|A compendium of life- and family-related news from south of the border
Bauer says Bush disappoints on pro-life
Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer says the more fellow candidate and frontrunner George W. Bush talks about abortion, the more confusing he is to pro-life supporters. In response to Bush’s statements that he will neither rule out a pro-abortion running mate, nor require a pro-life litmus test of nominees to the Supreme Court, Bauer said Bush is “operationally” pro-choice. “If Governor Bush were serious about the Republican platform – which is clearly and consistently pro-life – he would not be opening up the very real possibility of choosing a pro-abortion running mate,” he said. “If he were truly pro-life, he would rule out selecting a running mate who will not defend innocent, unborn children.”
Bush’s stands also drew fire from Life Decisions International president Douglas R. Scott, who said pro-life Americans need to wake up and realize Bush’s thinking would throw the pro-life movement back several decades. “George W. Bush does not meet even the most basic criteria as a pro-life candidate … If George Bush thinks pro-lifers will run to him because Al Gore is worse, he’s completely mistaken.” Scott pledged that although elements within the Republican party want to weaken its stance on abortion, “We will never go away.”
The National Right to Life Committee, on the other hand, suggests that the Republican party is not weakening its position on abortion. “It’s not happening,” said Carol Tobias, director of the NRLC’s political action committee. “There will be a pro-life candidate, and there will be a pro-life platform” in the year 2000 elections, she said. She agrees with Bush, and some of the other candidates, that pro-lifers must take a pragmatic approach if they are to win the White House.
Coalition opposes stem cell research
A coalition of religious experts, doctors, scientists and politicians attacked controversial stem cell research recently, saying it was unethical and scientifically questionable. They also called on Congress to maintain legislation outlawing the use of human embryos. “While we in no way dispute the fact that the ability to treat or heal suffering persons is a great good, we also recognize that not all methods of achieving a desired good are morally or legally justifiable,” the coalition said in a statement.
Research during the past year has found stem cells can be used to treat brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, juvenile diabetes, and may provide tissues for transplants, tests and other uses. Especially powerful versions of the cells can be found in embryos taken from miscarried or aborted babies, or “leftovers” from attempts at making test-tube babies.
The coalition is supported by dozens of people, including former surgeon-general Dr. C. Everett Koop, Samuel Casey (executive director of the Christian Legal Society), Dr. Frank Young (a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration), Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback, and Richard Doerflinger of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Human stem cell research requiring the destruction of human embryos is objectionable on legal, ethical and scientific grounds,” they said.
Cardinal leads pro-life demonstration
Nearly 1,000 people turned out when Roman Catholic Cardinal Francis George led a demonstration outside a Chicago abortuary on June 26. The event, which included a Mass and an eight-block procession to the abortuary and back, was seen as a sign of renewed visibility by Catholic pro-life supporters. George’s appearance marked the first time a Chicago archbishop has appeared at an event outside an abortuary, although cardinals in New York and Los Angeles have participated in similar events.
About 50 counter-protesters showed up, carrying signs and chanting slogans. “These kinds of events set the stage for all the abortion clinic bombings and shootings,” claimed Carol Hayse of the Emergency Clinic Defence Coalition. But in a homily at the Mass, George implored the crowd to focus on prayer, and to bring “an attitude of welcome and love” to the abortuary site. “If we pray well, we can transform the entire witness that surrounds this issue,” he said.
Texas seen as ‘most anti-choice’ state
A new report commissioned by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League points to Texas, led by Republican presidential frontrunner George W. Bush, as enacting the most “anti-choice” laws in the U.S. so far in 1999. NARAL says Texas has this year passed seven bills that curb unlimited access to abortion. Virginia, Arizona, Iowa and Florida also make NARAL’s black list.
“George W. Bush and the Texas legislature have waged a relentless assault on the ‘freedom to choose,’ stripping away women’s ‘reprodutive freedom’ and curtailing their options at virtually every turn,” huffed NARAL president Kate Michelman. “Yet, as a candidate, Bush adopts a centrist facade, insisting he is no threat to the ‘freedom to choose.’ As the record now shows, Bush and the Texas legislature are indeed leaders when it comes to restricting the ‘reproductive rights’ of women.”
The NARAL report noted that “anti-choice” activity among state legislatures is increasing, with 408 measures antithetical to its cause introduced nationwide this year, compared to 335 in 1998. Clark Forsythe, president of Americans United for Life, says 1999 has produced some key victories for the pro-life cause.
Steep decline in Michigan abortions
The number of abortions in the state of Michigan has declined 43 per cent since 1987, and factors including legislation and abstinence have been cited as reasons. There were 28,107 abortions last year, compared to 49,098 in 1987. Governor John Engler said the figures illustrate the progress his state has made “in protecting the lives of unborn children.” Right to Life of Michigan has also welcomed the news. “There were 1,421 fewer abortions last year compared with 1997, and that’s certainly cause for celebration,” said Amber Roseboom, RLM’s legislative liaison. Abortions on girls younger than 18 declined 45 per cent from the number in 1990, and 82.6 per cent of abortions in 1998 were performed on unmarried women.
Nurses quit over ‘morning-after’ pill
Five nurses have quit their jobs at a public health clinic in Riverside, Ca. because the requirement that they dispense the so-called morning-after pill goes against their religious beliefs. A sixth nurse who refused to dispense the medication was to be transferred out of the clinic.
The nurses, who described themselves as devout born-again Christians, have worked in “family planning” for years, advising women on contraception and pregnancy. And, although they felt uncomfortable about it, they also told women about the availability of abortions. “I don’t want to participate in the abortion process,” said Nurse Michelle Diaz, who has two children and is four months pregnant.
Ken Cohen, director of the local health services agency, said he doesn’t want to see his staff imposing their views from a religious perspective. “I think they have to put their patients’ needs ahead of theirs.”
Baird a fixture at pro-life convention
When the National Right to Life Committee and held its annual convention in Milwaukee, Wis. recently, notorious abortion-rights crusader Bill Baird was outside the hotel, picketing with a large cross that bore the inscription, “Free women from the cross of oppression.” Baird has become a fixture at such events for the past 25 years. He describes himself as “stronly pro-life” and his opponents as “anti-women and anti-abortion.”
In a confrontation outside the hotel, Baird and pro-life supporter Monica Migliorino Miller traded arguments. Baird said pro-lifers should stop calling abortionists “baby killers,” but Miller said that is exactly what they are. When Miller contended that the wide availability of birth control leads to unwanted pregnancies and abortions, Baird responded that she was “dumb as a pet rock.” Miller retorted: “Bill I’m praying for you,” then walked away.
The convention heard from Chris Burke, the first person with Down Syndrome to play a feature role in a major television series. Burke, who played Corky Thatcher in the series Life Goes On, said doctors told his parents to place him in an institution and offered little hope that he could achieve anything.
$10 million to population control
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has added $10 million to a venture by United Nations organizations involved in population control – the UNDP/UNFPA/WHO World Bank Special Program of Research Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, at World Health Organization Headquarters in Geneva.
The program, according to its own literature, emphasizes “the needs of developing countries,” and lists as its first priority “fertility regulation.”
“This is the first time that our program has received a grant of this magnitude from a private foundation,” said program director Dr. Paul Van Look. “We will use this money to support research activities of the program, particularly studies on men’s responsibility and related cross-cutting issues in ‘sexual and reproductive health.'”
The program bases its work on “sexual and reproductive health” priorities identified at the 1994 conference on population and development in Cairo, and the 1995 world conference on women in China.