Thursday, May 29, 2003

On the FL case, from the St. Petersburg Times, via the Pro-Life Infonet

A little late, as usual, but hopefully better than never, some recent high(low)lights on a case everybody's talking about:

Tallahassee, FL -- The Florida Department of Children & Families has asked a judge to close the file detailing the case of a 22-year-old developmentally disabled woman who was raped and became pregnant while living in a group home.

In its motion filed Wednesday, DCF contends the woman, known in court as J.D.S., is a victim of a sexual battery and that her identity should be exempt from public-records laws. The file includes her name. It also says her health information, some of which is included in the file, is protected from disclosure under federal law.

J.D.S.'s attorney has agreed with the state's request to seal the file.

Most guardianship cases are public record, and The Orlando Sentinel and The Miami Herald have filed a motion objecting to the state's request, arguing the public has a right to know about the controversial case.

"An order restricting access to the records would impede the right of the public to monitor this important proceeding through
the news media," wrote Gregg D. Thomas and David S. Bralow, attorneys for the newspapers.

The attorneys also requested a hearing on the issue. Kirkwood had not ruled on the issue late Tuesday.

DCF and pro-life Gov. Jeb Bush have stated plans to request a second guardian for the unborn child, a position that has drawn fierce criticism from abortion advocates.

On Tuesday, the Christian Coalition of Florida filed a brief asking the judge for protection of the baby. The pro-life group said an "elected official" who is not from the state of Florida is willing to adopt the child, but did not identify the official.

Carolyn Kunkle, deputy director of the group, said a dozen adoption agencies and 15 families also are interested in providing a home for the baby after a potential birth as well as for the baby of a severely disabled Miami woman who also is six months pregnant. A judge on Friday ordered doctors to perform an abortion on the 28-year-old Miami woman, who suffers from seizures and whose health is threatened by the pregnancy.

ACTION: Pro-life advocates are encouraged to contact Jackson Memorial Hospital and encourage it to refuse to perform the abortion on the disabled Miami woman. You can find contact information for the hospital at and for the hospital's Board of Trustees at

What does Judaism as I understand it say about this? Don't visit the sins of the father upon the innocent unborn child. Bravo for Governor Bush, the Christian Coalition of FL, and all the amazing folks willing to adopt this innocent child.

As for the welfare of the adult victim in this case, the judge who ordered the abortion should instead have ordered FL's human service agencies to get her into the best physical and mental care that tax revenue can buy, for the duration of pregnancy and beyond. If this had happened in NY state, I would gladly have asked my state legislator to push for just such measures, regardless of the effect such precedent might have on state taxes. I.e., go ahead and spend the money. It's for life and health, the two most important things out there, and it's for someone who can't help herself, exactly the kind of person on whom tax revenue should be spent as lavishly as need be.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

The people are with Dems on lots of issues, but not abortion.

In her great piece in today's LA Times, Arianna Huffington lambastes Dems for their ineptitude at capitalizing on the high level of agreement b/t their principles and those of many voter majorities. But one thing she writes troubles me:

On protecting the environment, safeguarding Social Security, greater access to affordable health care, gun control and abortion, the majority of the American people are with the Democrats.

As funnyman John McLaughlin might say, wrong. Where's your evidence, Ms. Huffington? Mine is here, where my former employer, a pro-choicer and an adjunct prof of campaigns and polling at Columbia University, has this to say about the usefulness of the polls Huffington likely consulted:

"I find 'pro-choice' and 'pro-life' are irrelevant, the most irrelevant things that exist," said Jeff Pollack, president of the Global Strategy Group Inc., a New York firm that conducted an in-depth national survey for the Othmer Institute of Planned Parenthood of New York in June 2000.

Of course, maybe Huffington relied on polls that ask the question this way: "When it comes to abortion, which of the following best reflects your opinion? (a) legal in all circumstances, (b) legal in most circumstances, (c) illegal in most circumstances, (d) illegal in all circumstances. And for scientific evidence of the propensity of these types of questions to bias response in favor of the researcher's objectives (and everybody has them), search my archives for a great book on the past 30 years of abortion polling (can't find it right now).

One more thing -- within the past year or so, Gallup found for the first time that those in favor of abortion and those opposed are about evenly balanced. Check out the Gallup site and you'll find it.

Abortion and depression

On Memorial Day, Emily of After abortion linked to a Reuters story, the crux of which is that 20 percent of women are depressed while their unborn children are growing inside them. Very scary, for both women and children.

Emily has a good suggestion for further study. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Abortion and breast cancer rates likely to decline precipitously in coming decades, in at least one state

G-d bless Texas. Catholic World News reports that the Lone Star State is almost certain to pass an informed consent bill into law. Among the subjects is the ABC link. CWNews:

The bill which has already passed the [TX] House [and TX Senate] and is likely to be signed by Gov. Rick Perry, calls for a maximum $10,000 fine for abortionists who fail to provide informed consent to women prior to aborting their children. [brackets mine]

NB: You might need a subscription to see the CWNews story in full.

Reading this news is a great way to begin the work week, no? (Even if the news is almost a week old!)

Friday, May 23, 2003

Democratic presidential aspirants prostrate themselves before Emily's List forum

Just the highlights:

"If George Bush gets reelected, you can about be certain that in six years, Roe versus Wade will be gone," said former senator Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.), referring to the 1973 court decision that legalized abortion.

Pardon my font size, but


Of course, she's wrong, but it's still nice to see.

Honesty is nice to see, too. Here's Sen. John Edwards of NC:

Bush's judicial nominees, Edwards said, "will take your rights away," and he called on Democrats to resist. "If we as Democrats don't have the backbone to stand up and fight for that, we don't stand for anything."

You gotta give Edwards one thing: he's right. And the Dems do have the backbone to stand up for something. If only it were something else, they'd win more elections!

Emily of After abortion on Glendon's latest

The gist of Emily's supplement to Glendon:

[P]eople hesitate to make moral pronouncements about abortion because they may also feel responsible for abortions that occurred. There's an ill-defined guilt that many people feel around this subject...they wonder if they could have, should have, done more to be part of a family that made it possible for those kids to be welcomed.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Response to Amy Lamboley

Do I believe that "all hormonal birth control methods should be banned as potentially abortifacient?"

Response: Amy links to MDs who point out the tiny probability of OCPs causing abortion (prevention of fertilized egg's implantation). Given the culture in which we live, I fear OCPs are a lesser evil that we must simply accept, even given the risk of abortion they entail. Better to prevent the abortions that would occur without OCP usage, than to simply eliminate OCPs, thus increasing the number of fertilizations and implantations, and ultimately, abortions. So my answer is no. Lesser of two evils.


"Furthermore, certain tests, such as amniocentesis carried out during pregnancy increase the chance of a miscarriage. Should we ban these as well?"

No, we shouldn't ban these either. We should only use them when there's probable cause to believe that not doing the amnio would cause more harm to the unborn child than would doing one. Fetal surgery has come a long way, you know?

Amy asks:

Can I argue persuasively that the scientific "definition of life shows that human life begins at conception"?

She writes:

"Now, it's been a while since I picked up a science textbook, but I seem to remember that the definition of life involved demonstrating that the substance in question grew, took in nutrients, maintained homeostasis, responded to stumuli, and reproduced. So yes, a fertilized egg (which does all of these things) is obviously alive. But so are the cells that line your cheeks, so that according to science, whenever you perform the basic high school biology experiment of taking a scraping of cheek cells, staining them, and looking at the nuclei under a microscope you kill human life. Is this really what he means to say?"

Cheek cells are not unique organisms who, left to the course of nature, continue development into the stages of human life: embryo, fetus, newborn, infant, child, adolescent, adult, elderly. Cheek cells, left to their own devices, take in nutrients, maintain homeostasis, respond to stimuli, and reproduce. Same is true of plants, with minor tweaks in the language (e.g., photosynthesis). Plants, and turtles for that matter, take in nutrients, maintain homeostasis, respond to stimuli, and reproduce. But neither plants nor turtles nor cheek cells, left to the natural course of things, will ever develop into an Amy Lamboley, a prolifeguy, or a Gloria Feldt. That's what I meant to say. Sorry if it wasn't clear.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Response to "Stick with Plan A"

Amy Lamboley of Crescat Sententia asks some great questions about my post on Plan B. Among them:

Do I believe that "all hormonal birth control methods should be banned as potentially abortifacient?"

Can I argue persuasively that the scientific "definition of life shows that human life begins at conception"?

I'll respond later (since I need to leave for the 9-5), but you should go check out Amy's post. I think that the mental exercise Amy invites will help attune my thinking in this area, and it might do the same for you.

Mary Ann Glendon's "The Women of Roe v. Wade"

If you don't get First Things deadtree, you'll want to this month. I just received it yesterday and have only skimmed it, but what I did see is fascinating. One thing I noticed was the distinction Glendon draws between Roe, where most people think the action is, and Doe, handed down the same day. She calls the latter "the more ominous of the two decisions."

You could wait and it'll be online at some point. But then you'd deprive yourself of the brilliant Glendon's latest for a time, and you 'd doubtless keep yourself awake at night by so doing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Dear Abby

In today's WaPo, a familiar story unravels in a letter to Abby. A promising future. Acceptances from great universities. An unintended pregnancy. But in this tale, the woman decided to have the baby. Brave, ethical, and honorable decision. One to be celebrated and respected.

The letter writer married the father, and both worked hard to make ends meet in a market that doesn't tend to reward unexperienced non-college grads particularly well. Bad neighborhood. Bad life, apparently. And the letter writer resented her son because "all [her] dreams were put on permanent hold.... Youth doesn't last forever," the writer cautions other readers. "You will no longer have a chance to be young and free once you have children. Don't try to beat the odds. The pain left in the wake of your mistake lands squarely in your kids' laps."

Abby responds mushily and utterly inadequately:

You have made an important point. It takes consistency and emotional maturity to be an effective parent. If the mother or father is still emotionally immature, as well-intended as that person may be, he or she does not have the tools to be the parent that every child deserves.

Nothing about this woman's bravery and morality when she chose life. Nothing about abstinence, or the alternative -- taking responsibility for one's actions, and doing whatever emotional maturing needs to be done, with help if necessary. Nothing about the parents staying together -- married, which as reams of research show, is the single best way to prevent child poverty and many other ill child outcomes. Nothing about adoption. Just a comforting titbit that gives any woman considering abortion exactly the rationalization she needs: If you can't do it honey, if you had an accident, best to wait. Best for the parents. Best for the child. Hey Abby, go ask the women and men suffering from abortion's trauma. Go ask the children who escaped abortion. Start with the letter writer's children.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Stick with Plan A

You'd figure, with its credibility teetering on the edge of a big abyss due to the magical, mythical articles written by a former "reporter," the NOR (Newspaper of Record, or Not Ordinarily Reliable) would get its facts straight. Here they are again, calling Plan B "contraception," while any embryologist worth his or her salt would call Plan B "post-conception contraception," aka abortion. Be pro-choice if you want, but for G-d's sake, pick up a science textbook and see how they define life.

The article celebrates the increasing availability of Plan B, which as many have argued and I blogged on here, can cause destruction of a fertilized egg. For anyone unfamiliar with basic human embryology, a fertilized egg is a unique, growing, living member of our species. Just like you, just like me, just like Gloria Feldt (although her humanity remains somewhat in doubt), only at our most vulnerable moment. Here we have the murder of human beings at the earliest stages of human development -- post-fertilization, pre-implantation -- the stages when they obviously can't defend themselves. Like murdering a disabled person. Or an infant. Or a baby whose head is still in the womb. Or one mm outside it.

For me, this causes revulsion. But for many, it's cause to party:

"It's really a thousand flowers blooming," said James Trussell, director of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, and one of the earliest advocates of emergency contraception.

A thousand flowers blooming. Just like Mao's flowers. Let a thousand bloom. We saw how well that turned out. Didn't we.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Even more important than fan mail

hard to believe as that might be, is this extremely intriguing post by Emily of After abortion. Perhaps some of the new visitors would care to check it out? Do so at your own dire peril of getting educated about abortion's ill effects. You have been warned...

Fan mail!

Seems the old blog has come to the attention of some new fans. One in particular seems enthusiastic. He or she writes:

you are a disgrace to all intelligent jews worldwide. grow some balls and stop being chauvinistic

Who was it who said you haven't accomplished anything unless you're ticking some people off? Churchill? Help with the source, please, if you can.

I'm not sure I'm accomplishing anything, but I'm definitely ticking some people off. Perhaps they'd be kind enough to lay out their arguments in a bit more, shall we say, detail. Comments or e-mail will both do nicely. I look forward to more of the same type of carefully reasoned, thoughtful arguments for abortion rights -- peppered with the accumulated wisdom of centuries of Judaism -- to which my new fan treated me!

Monday, May 12, 2003

Kate Michelman's latest mailing

I'm not on Ms. Michelman's mailing list, but my fiance is. Know your enemy.

Anyway, the April 2003 NARAL missive, which just arrived recently, includes ready made cards to send to both of our US Senators and our House member. I haven't gotten anything analogous from Nat'l Right to Life. Have any of you? The more convenient an organization makes it for its supporters, the lower the cost for those supporters to make their voices heard. Just checking.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Happy Mother's Day!

That's all. No criticism of the news today. No criticism of my pro-choice co-religionists or pro-choicers of other religions. Just the best to every woman who chose life, from someone born in 1974, one year after Roe v. Wade made it legal for you to choose death.

Mom, if you're reading this, thanks for the best gift of all.

Friday, May 09, 2003

WaPo is *on* today

On James Leon Holmes, that is.

What exactly are Americans to make of a nominee who has seemed to argue in principle against gender equality? Mr. Holmes has written that in a marriage, "as the Church subordinates herself to Christ, in that manner the wife is to subordinate herself to her husband." In the same article, Mr. Holmes -- writing with his wife -- argued that the "project of eliminating the distinction between the sexes is inimical to the transmission of life" and leads willy-nilly to abortion, contraception and homosexuality: "To the extent we adopt the feminist principle that the distinction between the sexes is of no consequence and should be disregarded in the organization of society . . . we are contributing to the culture of death." His views on abortion are so strong that he has been willing to disregard facts: In a 1980 letter concerning a proposed constitutional amendment to ban abortion, he argued that "concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami" -- a comment for which he has apologized.

We don't question Mr. Holmes's religious views or suggest that opposing abortion precludes service on the bench. But it is fair to ask whether someone who makes such arguments about marriage, rape and feminism will really be able to put aside his views when he dons a judge's robes and considers cases involving gender equity. Mr. Holmes has insisted that he can do so, and perhaps he can. But the skeptics are not only Democrats. The Judiciary Committee took the highly unusual step of sending his nomination to the Senate floor with no recommendation last week; Republicans could not ensure they had the 10 votes to report him otherwise.

I really like this guy for one obvious reason, and also because he opposes the gender feminists' misguided project to turn women into men. But as I've written here already, he's sadly off-base on some important issues. I think the solution is a bit more quiet and some enlightenment. Staple those lips, tune up that brain, and get confirmed. We need pro-lifers on the bench.

House amendment to strike down Kemp-Kasten under your radar screen?

It was under mine. Thankfully, there's the Pro-Life Infonet, run by the invaluable Steven Ertelt. Just in case you missed it, here's the story Ertelt brought us yesterday:

Amendment Would Have U.S. Supporting Forced Abortions

Washington, DC -- An amendment by pro-abortion Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) would essentially scrap an 18-year old pro-life law and have the U.S. backing organziations that support forced abortions and sterilizations.

During committee consideration of a bill to fund the State Department, Crowley successfully added an amendment that would make inactive the 18 year old Kemp-Kasten human rights protection. The Kemp-Kasten provision currently prohibits taxpayer funding of any "organization or program which, as determined by the President of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."

President Bush and pro-life lawmakers have used the provision, along with other evidence, to deny funding to the UNFPA because it backs coercive abortions in China.

The Crowley amendment would severely weaken this important pro-life law and replace it with an unenforceable and meaningless provision.

"As Americans who value freedom, we want to absolutely everything in our power to make sure we are not directly or indirectly supporting the horrible practice of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization," John Cusey, director of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, told the Pro-Life Infonet. Cusey indicated pro-life lawmakers will work to strip the Crowley amendment from the bill when it reaches the House floor.

The amendment passed 23-22 in the House International Relations Committee. The Kemp-Kasten provision has been included in every Foreign Operations Appropriations bill since 1985.

ACTION: Please contact your member of Congress and urge strong support for the Kemp-Kasten provision. Tell your Representative to drop the Crowley amendment and oppose coercive abortions. You can reach any member at 202-224-3121 or go to to find more specific contact information.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Prominent Jewish ethicist on abortion in Judaism

Alright, you want some more Judaism, you got some more Judaism. This, courtesy of Emily, who sent me the linked piece. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, a well regarded theologian in many Jewish circles, answers the following question from an inquiring mind:

My religion teaches that abortion is murder, and in my heart I agree. I believe that life begins at the moment of conception and that eliminating a fetus is the same as eliminating any life. Yet part of me hesitates when it comes to rape. I have a gut feeling that a rape victim should have the right to terminate her pregnancy. But to be logically consistent, murder is murder. How can I reconcile these feelings?

I like this reader's gut a lot. I don't, however, like the rabbi's answer at all. I won't reproduce it en masse here, but a few of Telushkin's comments and my reactions follow:

As long as you regard abortion as murder, you have indeed boxed yourself into a position that will forbid a raped woman from having an abortion. For as sympathetic as you might be to her plight, why should the fact of her having been violated entitle her to "murder" the fetus who, after all, played no role in her rape?

This conforms with my experience talking to Jews about abortion. There is no murder. Some lunatic black hats and gentiles might believe that there's a "murder." But you must understand, it is a "murder," not a murder.

Pro-lifers, too, are boxing themselves in, closed-minded folks that they are. Those darned Orthodox Jews, those crazy evangelicals, and oy, the Papists. And I wouldn't even want to get Telushkin started on Reform or Conservative pro-life Jews like myself.

Then there's the ubiquitous use of the word "fetus," which while scientifically accurate, is simply a synonym for unborn member of the species (I looked it up). Geez, I've even met rabbis who don't like to call abortion "abortion." At least Telushkin concedes that a spade is truly a spade.


As noted earlier, I believe that endangerment of the mother’s mental well-being should be an important factor in determining whether or not she should abort. With regard to a rape victim, it seems to me very cruel and destructive to force a woman to carry in her body the seed of the man who so violated her and who might well be the person she (justifiably) hates most in the world. A 19th-century rabbi, Yehuda Perilman, ruled that a raped woman has the right to abort because, unlike "mother earth," she need not nurture seed planted within her against her will; indeed, she may "uproot" seed illegally sown. I find the rabbi’s reasoning persuasive.

This is inconsistent with a key Jewish teaching, one shared by all morally decent religions: thou shalt not visit the sins of the parent(s) on the children. Come on, rabbi. The unborn child loses the right not to be unjustly killed (to borrow from Rebecca Kiessling's formulation of the right) because one of his or her parents is a despicable criminal? Nine months followed by adoption, or raising the child, is outweighed by mental anguish. How about you, as a rabbi and ethicist, consider the ethics of executing the guilty (i.e., the rapist), rather than the innocent (i.e., the unborn baby)? After all, Judaism allows capital punishment for criminals, right? Think about it.

Just one more passage:

If you regard abortion as murder, then of course your reasoning forces you to conclude that women who have been violated must carry inside them their violator’s baby. But if that strikes you as inhuman, then maybe it is worth reconsidering whether or not abortion should be regarded as murder. Perhaps you should expand your framework and perspective and conclude that abortion is, on occasion, a necessary evil.

I recommend to the rabbi that he go back and re-read Bleich (1977, v.1) to gain a better grasp of Jewish arguments for and against abortion through the centuries. There's more to it than just Exodus 21:22-23, upon which the rabbi relies to determine that abortion isn't murder in Judaism.

To gain the broader perspective that Telushkin suggests to his reader, I think the rabbi himself should brush up on the pro-life rabbis who've commented wisely. For example, there's R. Elijah Mizrachi. Mizrachi argued that abortion and murder are indistinguishable, a view Bleich calls "sharply contested" (Bleich 1977, 331). Mizrachi did so in commentary on Exodus 21:12. He said that "the biblical ban on murder extends equally to all human life, including, he claims, any fetal life which, unmolested, would develop into a viable human being." [This last part is silly. As others have argued countless times, what *kind* of being is an unborn child -- a turtle, a plant?]

In the spirit of objectivity, Bleich does note that Mizrachi's view is the minority report (ibid., 332). But that doesn't mean Telushkin and other rabbis have the right to misrepresent the full teachings and biblical interpretations of the most esteemed religious scholars in Judaism. All he would have needed to say is that some rabbis believe abortion is murder. He could even say that they're a tiny minority. But not to say it is wrong.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Sanchez sisters ignite ruckus on the Left Coast

Choosing ethnic heritage and career success over morality as criteria for choosing commencement speakers, Mount St. Mary's College, a self-described Catholic college, picked pro-choice U.S. Reps. Loretta and Linda Sanchez.

Officials at Mount St. Mary's — whose enrollment includes more than 45% Latino students — say that the Sanchez sisters were selected because they represent women of immigrant heritage who rose to national prominence in public service and that the invitation "does not imply an endorsement of their political views."

One would think a self-avowed Catholic college wouldn't want folks who actively fight its very foundations in the halls of power. One would be wrong, I guess.

"I know Linda and Loretta, and they are just wonderful people," said U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter, who sits on the college's Board of Trustees and for whom Linda Sanchez was a student law clerk.

An essential criterion of wonderful-ness is standing up for human beings who can't stand up for themselves. Dispute the premise, or discard the speakers. Simple, really.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003


I gotta come clean and admit I was only able to watch bits & pieces. A personal call took precedence. Priorities, you know?

But Chicago Tribune reporter Allan Johnson actually watched the whole show. He weighs in here:

In Monday's episode (8 p.m., WGN-Ch. 9), the father (Kevin Tighe) of an 18-year-old girl (Kate Mara) asks new resident Dr. Andy Brown (Treat Williams) about performing the procedure, assuming Brown's being "outside the community" is an indication he doesn't "share these people's backward idealism," especially since Everwood is painted as anti-abortion.

But Brown, who, with moody teenage son Ephram (Gregory Smith) and precocious young daughter Delia (Vivien Cardone), abandoned his life as a hotshot New York neurologist to be a general practitioner in the snowy mountain town after the sudden death of his wife, isn't as liberal as some in Everwood might think.

"I don't know when life begins. I don't even know that, for a scientist, if that question is answerable," Andy tells his nurse Edna (Debra Mooney).

"But I do know when it ends. And after this year, after losing [wife] Julia, I just don't think I can be the one to end it."

It's rare to see the topic from a doctor's point of view -- it's usually from the patient's. But creator Greg Berlanti thought going in that direction was a good way to explore how abortion affects a rural community.

"I feel as though it's a procedure that happens, and it happens in small communities," says Berlanti, 30. "We're doing a show about small communities. It's a procedure rural doctors have to deal with, and we're doing a show about rural doctors.

"We do a show that's also geared for teenagers, and it's an issue that teenagers have to deal with."

"Everwood" doesn't take a stance. Andy counsels the girl on her options before she undergoes the procedure, assuring her "whatever choice you make is going to be the right one, as long as it's your own."

Of course this last comment is the perfect specimen of moral relativism, the "whatever I do is OK" mentality that leads straight down the abortion road.

An observation of my own, from the parts I did catch: The nurse sure seemed understanding and sympathetic. From what I've read on all the wonderful blogs on which women describe their abortion experiences, and the deadtree reading I've done on same, I gathered that such kind, understanding warmth is not the norm. Cold, antiseptic treatment is the norm, at least as I understand it. It would be nice to document this.

Please weigh in if you think this charge of bias warrants a cyber hand slap, and especially if you have other observations about last night's episode.

UPDATE: Emily illuminates nicely the behavioral tendencies of abortion clinic staff.

Monday, May 05, 2003

A new right for SCOTUS to write into the Constitution: the right not to be born

This one needed to be reproduced in full b/c I notice that most visitors to this blog come from the East Coast, and consequently, probably don't read the LA Times, at least not the letters section:

A Child's Birthright

Re "16% of Children Live in Extreme Poverty, Report Says," May 1: Here is my bottom-line answer to the anti-abortion folks. I hold that there is a natural right "not to be born" into indecent circumstances.

Gilbert S. Bahn

This assertion is very easily dismissed, something I've done with lots of friends and relatives, including my otherwise marvelous Aunt Mary. Just go ask a poor person whether they'd rather be dead. Almost all will tell you where to go, just as I would. It's *really* simple -- most poor people, even the poorest of the poor, would rather better themselves financially than die.

Even more importantly, rights require *people* to exercise them. Last I checked, the exercise of this particular right is not in the hands of the party most directly affected by it. Doesn't that seem a tad unjust to the writer and all his compatriots in the pro-choice camp?

Consider: I have the right to choose where I'll live. You have the right to choose where you'll live. I don't have the right to choose where you'll live. But women should have the right to decide whether someone will live, and even more ludicrous, to base that decision on predicted unhappiness due to material deprivation?

Athletes, Republicans, and abortion

I've got nothing against pro athletes voicing their opinions, trying to carve out new niches for themselves, and generally just availing themselves of our wonderful freedom to do whatever we choose, including diversify our fields of knowledge and understanding.

Wizards player Etan Thomas is doing just that, including a recent recitation of his poetry at a bookshop:

"This poem is called, 'Republicans,' " said Thomas, wearing glasses and khakis.

Them hypocrites don't care about you.

He had to read it again. The crowd cheered as if he had dunked...

He is torn about abortion, so he wrote two poems on that.

Anybody know if the public can access those two poems? I tried searches but couldn't find them. Presuming they are more penetrating than, "pro-lifers are hypocrites," I want to hear what this guy has to say.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Courtland Milloy on the social conservatism of blacks

Why not come right out and say it, D.C.?

Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a so-called Democrat, is actually a Republican. And much of this city, which is said to be overwhelmingly Democratic, is in the closet with him.

This is nothing to be ashamed of. What's so unseemly is the city's need to pretend to be one thing while believing something else.

In a city of about a half-million or so, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is said to be 10 to 1. Maybe that's what it says on those voter registration forms. But when it comes to three tests of a true Republican -- favoring the death penalty, favoring prayer in school and opposing abortion, D.C. passes with flying colors, according to various opinion polls of African Americans conducted in the late 1990s [bold mine]...

Whatever one thinks of either party -- Democratic or Republican -- it certainly makes more sense to be in the one that advocates more strongly for what you stand for.

Otherwise, all you get is confusion.

Not to mention murdered babies, often physically damaged women, and very often psychologically scarred would-be parents.

A chance to be heard, offered by WaPo. Let's raise our voices, OK?

Next month's question: Are politicians obligated to follow their church's teachings when making public decisions about issues such as abortion, homosexuality, cloning and assisted suicide? E-mail your answer (100 words or less) to Include a daytime phone number.

I plan to answer. It's just a wild guess, but I think Senator Rabbi Partial Birth Abortion will figure into the letter.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Parts of new federal campaign finance law nixed, with implications for abortion

A three-judge panel in Washington struck down several major provisions of the new campaign finance law this afternoon in a much-awaited ruling, setting the stage for a final showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court later this year that will determine the shape, style and bank accounts of the nation's major political campaigns...

The panel... voted 2-1 to strike down the ban on most "issue ads," or thinly veiled political ads, that corporations, unions, interest groups and individuals can run on radio or television in the run-up to elections. But the court allowed the ban on a secondary definition of the ads to be enforced in more limited situations.

The implications for abortion are not clear. As co-author Kerri-Ann Kiniorski (a former VP of Feminists for Life of America) and I wrote in a paper commissioned by FFL of NY a few years ago, it's impossible to accurately predict which side would be hurt more by restrictions on issue ads soon before elections. The pro-choice groups spread around a lot more money than the pro-life groups. It's not that pro-lifers don't support the pro-life lobby; it's just that the donations received are smaller even while they're more numerous. When it comes to overall dollar amount, the pro-choice lobby is in a different league. If you're interested in seeing our research paper, e-mail me and I'll e-mail it to you.

Must-see TV on the WB

The first-year series, "Everwood," stars Treat Williams as a doctor who moves his family to a small town in Colorado after his wife dies. In Monday's episode, a man in the community asks Williams' character, Dr. Andrew Brown, to quietly perform an abortion on his 18-year-old daughter.

Brown advises the woman to wait three days and consider adoption or giving birth. After the wait, she chooses to end the pregnancy but Brown has his own moral problems.

Thanks to Kat of Come On, Get Lively, for the link. I'll be watching, Monday, at 9 EST.

Passover titbit

During my Passover stay with family in South Florida (where else?!), the abortion issue came up in discussion with my very brilliant, but very pro-choice, aunt. She told me about a friend of hers, an Orthodox Jew, whose big problem with the bulk of his Orthodox brethren is their pro-life stance.

I was a bit awestruck. What a 100% mirror image of me, a guy raised in Reform temples through Bar Mitzvah. I told her the only thing that keeps me from leaving Judaism is my conviction that Judaism is at its core a religion of life, a conviction strengthened by the existence of so many vocal pro-life Jews (e.g., Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Jews for Morality), mainly Orthodox but not entirely.

So here's this guy who thinks Orthodoxy is backwards and anti-woman in its general tendency towards the pro-life stance, and it upsets him. And here's me, someone blogging on Shabbos, who thinks Orthodoxy is the only morally acceptable form of Judaism in its stance on life, someone who would leave the tribes if he thought for a second that Judaism were a religion of death.

I thought this anecdote might interest some of you.

Friday, May 02, 2003

The judges, the filibustering, and the Holocaust

Perhaps not unexpectedly, Judge Owen has once again gotten the upturned kilt from our Democratic public servants in the Senate.

Republicans contended that Owen is fully qualified, but Democrats opposed her as a pro-business, antiabortion "activist" who puts her views before the law. Owen was rejected by the Judiciary Committee when Democrats controlled the Senate last year.

An "antiabortion 'activist' who puts her views above the law." Translation: Unless you've got 60 votes, Dr. Frist, don't waste your time on judges who oppose the murder of innocents.

Then there's this little gem of Senate Democrat goodness:

[A]nother controversy erupted in the Judiciary Committee where, in a rare move, Republicans decided to send the district court nomination of John Leon Holmes of Arkansas to the Senate floor without a recommendation. The vote was 10 to 9, along party lines.

Holmes has strong backing in Arkansas, including the support of the state's two Democratic senators. But other Democrats challenged his comment in a 1997 religious publication that "the wife is to subordinate herself to her husband" and earlier statements comparing the abortion rights movement to the Nazis.

I've no idea which psychotropic drug compelled Holmes to say "the wife is to subordinate herself to her husband." That sentiment I find disgusting. But I find his analogy quite appropriate. Nazis decided who had value and who did not. Women in abortuaries do the same thing every day. And lucky me, the PC Police allow me to say such things, because I'm Jewish.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Richard Cohen gets it wrong on Santorum

Rick Santorum serves as a warning. His zealousness, his intolerance swaddled in the tenderness of faith, is polarizing and downright frightening. He does not -- he cannot -- speak for those of us who do not share his faith, although we all must respect his right to practice it.

Wrong. Consider Sen. Santorum on abortion. He can speak for those of us who do not share his faith, the same way a "pro-choice Jew" can speak for those of us who do not share his or her faith.

NYT endorses right to life!

Here! And in the context of the AIDS package!

This is unprecedented. Note the editorial's title. What a sea change!

Below is the full editorial, reproduced for your personal edification. Just do me a favor, & please pardon the irresistible urge to insert remarks in brackets, which I disgracefully indulged.

AIDS and the Right to Life

In a rare and encouraging initiative, President Bush is pushing beyond conservative moralizers [like me] to urge the House to vote for fast passage today of his $15 billion program to triple AIDS help in 14 especially ravaged nations across the next five years.

His proposal has bipartisan support, but it will be tested by anti-abortion forces, disgruntled that many valuable front-line groups fighting AIDS employ condom use and abortion in their services. Significantly, however, Representative Henry Hyde, the Illinois Republican respected as an anti-abortion leader, has fought to defuse that issue in championing the fight for the president's bill as a "moral obligation" for the nation.

The White House has promised that the money will go to organizations that separate their AIDS and family planning programs. Health care providers are understandably wary, fearing the administration will eventually placate its conservative base and bar an effective range of AIDS treatment [for black folks in Africa, about whom conservatives care not a whit]. But for now, Congress should accept the president's pledge that the money will be equally available for every practical strategy, including both abstinence campaigns and condom use. Both strategies have been useful, and both will be part of an effective war against what Mr. Bush properly warns is a global plague. "Everyone has a right to life," the president said, with a compassion that all can endorse.

That last line is just a pleasant surprise. I might resubscribe to the deadtree version of our Newspaper of Record! The NYT endorses not only the president, but also the idea that everyone has a right to life! Is a dramatic shift of the tectonic plates of journalism at hand?