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Author Topic: Abortion news  (Read 15177 times)
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2006, 11:13:47 PM »

Governor's pen poised
to ignite Roe battle
Abortion ban's purpose is to overturn
1973 Supreme Court ruling

A highly restrictive bill aimed ultimately at overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling is sitting on the desk of South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, poised to spark an intense and expensive legal battle should he sign it.

The legislation, passed this month by state lawmakers, would ban abortion in nearly every case and punish doctors who perform one with a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.

The bill would allow abortion only in the event a mother's life is in danger, making no exception for rape or incest.

Rounds, a Republican, told ABC's "Good Morning America" he is carefully examining the bill and could approve it in the coming weeks.

"If the bill is correctly written, then I will seriously consider signing the bill. It would be a direct frontal assault on Roe vs. Wade," he said Saturday.

South Dakota Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's sole abortion clinic, has indicated it will challenge the bill if passed.

But already an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to help the state defend the law, according to Reuters.

Yesterday, Rounds was in Washington for a National Governors Association meeting where he found more pledges of donations and the support of some of his colleagues across the nation.

"There is a lot of interest in it here," Rounds said, according to the Associated Press. "And there are a number of states that have similar legislation. A lot of governors expressing support and wishing us good luck and suggesting that they will have similar types of proposals that may very well be favorably looked upon across the United States."

State lawmakers in Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana also are considering legislation that would heavily restrict abortions.

National pro-life activists, who are urging supporters to send $10 to Rounds to support the state's defense, chose South Dakota as its first vehicle to challenge the Roe decision.

They believe that if a legal challenge ever reaches high court, the recent addition of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the bench makes it more disposed than ever to overturn the 1973 ruling.

Troy Newman, president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, said the legislation "is the beginning of a momentum that is sweeping across the country," according to Reuters.

As WorldNetDaily reported, South Dakota's House of Representatives passed a similar bill in 2004 by a 54-14 vote, before its narrow defeat in the Senate, 18-17. The bill actually initially passed the Senate, but Rounds issued a "style and form" veto, sending the bill back with wording changes to make sure existing abortion restrictions were not threatened if the bill were struck down in court.

One senator, however, who saw this as overstepping authority, changed his vote, which defeated the bill.

But corrections have been made to the bill, said state Rep. Roger Hunt, who points out new scientific discoveries that bolster his case.

"DNA testing now can establish the unborn child has a separate and distinct personality from the mother," he told KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, S.D. "We know a lot more about post-abortion harm to the mother."

In 2004, two pro-life groups clashed over the demise of the previous measure. The public-interest Thomas More Law Center, which helped draft the bill, accused National Right to Life of "complicity" with pro-abortion groups for lobbying against it.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the More Center concluded, "One thing we know for sure, Planned Parenthood and NARAL could not be happier with National Right To Life."

In response, National Right to Life called the charge of joining forces with pro-abortion groups "absurd, untrue, and unproductive."

The pro-life group argued the bill was made virtually ineffective through a "health exception," which allowed abortion "if there is a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman."

The More Center insisted, despite the exception, the bill still required doctors to use reasonable medical efforts to preserve the life of the unborn child as well as the mother.

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« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2006, 12:42:57 PM »

US states join abortion revolt to bring back ban
Sarah Baxter
MISSISSIPPI is set to become the latest state to ban abortion as pro-life politicians across middle America vie to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1970s decision that gave women the right to choose.

Inspired by President George W Bush’s appointment of two conservative justices, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, to the Supreme Court, several states have seized the opportunity to overturn their local laws.

The Mississippi bill proposes to ban abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger or unless she is a victim of rape or incest. It has passed through the state’s House of Representatives and will now go to a Senate vote. Haley Barbour, the Republican governor, has promised to sign the bill into law.

South Dakota approved an even more restrictive anti-abortion bill last month, allowing no exceptions for rape and incest. Its governor is considering whether to sign the bill “If there is rape, it really is an injustice to that woman,” said Roger Hunt, the bill’s sponsor. “But there are remedies for that woman. Family, friends, pregnancy crisis centres are there to help her, as well as adoption procedures to assist her. But the unborn child whose life is terminated has no remedy.”

Two anti-abortion bills were filed last week in Missouri and there are further plans for legislation in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Some US pro-life groups are concerned that midwestern states are moving too fast without a clear strategy. They fear a case may end up reaching the Supreme Court prematurely and may prompt a verdict that would extend abortion rights.

The current make-up of the Supreme Court justices still largely favours retaining Roe v Wade. But some pro-life activists point to the potential replacement of one justice, John Paul Stevens, who turns 86 next month, as a reason to challenge the law now. One more social conservative on the court could tip the balance towards a national ban.

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« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2006, 06:22:54 PM »

Bill to kill 'Roe'
signed into law
Abortion ban by South Dakota
touches off fierce legal battle

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds today signed into law a highly restrictive anti-abortion bill aimed ultimately at overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

The legislation, passed last month by state lawmakers, bans abortion in nearly every case and punishes doctors who perform one with a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.

The bill allows abortion only in the event a mother's life is in danger, making no exception for rape or incest.

South Dakota Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's sole abortion clinic, has said it will challenge the law.

Rounds said in a written statement he expects the law will be tied up in court for years and will not be enacted unless upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society," Rounds said. "The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them."

Prior to the signing, an anonymous donor pledged $1 million to help the state defend the new statute.

Last week, Rounds was in Washington for a National Governors Association meeting where he found more pledges of donations and the support of some of his colleagues across the nation.

"There is a lot of interest in it here," Rounds said, according to the Associated Press. "And there are a number of states that have similar legislation. A lot of governors expressing support and wishing us good luck and suggesting that they will have similar types of proposals that may very well be favorably looked upon across the United States."

State lawmakers in Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Indiana also are considering legislation that would heavily restrict abortions.

National pro-life activists, who are urging supporters to send $10 to Rounds to support the state's defense, chose South Dakota as its first vehicle to challenge the Roe decision.

They believe that if a legal challenge ever reaches high court, the recent addition of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the bench makes it more disposed than ever to overturn the 1973 ruling.

As WorldNetDaily reported, South Dakota's House of Representatives passed a similar bill in 2004 by a 54-14 vote, before its narrow defeat in the Senate, 18-17. The bill actually initially passed the Senate, but Rounds issued a "style and form" veto, sending the bill back with wording changes to make sure existing abortion restrictions were not threatened if the bill were struck down in court.

In 2004, two pro-life groups clashed over the demise of the previous measure. The public-interest Thomas More Law Center, which helped draft the bill, accused National Right to Life of "complicity" with pro-abortion groups for lobbying against it.

Some pro-life groups think the time is not right to take such drastic measures to overturn the Roe decision.


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« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2006, 04:00:41 PM »

Amendment would establish life at conception
Citizens in Michigan gain backing for effort to put measure on ballot

Citizens have proposed an amendment to Michigan's constitution establishing that a person exists at the moment of conception.

The designation would give any unborn child constitutional rights of due process and equal protection.

A backer of the proposal, Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said the petition drive is "vitally important if we are to insure that Michigan becomes a pro-life state after Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court."

The landmark 1973 decision did not actually ban abortion but nullified all state laws prohibiting the procedure. Most legal analysts agree that a Supreme Court ruling against Roe would return the issue to the states.

The proposed amendment, Thompson said, would "clear the ground of all issues dealing with interpretation of previous state precedent and statutes."

Thompson said he's "deeply disappointed that after 33 years and 45 million babies murdered," some pro-life leaders have said they don't believe the time is right to for such a dramatic step.

"If one truly believes a human being exists at the moment of conception and shortly thereafter suffers excruciating and prolonged pain while being sliced and torn apart in the mother's womb, how would they not do everything they can to save that child – even though there is no guarantee of success?" he asked.

"The extreme caution exhibited by some pro-lifers reminds me of what Lincoln said about his reluctant General McClellan during the Civil War: 'He has "the slows,"'" too fearful of losing to risk winning, Thompson said.

He pointed out that last week, Pope Benedict XVI told a gathering of scientists and medical professionals Catholic teaching proclaims life begins at conception.

The pope said the Catholic Church "has constantly proclaimed the sacred and inviolable character of every human life, from its conception to its natural end."

Rev. Stephen T. Anthony, superintendent of the Eastern Michigan District of the Church of the Nazarene and chairman of Michigan Chooses Life, a newly formed inter-denominational group of prominent Michigan pastors, is supporting the petition drive.

"It is a biological, medical, and spiritual fact that a new and precious human life begins every time a child is conceived in the womb," Anthony said.

Thompson met a few months ago with leaders of Michigan Citizens for Life, the organization spearheading the petition drive.

The Law Center agreed to represent the group in any future lawsuit challenging the amendment, if adopted by Michigan voters.

The ACLU already has stated it will sue if the amendment passes.

The petition drive needs 317,000 valid signatures by July 10 to be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Thompson said the Michigan-based group Right To Life–Lifespan and Michigan's two Republican National Committee members, Chuck Yobb and Holly Hughes, also have endorsed the petition drive.

Michigan is one of several states that did not repeal its pre-Roe anti-abortion statute.

But Thompson said pro-abortion lawyers already have devised an additional counter-measure to a post–Roe situation, arguing the concept of "implied repeal."

They will attempt to show that subsequent acts of the legislature, such as regulating the abortion industry, are irreconcilably in conflict with a state's previous ban, and thus the latest statute has repealed the earlier one by implication.

Thompson said pro-lifers will have to be ready to defend against that argument.

"We should not refrain from direct challenges to Roe v. Wade simply because some pro-life strategists caution "wait" – the [Supreme Court] is not ready," he said. "Directly challenging Roe does not mean we should abandon other pro-life legislative proposals aimed at chipping away at abortions."

Thompson argued no one can know with certainty the ideal time to challenge a decision.

"Under those circumstances, all pro-life organizations, regardless of their opinion on a specific proposal, should work together in a spirit of unity," he said. "We should mount an assault on Roe from all directions."

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« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2006, 06:31:53 PM »

Most Americans believe abortion wrong
Poll also shows 61% know someone who has had procedure


With the abortion debate in focus following South Dakota's new law challenging the Roe decision, a new poll finds 55 percent of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong most of the time.

Just 32 percent disagree, according to the survey by Rasmussen Reports.

Americans under 50 are slightly more likely than their elders to believe abortion is morally wrong, the poll found.

As WorldNetDaily reported, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed into law Monday a highly restrictive bill aimed ultimately at overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, banning abortion in nearly every case and punishing doctors who perform one with a $5,000 fine and five years in prison. It allows abortion only in the event a mother's life is in danger, making no exception for rape or incest. The legislation is expected to be held up by court challenges, however.

The Rasmussen study found three out of five Americans, 61 percent, know someone who has had an abortion. Among those people, 55 percent believe the procedure is morally wrong most of the time.

"This fact suggests that many Americans are faced with the emotional complexity of an issue that activists on both sides want to paint in simplistic, theoretical terms," Rasmussen comments.

The survey also revealed 47 percent of Americans believe it is too easy for a woman to get an abortion in the U.S. Just 21 percent say it's too hard, while 21 percent believe the balance is about right.

Among respondents who believe abortion is morally wrong most of the time, 74 percent think it's too easy for a woman to get an abortion.

Among those who accept abortion morally, 49 percent believe it's too hard for a woman to get an abortion.

"The fact that a solid plurality of Americans believe it is too easy for a woman to get an abortion helps explain the strong public support for legislation mandating waiting periods before an abortion and other limitations that stop short of an outright ban on the procedure," Rasmussen says.

The poll found only 50 percent of Americans have followed news stories about the legislation passed in South Dakota and just 21 percent are following the issue very closely.

A Rasmussen survey in South Dakota indicated the state's voters are evenly divided on the issue, with 45 percent in support of the ban and 45 percent opposed.

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« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2006, 05:47:30 PM »

Men's Rights Group Eyes Child Support Stay

By DAVID CRARY AP National Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Contending that women have more options than they do in the event of an unintended pregnancy, men's rights activists are mounting a long shot legal campaign aimed at giving them the chance to opt out of financial responsibility for raising a child.

The National Center for Men has prepared a lawsuit _ nicknamed Roe v. Wade for Men _ to be filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Michigan on behalf of a 25-year-old computer programmer ordered to pay child support for his ex-girlfriend's daughter. The suit addresses the issue of male reproductive rights, contending that lack of such rights violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

The gist of the argument: If a pregnant woman can choose among abortion, adoption or raising a child, a man involved in an unintended pregnancy should have the choice of declining the financial responsibilities of fatherhood. The activists involved hope to spark discussion even if they lose.

"There's such a spectrum of choice that women have _ it's her body, her pregnancy and she has the ultimate right to make decisions," said Mel Feit, director of the men's center. "I'm trying to find a way for a man also to have some say over decisions that affect his life profoundly."

Feit's organization has been trying since the early 1990s to pursue such a lawsuit, and finally found a suitable plaintiff in Matt Dubay of Saginaw, Mich.

Dubay says he has been ordered to pay $500 a month in child support for a girl born last year to his ex-girlfriend. He contends that the woman knew he didn't want to have a child with her and assured him repeatedly that _ because of a physical condition _ she could not get pregnant.

Dubay is braced for the lawsuit to fail.

"What I expect to hear (from the court) is that the way things are is not really fair, but that's the way it is," he said in a telephone interview. "Just to create awareness would be enough, to at least get a debate started."

State courts have ruled in the past that any inequity experienced by men like Dubay is outweighed by society's interest in ensuring that children get financial support from two parents. Melanie Jacobs, a Michigan State University law professor, said the federal court might rule similarly in Dubay's case.

"The courts are trying to say it may not be so fair that this gentleman has to support a child he didn't want, but it's less fair to say society has to pay the support," she said.

Feit, however, says a fatherhood opt-out wouldn't necessarily impose higher costs on society or the mother. A woman who balked at abortion but felt she couldn't afford to raise a child could put the baby up for adoption, he said.

Jennifer Brown of the women's rights advocacy group Legal Momentum objected to the men's center comparing Dubay's lawsuit to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing a woman's right to have an abortion.

"Roe is based on an extreme intrusion by the government _ literally to force a woman to continue a pregnancy she doesn't want," Brown said. "There's nothing equivalent for men. They have the same ability as women to use contraception, to get sterilized."

Feit counters that the suit's reference to abortion rights is apt.

"Roe says a woman can choose to have intimacy and still have control over subsequent consequences," he said. "No one has ever asked a federal court if that means men should have some similar say."

"The problem is this is so politically incorrect," Feit added. "The public is still dealing with the pre-Roe ethic when it comes to men, that if a man fathers a child, he should accept responsibility."

Feit doesn't advocate an unlimited fatherhood opt-out; he proposes a brief period in which a man, after learning of an unintended pregnancy, could decline parental responsibilities if the relationship was one in which neither partner had desired a child.

"If the woman changes her mind and wants the child, she should be responsible," Feit said. "If she can't take care of the child, adoption is a good alternative."

The president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, acknowledged that disputes over unintended pregnancies can be complex and bitter.

"None of these are easy questions," said Gandy, a former prosecutor. "But most courts say it's not about what he did or didn't do or what she did or didn't do. It's about the rights of the child."

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« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2006, 11:29:15 AM »

ACLU Hails Amendment to Increase Funding to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancies; Measure Would Promote Healthy Pregnancies and Healthy Children


WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union today hailed the introduction of a budget amendment in the Senate that would increase funding for public health programs aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies and offer additional support for pregnant women and children.

"This amendment is a commonsense step in the right direction," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Politicians of all stripes should rally behind this effort to promote health families and healthy pregnancies."

The budget amendment introduced by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) yesterday would provide an additional $347 million in public health funding to support programs that require coverage for prescription contraceptives in otherwise comprehensive drug benefit plans; promote awareness of emergency contraception; fund medically accurate programs to reduce teen pregnancy; and increase family planning services for low-income women. The amendment also provides additional funding for programs that support pregnant women and children.

Nearly three million of the six million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended, giving the U.S. one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy in the industrialized world. Many of the programs that would receive additional funding through this amendment work toward the goal of preventing unplanned pregnancies.

The ACLU noted that federal funding for family planning services has not kept up with inflation. The FDA has ignored the advice of medical experts and major medical groups calling for the sale of the emergency contraceptive, Plan B, to women 16 and over without a prescription. Emergency contraception, often referred to as "the morning-after pill," reduces the risk of pregnancy by as much as 89 percent if the first dose is taken within 72 hours days of unprotected intercourse, but loses effectiveness with the passage of time.

Likewise, the Department of Justice released protocols in late 2004 for the treatment of sexual assault victims that failed to include information about pregnancy prevention and emergency contraception. Since 1997, the federal government has spent nearly a billion dollars on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that do not provide information about contraception, despite research that indicates many such programs do not delay teens having sex. Some studies show that these programs actually deter teens from protecting themselves from unintended pregnancy or disease when they start having sex. The Reid-Clinton amendment is an antidote to repeated failures by the government to encourage prevention, said the ACLU.

"In recent weeks the battle over reproductive rights has been at a fever pitch, but anti-choice members of Congress have yet to list prevention as a top priority," Fredrickson said. "Instead, foes of reproductive rights have not supported bills to increase access to contraceptives. Instead, they continue to pour money into abstinence-only programs that discourage people from using contraceptives. This modest amendment would help prevent many unwanted pregnancies, and the Senate should adopt it."

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« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2006, 12:16:06 PM »

Court lets Tenn. issue anti-abortion plates


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A federal appeals court Friday allowed Tennessee to offer anti-abortion license plates bearing the message "Choose Life."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee previously won a ruling from a lower court that said the tag illegally promoted only one side of the abortion debate.

"Although this exercise of government one-sidedness with respect to a very contentious political issue may be ill-advised, we are unable to conclude that the Tennessee statute contravenes the First Amendment," Judge John M. Rogers said in a 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

Fights over what can and cannot be emblazoned on Louisiana license plates date to 1999, when lawmakers easily approved the anti-abortion "Choose Life" plate, available for an extra $25, with the revenue dedicated to agencies that help pregnant women put their babies up for adoption.

Abortion rights proponents complained the state does not offer those with other political views a similar way to express them. An attempt to create a "Choose Choice" tag failed in the Legislature in 2002.

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« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2006, 03:50:52 PM »

RU-486 Linked to Two More Deaths
Friday, March 17, 2006

WASHINGTON — Two more women have died after using the abortion pill RU-486, federal health regulators said Friday, in warning doctors to watch for a rare but deadly infection implicated in earlier deaths.

At least seven U.S. women have died after taking the pill, sold since 2000. The Food and Drug Administration cannot prove the drug was to blame in any of the cases.

The FDA has not confirmed the cause of the latest two deaths.

However, in four of the earlier cases, the women died from an infection of the bloodstream, or sepsis. Those women did not follow FDA-approved instructions for the pill-triggered abortion, which requires swallowing three tablets of one drug, followed by two of another two days later.

Most abortion clinics instruct that the second course of pills be inserted in the gotcha11, as occurred in those four earlier deaths. Studies show that method works, but it is considered a so-called "off-label" use of the abortion pill.

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« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2006, 11:26:20 AM »

Supreme Court could rule on 'Choose Life' plates
Appeals panel rejects ACLU, affirms constitutionality of anti-abortion tags

The constitutionality of "Choose Life" license plates could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court after yesterday's ruling in favor of the anti-abortion inscription.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati ruled a Tennessee law allowing the plates does not violate the Constitution. The challenge to the law was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.

"Pro-life speech is not second class speech," said Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which backed the state in the case. "The Tennessee Legislature has the constitutional right to offer a license plate with a pro-life point of view if it chooses to do so, regardless of what it decides regarding other specialty plates."

Abortion-rights groups, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, have issued legal challenges to the "Choose Life" plates in other states.

Choose Life, Inc., a non-profit group, launched in 1997 what has become a national movement.

The 6th Circuit panel said in its opinion that with respect to the Constitution, the fact that the "Choose Life" message is considered by some to be more controversial than other messages is irrelevant.

"Such a distinction ... is entirely indefensible as a matter of First Amendment law. … In the absence of a tenable distinction, invalidating the Act in this case would effectively invalidate not only all those government specialty license plate provisions that involve a message that anyone might disagree with, but also effectively invalidate all manner of other long-accepted practices in the form of government-crafted messages disseminated by private volunteers. We are not provided with a sound legal basis for making such a leap."

ADF said the ruling increases the likelihood the U.S. Supreme Court eventually will grant review of a case regarding the constitutionality of pro-life messages on license plates.

Yesterday's ruling created a circuit split after an earlier ruling in the 4th Circuit invalidated a similar pro-life license plate in South Carolina.

Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which filed a brief in support of the Tennessee law, defended the first successful appellate court ruling involving the Florida "Choose Life" license plate in the case of Women's Emergency Network v. Bush.

Mathew D. Staver, Liberty Counsel's president and general counsel, said the appeals court decision in the Tennessee case "averted the hijacking" of the specialty plate.

"Had the ACLU been successful in striking down the 'Choose Life' license plate, the result would have meant that government is never permitted to express its own message or promote valuable social policies," he said. "Every warning against smoking would be followed by a message endorsing cigarettes. The result would be absurd. The state of Tennessee's choice to promote life over abortion is not only wise social policy – it is in complete harmony with the First Amendment."

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« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2006, 01:27:33 PM »

 Mich. Governor to Sign Ultrasound Bill
Staff and agencies
20 March, 2006


1 hour, 45 minutes ago

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Jennifer Granholm will sign a bill requiring abortion providers to give pregnant women the option to see ultrasound images of their fetuses, a spokeswoman says.

Until now, Michigan law has required that women seeking abortions be allowed to review diagrams and descriptions showing a developing fetus, but not their own.

Critics called it a further erosion of women‘s rights.

The ultrasound bill is one of the "small, incremental steps ... all designed to put up barriers" to legal abortion, Kary Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press. However, the ACLU does not plan legal action to block the measure, she said.

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« Reply #26 on: March 21, 2006, 02:51:35 PM »

The Stealth Strategy for Imposing Universal Abortion

At the conclusion of the United Nation's annual Commission on the Status of Women last week, one women's advocate sniffed: "To ask governments and international financial institutions to ensure equal participation is a step in the right direction, but the problem is that they are not obligated to do so."

Almost all of the international women's rights groups pursue this quest for new, expansive international law — international law with enforcement mechanisms, international law, that is, with sharp teeth. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), a US-based legal group that advocates for universal abortion on demand, has established in its own strategy papers that its "overarching goal is to ensure that governments worldwide guarantee reproductive rights out of an understanding that they are bound to do so."

Why is this important? The just-concluded debate on the new Human Rights Council focused on the obvious issue: how to overcome the UN's official neutrality concerning the merits of its member states, and, therefore, how to overcome the embarrassment that nations such as Sudan and Libya must be granted the same formal respect — and the same access to shaping the UN's human rights agenda, its official pronouncements, and its condemnation of abuses — as nations such as Holland and New Zealand.

But while this discussion — whether any UN human rights body can avoid descending into farce — may be understandable, it is important to move beyond the topic of those actors who would seek to use human rights mechanisms to hide their own human rights violations, and discuss those actors, such as CRR, who, instead, would like to expand international human rights law and use it to transform the world.

As strange as it might sound, CRR, and other groups largely unknown beyond the confines of the United Nations, may be better placed to affect international human rights development than nation states; in fact, their activities pose a real challenge to the notion of sovereignty upon which statehood is based.

These groups rarely agitate for a new international treaty to ensconce their beliefs in explicit detail, for the simple reason that they know that sufficient international support does not exist for their agenda. Instead, they take the bedrock international treaties, treaties with almost universal support, and warp them to fit their purposes.

In this effort they are assisted by the committees set up by United Nations to monitor states' compliance with the international law treaties. These committees, working with the advocacy groups, sometimes staffed with members of these same groups, collude in order to stretch the official interpretations of the treaties beyond what their framers would have ever imagined possible.

Human Rights Watch — another non governmental organization now devoted to the universal abortion license — is willing to admit that there is no "explicit treaty language on abortion." But have no fear, "although the text of most international treaties is silent on the topic of abortion . . . authoritative interpretations of international law recognize that abortion is vitally important to women's exercise of their human rights. UN treaty bodies, which take a measured approach to interpreting international human rights law, have consistently and extensively opined on abortion access and restrictions. By our count, as of early 2005, at least 122 concluding observations on ninety-three countries spanning more than a decade by UN treaty bodies have substantively addressed how abortion relates to fundamental human rights. These bodies reason that firmly established human rights are jeopardized by restrictive or punitive abortion laws and practices."

Thus, control the "authoritative" interpretative power, and it simply does not matter what the actual treaties, documents painstakingly crafted by member states over the course of years, actually say. At least 93 nations have been hectored into liberalizing their abortion laws, based on nothing that has been introduced by member states, debated by members states, agreed to by member states, or ratified by member states.

Another group, the International Women's Health Coalition, says much the same thing as Human Rights Watch: IWHC admits that no UN treaties "explicitly assert a woman's right to abortion, nor do they legally require safe abortion services." But, "Despite these qualifications . . . the human rights instruments — if broadly interpreted and skillfully argued — can be very useful tools in efforts to expand access to safe abortion."

In the echo chamber of radical non governmental organizations and UN compliance committees, what is said bounces back and forth, building in volume to a crescendo of mutual reinforcement. Thus, what starts as the outlandish musings of some radical law professor become the accepted interpretations of the major international human rights treaties.

And so the Center for Reproductive Rights can go before the United Nations Human Rights Committee just last week and assert — without fear of correction — that the United States has fallen out of compliance with the principle international treaty defending civil and political rights, because the Bush administration has failed "to protect women's reproductive rights," even though the word "reproductive" itself never appears in the text in question (let alone the word abortion).

Such a strategy is best described as a game, one that shows disdain for the right of nations to know the extent of the obligations they accept upon themselves, as well as disdain for the citizens around the world who will never know how such change occurs, or how or to whom they could ever hope to voice dissent. As CRR itself concluded in a paper outlining this strategy, "there is a stealth quality to the work."

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« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2006, 03:30:32 AM »

Deaths Rekindle Call for Feds to Revoke Approval of Abortion Drug

by Jody Brown
March 21, 2006

(ChristiansUnite.com) - - "How many more deaths?" That's the question that pro-lifers are asking following the latest reports of more deaths that may be attributable to the abortion pill known as RU 486, which the federal government approved for distribution amidst political accusations shortly before Bill Clinton left office.

Danco Laboratories, which markets RU 486 (a.k.a. "Mifepristone") in the United States, announced to the Food and Drug Administration on Friday that two more women died recently after taking RU 486, the first of two drugs taken to abort an unborn child chemically. That brings the number of deaths in the U.S. to at least seven women after taking the two-step regimen since it was approved by the FDA in September 2000.

The federal agency's response following these latest reports? Convene a workshop for early May to discuss research on the infection that killed four of the women last July.

And instead of yanking the drug it approved in the waning days of the Clinton administration, the FDA has issued a statement saying it is investigating the circumstances of the deaths. "All providers of medical abortion and their patients need to be aware of the specific circumstances and directions for use of this drug and all risks including sepsis when considering treatment," states the agency website. "In particular, physicians and their patients should fully discuss early potential signs and symptoms that may warrant immediate medical evaluation."

The FDA's response has triggered outrage from the halls of Congress to the offices of pro-life groups, with criticism beginning with variations on the phrase: "How many more deaths will it take before ...."

    - Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland: "How many more women must die or be injured before Congress acts to protect American women's lives and health from an irresponsible company and a timid FDA?"

    - Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America: "How many women must die before the FDA will act? Are their lives less important than making abortion convenient?"

    - American Life League president Judie Brown: "How much longer must we tolerate such insanity? Two more deaths of women who used RU 486 signal massive problems with [the] abortion pill."

    - Dr. Randall K. O'Bannon of National Right to Life: "How many women will have to die after taking this drug? There is no doubt that RU 486 is extremely dangerous to women and it kills babies."

Representative Bartlett is one of 79 House members sponsoring HR 1079, the "RU 486 Suspension and Review Act." In a Baptist Press report, he calls the FDA's workshop "too little and too late." Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who is sponsoring the Senate version of the Bartlett bill (S 511), is equally critical of how the federal agency is dealing with the situation.

"A workshop to talk about ways to study this problem will only delay action," says DeMint. "This drug should never have been approved, and it must be suspended immediately."

[Photo compliments of Concerned Women for America]
Wendy Wright   
CWA's Wendy Wright could not agree more. By doing anything less than removing the drug from the market, the CWA leader says the FDA is participating in the "deception that RU 486 is 'safe.'" She notes that in the past the FDA has pulled drugs that have been accused of causing fewer deaths and less severe complications. That, Wright contends, is inconsistent.

"Why the double-standard for an abortion drug that is now linked to the deaths of seven healthy women and over 800 other reported complications?" she asks. And after noting several examples of drugs yanked by the agency following reported complications, she asks: "Why is that same caution not exercised with a drug that only women use, and it's only purpose is to abort a baby?

ALL's Judie Brown may have an answer to that question. "[T]he powerful abortion lobby rules the day when it comes to RU 486," says Brown. "It doesn't matter to the abortion industry that mothers have died from using this drug; the 'procedure' was successful because the drug killed the baby. The mother's well-being is apparently of no concern."

Planned Parenthood claims that the "health and safety" of its patients are its top priorities -- but apparently will not voluntarily suspend the use of RU 486. In light of last week's two reported deaths, the federally funded abortion provider has agreed to stop using unapproved measures in administering the chemical abortion regimen. But PP says it has no plans to stop dispensing the drug at its abortion clinics.

According to the ALL president, the FDA has the authority to suspend distribution of any drug item when safety issues arise. That is why she says the FDA needs to put aside any "political" considerations and stop distribution -- immediately. "This is non-negotiable," says Brown.

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« Reply #28 on: March 24, 2006, 03:35:52 PM »

Battle begins to overturn S. Dakota abortion law
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Mar 24, 7:39 AM (ET)

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (Reuters) - Abortion rights supporters planned to launch an attack on Friday on a new South Dakota abortion law designed as a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 33 years ago.

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican, signed the law, widely considered the most restrictive in the nation, about two weeks ago. The measure bans nearly all abortions, even in cases of incest and rape, and says that if a woman's life is in jeopardy, doctors must try to save the life of the fetus as well as the woman.

An abortion rights coalition, South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, said it would lay out its strategy to take down the law in mid-morning news conferences in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

Abortion opponents have been counting on a legal challenge to the law and hope that the case could eventually take the intensely divisive issue all the way back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

With two conservative justices recently appointed, and Republican President George W. Bush expected to get at least one more appointment before leaving office, abortion opponents believe the court would be primed to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established the right to abortion.

But officials with Planned Parenthood, which operates the only clinics in South Dakota that provide abortions, said a lawsuit may not be filed immediately.

Instead, abortion rights supporters may try to take the issue before South Dakota voters in November. State law allows ballot referendums seeking to overturn legislation.

"When you take things to the courts you don't have the opportunity to engage the public in the process. You don't have the ability to build a movement," said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kate Looby.

If they choose to pursue a referendum, abortion rights supporters must collect more than 16,700 signatures by June 19 to get the issue on the ballot for the November 7 election.

If they fail to get enough signatures by the deadline and there is no further legal challenge, the law would take effect on July 1.

Battle begins to overturn S. Dakota abortion law
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« Reply #29 on: March 24, 2006, 03:56:12 PM »

Tennessee to Require DNA From Abortions

By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 24, 12:38 AM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Doctors performing abortions on girls younger than 13 years old would be required to preserve a sample of the fetal tissue for law enforcement under a bill passed by the Senate on Thursday.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation could use those samples for DNA tests to help prosecute rapists, said Sen. Roy Herron, the bill's sponsor.

"Whoever has sex with a child 12 years of age or younger is committing rape, whether force is involved or not, and they ought to be prosecuted," he said.

Herron said most of these rapes are committed by those who know the victim, often go unreported, and are not discovered until days, weeks or months later.

The "Child Rape Protection Act of 2006" passed on a 29-0 vote. A companion bill has lingered in a House subcommittee for a month and is not scheduled for discussion until April 4.

Similar legislation was signed into law in Kansas last year.

Keri Adams, of Planned Parenthood of East and Middle Tennessee, said her organization supports any measure that helps protect children against rape and wants to be sure it follows privacy laws.

The bill would require records be kept of the names and residence of the victim and parent or guardian. A doctor who violates the proposed rules would face a $500 civil penalty for the first violation, a $1,000 civil penalty for the second, and a misdemeanor for the third.

A former United Methodist minister, Herron had been among senators who wanted to protect women's rights to abortion if there is rape or incest, or when the mother's life is in danger.

On Thursday, he emphasized that his bill is not meant to encourage abortions.

"I bring it so whoever commits rape is prosecuted," he said.

Tennessee to Require DNA From Abortions
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