As thousands were on the national mall in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, Reuters reported on a study that suggests abortion is safer than giving birth. I find it odd that the release of such a study was timed to coincide with an event that celebrates and vows to protect the sanctity of life.
There are some interesting findings from this study commissioned by the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. One is the fact that the authors of the study, Drs. Elizabeth Raymond and David Grimes, used estimates from the Guttmacher Institute, which is tied to Planned Parenthood. Another finding that was particularly interesting is that they claim abortion is safer due to the amount of deaths that occurred during live childbirth.
There are some medical risks with childbirth, but the effects of abortion are much more dangerous and long-lasting. Jeanne Monahan, Director, Center for Human Dignity at FRC, recently published an editorial that appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which focused on abortions devastating impact on mental health. According to Monahan:
In the fall, a meta-analysis was published in the prestigious British Journal of Psychiatry. The report was the most extensive of its kind to date — the author looked at 22 published studies and data from more than 870,000 women. The results showed that women who have an abortion are at an 81 percent increased risk for mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, depression, drug abuse and suicidal behaviors. The study revealed the shocking statistic that close to 10 percent of all mental health problems in women can be directly attributed to abortion.
There are other impacts, as well, that are worth noting. FRC also released a brochure, The Top Ten Myths About Abortion, which provided some insight into the medical complications from abortion. A surgical abortion could impact whether a woman would be able to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy in the future.
Physical complications include cervical lacerations and injury, uterine perforations, bleeding, hemorrhage, serious infection, pain, and incomplete abortion. Risks of complications increase with gestational age and are dependent upon the abortion procedure.
Long-term physical consequences of abortion include future preterm birth and placenta previa (improper implantation of the placenta) in future pregnancies. Premature delivery is associated with higher rates of cerebral palsy, as well as respiratory, brain, and bowel abnormalities. Pregnancies complicated by placenta previa result in high rates of preterm birth, low birth weight, and perinatal death.
This does not include the physical complications from RU-486, which is prescribed to women who seek a chemical abortion. These include: hemorrhage, infection, and missed ectopic pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration recently reported that in the ten years since RU-486 was approved in the U.S., at least 11 women have died as a result of complications related to taking the drug.
Additionally, government compiled statistics from Poland confirm that the number of abortion-related deaths significantly decreased when abortion was essentially outlawed. The fact that this study was released to coincide with the March for Life activities is not surprising, considering that the pro-choice lobby will do anything to ensure that abortion is in the forefront.
Turning a blind eye toward both good science and good ethics, the embryonic stem cell and cloning company, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), has published a very preliminary online report regarding their first two patients injected with embryonic stem cell derivatives. The two patients, one who has age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness, and the other with a rare form of blindness called Stargardt’s disease, were injected with retinal cells made from human embryonic stem cells only 4 months before the report was submitted. This makes it far too early to know whether these embryonic stem cells will actually be safe or effective. In fact, it’s surprising that any reputable scientific journal would publish such very preliminary data, given the early stage of the clinical trial (which is supposed to last at least two years), the short period of time after the patients were injected, and the low numbers of patients and lack of controls.
To reach any conclusions on the safety or efficacy of two patients treated for four months without a control population for comparison is unreasonable. This is why anecdotal reports like this are not published. This falsely raises the hopes of millions of individuals suffering from these diseases.
The paper published in the journal Lancet clearly reveals that the data are preliminary and uncertain. It mentions that one patient who showed improvement in her eye that was injected with the cells, also showed improvement in her eye that was NOT injected with the cells. The authors admit in the paper that there is a general lack of hard data:
“At present, we do not know if the transplanted cells have reduced immunogenicity or whether they will undergo rejection without immunosuppression in the long term. Similarly, we are uncertain at this point whether any of the visual gains we have recorded were due to the transplanted cells, the use of immunosuppressive drugs, or a placebo effect.”
First author Dr. Steven Schwartz has noted the likelihood of the placebo effect in several interviews. Dr. Schwartz conceded that it was extremely unusual for researchers to publish a study after treating only two patients out of a planned 24. But he said that was justified by the huge interest in the stem cells. ACT has been criticized in the past for overstating results, in part because it has been desperate to raise money to stay in business. The companys stock rose 3.4 cents, or 23 percent, to 18 cents on Monday.
The safety of the patients is also still very much in question. Humans can take much longer to develop a tumor than lab mice, sometimes years. Previous research has shown that as few as two growing embryonic stem cells among millions of injected cells can lead to tumors, even if the cells are supposedly pre-differentiated. The concern regarding potential tumor formation and need for continued surveillance was noted by Dr. Sheng Ding of the Gladstone Institute:
If just a few undifferentiated stem cells are injected, you may not see [an effect] at all, or you may be able to see it over a much longer period of time. The 4-month follow-up received by the trial patients thus far is very short in this regard, and I think the patients need a much, much longer-term follow up to make sure theres no tumor cells.
It is indeed surprising that this paper was published. The preliminary nature of the paper reinforces the image of ACT noted in a recent story in Nature:
“Since the late 1990s, ACT has gained a reputation as a renegade company, accused of overhyping results to raise attention and money. Critics say that the company has damaged the field more than once with its high-profile, controversial announcements, such as one describing the companys attempts to clone a human embryo in 2001…”
The embryonic stem cells (line MA09, currently pending review for NIH approval of taxpayer funding) used for injections into patients in the current trials are part of another embarrassing moment for ACT. Their derivation was described in a 2006 paper in which ACT claimed that they arose from single blastomeres that had been removed from human embryos, without destroying the embryos. However, the embryos had indeed been destroyed cell by cell, leading to several “corrections” to their published information. In a subsequent 2008 paper they again claimed to have accomplished derivation of embryonic stem cells without destroying an embryo, creating what they termed their NED (no embryo destruction) lines, but their own published data showed only 80-85% of the embryos survived the laboratory manipulation, falsifying their claim.
There are certainly better alternatives to embryonic stem cells. Similar stem cells—iPS cells—can be derived without any use of embryos; their potential is noted in the accompanying published comment. In fact, ACT scientist Bob Lanza has already said that they are planning to use iPS cells in the future, which potentially could remove the need for immunosuppressive drugs and provide an ethically-derived source of cells. However, since iPS cells are pluripotent, with a penchant to grow and make lots of cells, they face the same practical problem of tumor formation as embryonic stem cells.
Recently the interim editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal made a radically pro-life proposal: to ban the disclosure to parents of their babys sex before 30 weeks gestation in order to save baby girls from abortion.
A pregnant woman being told the sex of the fetus at ultrasonography at a time when an unquestioned abortion is possible is the starting point of female feticide from a health care perspective, writes Dr. Rajendra Kale.
Quelle surprise, I know. Canadas approach to abortion is nearly as extreme as the United States in everything but numbers of babies slaughtered. Yet heres the interim editor of Canadas top medical journal sounding the alarm on female feticide and trying to fight back. Even her admission that Canada allows unquestioned abortion before 30 weeks gestation is worthy of note.
The horrible practice of aborting baby girls due to a preference for sons has come to Canada with the immigrant communities who secretly practice it, though it is not thought to be widespread.
Still, [s]mall numbers cannot be ignored when the issue is about discrimination against women in its most extreme form, says Dr. Rajendra Kale, interim Editor-in-Chief of the journal. This evil devalues women. How can it be curbed? The solution is to postpone the disclosure of medically irrelevant information to women until after about 30 weeks of pregnancy. Kale advocates that the policy banning sex disclosure before 30 weeks be adopted by the provincial colleges that govern doctors in Canada.
While my first reaction was pleasant surprise, my friend Wesley Smith was more cynical. From his Secondhand Smoke blog:
Oh, so now abortion is feticide is it? And here I thought the procedure was called, right to choose.
Let me see if I have this right: Committing feticide to better enable lifestyle choices or, say, because a boyfriend has leftfine and dandy. Committing selective feticide to reduce triplets to two triplets and one dead sibling post IVF? Splendid. Eugenic feticide that terminates fetuses diagnosed with Down or some other genetic condition. We should have more, not less. But aborting because you want a boy instead of a girl, that cannot be tolerated! Never mind that 50% of fetuses killed in abortion are female. They may be dead, but they werent targeted, so its okay.
His point is spot on, of course. But any port in a storm, I guess. Ill take the illogical, hypocritical anti-girl-abortion-only approach in the hope that the true reason to be horrified that the baby is a human and not that the baby is a girl will somehow take root.
Yesterday, my pastor and friend Rev. Tom Joyce preached one of the finest messages on the biblical and scientific basis of the sanctity of life I’ve ever heard. On this Sanctity of Life day, It is well worth taking 30 minutes to listen to Tom’s compelling sermon. You can watch it here.
10:55 - 11:10 a.m.: Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director, Students for Life of America
11:10 - 11:25 a.m.: Jeanne Monahan, Director, Center for Human Dignity, Family Research Council, Karen Snuffer, Executive Director, CareNet Pregnancy Resource Centers: Manassas, Woodbridge, and Warrenton
Ask What They Mean By Choice was started last year as a response to NARALs Blog for Choice Day. Every year, NARAL uses the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to praise the fact that women are allowed to have a choice. Last year, the pro-life community on Twitter and blogs joined together to ask what do pro-choice activists mean by choice.
Does NARAL believe that choice means punishing a non-profit religious organization from receiving a grant that would aid victims of human trafficking?
In October, the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops (USCCB) received notification from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the funding for their program to aid victims of human trafficking would be ending. According to an article in the National Catholic Register, the decision fell on the hands of political appointees at HHS, who decided not to give the grant to USCCB due to their opposition of the Obama Administrations stances on abortion and contraceptive mandates within the new health care law.
Since this decision was made, HHS has come under scrutiny. The House Committee on Government Oversight held a hearing in December reviewing the politicization of grants by HHS. You can read the testimony by clicking here.
If choice means cutting aid to victims of human trafficking over the core beliefs of an organization, then this is going against the very grain of ensuring human dignity and rights for women. One would think that NARAL would be up-in-arms over the horrible acts of human trafficking, since many victims are women and young girls.
ProLifeCon is only two days away. Throughout this week, I have featured Ryan Bomberger, Lila Rose, Rep. Chris Smith, Michael Clancy, and Samuel Armas. You can still register for ProLifeCon, and join other pro-life online activists throughout the country to hear our amazing lineup of speakers.
Collin Raye, country music superstar and spokesman for the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, will be one of our featured speakers at ProLifeCon. Raye has sold over eight million albums and has been nominated five times as country musics Male Vocalist of the Year. In 2001, he was presented with the Humanitarian of the Year award by country music legend, Clint Black.
Raye, in his role as spokesman for the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, is focused on helping families and loved ones who are in the same situation as Terri Schiavo was in 2005. Rayes family has had their own experience with end-of-life issues, when his granddaughter died of an undiagnosed neurological condition in 2010.
Some anniversaries should not have to be celebrated because the events they mark should not have occurred. January 22, 2012, the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, is one of them. That decision is one of the greatest moral and legal tragedies in American history.
It is a moral tragedy in multiple ways, and they all stem from one inescapable fact. Every abortion kills a living human being. No word game, subject change, or political spin can change that fact. There have been nearly 50 million abortions since 1973 and, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, the “decline in abortion incidence has stalled.” More babies in America lose their lives to abortion every two days than American service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.
As President Ronald Reagan wrote on Roe‘s 10th anniversary, the question is not when human life begins, but what is the value of human life? That remains the question today. Our Declaration of Independence says that every individual is created and given rights by God. The federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year on programs to help the poor, elderly, sick, or disabled. Why? It is nothing less than moral schizophrenia to say that the very same people who should be helped today could have been killed before they were born.
There is a glimmer of light peeking through this otherwise dark cloud. After nearly four decades of pro-abortion propaganda and the drumbeat that abortion is a constitutional right, most Americans still oppose most abortions and a majority says that they are pro-life and that abortion is morally wrong.
Roe v. Wade is also a legal tragedy in the way it reached these morally tragic results. Make no mistake, there is no right to abortion in the Constitution; the Supreme Court simply made it up. Take a step back from the subject of abortion for a minute and think about what this means. The Constitution is supposed to be the primary way that the people impose limits and rules on government. The Constitution is written down so everyone will know what those limits and rules are. George Washington said that the people’s control over the Constitution is literally the heart of our system of government. Our freedom depends on it. But when the Supreme Court changes the Constitution, as it did in Roe, it takes control of the Constitution away from the people, and their freedom along with it.
The phrase “judicial activism” gets tossed around a lot these days, as if it is nothing more than a label for any decision you do not like. Judicial activism really means judges taking control of the law in order to produce certain results. Claiming that there is a right to abortion in a Constitution that says no such thing, and using this made-up right to strike down state and federal laws, is as activist as it gets.
President Reagan wrote in his essay: “We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life - the unborn - without diminishing the value of all human life.” Make no mistake about it; the end result of an activist judiciary that rejected our most cherished constitutional principles is the loss of 50 million innocent lives. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court used judicially tragic means to achieve a morally tragic end. By highjacking the Constitution and creating this so-called right to abortion, the Supreme Court attacked not only the value of human life itself, but also the liberty of all Americans. I hope that this decision has few anniversaries left.
On Wednesday the Obama Administration again rejected the construction of an oil pipeline, the Keystone XL, that would have carried oil 1,700 miles from Canada to refineries in the United States. The pipeline would have been the largest infrastructure project in the United States with an estimated cost of $7 billion. It is estimated that Keystone XL would have created 10-20,000 jobs.
President Obama apparently indicated to the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, that the pipeline would be approved after the November election. Environmentalists are a major constituency of the Democratic Party, and they oppose the pipeline for many reasons but primarily because they believe that killing the project will stop the production of unrefined oil from Canadian tar sands. This is folly because the Chinese are more than willing to buy the oil, so the oil will be produced, and it will be consumed somewhere.
The United States imports dangerously large volumes of crude oil, but it also has massive resources that could be used to reduce our dependence on unfriendly governments who produce oil. Yet, our current government has anti-energy policies that will inevitably lead to more importing and higher prices.
Oddly enough President Obama chose to go to Disney World on Thursday (1/19) to press the flesh and promote tourism in Florida. Florida has an unemployment rate of 10.0%, and it depends greatly on tourism. It has Disney World and all the nearby entertainment parks. It has a large cruise ship industry, and it has a wonderful climate and beaches that people visit from all over the world (e.g., South Beach, Miami).
How do people get to Florida to enjoy these various tourist activities? They consume a pretty substantial amount of fossil fuel like the stuff we wont be getting from the Keystone XL pipeline. As energy prices climb due to lack of production, the health of the vacation and entertainment industries will be imperiled. I hope some Floridians asked the president about that.
Furthermore, the political Left hates energy production and the economic productivity it brings. It doesnt seem to have occurred to them that one of the reasons our standard of living is so high is that we use these fuels to run engines that increase our real productivity. Take a look at the History Channels program Modern Marvels sometime. Almost all the episodes rely on the use of fuel or electricity to run machinery that expands human productivity enormously.
The environmental movement has a basic problem with this fact. Remember that in 1992, Al Gore wrote in his book, Earth in the Balance, that the internal combustion engine posed a greater threat to the United States than actual military enemies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Engines of various kinds have been one of the factors that have allowed mankind to escape the grinding poverty it had known for millennia.
The United States has 55,000 miles of oil-carrying pipelines, and Keystone XL would have expanded that total only marginally. That was not the problem for the environmentalists. They just want to shut down all new energy production except for inefficient renewable energy (wind, solar) that has no hope of powering our economy. The long-term continuation of policies like this will have profound effects on the ability of the United States to grow economically and increase the standard of living for American families. More basically, it will help determine whether many families will be able to heat there homes economically.
The American people are going to have to choose the vision of reality they endorse.
On Monday, ProLifeCon will be taking place at FRC. We have a pretty awesome lineup of speakers, and there is no doubt that you will not want to miss this event. You can host ProLifeCon on your blog as well. Just copy the code below the line, and you will be able to share ProLifeCon with your readers.
**The stream will be available on Monday, January 23rd beginning at 8:20 a.m. and the live stream will end at 11:30 a.m.**