LIFE DIGEST: 81 babies spared in 40 Days’ first week
More than 80 unborn children remain alive as a result of the first week of the latest 40 Days for Life campaign.
As of Feb. 20, staff with 40 Days had received reports of 81 babies saved from decisions to abort by their mothers. The 40-day effort – which focuses on peaceful, pro-life prayer vigils outside abortion clinics – began Feb. 13 and will conclude March 24. Volunteers are participating at 261 locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Poland, Spain and, for the first time, Russia, Nigeria, South Africa and Wales.
Also in this edition: Inquiry shows evidence of discrimination against disabled unborn, Judge rejects Arizona ban on Medicaid for abortion providers, Planned Parenthood to close four centers in Wisconsin, and Ginsburg: Roe not way ‘court ordinarily operates’.
Among reports to 40 Days staff during the first week:
- Three women decided not to have abortions at a St. Louis site on the first day, leaving a Planned Parenthood clinic during the first hours of the campaign. A 40 Days sidewalk counselor helped one couple after they left the facility and escorted them “to our friends at the mobile medical center right across the street to receive all the help they needed to choose life,” reported Brian Westbrook, the 40 Days coordinator in St. Louis.
- More than 500 people gathered outside a Planned Parenthood center in Orange County, Calif., for the 40 Days kickoff. They saw a mother refuse an abortion. “A woman came out of Planned Parenthood and as we approached her, she told us that she couldn’t abort her baby. She had tears in her eyes,” a participant told the 40 Days national staff. “We reassured her that this life was precious and wanted by God — and that we would be there for her and help her.” The mother, who was seven weeks pregnant, had four other children and thought her family could not afford to take care of another baby, according to the report.
- A first-time volunteer in Kalamazoo, Mich., said an encounter with a post-abortive father confirmed she should be outside an abortion clinic. A man stepped from a large truck after it stopped near the prayer vigil. “He thanked us for being there and for praying,” she said. “He explained that his oldest child was aborted. All these years later he still carried that pain and loss. He lived the tragedy.”
Inquiry shows evidence of discrimination against disabled unborn
Disabled, unborn children and their parents face widespread discrimination and coercion, witnesses said at a Feb. 11 hearing convened by the British Parliament.
Parents of babies born with disabilities, advocates for disability rights and support groups for families with disabled members provided testimony at the Parliamentary “Inquiry Into Abortion on the Grounds of Disability.” In a blog post, Peter Saunders, chief executive officer of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said three “strong themes” appeared during the inquiry:
- “First, there seemed to be very little support or information available for families who wanted to keep their babies, as opposed to having them aborted.
- “Second, there was a strong presumption from doctors that parents with disabled children would choose to have them aborted.
- “Third, there was a huge amount of subtle or direct pressure placed on parents who decided not to abort. They were repeatedly asked to reconsider their decisions and treated like pariahs – in short they were discriminated against.”
British law permits abortion until birth (or about 40 weeks) if prenatal screening indicates a “substantial risk” the baby will be “seriously handicapped,” Saunders wrote. The limit on other abortions is 24 weeks. British law, however, also bars discrimination against the disabled.
The abortion law’s difference in time limits discriminates against unborn, disabled babies in violation of the law, Saunders said.
Judge rejects Arizona ban on Medicaid for abortion providers
Federal Judge Neil Wake invalidated Feb. 8 an Arizona law that bars state funding of Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortions.
The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in May, prohibits any health-care provider that does abortions from receiving Medicaid funds. Wake, who had issued in July a temporary order halting implementation of the ban, said the law “violates the freedom of choice provision of the Medicaid Act precisely because every Medicaid beneficiary has the right to select any qualified health care provider,” The Arizona Republic reported.
The state government is appealing the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to The Republic.
Mary Spaulding Balch of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) predicted Wake’s ruling “will ultimately be overturned.”
“The state is not required to subsidize abortion, directly or indirectly, and is totally within its right when it passes laws to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to the abortion industry,” Balch, NRLC’s director of state legislation, told NRL News Today.
Planned Parenthood to close four centers in Wisconsin
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced Feb. 18 it would close four of its family planning centers in 2013 because of state government cuts to its funding.
The announcement is “excellent news,” said Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life.
Although the four centers do not perform abortions, they make referrals to the state’s three Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, she said.
“It is far past time for Wisconsin citizens to recognize that Planned Parenthood, through its local clinics, refers the overwhelming majority of pregnant women it sees to abortion clinics, most probably one of its own abortion clinics, where a fee is extracted from the women,” Lyons said in a written statement. “It is a good outcome for women and children that the four abortion clinic feeders are closing.”
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin performed 4,827 abortions in 2010 but reported no adoption referrals and no prenatal care recipients, she said.
Nationally, Planned Parenthood reported in January a record number of abortions – 333,964 — in its clinics during 2010-11, the most recent year for which statistics are available. It also established a record for funds received from federal, state and local governments at $542.4 million in grants and reimbursements during the latest fiscal year.
Ginsburg: Roe not way ‘court ordinarily operates’
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agrees with the result of the controversial Roe v. Wade decision, just not its expansiveness.
Ginsburg, considered one of the high court’s leading liberal members, told a Feb. 4 audience at Harvard University Law School she supports the 1973 opinion’s judgment that dealt “with what was the most extreme law in the country, where a woman could get an abortion only if [it] was necessary to save her life.”
She does not agree with the 7-2 majority’s refusal to strike down the Texas abortion ban in question and proceed by “slow degrees,” said Ginsburg, 79, according to the Harvard Gazette. The opinion made “every law in the country . . . unconstitutional in one fell swoop,” she said.
“That’s not the way the court ordinarily operates,” she told the audience.
Roe and Doe v. Bolton, a companion ruling also issued Jan. 22, 1973, had the effect of legalizing abortion throughout the country for any reason at any point in pregnancy. One of the results has been an estimated 55 million legal abortions during the last 40 years.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission works to protect the sanctity of human life. If you would like to learn more about this issue, additional resources are available here. Our free, downloadable Impact resource is also available online. If your church is interested in purchasing materials on the sanctity of human life, please visit our online bookstore and erlc.com