Category Archives: Abortion

So that’s how it feels!

During President George W. Bush‘s time in office, those protesting the man and his agenda often did so loudly and at unfitting times and places. Dissent and the right to protest are sacrosanct in America, and we should all honor and protect those liberties. However, I often disagreed with the way the Left protested our previous president. Respect is owed to the office of the president.

Now, President Barack Obama is getting a taste of the same. A small taste, to be sure, but enough to know the flavor. During his speech today at Notre Dame, a few protesters interrupted the president’s remarks from inside the building. Outside, more than three hundred protesters gathered, lead by Catholic leaders and pro-life student groups.

I have to admit a certain part of me admired those individuals who stood up and objected to the president, and another part of me was tempted to revel in the rebuke and in the disruption caused for the president.  However, even though I passionately disagree with the president, I believe there are other ways to respectfully yet boldly demonstrate in opposition to his agenda.

Here’s what got me, though, about the event and protests surrounding it:

For one, it is severely disappointing to see Notre Dame host Barack Obama. The University holds itself up as a shining example of “Roman Catholic” (an oxymoronic term, but you know what I mean) values, high among which is the belief in the right to life. President Obama is deeply committed in opposition to that right. It’s also disappointing to see ND honor a social democrat like Obama – although let’s be honest, there was never much danger of ND rejecting him grounds of his collectivist stances alone.

That brings me to the next point, which is that I wish some of the larger protests (those outside the event, etc.) would have been in opposition to other aspects of Obama’s agenda, and not merely his pro-choice policies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the ND pro-life community spoke up – it just would have been nice to also seem some ND folks protest against his massive, unprecedented expansion of the State.

Thirdly, I was disappointed to hear the crowd boo loudly against the (indoor) protesters. Or rather, it is unsettling to hear a crowd boo against impolite interruptions of Obama, when the same commitment to honor and protect the speaking rights of President Bush did not occur (if I recall correctly). Somehow it was okay to interrupt Bush, I guess, but not Obama.

According to the AP, upon at least one interruption, the graduates loudly chanted “Yes We Can,” the Obama campaign slogan, to drown out the protester. It appears Notre Dame has produced a graduating class of Utopian-believers, of Obama-Democrats. Which gets to another, larger point: If a University like Notre Dame is teaching its students liberalism, why should anybody be surprised or upset when they applaud and defend a liberal?

Abortion is just one single issue. And although it may be an important issue to many Catholics, it’s still just one issue. These students are by and large going to embrace a liberal like Obama, even if he does not agree with ND and the Roman Church on the single issue of abortion.

Here’s a video of the event from a Fox affiliate.

Leave a comment

Filed under Abortion, Barack Obama

Tiller free but not clear

On Friday, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the state’s case against him. You can read more in my piece for WORLD Magazine.

On the same day, however, the state Board of Healing Arts announced a pending inquiry into eleven allegations against Tiller. Operation Rescue issued a news release here.

In other news on the life issue, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed a right-to-know law sponsored by local state Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe), a surprise to some given her ardent support of abortion in the past. You can read more about it on Lance’s website.

Leave a comment

Filed under Abortion, Kansas Politics

Sebelius nomination

My piece for WORLD Magazine on the Sebelius nomination has been published online and appears in the latest print issue of the magazine. You can read it here if you have a subscription, or a portion of it if you don’t.

In January, I wrote in WORLD about the defense motion to dismiss charges in the criminal trial of late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller. Judge Owens has since ruled against the defense, and the trial begins Monday.

Visit www.worldmag.com to stay current – or better yet, buy a subscription!

Leave a comment

Filed under Abortion, Kansas Politics

Unnatural selection: survival of the litmus

Two articles today raise the unsettling spectre of human genetic engineering. Or more precisely, of human genetic selection. Scientific advances now appear to make possible trait selection for cosmetic reasons, in addition to disease screening and gender determination, both of which have been practiced for some time.

BBC News reports that the Fertility Institute of Los Angeles, California will facilitate the birth of a designer baby next year. The Wall Street Journal offers further details and background on the process known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. Both stories were featured on the Drudge Report today.

Fertility Institutes of Los Angeles, California will select and implant embryos based on genetic makeup

Fertility Institutes of Los Angeles, California will select and implant embryos based on genetic makeup. Photo available on the grou's website at http://www.fertility-docs.com.

Essentially, doctors test a handful of viable human embryos, and select a given embryo for implantation into the mother’s womb.

Perhaps most would agree that it would not be unethical to screen for life-threatening diseases or other serious conditions. But what about cosmetic trait selection? Characteristics like hair color, eye color and height? To what degree could skin tone be affected? The BBC article reports that complexion could be altered, but possible implications on race are not discussed.

This all raises a number of ethical questions, some old and some new. For instance, what happens to the embryos not selected? The undesirable human embryos? In most if not all cases, they are discarded – terminated. This human life is destroyed so John and Sue can have a perfect little Junior. 

Is it right to choose which humans will be born based on their genetic characteristics? Is it right to choose who will be part of your family based on what color their hair is, or how tall they are? In all of this, it’s important too make the distinction that these traits are not being selected. What is being selected is the individual embryos, based on their possession of certain traits (or lack thereof).

Among the most troubling facts reported by the WSJ article is this:

“Instead of avoiding some conditions, the technique also may have been used to select an embryo likely to have the same disease or disability, such as deafness, that affects the parents. The Johns Hopkins survey found that 3% of PGD clinics had provided this service, sometimes described as “negative enhancement.” Groups who support this approach argue, for example, that a deaf child born to a deaf couple is better suited to participating in the parents’; shared culture. So far, however, no single clinic has been publicly identified as offering this service.”

So, parents are electing to bring a child into the world because he or she will suffer from deafness, blindess or some other debilitating condition. That might sound like an odd or unfair way to put it, but remember that parents are not choosing traits – they are choosing children. I imagine that distinction – that fact – may be often overlooked in the ensuing discussion on the selection subject at large.

People without sight or without hearing often develop strong bonds with other similar individuals. These relationships form a sort of community in which there is a unique culture and customs. I appreciate – at least in a way I can from the perspective of someone who sees and hears – the desire of such parents to have a child who can personally relate to them in this fundamental way, and participate in the same culture. I can understand the fear that may arise in these parents when confronted by the possibility that their child may not be deaf, may not be blind – and thus may not be connected, personally and socially, to them in this way. 

However, I can not but conclude at this time that “negative enhancement” seems to be a misuse of science and wrongly indulged hope at best, and a selfish, primitive exploitation of human life and one’s own children at worst. I take a similarly dim view of positive enhancement for cosmetic reasons, and at least a skeptical view of genetic determination. On genetic disease screening, I’m more open but I believe there are still profound ethical questions to be answered. 

With continuing medical science advances and no state or federal laws on the books in the United States, one thing is clear: trait-selected human offspring are likely to walk among us in the near future.

Post Script: There are a few good movies that deal with related topics. Check out Gattaca with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, or The Island with Scarlett Johanssan and Ewan McGregor. The latter – in which some human beings are cloned and harvested for their organs – bears (if with artistic license to great dramatic effect) an undeniable connection to today’s practice of “savior siblings,” which is discussed in the WSJ article.

Leave a comment

Filed under Abortion, Bio-Science, Philosophy and Ethics

Kansas: “Woman’s Right to Know and See” introduced

Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe) has introduced pro-life legislation in the Kansas legislature, announcing the bill Monday at a capitol press conference in Topeka. The eight page piece of legislation, titled The Woman’s Right to Know and See, currently has 38 co-sponsors.

HB 2076 would:

  • Require that 24 hours prior to an abortion, pregnant mothers be provided a list of free sonogram locations along with information on free counseling assistance and perinatal hospice services.
  • Require that 30 minutes prior to an abortion, pregnant mothers must be offered a copy of the sonogram and a chance to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Require abortion clincs to post signage inside the building ensuring that pregnant women understand their rights.
  • Require the state to produce a “standard information video,” and website including a series of ultrasound images of a developing baby.

Kinzer is an articulate pro-life voice and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and this bill figures to be the major pro-life vehicle this session. Even if it does pass both chambers, however, it awaits Governor Kathleen Sebelius‘s desk, who vetoed anti-abortion legislation last year. The thinking is surely to continue to fight the good fight and simply force the governor to veto, if that is what she chooses to do.

Given that this bill simply guarantees access to information and free services, however, this may be a tougher veto for Sebelius. If the bill were to become law it would be an incremental victory and advance for the pro-life movement. In that sense this approach is strategic and subtle. Yet, for legislation centered on access to information and full disclosure, it is fairly comprehensive, and in that sense, quite aggressive.

Stay tuned for updates…

Additional resources:

Leave a comment

Filed under Abortion, Kansas Politics