in this issue:
abortion: ARCHIVES/NEW YORK STATE LAW
catholic hospitals: ILLINOIS
congress: UNBORN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE ACT
human experimentation: CHILDREN IN CLINICAL TRIALS
imposed death (euthanasia): DUTCH vs. BELGIANS, ENGLAND
morning-after abortion pill: BISHOP PAUL LOVERDE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, EFFECTIVENESS, MORE BISHOPS SOUND ALARM
organ donation: AUTONOMY
personhood: SOUTH CAROLINA
stem cell research: FETAL REMAINS
web news: DEFENDING THE VULNERABLE
reflection for prayer: THOMAS A KEMPIS
ARCHIVES / NEW YORK STATE LAW: In February, a man accused of lacing a woman’s drink with the intention of causing an abortion was charged with second-degree abortion. According to state law, first-degree abortion results in the death of the baby; second-degree abortion is attempted abortion. The law protects “abortional acts” where the woman consents or performs the act herself for any reason through the 24th week of pregnancy, and specific reasons thereafter.
(Reading: “Man Accused of Lacing Woman’s Drink to Induce Abortion,” Associated Press, 2/1/01; for details on New York law, see New York Penal Law Article 125)
ILLINOIS: The Illinois Senate has passed a bill requiring hospitals to inform rape survivors about emergency contraception. The report notes that Illinois Catholic Health Association director Philip Karst supports the measure, suggesting that no violation of principle is involved if a Catholic hospital provides such information because “people have a right to the information so they can make their own judgment.”
COMMENT: Will the information include the fact that the pills can cause the abortion of a child?
(Reading: “Illinois Senate Passes Bill That Would Require Hospitals to Inform Rape Survivors About Emergency Contraception,” Kaiser Daily Reproductive Report, 4/9/01, )
UNBORN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE ACT: During the week of April 25, Congress is scheduled to vote on HR503 (for text, go to U.S. Congress, search by bill number), a bill which proponents argue is not about abortion. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says, “I’ve tried to strike a delicate balance between protecting the unborn while not wandering into the divisive, high-charged, emotional battleground of abortion.” The bill states in Sec. 1841 (D)(c)(1), “nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the prosecution of any person for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has obtained or for which such consent is implied by law.” The bill also states in Sec. 1841 (D)(d), “the term ‘unborn child’ means a child in utero, and the term ‘child in utero’ or ‘child, who is in utero’ means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.”
(Reading: “U.S. Law Undermines Roe v. Wade,” The Lancet, 3/24/01, p. 944, paid subscription only)
CHILDREN IN CLINICAL TRIALS: Citizens for Responsible Care and Research has issued a statement in which they “question the ethics of the recent Food and Drug Administration drug testing requirement that essentially opens the gates to the exploitation of children in medical experiments that cause them pain and discomfort and put them at risk of harm – without medical justification or the prospect of direct medical benefit.” The complete statement can be requested from “>Vera Hassner Sharav.
imposed death (euthanasia)
DUTCH vs. BELGIANS: Commenting on the need for effective “palliative lethal treatment” administered without threat of legal prosecution, Jan L. Bernheim writes, “The rate of euthanasia and ending of life without the patient’s explicit request are, respectively, in Belgium 1.1% and 3.2% compared with 2.4% and 0.7% in the Netherlands. To put it bluntly: Dutch patients exercise more autonomy and Belgian doctors act more paternalistically.” He opines that Belgian patients in intractable pain are often hesitant to request death because “he fears it would offend the nurses and physicians, expose the staff to prosecution, or both. Meanwhile, the staff decide that sedation ending in physician-assisted death would be good practice, and act accordingly.”
(Reading: “Euthanasia in Europe,” The Lancet, 3/31/01, p. 1038, paid subscription only)
ENGLAND: Society for the Protection of Unborn Children says that if the Labour party wins the general election, legalized euthanasia could be part of that party’s agenda.
(Reading: “Labour Plan to Legalise Euthanasia,” SPUC news release)
morning-after abortion pill
BISHOP PAUL LOVERDE: Excerpt from 2/17/01 homily at St. Leo’s Church in Fairfax, Va.: “The purpose of emergency contraceptives is to send a dose of a very strong hormone into a woman’s reproductive system solely for the purpose of preventing the implantation of a newly conceived child. It causes an early, less visible abortion. It does nothing to reduce the number of abortions.”
(Reading: For a complete text of Bishop Loverde’s homily, contact “>Robert E. Laird, director of the family life office in the diocese of Arlington, Va.)
BRITISH COLUMBIA: The College of Pharmacists has issued an “Informed Consent for Emergency Contraception” form which contains the following statement: “ECPs work by preventing or delaying the release of an egg from the ovary, preventing fertilization, or causing changes in the lining of the uterus that may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. I understand that if I am already pregnant, ECPs will not stop or interfere with the pregnancy.”
COMMENT: In abortion double-speak, the first week of a person’s life is written off and the abortion of those persons becomes a non-issue. “Fertilized egg” is imprecise and intentionally dehumanizes the human being; human zygote (also known as embryo, individual, person, human being) is accurate.
(Reading: College of Pharmacists of British Columbia form, available via fax or mail; not on the web)
EFFECTIVENESS: Researchers studying the effectiveness of the morning-after pill regimen, when used up to 120 hours after “unprotected intercourse,” indicate that the “success rate” is acceptable. “Emergency contraceptive pills have a favorable success rate after 72 hours, with a pregnancy rate that is significantly lower than would be expected if no contraceptive were administered.”
(Reading: “Effectiveness of Emergency Contraceptive Pills Between 72 and 120 Hours After Unprotected Sexual Intercourse,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3/01, pp. 531-537, abstract only without paid subscription)
MORE BISHOPS SOUND ALARM: “Catholic bishops in Scotland are telling the faithful that taking the ‘morning-after’ pill, authorized for sale to over-16-year-olds by the government earlier this year, is the equivalent of a ‘chemically induced abortion,’ the Guardian newspaper of London reported … The primate of Mexico sounded a similar warning,” according to Zenit news agency. The pastoral letter signed by all of the Scottish bishops, to be read at all Masses in coming weeks, contains the statement, “The Church cannot remain silent on this issue, given the serious nature of what is being proposed.” The report concludes, “The letter will exhort Catholic doctors and pharmacists as well as parents and teen-agers to refuse to sanction the use of the pill.”
(Reading: “More Warnings About ‘Morning-After’ Pill,” Zenit News Agency, 4/8/01; also see the web site for the Archdiocese of Glasgow)
AUTONOMY: In a discussion regarding the obligation a physician has to make sure his patient’s organs are transferable, University of Kansas professor Jerry Menikoff writes that in addition to running ads encouraging people to talk to their loved ones about donating their organs, “we should be making a greater educational effort, at all levels, to remind everyone how terribly wrong it is to interfere with someone’s attempt to donate his or her organs. That would really be a statement in favor of patient autonomy, in the truest spirit of the legacy of Karen Ann Quinlan and Nancy Cruzan.”
COMMENT: Whose autonomy? Cruzan was starved to death.
(Reading: “Physicians Have Mandate to Follow Organ Donation Wishes,” American Medical News, 4/2/01)
SOUTH CAROLINA: House Bill 3242, the Right to Life Act, states in Section 1-1-320, “The right to due process, whereby no person may be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, and the right to equal protection of the laws, both of which rights are guaranteed by Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution of this State, vest at fertilization.” The bill is currently in the judiciary committee of the South Carolina state house.
(Reading: South Carolina House Bill 3242)
stem cell research
FETAL REMAINS: John D. Gearhart, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins is touting the use of “a patch of fetal tissue” transplanted into a rat’s spinal column as possible treatment for a condition similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease.
(Reading: “Stem Cells Step Closer to the Clinic,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 4/4/01, pp. 1691-1693, paid subscription)
DEFEND THE VULNERABLE: An amazing defense of life presented by Mark Pickup, a man confined to a wheel chair because of advancing multiple sclerosis, makes the video “To Be or Not to Be: The Human Family” a must for every pro-life library. To learn more, visit Human Life Matters or call toll-free 877-205-4602.
reflection for prayer
THOMAS A KEMPIS: From Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 5, Section 5:
Love watches, and sleeping, slumbers not. When weary is not tired; when straitened is not constrained; when frightened is not disturbed, but like a living flame and a torch all on fire, it mounts upward and securely passes through all opposition. Whosoever loveth knoweth the cry of this voice. A loud cry in the ears of God is the ardent affection of the soul, which saith, O my God, my love, Thou art all mine and I am all Thine.