Friday, January 31, 2003

"The Wonders of Fetal Surgery"

Found the page, from site of Stanford's Dept. of History and Philosophy of Science, via medpundit's TCS article published yesterday.

There's a brilliant little argument embedded here: We're performing surgery on unborn babies. Surgery patients have rights. The unborn baby is a surgery patient. Which all leads to the last bullet on the page:

Ethical Considerations: Does the Fetus at 14 weeks have the same rights as that of a patient? If Yes, then why can abortions be performed at 14 weeks?

Good question.

Reining in the faithful

Courtesy of medpundit, here's an interesting piece on clerics' attempts to reign in pro-choice pols. On Lieberman:

The rabbi of Joseph Lieberman, meanwhile, has been asked to confront his congregant on the abortion issue.

Larry Klayman, chairman of Judicial Watch, wrote Rabbi Barry Freundel Jan. 29 urging him to instruct Lieberman that his support of abortion rights is inconsistent with being an Orthodox Jew. Abortion is only allowed when a woman's life is endangered, according to Mishnah, the oral interpretation of the Old Testament, Klayman said in his letter.

Klayman, who described himself as a Jew who has received Christ, encouraged Freundel to "educate a presidential candidate on what being an orthodox Jew is all about, so that he can live his life according to these tenets and perhaps teach others to respect the lives of the unborn as well."

Freundel is rabbi of Kesher Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Washington.

I applaud Klayman for knowing Judaism better than some. Some politicians. From CT. In the US Senate. But something tells me an orthodox rabbi isn't going to place a lot of stock in what "a Jew who has received Christ" has to say about Judaism. Not that I think there's anything wrong with a Jew who has received Christ! It's just that many would consider this guy, umm, how to put this delicately, Christian. Many. Me, for instance. (Nothing wrong with doing that. Just means you're no longer Jewish.) Maybe it would be better to get a pro-life Jew who hasn't received Christ to contact Uncle Joe's rebbe, eh? I vote for Rabbi Yehudah "I cast thee out, Lieberman, thou heathen" Levin, of Jews for Morality.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

"Technology and Life's Domain"

If you haven't seen it, please check out this very nice piece, which Mark Shea summed up superbly. Interesting stuff in there about the state of science & technology when SCOTUS gave us Roe. Also be sure to check out medpundit, the author's blog.

Consistency in protecting innocent life

When it comes to abortion I'm a big Hatch fan. But sometimes I find myself wondering what station is coming in through his fillings. Whatever it is, it's sure not carrying Hannity or Limbaugh. Check this out, from today's WaPo:

"A critical feature of being pro-life is helping the living," Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who opposes abortion but favors embryo research, said at a hearing before the subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space. Opponents, focusing on the fact that cloned embryos must be created from scratch and then destroyed to harvest their stem cells, call the research "destructive human cloning."

Alright, I admit it. I'm against helping the living. The living are horrible. I hate them all. Including myself. Including you. Everyone. Especially Christopher Reeve and all others suffering from horrible illnesses.

Moving on, why exactly is Hatch against abortion if he doesn't think the unborn child is *living*? And if the unborn child is *living*, then how is "therapeutic" cloning helping the *living* being who's dissected for the benefit of another? And why does one *living* being's life trump another *living* being's life?

Thankfully there are also beacons of moral clarity whose consistency is admirable:

"To describe the process of destructive human cloning as 'therapeutic,' when the intent is to create a new human life that is destined for virtually immediate destruction, is misleading," [Sen.] Brownback [R-KA] said. "However one would like to describe the process of destructive human cloning, it is certainly not therapeutic for the clone who has been created and then disemboweled for the purported benefit of the adult twin."

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Distribution of pics of aborted babies banned in UK

When I weigh causing offense & saving lives vs. refraining and having no impact on the slaughter, I come down firmly on the side of causing offense & saving lives. But I wonder if sending pictures of murdered babies really changes peoples' minds and hearts, or just turns them away from the pro-life movement. I know Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life says culture change will only come about when people -- even those who never set foot in abortion businesses -- *see* abortion in all its horror. Pavone is a huge asset to the pro-life mvmt, but I'm not sure about this one.

While it's not exactly the same, this issue does tie in to the Blogs4G-d.com's Anti-Massacre Mvmt poster contest that recently kicked up a storm. This has been discussed thoroughly, poignantly, and eloquently in most nooks and crannies of St. Blog's cyber-parish.

Good for Poland!

Maybe it's time to stop with the jokes? Nah.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

State of the Union

Defense of the most vulnerable, an end to partial birth abortion, and a ban on cloning. Beautiful. Let it be. Amen and amen in the 108th.

But I noticed, as you most likely did, too, that nobody on the D side of the aisle stood for President Bush's call for a PBA ban. What was going through the Dems' heads as they sat and heard the roar from everybody else in the room? That their defense of such an obvious horror is honourable? That their stand "on behalf of women" will win them votes? Haven't they been reading polls? Don't they know most Americans view PBA as the grisly murder it undeniably is? In my humble estimation, it was, if nothing else, very bad PR.

"Father of the pregnancy has to provide child support."

That quote is from the web site of PP of SE Pennsylvania (which popped up while I was researching PA abortion law). Let's leave aside for a moment the question why anyone supposedly "advancing the interest of women" is against the legal requirement that counselors tell this fact to women seeking abortions. Let's focus on the language instead. Father of what? If there's a father, doesn't that mean there's also a c***d? I don't want to type the word. It's a logical conclusion. Worse yet, it might force somebody to think through the implications of their language.

Bravo to Judge Trucilla

- A judge has upheld murder charges against a woman accused of killing the fetus of a romantic rival, rejecting defense arguments that Pennsylvania's fetal homicide law conflicts with abortion rights.

Corinne Wilcott had argued that she couldn't be charged with murder if the state didn't consider the fetus to be a person.

But Erie County Judge John Trucilla ruled Friday that although a pregnant woman can choose to have an abortion, she has no choice in an attack that kills her unborn child. He also rejected defense arguments that murder charges should not be filed if the fetus could not live outside the womb...

Pennsylvania allows murder charges for the killing of a fetus of any age, and allows women to get abortions within the first 6 months of pregnancy.

Good stuff! But I'm reasonably certain Roe allows abortions right up until full birth in all 50 states. In the third trimester, SCOTUS ruled, the state's interest in "potential" life is strong enough to permit bans, provided they allow exceptions for the woman's life or health. Hence SCOTUS struck down bans on PBA, wrongly believing the procedure is sometimes medically necessary. If I'm right, it's kind of sad that even the wires carry biased info about abortion. I mean, the Newspaper of Record, sure, but the wires? Maybe I just haven't been paying close enough attention.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Rights and responsibilities

I'm no communitarian, but Amitai Etzioni has it right in his chapter in International Rights and Responsibilities for the Future: we have too many rights and too few responsibilities. Examples come quickly to mind: the right to produce computer-generated porn without responsibility for any acts against children which it motivates or inspires, the right to sue and win millions of dollars without responsibility for understanding that coffee is hot, no-fault divorce laws that only poorly enforce child support, the right to accuse your neighbors of abusing their children with no or negligible risk of sanction for frivolous accusations, the right to abortion without responsibility for sex or responsibility to protect innocent life.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Wading through the muck, and then, light!

Trying to figure out the public's position on abortion, and understanding of current law, has never been easy. We often hear that a majority of the public is pro-choice. Then we see a majority against PBA. Then we notice that a slight majority usually favors keeping abortion legal only under certain circumstances. Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton are badly misunderstood, with many under the mistaken impression that there are restrictions in place on post-first trimester abortions.

Well there's finally an excellent piece that puts everything in perspective (including the most recent poll, which showed a tilt towards the pro-life position, and achieved it through crafty question wording). It's "30-Plus Years of Abortion Polls: What Have We Learned?", by sociologist Raymond Adamek of Kent State, published by the Ad Hoc Committee in Defense of Life in 2002. Adamek is an expert on abortion polls, with lots of published articles about them and even some congressional testimony under his belt. His piece is extremely well-balanced, despite what you might think from the name of the publisher.

I *highly* recommend you check it out. I worked for a major political pollster for a while and can tell you straight up, polls really do count for a lot with policymakers. The more we understand their use and misuse, the better we'll fare in the public arena.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

30 years later, 42 million is a huge underestimate

Underestimating the toll of massacres is pretty commonplace. We often hear people say 11 to 12 million were murdered in the Holocaust. Of course, many future generations were denied as well.

Which brings us to the question of the day: What's been the indirect toll of legal abortion? (We need to remember that without legal abortion there would have been abortions between 1973 and now, so the direct toll is actually less than 42 million.) A question to ponder, especially for my co-religionists: Has abortion already eclipsed the Holocaust in direct and indirect tolls? Given the three decades between the Holocaust and Roe and the geometric growth of human populations, maybe not. Has anybody seen this calculation? Do you know how to do it? I'm guessing it's a bit involved, given changing fertility rates and whatnot. But it's a good question to think about today.

What got me thinking about this was the great opinion piece, "Mother of All Rights," by Meghan Cox Gurdon, in yesterday's WSJ. If you haven't yet, check it out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

A rose by any other name

NARAL's recent name change from the National Abortion Rights Action League to NARAL: Pro-Choice America highlights the pro-aborts' growing recognition that it's not freedom of choice Americans oppose, it's freedom to choose baby murder.

This reminds me of a pro-abort I was talking to a few weeks back, who objected to the term abortion. What did he want me to call it, baby murder? OK, I'm willing to call a spade a spade. Baby murder.

This guy also objected to the term abortionist. Well, let's consider that objection. A person who does gastroenterology is called a gastroenterologist, dermatology: dermatologist, cardiology: cardiologist. Well then, a person who does abortions, is, by analogy, an abortionist. But I agree that it's a special case, and in the spirit of calling a spade a spade, I'm happy to calling them baby murderers.

Extending this a bit, NARAL's new name really should be: National Baby Murder Rights Action League: Pro-Baby Murder Choice America. It's not catchy, but it does have the virtue of precision.

Monday, January 20, 2003

A study in contrasts

When a woman has an unplanned pregnancy, there are a variety of alternatives. One is PP, which takes an unplanned pregnancy and turns it into a dead baby and a woman likely to be in psychological pain for the rest of her life. Another is adoption. Just look at how unplanned pregnancy is portrayed on the Adoption Network's web site -- as an opportunity, an opportunity to help couples who can't produce a child, planned or un-. Thank G-d for all adoption agencies and all families who either have adopted or are waiting to do so.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

National Sanctity of Human Life Day

Dedicating this day to the sanctity of human life is not going to bring about a wholesale reversal from a culture of death to one of life. But the messages sent by the guy with the biggest bully pulpit can be very influential when it comes to setting the nation's agenda. We should all be thankful that President Bush is using his bully pulpit to push the abortion issue higher on the nation's agenda. But at the end of the day, I agree with Mark Shea -- action speaks louder than words. Hopefully the rubber will hit the road soon.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Even the Washington Times Gets PBA Wrong

Reporter Cheryl Wetzstein writes:

Opponents of the procedure call it partial-birth abortion because in some cases the fetus is old enough to survive outside the womb.

As McLaughlin would say, WRAWWWNG. Ms. Wetzstein, opponents call it partial birth abortion because the procedure entails all of a breach birth (i.e., baby is turned around so feet come out first) except the part where the head is delivered from the woman's body. Then, while the baby is swinging his/her arms and legs around, anticipating the imminent emergence of his/her head, the abortionist commits infanticide by plunging scissors into the baby's skull, inserting a catheter, and vacuuming the infant's brains out. This causes the skull to collapse, after which the mere products of conception can be discarded.

If anybody doubts the facts, please confirm them at National Right to Life's web site. And if you doubt NRTL, ask former abortionist and now pro-life activist Dr. Tony Levantino, who I heard describe the procedure at a presentation a few years ago.

On NRTL's site, you'll also find the following interesting titbit:

Even at 4½ months (20 weeks) [at which point in pregnancy the PBA procedure is first performed], perinatologists say that if a baby is expelled or removed completely from the uterus, she will usually gasp for breath and sometimes survive for hours, even though lung development is usually insufficient to permit successful sustained respiration until 23 weeks.

Interesting. Here's a hypothetical for all the pro-choice lawyers out there: You're a doctor. You come across the victim of a shooting and his unharmed mother. The victim obviously only has a few hours to live, no matter what you or any other doctor does. The victim's mother is there, and she wants her son to die. You acquiesce and murder her son. This is okay because the guy's mother said so.

If that scenario is unjust, why is PBA just? Is it an age thing? A size thing? I know it's not a breathing or sentience thing, because both are present in a 20-week old baby outside the womb, at least for a short while. If anyone can leave a comment or send me an e-mail that's persuasive, I'll eat crow and blog on the humiliation of it all. But in the meantime, I gotta ask: How can such a great country allow its most vulnerable members to be legally murdered so brutally right before its very eyes? It boggles the mind and sickens the soul.

And how can a supposedly conservative paper print such a grossly inaccurate and incomplete picture of PBA? They don't want to offend their readers? I expect as much from the Newspaper of Record, but the Washington Times?

Thursday, January 16, 2003

When a yarmulke just isn't enough

In a post earlier today, master blogger Mark Shea called Senator "Did I mention I don't eat pork?" Lieberman "Senator Rabbi Partial Birth Abortion". LOL. For the past four years this moral ("See my yarmulke?") midget has been the face of religious Judaism for many Americans. It was as if all you had to do was put on a yarmulke, point to it a lot (A LOT), condemn adultery, and people would think of you as a deeply religious man, who must clearly understand Judaism. A proper emissary, a poster boy, and a sort of pious anti-Bubba all rolled into one.

But here's where Senator ("No shellfish, either") Joe and I part ways: He thinks that wearing a yarmulke, refraining from doing work on the Jewish Sabbath (except in case of dire national emergencies, like an impending ban on partial birth abortion), and eating kosher ("something about chewing the cud, too") make him morally upright and a good Jew. I think what makes a person morally upright and a good Jew is having good morals and exemplifying Judaism's mandates, like helping those less fortunate than you, which inludes standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves, which includes the unborn. Senator Joe probably knows this is called tzedakah in Hebrew, or charity.

Senator Rabbi PBA is deficient in the moral and Jewish areas, even if he fights Hollywood and refrains from playing around with interns. Jewish poster boy? Moral giant? No, Joe. It takes more than a yarmulke.

Physicians' special role in the abortion debate

From Physicians for Life, credited to the Right to Life Crusade, Inc., Tulsa, OK:

If she is not alive, why is she growing?

If she is not a human being, what kind of being is she?

If she is not a child, why is she sucking her thumb?

If she is a living, human child, why is it legal to kill her?

Given the culture of death's prevalence in so much of the medical community, it's nice to see a group of doctors who personify the first, best part of the Hippocratic Oath: "First of all, do no harm."

What makes this group and others like it so important is the special role docs play in this issue area. In the limit, if no docs were willing to supply abortions, the vast demand wouldn't matter. This is an ideal world, one that's not going to happen without laws. There's just too much money to be made when the demand is so huge (1.3 million abortions per year). But it's important to acknowledge that without doctors' active participation, women wouldn't be able to get safe abortions, which would drive some risk-averse abortion-seekers out of the market (others would go elsewhere, just as Irish women go to England). Second, the positions doctors have taken in some of the most prestigious medical journals (e.g., JAMA) are used by pro-choicers to justify abortion. The docs say that life doesn't begin until month 5, say some pro-choicers, so who am I to argue?

Now I'm not supporting the notion that doctors claim any more moral authority than the rest of us, just that they play a special role here. That's what makes groups like PFL and pro-life activist doctors (e.g., Nathanson, Levantino) so incredibly important to the cause. I'll be thinking of them on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

National Sanctity of Human Life Day this coming Sunday

For this and other reasons, President Bush is quickly becoming my favorite president of all time. No offense to the Gipper.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Abortion in pop culture

Listening to The Police's "Once Upon a Daydream" at work today, I noticed reference to an unborn baby.

Sting: "Once her daddy found out, he threw her to the floor, he killed her unborn baby, he kicked me from the door..."

Just hearing someone in show biz say "unborn baby" instead of "fetus" is nice!

Anyway, this got me thinking about the influence pop culture has on attitudes towards abortion. Does hearing Sting talk about an unborn baby humanize unborn children for listeners? I'm guessing it must. Does it change minds? Dunno.

That got me thinking about the balance of references in songs of all genres, which I'm guessing leans heavily pro-choice due to the leanings of pop culture in general. One recent example pops immediately to mind:

"Red Rag Top," by Tim McGraw. From LetsSingIt.com: "In the back of that red rag top, she said please don’t stop. Well the very first time her mother met me, her green-eyed girl had been a mother-to-be for two weeks. I was out of a job and she was in school, and life was fast and the world was cruel. We were young and wild; we decided not to have a child. So we did what we did and we tried to forget, and we swore up and down, there would be no regrets..."

Here's classic pro-choice stuff, confirmed by stats on Planned Parenthood's own web site about why women have abortions (e.g., school, finances).

I'm betting that y'all know lots of such references. And I'm inspired by master blogger Mark Shea to start a contest of my own, albeit of small proportions compared to the Catholic and Enjoying It! contests. Help me out with your pop culture knowledge. Contest criteria? Let's say mainly quantity, although quality is important, too. The prize? On Catholic and Enjoying It!, to be blogged is prize in itself. Here, well, I'll think of something. In the meantime, educate me...

Friday, January 10, 2003

One more thing about that rabbi

Part of his argument against respect for unborn life was this: well, Catholicism has only been pro-life for 150 years. Judaism has a long history of allowing abortion -- thousands of years, in fact.

Whether or not his claim about Catholicism is true, I don't know. He showed me a table entitled, "History of Abortion in the Catholic Church: The Changing Stance," which divides Catholic history into the Early Period (1-600 C.E.), Middle Period (600-1500), the Pre-Modern Period (1500-1750), and the Modern Period, and lists popes and church documents, along with the position on abortion they are supposed to have held. According to the table, St. Jerome (347-419), for example, is supposed to have believed that "abortion, if early, is not homicide." The rabbi couldn't tell me the source of this table. I bet that some of you can shed light on this.

But whether or not it's true, his argument is silly. In its stripped-down form, it is this: what a people has believed for thousands of years must be morally superior to what another people has believed for only a much shorter time. If this rabbi would only extend this argument a bit, he'd see he doesn't believe that in any other area (e.g., role of women).

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

It seems I'm Catholic after all

At least according to a local Reform rabbi. Here's what happened: He and I are discussing abortion. He tells me about his confirmation class, a bunch of 10th-graders interested enough in Judaism to continue beyond Bar/Bat Mitzvah in their religious ed. Turns out one of the rabbi's teaching tools is word association. "Abortion," he says to the class. "Killing a baby," several of them reply.

Now the first thing to note is that this gives me great hope for the younger generation of Reform Jews.

On a more somber note, though, was the rabbi's response to his students. "OK, now you're good Catholics. What are you doing in a Jewish confirmation class?"

A bit taken aback, I asked the rabbi if that meant I'm Catholic, too. He said no, but of course that's the logical extension of what he said. So it must be as some of you suspected -- a real-world Catholic, masquerading online as a Jew.

Friday, January 03, 2003

The newspaper of record needs to keep the editorial page on the editorial page

You know, I can live with the way the pro-abortion folks put partial birth abortion in quotation marks, but it really pisses me off when they won't even own up in print to what the procedure actually entails: the majority of a breach birth, after which -- while the baby is swinging his or her limbs around in anticipation of fully emerging from the womb -- the abortionist plunges scissors into the base of the baby's skull, inserts a vacuum, and sucks out the baby's brains.

All we got from reporter Robin Toner yesterday was this:

Critics assert that the abortion method at issue is a grisly practice that amounts to partially delivering a fetus before aborting it.

Instead of asking "critics," gasp, Ms. Toner, perhaps you should actually earn your money and ask an abortionist to confirm the above, and write about it. If it's a choice to be celebrated, why hide it?

That kind of "reporting" would be like an article on depleted uranium shells in which the reporter wrote, "critics assert that the grisly shells emit small quantities of radiation." Would any reporter keep his or her job after failing to confirm what is fact, not critics' opinion? Only at the newspaper of record, where opinion and fact blend seamlessly. If only I were a member of the liberal intelligentsia, I would celebrate this impressive sleight of hand. Alas.

BTW, make sure you check out the photo of Michelman and Feldt, who look like their daughters decided to keep their babies and stay home to raise them. Kate and Gloria, I'm psyched for the new Congress, too.