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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

ABORTION NEWS

From 2003-JANUARY 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:

bullet2003-JAN-4: TX: Texas Supreme Court rules state does not have to fund abortions: The Texas Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state law which prohibits the use of Medicaid money for most abortions is constitutional.

The present law allowed government funding of abortion in the case of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. Elizabeth Graham, a spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, lauded the court's decision. "Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry were again trying to (raid) our pockets and the Supreme Court unanimously told them 'no.' " A priority for Graham's pro-life group is now to make state funding unavailable in almost all instances, even in case of rape, or incest. She said: "That does not mean that we care any less about the 2 percent of children who will still be aborted. We will continue to work so that those children are protected."
bullet2003-JAN-7: UT: Utah Supreme Court decides "wrongful life" law is constitutional:
The Utah Supreme Court ruled that the state's Wrongful Life Act of 1983 is constitutional. The law prevents couples from filing "wrongful birth" or "wrongful life" lawsuits. Such suits maintain that a woman would have chosen to terminate her pregnancy if she had received proper information from her doctor. David Pearce, the couple's attorney, believes that the law is unconstitutional because it allows pro-life physicians to conceal critical genetic information from parents who might choose abortion. Justice Michael J. Wilkins wrote the majority decision which said, in part: "The statute does create a safe harbor for health care professionals who withhold information which could be used to make a determination on whether or not to abort a non-viable fetus. Nonetheless, we hold that this restriction on the ability to sue for damages does not place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman wishing to obtain an abortion." Justice Wilkins mentioned that the couple could still pursue a  breach of contract lawsuit. Attorney Rodney Parker, who represented the medical facility, said that the idea that anti-abortion doctors would mislead their patients was an "overstated threat....There are ethical considerations and licensing boards that deal with dishonesty. Even if someone were to do that, there are lots of other disincentives besides a lawsuit." The plaintiffs allegedly were told by their doctors that the pre-natal tests had indicated an 85% probability that the child would be born with Down Syndrome. However, they were also allegedly told that the chance of delivering a child with Down Syndrome was quite small because the tests often gave false positive. Their daughter was born in 1999 with Down Syndrome. 2
bullet2003-JAN-15: U.S.: RU-486 and similar pills used in about 6% of all abortions: The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that during the first six months of 2001, more than 37,000 non-surgical abortions were performed using RU-486 and similar medication. This represents approximately six percent of all abortions performed in the country. 3
bullet2003-JAN-22: DC & NY: Pro-choice and pro-life groups demonstrate: Wednesday, JAN-22 was the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which made early abortions legal throughout America. President Bush spoke by telephone to thousands of demonstrators who gathered near the White House. He said: "I admire your perseverance and your devotion to the cause of life. You and I share a commitment to building a culture of life in America, and we're making progress." He indicated that he hoped that a ban on D&X abortions would be passed by Congress. He called for a ban on human cloning.

The "March for Life" group assembled at Washington Monument. They tolled a large bell thirty times -- one for each year since the court decision. They placed a small white coffin on the stage, and walked to the Supreme Court building. A pro-choice group of about a hundred formed an ad-hoc rally at the court building. Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a telephone interview: "Things are looking very grim. For the first time, the presidency and Congress are in very hard-core anti-choice hands, and the federal courts are trending that way. So when you have all three branches of government beginning to not just tip away but start to take a sledgehammer to reproductive rights, it's a dangerous time for women." She mentioned that President Bush will probably have the opportunity to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice who opposes abortion access.

In Buffalo, NY about a dozen members from the "Army of God" and about two dozen pro-choice supporters staged opposing demonstrations outside of the jail where James Kopp is incarcerated. He has been charged with the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, a local obstetrician and abortion provider. Contrasting posters said: "Praise Jesus Jim Kopp topped and stopped a baby butchering Doc," "Save a Baby Call a Kopp," "Choice saves lives," and "Keep abortion legal." 4

bullet2003-FEB-7: ND: Bill would criminalize all abortions: On 2003-JAN-10, Representative Sally Sandvig (D) and Senator Russell Thane (R), introduced House Bill 1242. It would find any person "...guilty of a class AA felony if the person intentionally destroys or terminates the life of a pre-born child." A pre-born child is defined in the bill as "a human being from the moment of fertilization until the moment of birth." The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Christopher Dodson, Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, stated that the bill was unacceptable because it holds a woman culpable if she obtains an an abortion. He said that "[C]riminalizing the woman serves no legitimate purpose..." In addition, the bill lacks "a realistic possibility of withstanding constitutional scrutiny." Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided thirty years ago in Roe v. Wade that a state cannot restrict early abortions, then a state law criminalizing abortion would be clearly unconstitutional. In fact, a Representative or Senator who voted in favor of such a bill would violate their oath of office, which requires them to support the federal and state constitutions. On 2003-JAN-20, Roman Catholic Bishop of Bismarck, Paul A. Zipfel, stated: "I am in total agreement that this bill serves no legitimate purpose and can even be counterproductive to the goals of the Gospel of Life." The other bishop in the state, Samuel J. Aquila agreed. 5,6
bullet2003-FEB-13: PA: KKK leader charged with planning to bomb abortion clinics: David Wayne Hull, 40, of Amwell PA was allegedly arrested on FEB-13 and charged with plotting to bomb abortion clinics. He had allegedly arranged to purchase some hand grenades in 2002-NOV. Hull is a Christian Identity supporter, and the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. 7 His web site states that: "Our Klan is a super-secret Klan. All of our activities are shrouded in a mist of secrecy....Our officers never speak to the press about anything." The site describes its group as "a militant, Christian organization. The image that we invoke is that of Soldiers of Christ and Crusaders for Almighty God, the Sword of the Archangel." His closing words are: "Bullets, bombs, bloodshed and the Bible will win this war. Not cheap talk." 8
bullet2003-FEB-14: NC: Woman charged with shooting at an abortion clinic: Brenda Kaye Phillips, 44, was allegedly charged with a misdemeanor count of damage to property after she discharged a firearm at the Femcare Women's Clinic in Asheville NC. 9
bullet2003-FEB-17: OR: At least five bills to limit abortion access being introduced: The Informed Choice Initiative bill HB 2547 was introduced by Representative Betsy Close (R-Albany). It would require a woman to wait for 24-hours before she could have an abortion. The physician would have to inform her of the risks of the abortion, comparing them to the risks of continuing the pregnancy. She would also have to be informed of medical and assistance programs that she could access. Representative Deborah Kafoury, (D-Portland), the minority leader in the House, called the bill "an exercise in futility" that would fail in the Senate. Even if it did pass, the Governor Ted Kulongoski has promisted to veto any bill that places new limits on abortion access. Linda Bryant, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette described the bill as, "dangerous, misleading and completely unnecessary....There is no credible evidence that patients are dissatisfied with the counseling and consent process that they go through when obtaining abortion care."

Additional bills are expected in the near future:
bulletHB 2552 would require a woman under 18 to notify her parent or guardian before having an abortion.
bulletHB 2563 would define abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers.
bulletHB 2550 would require physicians to discuss fetal pain with women seeking abortions. They would also have to report to the government about any abortions performed. 10
bullet2003-FEB-17: UT: Two bills to limit abortion access being introduced: Representative Morgan Philpot, (R-Sandy) introduced bill SB123 which would prohibit the use of government revenue to fund agencies or insurance plans which pay for abortions, except in the case of pregnancies induced by rape or incest. Representative Mike Thompson, (R-Orem) has introduced bill HB241 which would make a D&X or late-term (over  20 week) abortions a third-degree felony, defining it as infanticide. Exceptions would be made to save the life of the woman. Because no health exception is allowed, the bill would be clearly unconstitutional if it passes into law. Jennifer Van Horn, an obstetrician/gynecologist and assistant professor at the University of Utah, said she has never heard of a D&X abortion being performed. Obstetrician Cynthia Jones said: "If following the law would lead to more health risk to mother, I'm caught between my best medical judgment and possibly facing a lawsuit." Planned Parenthood has reported that there were 3,289 abortions performed in Utah in 2001, but only one D&X has been done in the past 15 years. 11
bullet2002-FEB-18: GA: Bill introduced to ban all abortions: Bobbie Franklin (R-Marietta) introduced House Bill HD 377 to the Georgia House. It would recognize "...that the 'State of Georgia has the duty to protect all innocent life from the moment of conception until natural death.' [It] States that a fetus is a person from the moment of conception. Declares that abortion causes psychological disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal tendencies, increased tobacco use, increased drug and alcohol abuse, martial discord, and an increased risk of breast cancer. [It would ban]...all abortion without exception. This is another bill which is contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision and thus will be unconstitutional and unenforceable if signed into law. 16
bullet2003-FEB-20: USA: Anti RU-486 bill introduced into the House: Congressman David Vitter (R-LA) has introduced a bill in the house that would restrict the use of RU-486. Most pro-life activity is directed towards a total ban on the use of RU-488. However Vitter has taken an alternative approach: restricting the number of doctors who would be able to administer the drug. Available data shows that RU-486 is 35 times safer than continuing a pregnancy and giving birth. 12
bullet2003-FEB-21: MI: Pro-lifers to protest auction: Pro-life advocates are expected to hold a vigil at Mercy High School, a Roman Catholic parochial school in Farmington Hills, MI. The school is scheduling an auction as a fund raiser. One of the items being offered is a lunch with Governor Jennifer Granholm. The governor is personally opposed to abortion, but she is in favor of giving women the opportunity to choose. They originally offered the the at auction, then pulled it after vigorous protests by parents, alumnae and local Roman Catholics. Rosemarie Denton, an alumnus of Mercy High School and member of the Stop Granholm Church and Truth Project, called on Cardinal Adam Maida to veto the item. She said: "The Cardinal should stop this scandal. He has clearly proclaimed the Church's teaching, but Mercy prefers public opinion to respect for pre-born children, who Granholm seeks to kill." Finally, the school reinstated the item. In a ClickOnDetroit poll, 49% of Internet surfers said that the school made the right choice in offering the item at auction; 49% disagreed. 13
bullet2003-FEB-15: World: President Bush releases money to abortion providers: President Bush bypassed the "Mexico City" policy which prohibited Federal aid from funding abortion anywhere in the world. The policy also prohibits aid being given to international family planning organizations that provided abortion counseling, -- or provide abortions, or which advocated abortion access -- in as few as one country. They would be blacklisted and receive no funds at all -- even for family planning counseling unrelated to abortion elsewhere in the world. The ban was created by President Reagan, suspended by President Clinton, and then reinstated by President Bush.

Bush has authorized the distribution of $15 billion dollars over the next five years to 12 African countries, Haiti, and Guyana -- the nations with some of the highest rates of AIDS infection. The money would not fund abortions or abortion counseling, but would go to some non-governmental organizations which also have programs to provide abortion counseling. The president was faced with a conflict:
bulletIf he denied funding to those groups, then countless numbers of additional people would die from AIDS.
bulletIf he granted funding, then no money would go to fund abortions, or to provide abortion counseling. But some funding would support anti-AIDS programs by organizations in one country, even though the same organization also conducted family planning activities that included abortion in another country. 14

This essay continues below.

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bullet2003-FEB-22: WY: House passes bubble law to limit harassment of health clinic visitors: The Wyoming House gave preliminary approval of a bill which would make it a crime to obstruct persons entering or leaving a health care facility. According to the bill's sponsor, Representative Eve Franklin (D-Great Falls), it would establish an eight foot "bubble" around visitors yet would allow anti-abortion demonstrators to speak freely. Demonstrators would be not allowed to come within eight feet of a patient to provide written or spoken information, display a sign or "protest, counsel or educate about a health issue," without the patient's permission. The bill also would prohibit a protestor to come within 36 feet of a clinic entrance. Violators could receive a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The House vote was 52 to 48. A critic of the bill, Representative Scott Sales, (R-Bozeman) said: "We shouldn't create another section of law that is specific to a group of people." Another critic, Representative Michael Lange, (R-Billings), said that this bill could trigger a flood of similar bills in the future. He said: "There are a number of places in our society where emotions run high ... I think if we start down this path with one bubble, we'll soon have bubbles everywhere." A supporter of the bill, Brad Newman, (D-Butte), said that the bill should withstand a constitutional text, because it is similar to a Colorado law that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld two years previously. He said that the content of someone's speech cannot be regulated, but laws can restrict where it is said. 15
bullet2003-MAR-7: TX: Man drives vehicle into abortion clinic: Frank Lafayette Bird Jr., 61, a well-known anti-abortion protester, was arrested after he allegedly drove a delivery van through the front door of one of the Planned Parenthood clinics in Houston. Nobody was killed or injured; damage was minimal. The last attack was at that location was in 1998-JUL. 16
bullet2003-MAR-11: USA: Senate debate begins on "Partial Birth Abortion" bill: Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced the latest version of the Partial Birth Abortion Act (S. 3). It is very similar to two other bills which never became law. Debate on the bill started in 2003-MAR. 18 Three amendments have been, or are expected to be, offered:
bulletSenator Richard Durbin (D) plants to introduce an amendment to allow D&X procedure if needed to prevent the woman from suffering extremely heavy health consequences such as permanent disability. Mike Schwartz, of Concerned Women for America said: "A vote for the Durbin amendment is a vote to kill the partial-birth abortion ban ... and that means that means we'd be finished with this until the next Congress." If the amendment passes, then Senator Santorum is expected to withdraw his bill. He said: "It really is a phony amendment that wipes the whole ban out, and we hope that it will be defeated."
bulletSenator Patty Murray, (D-WA) offered an amendment on 2003-MAR-11 aimed at reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the abortion rate. The amendment would have funded the dissemination of information in schools about emergency contraception -- the "morning after" pill. It also would have required hospitals — including religious hospitals — to dispense emergency contraception to those patients who request it. The amendment was defeated.
bulletSenator Tom Harkin, D-IA, is expected to offer a non-binding resolution that reaffirms Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized all early abortions.
bullet2003-MAR-18: NY: James Kopp found guilty of murdering an abortion provider: James Kopp, 48, was found guilty of intentionally killing Dr. Barnett Slepian in the doctor's suburban Amherst, NY home on 1998-OCT-23.
bullet2003-MAR-24: Nicaragua: Debate over abortion for a 8 year old rape victim: All of the Spanish-speaking countries in South America, with the exception of Cuba, severely restrict abortion access. Some prohibit abortions even if it is necessary to save the life of the woman; others allow abortions if the woman's life is in danger; a few allow abortions in case of rape or incest; a few allow abortions when the woman's health is threatened. None allow abortion on request. The World Health Organization has reported that one-fifth of all maternal deaths in Latin America are caused by unsafe abortions. About 20% of all pregnancies in Latin America are terminated by abortions, in spite of restrictive legislation. The Roman Catholic church has strongly lobbied in favor of increasing restrictions, or of eliminating legal abortions entirely. Rosa, a 8 year old girl in Nicaragua, was raped in 2002-NOV and became pregnant. Doctors ruled that her pregnancy did not present a threat to Rosa's life. An abortion was performed, which the attorney-general later ruled legal. The Catholic Church noted that excommunication was automatic for anyone involved in the abortion, including Rosa and her family. 19

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References:

  1. Stuart Shepard, "Texas Rules Against Tax-Funded Abortion," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0023920.html
  2. " 'Wrongful Life' Statute Upheld," Salt Lake Tribune, 2003-JAN-1, at: http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jan/
  3. Amy Westfeldt, "RU-486, similar pills accounted for 6 percent of U.S. abortions, study  finds," Associated Press, 2002-JAN-15, at: http://www.nola.com/newsflash/topstory/
  4. Deborah Zabarenko, "Activists Rally on Abortion Rights Anniversary," Reuters, 2003-JAN-22, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  5. "New Catholic Scandal: North Dakota Bishops Oppose Bill to Outlaw Abortion," Good Morals News Service, at: http://www.goodmorals.org/hb1242/
  6. "Preborn Child Protection Act: North Dakota House Bill 1242." Text of the bill is online at: http://www.goodmorals.org/
  7. Torsten Ove and Dennis B. Roddy, "KKK leader accused of bomb plot: Abortion clinics target of his wrath, agents say,"  Post Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA, 2003-FEB-14, at: http://www.post-gazette.com/
  8. David Hull, "THE Order of the WHITE KNIGHTS OF THE KU KLUX KLAN," at:
     http://www.whiteknights.us/
  9. "Nurse arrested for shooting at abortion clinic in North Carolina; no one injured," Associated Press, 2003-FEB-14, at: http://www.nj.com/newsflash/national/
  10. Dana Haynes, "Bill to limit abortion rights reaches House: The first of several proposals will get a hearing today," Statesman Journal, 2003-FEB-18, at: http://news.statesmanjournal.com/
  11. James Thalman, "Two anti-abortion bills go to House: One sets legal penalties, the other financial ones," Deseret News, 2003-FEB-17, at: http://deseretnews.com/dn/
  12. David Brody, "Bill to Restrict RU-486 Introduced," Focus on the Family, 2003-FEB-20, at:  http://www.family.org/
  13. "Pro-Lifers Plan Prayer Protest At Auction; School Reinstates Luncheon With Granholm," ClickOnDetroit, 2003-FEB-22, at: http://www.clickondetroit.com/
  14. Richard Stevenson, "Bush Eases Ban on AIDS Money to Pro-Abortion Groups Abroad," New York Times, 2003-FEB-15, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/15/
  15. "House backs 'bubble' around people at clinics," Billings Gazette, at: http://www.billingsgazette.com/
  16. "Georgia," NARAL, at: http://mail.naral.org/
  17. S.L. Bardwell, "Man drives van into Houston abortion clinic," Houston Chronicle, 2003-MAR-7, at: http://www.chron.com/
  18. David Brody, "Senate Takes Up Partial-Birth Abortion Bill," Family News in Focus, 2003-MAR-11, at: http://www.family.org/
  19. T. Christian Miller, "Abortion for rape victim, 9, sparks furor," Toronto Star, 2003-MAR-24, Page A16

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Copyright © 2003 & 2004 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Created: 2003-FEB-7
Latest update: 2004-MAR-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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