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1999-FEB to 2000-JUNE

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Background information on many aspects of abortion is found in individual essays, e.g. public opinion, clinic protests, clinic violence, parental notification, abortion methods, and post abortion syndrome. Information about the use of stem cells is elsewhere.

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News items:

bullet 1999-FEB: Germany - Roman Catholic Bishops' dilemma: German law requires a woman to present proof that she received counseling from a minister or secular counselor before she can have an abortion. About 20,000 women a year seek abortion advice from the Roman Catholic church. About one woman in four is persuaded to continue their pregnancies. However, the bishops face a conflict: The pope has instructed them to stop providing counseling certificates. He regards them as permission slips which may be seen as authorizing a woman to have an abortion. Many bishops want to support the law and continue the counseling sessions, because they believe it gives them an opportunity to convince women to not have an abortion.
bullet 1999-MAY: USA: Sale of "morning after" pill: Wal-Mart made a policy decision to not sell the morning-after pill at its 2,400 pharmacy counters. They stated that the decision was not made on ethical grounds; they had concluded that they could not make a profit selling the pill. In rural and small-town U.S., the Wal-Mart pharmacy is often the only pharmacy within many miles. The probable effect from this decision will be an increase in unwanted pregnancies, and a resultant increase in the numbers of abortions. More details.
bullet 1999-MAY: USA: Embryo research: The National Bioethics Advisory Commission stated that researchers should be allowed to harvest stem cells from leftover embryos at fertility clinics. The hope is that stem cell research may result in effective treatments for Parkinson's disease, diabetes and other diseases and disorders. Research on stem cells might also lead to methods of growing body parts. This would save countless lives. At this time, the number of organs available for transplantation is not nearly enough to satisfy the need. The Commission reasons that the benefits from research outweigh any "taint that might attach from the source of the stem cells."

Pro-life groups are opposed to such research because the embryo is destroyed as the stem cells are harvesting. Since they believe that life becomes human life at the point of conception, they view embryos as babies -- as full human beings. Judy Brown, spokesperson for the American Life League said: "There are not two classes of human beings. The embryo baby is no different than any other human being and should never be subjected to destructive research." Janet Parshall, spokesperson for the Family Research Council, said that the Commission's position weighing the benefits of research vs. the "taint" of harvesting cells from embryos is "the worst kind of utilitarianism, to say we will destroy these so those can live." More details.
bullet 1999-JUN: Germany - Update to Roman Catholic Bishops' dilemma: Since 1995, before a German women can obtain an abortion, she needs a certificate that confirms that she has attended a counseling center. The Roman Catholic church has provided such counseling services, but was concerned that the certificate would be looked upon as a type of permit to have an all-expenses-paid abortion. The Pope asked that the text of the certificate be changed to state that it "cannot be used to obtain a decriminalized abortion." 2
bullet 1999-OCT-21: USA: Senate supports Roe vs Wade: The U.S. senate passed a non-binding resolution which expressed support for the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court which legalized abortion. The resolution passed 51 to 48. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) commented: "It is now clear what the true agenda of the anti-choice members...really is. They want to criminalize choice." The resolution is expected to become a key weapon during the year 2000 elections for the senate.

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News items from the year 2000:

bullet 2000-JAN-5: Rhode Island: Approval of medical abortion medication: Rhode Island passed legislation that approves of the use of medication to produce non-surgical abortions. This means that all 50 states of the U.S. now approve the use of such medication. Methotrexate & Misoprostol are thus legally available across the country.
bullet 2000-JAN-18: USA: Abortion conspiracy in SC & abortion clinic buffer zone in CO: The U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of 7 to 2, decided to not review the conviction of Pastors for Life. They were found guilty of conspiracy as a result of their anti-abortion activity in South Carolina. 

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case "Hill vs. Colorado" on 2000-JAN-19. This case involves a Colorado statute which creates a 100 foot buffer zone around each medical facility. Within that zone, protestors have to stay at least eight feet away from any patron and ask permission to carry a sign or distribute literature. 
bullet 2000-JAN-24: USA: State laws restricting abortion: According to the ReligionToday new service:
"Seventy bills limiting abortion and 57 increasing abortion rights were passed last year in the United States, a report from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League said. Neither side in the debate was pleased with the results...Texas and Michigan passed the most laws restricting abortion, seven each, the report said. North Dakota surpassed Louisiana as the state where abortions are most difficult to obtain because of legal restrictions. Sixteen states passed laws promoting abstinence over other forms of birth control...Abortion rights groups applauded passage of laws requiring insurance coverage for contraceptives in nine states, and a New York law protecting clinics from violence and harassment."
2000-JAN-28: Ohio: Parents suing physicians over disabled child: Acccording to the ReligionToday new service: A couple in Springdale OH is suing their two physicians. The couple alleges that the doctors knew that the fetus that Patricia was carrying was likely to be born with spina bifida but did not inform them. They say that they would have terminated the pregnancy if they had known. Alicia, now 6, was born with the disorder. She is paralyzed from the chest down, is mentally impaired and will require a lifetime of care. Lawyers for one of the physicians say that the doctors did not cause the birth defect and should not be held responsible for the fact that Alicia is alive.
bullet 2000-JAN-31: Mass: Abortion clinic buffer zones: The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has issued an advisory opinion. They said that a proposed bill (S-148) is constitutional. This court can do what the U.S. Supreme Court cannot do; it can offer an opinion to the legislature on the constitutionality of proposed legislation. The law would establish a 25 foot buffer zone around abortion clinics where special rules restricting behavior would be enforced. This law is similar to another state law which enforced a 36 foot buffer zone; in the Masden decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the latter law was constitutional.
bullet 2000-APR-21: Uganda: Abortion access conflict: According to Newsroom: "Physicians and feminists are squaring off with church leaders over the question of legalizing abortion in Uganda, where a third of all maternal deaths are attributed to complications from illegal abortions. The problem is complicated by the activities of rebel groups in northern and western Uganda who rape women as a weapon of war." 3 This creates many unwanted pregnancies which sometimes leads to illegal abortion and death. Daywatch commented that: "The northern-based rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by...Joseph Kony, and Allied Democratic Forces rebels in western Uganda use rape as a weapon of war. Church leaders worry about the message legalizing abortion would send to teenagers in particular, fearing that it would encourage promiscuity. The Uganda Medical Association (UMA) contends that legalizing abortion would reduce significantly the number of maternal deaths in this East African nation." 4

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2000-MAY-1: USA: U.S. Supreme Court muzzles demonstrators: According to ReligionToday: 3 22 pro-life demonstrators were arrested in front of the U.S. Supreme Court last week, and held for 12 hours before being released. They were carrying a series of four-foot tall drawings which portrayed partial-birth-abortions, and an eight-foot photograph of a late-term decapitated fetus. They had previously received approval from the Supreme Court Police to show these signs. However, a new law "regulation six" had been signed just hours previous to the demonstration. Groups of signs and signs taller than four feet were prohibited from the vicinity of the Court. 


2000-MAY-15: USA: Fetal photograph an urban legend: A remarkable photograph was published in USA TODAY and has since been very widely circulated by pro-life groups. It was taken during a surgical operation in which a 21 week old fetus suffering from spina bifida was removed from the womb. A lesion was repaired at the base of its spine and the fetus was returned to the womb for a later, natural delivery. As a result, the child seems to have been spared many of the complications of the spinal defect, which might have included paralysis and brain damage. During the operation, a photographer took a photograph which shows the fetus' hand emerging from the womb, with its fingers wrapped around one of the surgeon's fingers. 5

Referring to the photograph, Brad Clanton, counsel for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, said "It unambiguously illustrates the humanity of an unborn child at approximately the same stage of pregnancy as most infants who are killed by partial-birth abortion...No reasonable person could look at the picture and deny that there is a tiny member of the human race, with an arm, a hand, fingers and a sense of touch."

James Dobson, founder and head of the Fundamentalist Christian organization Focus on the Family edited a story about the photograph that he picked up from the Internet. It said, in part:

"What you are witnessing should be designated 'Picture of the Year,' or, perhaps, 'The Picture of the Decade.' It won’t be. Most people will never get an opportunity to see it.

The photo depicts a 21-week-old pre-born baby ... diagnosed with spina bifida... As Dr. Bruner was probing the opening, the baby’s fully-developed hand wrapped itself around the finger of the surgeon. The photograph captures that amazing moment with perfect clarity.

This picture should be shown on every newscast and run in every newspaper in America. Every teenager should also see it. Why? Because it is an unmistakable reminder that growing in the womb of each mother is a baby. It is not a ‘blob of tissue,’ or a ‘product of conception.’ A pre-born baby is fully human from the moment of conception. What we see in the photograph expresses that understanding better than a thousand words...

That’s what human pregnancy and birth are about — a tiny human being with an eternal soul being formed in the ‘image of God.’ And that’s what the media elite fails to comprehend. That’s also why they don’t want people to see the incredible picture of this precious baby grasping the hand of his physician. I pray that it will not be hidden forever."

Presbyterians Pro-Life web site commented: "The fetus and Dr. Bruner are 'holding hands.' " 6

These are very moving stories. However, they contain some inaccuracies:

The fetus’ hand did not wrap "itself around the finger of the surgeon." The fetus was not "grasping the hand of his physician." It had no "sense of touch." Rather, according to the doctor, he saw the hand "sort of pop up in the incision." The surgeon then "reached over and picked it up." According to the doctor, "The baby did not reach out. The baby was anesthetized.  The baby was not aware of what was going on."

The photograph has not been hidden. It has been widely publicized. It has been featured in USA Today, and is seen on many web sites, including those of Presbyterians Pro-Life, 6  Focus on the Family web site, 7 etc. It has been very widely circulated privately. This author received many copies via Email.

This photograph is not at all typical of fetuses who are aborted. It was 21 weeks old when the photo was taken. 90% of all abortions are done during the first three months of pregnancy -- the first trimester. 10% are done during the fourth to sixth months of pregnancy -- the second trimester. Only a few percent are done at the age of this fetus.

The fetus is now a baby named Samuel. He was delivered on 1999-DEC-2 and has been passing his normal milestones successfully.

bullet 2000-MAY-30: World: Abortion access in international waters: In 1999, physician Rebecca Gomperts, a pro-choice advocate from the Netherlands, organized the non-profit agency Women on Waves Foundation. They plan to start an family planning clinic on board a Dutch ship called Sea Change. The ship will sail "around the world to provide training, workshops, information, contraceptives, and abortion." They will provide information and abortions "outside territorial waters" to women who live in countries where birth control information and abortions are difficult or illegal to obtain. She said that "Due to sexual education, accessibility of contraception and legal abortion [in the Netherlands], our country has the world's lowest abortion rate...Of the 53 million abortions done annually worldwide, 20 million are illegal and unsafe, with the result that at least 70,000 women die each year unnecessarily."

Pro-life groups are not pleased with this development. Judie Brown of the American Life League said that the agency would be "circumventing the sovereign rights of nations by carrying women offshore to kill their is untenable to think that a safe abortion could be performed on the rolling high seas." She also predicted that "These women may literally end up being shark bait, along with the mortal remains of their babies. This is an outrage of the highest order which must be stopped."8,9 
bullet 2000-JUN-13: Illinois: Governor vetoes a law restricting abortion: According to EWTN News:
"Illinois Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, on Friday vetoed legislation to ban state-funded abortions for Medicare-covered women who want them for health reasons." This leaves the current law in place. It allows a woman to obtain an abortion at public expense for mental, economic or social health reasons. If the bill had been made law, coverage would have been limited to cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest or if it endangered the woman's life.
bullet 2000-JUN-13: USA: AMA considered resolution about abortion access: According to EWTN News (JUN-13) and ReligionToday (JUN-14): The policy committee of the American Medical Association considered a resolution proposed by a group of California doctors who are concerned that large scale mergers and sales of hospitals to Roman Catholic groups have seriously restricted access to reproductive procedures. The resolution would ask state and federal lawmakers to require all all hospitals "offer a full range of reproductive services," including sterilizations and birth control, or risk losing Medicare or Medicaid funding. This would include the 600 hospitals that are controlled by the Roman Catholic church. The Catholic Health Association said that its hospitals are opposed to the proposal because it would violate Roman Catholic moral principles. Cardinal Francis George from Chicago addressed the committee, saying that church hospitals would shut their doors rather than offer abortions. He said: "effectively, the AMA is being asked to help abolish Catholic hospitals."

The AMA House of Delegates passed a resolution asking insurers to make certain that their patients have access to birth control services. They also stated that health care providers should never be required to perform procedures that violate their moral principles.

bullet 2000-JUN-28: USA: U.S. Supreme Court OK's D&X Procedures: According to Lycos News: In a close 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court declared a Nebraska law to be unconstitutional. The court confirmed an earlier decision by a U.S. appeals court. The law had outlawed D&X procedures, called by some "Partial Birth Abortions." Justice Stephen Breyer said that the law would have needed an exception to preserve the health of the woman in order to be constitutional. He said that a state cannot endanger a woman's health when it regulates methods of abortion. "All those who perform abortion procedures using that method [would have feared]...prosecution, conviction and imprisonment. The result is an undue burden upon a woman's right to make an abortion decision." There are either 28 or 29 other states which have legislation similar to Nebraska's. (Sources differ on the exact number). Many of them are almost identical in wording to the Nebraska legislation and have no exception to preserve the health of the woman. They are now unconstitutional as well. 10 
bullet 2000-JUN-28: USA: U.S. Supreme Court restricts "sidewalk counseling": Anti-abortion demonstrators frequently engage in what they call "sidewalk counseling" outside abortion clinics. Pro-choice advocates often describe this as harassment, and as blocking clinic access. The Colorado state legislature created a "bubble law" which prohibits demonstrators, who are within 100 feet of the entrance of a clinic, from approaching within eight feet of a person without the latter's permission. This makes it impossible for anti-abortion demonstrators to interfere with clinic access. It makes it difficult for them to hand out leaflets, or engage in a conversation in a normal tone of voice. The person entering a clinic may still choose to move those eight feet, and receive a pamphlet or engage a demonstrator in conversation. Those breaking the law can be fined up to $750 and/or receive a jail sentence of up to six months. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law by an unusual 6 to 3 vote in the Hill vs. Colorado case. (Many recent court decisions on social matters have received a 5 to 4 vote.) Associate Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion. He stated that: "This statute simply empowers private citizens entering a health care facility with the ability to prevent a speaker, who is within eight feet and advancing, from communicating a message they do not wish to hear." He rejected the suggestion that the Colorado law restricted free-speech rights. He wrote: "The right to free speech, of course, includes the right to attempt to persuade others to change their views, and may not be curtailed simply because the speaker's message may be offensive to his audience. But the protection afforded to offensive messages does not always embrace offensive speech that is so intrusive that the unwilling audience cannot avoid it." Associate Justice Antonin Scalia called the ruling "one of many aggressively pro-abortion novelties announced by the court in recent years." Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "Today's decision is an unprecedented departure from this court's teachings respecting unpopular speech in public." 11 According to Focus on the Family, Jim Henderson, spokesperson for the fundamentalist Christian American Center for Law and Justice, said the high court's verdict in the Hill vs. Colorado case shocked many free-speech advocates. Henderson said many other jurisdictions will likely see the ruling as a green light for such laws. He added that such restrictions only serve to increase emotional confrontations rather than reduce them. 12 Massachusetts legislators have passed a bill which would create a 18 foot bubble zone around abortion clinics, and a six foot floating bubble zone around any passersby. Jim Henderson, spokesperson of the American Center for Law and Justice, a fundamentalist Christian advocacy group, said other cities are adopting "bubble laws." Albuquerque, N.M. municipal government is debating a bylaw that would include schools and worship facilities. Henderson said that such laws are based on the assumption that all public speech is unwelcome and can be limited. That concept jeopardizes free speech in all of its venues, including the media. 13
bullet 2000-JUN-30: World: Planned Parenthood criticizes Pope: According to the EWTN News Brief: The International Planned Parenthood Federation on Friday accused Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Church of waging a psychological war on women by teaching that abortion and contraception are sinful. In a letter to the church, they stated: "The opinion and actions of the Holy See in regard to sexual and reproductive health and rights are seen by many as a kind of war, a war that contributes to the suffering and deaths of millions of innocent people, a war not conducted with guns and fire but with condemnation and psychological terror...We send you an urgent plea to end this war and to contribute to peace and the well-being of women, by listening to the voices of the world's women, who need access to reproductive health and respect for their right to make decisions about their lives.

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Continue with subsequent news items starting 2000-JUL

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  1. Current News Summary,, 1999-MAY-26
  2. "Pope clarifies position on German abortion counseling," Maranatha Christian Journal, 1999-JUN-25.
  3. Newsroom alert, 2000-APR-21. Newsroom is a Christian news source. Their web site contains many  articles on religious topics at
  4. "Uganda physicians and church leaders clash over abortion," Maranatha Christian Journal, 2000-APR-21, at: 
  5. ReligionToday provides free newsletters to which you can subscribe at: These summaries are part of, which also includes,,,,,,,,, and
  6. Presbyterians Pro-Life Research, Education and Care, Inc. has a web site at: 
  7. James Dobson, "Dr. Dobson's Study, 2000-APR" at: A copy of the photograph can be seen at this URL.
  8. ReligionToday News Summary, 2000-MAY-30
  9. Maranatha Christian Journal, "Shipboard abortions planned for third world countries," at: 
  10. James Vicini, "Supreme court strikes down anti-abortion law," 2000-JUN-28, at:
  11. "Supreme Court upholds limits on sidewalk counseling," Evangelical Press News Service, 2000-JUN-29. Available at: 
  12. Martha Kleder, "'Bubble Zone' ruling angers pro-lifers," Family News in Focus, at: 
  13. Martha Lkeder, "'Bubble zone' reasoning spreads," Focus on the Family, at:

Copyright © 1999 to 2001 incl., by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2001-NOV-9
Author: B.A. Robinson

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