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From 2002-APRIL to 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:

bullet2002-APR-3: USA: Child custody Protection Act up for vote: This bill, H.R. 476, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee and will be voted upon by the House, probably on 2002-APR-17 or 18. It would make it a criminal act to knowingly transport a woman across state lines to get an abortion if the intent of the trip is to circumvent parental involvement laws in the woman's home state. If found guilty, the person doing the transporting would be liable to fines and up to one year imprisonment.

Some states require a woman under the age of 18 to either:
bulletNotify or obtain permission from a parent for the abortion, or
bulletObtain a court order that would permit her to obtain an abortion.

Many young women fear physical abuse or being thrown out on the street if they tell their parents that they are pregnant. Others are concerned about the effect of such news on their parents' health. They find it simpler to cross into a nearby state that does not have a parent involvement law. For example, Pennsylvania has such a law. Many young women in that state cross over into adjacent New Jersey to obtain an abortion. This places them at greater risk in the case of complications during the return trip. But many women are willing to take that risk in order to avoid the laws of their own state.

It is uncertain whether this bill, if signed into law, is constitutional. It inhibits freedom of movement within the United States -- a right that goes back more than two centuries. It is a weak bill, because the driver might be able to claim that he or she was unaware of that the young woman was seeking an abortion.

bullet2002-APR-16: WA: Planned Parenthood hired a full-time chaplain: Planned Parenthood is America's largest provider of contraceptive information, STD services and abortion. Their Washington State office has hired Rev. Monica Corsaro, a minister of the United Methodist Church (UMC) as a chaplain. Among other jobs, she will provide spiritual counseling to women considering an abortion. This will supplement medical information provided by other Planned Parenthood staff. Rev. Elaine Spanovsky of the UMC's Northwest Conference said: "There's an assumption that the chaplaincy position is an advocacy position for abortion, which is a long way from the United Methodist position on these things,"  Spanovsky said. "The United Methodist Church understands that in the real lives of real people there are what we call 'tragic conflicts of life with life.' " Kristin Hansen is a spokesperson for the Family Research Council, a Fundamentalist Christian group which opposes women's abortion access. She said: "Here's a woman who's been terribly deceived [about abortion] and now she's being used by Planned Parenthood to spread the deception....It's an attempt to put a religious gloss over abortion and an attempt to co-opt God to sell abortion."
bullet2002-APR-29: TX: Teenager granted permission to have an abortion: Texas normally requires that a parent of a pregnant woman under the age of 18 be notified 48 hours or more in  advance of an abortion. "Jane Doe 10" was reluctant to inform her mother, because she felt that she would be thrown out on the street. She feared abuse from her father if he were informed. He had abused her and her sisters in the past; she said that "little things set him off." Her only way to obtain an abortion was to obtain a court injunction that would bypass the notification process. She had to take her case to the Texas Supreme Court before she was given permission to have the abortion. Out of ten women who have appealed to the Supreme Court, only one other minor has been given permission to have the operation.
bullet2002-MAY-2: USA: Federal bankruptcy bill: The House and Senate have passed bills that re-write the Federal bankruptcy law. However, the Senate version includes an amendment by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) which says, in essence, that if a pro-life individual commits a criminal act associated with a protest at an abortion clinic, and is found guilty by a court, and is assigned court fines, damages and/or court costs, that they cannot declare bankruptcy in order to escape paying what they owe. Rev. Flip Benham, spokesperson for Operation Save America, said: "I think what we're dealing with here is a vendetta against every Christian that will live out His faith in the streets...[The amendment] would be incredibly chilling to Christians." 1 This statement appears to be false for a number of reasons:
bulletThe law would apply to persons of all religions, not just Christianity.
bulletMany Christians feel that they "live out their faith in the streets" by helping to maintain access to women's clinics.
bulletThe only persons who would be hurt by the bill would be individuals who commit criminal acts.
bullet2002-MAY-6: HI: Republican party drops all mention of abortion: In the year 2000, the party acknowledged "the right, as determined by the courts, of every woman to make her own decision regarding abortion, but we oppose partial-birth abortion." But some in the part are worried that this statement conflicts with the national party's stance against abortion access, and might offend Roman Catholics, Mormons and others who are pro-life. On the other hand, if the party deleted the text, than it ran the risk of alienating pro-choice voters. Acknowledging that the pro-life and pro-choice wings of the party cannot reach a consensus on abortion access, the state Republican party decided to delete all mention of abortion from its platform. Individual candidates will now be free to take the position of their choice. 2
bullet2002-MAY-27: FL: Massive billboards of aborted fetus on display: The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform has arranged to have gigantic billboards, measuring 100' long and 30' tall, towed behind airplanes in Southern Florida. They will concentrate on beaches and other places where large crowds gather, between the Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. They recommend parental discretion. 3
bullet2002-JUN-2: Switzerland: Early abortions decriminalized: Legislation had been passed by the Swiss legislature in 2001 which would legalize abortion on request during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. About 72% of the Swiss public voted in favor of the legislation.
bullet2002-JUN-1: USA: Federal court orders U.S. Military to pay for an abortion: In 1994, Maureen M. Britell, was married to a soldier when she became pregnant. The fetus suffered from anencephaly. It had no brain, could never attain consciousness, and would have inevitably died within a few days after being born. The government refused to pay for the abortion, so Ms. Britell launched a lawsuit. The court ruled in her favor. At the time of the abortion, she was part of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Service, (CHAMPUS), which only pays for abortions if the woman's life is at risk. 4
bullet2002-JUN-12: UK: British woman suing over post-abortion syndrome: A woman who had an abortion in 1998 is suing the National Health Service because she feels that medical staff should have warned her about adverse emotional effects of having an abortion. Dr Gillian Penny, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "I would suggest that this woman perhaps did have pre-existing psychological problems and I can only assume if she did take her case to court some sort of assessment of her pre-existing psychological state would have to be made as part of her case. And I would suspect that if she follows the usual pattern of women who do experience serious psychological problems after the abortion, you would find that she actually had a pre-existing psychological problem." 5

This essay continues below.

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bullet2002-JUN-20: DC: Presbyterian minister will disobey court injunction: Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a Presbyterian minister and director of the pro-life Christian Defense Coalition has announced that he expects to violate a 1998 federal court injunction. It requires protesters to not get closer than 20 feet abortion clinic entrances. The injunction was originally issued by Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. But Mahoney blames U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft for asking that the order be upheld. He said: "I'm going to pray and read scripture 25 feet [away] on the public sidewalk. I am then going to move within 10 feet, which would be in the 20-foot zone and do the exact same thing. We feel that the only way to deal with this is to peacefully go out and exercise our First Amendment rights, even though we know we may be facing six months in jail." Mahoney blames Attorney General Ashcroft, a fundamentalist Christian, for not having over-ruled the injunction by now. Mahoney said: "If Mister Ashcroft wants to incarcerate an American citizen for simply reading scripture on a public sidewalk, I would find that most troubling, particularly in today's climate, where America is facing terrorist attack. I think we should stand as a beacon of freedom to the world, that if you have political differences, your government will protect you and not crush you."
bullet2002-JUN-27: Two abortion groups decide to stop inflammatory statements: Bill Baird, director of the Pro-Choice League, released a joint statement that he and the Rev. Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, had signed. It condemns the usage of dehumanizing language in the dialogue over the issues of abortion and birth control. Baird said: "We both feel the demonizing of people on the opposite sides is the precursor to violence. Before you kill someone, you call them names." At the request of organizers of the National Right to Life Convention, Fr. Pavone declined to appear with Bill Baird. However, he did send Baird a letter which repeated his support for peace. 7

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  1. Stuart Shepard, "Amendment threatens pro-life protestors," CitizenLink, Focus on the Family news release, 2002-MAY-1.
  2. Kevin Dayton, "Abortion out of GOP platform," Honolulu Advertiser, 2002-MAY-6, at: http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/
  3. "Aerial Billboard Photo Over South Florida," PRNewswire, at: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?
  4. "U.S. Military Must Pay for Abortion: U.S. Military Must Pay for Abortion of Fetus With Rare Disease," Associated Press, at: http://abcnews.go.com/wire/
  5. "Woman sues over abortion 'trauma,' " Telegraph.co.uk at: http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news
  6. Jim Burns, "Minister Risks Jail Time To Read Scripture In Front Of Abortion Clinic," CNSews, 2002-JUN-19 at: http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?
  7. Patrick O'Shea, "Pro-choice and pro-life groups agree: Stop inflammatory statements and violence," Beaver County Times  & Allegheny Times, at: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?

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Copyright © 2002 & 2004 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2004-MAR-9
Author: B.A. Robinson

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