Trevin Wax

Five signs the pro-life cause is winning

Trevin Wax
By Trevin Wax
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May 20, 2011 (Patheos.com) - The pro-life cause is winning. In state legislatures, in the media, and in grassroots efforts to reduce the number of abortions, pro-life activists have put abortion rights advocates on defense. The pro-life movement certainly has hurdles to overcome before the United States can become a place where all human life is legally protected. Yet the eventual outcome is certain. Here are five reasons I believe we have reached a tipping point in favor of the pro-life cause.

1) Public Opinion

A majority of Americans surveyed in a recent Rasmussen poll, including a large percentage of those who identified themselves “pro-choice,” said they believe abortion is “morally wrong most of the time.” Last year, for the third consecutive time, Gallup found that more Americans accept the pro-life label, a result that led the polling firm to acknowledge “a real change in public opinion.”

One reason for this shift is the high-tech ultrasound machine that reaffirms what embryology textbooks have told us all along—that the unborn child is truly a human being. In a recent Washington Post editorial, Frances Kissling, former President of Catholics for Choice, advised abortion-rights advocates to shift strategies: “We can no longer pretend the fetus is invisible.” Yet few pro-choice activists seem to be listening to Kissling’s advice. They continue to cast themselves as the defenders of “women’s reproductive rights.” This worn-out strategy fails to resonate with a large number of Americans because it ignores the point of tension. The debate has moved on from “reproductive rights” to the more perplexing question: “What are the unborn?”

Meanwhile, many people—including some you would not expect—are openly registering their unease with the procedure. Take the recently released autobiography of Steven Tyler, the “screamin’ demon” lead singer of rock band Aerosmith. When he impregnated a teenaged girl in the mid-1970s, friends convinced them they could not raise the child and should seek an abortion. “They put the needle in her belly and squeeze the stuff in and you watch,” Tyler recounted. “And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”

Twenty years ago, many of those who considered themselves “pro-life” were a little hesitant to say so publicly. Today, the reverse is true. Even those who advocate a woman’s right to abortion don’t want to fight for that position too passionately.

2) The Media

In 1972, an episode of Maude concluded with the central character choosing to have an abortion. One would think that nearly forty years later, we would be past this debate. Not so. In fact, filmmakers and television writers have discovered that fictional abortion not only kills a fetus, but kills a story as well. Movie and television characters who wrestle with the decision (Dr. Abby Lockhart on ER, for example) almost always choose life.

That’s why even pro-choice filmmakers choose life in the end. Juno is a good example. The pregnant teenage girl approaches an abortion clinic and meets a pro-life friend who informs her that the baby has a heartbeat, can feel pain, and already has fingernails. Juno chooses “to appreciate her miracle.”

Similarly, in a 2009 episode of Law and Order (“Dignity”), a female attorney seeking justice for a murdered abortion doctor is shaken by a description of partial-birth abortion. “I grew up thinking Roe v. Wade was gospel,” she says. Now, “I don’t know where my freedom ends and the dignity of another being begins.”

The media is not leading the way when it comes to the pro-life cause. It’s only catching up to the sweeping pro-life sentiments of the majority of Americans. Yet the shift in popular culture reflects the progress the pro-life argument has made.

3) Young People

Sixteen-year-old singing sensation, Justin Bieber, was recently asked by Rolling Stone for his position on abortion: “I really don’t believe in abortion,” he said, since abortion is “like killing a baby.” Bieber is not alone. The sea of young faces at this year’s annual “March for Life” in Washington prompted NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) President Nancy Keenan to worry: “There are so many of them, and they are so young.”

Bieber, ironically enough, was castigated by Barbara Walters for answering questions inappropriate for a person of his age—even though girls can actually receive abortions, and not merely opine on them, at ages younger than 16. That a veteran journalist like Walters fails to see the inconsistency in her position is a testament to how entrenched are the ideas among the older generation of abortion advocates.

4) The Third Wave

John Ensor of Heartbeat International writes: “In the first wave, Catholics took the lead is declaring the inherent evil of abortion. Evangelicals then flooded in to help advance the pregnancy help movement. The Third Wave points to the victory of our movement and the downfall of abortion as a business, when Black and Hispanic Christians not only join this movement, but lead it.”

A few months ago, a billboard in New York City featured a picture of an African-American girl with the message “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” Many found the ad “racist” and thought it condemned black women for having abortions. Lost in the controversy was the actual point of the advertisement: abortion clinics target poor minorities in the inner city. Although the billboard was taken down, it pointed to the troubling racial history of abortion. When YouTube videos began making the rounds, showing the overtly racist agenda of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, some pro-choice advocates were forced to reconsider their assumptions.

5) Abortion Advocates on the Defensive

While Roe still stands, legislators in numerous states have begun chipping away at the implications of that decision. Supporting their efforts is increasing evidence of corruption at abortion clinics.

Planned Parenthood’s advocates have sought to redirect the discussion by pointing to all the other health care services their clinics provide for low-income women. But implicit in Planned Parenthood’s downplaying of abortion and emphasizing of other services is a stunning admission: abortion is a problem. Planned Parenthood’s talking points indicate that fewer and fewer Americans can stomach the idea of “abortion as health care.”

And then there is the admission that abortion is a “tragic choice.” On a recent episode of The View, Whoopi Goldberg explained her reason for being pro-choice: the low-income woman who already has too many children. When confronted about women who simply get abortions out of convenience, she called them “idiots.” Why does Whoopi have such a visceral reaction to abortion-for-convenience? Because she’s an inconsistent advocate of abortion rights: she recognizes that the fetus is a human being and that abortion snuffs out this life. The fact that she (and others like her) sees abortion as a “tragic choice” implicitly speaks to the immorality of the procedure.

Conclusion

The tipping point in favor of the pro-life cause is not evident to all. Time magazine recently chose Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards for their 100 Most Influential List (a decision akin to choosing segregationist George Wallace over crusader Martin Luther King, Jr.). There is much work to be done.

The abortion debate will not go away. The fundamental issue at stake is not reproductive freedom but the desire to extend human rights to all—even the smallest and most vulnerable human beings among us. Those who continue to ignore or deny the humanity of the unborn are increasingly on the defensive because new technologies are opening the window into the womb. What we find there are not tissues to be discarded, but human lives worth protecting.

Trevin WaxTrevin Wax is an editor at LifeWay Christian resources and a blogger at Kingdom People. He is also the author of Holy Subversion and Counterfeit Gospels. This article first appeared on Patheos.com. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.


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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Arguments don’t have genitals

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

“As soon as he grows his own uterus, he can have an opinion.”

That was a comment left on The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page by a woman who presumably opposes men speaking out against misogyny, domestic abuse, rape culture, and female genital mutilation as well. Apparently, you see, male genitals disqualify people from speaking out on various human rights issues deemed by women who define themselves by their uteruses while protesting angrily against being defined by their uteruses as “women’s issues.”

Which abortion isn’t, by the way. It’s a human rights issue.

To break it down really simply for our confused “feminist” friends: Human beings have human rights. Human rights begin when the human being begins, or we are simply choosing some random and arbitrary point at which human beings get their human rights. If we do not grant human rights to all human beings, inevitably some sub-set of human beings gets denied protection by another group with conflicting interests. In this case, of course, it is the abortion crowd, who want to be able to kill pre-born children in the womb whenever they want, for any reason they want.

Science tells us when human life begins. Pro-abortion dogma is at worst a cynical manoeuvre to sacrifice the lives of pre-born human beings for self-interest, and at best an outdated view that collapsed feebly under the weight of new discoveries in science and embryology. But the abortion cabal wants to preserve their bloody status quo at all costs, and so they make ludicrous claims about needing a uterus to qualify for a discussion on science and human rights.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

In fact, feminists love it when men speak up on abortion, as long as we’re reading from their script, which is why the carnivorous feminists have such a support system among the Deadbeat Dads for Dead Babies set and the No Strings Attached Club.

Male abortion activists have even begun to complain about “forced fatherhood,” a new cultural injustice in which they are expected to bear some responsibility for fathering children with women they didn’t love enough to want to father children with, but did appreciate enough to use for sex. Casual fluid swaps, they whine, should not result in custody hearings.

This is not to mention a genuine social tragedy that has men forcing or pressuring women to have abortions or abandoning them when they discover that the woman is, indeed, pregnant.

Or the fact that abortion has assisted pimps, rapists, and misogynists in continuing the crimes of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sex-selection abortion.

And coming against these disgusting trends are thousands of men in the pro-life movement who believe that shared humanity means shared responsibility, and that when the weak and vulnerable are robbed of their rights, we have to stand up and speak out.

We are not at all convinced by the feminist argument that people should think with their reproductive organs or genitals. We think that the number of people currently doing that has perhaps contributed to the problems we face. And we refuse to be told that protecting the human rights of all human beings is “none of our business” and “outside of our interests.”

Arguments don’t have genitals, feminists. It’s a stupid argument trying to protect a bloody ideology.

Reprinted with permission from CCBR.


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Rachel Daly

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Gvmt strikes UK Catholic school admission policy that prefers Mass attendees

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By Rachel Daly

St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Epsom, England, was ordered to change its admissions policy after it was ruled discriminatory by the nation's Office of Schools Adjudicator, according to Your Local Guardian. St. Joseph's reportedly had been granting preferred acceptance to students whose families attended Mass at the affiliated church.

St. Joseph’s School is for students from age 4 to 11 and describes itself as “enjoy[ing] a high level of academic success.” The school furthermore places high priority on its Catholic identity, affirming on its homepage that “We place prayer and worship at the center of everything we do.”

The school states in its current admissions policy that it was "set up primarily to serve the Catholic community in St Joseph’s Parish" and that when the applicant pool exceeds 60 students, its criteria for prioritizing students includes "the strength of evidence of practice of the faith as demonstrated by the level of the family's Mass attendance on Sundays." 

Opponents of this policy reportedly argue that since donations are asked for at Mass, it could allow donation amounts to influence acceptance, and that forcing non-accepted local students to seek education elsewhere imposes a financial burden upon their families. 

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As Your Local Guardian reports, the adjudicators dismissed claims that donation amounts were affecting school acceptance, given that it is impossible to track donations. Nonetheless, the adjudicators maintained that "discrimination ... potentially arises from requiring attendance at the church rather than residency in the parish."

The Office of Schools Adjudicators, according to its website, is appointed by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State of Education, to perform such functions as mediating disputes over school acceptances. The Office's ruling on St. Joseph's will require the school to release a revised admissions policy, which is expected in the next few days.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society.


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Carolyn Moynihan

African women at risk of HIV, hostages to birth control

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan

Which should be the priority for a health organisation: preventing an incurable disease, or preventing a natural function that might have adverse physical consequences?

Preventing the disease, you would think. But the World Health Organisation would rather expose African women to HIV-AIDS than withdraw its support from a suspect method of birth control, arguing that childbirth is also risky in Africa. Riskier, apparently, than the said contraceptive. And at least one of WHO’s major partners agrees.

This is one of the stories you will not have read in coverage of the International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne last week, despite the fact that WHO made an announcement about it during the conference and the findings of a highly relevant study were presented there.

The story is this: there is increasing evidence that the method of contraception preferred by family planning organisations working in Africa (and elsewhere) facilitates the transmission of HIV. The method is the progesterone injection in the form of either DMPA (Depo Provera, the most common) or NET-En (Noristerat).

Millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa receive the injection every three months. The method overcomes problems of access. It can be given by nurses or health workers. A wife need not bother her husband for any special consideration; the teenage girl need not remember to take a pill.

But for 30 years evidence has been accumulating that, for all its “effectiveness” in controlling the number of births, the jab may also be very effective in increasing the number of people with HIV.

Three years ago at another AIDS conference in Rome, researchers who had analysed data from a number of previous studies delivered the disturbing news that injectables at least doubled the risk of infection with HIV for women and their male partners.

That study had its weaknesses but one of the experts present in Rome, Charles Morrison of FHI 360 (formerly Family Health International, a family planning organisation that also works in AIDS prevention), considered it a “good study” and subsequently led another meta-analysis that addressed some of the issues with previous research.

Last week at the Melbourne conference he presented the results. His team had re-analysed raw data on the contraceptive use of more than 37,000 women in 18 prospective observational studies. Of these women, 28 percent reported using DMPA, 8 percent NET-En, 19 percent a combined oral contraceptive pill, and 43 percent no form of hormonal contraception. A total of 1830 women had acquired HIV while in a study.

The analysis showed that both injectables raised the risk of infection by 50 percent:

Compared to non-users [of any hormonal contraceptive], women using DMPA had an elevated risk of infection (hazard ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.31-1.86), as did women using NET-En (1.51, 95% CI 1.21-1.90). There was no increased risk for women using oral contraceptives.

Similarly, comparing women using injections with those using oral contraceptives, there was an elevated risk associated with DMPA (1.43, 95% CI 1.23-1.67) and NET-En (1.30, 95% CI 0.99-1.71).

Morrison also noted:

The results were consistent in several subgroup and sensitivity analyses. However, when only studies which were judged to be methodologically more reliable were included, the increased risk appeared smaller.

Morrison acknowledged that observational studies such as the FHI analysis depended on have their limitations. He is looking for funding to conduct a randomised controlled study – something that, after 30 years of suspicions and evidence, still has not been done.

So what is his advice to the birth control industry? Stop using this stuff in regions with a high prevalence of HIV until we are sure that we are not feeding an epidemic?

No.

One reason is that FHI is at least as interested in contraception as it is in HIV prevention. Though its website reflects a broad range of development activities, its core business is integrating birth control programmes with HIV prevention. The WHO – one of its partners -- describes the US based, 83 percent US government funded non-profit as “a global health and development organization working on family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.”

Another reason is that FHI 360 has a vital stake in precisely the kind of contraceptives that are under suspicion. Its annual report refers to:

Our trailblazing work in contraceptive research and development continues, as we develop and introduce high-quality and affordable long-acting contraceptives for women in low-income countries. Research is under way to develop a new biodegradable contraceptive implant that would eliminate the need for removal services. We are also working with partners to develop an injectable contraceptive that would last for up to six months. Currently available injectables require reinjections monthly or quarterly, which can be challenging where health services are limited.

That project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.

So Morrison did not argue in Melbourne for restrictions on the use of injectables, and neither did the WHO, whose representative at the conference outlined the UN body’s new guidelines on contraception and HIV. Mary Lyn Gaffield said a review of studies up to – but not including Morrison’s – did not warrant a change to WHO’s policy that DMPA and NET-En should be available, without restriction, in areas of high HIV prevalence.

The most WHO will advise is that women should be informed of the risk:

“Women at high risk of HIV infection should be informed that progestogen-only injectables may or may not increase their risk of HIV acquisition. Women and couples at high risk of HIV acquisition considering progestogen-only injectables should also be informed about and have access to HIV preventive measures, including male and female condoms.”

Condoms? How do they defend such cynicism? By equating the risk of HIV with the risks of motherhood – complications of pregnancy or childbirth, maternal death and the effect on infants... And yet motherhood remains risky precisely because 90 percent of the world’s effort is going into contraception!

Seven years ago a meeting of technical experts convened by WHO to study the injectables-HIV link showed the reproductive health establishment worried about that issue, to be sure, but also concerned that funding was flowing disproportionately to HIV-AIDS programmes, setting back the cause of birth control. The integration of family planning and HIV prevention spearheaded by FHI 360 looks like they have found an answer to that problem.

Whether African women are any better off is very doubtful. They remain pawns in a game that is, above all, about controlling their fertility. They and their partners are encouraged to take risks with their health, if not their lives, while researchers scout for funds to do the definitive study.

FHI had an income of $674 million last year, most of it from the US government. Couldn’t it give Charles Morrison the money to do his research today?

Reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com.


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