News Articles

LIFE DIGEST: Dems’ losses linked to pro-choice position

WASHINGTON (BP)–Two pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives have met with Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe to demonstrate the party’s majority in Congress evaporated as it became more entrenched in the abortion-rights camp.

Reps. James Oberstar of Minnesota and Bart Stupak of Michigan provided the following statistics to McAuliffe in a March 4 meeting, syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff reported: In the 1977-78 Congress, Democrats possessed a majority of 292 seats, which included 125 pro-lifers. Now, Democrats hold only 204 of 435 seats, with only 28 pro-lifers.

Oberstar and Stupak told McAuliffe pro-life Democrats could win Republican-leaning races in some districts, Hentoff wrote in a column at LifeNews.com. The DNC chairman advised them to talk to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and the committee’s executive board, Hentoff reported.

The congressmen asked McAuliffe for a pro-life speaker at this year’s Democratic convention, as well as a link from the DNC website to the site of Democrats for Life of America, according to the report. The DNC has refused to provide a link so far. Oberstar and Stupak are members of the national advisory board for Democrats for Life.

CONVICTION UPHELD FOR MURDER OF UNBORN — The California Supreme Court has ruled a killer may be convicted under the state’s fetal homicide law of two murders even if he is unaware a woman is pregnant.

The high court of the country’s most populous state ruled April 5 the 1970 law does not require that the killer “specifically know of the existence of each victim,” The Sacramento Bee reported. The justices issued their 6-1 ruling only four days after President Bush signed into law a federal measure recognizing an unborn child as a victim when he or she is harmed or killed in a crime against a pregnant woman.

The court delivered a noteworthy victory for such unborn victims laws. California is among 29 states with laws that recognize the illegal killing of an unborn child as murder in at least some cases.

The California court’s ruling reinstates two second-degree murder convictions against Harold Wayne Taylor, who was sentenced to 65 years to life in prison for shooting his former girlfriend, Patty Fansler, to death in 1999, according to The Bee. Fansler was three months pregnant with a son, whose existence was detected during an autopsy, the newspaper reported. A state appeals court had overturned Taylor’s conviction for killing the unborn child since he was unaware Fansler was pregnant.

“When a defendant commits an act, the natural consequences of which are dangerous to human life, with a conscious disregard for life in general, he acts with implied malice towards those he ends up killing,” Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the court, according to The Bee.

“In battering and shooting Fansler, [Taylor] acted with knowledge of the danger to and conscious disregard for life in general,” she wrote. “That is all that is required for implied malice murder. He did not need to be specifically aware how many potential victims his conscious disregard for life endangered.”

The National Right to Life Committee commended the decision, according to the newspaper, calling it a clear indication that “under California law, as under the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, if criminal intent towards one victim is proved, a criminal will be held responsible for the harm he does to other victims as well, including unborn children.”

The California law, like the new federal measure, does not apply to abortion, but pro-life advocates have supported such legislation, while abortion-rights organizations have expressed opposition.

According to The Bee, two state supreme courts have diverged on the issue of a killer’s knowledge of pregnancy. The Minnesota high court ruled in a similar fashion to the California justices, but the Illinois Supreme Court did not.

Bush has nominated Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, but Democrats have blocked a floor vote on her confirmation.

PARTIAL-BIRTH TRIALS — Witnesses for the federal government have testified in a Lincoln, Neb., federal court there is no evidence partial-birth abortions are either safer or medically necessary for women, but 20-week-old unborn children feel “severe” pain during the procedure.

The Department of Justice began its defense April 5 of the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act in Lincoln. It is one of three federal courts where abortion doctors and abortion-rights organizations are challenging the law, which prohibits an abortion method normally used in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. The other courts are in New York and San Francisco. All three trials began March 29.

Kanwaljeet Anand, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, testified April 6 a partial-birth abortion “would be extremely painful” for an unborn baby at 20 weeks gestation, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Unborn children at 20 weeks have developed the sensory nerves, skin receptors and brain stem required to feel pain, he said, according to the newspaper. Studies have demonstrated unborn babies display pain physiologically, exhibiting an increased heart rate and the secretion of stress hormones, Anand testified, the newspaper reported.

Under cross-examination by a lawyer for the law’s foes, Anand acknowledged no study proves his belief and some of his medical colleagues disagree with him, according to the World-Herald. He also said the pain could be as great for an unborn child who is aborted by means of another procedure in which the baby is dismembered, the newspaper reported.

The day before, two doctors testified the contention a partial-birth abortion is safer than other methods is not based on any in-depth study.

“We have intuition that a procedure may be safer … but without comparative data, it is impossible to state that a procedure is better or safer,” said George Mazariegos, a liver transplant surgeon in Pittsburgh, Pa., the World-Herald reported.

Doctors who perform abortions had testified previously a partial-birth abortion is safer than a dismemberment abortion, according to the newspaper.

That belief is based on experience and intuition, said Watson Bowes, retired from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, according to the World-Herald. A comparative study “might be difficult, but it can be done,” Bowes testified.

Testimony in all three trials has been graphic and often gruesome. Abortion doctors have been asked to describe the partial-birth and other procedures they utilize. Judge Richard Casey in New York has frequently questioned opponents of the ban, asking them details about their methods and how they explain the procedures to the women on whom they perform abortions.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice are arguing in all three cases that the partial-birth procedure is unnecessary to protect women’s health and results in pain for the unborn child. Lawyers for abortion-rights advocates, meanwhile, are contending the ban is too broad and is unconstitutional because it has no health exception.

Bush signed the ban into law in November, but opponents quickly brought suit, resulting in temporary orders against its enforcement in the three federal courts.

The partial-birth procedure normally involves the delivery of an intact baby, feet first, until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor usually pierces the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors, then inserts a catheter into the opening and suctions out the brain. Some of the abortion doctors in the trials have testified they at times use forceps to crush the skull. The collapse of the skull provides for easier removal of the baby’s head.

In addition to doctors who perform abortions, the National Abortion Federation is challenging the law in the New York court, the Center for Reproductive Rights in Lincoln and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in San Francisco.

The trials are expected to last from two to four weeks.

Congress twice adopted a partial-birth abortion ban in the 1990s only to have President Clinton veto each one. In both 1996 and 1998, the House achieved the two-thirds majorities necessary to override vetoes, but the Senate fell short.

The Southern Baptist Convention approved resolutions condemning the procedure in both 1996 and 2002.

Unofficial transcripts of the testimony in all three trials is available at the website of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (www.usccb.org). Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, is observing the New York trials and providing updates on its site (www.aclj.org).

KERRY AND HIS CHURCH — Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, may risk being refused communion if he attends a Roman Catholic church service in his home archdiocese in Boston Easter Sunday.

Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley has said Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are in violation of church teachings and cannot receive communion properly, The Washington Times reported. According to the newspaper, O’Malley has not cited either of Massachusetts’ senators, Kerry and Edward Kennedy, though both oppose restrictions on abortion and favor destructive research on embryos.

Earlier this year, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke warned Kerry not to “present himself for communion” at any church in the archdiocese, The Times reported. When Kerry was in St. Louis March 28, he did not attend a Catholic service but spoke at New Northside Missionary Baptist Church.

A team of Catholic bishops is pondering how to handle politicians who violate church teaching but has not issued a report, according to The Times.

Kerry defended himself when reporters asked him April 5 about criticisms from some conservatives for supporting abortion rights and homosexual civil unions.

“I’m not a church spokesman,” he said, according to The New York Times. “I’m a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States in my public life. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am. And it is separate. Our Constitution separates church and state, and they should be reminded of that.”

The Times pointed out there has been no Pius XXIII. Kerry supposedly was referring to John XXIII, the newspaper said.

ABORTION-CANCER LINK –- A recent study published in a British medical journal contending there is no increased risk of breast cancer for women who have had abortions is “a horrible piece of work,” an expert on the subject has said.

Valerie Beral, a professor at Oxford, coauthored a report in the March 26 issue of the Lancet Journal suggesting there is no link between abortion and breast cancer, LifeSiteNews reported. Beral has concentrated on research seeking to refute such a link, according to LifeSite.

She supposedly examined 53 studies in 16 countries, but the study is “very badly done” and “very vulnerable,” Joel Brind told LifeSite.

Brind, a professor at Baruch College who is probably the foremost expert on the abortion/breast cancer link, said the researchers rejected studies that did not fit their agenda. This included 28 major studies that utilized post-abortion women’s self-reports and showed elevated risks for breast cancer in women who had abortions, LifeSite reported.

The researchers also excluded some studies that showed a link, because the original authors of the reports could not be located, Brind said.

Based on that reasoning, he said, “We ought to consider going back to assuming that the sun revolves around the earth since it sure looks like that to me, and we have looked all around the University of Krakow in Poland and we cannot locate Dr. Copernicus, so we should throw out his data.”

Baruch College is a senior college of The City University of New York.

    About the Author

  • Staff