Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Dangers of Montana's Pain-Free "Humane Abortion" Bill by Sarah St. Onge

As the mother of a child who was diagnosed with a lethal birth defect during pregnancy, and who carried her baby to term, I was disheartened  -- better yet, horrified -- to learn that such an influential pro-life leader as Fr. Frank Pavone from Priests for Life, as well as Jill Stanek and Eric Scheidler, would offer any type of support for Montana's HB 479, the bill which would require abortionists in Montana to offer women seeking late-term abortions pain relief for their unborn children before killing them.  I am frightened at the possible far-ranging effects which the passage of this bill could have, and this is what I have to say to these leaders who would support such a bill: Babies with lethal anomalies, like my daughter Beatrix, are the most common victims of abortion at 20+ weeks. The individuals championing this legislation have not been in that ultrasound room, feeling their unborn child kicking inside of their body, hearing the news that their baby is going to die. I have. 

I have also been in the most private spaces with these families -- and before any response regarding the close walks supporters of this bill may have taken with families going through this type of situation -- as close as they could possibly be, they still could not possibly understand what happens when, in the space of seconds, your immediate concern shifts from finding out the sex of your child to whether your child is going to die. 

For families in this position, one of the primary reasons for both terminating and continuing a pregnancy revolve around their beliefs about fetal pain. I have met very few families — even the most devout Christian families — who didn’t consider terminating their pregnancy, even if only for a short time, based on concerns about their child being in pain.

I think it can be safe to assume that for those who are inclined to terminate, this law will change very little. But for those who may have been inclined to continue their pregnancies based on the possibility that abortion would cause unnecessary pain to their unborn child, it could drastically change the decision making process. It creates a dynamic where families who may have continued their pregnancies, instead will choose abortion to avoid the possibility of a traumatic labor for their unborn child. 

To reiterate -- the number one reason for terminating a pregnancy with a poor prenatal diagnosis is to spare to the unborn child pain.  Strangely enough, sparing the unborn child pain is also one of the primary reasons for continuing the pregnancy.

Those of us who work to encourage parents to continue their pregnancies after a poor diagnosis owe a good portion of our success to promoting "carry to term" based on a parent’s perception of what "peace in the womb" looks like. As I stated before, even the most devout Christian families will consider termination when faced with this decision. We emphasize that the only way to ensure that their child will live a pain-free life is to continue their pregnancy. This Montana bill will change that. We will no longer be able to assure families that full-term delivery is the least painful choice for their child.

This "pain-free abortion" bill will also be used by physicians to further coerce women into aborting, when faced with their unborn child's lethal anomaly during pregnancy. The pressure from medical professionals to terminate these pregnancies is already intense. Supporters are handing physicians a tool which will be used to apply that pressure with much more force and in a very targeted manner.

Studies have shown that a woman will usually make the decision to terminate within three days of her baby’s diagnosis. Studies have also shown that information from medical professionals is one of the primary influences when it comes to a woman’s choices in this situation.

Much of that three-day struggle has to do with a mother's instinctive drive to protect her child from pain vs. what her physician is telling her is the standard medical solution for her situation? Most people do not realize that termination is the indicated medical "treatment" for lethal fetal anomalies. 

When her unborn child's pain is removed from the equation, how much of that struggle will shift towards the immediate relief from her own pain?  This particular pain is a very real thing. It's a ferocious animal. It can eat away at your resolve in the most terrible of ways.

I don’t think anyone who is supporting this bill understands this situation clearly, to be honest. 

You aren't going to use this legislation to convince the mother contemplating pregnancy termination of her child's humanity at this point in pregnancy. Women making this decision already understand the humanity of the child who they carry. That humanity is central to the decision she makes about continuing her pregnancy.

She is deciding to end her child's life because she does not want her child to suffer, not because she does not want to give birth to her child.

Women generally do not wait 20 weeks to terminate an “unwanted” or "unplanned" pregnancy. An unborn child at 20 weeks was most likely a child she anticipated bringing home. These mothers are in the deepest, most desperate place. Like anyone in pain, many will seek what they believe to be the quickest remedy at hand. They want relief. Once they can be assured that their unborn child won’t feel pain, they may be more likely to choose termination in order to relieve their own pain.

I have spent the last five years of my life sharing space and walking with women in this position. I can assure you that if this legislation passes, it will be putting babies at risk who may have been carried to term were it not in place.

The day this Montana "pain-free abortion" bill goes into effect is the day on which physicians begin convincing women that they can give their unborn children “death with dignity.” We are opening a Pandora’s Box with this legislation!

There is another item of concern on this vein: young adults are becoming involved in the pro-life movement because they see it as a humanitarian issue, and they are joining the pro-life cause in record numbers. We are looking at the first pro-life generation since Roe v. Wade. Those same young adults are not as firm in their views about “death with dignity.” Throwing anesthesia into the mix could create an environment where individuals begin viewing these types of abortions in a similar fashion to which they view “death with dignity.”

This bill will encourage people to view abortion as a more humane choice -- but everyone involved with the pro-life movement knows that abortion is nowhere close to humane. Doing this just makes it seem humane. It gives people a rational reason to accept the necessity of late-term abortion.

This leads us to the next troubling aspect of this legislation, from the perspective of the pro-life movement as a political force.

Pro-choice political lobbies present a very compelling argument for the continued application of late-term abortion. They appeal to the emotional nature of why late-term abortions are necessary. They share stories of babies affected with lethal disorders, and the mothers who were "forced" to carry them. Mothers forced to watch their babies die.

One of the most powerful arguments which we have to combat their emotional appeals, is an emotional appeal of our own. The possibility that an unborn child can feel pain during abortion procedures levels the inequality between mother and child. This leveling then destroys the central tenet of pro-choice philosophy -- that a woman's rights overrule the unborn child's.

I can only imagine the pleasure of forward thinking pro-choice groups who are sitting back waiting for this bomb to drop, because as soon as these anesthesia laws go into effect, we have destroyed any reason for pain capable laws to be fought for on a legislative level.

Pro-life supporters of this bill also seem to believe that this legislation is a magic bullet which could force pro-choice groups to address the issue of fetal humanity and fetal pain.  I am confused by this particular belief because this is already happening.

Pro-choice advocates are addressing fetal pain all the way up to the federal level. They must defend their position on it out in the open during legislative pain-capable limitation battles. They are daily opening themselves up to the same criticism that this Montana legislation would open them up to, without risking any additional lives. Again, pain-capable legislation is much more helpful in this fight, because it brings information regarding the pain of unborn children into the public arena, and unlike this anesthesia bill, it does not jeopardize the lives of innocent children by making termination of pregnancy a more attractive option for those sitting on the fence when making a decision about their lethally affected unborn child.

The barbarity of abortion is what spurs people to fight against it.  While making it less barbaric would seem to be a move in the right direction, in the long run anything that makes abortion even remotely attractive is going to become a stumbling point. In supporting this bill, supporters (unintentionally) become complicit in sanitizing late-term abortion, and possibly destroying our one best shot at ending 42+ years of federally-sanctioned child murder.

As we know, Roe v. Wade created federal legislation which allows individual states to limit abortion at viability, and this has since been modified to allow limits that don't cause an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion, but this still focuses limitations only on the mother’s needs. Pain Capable bills may be fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court level if passed, and if pro-life groups can prove a compelling interest in protecting the rights of the unborn child from unnecessary pain, we stand to remove viability limits and the undue burden restrictions and replace those limits with what will essentially become personhood. Pain-capable legislation declares that abortion limitations should be based on the best interests of the unborn child, and not on our ability to save their lives outside of the womb. Pain-capable legislation has the possibility of declaring humanity from conception for every single unborn child who is in danger of being aborted. Supporters are throwing out the opportunity to possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, and possibly end abortion within our lifetime -- because as soon as these anesthesia laws go into effect, they will have destroyed any reason for pain capable laws to be fought for on a legislative level.

We don’t need new legislation to draw pro-choice persons into this discussion. We have it.

I know that many may try to argue that I am heartless, and that I am willing to sacrifice the comfort of an innocent victim in order to make a point, but neither of those ideas is true -- I am genuinely frightened at the gamble which is being taken here.

Another point I would like to address, is that in drafting this legislation, I don’t think the lawmakers involved understand how these types of abortions are performed. There are already options for anesthetic in this situation. Furthermore, when a 20+ week abortion is performed, general practice is to stop the baby’s heart before they begin the procedure -- ever since Gonzales v Carhart, when the Court said that this is the best alternative. A mother is also given IV sedation during the procedure, which crosses the placental barrier. This may not happen every time -- I can't claim knowledge of how every single 20+ week termination is carried out in the U.S., but I have yet to meet a mother whose termination did not include this as the first action done against her child.

Furthermore, this bill doesn’t guarantee that these babies will automatically receive anesthetic -- only that it will be offered. Some claim that this offer may be enough to turn a mother's heart away from terminating her pregnancy. They claim that the mother who cannot afford to pay for anesthetic may choose to continue her pregnancy when faced with the prospect of causing more suffering on the part of her baby. This is not the reality of the situation. We know that the majority of abortions done at this late time are done for fetal anomalies. These are considered "therapeutic" abortions, and for women of less financial stability, they are often paid for using federal tax dollars or health care insurance. Both financially stable and less fortunate mothers are going to be capable of utilizing anesthetic for their unborn child.

In addition, I have noted in my child loss groups (anecdotally of course) that lower income families are more likely to continue their pregnancies after with a poor prognosis than their more affluent counterparts. I don’t know the relevant statistics for this, but it’s something that needs to be stated.

And finally, at least in regards to this legislation, do supporters honestly believe that that this legislation will be confined to Montana? As more families make the decision to have their late term abortions done in Montana as a result of this "humane abortion" bill, more physicians in other states will begin offering this service voluntarily in order to compete in the market. We are already seeing abortion doulas, photographers who will accompany families to facilities to memorialize their children's lives, and physicians who offer a more serene experience for the family who is terminating because of fetal anomalies.  This will create a demand for "humane abortions."

Those of us who oppose this legislation are not the ones in danger of sacrificing innocent babies to our rigid ideology -- the people who are supporting this are. This is going to become the “humane” way to end the lives of children with disabilities.

I will now continue this on a more personal note.  I am quite angry at all of the pro-life leaders and legislators who support this bill, for the impact that this legislation will have on babies like my daughter.

My daughter was fortunate that I was her mother. To someone else, she would have been a throw-away baby.  Babies like her don’t need someone to give them anesthesia, -- they need someone to fight for their right to life.  They need a hero to tell people that they aren't worth sacrificing on the altar of your form of "incrementalism."  Unfortunately, that isn’t happening here.

Once again, exceptional babies are pushed aside to compromise on abortion legislation, except this time, even staunch pro-life allies are supporting the compromise, because these babies are most likely going to die anyways.  As disappointing as it is, it’s become par for the course.

To most, it seems unfathomable that any human would deny another human being pain relief in this instance. In contemplating this issue, this is where I stand:  We must trust God in these instances- and lean not on our own understanding.  Everyone who supports this effort is rationalizing this in human terms. We don’t like to see suffering, so we are going to fix it…. But this isn’t the way to fix the problem. 

I cannot claim to know the will of God, but I feel comfortable in believing that sanitizing sadism isn't part of His plan. 

My firm stance regarding this legislation isn't due to my heartlessness. I just believe in the power of a God who works as long as we follow His rules, even though our rational minds may not understand them. His laws do not permit us to conspire with others in the destruction of innocent life. 

Some critics have claimed that there is no endorsement of abortion implied in supporting this bill. I understand that. I am not claiming that anyone's motives come from anywhere less than the most compassionate place. 

Unfortunately, as I stated above, this misguided support will most likely end the lives of more infants with lethal anomalies, who may have been carried to term. You will be held accountable for those lives.

I know that, without a doubt, I would choose to forgo anesthesia if I knew that multitudes of my brothers or sisters would be marked for destruction due to my decision. I would do so remembering all of the martyrs who have gone before me, and how they too were killed while taking a firm stand for Christ.

We know that natural law is placed in our hearts at conception, and I believe firmly in faith in the womb. We see in the Bible (Luke 1:41), that unborn children are sentient- and recognize the power of God when they come into contact with it. How do we know that being able to voice their consent, they would not refuse to participate in something which would most probably lead to the death of others? 

We find it so easy to put ourselves in their place in terms of suffering, but we find it impossible to put ourselves in their place in terms of sacrifice. 

In closing, I offer this: the best comparative situation which I have found to illustrate how damaging this legislation will be, is the comparison between abortion and lynching -- an act which victimizes a specific segment of the population, and which is as brutal as that which happens in the womb. Both acts end the life of their victims, after prolonged suffering. Both acts are performed against a human being without their consent. 

Now visualize the images which we have seen of lynching victims.  If we were to say, "We cannot end the lynching, so we will administer anesthetic to the victim in order that they feel no pain," do you truly believe that the victim would accept that as the best option?  It would be more likely that we would be shamed, because upon hearing this, the victim’s cries would overwhelm us. Every other noise would be drowned out by their appeals to you, to cut down the noose. We do not tolerate the lynching of people any longer, because we heard their cries and it was a call to justice. That justice was not incremental. 

The only reason such unprincipled incrementalism has been acceptable as a pro-life strategy is because the victims of abortion cannot call out to us. They cannot tell us how our acceptance of legislation which allows certain segments of their population to be discriminated against, is harming them as a whole. 

Unprincipled incrementalism, as practiced in this legislation, discriminates against a very specific group of persons and it removes their humanity, reducing them to the status of animals -- those we can kill as long as they don't feel pain.

And without even a "silent scream", it makes it easier to continue on this course.

I would like to ask you to reconsider your support for this bill, for the sake of babies like my daughter -- babies who are even now quietly resting in their mothers wombs, yet to be diagnosed with their rare disorder. You have much influence, and the ability to do good.  Please don't let an emotional response to a brutal crime blind you to the possibility that this legislation will most likely end up being used for evil, and not for the good which you are visualizing.

Sarah Connors, mother to Beatrix Elizabeth Connors -- 12/13/10

BIO:  Sarah Grandfield-Connors is a wife, mother of 4, step-mother of 2, and pro-life blogger for Save The 1.  She's also the founder of limbbodywallcomplex.net, a pro-life, diagnosis specific website which supports parents who continue their pregnancy after receiving the same lethal diagnosis which took her daughter, Beatrix Elizabeth.  She blogs on grief, loss, and pro-life issues pertaining to continuing a pregnancy after a lethal anomaly has been diagnosed, at www.shebringsjoy.com.
Sunday, April 26, 2015

Should Babies From Rape Be Allowed To Live? by Marcella Franseen

Should Babies From Rape Be Allowed To Live?

Many people who are uncomfortable with abortion being used as birth control will make an exception to their generally pro-life world view in the case of rape. We are told, and many are convinced, one must make this exception to be a caring person.
As was expressed to me by a man considering himself to be pro-life, but making a rape exception, “I could never make someone carry their rapist’s baby.” He felt this was the merciful position.
The rape exception is one of the more powerful arguments for the continued legality of abortion. Any discussion on the reversal of Roe V. Wade will be met with the issue of pregnancy due to rape.
Rape is a horrible violence against women. It is wrong! The perpetrator of the violence should be punished and the victim protected and helped, but when a child is conceived through rape, there is no longer one innocent victim. There are two.
It is no surprise the pro-choice community denies unborn children conceived in rape the unalienable right to life. They deny all unborn children their unalienable right to life. It is curious, though, that people who would otherwise consider themselves pro-life would make this exception.
When we make an exception to the right to life we devalue not only the lives of those people we are exempting, but the lives of the women carrying them, plus the lives of our neighbors, our children, and even our own lives. Either all human beings are created equal with the unalienable right to life or no human being is, for if we can make one exception we can make every exception.  

Bio: Marcella has served as a Center Director, client advocate, and abortion recovery facilitator for a pro-life medical pregnancy center. She is currently the Director of AbortionRecoveryAssistance in South Carolina where she resides with her husband and three children. She is passionate about the inherent value and dignity of all people from conception and is equally passionate about the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, for those who have chosen abortion or are involved in the industry. She is a blogger at rickthomas.net and savethe1.com
Thursday, April 23, 2015

Montana Anesthesia Abortion Bill -- It's OK to Kill as Long as Your Victim Doesn't Feel Pain? by Rebecca Kiessling

About a month ago, I first heard about the Montana “Unborn Child Pain and Suffering Act,” (HB 479) which is their version of the “Pain-Capable” bill.  However, instead of banning late-term abortions based upon the premise that unborn children feel pain, this bill, as now passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor for approval, merely requires that the mother be informed that her 20 week+ (from conception) unborn child may feel pain during the abortion and that she has the option to consent to anesthesia for the child.

Right away, I felt ill to my stomach because, as far as I’m aware, this would be the first time in American history that a precedent would be set that it’s okay to kill your innocent victim as long as he or she doesn’t feel pain, or as the bill now stands – as long as those involved in the killing are told that the victim might feel pain.  Just think of how far-reaching such a dangerous precedent could be extended:  euthanasia of special-needs children, as well as assisted suicide.  Do we mitigate first-degree murder to a lesser charge if the killer showed “compassion” by killing the victim swiftly while sedated?  Do we show leniency to rapists for drugging the victim and raping her while she’s passed out, or for using a condom?  How asinine would that be?!

For the last couple of years, I’ve been warning others that the fetal pain bills could backfire and that it is dangerous to suggest that our right to life is somehow linked to whether or not we feel pain.  In Gonzales v Carhart, the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case which upheld the Congressional ban against Partial Birth Abortion (also called “intact D&E”, the Court said that, “the Act’s prohibition only applies to the delivery of ‘a living fetus.’ 18 U. S. C. §1531(b)(1)(A) (2000 ed., Supp. IV). If the intact D&E procedure is truly necessary in some circumstances, it appears likely an injection that kills the fetus is an alternative under the Act that allows the doctor to perform the procedure.”  Because of this chilling language, I’ve often cautioned others that the same Court which suggested that you can still perform a Partial Birth Abortion as long as you provide a lethal injection first, would similarly respond to a Pain Capable Act by merely suggesting you provide anesthesia first.  And now a state legislature is actually suggesting what I feared the Supreme Court would do!
What’s even more shocking to me now is the fact that several pro-life activists have come out publicly in support of the Montana anesthesia legislation, including Eric Scheidler, Jill Stanek and Fr. Frank Pavone – all of whom do great work for the pro-life movement, but all of whom are dead wrong on this bill.  We cannot sanitize abortion.  Can you imagine rape victim advocacy groups pushing for a bill which would require rapists to drug their victims first?  It’s lunacy!
I placed a personal phone call to Priests for Life to discuss this bill, and I received a friendly voicemail message back from Dr. Anthony Vento of Priests for Life, who explained that they “support incremental legislation regardless of any exception” – which I support incremental legislation as well, as long as it’s principled with no exceptions – and that they felt that “from a standpoint of morality, it’s immoral to take rights away from a person.  It is not immoral to add rights to one.”  PFL believes that informing the mother of the option of anesthesia is adding rights to the preborn.  He further stated that they feel the bill does not give an incentive to an abortion, but that the baby should not have to feel pain.
I took a day to ponder what he said about adding rights to a person.  Again, does requiring a rapist to use the date rape drug or a condom add rights to a rape victim?  I would say not. 
Something else which came to mind is the 3/5 Compromise during the 1787 Constitutional Convention which counted slaves as 3/5 of a person for determining a state’s population for purposes of congressional representation and taxation.  That provision is still in the U.S. Constitution to this day – Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3, but was effectively nullified by the 13th Amendment which made all persons free.  Interestingly, they didn’t want the word “slave” in the Constitution, so they referred to free Persons vs. “other Persons” – slaves, who were only counted as 3/5.  In the battle to protect preborn children, it’s the opposite, where they are given a dehumanizing name – “fetus” – instead of being called “Persons.” 
This “3/5 Compromise” is a shameful part of American history.  Arguably, it “added rights” to slaves by recognizing them as “other Persons” within the Constitution, although only being counted as 3/5 for apportionment, but having them recognized as persons brought slaves nowhere closer to being free!  In fact, it ensured their enslavement more by increasing the stake of Southern slaveholders in Congress.  Seven decades later, in the Dred Scott U.S. Supreme Court decision, slaves were still not recognized even as “citizens” under the U.S. Constitution, and so, had no right to sue in Federal Court.  Likewise, in Roe v Wade, the Court pointed out that preborn children have not been recognized as “persons in the whole sense.”  Most, if not all, of the compromises involving slavery were major failures, and we can see clearly now that the North should have never compromised at all.  Can you imagine if the pro-life movement supported a compromise bill to recognize the preborn as 3/5 of a person?  That would be ludicrous!  But under PFL’s standard, it would be “adding rights.”
Dr. Vento from PFL also suggested that the Montana legislation does not provide an incentive to abort.  However, I wholeheartedly disagree.  My friend, pro-life activist Abby Johnson explains it this way:  Incremental legislation is great, but we have to be careful which incremental measures we support, and we certainly have to be careful when we make remarks praising these measures.  When I worked in the Planned Parenthood clinic, the most frequently asked question I received was, ‘Will my baby feel this?’ We would ask them how that would play into their decision. They would almost always say that they ‘wished there was a way to make it so that the baby wouldn't feel any pain before it dies.’  It wasn't that they were going to change their minds if the baby felt pain.  I personally believe, from my own experience in the clinic, that this will only ease the conscience of the woman seeking an abortion.  I'm not sure it's going to do what people think it will.”
With the anesthesia bill, I see significant parallels in the book “The Giver,” by Lois Lowry, when the character Fiona describes her experience with being trained to end the life of a baby in the manner in which the society deemed to be humane:
“I got to my assignment the next day.  The first thing I heard from my director was . . . ‘Today I will teach you to release new-children,’ she said looking straight at me.  I was shocked, did I really have that much respect already???  I had only become a nurturer yesterday, and she wanted me to release a new-child!  She put in one of my hands a small needle.  I know new-children need needles for health, but if he was being released wouldn't the people who were going to receive him have a health needle for him?  I looked around.  There seemed to be no door to some magical elsewhere that all elevens always whispered about when they thought of being released. I looked back at my director as she instructed ‘pass me the needle.’  I handed her the needle slowly, wondering what I was supposed to do.  I watched as she talked to the new-child with a soft mother-like voice.  She then said ‘this will hurt at first but in the end you won't feel any pain.’  What was that supposed to mean???   It didn't make any sense to me at the time.  Slowly she injected the needle into the new-child's head because his arm vein wasn't big enough.  He started wailing and I didn't know what to do.  I looked back to my director and she was looking at the new-child as if waiting for something to happen, and then it did.  In her arms the small new-child slowly stopped crying and then he went limp.  He was dead.  I stared in horror at my director as she placed the small body in a white box and threw it down the garbage chute.  This would be my job from now on!  Killing new-children!  They weren't even old enough to speak up for themselves!  My instructor then looked back at me and said ‘This is how people are released.  You must deal with it, and not tell anybody.’  She looked at me, her eyes held such certainty.  It was strange.”
This Montana abortion anesthesia bill is every bit as strange.  Just as the director in the Giver book was desensitized and training Fiona to be, I foresee that this legislation will actually have the net effect of doing the same and thereby increasing abortions in Montana.  In fact, I could see Montana becoming the new late-term abortion capital of the United States because the medical community and others who tend to bully women into getting late-term abortions for various reasons will be able to tell these women not to worry – that they can go to Montana to get their late-term abortions where they do them humanely.  That could become the new slogan for the late-term abortion industry in Montana! 
I understand that Fr. Pavone and others honestly believe that this measure will make people more aware of the fact that preborn children are capable of feeling pain, but an anesthesia bill merely raises the issue, then resolves it – “unborn children feel pain?  Offer anesthesia -- problem solved!”
In my research on this issue, I found an article in USA Today written by an anesthesiologist calling for “a moratorium on the use of anesthetics for lethal injection” of death row prisoners, and I was struck by the parallels:  “lethal injection created an illusion of humane, professional execution.  But the executioners are not doctors, and it's been well established that the executions themselves are not humane.”  This is the same with anesthesia abortions – they will give the illusion that late-term abortions in Montana are “humane,” although sedation doesn’t make abortion any more humane at all!  Dr. Joel Zivot points out that European pharmaceutical companies have stopped selling certain products in the U.S. because they’re being used to administer the death penalty.  If a pharmaceutical company is willing to take such a stand for convicted murderers – losing significant revenue from U.S. sales, surely we can take a better stand for pre-born children!
This brings me to a brief discussion of why many Catholic pro-life leaders are willing to compromise and to celebrate mediocrity – they improperly utilize Evangelium Vitae 73, an encyclical of Pope John Paul II on abortion, which states:  “When it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.  This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”  First of all, this provision is only limited to an elected official – not a priest, pro-life activist or voter, and it’s only to be if it’s a deciding vote.
Secondly, as I pointed out in my radio interview on the Catholic Channel with Cardinal Dolan on January 21st, in which he completely agreed, there is no way that the Pope intended this provision to allow for the discrimination of an entire class of persons.  In fact, Cardinal Dolan called it “preposterous” to suggest that EV 73 allows such discrimination.  But he even went a little further, objecting to the premise of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, quoting from an excerpt from my philosophical abortion essay:  “Does that make it okay to stab somebody in the back when they’re sleeping, because they can’t feel pain?” Then he declared, “Absolutely not -- that’s ridiculous!”

Think of children born with Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, otherwise known as Congenital Analgesia.  Are they any less worthy of their right to life, just because they are incapable of feeling pain?  Do we allow abortions for them?  The only way this Montana bill could possibly be any worse is if it had such an exception, or any other exceptions such as rape and incest – not that I wish to give them any ideas!  So many of these same pro-life leaders already support Pain Capable bills with rape exceptions – as if we (children conceived in rape like me) don’t feel pain, or it’s just that we can go ahead and suffer for all they care.  As soon as you compromise on principle, you’ve already lost.  People need to understand that.

We must not support a dangerous bill like the Montana abortion anesthesia bill!  Our rights cannot be linked to whether we feel pain, and we must not placate the concerns of mothers who might not otherwise obtain an abortion because of concerns about the baby feeling pain.  I urge everyone to refrain from supporting such legislation, and move away from the whole pain argument as defining our humanity.

BIO:  Rebecca Kiessling is an international pro-life speaker, writer and lawyer, having been conceived in rape and nearly aborted at two back-alley abortions, but legally protected by no-exceptions Michigan law.  She’s the founder and president of Save The 1 and co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Doctor Said There Was A Black Cloud Over My Child, by Brad Smith

“I was offered termination at 23 weeks. That was the 4th doctor to offer it and she said God wasn't punishing me... And if I tried again there was only a 1% chance of it happening to me again.” Jennifer Giddens was told that she was pregnant with a child who had Trisomy 18 also called Edwards Syndrome which is similar to Down Syndrome, but much harsher. She was struggling to find a doctor who would help her. Finally on her 5th doctor, Jennifer met a pro-life obstetrician. He of course could not guarantee that her little Mary-Margaret would make it to term, but at least he was willing to help.

Mary-Margaret was born at 37.5 weeks weighing 3lbs 6 oz and only needed cpap breathing support for a few hours.  A doctor who came to Jennifer’s room to discuss her condition said she had a heart defect, but central apnea (which is a breathing problem caused by the nervous system) would kill her before the heart issue. The doctor said she had a day...maybe a week. Well, she was beating their expectations, and 8 days later they took her home.  Doctors always said Mary-Margaret was a candidate for surgery when the time came that she needed it.  Jennifer talked to the surgeon personally a few times and she was reassured that the doctor was more than willing to perform the surgery.  The cardiologist said Mary-Margaret needed to be 4 lbs to have the required heart surgery. 

Many children with Trisomy 18 struggle with heart and breathing issues, and Mary-Margaret was no different.  Some time passed and her heart rate began to drop when she slept so Jennifer took Mary Margaret to the hospital.  Now in the hospital with her daughter in need of the promised heart surgery, Jennifer was confronted with a harsh reality that most parents of Trisomy 18 children face…a heartless doctor.  Jennifer told me that “the attending doctor said on rounds that ‘there was a black cloud over M&M and it was coming.... REAL soon. That there was nothing to do, but surgery, and nobody would operate on a baby like her.’ She was yelling all of this outside the door” so everyone could hear her.  And this is supposed to be a teaching hospital. Maybe the doctor felt everyone outside the room needed to learn that Trisomy 18 is “incompatible with life” and that HIPPA privacy laws don’t apply to her. 

When the doctor walked in the room to talk, she asked what Jennifer knew about Mary-Margaret’s condition, and Jennifer said “enough to know there's hope for her.”  The doctor responded “IF there were any older babies alive they didn't have a heart problem. That no one would do surgery on her because she was scrawny and she was struggling. And why would I want to prolong suffering.”  This doctor obviously did not care enough about this beautiful little child to do a little research and find out that many children with Trisomy 18 have heart surgery and 90% of them survive it.  Oh, and most T18 children have heart issues like the dozens of living children who we personally know including our 6 year old daughter Faith.

I have written several stories about parents like Jennifer and children like Mary-Margaret.  Like Jennifer, we had to fight to get treatment for our daughter and now know parents from coast to coast who have similar stories.  Our daughter almost died, but survived despite the doctors who thought she should die.  Jennifer is a brave mother who is willing to fight and allow me to tell her story, but her story is different from the other children.  The difference? Mary-Margaret did not survive the doctors who thought she should be dead.  Instead of working to end suffering and striving to prolong her life, the doctors refused surgery to Mary-Margaret.  Jennifer had to watch as her child struggled for her last breaths.

Are you sick to your stomach yet?  This story is happening everyday all across this country.  I know because my wife and I experienced this with our daughter too and had the same comment made to us about prolonging her life.  Isn’t the entire medical industry based around the idea of prolonging life?  Measles, rabies, small pox, and malaria are all diseases that cause suffering and death, yet doctors worked to prolong life and end the suffering of these patients.  Because of innovation by life-loving doctors and their self-less work, these diseases can be wiped out and life prolonged for millions of people.  I have a novel idea.  Let’s apply this type of innovation to every situation possible and see what great things can happen.

Brad Smith and his wife Jesi are Save The 1 pro-life speakers @ savethe1.com  from Rochester Hills, Michigan. Learn more about Brad and Jesi at www.keepingourfaith.com. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Negotiations on the 20 Abortion Ban Would be Comical if They Weren't So Tragic by Jim Sable

As someone who is conceived in rape, who has dealt with the trauma and stigmatization that this conception story engenders, (I now see my story as a gift), it is very exciting to see an increase in awareness on this issue.  There is now much more public debate, a growing number of articles and stories reaching the mainstream media, and lots of discussion on internet social sites and blogs.  The rape exception has entered the new presidential campaign early.  Rand Paul has used questions about his personal views about the rape exception to effectively turn the tables on abortion supporters in order to demonstrate their extreme, unwavering support of abortion on demand for any reason at any time.  (Although we wish that he will be able effectively defend a no-exceptions pro-life philosophy at some point.) 

Save The 1 was launched to help facilitate this burgeoning awareness (and perhaps has been a catalyst in the spike in interest in this topic), and to provide a venue of support and expression for “the hard cases.”  Our population of rape and incest conceived persons willing to bring stories of redemption to society as a whole, and to the abortion debate specifically, is growing daily.

Within this context, it is valuable to examine how some of this increase in awareness has and will impact our rape and incest conceived lives and the lives of those yet unborn, conceived through similar trauma.  There is a new surge of enthusiasm to pass a national 20 week, pain related abortion ban (Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act -- PCUCPA); to find a way to undo and correct the failure of the effort in January, 2015.  Recently, pro-life protesters were actually willing to get arrested in order to jumpstart the legislative process -- to keep reporting requirements in with the rape exceptions.  However, negotiations, again, stall on the complications surrounding a rape exception.

These new "negotiations" for the 20 week law would be comical, if they weren't so tragically pathetic.  Renee Ellmers is still the face of a group pushing to define and broaden the rape exception and their initiative was one of the reasons the January bill stalled.  Not mentioned much, if at all, is the effort by others, advocating a principled, no exceptions position, who were and are working to have the rape exception removed entirely.  Now, Ellmers is demanding an even lower standard.  Her new exceptions language would only require that the physician know the pregnancy was a result of a rape.  She actually said, “'I’m much more comfortable with this new language,” which is ridiculous. 

The people involved in crafting this bill don't seem to realize that, from state to state, the legal reporting requirements for rape are counted in years, not in months or trimesters.  (Please see RAINN.org and AfterSilence.org, among others.)  Ironically, from a rape crisis/post rape support perspective, Ellmers is correct in attempting to remove reporting requirements from the 20 week bill.  No rape crisis support organization would approve of shortening the reporting requirement.  There never seems to be much thought given to the enforcement of these laws either, especially a law with Ellmers’ goofy exception language.  (We are depending on the abortion clinic to enforce them.)  They don't seem to realize that including the exception causes the crafting of this legislation to be so difficult.  There are many who are mad at Ellmers for being an exceptions candidate and legislator who just wants a different kind of exception, one that she, not others can define.  The problem here is the rape exception itself.  The problem is the folly of combining the morass of rape laws with any abortion-restricting law.

And, of course, whose voices are the least considered?  The voices of those who are the most impacted: the rape and incest conceived, and their mothers who love them.  Again, our viewpoints are held at arm’s length and our right to life is negotiated away.  To make matters worse, we have legislators who don’t seem to consider what they are saying and don’t realize what effect their words have.  A sponsor of the 20 week bill – Congressman Trent Franks -- actually used the Federal Humane Slaughter Act as a defense of his position supporting the PCUCPA with exceptions to ensure that unborn children are provided the same protection as common farm animals.  When the exception is added, the rape conceived effectively have less value and less protection under law than a pig or a chicken, using the logic of the sponsor’s statement!

Where is the leadership from our pro-life "leaders"?  It sure seems like they are leading from behind.  National Right to Life claims their official position is that the rape exception should not be added, but there doesn’t seem to be much conviction behind the rhetoric.  A popular, national pro-life blog boldly and unequivocally calls the rape exception "unnecessary and repugnant", then equivocates and supports any and all exception-laden bills that go up for a vote.  Countless elected officials proudly crow about their pro-life credentials, despite the fact that the rape exception is part of their pro-life legislative template.  Many of the national pro-life organizations accept the rape exception with hardly a whimper, or write it into their model legislation automatically, yet they now seem to be bragging that they are taking a stand against the reporting requirements being removed.  If only they’d take a stand against the rape exception itself!  These organizations give cover to the politicians through their ratings and endorsements.  They are not leading -- they are following and enabling.

As a pro-life community, we are represented by many organizations and leaders along with the pro-life lawmakers, and they eagerly accept any support we offer them.  Sometimes, I wonder which is the cart and which is the horse?  In actuality, they work for us -- the pro-life grass roots community, not the other way around.  I am hoping they hear the voices of the so-called “hard cases” and begin to work for a higher standard of what it means to be pro-life.  Let’s stop living with the rationalizations that pro-life people are forced to live with when they accept the rape exception in law.  "No exceptions" should be the standard.

BIO:  Jim Sable is a husband, father of three,

and a national pro-life speaker and blogger

for Save The 1, from the Chicago area.  He

serves on the Board of Save The 1, as well