Jews Who Don't Know Their Punim From Their Pupik. In it you'd learn that chutzpah means cajones, brass ones.

But I digress. The point: Operation Save America-Dallas has indeed got chutzpah. Check out this passage from their recent press release, which I received today from the Christian Communication Network:

"Operation Save America-Dallas will be at the Radisson Hotel to publicly proclaim to N.O.W. that the most effective way to increase their numbers is to stop approving the murdering of little baby girls in the womb."

Chutzpah in action!

Full information continues to be an affront to the "delicate" gender.

The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, AKA the Center for Protecting the Fairer Sex From Data and Images That Might Disturb Them (CPFSDIMDT), is suing to prevent a right-to-know law from going into effect next month in Alabama. The law requires abortionists to provide their clients with data 24 hours before the "medical" procedure. Are ya ready for CRLP brain farts disguised as legal arguments?

First, the CRLP argues that the new law "violates several rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, including the right to privacy, the right to liberty and the right to make medical and family decisions free from unwarranted governmental intrusion." Memo 1 to CRLP: Return to law school. There is no right to privacy in the Constitution. It was created out of whole cloth (legal term is ex rectum) by silly Supreme Court justices. Memo 2: Take Logic 101. If the abortionist is providing the info, then the woman has already divulged her intention to murder her child, and there's nothing further for her to divulge until the procedure, which means her privacy is not at issue. Memo 3: To the best of my memory, the right to liberty is sandwiched between the rights to life and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence. The baby loses both of these rights when murdered. A 24-hour waiting period seems like a reasonable balance, given the rights in question. No? Memo 4: Abortion is billed as a medical procedure, regardless of the insult to doctors who actually uphold the original Hippocratic Oath. Abortion is life-threatening. Life-threatening medical procedures should require informed consent. CRLP, listen closely here: not just consent, but information, too. Information is not confined to "my body, my choice"; rather, it includes potentially important things like the meta-analytic finding that abortion is a risk factor for breast cancer.

The CRLP claim most insulting to women is that "the law requires physicians to distribute standardized information to all women seeking abortion, regardless of the adverse impact on their mental health." Ah, the fairer sex can't handle it.

I pray that G-d cushion Susie B. lest she break a hip rolling over in her grave.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Jumping on the ABC bandwagon.

Better late than never, the National Physicians Center for Family Resources has formally recognized the scientific link between abortion and breast cancer. Check out this wonderfully simple explanation of the theorized causal mechanism, direct from their resource CD:

"During a normal pregnancy, the female's body produces high levels of the hormone estrogen. This causes the milk producing glands in the breast tissue to become active, a process that is completed during the third trimester of pregnancy. When this change is complete, it helps protect against breast cancer. Elective abortion interrupts these changes in the breast tissue, which makes the cells more likely to become cancerous. Miscarriages generally do not result in a higher breast cancer risk because most pregnancies that miscarry do not produce very high amounts of estrogen."

So simple even a biology dullard like me can understand it! Find the press release here. And to give everybody their due, the story came to my attention through the lovely Pro-Life Infonet.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Worship at the altar of moderation.

In some circles it is fashionable to be moderate. When it comes to the war on violent anti-Americanism, moderation is highly fashionable among the educated elite. "The terrorists are wrong," they say, "but America's foreign policy is wrong as well. I can see both sides of the coin. Only an extremist can't." When it comes to abortion, moderation is also a badge of so-called sophistication. To say, "abortion is horrible, but it's necessary in some cases," is to mark oneself an enlightened person. To ardently and uncompromisingly believe in the sanctity of human life from conception is to be an extremist, an unenlightened barbarian who is insufficiently moderate.

True, the ancient Greeks said, "nothing to excess." In the realm of drug use, I think their maxim works well. But in the weightiest issues involving life and death, only firm opinions will do. It's simple: either the unborn baby deserves the rights and protections all humans deserve, or he/she doesn't. If he/she does, then there's no justification for the intellectually sloppy and cowardly position taken by so many supposedly enlightened moderates: "I'd never do it, but I don't want to impose my beliefs on others." This is a good way to look at things that don't hurt others (e.g., smoking a joint in the privacy of one's own home), but it's a cowardly and confused way to look at an act that so obviously affects another person, even if you believe that the person in question is just a "pre-person." Hell, if your action means that a person who would otherwise have been born won't be born and instead will be sucked down a drain, then your action affects another person in a life-and-death way, plain and simple.

When it comes to life and death issues, moderation is the refuge of cowards and the intellectually lazy.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Rabbi Dorff responds.

On 8/25, I posted a letter to Rabbi Elliot Dorff, a prominent bioethicist in the Conservative movement of Judaism. Rabbi Dorff has responded to that letter:

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter. As a methodological point, I would agree with you that we should apply the tradition with a keen awareness of how modern science tells us and does different things than the science of the past, and we must adjust Jewish law to account for that. In this case, though, while your description of fetal development is correct, the issue is not what the fetus can and cannot do at any particular point of gestation, but whether it is to be construed a person before birth. On that, the tradition very clearly says "no" beginning with the Torah itself in Exodus 21. That does not mean that we should treat fetal life cavalierly; in general, as I state in the book, abortion is forbidden in Jewish law, not as an act of murder (for the victim needs to be a person to call it murder, in contrast, say, to a tree or an animal or, in this case, a pre-person), but as an act of self-injury. While, as I said, I would in general bow to contemporary science on scientific questions in preference to rabbinic science, here the Rabbis were remarkably accurate, probably because their source of knowledge was witnessing miscarriages. To see this, first note that the Rabbis counted gestation from the first period that the woman missed, while modern obstetrical count is from the last period that the woman had. That means that there is approximately four weeks difference between the two counts, or two weeks difference from conception. As the Rabbis say, until 40 days (which really means 56 days from conception), the fetus is "simply water" -- actually blood, but a liquid if it is miscarried. It is precisely around the 56th day of gestation that the fetus begins to gain a bone structure, and so a miscarriage after that point will look, as the Rabbis said, like a thigh -- with a bone, flesh, and even hair. We, of course, know much more about fetal development than they did, and, if anything, we should be even more reverent for the nascent life than they were. Still, I think that -- and, more importantly, the Torah thinks -- that the fetus is not a person with full protections in the law until born, while the mother clearly is such a person. Therefore, the Jewish rules that would require abortion if the mother's life or health were at stake and would permit it if her life or health were at an elevated risk over normal pregnancy seem to me to be just right. As you can see, the Jewish tradition is neither pro-life, in the sense that the Catholics use it, nor pro-choice; it is wisely in the middle.

G'mar hatimah tovah.

Warmly,

Elliot Dorff

I thank the rabbi for responding to an unknown like me!

Readers, please don't equate my lack of a response to agreement with anything the rabbi says; I'll address this letter in my essay on Judaism and abortion, coming later this month.

Monday, September 09, 2002

A new type of baby photo arrives at a mall near you.

In the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, 9/5, there was a piece entitled, "New at the Mall: One-Hour Fetus Photo." It seems mall shops are now offering ultrasounds that produce incredibly accurate, detailed pictures of unborn babies. Although I would have preferred "Unborn Baby" to the dehumanizing "Fetus," the point's the same -- pro-choicers will have an even harder time defending their position. And it will be in their faces every time they go to the mall! Woo-hoo for technology! And they say we're the backward ones!

Friday, September 06, 2002

L'shanah tovah!

May my fellow Jews be inscribed in the Book of Life, and may they give their unborn children the chance for the same!

Which part of "informed consent" is tough to understand?

I know. The horse is dead. But it needs to be further beaten: You wouldn't provide medical care for a child without explaining the risks to his/her parents. So why do women allow abortion clinics to provide "reproductive health services" without explaining the risks?

The latest outrage, which I learned about from the exquisite Population Research Institute, involves the woman suing Wyeth, maker of Norplant, over complications from the implant. Wyeth failed to disclose known risks -- which, of course, include birth defects -- and her "reproductive health provider" told her the array of side effects she experienced were not due to the implant. Her problems: "headaches, dramatic weight gain, facial, chest and stomach hair growth, and constant bleeding, blurred vision, heart damage, seizures which render her disabled, and other damage to her mind and body... enormous medical costs... loss of enjoyment of life and her normal daily activities and reduction of her life expectancy... loss of earnings and her earning capacity." This must be what the Left means when it says "reproductive health services" are good for women.

Lest I forget, this poor woman is not the only direct victim. Her "daughter, who was conceived in 1996 before the Norplant was removed, [was] born prematurely. This young girl will suffer serious abnormalities throughout her life. The daughter's abnormalities include underdeveloped lungs and kidneys."

One woman and one girl hurt for life, and for what? What good comes from keeping women in the dark? Unless you think higher profits for the abortion industry and companies like Wyeth are goods, nothing. Nada. So, Left, do you still oppose full information for women seeking services from "reproductive health" clinics? I invite pro-choicers to use the comment software to let me know, civilly.

Hypocrisy of the Left is on full view in Owen defeat.

As you've no doubt heard, yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee voted down Judge Priscilla Owen, a candidate for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Check out this passage from NARAL's press release on the defeat: "Priscilla Owen is a dedicated conservative judicial activist whose record on the Texas Supreme Court clearly indicated that given the opportunity she would vote to restrict women's reproductive rights. The Senate must continue to reject those who would use their judicial power to undermine basic constitutional freedoms."

Where's the hypocrisy? Well, let's see. I believe NARAL thanks its lucky stars for the judicial activists in the Roe v. Wade majority, no? The same way "safe, legal, and rare" really just means "legal," "conservative judicial activist" just means conservative. Oh, and BTW, Judge Owen and others of her ilk would not undermine basic constitutional freedoms; they'd simply roll back a constitutional freedom that never should have been -- the freedom to murder babies.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Don't want your tax dollars funding Planned Parenthood in the schools?

Neither do I. That's why I was so happy to get The Christian Communication Network's latest update, where I learned that Life Dynamics and Priests for Life are working with pro-lifers across the country to do something about it! Learn what you can do here. As taxpayers and pro-lifers, we have a duty to get involved!

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

The right decisions.

The monthly newsletter published by my former synagogue always opens with a message from the rabbi, a moral midget and the reason why I am not renewing my membership next month. In his September message, the rabbi says, "At this holy season, we are encouraged to rid ourselves of the many destructive tendencies that afflict us... May we make fewer of the same mistakes and more of the right decisions until a year hence..." Given that this comes from the same guy who told me that Judaism is both pro-life and pro-choice, I am impressed. As the Days of Awe approach, I pray that he and other pro-choice Jews begin to recognize the destructive tendencies of a people that supports the murder of its most vulnerable members, and that Jewish women make more of the right decisions this coming year.