A compendium of life- and family-related news from south of the border

Abortion rate held steady in ’96

The rate of abortions in the United States held steady in 1996, at its lowest level in two decades, according to the Atlanta-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 1,221,585 abortions that year (or 314 per 1,000 live births), representing a rate of 20 abortions per 1,000 women in the 14-44 age range. The rate was an increase of less than one per cent over the year before.

Abortion rates (not numbers) increased steadily in the years following the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, reaching a peak in 1980, levelling off, then beginning to fall in 1992. Forty-five per cent of abortions in 1996 were performed after the second month of pregnancy, and 12 per cent after the third month. Most women who obtained abortions were white and unmarried.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America immediately stepped forward to claim credit for the steadying abortion numbers, claiming that its sex-education efforts were bearing fruit. “Our approach is working,” chimed PPFA president Gloria Feldt. “Planned Parenthood ‘health centres’ across the country have worked tirelessly to ‘educate’ Americans, especially young people, about the need to make ‘responsible choices.'”

Meanwhile, the Alan Guttmacher Institute – a research arm of Planned Parenthood, though it is usually not identified as such – has issued a report stating that the number of abortionists is at its lowest level since 1973. Eighty-six per cent of U.S. counties had no local abortionist in 1996, while one-third of cities had no one willing to perform the grisly task.

PP honour goes to clergyman

ST. LOUIS, MO- Always ready to grandstand at every opportunity, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America took a slap at the face of people of faith when it awarded its highest “honour,” the Margaret Sanger Award, to Rev. Howard Moody, minister emeritus at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. PPFA president Gloria Feldt said the award was given on the basis of Moody’s having organized the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, which steered mothers toward abortions in the years prior to the revolutionary Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

The award was presented during the PPFA’s three-day national conference in St. Louis, Mo. last month. In another cheap shot obviously directed at religious conservatives, the conference’s closing plenary session was on “The Theological Basis of Choice.” Some Planned Parenthood types sported buttons reading, “I’m pro-choice and I pray,”

while the chair of PP’s “clergy advisory board” boasted that there is a “strong clergy presence in Planned Parenthood.” One rabbi said it must be proclaimed “publicly and proudly” that sex “is not dirty.”

Tipper Gore, wife of U.S. vice-president Al Gore, kicked off the sorry affair with a keynote address on opening day. The event drew a stinging rebuttal from American Life League president Judie Brown, who noted that Planned Parenthood was carrying on its tradition of lying to the American people and the world at large. “Planned Parenthood … has blatantly lied in order to redefine the reality of motherhood and the existence of the child in the womb … You can only dress up murder-for-profit in so many ways.”

Jim Sedlak, director of Stop Planned Parenthood International, said the organization has been offering up “nothing but lies and self-serving rhetoric.” He blasted PP for claiming that reduced numbers of abortions are a result of its work. “For Planned Parenthood to take credit for (a) lower surgical abortion rate is clearly Clintonesque,” he said.

Woman dies, abortuary under scrutiny

BROOKLYN, NY- Rudy Alston, a 22-year-old rap music artist who goes by the stage name of Floss, was sitting in the waiting room of a Brooklyn, N.Y. abortuary last month, waiting for his fiance to emerge from the room where abortionists were in the process of ending the life of his four-month-old preborn child. He was preparing to tell her that he had just been signed to a contract by a record label. But his fiance, 22-year-old Tamika Dowdy, never came out.

Police were called to the Brooklyn Women’s Medical Pavilion after receiving a call that a woman was having trouble breathing. Dowdy was pronounced dead after being transported to Long Island College Hospital. Dowdy’s brother, Darrel, was furious with the abortuary, shouting, “I want that place closed down. I want that doctor arrested for murder.”

The abortuary is already under scurtiny for a November incident in which a woman suffered a perforated uterus. The state health department is investigating Dowdy’s death. Abortuary staff called security to throw out press reporters and photographers who approached the franchise after the death.

Kevorkian faces murder rap

DETROIT, MI- He may have gotten the publicity he craved, but “Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian also received something he may not have wanted as much – a first-degree, pre-meditated murder charge over his videotaped and nationally broadcast “mercy” killing of a terminally ill, Detroit-area man. He was additionally charged with criminal assistance to a suicide and delivery of a controlled substance.

Kevorkian was released on a $750,000 personal bond. Prosecutor David Gorcyca said it was time for Kevorkian’s violation of the law “to be resolved in a court of law by a jury of his peers and not through headlines in the media.” State Senator Bill Van Regenmorter, who sponsored an assisted-suicide bill, praised the decision. “My hat is off to prosecutor Gorcyca … This is a defining moment for Michigan. We are going to either pursue a culture of death or a culture of life.”

Milwaukee abortionist charged

MILWAUKEE, WI- A Milwaukee, Wis. abortionist is up for trial this month after being charged with beating his wife and possessing crack cocaine when he was arrested by police in September. Fifty-seven-year-old Neville W. Duncan faces charges of battery and possession of crack cocaine. He has often been the subject of demonstrations by Milwaukee-area pro-lifers.

His wife, Brenda, gained notoriety last year when she exposed her backside and threatened pro-life demonstrators outside their home at the time. She was fined $200 for that stunt. In the latest episode, Neville Duncan allegedly punched Brenda in his car, then pinned her to the ground and slapped her. Brenda then clambered out of the car to safety.

Police found a vial and plastic bag of cocaine when they arrested Neville Duncan later.

Music a battleground for human life

NEW YORK, NY- The use of rock music to both promote and attack the life ethic has increased in the U.S. in recent months. The radical, pro-abortion population-control group Zero Population Growth is to be one of the beneficiaries of “A History of Women in Rock,” a Jan. 25 concert at New York City’s Madison Square Garden which will feature artists including Jewel and Paula Cole.

But Portland, Ore.-based Rock for Life has struck back with its own benefit tour in support of crisis pregnancy centres. Concerts featuring acts including 5 O’Clock People, Warp Factor 9 and House of Wires were held in Portland, Lebanon, Pa., Dallas and Detroit. Upcoming dates will be in Flagstaff, Ariz. on Feb. 20 and Tacoma, Wash. on Aug. 6.

“We’re out to take back the culture with our example and our music,” declared Rock for Life’s co-founder, Erik Whittington.

Meanwhile, in a rare development, Christian and pro-life groups voiced their approval of the recent filmPrince of Egypt. Figures including Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell said producers of the movie “went out of their way to make sure the retelling of the familiar story did not insult religious sensibilities.”

Father files suit after abortion

CHICAGO, IL- A Chicago man whose girlfriend had an abortion in 1995 has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Cook County employees breached their duty by not obtaining his consent before the abortion was performed. Hospital officials declined to comment on the suit.

The man’s attorney, Robert Dargis, says Illinois law does not adequately address a father’s rights. “Given the fact that someone is taking the life of a child, does he have any say in that?” he asked. The man, identified only under the pseudonym of John Coe, alleges that Cook County has a policy, custom and practice of not notifying fathers, and not obtaining their consent, prior to a first-trimester abortion.

Although a similar suit filed two years ago in federal court was dismissed and an appeal of that ruling rejected, Dargis notes that there is no state law on the issue and wrongful-death provisions are vague.

New PP abortuary in Buffalo area?

BUFFALO, NY- Planned Parenthood is considering opening what would become the first freestanding abortuary in the Niagara County region of western New York state, to supplement the only other abortuary in western New York, GYN Womenservices in Buffalo.

PP says there are currently no personnel in Niagara County performing abortions, and that research for a new abortuary is, at this point, purely exploratory. It would still be several years before such an abortuary would begin to perform its killing functions.

Niagara County Right-to-Life Party chair Anthony J. Murty says PP can expect opposition, including informational picketing, if it ever decides to open an abortuary. “It definitely would not be an asset to the community,” he said.

Abortionist sees humans as a ‘cancer’

PHILADELPHIA, PE- Warren Hern, an abortionist as well as an anthropologist at the University of Colorado, put forward the hypothesis that human beings are a cancer on planet Earth, during the recent annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Philadelphia. “They looked like nothing so much to me as a malignant process – a cancer,” Hern said of his study of the growth of cities during the past two centuries.

Hern believes his cancer model can help explain a variety of environmental problems, from deforestation to pollution to global warming. He proposed a panel discussion on the subject for the 1994 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, but was told that he could not ask the question. Hern resigned from the AAAS over the dispute.

Court criticizes ‘conscience’ acquittal

DOBBS FERRY, NY- An appeals court has ruled that a federal judge was wrong when he used “conscience-driven religious belief” as a reason to acquit pro-life demonstrators on contempt-of-court charges. Judge John Sprizzo had ruled that 80-year-old Roman Catholic Bishop George Lynch and Brother Christopher Moscinski, 28, committed no crime when they blocked access to the Women’s Medical Pavilion abortuary in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. in the spring of 1995.

But the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said “godly motivation” could not absolve the defendants of the intent to intentionally violate a court order. Still, the acquittals were allowed to stand, as the appeals court said that reversing Judge Sprizzo’s ruling would expose the defendants to double jeopardy. Defence lawyer Robert Blakey said that decision was “a vindication of civil liberties.”

Abortuary chaos detailed

PHEONIX, AZ- A Phoenix, Ariz. police investigation report has painted a picture of medical chaos on the day 33-year-old Lou Anne Herron died after going into the A-Z Women’s Centre for an abortion. A doctor was too busy eating his lunch to check on a patient that was bleeding heavily. Staff members were so inexperienced they didn’t know where to find pens. An administrator asked for help 20 minutes away, rather than from a hospital across the street.

The county attorney’s office is looking at the police report to assist in deciding whether charges should be laid against the supervising doctor, John Biskind, and abortuary administrator Carol Stuart.

Dr. Patricia Graham, a medical reviewer working with Phoenix police, said A-Z’s care for Herron was “so far below acceptable levels, it was scraping rock bottom.” She added that Herron could have survived with only a minimal amount of care and treatment from Biskind.

Proposed PP funding gets nixed

LITTLE ROCK, AR- Nearly 350 pro-life supporters roared their approval recently when the city council in North Little Rock, Ark. unanimously rescinded funds for a proposed Planned Parenthood clinic. An alderman then proposed that $20,000 be directed to a downtown pre-natal care clinic instead. The large number of pro-life supporters – as well as 40 Planned Parenthood advocates – prompted a change in the meeting venue from council chambers to a local high school gymnasium.

Although PP representatives said the clinic would never perform or encourage abortions, Pastor Cedric Hayes of Gloryland Baptist Church said, “We simply just don’t want it.” Almost everyone in the gymnasium agreed with him.

Pro-abortionists won’t debate

ILINOIS- University of Illinois pro-life organizations are expressing surprise at the refusal of abortion advocates to debate during a series of events scheduled to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

“I am keeping a ‘wimp’ file of … rejection messages as proof of their cop-outs,” quipped Gretchen Clavey of Illinois Collegians for Life. The proposal included the assurance that pro-abortion groups on campus would be free to select whomever they wished to represent their side of the issue.