Recently in Abortion Category

Euphemism in Action

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From an online discussion, emphasis mine:

"I never said abortion was a civil right. I wish it were unecessary but until incest and rape stop happening, women who get pregnant due to them should have the right to chose. That is what I consider a civil right-the right to chose."

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Pope Benedict's Timely Prayer Intentions

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As the U.S. looks to swear in the most radically pro-choice president in history, and as India mourns over 170 victims of a terrorist killing spree, the Pope, in this month of December, asks us to pray:

that, faced by the growing expansion of the culture of violence and death, the Church may courageously promote the culture of life through all her apostolic and missionary activities.

Lest you think this is reactive, the Pope sends these intentions to the Apostleship of Prayer before the start of the calendar year. The 2009 intentions can be found here.

This month's missionary intention is:

that especially in mission countries, Christians may show through gestures of brotherliness that the Child born in the grotto in Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world.
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None of the above

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I should know better than to start an election series so close to election day. Due to being out of time, I'll have to condense my thoughts.

For the sake of brevity (ha!), I'm going to set aside a whole host of issues and look narrowly at issues related to respect for human life. This is in a sense unsatisfying because both candidates have a whole host of stances that are destructive of society and culture, both here and abroad, but I think it works out because they in a sense cancel each other out.

While I think a vote for Barack Obama is morally indefensible for anybody who believes that an embryo is a human being deserving of legal protection, we should not be too quick to support John McCain. For starters, McCain supports embryonic stem cell research, which, last I checked, involves the direct killing of innocent human beings. Of course, Obama supports the direct killing of more innocent humans by his support for abortion, but this is not how the debate has been portrayed by Catholics. We're hearing that Obama supports an intrinsic evil and must be opposed, without reference to McCain's similar problem. I think that is a grave disservice to embryonic human life and is hurting the prolife witness. Analogize this to any other issue -- "McCain supports exterminating Hispanics, but Obame wants to get rid of Hispanics andJews, so obviously we have to support McCain." To the extent that Catholics are not speaking out against McCain's support for ESC research, they are injuring the prolife movement.

Furthermore, although McCain has a decent voting record when it comes to abortion, Rick Santorum, who fought honorably for the unborn when he was a senator, publicly stated last year that John McCain, behind closed Senate doors, opposed prioritizing prolife bills and amendments. Again, that's not nearly as bad as Barack Obama -- who couldn't even bring himself to support medical treatment for babies who accidentally get born because he didn't want to undermine Roe v. Wade -- but it's hardly cause for cheer.

Finally, the dream of most prolifers, myself included, is getting those five votes on the Supreme Court. "We're just one vote away!" That's true, and while the prospect of having Roe v. Wade finally overturned is tantalizing, it's hard to imagine that McCain would have a better record than, say, Ronald Reagan, who, if you count Bork, was only 50% on his Supreme Court picks in terms of their votes on abortion. Once again, we have to believe that McCain's picks are more likely to be pro-life than Obama's, but we're dealing with contingencies here, not facts, and similar contingencies have historically not worked out in our favor.

If you're going to credibly defend a vote for John McCain, it can't be on broad philosophical grounds, because there's just not much there. I think it has to be on very narrow political grounds: the Mexico City policy and the Freedom of Choice Act. Nobody doubts that President Obama, like Clinton before him, would overturn the Mexico City policy, which prohibits government agencies from making abortion one of America's few remaining exports. And he has already stated he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would strip away even more legal protection from the unborn. Those two policies are, I think, decisive in making McCain "better" than Obama on abortion. But is this impact enough to justify voting for McCain, a man who supports the direct killing of human embryos?

Archbishop Charles Chaput put it wonderfully a few months back in a piece on the primacy of abortion. He said something to the effect that if we are going to vote for a candidate that supports legal abortion, we have to have a reason good enough to tell the unborn to their face on Judgment Day. Again, while it's clear that this rules out voting for Obama, I have a hard time envisioning meeting not the victims of abortion, but the victims of embryo destructive research and saying, "I supported a man who favored your death in order to stop a few abortions. Besides, the other guy had no value for your life either. I could have fought and denounced both candidates, but I decided to downplay your plight to serve other noble ends." It's not that I don't think I'd be in a sense justifiable, I just don't think I'd have taken the highest road.

I have trouble with the fact that if I want to vote for one of the major party candidates, I have to perform the grimmest of calculations: take x amount of unjust wars McCain is likely to start, subtract out the 1.5 million abortions per year that he oppposes (but can't really do much about except appoint the right judges, which is at best a 50% shot -- Souter! Kennedy! O'Connor! Stevens!) but add back in all of the frozen embryonic humans he wants to cannibalize for research. And where does that get us? Are we Catholics really transforming society by thinking like that?

I am truly thankful that I don't have to perform that calculation. Living in Illinois, which will go for Obama by about 60%, I'm happy to "waste" my vote on a third party candidate. Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party opposes abortion and embryonic stem research and invading harmless countries. He has some policies I dislike, but none that, as far as I can tell, lead to the direct killing of the innocent.

For those of you who live in a state that matters, I pray for you and ask you to pray for wisdom, prudence and discernment.

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Cardinal Egan on Pelosi

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This might be my favorite statement from a bishop ever:

STATEMENT OF HIS EMINENCE, EDWARD CARDINAL EGAN CONCERNING REMARKS MADE BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES


Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being "chooses" to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan

Archbishop of New York

What gets me about this is that faced with an issue about which we have, as Cardinal Egan says, cutting edge technology that shows us that the child in the womb is, in fact, a child, people like Pelosi makes appeals to 5th century theology based on pre-modern embryology to wish away that reality. But, you see, it's the Catholic Church that can't keep with the times.

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Heads in the Sand

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Steve Kellmeyer:

[W]hy are pre-term births, and the cerebral palsy associated with them, considered news fit for Time magazine? Why, because the rate of pre-term births has skyrocketed over 30% since 1981! The rate has increased more than 20% since 1990, and now stands at 12.8% of all births.

Note the sentence in the first article: As the rate of pre-term births rise, so does the rate of "cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, and vision and hearing loss." The cost of pre-term births is estimated to be 26 billion dollars, with average medical costs 10 times greater than that for a normal birth.

So, are you ready for our quiz?

Here it is! (drum roll please)

What is the number one cause of pre-term birth?...

Time magazine is silent on that issue.

The March of Dimes, which supports embryonic stem cell research, fetal tissue research and abortion, also seems to be at a complete loss, although - thank God - they are spending millions of dollars to try and figure it out.

But don't worry!
Here's where YOU can find out if you are qualified to be a real research scientist!

Read any one of the thirty-eight studies listed below, either alone or in combination, and see if YOU can figure out what might be causing the rise in premature births (HINT: the first study is the best, as it shows how undergoing a simple, safe and legal medical procedure can increase your risk of subsequent pre-term birth by a whopping 1155%).

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Is this the best we can do?

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When the Tribune's "conservative" columnist's case against abortion is that "anyone who can go to black-tie dinners and face the haranguing of rich donors for his pro-life stance has the backbone to support tax cuts too," because, gee, politicians have never, ever been known to take cynical stances on issues to placate their constituencies and accumulate power.

On the other hand, we should take all the allies we can get, and he does go on to point out that in the face of their own doubts about when life begins, abortion advocates take the dubious line of "we don't know, so you can kill it." Goldberg probably represents many others around the country who, though they are not fully on board with respecting life from conception onward, still are uneasy with abortion on demand and wish to grant the fetus at least some legal protection. We should be happy to work with them and achieve what we can.

On the whole, however, the column is somewhat embarassing and definitely unhelpful. If he could get his tax cuts from pro-choice politicians, would he feel as strongly about protecting the unborn?

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A sort-of victory

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This is wonderful news:

Chicago, IL – The National Organization of Women (NOW) was handed a final defeat yesterday as U.S. District Judge David Coar once and for all ruled that federal anti-racketeering laws cannot be applied to pro-life protesters, putting an end to 21 years of litigation that resulted in an unprecedented three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It doesn't get much press, because the case is so fundamentally stupid it should have ended decades ago and reporting honestly on it would pubicly shame NOW and other pro-choice groups. As Jill Stanek notes, "This has always been a free speech case." It's as simple as that.

Yet the charade went on. Early in the trial, they actually had a mafioso-style tree diagram with a picture of Joe Schiedler at the top and branches going down to hundreds of other pro-life activists. Schiedler, you see, was the don, controlling his foot soldiers and sending them out to strong-arm women entering clinics.

I call this a sort-of victory because it is a monumental injustice that good people trying to save the unborn have been subjected to 21 years of legal harrassment by deep-pocketed groups trying to lawyer them out of existence. Briefly put, this ruling says you can't treat sidewalk counselors like the mob. That's nice, but 21 years and three trips to the highest court in the land is overkill. Meantime, Joe Schiedler lost his house over this.

Congratulations to Joe, to the folks at Operation Rescue and to all other pro-life activists who now have a strong legal precedent to smack over the heads of abortion proponents who try to intimidate them.

For those wanting more details, here's a timeline of the case, found at Jill Stanek's page.

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Saletan on ultrasounds

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Will Saletan of Slate is very hand-wringingly pro-choice.

Pro-lifers are often caricatured as stupid creationists who just want to put women back in their place. Science and free inquiry are supposed to help them get over their "love affair with the fetus." But science hasn't cooperated. Ultrasound has exposed the life in the womb to those of us who didn't want to see what abortion kills. The fetus is squirming, and so are we...

Critics complain that these bills seek to "bias," "coerce," and "guilt-trip" women. Come on. Women aren't too weak to face the truth. If you don't want to look at the video, you don't have to. But you should look at it, and so should the guy who got you pregnant, because the decision you're about to make is as grave as it gets.

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High Ground

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Christianity Today has a convincing article arguing against putting post-abortion syndrome at the center of the abortion debate.

I think it's good to talk about PAS to the extent that we don't pretend that's the extent of or even the foundational pro-life concern. The problem with abortion is that it kills a human person, period, end of sentence. It can additionally lead to physical and psychological stress and illness, and pro-lifers should talk about that and definitely should reach out to those so affected, but if we omit the fact that the abortion is wrong as a matter of principle we present an incomplete and dishonest picture.

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Partial Birth

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Remember when you read and listen to and watch all of the "Oh the horrror!" editorials and news reports and other media coverage of the Partial Birth decision that all the fist-shaking and rhetoric about "activist" courts is basically saying that banning this is a bad thing.

I've written before that there are dangers in focusing on partial-birth abortion because it's just one procedure, and to say that an abortion procedure is bad is to an extent to imply that the idea of abortion itself isn't so bad if it's done the right way. (In fact you have to assume that since opposition to partial birth abortion is higher than opposition to abortion in general, there are certain people who do believe this. People can be incredibly unthoughtful.)

Without retracting what I wrote (since I stil believe that there was shameful cynicism on the part of some supporters of the PBABA), I have to say I'm pleased by the Supreme Court's decision. As minor of an effect as it will have, it is a real step towards sanity in our abortion law. I hold little hope that in my lifetime we'll see unborn children accorded full legal protection, but even to get to the point where our laws reflect the general beliefs of the people would be nice.

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That's a good start

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Supreme Court upholds Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act!

I'm genuinely happy, but I also think Mark Shea has a sharp take. This is a bare minimum.

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I watch "Scrubs"

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Speaking of cultural decay (er.... like 5 posts down) - I confess that I watch "Scrubs."

If I were to flatter myself, I'd say that I wish to engage the culture, and a show such as "Scrubs" provides ample fodder for criticism.

That would be a lie, however. I watch it because it is just about the funniest thing on television (and it is definitely the funniest thing on broadcast TV after 10 PM in east central Illinois). It's the closest that a live-action sit-com that I've seen has ever come to the pacing and craziness of the Simpsons - and it's well-writted, well-acted and very well-cast.

That said, I do have one observation to make. Despite being a comedy, "Scrubs" treats medical issues very realistically. (I usually don't agree with their conclusions, but whatever, I'm not looking to them to form my conscience.) The one exception is abortion. I've seen them approach that issue twice, and both times it was treated extremely frivolously.

In one episode, JD, the main character on the show, has gotten another doctor pregnant, and they're considering abortion. That itself doesn't bother me. Art is supposed to imitate life, and for many young people whose intellectual formation has come from peer groups, institutional schools and MTV - that's what you're supposed to do. It's "responsible" to determine if you should have the baby at all. That's not my "worldview," as the kids say, but I can't deny it's a widespread and generally accepted point of view.

So fine, they sit down to decide whether to have the baby or kill it. They make a list of pros and cons, and the whole thing is unserious (con: "babies are sticky"). A talking statue of Jesus tells them not to do it, while female pal Jordan tells them all about her abortion and how it saved her life (Jordan's son Jack finds out about it somehow, my memory's kind of hazy, and ends up running around the hospital waiting room screamin "my mommy had an abortion"). In the end, our smart, responsible protagonist couple melts when they see JD's friend Turk's newborn and decides to go through with the pregnancy. To hell with rationality, in the end it's all emotions.

On second thought, it's interesting that their thoughts about abortion end when they see that what they're debating isn't a choice - it's a child. Sure, that's a pro-life bumper sticker message, but it's also true. That scene alone demonstrates why the ultra-sound is such a powerful weapon against abortion. When confronted with the reality of what the fetus actually is - a human being at a very early stage of development - it's hard not to choose life.

I don't think it was the intent of the writers to have a pro-life message; that's obvious from Jordan's story, which serves to establish abortion as a reasonable and sometimes necessary option. (Jordan's response to little Jack's waiting room abortion chant is a proud and unremorseful, "She sure did.") But sometimes the truth pokes through despite our efforts to reject it.

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"Choose Life" tags Permitted in Illinois

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Illinois came one step closer to issuing "Choose Life" specialty license plates last week, LifeSiteNews.com reports.

Last Friday, a ruling was handed down from the Northern Illinois District Court allowing the pro-adoption message "Choose Life" to be an option for specialty license plates in the State of Illinois. Citing First Amendment protection, Judge David Coar ruled in favor of Choose Life Illinois (CLI), explaining that their message is constitutionally entitled to be on Illinois license plates.

In Judge Coar's Memorandum it states that "…the Secretary of State is ordered to issue the 'Choose Life' plates." CLI, a pro-adoption organization, had filed the lawsuit against the Secretary of State, Jesse White, claiming that the process by which the "Choose Life" specialty license plate was disapproved in Illinois was "viewpoint discriminatory" in violation of the First Amendment and, therefore, unconstitutional.

It's unclear whether this was the last hurdle or whether the other side will pull any more stunts, but the article seems to imply that the plates will be available. If so, this brings one of the most ridiculous chapters in Illinois politics to a close. For years pro-abortion forces have blocked these locense plates for absolutely no plausible reason other than it might hurt the abortion industry.

Side note: one more reason to root for the bears this weekend: team owner Virginia McCaskey was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The McCaskeys can't manage a team, but they get some things right!

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Contortionists

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One gets the feeling that the AP editors would sooner wrap their legs around their heads and play hopscotch than admit that a human fetus that is living outside of the womb is, in fact, a child.

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Abortion in England

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The Economist has two articles on abortion in England this week. The first touches on this week's controversy over active euthanasia of severely disabled newborns. It does a good job summarising the debate, but despicably ends by praising the "brave" doctors for bringing up the question.

The second discusses recent attempts to push back the cutoff point for abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks.

Ironically, the second piece ends with a comment that pushing the cut-off to 20 weeks would be more likely if active euthanasia of newborns gains wider acceptance. That illogic is staggering. It would be illegal to abort a 40 week child in utero but legal to dope him to death 20 minutes after birth.

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Partial Birth Abortion

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How wonderful to hear NPR run Nina Totenberg reading a NARAL press release and calling it "news."

It's not even worth listening to. It was important enough for NPR to provide a complete transcript, so you can read it if you want, but you will come away misled and unenlightened.

There is one point of real balance in the piece. It's this damning quote:

James Bopp, general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, asserts that this is a procedure that was appropriately criminalized by Congress because it is "too close to infanticide." He asks, "Do we have to approve the performance of partial-birth abortions, which involves the intentional killing of a child that is just inches away from complete delivery of the child? I mean, literally, the child is being held in the doctor's hand alive, and is then killed by the doctor."

The point goes unaddressed in the piece, of course.


Speaking of partial-birth abortion, I understand the powerful propaganda effect of the campaign against it, but more and more it bothers me. Yes PBA is heinous, but apart from being more overt, how is it more heinous that regular abortion? When we say that delivering 85% of a baby before killing it is wrong, are we saying that it's OK to scrape the fetus off of the uterine wall, or to inject it with acid in the womb and then dismember it bit by bit so it fits through the birth canal?

I know that the answer to the question is no, and I know that few people who oppose partial-birth abortion approve of the other ways of killing the baby, but by fighting an all-out war on a specific procedure, are we unintentionally ceding ground on the fact of abortion?

More and more, I just can't get around the fact that we spend a lot of time on PBA, when even the strictest PBA ban doesn't prevent any actual abortions, just abortions by D and X. In the meantime, Republicans can flash their pro-life creds without reducing the number of abortions and Democrats can hurl (often justified) accusations of cynicism and manipulation at their Republican counterparts.

It seems that the main value of the PBA bans are to show that aboriton is in fact akin to infanticide and to make radical abortion proponents oppose the ban and expose themselves as extremists. Are we reaching the point of diminishing returns there yet? I don't know, but it seems like a good question to ask.

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Rauch & Penalver: There is no Moderate Pro-Life Position

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Update: Ramesh points us to his own explanations of why it's reasonable to favor abortion restrictions without wanting to throw women in jail.

They are here, here and here (already cited below).

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There's been an interesting back and forth over at Mirror of Justice that was sparked by this Jonathan Rauch review of Ramesh Ponnuru's Party of Death.

Rick Garnett starts here
Eduardo Penalver replies
Back to Garnett
Garnett also quotes a bit of Ponnuru's own refutation of the Rauch/Penalver critique (the piece he quotes can be foud here.)
More Penalver
One last bit from Garnett

The critique in Rauch's review that fails to impress Garnett but which finds support from Penalver is this:

“Eight-week-old fetuses do not differ from 10-day-old babies in any way that would justify killing the former,” [Ponnuru] writes. “The law will either treat the fetus as a human being with a right to be protected from unjust killing or it will not.” If those are the only choices, and if the right position is that an early-term fetus is a full-fledged person, why not impose jail terms on women who seek abortions? After all, they are taking out a contract for murder. Instead of confronting that question, Ponnuru equivocates, mumbling that “the pro-life movement” does not necessarily seek jail time for women and that fining doctors and revoking medical licenses might suffice.

He believes that discarding or destroying embryos should be forbidden, but should it be punishable as first-degree murder? If not, why not? If an embryo is morally indistinguishable from a newborn, then killing it is surely a heinous crime. If human life is “inviolable,” then why should it matter whether a hopelessly vegetative patient — someone like Terri Schiavo — left instructions not to be fed? Surely, from Ponnuru’s perspective, the doctors caring for her cannot ethically conspire to starve her to death even if she would prefer to die. If every abortion is infanticide, could even the most life-threatening pregnancy be ended? We don’t have a “health exception” to the murder laws.

This argument is being increasingly used against pro-lifers, especially since the release of Ponnuru's book. As pro-lifers succeed in making it more and more clear that abortion is an unjust killing, abortion supporters shift the debate and accuse them of not having the courage of their convictions. Rauch, indeed, does not express much disagreement with Ponnuru's arguments in Party of Death. If abortion is murder, then why not the death penalty for mothers who abort? Since pro-lifers don't generally support any criminal sanctions for these women, then they must not really believe that abortion is murder, or else there is some other inconsistency that makes pro-lifers wrong. Whatever the answer is, pro-lifers are wrong, wrong, wrong.

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More Schlitz

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About 10 minutes after finishing the last post, I came across another writing by Elizabeth Schlitz. This one is an op-ed piece in Business Week defending her decision not to abort her Down's Syndrome baby.

From time to time, we are all confronted with the disconnect between how we see ourselves and how others see us. I've always seen myself as a responsible, law-abiding citizen. I recycle, I vote, I don't drive a Hummer. But I've come to realize that many in the scientific and medical community view me as grossly irresponsible. Indeed, in the words of Bob Edwards, the scientist who facilitated the birth of England's first test-tube baby, I am a "sinner." A recent book even branded me a "genetic outlaw." My transgression? I am one of the dwindling number of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and choose not to terminate our pregnancies.

It's a longish piece, but well worth the read.

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Americans on Call

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logo-med.jpgFrom the Catholic University law school, an important movement is coming forth.

Americans on Call seeks to provide a nationwide network of people willing to help women choose life. This is the true work of the pro-life movement - helping women who don't want to abort, but who feel trapped, aone, scared.

Here is the homepage of the movement, which includes information on how to become a part of the network of those comitted to helping pregnant woman choose life.

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Abortion category.

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