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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-OCT-1: NJ: Bill to issue birth certificates to stillborn fetuses: A bill is stalled in the New Jersey Assembly that would authorize the issuance of birth certificates to late-term fetuses who are stillborn. Kathy Evans gave birth to a stillborn fetus at 39 weeks gestation. She was issued a death certificate. She asked: "When you're issued only a death certificate, the first question that comes into your mind is, 'How can one die if one has not been born?' That little tangible thing that you have that represents that child existed in your life....is something you want to hold on to for the rest of your life." 1
bullet2003-OCT-4: DC: Pro-choice rally: People for the American Way Foundation, NARAL, Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, National Organization for Women and Feminist Majority Foundation held a rally before the Supreme Court . It was the first demonstration leading to the March for Freedom of Choice which will be held on 2004-APR-25. After the rally, a Campus Organizing Training was held. 2
bullet2003-OCT-10: MO: Judge blocks waiting period bill: Governor Bob Holden (D-MO) vetoed an abortion bill that would have required women to wait for at least 24 hours after receiving counseling about "the indicators and contra-indicators and risk factors, including any physical, psychological or situational factors" before being able to have an abortion. The legislature was able to override the veto on 2003-SEP-11. The law was to take effect 30 days later, on OCT-11. It carried a penalty of $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. However, senior U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright issued a temporary restraining order which blocked implementation of the law, He said that Planned Parenthood's claims had validity. They asserted that the law fails to give abortion providers a precise description of prohibited conduct. Also it encourages arbitrary enforcement of the law in violation of the constitutional protection of due process. Judge Wright wrote: "If allowed to go into effect, the act presents plaintiffs with a choice: Continue to provide abortions under peril of criminal sanctions, or stop providing abortions. Each option entails irreparable injury to providers and/or their patients." He has scheduled a hearing for 2003-JAN-27 to discuss whether a permanent injunction should be granted.

Americans United for Life
reports that 21 states currently have an "informed consent" law in place that requires such a waiting period. Five additional states have laws under litigation or enjoined by the courts. 3
bullet2003-OCT-10: MI: Governor vetoes D&X bill: Governor Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) vetoed a bill that would ban certain late-term abortion procedures. Opponents of the bill say that the bill was worded so broadly that it could restrict all abortions. The bill was opposed by two professional medical associations. The bill is clearly unconstitutional because it made no exception to protect the woman from serious health complications. It would have defined birth as occurring when any part of a fetus emerges from a woman's body. The governor vetoed the bill because: "federal courts repeatedly have declared unconstitutional efforts to end partial birth abortion." In 1996 and 1999, previous similar bills were declared unconstitutional because of a lack of a health exception clause. 4
bullet2003-OCT-13: AK: Superior Court rejects consent law: Judge Sen Tan of the Anchorage Superior Court struck down as unconstitutional a state law that required minors to obtain consent for an abortion from a parent or judge. The state is expected to appeal the ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court. The law was passed in 1997 and overturned by Judge Tan in 1998 on the grounds that all Alaskans have an equal right to make personal decisions. In 2003, the Supreme Court ordered Tan to reconsider, and to hear testimony on whether the state has a compelling interest in requiring minors to get consent. He concluded that the state did have compelling interests, but decided that the law doesn't accomplish these goals in the least restrictive way. Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, (R-AK) said the ruling "is way out of step with mainstream judicial reasoning....This is yet another example of judicial activism, of judges exceeding their constitutional authority and acting as writers of the law, rather than interpreters of it."

Anna Franks, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Alaska, said: "In a perfect world, all minors would have parents who they could talk to about these matters. Sadly, we don't live in a perfect world and so we challenged the law to protect the few minors who cannot seek parental consent for fear of physical or mental retribution. We adamantly support parental involvement. Our protocols require staff to encourage minors to involve their parents in their reproductive health decisions." 5

This essay continues below.

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bullet2003-OCT-30: Britain: Pro-life groups fighting abortions on genetically defective fetuses: At the present time, essentially all U.S. and UK expectant parents who learn that their fetus is severely malformed elect to have an abortion.  Pro-life groups in Britain are hoping to ban abortions in such cases involving severe fetal abnormality. Their rationale is that the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights outlaws "eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at the selection of persons." The Charter will apply in Britain when the EU's constitution comes into force. As expected, opinions differed over the likelihood of a lawsuit being successful:
bulletProfessor Jack Scarisbrick, of the pro-life group "Life," said:  "If you have a law which says special needs children can be killed, you are clearly practicing eugenics. It is weeding out substandard human beings."
bulletJosephine Quintavalle of the Pro Life Alliance said: "It is very early days, but we have asked for a legal opinion on it. We are looking at whether the charter will give that sort of path of challenge. From what we have been told, the clause in the charter is unalterable."
bulletA Foreign Office spokesperson said: "The article they are referring to will prohibit eugenics. But in the explanatory guide which follows the article and which is supposed to be taken into account by the European judges it says that this refers to selection programs. This includes campaigns for sterilization, forced pregnancies, compulsory ethnic marriage and all acts deemed to be international crimes in the statute of the international criminal court The idea is not to restrict the individual or the individual's choice but rather to protect the individual."
bulletProfessor Piet Eeckhout, director of the Centre of European Law at King's College London said: "There is quite a lot of misunderstanding about this charter. It is primarily a charter that binds EU institutions and member states at a national level. It applies to EU laws. As there is no EU law on abortion the charter would not apply in this case.
bulletAnn Furedi of the pro-choice British Pregnancy Advisory Service said: "Abortion is permitted on the grounds of fetal abnormality in Britain. But that is not to say it represents any form of eugenics. Eugenics is about trying eliminate certain types of people or characteristics from the population. It's a social movement. When women take the decision to end a pregnancy affected by Down's syndrome or spina bifida they are making a personal or individual choice. It would be ridiculous for anyone to suggest woman making that decision is doing so with any eugenic intent." 6
bullet2003-NOV-5: President Bush signs D&X bill into law: The law which prohibits some D&X abortion procedures -- frequently called "Partial Birth Abortions" --- was signed into law on the afternoon of 2003-NOV-5. Three federal court temporary injunctions were obtained which prevent the law from being enforced. More details.
bullet2003-DEC-21: WA: Official status denied to pro-life university group: Gonzaga University is a 116-year-old Jesuit school in Spokane, WA; it is one of the Northwest's leading Catholic institutions. Two second year law students at Gonzaga, Horne and Katie Hauck, founded a Pro-Life Law Caucus club to promote an anti-abortion agenda and assist a local crisis-pregnancy center. The group's bylaws require that all club officers -- the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer -- must be Christians. Thus, a Conservative or Orthodox Jew who was pro-life would be permitted to join as a POM (Plain Ordinary Member) but could not run for office. They then applied to Gonzaga's Student Bar Association (SBA) to be recognized as a university-sponsored group. This would give them access to money from student fees and advertisement on the university's Web page and student handbook. They were refused because they discriminate against non-Christians in their leadership positions. The precise meaning that the group assigns to the term "Christian" is unknown. Many conservative Christians do not consider mainline and liberal Christians to be part of their religion. SBA President Albert Guadagno said that the issue is not the group's stance on abortion; it's about discrimination. Leadership positions, he said, should be open to all students. University administration spokesperson, Peter Tormey, said that: "Any club seeking funds must not discriminate. This club has that discriminatory clause." Co-founder Horne Hauck said: "It's surprising that a religious school would not [recognize] a Christian group." Greg Lukianoff, spokesman for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said: "We live in a strange age, indeed, when a Catholic, Jesuit university would deny a Christian pro-life group recognition because its religious nature is considered discriminatory." 7
bullet2003-DEC-29: NH: Judge declares parental notification law unconstitutional: A new law was to take effect at year end. It would have required a woman under the age of 18 to notify at least one parent or guardian at least 48 hours before having an abortion. U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico ruled that a new law is unconstitutional because it does not have an exception to protect the health of the minor. He wrote: "The attorney general has not explained how the judicial bypass provision would address the need for an immediate abortion to protect the health of the mother, and the provision on its face is insufficient to meet such a need." Similar laws have been declared unconstitutional iby the Florida Supreme Court and by a federal appeals court in Colorado.
Martin Honigberg, a lawyer for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said: "We won."
Governor Craig Benson, (R-NH) said that he was disappointed and would promote passage of another notification law. He said: "I believe it is the responsibility of parents, not the government, to raise their children." 8 He appears to misunderstand the nature of the bill. Without the law in place, the government is not involved in a young woman's decision to have an abortion. Only herself, her physician, and perhaps her spiritual counselor are.

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  1. Terry Phillips, "N.J. Mulls Stillborn Birth Certificates," Family News in Focus, 2003-OCT-1, at: http://www.family.org/
  2. "Rally at the Supreme Court on Oct. 4 to Build Steam for the March for Freedom of Choice," News release from the People for the American Way, 2003-OCT-3.
  3. "Judge to block 24-hour wait on abortions," SE Missourian, 2003-OCT-13, at: http://www.semissourian.com/
  4. Amy Bailey, "Michigan Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill," NewsDay.com, at: http://www.newsday.com/
  5. "Alaska's abortion consent law rejected: Superior Court judge's ruling draws criticism from lieutenant governor," Associated Press, 2003-OCT-16, at:  http://www.juneauempire.com/
  6. "Abortion laws 'to be challenged'; Thousands of women could be banned from having an abortion under plans being drawn up by anti-abortion groups," BBC News, 2003-OCT-30, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
  7. Tan Vinh, "Gonzaga denies official status to abortion foes," Seattle Times, WA, 2003-DEC-21, at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/
  8. "N.H. Judge Nixes Abortion Notification," Associated Press, 2003-DEC-29, ABC News, at: http://abcnews.go.com/

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Copyright © 2003 & 2004 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Created: 2003-OCT-1
Latest update: 2004-MAR-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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