IOWA: Planned Parenthood has begun offering abortions at its Sioux City clinic. Clinic mangers made a point of showing a local TV crew the security measures they have installed as they prepared for initiating “a legal medical service.” A Des Moines Register article highlights the clinic opening as one of the events that made 1998 “a good [year] for Iowans who back abortion rights.”
(Reading: “Planned Parenthood Now Offers Abortions in Sioux City,” from KTIV-TV web site http://www.msnbc.com/local/KTIV/31305.asp; “Abortion Services Extended,” Des Moines Register, 1/31/99)
LOUISIANA: A federal appeals court will examine a state malpractice law that allows women to sue doctors for physical and emotional trauma as long as ten years after an abortion. Said Rep. Tom Thornhill, the bill’s author, “it will make those who want to practice abortions be very careful.”
(Reading: “A Question of Liability” ABC News, 2/1/99)
UNITED KINGDOM: A government report calls abortion “an essential part of good birth control policy.” According to Ian Jones of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, “if society believes that women should plan their families, it must allow women to end unwanted pregnancies in abortion.” Another spokesman calls abortion a natural back-up when birth control fails.
(Reading: “Abortion ‘Part of Birth Control,’” BBC News, 1/28/99)
GEORGIA: Pro-lifers are suing the town of Ellijay, asking a federal judge to strike down a law that requires a permit and a fee for any gathering of more than four persons on a public sidewalk. The suit alleges that the town tried to charge a pro-life group a $150 fee to stage a Life Chain. The group was also told a permit and fee would be required in order to distribute copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
(Reading: news release from Liberty Counsel, 2/5/99)
WISCONSIN: Pro-Life Wisconsin is taking Gov. Tommy Thompson to task for honoring a University of Wisconsin scientist “who is engaging in unethical human embryo research.” Bridget Fogarty of Pro-Life Wisconsin says Gov. Thompson claims to be a pro-life Catholic, but his support of Dr. James Thomson’s research flies in the face of the church’s teachings. She says the research consists of “mutilating and destroying human embryos . . . [to] provide clues to curing many diseases. As pro-lifers, we know that the end does not justify the means.”
(Reading: action alert from Pro-Life Wisconsin, 1/28/99)
NORTH DAKOTA: A proposed state law would mandate the inoculation of children with hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis B is a virus usually transmitted by sexual contact. Jim Sedlak of STOPP (Stop Planned Parenthood) points out that the National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting issued an action plan in 1985 which included the following statement: “immunization mandated for boys and girls . . . will increase individual’s freedom from accidental pregnancy and parenthood.”
Could the North Dakota proposal, which has passed the state senate, be a first step toward mandatory anti-pregnancy vaccinations for school children?
(Reading: Senate Bill 2125, Legislative Assembly of North Dakota; “Inventing the Future: Alternatives to Adolescent Pregnancy,” The National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting, 1985)
PEDIATRICIANS: Teenagers get an unexpected bit of encouragement from a major U.S. doctors’ group. The message-that sexual abstinence is a good thing, because teenage pregnancy is not. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics also told their colleagues to be sure that sexually-active teenagers had knowledge of-and access to-birth control.
(Reading: “U.S. Physicians Group Recommend Teens not Have Sex,” Reuters, 2/2/99)
PENNSYLVANIA: Laura Merriott, who is suing her former employer, a family planning clinic in Erie, is now preaching sexual abstinence to middle-school students. Merriott was fired for refusing to give contraceptives to unmarried women. She asks, “why would I tell those kids in the clinic something different than what I tell my children?”
(Reading: “‘Crisis of Conscience’ Leads Family Planning Nurse on Crusade,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/9/99)
UNITED KINGDOM: Professor John Guillebaud says when a 12-year-old girl goes in for a German measles shot, she should also be given a birth-control implant. The implant lasts for three years. Guillebaud calls it “fabulous,” especially for sexually-active teens who’d forget to take their pill. One leading British pro-life group was not at all amused. They say Guillebaud is promoting unlawful activity, and he should be thrown in jail.
(Reading: “Fit Girls of 12 with Contraceptive Implants, Says Prof,” PA News, 2/2/99)
birth control pill
CARDIOVASCULAR DEATHS: An analysis of previous studies analyzing the connection between birth control pill use and cardiovascular deaths reports that “low dose oral contraceptives have been associated with no increased risk or only small increases in the risk of myocardial infarction or stroke in recent studies of these effects.” However, researchers conclude that providers must counsel women against smoking, recommend different compounds for women older than 35 and screen women often for high blood pressure.
Sound safe to you?
(Reading: “Estimates of the Risk of Cardiovascular Death Attributable to Low-Dose Oral Contraceptives in the United States,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1/99, pp. 241?248)
NEW METHOD: Researchers want to put women on an 84-day regimen of birth control pills, rather than the standard 21-day regimen. Women using this system would only have a menstrual period four times a year. Scientist Gary Hodgen of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School admits it sounds unnatural. However, a report indicates that “some doctors have begun to question whether 12 periods a year are too many, and whether modern American women are hurting themselves by menstruating continuously for many years.”
(Reading: EVMS, Corporate Partner Plan to Market New Birth Control Pill,” The [Norfolk] Virginian-Pilot, 2/2/99)
NEW ZEALAND: The birth control pill is being blamed for the deaths of six young New Zealand women, though pill proponents claim there is no proof. However, Dr. Howard Wraight, medical services manager for Organon (Australia) Pty. Limited, wrote pharmacists to say that “several of these women had risk factors which may have made the prescribing of any sort of oestrogen-containing OC [oral contraceptive] inappropriate.”
(Reading: “Pill Deaths Blamed on Ministry Neglect,” The Australian, 1/25/99, p. 3; letter from Dr. Howard Wraight of Organon (Australia) Pty. Limited)
ECUADOR: Abortion is against the law in Ecuador, but the government’s ministry of health has ruled that the emergency contraceptive pill is not banned by the national legislation that protects human life beginning at the moment of conception. That finding was based on testimony from family-planning advocates that the pill eliminates “the product of conception” before the fertilized ovum is implanted in the mother’s womb.
In other words, the chemicals destroy tiny boys and girls!
(Reading: “Abortion Pill in Use in Ecuador,” Catholic World News, 1/21/99)
METHOREXATE + MISOPROSTOL: A recent study points out that if the gestational age of the child can be pinpointed with accuracy, the combination of these two chemicals will result in a dead child through the 49th day of the baby’s life. Researcher Michael Creinin reports that “an abortion would be considered successful if complete abortion occurred without the requirement for a surgical procedure. Immediate success would be a complete abortion in which the pregnancy passed during the 24 hours after the initial or repeat dose of misoprostol or without misoprostol.”
Committing abortion on a tiny boy or girl is not a concern, only the final outcome causes such analyses to be done.
(Reading: “Success Rates and Estimation of Gestational Age for Medical Abortion Vary with Transvaginal Ultrasonographic Criteria,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1/99, pp. 35?41)
NOT SO FAST: A Washington Post article questions whether human cloning is even possible. Scientists attempting to clone a monkey have “utterly failed,” despite some 135 attempts. Said researcher Don Wolf of the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, “it’s clearly not a trivial undertaking.” Post reporter Rick Weiss writes, “the failures suggest that anyone trying to clone a person should be prepared to work at it a long time and have a large supply of volunteers willing to be experimental subjects.”
(Reading: “Failure in Monkeys Hints at Human Cloning Snags,” Washington Post,1/29/99, p. A2)
culture of death
NEW MEXICO: A judge has thrown out the “wrongful pregnancy” suit Peter Wallis filed against his ex-girlfriend, Kellie Rae Smith. Wallis alleged that Smith broke a promise by getting pregnant, and that she defrauded him by having relations with him after she “intentionally stopped using birth control medication.”
(Reading: “Unwanted Pregnancy,” Associated Press, 2/2/99)
CARDINAL O’CONNOR: In reacting to proposed state guidelines for medical experimentation on the disabled and mentally ill, New York’s Catholic archbishop said, “every one of us perhaps could profit by a periodic reminder that much of what was done under the Nazi regime under Hitler began long before with the experiments of psychiatrists and other medical persons on people who are psychologically incapacitated or otherwise vulnerable.”
(Reading: “O’Connor: No-Consent Testing Recalls Nazis,” New York Post, 1/18/99)
faith vs. corporate medicine
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Two hospitals, Elliot Hospital and Catholic Medical Center, will dissolve their merger because their boards of directors can not agree on abortion and other “reproductive services.” One doctor says Catholic doctrine “is incompatible with modern medicine,” but the Catholic institution refused to compromise.
(Reading: “Abortion Battle ‘Ripped This Thing from Top to Bottom,’” Manchester [N.H.] Union Leader, 2/3/99)
MYELOMENINGOCELE: A new treatment is being researched so that children who are suspected of having spina bifida can be treated in utero by the use of endoscopic coverage of the spinal lesion. Researchers argue that this is a feasible approach to nonlethal fetal abnormalities.
(Reading: “Endoscopic Coverage of Fetal Myelomeningocele in Utero,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1/99, pp. 153?158)
human embryo research
GERMLINE TAMPERING: W. French Anderson got headlines when he announced his research, which involves the destruction of human embryos so that stem cells can be acquired from the tiny human being. However, Dr. Paul Billings, director of the Council for Responsible Genetics (http://www.essential.org/crg), points out that there are probably only 100 patients in the whole world at any time who have ADA deficiency, one of the diseases Dr. Anderson has proposed treating with his gene therapy. “This is not an epidemic,” he said. “This technology is not needed,” and does not justify the risks to society.
(Contact: Ask American Life League for action items on this matter, including the letter Father Joseph Howard, director of ALL’s American Bioethics Advisory Commission submitted to the Center for Responsible Genetics in September, 1998.)
(Reading: “Prenatal Gene Therapy Put on Hold-for Now,” American Medical News, 2/1/99, pp. 21, 24?25)
UNITED KINGDOM: Police are investigating at least 50 deaths amid allegations that “the deaths were hastened by denying the patients intravenous fluids.” Since an inquiry began, three nurses have been suspended. The investigation could lead to charges of manslaughter by criminal neglect.
(Reading: “Police Investigate ‘Euthanasia’ Deaths,” British Medical Journal, 1/16/99)
WASHINGTON: Charges were dropped in the case of a Port Angeles doctor accused of killing a three-day-old infant who had been declared brain dead. Prosecutors had charged Dr. Eugene Turner with second-degree murder for blocking the child’s breathing. The dismissal motion said Conor McInnerney’s death was not caused by “criminal or even negligent act by any other human being.” Conor’s parents, however, will continue with plans to sue Turner in civil court.
(Reading: “M.D. Freed in Baby’s Death, but Suit Looms,” USA Today, 2/1/99)
TEXTBOOKS LACKING: A survey of several textbooks used in the education of physicians who face end-of-life questions has shown that “virtually nothing about caring for patients near death” is covered in such textbooks. Joanne Lynn, M.D., of the Center to Improve Care of the Dying, commented, “It is no wonder that doctors so often fail their dying patients . . . our standard textbooks ignore the subject.”
(Reading: “Medical Texts Fail to Teach About End-of-Life Care,” American Medical News,2/1/99, pp. 7?8)
VIOLENCE: A report on rising violence against physicians points out that such acts are not confined to a specific practice like abortion, but are widespread in the industry.
(Reading: “Recent Murders Reawaken Physicians’ Safety Concerns,” American Medical News, 2/1/99, pp. 7?8)
CALIFORNIA: A group of doctors “specializing in family planning and abortions” is suing Planned Parenthood. Family Planning Associates Medical Group, Inc., accuses Planned Parenthood of “violating state regulations and its own charter as a charitable organization by providing for-fee medical services.”
(Reading: “Medical Group Sues Planned Parenthood,” Los Angeles Times, 1/23/99, p. C2)
MISSOURI: A federal court says the legislature can legally cut off state funding for Planned Parenthood. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the right to abortion “implies no limitation on the authority of a state to make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion, and to implement that judgment by the allocation of public funds.”
(Reading: “Federal Court Says Missouri Can Limit Planned Parenthood Funds,” Kansas City Star, 2/3/99)
UNITED KINGDOM: Britain is increasing its overseas family planning aid by 28 percent, but some Labour Party members of Parliament want even more. One member calls world population growth “horrifying,” while another member stresses that “it’s important a nation such as ours should be compassionate and generous.”
(Reading: “Extra Aid Urged to Stem Population Growth,” PA News, 1/20/99)
UNITED NATIONS: Abortion advocate Malcolm Potts claims that “the demand for family planning in developing countries is large and almost certain to rise,” as he outlines ten steps anti-natalist governments and private organizations can take to make sure that scarce resources are allotted properly, warning that the 21st century “has the greatest potential for exceeding biological limits on human activity.”
(Reading: “Making Cairo Work,” The Lancet, 1/23/99, pp. 315?318)
DANGERS: Researchers studied the outcomes of pregnancies during which the mother agreed to selective reduction followed by amniocentesis to detect possible genetic difficulties (cerebral palsy) in the surviving babies. Combining the two procedures does not seem to cause any additional deaths.
Killing some, doing quality control testing on the remaining; what else can be done to purify the race?
(Reading: “Genetic Amniocentesis After Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1/99, pp. 226?230)
BY THE BOOK: Louisiana created a stir when it created the concept of “covenant marriage,” an arrangement that would make it much more difficult for a couple to divorce. New Hampshire also wants to get into the act of “helping” couples build a solid marriage. But this state wants to do that by mandating that a list of family planning programs and services be handed out with every marriage license. New Hampshire should be aware that among couples who use natural methods of spacing their children (rather than the popular chemicals and devices), the divorce rate is almost nil.
PRAY AND FAST . . . PRAY AND FAST . . . PRAY AND FAST
Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.
Nothing is more useful than prayer. Therefore, we must nourish both a great love and a great esteem for it, and make every effort to pray well.
-St. Vincent de Paul [AD 1660]
Lord, teach me how to pray with patience, sincerity of heart and total abandon so that the cares of the world will not disturb my conversations with you. Amen.