News Articles

LIFE DIGEST: Partial birth abortion ruling appealed

WASHINGTON (BP)–The Bush administration has appealed a San Francisco federal judge’s opinion striking down the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act.

The Justice Department filed the appeal with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Aug. 2. The Ninth Circuit, which is based in San Francisco, is not considered a promising venue for the case, since it is generally regarded as the country’s most liberal appeals court.

Federal judge Phyllis Hamilton struck down the ban June 1, ruling it was an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to abort her child in the second trimester and that it needed an exception for the mother’s health.

Hamilton’s opinion was the first of three on the 2003 law in trials that all began March 29. Federal judges in New York and Lincoln, Neb., are expected to issue rulings before the end of the summer. Supporters of the ban are cautiously optimistic about receiving a favorable decision in the Manhattan court of Richard Casey.

During the trial, Casey was persistent in questioning doctors about the methods, the information they provide women about the procedures and possible repercussions, and the pain an unborn child might feel during an abortion. He also ruled in the government’s favor at different points in its effort to obtain records and testimony to defend the law.

The challenges in the courts are to a law President Bush signed in November. It prohibits a procedure that normally occurs in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. The abortion doctor delivers an intact baby, feet first, until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors, then inserts a catheter into the opening and suctions out the brain. The collapse of the skull provides for easier removal of the baby’s head.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD’S T-SHIRT GETS THUMBS DOWN — The Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s merchandising of “I had an abortion” T-shirts has produced strong protests –- and not just from pro-life advocates.

The recent disclosure that the country’s largest abortion provider is selling the shirts caused even some Planned Parenthood affiliates to complain about the action.

“I think this is just a poor decision, and we are just not supportive of it,” Planned Parenthood of Idaho Executive Director Rebecca Poedy told KCBI-TV in Boise, according to LifeNews.com.

Brian Lewis, another Planned Parenthood staffer, told the Charlotte Observer, “This is going beyond pro-choice. We’re offending people…. This has so many repercussions. This is not what America needs.”

He sent an email to PPFA’s New York headquarters protesting the shirt, said Lewis, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems in North and South Carolina.

Post-abortion women who are now pro-life reacted to PPFA’s fashion statement as well.

The sale of the shirt demonstrates PPFA “puts promoting abortion above concern for women,” said Olivia Gans, who had an abortion and now directs American Victims of Abortion, an outreach of the National Right to Life Committee.

“The experience of abortion is traumatic and devastating, and I am appalled that Planned Parenthood would exploit the tragic experience of women like myself to further their agenda.”

Georgette Forney, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, said it could be construed as a “backhanded compliment” to her organization’s effort.

“When I saw the shirt, I thought, ‘They are simply trying to mainstream abortion,’” Forney, who had an abortion as a teenager, told LifeNews.com. She realized, however, it was a response to the Silent No More message, “I Regret My Abortion,” Forney said. Participants in the Silent No More campaign hold signs bearing that slogan at public events in an attempt to warn others of the consequences of abortion.

“They have noticed our campaign, and they feel it needs a response,” Forney said.

PPFA President Gloria Feldt defended her organization’s sale of the shirt and denied it is a “cavalier statement.” Instead, she called it a “way to challenge the silence and shame around an experience many women have shared, however difficult that decision may have been.”

In a statement posted on PPFA’s Web site July 28, Feldt said abortion is “neither shameful nor dishonorable.”

PPFA did not create the shirt, Feldt said, but is selling it for $15 at its online store.

FUNDING DESTRUCTION –- Promoters of a California initiative to underwrite destructive embryonic stem cell research with billions of dollars of state money have far outdistanced opponents in fund-raising.

Backers of Proposition 71 have raised nearly $7 million in support of the November ballot initiative, while foes have come up with only $50,000, according to campaign finance reports filed the week of July 25-31, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

If approved, the measure would establish the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to administer and fund embryonic stem cell research. California would issue $3 billion in bonds to provide funds for 10 years, with the bonds to be repaid at a cost of about $6 billion over 30 years.

Meanwhile, a U.S. senator from California is leading the effort to fund embryonic stem cell research with federal tax dollars. Sen. Dianne Feinsten, a Democrat, announced July 28 an Internet petition drive seeking to convince Bush to liberalize his ban on research that destroys embryos.

The petition effort is a “clear signal that it is important to many people that the full potential of this research be explored, and we intend to make ourselves heard by this administration,” Feinsten said in a written release. She is promoting the petition and enabling people to sign it at her Senate Web site.

Feinstein’s petition seeks a change in Bush’s 2001 order prohibiting federal grants for destructive stem cell research. The procurement of stem cells, the body’s master cells that develop into other cells and tissues, brings about the death of an embryo only days old. The president’s policy does not prohibit privately funded embryonic stem cell research. Nor does it ban federal funding of adult stem cell research, which has provided treatment to human beings with more than 40 maladies and does not harm donors.

The White House has said the president does not plan to alter his policy.

Opponents of California’s Proposition 71 would like adult stem cell research to be funded, Vincent Fortanasce told Mercury News. Fortanasce is president of No on 71, a group which fears the measure will help the biotechnology industry and could lead to human cloning.

Feinstein is a proponent of what some pro-lifers call a fake cloning ban, or the “clone-and-kill bill,” in Congress. That bill, the Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act (S. 303), would prohibit cloning for the purpose of bringing a child to birth but would allow days-old, cloned embryos to be used for research purposes. Obtaining stem cells from embryos destroys them. The bill would require the embryos to be terminated in the first two weeks of their existence.

SAVE THE COURT KATE — A leading abortion-rights activist for two decades will direct the Democratic Party’s Campaign to Save the Court in an effort to defeat Bush.

Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-choice America for 19 years, will chair the effort, which is designed to convince Americans Bush, if re-elected, will nominate Supreme Court justices who will reverse their rights. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe announced the appointment of Michelman July 22.

When Michelman’s spring retirement from NARAL was announced last September, she said she would devote herself “to the most urgent priority facing the pro-choice movement — electing a president who will protect our right to choose. If George W. Bush is allowed to fill [two Supreme Court] seats, it will mean the end of reproductive privacy and the end of Roe v. Wade. I intend to do everything I can to see that does not happen.”

Other Save the Court board members include former congresswoman Patricia Schroeder of Colorado and Harvard University law professors Laurence Tribe and Charles Ogletree.

NO TO UNFPA — A controversial United Nations family planning fund linked to support of China’s coercive population control program again will not receive a U.S. donation because of a decision by the Bush administration.

Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the $34 million designated by Congress for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) would be withheld for the third consecutive year. The administration determined contributions to the organization would still violate the 1985 Kemp-Kasten amendment, which prohibits family planning money from going to any entity that, as determined by the president, “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”

The UNFPA has denied charges it supports coercive population control, but a State Department investigative team in 2002 reported the UNFPA provided computers and vehicles to Chinese population-control offices, a State Department spokesman said at the time. That team did not recommend withholding the funds, however.

Since 2002, “we have continuously called on China to end its program of coercive abortion,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a recent statement. “We also have repeatedly urged China and the U.N. Population Fund to restructure the organization’s programs in a way that would allow the United States to provide funding. We will continue these consultations. However, since no key changes have taken place, these restrictions are being applied again.”

An independent investigation in 2001 provided evidence the UNFPA was helping in China’s program. A team from the Population Research Institute, an American pro-life organization, reported witnesses told it the family planning in a UNFPA-run program was involuntary. Coercion, in the form of not only sterilization and abortion but imprisonment and property destruction, existed in the UNFPA program, according to the report.

A week before Powell’s July 16 announcement, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted 32-26 against an amendment that would have provided $25 million for the UNFPA in next year’s budget.

    About the Author

  • Staff