Monday, March 31, 2003

In India it's better to be a guy... least before birth. Afterwards, the tough marriage market has the opposite effect. Convoluted, I'd say.

Do you have a favorite Jewish, libertarian, pro-life columnist who doesn't believe in G-d?

I do. His name is Nat Hentoff, and his latest is here.

Plain old good sense on AIDS & abortion in Africa

A few days late linking to it, but in case you didn't see it... An excerpt:

Unless abortion cures AIDS, the mother in your example still would lack medical care to address her illness. That is the real problem.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

On brave, faithful Jewish women

During college I spent some pleasant Shabbos evenings at Chabad Lubavitch of Rochester, NY. Despite the fact that I am not a Lubavitcher, or even Orthodox, Rabbi Nechemia Vogel still sends me "The Chabad Times." In the issue that arrived yesterday, Necehemia's personal message, "I Will Show You Wonders," raised my spirits. Here's the blog-relevant excerpt:

Our Sages point to several parallels between the first exodus and the future final redemption. For example, in Egypt it was the faith and courage of the Jewish women that kept the Jews alive. Despite the horrendous situation, they convinced their husbands to continue to have children and build for the future. In our generation heading to Moshiach, despite society's pressure to the contrary, many Jewish women continue to have more children. (What better way to memorialize the 6,000,000 Martyrs than to replenish our nation?)

I take it Nechemia is talking about Orthodox Jewish women, not Reform or Conservative women. And having lots of babies is a nice way to memorialize *all* the martyrs of the Holocaust, not just the Jewish ones. But Nechemiah's message is uplifting nevertheless.

Project Rachel

New link to your right. Even includes a blog. Nice.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Feminists for Life of New York billboards

I wanted to share a message that FFLNY recently received concerning one of its billboards near Albany. The author will remain anonymous.

Yesterday evening after a horrific couple of days [in Albany], I was driving home -- depressed and forlorn -- when I saw the FFLNY billboard!!!! It was a wonderful, warm and welcome sign. And even in the pouring rain, it was stark and bold and beautiful and easy to read. I felt like I wasn't alone anymore, like somebody else was caring enough to give the message I've been trying to give for so long! It was delightful.

Thank you.

I've seen the FFLNY billboards. They're powerful. Let's hope they're getting through to folks outside the choir loft.

NYT on AIDS and abortion

Memo to Raines and staff: Yep, pro-lifers want *all* the AIDS money to go towards saving lives, and *none* of it to taking them. What's so hard to accept, O ye great newspaper of record?

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Not helpful

The Supreme Court engaged in a lively discussion of state sodomy laws yesterday, hearing a challenge to a Texas statute that prohibits "deviate sexual intercourse" between people of the same sex but does not apply to heterosexual activity...

The case has attracted widespread attention and a flurry of briefs by outside groups supporting one side or the other. The emotional nature of the dispute was also on display outside the stately court building yesterday as a group of anti-gay rights demonstrators held signs denouncing homosexuality. A young girl held aloft a sign that said "Thank God for Sept. 11," an apparent reference to statements by conservative Christian leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that the 2001 terrorist attacks reflected God's anger at gay rights and abortion rights supporters. [bold mine]

Whatever one's views on abortion and gay/lesbian rights, this is not the way to express them. It is an affront to those murdered that day. Nor does it advance any cause one iota.

House Judiciary Committee exercises moral muscle

The House version does not include an amendment inserted in the Senate version by Democrats and passed by the Senate in a 52-46 vote. That provision reaffirms the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and urges that it not be overturned.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Tax dollars hard at work for Planned Parenthood

All in all, a page of political bunk, not scientific facts. Then there's this weak and incomplete account of Dr. Joel Brind's dissent without naming him.

Notice, too, the title of the work-shop, which I hadn't noticed before: "Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop." So that's what we're calling it now, huh? Even if the conference touched on early reproductive events besides abortion, such as carrying babies to birth, everybody knows exactly what this conference concerned. What a ridiculous title.

I reiterate my disgust as a taxpayer.

The future esta aqui.

It took the horrific rape of a nine-year-old to touch off an angry debate on abortion in Nicaragua, but there's more at work, both in Latin America and throughout the rest of the Third World. As the Roman Catholic and Islamic developing world get sullied more and more by the UN and its plethora of allies in the population control movement, we will be reading more and more stories about angry debates on abortion where strict pro-life law still exists. I hope strict Catholic and Islamic teachings on abortion can hold on in this dirty wind of change.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

"Update" on ABC at NCI

This I liked:

The update process began last year, when congressional abortion opponents objected to language on the site declaring no connection between abortion and breast cancer risk. (Some antiabortion groups, citing scientific studies, have claimed an association.)

Pesky antiabortion groups. But it's not that tidy, as we know:

Dr Angela Lanfranchi Jersey writes in the Australian paper The Age about the link between abortion and breast cancer. She is a breast cancer surgeon, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and clinical assistant professor of surgery at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. Dr. Lanfranchi, who is on a speaking tour of Australia, explains how she began to notice the link in 1993 after she included a question about prior abortions on her intake forms.

Lanfranchi says that she experiences "paternalistic censorship" every time she tries to speak on the science supporting the abortion-breast cancer link. However she notes that the link is fully verified by the scientific evidence. Moreover some of the studies were performed by pro-abortion researchers.

The doctor quotes one such researcher, Dr. Janet Daling, who identifies herself as 'pro-choice'. Daling says: "If politics gets involved in science, it will really hold back the progress we make. I have three sisters with breast cancer, and I resent people messing with the scientific data to further their own agenda, be they pro-choice or pro-life. I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It's not a matter of believing. It's a matter of what is."

Thanks to commenter Mary, who a few weeks back reminded me that avowedly pro-choice researchers have found an ABC link.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Well, at least the UN is there for women.

This is not a war blog, so I won't subject you to my thoughts about the UN's role in the current war. But I will say that this august international body soils itself far too often in far too many areas. While women throughout Asia and Africa lack basic healthcare for themselves and their children, the UN bickers over abortion as a human (human? NO. female human!) right, and the Euro weenies quash dissenting voices:

According to witnesses to the chaotic negotiations, pro-abortion delegations from Europe and a number of nongovernmental organizations such as the European Women's Lobby actually shouted while other delegations called for the removal of the "forced pregnancy" language.

The chairman of the negotiating session seemed unable or unwilling to restore order, leading some to question his motives. Peter Smith, chief administrative officer of the London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said, "The chairman of a negotiating meeting is not meant to allow delegations to shout down other delegations, and that is what he did. Incredible intimidation was permitted to occur. And it was permitted to occur against anyone who had any pro-life sentiment at all. The chair's bias shone through."

What a sad disgrace.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Women injured by abortion file for cert w/ SCOTUS

I'd *love* to attend their press conference:

WHERE: National Press Building, Murrow Room.

WHEN: Monday, March 24, 2003, 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Three women plaintiffs in the case, "Donna Santa Marie," "Mary Doe," and "Jane Jones" were either forced to have an abortion against their will or subjected to an abortion without informed consent. New Jersey has refused to allow these women to seek redress against the doctors for loss of their children, the doctors claiming that Roe v. Wade protects them from suit. The case represents the first of its kind in the United States in which women have initiated legal action directly attacking some of the legal premises of Roe v. Wade -- the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion -- as detrimental to women.

Joining the case, by filing with the Supreme Court an Amicus Curiae ("friend of the court") brief asking the Court to overturn its own abortion decisions of thirty years ago, are Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano (the original "Roe" and "Doe," respectively, of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton). Also entering a separate friend of the court brief are over 700 women who have suffered serious consequences from their abortions, most of which were involuntarily performed without informed consent.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Prisoners' rights

From the Houston Chronicle via the Pro-Life Infonet:

Texas Prisoner's Request for Abortion Dismissed

Houston, TX -- A class-action suit filed last month by a pregnant Houston inmate denied access to an abortion has been dismissed because the woman is no longer in its custody, according to court documents.

The pro-abortion American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of the unidentified woman alleging that the county's policy which requires a court order for what is considers "elective surgery" violates inmates' rights.

So let me get this straight. Conviction of a crime and sentencing to prison means deprivation of rights. The right to liberty is one example. The right to privacy, created out of whole cloth by SCOTUS, is another. So the guvmint can deprive a prisoner of those rights, but not the right to abortion. Huh?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Doctor to mortals: I am your deity.

This letter to the NYT concerning the Senate's PBA vote just made me so angry that the weird protruding vein on my forehead exploded. Is there a doctor in the house? Oh, here's one:

To the Editor:

Re "Lopsided Vote by Senators Against Type of Abortion" (front page, March 14):

Irrespective of one's view of abortion, the precedent of allowing Congress to legislate what can and cannot be done in the operating room is a bad one.

The only factor that should influence a surgeon's operative plan is his concern to make his patient well.

It is understandable that laymen might miss the significance of this Senate vote, but it should not have been lost on the majority leader. Dr. Bill Frist should have known better.

Philadelphia, March 14, 2003

As a mere layman, and a blood-covered one at that, I am unworthy of commenting on this letter. Dr. Gorman, I and all other laymen bow to you and respect your superior moral intellect. We are not worthy. We are not worthy.

Need another reason to love the WSJ?

It's not the LA Times. Free registration req'd.

G-d bless our troops

Although this is a blog about unborn life, I can't help offering a prayer for the brave men and women risking their born ones fighting for us today. I've copied the non-Israel-specific parts of the prayer said for soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces, which is found here:

He who blessed our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, may He bless [our] soldiers... on dry land, in the air and sea. May Gd afflict the enemies that rise against them before them. The Holy One, Blessed is He, should protect and save our soldiers from any misfortune or calamity, and from any sickness or disease. May he send blessing and success in all their handiwork, destroy their enemies below them, and crown them with the crown of redemption and the crown of victory. And the verse "For Gd walks among you, to wage war for you with your enemies, to save you" should be fulfilled, and let us say, Amen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Mother, child, and Mishnah

Below in a comments box, Michelle of And Then? asks a great question about the moral status of mother and unborn child in the Mishnah.

Michelle, I'm sorry to say that the Mishnah does not offer an explanation. It simply says, "her [the mother's] life has priority over its [sic] life" (in Bleich, 327). All I can say is that lots of pro-life Jews, like me for instance, simply disagree with R. Judah, who compiled the Mishnah. I guess it's a bit like prudential judgment in Catholicism, except in Judaism prudential judgment is allowed on the issue of abortion!

Although it doesn't directly address your question, Michelle, I thought I'd add that many rabbinic authorities interpret this passage of the Mishnah to mean that in the absence of a clear threat to the mother's very life, abortion is forbidden (because the Mishnah doesn't say, for instance, "for her emotional well-being, education, career, etc. have priority over the baby's life").

I realize a lot of questions remain, but does that help?

Dr. Joel Brind's rejoinder to the NCI's denial of ABC link

Found the link over at the ever-enlightening After abortion. Adding a link to Brind's Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.

No big rant about this, but just one thing: I do not engage in expert worship, as far too many of us do ("ooh, he's got a doctorate, so he must be right!"). That includes Brind. But to me, his minority report seems fatally damaging to the NCI conclusions.

What drives women to this?

Is embarrassment about telling Mom and Dad the whole answer? Lots of women are embarrassed about telling Mom and Dad. In "Desperate Young Women Kill Their Newborn Babies: Fighting a Culture of Violence," former Feminists for Life of America VP and American Feminist Editor Kerri Kiniorski offers the following insight:

No one knows why these young women conceal their pregnancies and disavow the life inside them. Psychologists point to feelings of denial, fear, confusion, and isolation. To a young woman in denial, "This is a foreign body going through her, not a baby, and the bonding never occurs," said Dr. Phillip Resnick, a Case Western Reserve professor of psychiatry who coined the term neonaticide. "She doesn't think of it as her child but as an object to get rid of."

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Friday, March 14, 2003

Insufferable ignorance at WaPo

And my Friday was going along so swimmingly. Bright sunshine. A 60-degree weekend forecast. And then this guy, who says there's nothing about the procedure that's not in dispute. He says experts can't decide "whether the procedure can be perceived by the fetus as painful."

Call Dr. Tony Levantino, former abortionist, turned pro-life activist, who will tell you what it is: a breech birth, where all but the child's head has emerged from the birth canal, limbs swinging around, scissors or other sharp instrument puncturing the base of the skull, the suctioning out of the "cranial content," otherwise known to those blessed with said contents as "brains," and the extraction of the now dead baby. Murdered, to be precise.

This is a thinly veiled effort to parse the issue into components that we should debate and ponder due to their "complexity." It's ridiculous. WaPo, you embarrass yourself by trying to confuse the issue.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

A bit on Judaism and abortion

What with the rabbi's quote above, you'd think there'd be more here about Judaism's teachings on abortion. I've been sorely remiss in that department.

So today, I figured I'd share a bit about what I've learned in my research. As you may know, in Judaism, ethical decisions are governed by halakha, traditional Jewish law, which can be analogized pretty accurately to common law in Western traditions. In halakha, unborn life is seen as precious. Unborn life may not be destroyed "wantonly," as Bleich puts it (see the link to your right, p.326). According to the Mishnah (oral Torah), Oholot 7:6, abortion is permitted if birth threatens the mother's life because the mother's life supersedes the baby's life. At birth, the lives are considered co-equal, hence Orthodox Jews' disgust with PBA.

That's about all I have time for right now, but I'll be blogging more and more about Judaism and abortion (since my attention span has not been working well lately and the promised essay is not written).

Doing Margaret Sanger proud

Seems the abortion-crime link folks are at it again. For the sake of argument, assume they're right. So what? Execute every violent felon immediately upon conviction, and you'll find a strong link between your public policy and the crime rate. Do as Franco did and make criminals of all stripes disappear, and you'll find a strong link between your policy and the crime rate. Hell, just chuck the Bill of Rights and you'll see a very nice drop in the crime rate.

If it's trustworthy, all this research shows is that Planned Parenthood does a nice job of differentially eliminating future high-risk youth. Better to kill them in the womb than create good conditions for them after birth. Cheaper, too.

Monday, March 10, 2003

More on ABC

What's there to say that hasn't been said? If you favor abortion rights, your research and critiques are tainted. If you oppose abortion rights, your research and critiques are tainted. If you are neutral, you're a liar. Where does that leave us?

A proposal: the gov't assembles a team of ABC researchers, the very best and brightest, makes sure there's a 50/50 split in opinion on abortion rights, and pays them to do a monster meta-analysis. Anything that doesn't allow consensus gets noted and dissent is published. Various permutations of the meta-analysis are performed, some that include the controversial studies, some that don't. As many sensitivity analyses as required are cranked out. Then the public sees the results and can judge for itself who's talking sense and who's blowing smoke. This is not outside the realm of the possible.

On "safe haven" laws

Sure, we should work to figure out why women feel driven to abandon their babies to death. Sure, we should attack root causes. But in the meantime, if those safe haven laws save one kid, just one, then they're worth it. As it is said, save one life and it is as though you have saved the entire world.

Enough talk. It's time for action.

"Ban seen likely on abortion procedure." Partial-birth abortion, that is.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, said the Senate should focus on other issues right now and it is wrong to bring up the bill "at a time when we're about to go to war in Iraq..."

Too much liquor. Not enough thinking. Combine them and you get a guy who thinks it's no big deal that doctors in the greatest country in the world have the right to puncture emerging babies' heads with scissors and vacuum out their brains. I've got a bet for any takers: $100 says we lose fewer Americans to actual combat as opposed to accidents, and cause fewer civilian casualties in Iraq -- as reported by Fox News -- TOTAL, than the number of babies who've been murdered via PBA since its glorious invention.

WaPo's viability

The image of a fetus being partially delivered alive and then having its brain punctured is haunting. But as Justice John Paul Stevens argued in the Nebraska case, the alternative methods for performing late-term abortions are equally gruesome.From the language of the bill ("the child will fully experience the pain"), it's clear this Senate bill is merely another way for antiabortion forces to weaken the logic of Roe v. Wade by insisting that a fetus is really a child at all phases and should be treated as one.

If Congress wants to speak on the subject, it should define it by stage, not procedure, and ban abortions beyond the point of viability. The greater the likelihood that a fetus could survive outside the womb, the harder it is to distinguish between abortion and infanticide.

The whole viability thing has never sat well with me. The premise is simple: if a human life can continue independently of another very specific human life, then that human life must be protected. If not, then that human life can be snuffed out.

Hypothetical. Two adults are alone in a forest, camping. One gets mauled by a bear. He/she will die if the other doesn't do something to help. There is literally *no* chance that the mauled one's life will continue unless his or her companion acts to help. The injured one is dependent, and his or her continuation is inviable without the healthy one's intervention. In the "viability" mindset, the healthy one not only has no responsibility to intervene, but in fact has an absolute right to finish the bear's work.

What ridiculous logic. And no e-mails about where this "logic" comes from, what with women as birth machines and forced birthers. I've heard it before, and it's utterly unpersuasive. Don't like my analogy? Explain exactly why. I'm all eyes.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Memo to Ellen Goodman: before you were anything else, you were a zygote, an embryo, etc.

And I imagine you're rather appreciative right now that no one sacrificed you to save somebody else. Am I wrong? Ms. Goodman's thoughts:

Cloning itself involves taking an egg, removing its nucleus and adding the nucleus of an adult cell -- say, a skin cell -- back into it. It's hoped that the tailor-made stem cells could eventually be used in regenerative medicine. But the cloned embryo can't become a baby unless it's transplanted into a womb.

No kiddin'. I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure a three-month-old unborn child, just like a few-day-old, won't continue developing if he/she is removed from the womb. So why not just allow society to remove said unborn child at three months and harvest whatever might be useful to somebody else? Six months? Eight months? Umm, we do allow this. It's called abortion, and it's the ending of a life.

Goodman is simply using the "location theory" of human life. This theory states that one's moral claim to life depends on where one is, whether that is a petri dish or the womb. Presumably Goodman is worth more in Boston than she is in a vacuum chamber. In one situation she continues developing, aging, living. In the other, her continued development, aging, living, is done. Thus if we need Goodman's organs to save somebody else, let's toss her into an environment that can't sustain her continued life and harvest her parts. Sound good, Ellen?

Friday, March 07, 2003

Moral equivalency from PETA

PETA's latest effort is the subject of Wesley J. Smith's article, "The Most Tasteless PR Campaign Ever," in the latest Weekly Standard (dead tree). PETA's wisdom, clothed in the protective armour of a Jewish spokesman:

Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer first noted the disturbing similarity between the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust and that of animals raised for food when he noticed that the techniques of mass slaughter developed for use on animals had also been used on human beings. In several of his stories, he draws an analogy between the slaughter of animals and the slaughter of Jews at the hands of Nazis. Having realized that all oppression stems from the same branch, Singer became a vegetarian. He understood that the quality of mercy is not—must not be—limited and that people cannot talk about peace with their mouths full of the victims of violence.

If we are revolted by comparisons between the plight of animals and the plight of human victims of oppression, it can only be because we are not yet prepared to accept our own role in the animals’ fate.

Just to anticipate: yes, I eat meat and wear leather, and no, I don't believe in cruelty to animals. Thing is, I was blessed by G-d with the ability to see that humans and non-humans are not morally equivalent, and that we can end cruelty to animals without likening them to humans. G-d, please send this ability to all Your children.

This means three things

1. More women will get breast cancer.

2. More babies will die.

3. Planned Parenthood's earnings forecast just got rosier.

Hay nada in the Mexico City policy?

Catholic World News has the story:

A high-ranking Senate staff member charged this week that State Department officials consistently undermine President George W. Bush's pro-life international policies. The staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute that members of the State Department coach nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on how to circumvent the "Mexico City policy," which forbids US money from going to groups overseas that promote or perform abortions. The "Mexico City policy" can be called the centerpiece of the administration's international pro-life position. Because of the activities of these State Department officials, this staff member charges that the "Mexico City policy" has even become "an empty shell."...

According to the staff member... not everyone in the executive branch shares Bush's commitment to the issue. It is alleged that when NGOs apply to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for funding, State Department employees recommend that they describe their activities to promote or provide abortions in the most general terms, most usually as the promotion of "reproductive health." As long as these NGOs remain vague enough on their applications, USAID does not suspect a possible conflict with the Mexico City policy. Thus, according to the Senate staff member, because of the State Department's advice, foreign NGOs that promote or perform abortions are receiving US money to do so, against the direct wishes of the president.

From this to kidnapped children in Saudi Arabia and the Visa Express program and other fiascoes, why can't the president clean up State? It is, after all, an *executive* agency, where his appointees can exercise lots of power. Lots. I don't get it. When I worked for a short time in one of the executive agencies, I saw firsthand the massive power that appointees wield. State is just a buckin' bronc' for the president to tame. High time.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Norah Vincent's provocative piece in today's LAT

(free registration req'd) Vincent attaches different moral status to parthenotes and embryos created via the regular old sperm-and-egg method. I think Ms. Vincent is brilliant, but I'm gonna have to take issue with her on this one. An embryo is an embryo is an embryo.

Gregory Popcak on the Estrada cloture vote

I heeded Popcak's call and contacted my two senators. Since their last names are Schumer and Clinton, though, I'm pessimistic.

UPDATE: Today's cloture vote failed.

Check out the Nightingale Alliance...

... a new pro-life organization, whose mission is:

To promote compassionate, medical, emotional, and social care at the end of life, allowing each individual to be treated with respect until natural death occurs, and to oppose the life-ending acts of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Why do I link to a site concerned with end-of-life issues? Because the beginning of life and the end of life are intimately related as follows: ceteris paribus, human life is most vulnerable just after its beginning and just before its end.

Keeping the spotlight on China's one-child policy

In DC today:

Chinese human rights — all day — Population Research Institute holds a conference on human rights in China, "Human Rights Abuses in China: An Update on Population and Religious Persecution."

Highlights — 9:30 a.m. — Steven Mosher, president of PRI, "Update on One-Child Policy Abuses."

1:15 p.m. — Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, "Coercive Abortion in China." Location: Concerned Women for America, 1015 15th St. NW. Contact: 540/622-5240.

Fight over AIDS money goes on

And on.

President Bush, pressed by abortion opponents to extend the [Mexico City] rule to clinics that also have AIDS programs, has instead decided on a compromise: organizations can perform abortions and can receive global AIDS money, as long as they keep the programs strictly separate and account for the money.

Some conservatives in Congress, including Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, are pressing for the White House decision to be written into law. People on both sides of the issue say such a move could derail an AIDS financing bill.

I'm no expert, but I still think what I thought before.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Iraqi Jews claim to have saved Saddam from abortion

We did it. It's our fault! Hate us!

Courtesy of the Pro-Life Infonet, which got it from WND:

Jewish Family Claims it Saved Saddam Hussein From Abortion

Jerusalem, Israel -- An Iraqi Jewish family took in Saddam Hussein's mother in 1937 and talked her out of an abortion, according to Israel's leading expert on Iraq and the large traditional Jewish community that once prospered there.

"The story is true," says expert Amatzia Baram. "I've pretty much confirmed all of the details, but the family doesn't like to talk about it. There was this fear that people would blame the Jews for Saddam.

The family, originally from Tikrit, Hussein's birthplace, lives in Or Yehuda, home to a large community of Iraqi exiles in Israel, says Baram. The family befriended Hussein's mother while she was pregnant with the future dictator. One of only two Jewish families in Tikrit at the time, they took in the woman and persuaded her not to abort, reports South Florida's Sun-Sentinel.

"After it became public, the family got this angry response from some people saying they should have done something," said Baram. "But it was ridiculous. We weren't talking about killing a dictator but a fetus."

In all seriousness, if the story's true, then it makes me proud. That family saved an innocent baby, just as Baram says.

Colleges' liberalizing effects on Catholic students

For Jews, this occurs earlier, something it would be interesting to study. In my experience, a non-trivial proportion of young Jews enter religious school thinking clearly. They remember curling up in bed with Mommy and Daddy, putting their heads against Mommy's growing stomach, listening to their sibling's heartbeat, feeling him or her kicking, punching. At religious school, the rabbi asks what the kids think about abortion. Several say, "it kills a baby." The rabbi calls them good Catholics (NB I don't think this is an insult. It's just a really bad thing for someone who wants to see a culture of life in Judaism.) Most of these clear-thinking kids, doing as kids do, want to fit in, so they become pro-choice.

Can't blame the rabbis for their timing. Indoctrination is infinitely more effective with the young. See Nazi Germany. Two types of authorities, teaching followers -- hopefully while they're very young -- that killing some members of society is okay. Before you ask, the answer is yes, I do believe the analogy is appropriate. If it offends, it offends.

Cal Thomas says it like it is

That's why I like him. He's got chutzpah.

What kind of nation that is "under God" would abort 40 million of its own children?

Cloture attempt coming

'Tis 'bout time!

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Know your ABCs

In yesterday's edition of my local paper, the head of a local group called the Breast Cancer Coalition and the medical director of a local hospital's breast cancer program wrote an essay entitled, "Abortion, Breast Cancer: Research Finds No Link." They urge us to visit web sites of the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, National Breast Cancer Coalition, and ACS for our info on any link. Without so much as a nod to the various studies that have shown an ABC link, reproduced here from the site of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer...

M. Segi, et al "An Epidemiological Study on Cancer in Japan," GANN, Vol. 48, Supplement: April, 1957. (abstract not available)

Pike et al (1981) Br Journal of Cancer 43 Oral contraceptive use and early abortion as risk factors for breast cancer in young women

Nishiyama (1982) Shikoku Ichi 38: 333-43 (In Japanese)

Laing et al (1993) J National Med Assoc. 85:931-9 Breast cancer risk factors in African - American women: the Howard University Tumor Resistry experience.

Laing et al (1994) Genetic Epidemiology 11:A300

Rohan et al. Am J Epidemiol 1988 Sep;128(3):478-89 A population-based case-control study of diet and breast cancer in Australia.

Bu et al. (1995) Am J Epidemiol 141:S85

Ye et al. (2002) Br J Cancer 87:977-981

Brinton et al. (1983) Br. Journal of Cancer 47:757-62 Reproductive factors in the etiology of breast cancer.

Rosenburg et al. (1988) Am J Epidemiology 127:981-9 Breast cancer in relation to the occurrence and time of induced and spontaneous abortion.

Marcus et al. Am J Public Health 1999 Aug; 89(8):1244-7 Adolescent reproductive events and subsequent breast cancer risk.

Palmer et al. (1997) Cancer Causes Control 8:841-9 Induced and spontaneous abortion in relation to risk of breast cancer.

Lazovich et al. Epidemiology 2000 Jan;11(1):76-80 Induced abortion and breast cancer risk.

Daling et al. Am J Epidemiol 1996 Aug 15;144(4):373-80 Risk of breast cancer among white women following induced abortion.

Daling et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 1994 Nov 2;86(21):1584-92 Risk of breast cancer among young women: relationship to induced abortion.

Laing et al. J Natl Med Assoc 1993 Dec;85(12):931-9 Breast cancer risk factors in African-American women: the Howard University Tumor Registry experience.

White et al. (1994) J Natl Cancer Inst 86:505-14 Breast cancer among young U.S. women in relation to oral contraceptive use.

Newcomb et al. (1996) JAMA 275:283-7 Pregnancy termination in relation to risk of breast cancer.

Howe et al. Int J Epidemiol 1989 Jun;18(2):300-4 Early abortion and breast cancer risk among women under age 40.

Andrieu et al. Br J Cancer 1995 Sep;72(3):744-51 Familial risk, abortion and their interactive effect on the risk of breast cancer--a combined analysis of six case-control studies.

Hirohata et al. (1985) Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 69:187-90 Occurrence of breast cancer in relation to diet and reproductive history: a case-control study in Fukuoka, Japan.

Ewertz & Duffy (1988) Br J Cancer 68:99-104 Risk of breast cancer in relation to reproductive factors in Denmark.

Lipworth et al. (1995) Int J Cancer 61:181-4 Abortion and the risk of breast cancer: a case-control study in Greece

Rookus & van Leeuwan J Natl Cancer Inst 88:1759-64 Induced abortion and risk for breast cancer: reporting (recall) bias in a Dutch case-control study

Talamini et al. (1996) Eur J Cancer 32A:303-10 The role of reproductive and menstrual factors in cancer of the breast before and after menopause

Watanabe & Hirayama (1968) Nippon Rinsho 26:1853-9 (in Japanese, no abstract available)

Dvoirin & Medvedev (1978) Meth Prog Breast Cancer Epidemiol Res, Tallin 1978. USSR Acad Sci pp 53-63 (In Russian)

Le et al., (1984) British J Cancer 72:744-51

Luporsi (1988) British J Cancer 72:744-51

Wu et al. (1996) Br J Cancer 73:680-6

Robertson C, Van Den Donk M, Primic-Zakelj, MacFarlaneT, Boyle P. The association between induced and spontaneous abortion and risk of breast cancer in Slovenian women aged 25-54. Breast 2001; 10:291-8.

...the authors point us to helpful sound bites like the following from that prestigious bastion of peer review, the National Breast Cancer Coalition web site:

The results of two recent case-control studies, two large cohort studies, and two meta-analyses suggest that there is no association between abortion and risk of breast cancer. Based on this evidence, the NBCC does not support the opinion that the data at present show that abortion is associated with an overall increase in breast cancer risk.

Of course, we find no scientific reasons why *all* the studies mentioned above, from all over the world, are flawed and thus unworthy of mention or critique. And what's this about *opinion*? The NBCC does not *support* an *opinion*? Since when has science become a world of *supporting* opinions? From what I hear, science is about putting forward theories, drawing hypotheses from them, and testing those hypotheses to see if the theories have support. At least that's the way I learned it. We didn't learn to *support* various *opinions* based on only a few studies that show what we want them to show. Did Dr Joel Brind, an actual *scientist*, exclude from his meta-analysis studies that found no ABC link? Of course not.

The real kicker? The authors tell us that we should trust Komen, NBCC, and ACS because they "are neither pro-choice nor anti-choice; in fact, they have no stake in the abortion debate." And who signed the essay right alongside them? Carol Love, the inappropriately named president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region.

Phyllis Schlafly: old-style feminist?

Mrs. Schlafly's political leanings lead to some provocative insights not available in the more leftist treatments of such subjects.

For instance, she objects to abortion not just for the usual reasons but also because it is another way that women bear the brunt of sexual promiscuity. When abortion is seen as women's right, women's tribulations are overlooked. "The sex act involves two people," she writes, "yet the woman is expected to assume the risk for the 'mistake' — the physical risk plus the emotional trauma of killing her own baby. The woman is left with the bitterness of being exploited."

Those words could just as easily have come out of the mouths of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the other founding mothers of equity feminism.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Interesting take on dining with Granholm

Jacob W. in Austin, Texas, writes:

I am disappointed at the removal of the lunch with Governor Granholm off of their auction. If in fact the community of Mercy High School believes that abortion is wrong, there could not be a better change for one of them to tell the governor than at this lunch. A chance to meet a government official with whom you disagree is much more valuable than meeting one with whom you share values. Unfortunately, instead, the governor will see that most of the pro-life group is just as ignorant as the pro-murder side.

A little insulting there at the end, but a provocative thesis.

Monday morning juxtaposition


SNOW: Let's talk about the nomination of Miguel Estrada. What is your position on it right now?

BIDEN: My position is -- you know, by the way, let's put this in focus. I've voted for over 1,400 judges, only voted no 16 times in my entire career, 16 times out of over 1,400 judges.

One of the things that Miguel Estrada has not done, which has reinforced the notion that the president is just trying to pack the circuit courts of appeal, which have become incredibly more important now because the Supreme Court doesn't review nearly as many cases and the final arbiter on major constitutional issues has become the circuit court of appeals, is that (inaudible)...

SNOW: Miguel Estrada.

BIDEN: ... Miguel Estrada has not answered basic, fundamental questions about his notions of things like, what does the Liberty Clause in the 14th Amendment mean, not how is he going to rule on abortion, what does he think about the power to appoint inferior officers in the Constitution, which would affect independent counsel...

SNOW: Well, Senator...

BIDEN: ... basic, basic questions, he's not answered them.

SNOW: Senator, in the past you have said that the major test is character. You have cited Alexander Hamilton and Federalist 76. And it appears now the Democrats are asking Miguel Estrada -- by the way, a series of confirmations for that very same court, in the last administration, one fellow was asked three questions, one was asked five.

Is there any reason for you to think that Miguel Estrada lacks the character or qualification to be a member of the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals?

BIDEN: Not the character. It doesn't -- the qualifications. Let me explain my qualifications. You're quoting somebody else.


BIDEN: Remember, I'm the guy in 1987, in the speech before the American Bar Association...


BIDEN: ... that said, it matters what their judicial philosophy is.

In past years:

Qualifications really mattered once. On June 24, 1986, Judiciary Committee member Joseph Biden explained that he would vote for judicial nominees with "the earmarks of excellence, intellectual capability, high achievement and demonstrated excellence in the law and the requisite judicial temperament."...

Democrats once opposed litmus tests. On April 14, 1994, then-Chairman Biden condemned as "inappropriate" the fact that some critics of a female appeals court nominee "object to some of her decisions and therefore her confirmation on ideological grounds." On March 19, 1997, he said if judicial nominees "will be [persons] of their word and follow [precedent], it does not matter to me what their ideology is."...

As if he were speaking today about the Owen nomination, Mr. Biden said on June 24, 1986, that a judicial confirmation "is not about right to life, it is not about conservative or liberal, it is not about Democrat or Republican. It is about intellectual and professional competence to serve as a member of the third coequal branch of the government."

Astute political analysis by Weekly Standard (dead tree)

From the March 3rd parody entitled "San Diego Chicken Joins Democratic Field":

Meanwhile, other Democratic insiders believe that the race is becoming too compartmentalized... Dennis Kucinich has yet to cement his hold on liberal New Hampshire Catholics who are pro-life in odd-numbered years.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

More from the "Abortion's Good for Women!" department

Selective abortion: In societies that prefer sons, several practices may lead to abnormally high ratios of boys to girls at birth. The birth of baby girls may not be reported, or girls may not be counted in census enumerations. In some cases, families may even resort to female infanticide. In China during the 1980s, couples who wanted sons, but faced harsh penalties if they had too many children, sometimes gave baby girls away for adoption without registering their births.

More recently in South Korea, China and Taiwan, the introduction of technologies to determine the sex of unborn fetuses, combined with the widespread availability of abortion, has led to a record preponderance of male births. This suggests that couples are selectively aborting female fetuses. In addition, evidence is accumulating that sex-selective abortion also is occurring in India.

The 1990 census in South Korea suggests that nearly 80,000 female fetuses were aborted in 1989-90 for purposes of sex selection, a number equivalent to about 5 percent of all female births. In 1987, the Korean government banned tests to determine the sex of fetuses. In 1990 and 1994, it increased the penalties for sex screening. In urban areas today, sex ratios at birth have returned to normal.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Saltines with that?

Dan Coyne has an extremely creative analogy of Dem flip-floppers to Irish soupers over at CatholiCity. Nice.

During the Great Irish Potato Famine in the mid-1800's, anti-Catholic zealots would occasionally bring large kettles of soup to Irish villages. The soup was free, but there was a catch. Before a starving Irishman could have even a sip of the soup, he would first have to renounce his Catholic faith.

So strong was the Catholic faith in Ireland at the time that many starved to death rather than selling their souls. However, a few did drink the soup. They became known as "soupers" -- a derisive label that would stick to their families for generations...more here!

The perfect study of abortion's effects doesn't exist & never will.

Ethical considerations and human subjects protection laws won't allow it.

The perfect study would work like this: A large pool of women seeking abortions would be randomized into treatment and control groups. The treatment group would get abortions. The control group wouldn't. Then we'd follow the women for a defined period, accounting for such threats to scientific validity as attrition (i.e., investigating the characteristics of women in each group who dropped out of the study to ensure they reflected each other), etc.

The problem solved by randomization of women seeking abortions? Without it, we compare those who had abortions to those who didn't. The latter group is somehow different from the former, and we'd never know if our statistical procedures truly accounted for all the relevant ways in which the groups differed.

Why wouldn't we ever see an experimental design? Rights of human subjects, which are protected as a result of high-profile violations like the Tuskegee syphillis atrocity, the Nazi experimentation, and other crimes against humanity, will always trump any desire to ultimately determine the effects of abortion. We might like this, and we might not. But as a human subjects researcher who's read the Belmont guide and had to pass a test (open-book, BTW) to get certified, I assure you it's true.

So the best we'll ever have to go on are studies with quasi-experimental and non-experimental designs which seek to control for as many confounds as possible, thus trying their best to ensure that the post-abortive women and the non-post-abortive women in the studies are mirror images of each other (or as close as possible in a non-randomized setting). For example, studies of the ABC link, or potential ABC link if you like, can seek to control for things like whether or not the women smoke, a scientifically demonstrated risk factor for cancer.

Of course commenter Ken is right: correlation doesn't establish causation. Causation is not provable all that definitively outside the experimental realm. That's what we're stuck with.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't carefully consider the weight of the evidence, examining all the studies that show a link, the ones that don't, published, unpublished, meta-analyses, etc., and form a judgment about which are persuasive, and which aren't. I don't have evidence to support this claim, but I suspect the folks who truly place ideology above science are the ones whose persuasive / not persuasive lists exactly mirror the studies' findings. At some point soon, I hope to begin perma-links to my two lists, which have what I think is a respectable, scientifically defensible composition.