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ABORTION NEWS

From 2002-JAN to MARCH

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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:

bullet2002-JAN-4: NY: State issuing subpoenas to crisis pregnancy centers: The state of New York passed legislation during the 1980s which required Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPS) to advertise in the phone book as "abortion alternatives." This was in response to complaints that some CPSs were deceptive in telling clients exactly what services they provide. The state's more than 100 CPSs, including 15 in the city of New York, are under investigation again. The state's attorney general has launched an investigation into whether the CPS and similar groups are providing "deceptive" medical information to pregnant women. New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer (D) started to issuing subpoenas to several CPS on JAN-4. One subpoena states that the CPS "may have violated one or more ... statutes by misrepresenting the services they provide, diagnosing pregnancy and advising persons on medical options without being licensed to do so, and/or providing deceptive and inaccurate medical information." The subpoena requires the CPS to supply copies of their advertising, web site URLs, lists of services that they provide, lists of their staff, training materials, blank forms, records of all agreements made and a list of clients. Chris Slattery, the founder of Expectant Mother Care, is reported as having said that the investigation and "probable lawsuit ...[are] an attack on the heart and soul of the pro-life movement's compassionate wing...They have attacked the freedom of religion and speech, to counsel the doubtful women who are considering an abortion alternative like marriage and adoption..."What they really want us to do is to put crosses in our ads, say we are pro-life and [tell the public] 'don't call.' And if a woman does call, say 'don't come in because we don't offer abortions,' and if they do come in, then they want us to say 'please wait until we have a licensed professional to counsel you who will be morally neutral on abortion, who will give you non-directive counseling'." He is also reported as saying that he wants to uncover the "conspiracy between the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and the attorney general to shut down the crisis pregnancy centers...This attack, if successful, will have ripple effects nationwide. Because if they can successfully ban counseling by volunteer, lay people, this could spread across the country and literally cripple the volunteer movement that is the heart and soul of compassionate abortion alternatives counseling."
bullet2002-JAN-21: DC: March for Life smallest in history: According to UPI, the March for Life on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade was the smallest ever. In the 1990s, march organizers estimated crowds of over 100,000 participants; police estimated about 35,000. On 2002-JAN-21, Capitol Police estimated between 5,000 and 8,000 marchers. By the afternoon, the estimate had increased to 15,000. UPI wrote that "the crowd was heavily white middle class and seemed to be composed of mostly Catholic school students and their families." Kim Gandy, president of the pro-choice National Organization for Women (NOW) said, "Roe vs. Wade is in more danger today than at any other time in the last 29 years. George W. Bush's anti-abortion agenda could completely tip the scales of justice against women's rights. His commitment to stacking the federal courts with right-wing ideologues is frighteningly clear." 2
bullet2002-FEB-02: Ireland: Date for referendum set: The government has scheduled the third abortion referendum in 20 years for MAR-6. The referendum, if passed, will:
bulletNot allow an abortion if the woman is suicidal.
bulletNot allow an abortion if one is needed to prevent serious disability to the woman.
bulletProtect the life of the embryo and fetus from the time of implantation to birth -- i.e. during the entire pregnancy.
bulletNot protect the life of the pre-embryo and embryo from the time of conception to implantation. -- i.e. before pregnancy has started. This has major implications in stem cell research and emergency contraception.
bullet"...give constitutional backing to current medical practice in Ireland." That is, to perform abortions when the woman's life is in danger. 3
bullet2002-FEB-4: Mexico: Roman Catholic bishops express concern over court decision: On JAN-30, the Mexico Supreme Court ratified the "Robles Law" which allows abortions where the fetus is genetically defective or when pregnancy was as the result of rape or unauthorized artificial insemination. The court's vote was six to five in favor of the rape clause and eleven to seven in favor of the abortion of genetically defective fetuses. The court ruled that: "Abortion will continue to be a crime, those who perform them are responsible for a crime, they simply won't be punished."

The legislation was initiated by Rosario Robles while she was mayor of Mexico City; it was later approved by the city's legislative assembly. Bishop Abelardo Alvarado, secretary general of the Mexican Bishops Conference (CEM), repeated the stance of the Roman Catholic Church which is to be opposed to abortion under all circumstances. The church will give its moral support to people who protest the law, but they will not take an active part in demonstrations. Bishop Alvarado likened abortion to a "death culture that conflicts with the roots of the Mexican people and which represents an affront against the identity and role of the family, a sanctuary for life and a fundamental cell of society."

"According to Reforma, in Mexico 1.5 million [mostly illegal] abortions are performed annually and a women is raped every five minutes." 4,5
bullet2002-FEB-4: World: Allegation of "design abortions" at Olympics: Celeste McGovern, a writer for a Canadian independent newsmagazine, Report, alleges that some female athletic competitors are intentionally becoming pregnant in order to boost their red blood cell count. Then they have an abortion shortly before competing. The result can be a significant performance enhancement. Mona Passignano, director of research at the Texas pro-life group Life Dynamics allegedly quoted a Finnish sports medicine expert as saying: "Now that drug testing is routine, pregnancy is becoming the favorite way of getting an edge on competition." 6
bullet2002-FEB-11: UT: Condom giveaway condemned by pro-life and religious groups: A group of organizations, including the American Red Cross, Utah AIDS Foundation and Planned Parenthood are distributing more than 250,000 free condoms to Olympic visitors. They are also giving 12,000 free condoms to 2,400 athletes.  This promotion, called "SafeGames 2002" has been condemned by a variety of religious and other groups.  Gayle Ruzicka, spokesperson for the Utah Eagle Forum said: "They're sending a very unhealthy message, as well as a very immoral message. Of course, [the suppliers are] not bothering to tell them that the majority of the [sexually transmitted diseases] out there have nothing to do with whether you do or do not use a condom." This might be a reference to the HPV virus which sometimes infects an area of the body not protected by a condom. Patrick Fagan, spokesperson for the Heritage Foundation, linked pre-marital sex with marriage failure. He said "Here we have some of the finest blossoms of youth, of athletes at their peak performance. There are people who want to lead them in a direction that the body was never meant to go. They're sowing the seeds for fragile marital relations and they're sowing the seeds for potential divorce." A coalition of pro-life groups will be holding demonstrations to protest the offering of free condoms. 7
bullet2002-FEB-15: USA: Presbyterian Church (USA) revises stance on late term abortions: The Church's year 2001 national assembly asked their social policy and litigation committees to re-examine the morality late-term abortions if a woman has a lack of resources or commitment to care for a baby. "Late term" in this case means after the fetus becomes viable. The committees will recommend to the 2002-JUN national assembly that the clause approving of such abortions be deleted. The church would then approve of an abortion after viability if it is necessary "to save the life of the woman, to preserve the woman's health in circumstances of a serious risk to the health of the woman, to avoid fetal suffering as a result of untreatable life-threatening genetic anomalies, or in cases of incest or rape." 8
bulletWeek of 2002-FEB-24: Roman Catholic Church to support pregnant women: According to Zenit.org, the German Episcopal conference announced the establishment of a fund of six million euros (about 5.2 million U.S. dollars) to give financial assistance to pregnant women who have gone to an abortion consultation center, and who have decided to not have an abortion.
bullet2002-FEB-22: Conference on artificial wombs: The Ethics Center at Oklahoma State University's Philosophy Department held a two-day conference starting on FEB-22. It was called: "The End of Natural Motherhood? The Artificial Womb and Designer Babies." It now appears to be technically possible to construct an artificial womb so that an human embryo can be brought to full term as a newborn. A Japanese scientist has successfully incubated goat fetuses. According to the organizer of the conference, Scott Gelfand: "The point of the conference is to start discussing the goods and the bads, trying to at least anticipate what some of the ramifications will be before the technology becomes a reality." He speculated that an artificial womb could provide a safer environment, free of cigarette smoke, alcohol and accidents. There are other factors: It could lower the abortion rate, because embryos might be transferable from real to artificial wombs instead of being destroyed. Late term abortions, which are sometimes required due to toxic pregnancies, would no longer be performed. It would relieve women from the discomfort of carrying a growing fetus for nine months, and undergoing labor. Birth would also be easier for the fetus. Carrie Gordon Earll, bioethics analyst at Focus on the Family, commented: "This is another example of technology not being good or bad necessarily, but it depends on how we use it. And we really don't know where this is going. God had a plan for us being conceived in a womb and birth through that birth canal. For us to arbitrarily change that without seeing where that will take us, I think, is very, very risky." 9
bullet2002-FEB-28: NY: Investigations of Crisis Pregnancy Centers halted: New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer appears to have stopped investigating New York's crisis-pregnancy centers. They had allegedly disseminated deceptive information and performed tests that they were not licensed to do.
bullet2002-MAR-7: VA: 32nd try at an anti D&X state law: The Virginia legislature passed a bill that would prohibit allow a woman to get a D&X abortion either if her life is in danger or if it is needed to prevent "substantial or irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."  Unlike 31 previous state laws, this one might be found constitutional by the courts. More details.
bullet2002-MAR-8: Germany: Pope orders bishop to obey: In Germany, before a woman can obtain an abortion, she must first undergo abortion counseling and obtain a pregnancy counseling certificate. According to the Catholic charity Caritas, 5,000 German women had decided to not have an abortion after undergoing church counseling. However, in 1999, the Pope ordered all of the Roman Catholic Bishops to stop issuing these certificates. This extricates the church from the abortion process, which the church considers an extreme sin. However, it leaves Roman Catholic women few choices except to obtain their counseling certificates from secular agencies. The resultant abortion rate has probably increased significantly in the country. All of the bishops followed the order except for Bishop Kamphaus of the Limburg diocese, which includes Frankfurt. He recently received a personal, formal order from the pope. He will shortly announce his decision whether he will either comply or step down. 10
bullet2002-MAR-8: Ireland: Public defeats government referendum: In Ireland, abortion is illegal except in those rare cases where the life of the woman is at risk. As a result, about 7,000 pregnant women each year travel to clinics in Britain to obtain their abortions. The Irish public rejected a government referendum which would have denied abortions to suicidally depressed women. The vote was narrow: 629,041 against and 618,485 in favor. Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach, (head of government) had proposed the referendum, with the strong support of his coalition government and the Roman Catholic church. The vote was severely split on rural/urban lines, with city folk heavily voting against the referendum. 11

This essay continues below.

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bullet2002-MAR-8: VA: New bill opposing D&X abortions: In mid-2000, the U.S. Supreme Court, declared that a Nebraska anti-D&X law was unconstitutional, because it did not provide an exception to protect the health of the pregnant woman. This decision had the effect of striking down all of the D&X abortion laws that had been previously passed by 31 states.

The Virginia legislature passed a new bill on 2002-MAR-7 which would criminalize what it calls "medically induced infanticide." It passed the House by a vote of 75 to 25, and the Senate by 26 to 12. The bill forbids anyone who "deliberately and intentionally performs either the delivery of a living fetus or a substantial portion thereof...for the purpose of performing a subprocedure intended to kill the fetus." 12 The bill contains the usual exception clause which would allow a D&X abortion if the woman's life is in danger. Unlike an earlier Virginian bill passed in 1998, this one has a novel feature: it also allows D&X abortions if needed to prevent "substantial or irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." This is precisely the type of exception clause that Democrats in Congress had tried unsuccessfully to add to the various Republican D&X bills over many years.

Governor Mark R. Warner (D) is expected to veto the bill. He had promised to sign the bill into law if he felt that it withstand a constitutional challenge. But "Critics said the measure...failed several constitutional standards.13

If signed into law, it will be up to the courts to determine whether the "major bodily function" clause is sufficiently broad and specific to make the law constitutional.  Bennet Greenberg, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia said: "I'm not aware of a need for this bill in the first place, since this procedure is very, very rare, and I'm not aware it's ever been used." 12 "According to Department of Health statistics, 25,913 abortions were performed in Virginia in 1998. Ninety-five percent, or 24,543 were performed during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Only six [abortions  0.023%] were reported for weeks 28 and later." 13
bullet2002-MAR-27: ID: Jewish-Roman Catholic dispute over pro-life exhibit: Rabbi Daniel Fink of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel in Boise, ID, has asked Bishop Michael Driscoll to withdraw his church's co-sponsorship of an anti-abortion exhibit. It has been organized by the St. Paul's Catholic Student Group, Campus Crusade for Christ, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and Baptist Campus Ministries. Called "Generation Life Right, Wrong or Justified," it features a dozen eight-feet wide panels containing photos of corpses in Nazi death camps, of African-American lynching victims, and images of aborted fetuses. Rabbi Fink wrote: "Even if one is strongly anti-abortion, the notion that a woman who chooses to abort an 8-week-old fetus (or a doctor who performs such an abortion) is in any way analogous to Nazis or white supremacist lynch mobs is abhorrent. This demonizes women and doctors, creating the kind of environment that makes for clinic bombings and terror....The Nazis systematically destroyed Jewish individuals, communities and cultures. Southern white supremacists did the same to black southerners. To say that abortion is no different is to trivialize the suffering of blacks and Jews."

Bishop Driscoll replied, in part: "I think reference to the Holocaust was meant to address those who deny that the Holocaust happened. We, of course, know that the Holocaust happened. At the very least, there are thousands of pictures and accounts proving this fact. I think the point being made....is that aborted fetuses happen and, depending on the method used, some are gruesome....With that in mind, I do not see a need to ask the St. Paul's Catholic Community, serving BSU, to withdraw its sponsorship with the other Christian organizations." 14

bullet2002-MAR-30: ND & CA: Lawsuits alleging abortion-cancer link fail: The Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo ND was sued by two lawyers for false advertising. 15,16 The suit had been brought in 2000-JAN by Amy Jo Mattson, a pro-life sidewalk counselor, a local physician, a crisis pregnancy center and the Fargo Roman Catholic Diocese. Another media source named Amy Jo Kjolsrud as the individual who filed the lawsuit. 17 The clinic allegedly distributed a brochure which quoted a National Cancer Institute fact sheet and stated: "Anti-abortion activists claim that having an abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer and endangers future childbearing.  None of these claims are supported by medical research or established medical organizations."  (Emphasis in the original).

After four days of testimony, Judge Michael McGuire ruled in favor of the clinic. According to The Forum: "Based on expert testimony from epidemiologists and endocrinologists, McGuire decided the Fargo clinic did not mislead its patients through material contained in its brochures." Judge McGuire ruled: "It does appear that the clinic had the intent to put out correct information and that their information is not untrue or misleading in any way. They did exercise reasonable care...One thing is clear from the experts, and that is that there are inconsistencies. The issue seems to be in a state of flux."

Defense attorney Linda Rosenthal, from the New York-based Center for Reproductive Law, said: "The judge rejected the abortion-breast cancer scare tactic. This ruling should put to rest the unethical, anti-choice scare tactic of using pseudo-science to harass abortion clinics and scare women."
Lawyer John Kindley represented Kjolstrud at the Fargo ND trial. He allegedly plans to appeal the case to the North Dakota Supreme Court. Kindley earlier filed a similar lawsuit against Planned Parenthood of San Diego, CA. The judge dismissed the case prior to trial earlier in March.

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References:

  1. Jason Pierce, "Pro-Lifers Cry Foul in NY Attorney General's Probe," CNS News, at:  http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?
  2. Michael Kirkland, " 'March for Life' small, enthusiastic," UPI, at: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?
  3. Mark Brennock, "Government sets March 6th as polling day on abortion issue," The Irish Times, 2002-FEB-2 at: http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/front/
  4. "Bishops express regret over abortion court decision," TheNewsMexico.com, 2002-FEB-4, at: http://www.thenewsmexico.com/
  5. "Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion in rape cases," TheNewsMexico.com, 2002-JAN-31, at: http://www.thenewsmexico.com/
  6. Celeste McGovern, "Going for gold...It takes blood, sweat and an abortion to be a winner," Report, 2002-FEB-4, at: http://207.216.246.197/archive/report/
  7. Stuart Shepard, "Olympic Condom Giveaway Decried," Focus on the Family, at:  http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif
  8. "Compromise reached on late-term abortions," Associated Press, 2002-FEB-11. Online at: http://www.phillyburbs.com/couriertimes/
  9. Bob Kellogg, "Artificial womb ramifications explored," Focus on the Family, 2002-MAR-1, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif
  10. "Pope Orders Bishop to Obey Abortion Order," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2002-MAR-8.
  11. David Sharrock, "Irish voters reject change to abortion law," Telegraph Group Ltd, 2002-MAR-8, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
  12. Lisa Rein, "Va. Passes Ban on Type Of Abortion: Exception Allowed For Woman's Health," Washington Post, 2002-MAR-8, Page A01, at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  13. Tyler Whitley, "Abortion measure reaches governor ; Senate approves bill on 26-12 vote," Times-Dispatch, 2002-MAR-8, at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/
  14. "Boise rabbi, bishop clash over graphic anti-abortion exhibit: Display features 12 photographic murals at BSU," Idaho Statesman, at: http://204.228.236.37/story.asp?ID=6168
  15. Lara McGovern, "N.D. Abortion clinic sued," at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0009158.html 
  16. "False advertising alleged in lawsuit against Fargo abortion clinic," Pathlights, at: http://www.pathlights.com/abortion/
  17. Mary Jo Almquist, "Judge rules for clinic," The Forum, 2002-MAR-29, at: http://new.in-forum.com/articles/?id=8010

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Copyright 2002 & 2004 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2004-MAR-8
Author: B.A. Robinson

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