News Articles

LIFE DIGEST: Have abortions increased on Bush’s watch?

WASHINGTON (BP)–A former Southern Baptist seminary professor’s contention that abortions have increased under the Bush administration is mistaken, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

Glen Stassen, an ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., has written in a recent column published in newspapers and on the Internet that the abortion rate appears to have reversed its 17.4 percent decline in the 1990s. Under Bush’s presidency, abortions have increased, according to his analysis of state statistics, said Stassen, a professor from 1976-96 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Stassen, who characterized himself as “consistently pro-life,” pointed to Bush’s economic policy to explain how a pro-life administration could produce more abortions. The higher unemployment rates and the lower “real incomes” during the Bush presidency have caused pregnant women to fear they cannot support a child, he wrote. An increase in male unemployment results in fewer marriages and more abortions, Stassen said. The growth in people who do not have health insurance also has contributed to the increased abortion rate, he said.

“Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need policies that provide jobs and health insurance and support for prospective mothers,” Stassen wrote.

One problem, says NRLC -– “his numbers don’t hold up.”

While Stassen reported 11 of 16 states showed abortions increasing since Bush took office, his findings are “mistaken and misleading,” NRLC researchers Randall O’Bannon and Laura Hussey wrote.

Three of the 11 states Stassen cites actually had decreases in abortions by 2003, according to health departments in those states, the NRLC researchers said. In addition, officials of two of the four states showing the largest increases in abortion warned against concluding this represented a true increase, O’Bannon and Hussey said. Arizona officials said the increase in their state may be the result of better reporting of “non-surgical” -– RU 486 –- abortions, and Colorado officials revised their reporting system, the NRLC researchers wrote.

O’Bannon and Hussey also countered Stassen’s economic-abortion link, saying it does not hold up in Illinois, where abortions “dropped substantially” despite the state’s unemployment rate remaining one of the country’s worst, and Ohio, where abortions declined while unemployment increased.

There are no national statistics beyond 2000, both Stassen and the NRLC researchers reported.

O’Bannon and Hussey also said Stassen declined to reveal he signed “A Call to Concern,” a 1977 statement that supported the Roe v. Wade opinion legalizing abortion. The document was affiliated with the then-Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, which is now the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

‘NO’ TO CHARLOTTE –- A British judge has ruled that doctors should not resuscitate an ailing, prematurely born baby girl despite her parents’ objections, according to reports by British Broadcasting Corporation News.

Justice Hedley of the High Court agreed with physicians at Portsmouth Hospitals National Health Service Trust that they should not revive Charlotte Wyatt the next time she stops breathing. Darren and Debbie Wyatt, described by the BBC as “committed Christians,” argued she should be given every opportunity to live.

“When you get to the stage when you grow to love someone, you can’t just throw them away like a bad egg and say you will get a different egg,” Darren Wyatt told the judge, according to the BBC.

Charlotte, who is 11 months old and has never left the hospital, was born when her mother was only 26 weeks pregnant. Charlotte has major heart and lung problems and receives oxygen as well as nutrition through a tube.

Representing the hospital, lawyer David Lock told Hedley the infant’s life would be “dominated by pain and suffering,” the BBC reported.

A pro-life spokesperson said the “right decision” was made for the “wrong reasons,” according to the BBC.

“Instead of admitting that they had failed, the doctors talked mainly about her ‘quality of life’ being so wretched that she was better off dead,” said Nuala Scarisbrick of Life. “That is quite unacceptable.”

While this is not the first time such a hearing was held before a judge, it was the first time one was held in open court, the BBC reported.

SHEEP, PIGS AND KIDS — The British researchers who produced the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, hope to transition to diseased human embryos now.

Ian Wilmut and his team of scientists at Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute are seeking permission to clone human embryos as subjects for research into motor neurone disease (MND), according to BBC News. The researchers are awaiting word on a license from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

If licensed, the researchers plan to create clones with MND in order to study how the disease develops in embryos, the BBC reported. MND results from the death of cells that control movement in the brain and spinal cord.

Cells would be removed for study from the embryos during their first week before being destroyed, according to the report.

Life, the British pro-life organization, criticized the research, saying, “We hope scientists will be able to discover treatments for all kind of conditions, including motor neurone disease, but not through the deliberate manufacture and destruction of human embryos.”

Robin Lovell-Badge of the National Institute for Medical Research told the BBC, “This approach should allow us to study genetic disease without having to use humans as guinea pigs or, indeed, guinea pigs as humans.”

Apparently, for Lovell-Badge, human embryos are not only not human, they are not as valuable as guinea pigs.