Park Street Church, Boston, The Welcome Center at 1 Park Street, Boston , Massachusetts
Please join us for a Concert to benefit A WOMAN'S CONCERN pregnancy resource centers.
AWC MUSIC FOR LIFE
Enjoy an elegant evening of classical and contemporary music in a historical setting for the benefit of women and couples who are making a choice for life. A dessert reception immediately following the concert. Seating begins at 7 pm
Tickets $40 in advance by April 19th or $50 at the door.
For more information or to buy tickets visit us at www.partners.awomansconcern.org/news/music_for_life
Neat article at The Weekly Standard, Mugged by Ultrasound, on the impact of ultrasound images on abortion providers. Recently Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson resigned her job after watching an ultrasound image of an abortion being performed on an unborn child. She is not alone. The article describes the emotional toll on doctors, nurses and aides who perform D&C abortions and the cleanup afterwards. It's a powerful read.
"Benotafraid.net is an online outreach to parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis. The family stories, articles, and links within this site are presented as a resource for those who may have been asked to choose between terminating a pregnancy or continuing on despite the diagnosis. The benotafraid.net families faced the same decision and chose not to terminate. By sharing our experiences, we hope to offer encouragement to those who may be afraid to continue on."
Many poignant stories there, including stories about babies who only lived for a few hours or minutes after birth. Sometimes, parents donate the organs of their short-lived infants, thereby providing eyesight or a functioning liver or heart to other babies with abnormalities, giving them a chance for a healthy life. That's a powerful testament to choosing life, even under difficult circumstances.
"Millennials (those 18-29) consider abortion to be 'morally wrong' even more (58%) than Baby Boomers (those 45-64) (51%). Generation X (those 30-44) are similar to Millennials (60% see abortion as 'morally wrong'). More than 6 in 10 of the Greatest Generation (those 65+) feel the same."
"... the survey has been tracking an increasing trend toward the pro-life position – a trend confirmed by Gallup and Pew surveys in mid-2009. "
Is it the Roe Effect? Or the advances in medical technology that let us see that even a very young fetus certainly looks like a baby? Or maybe because a generation of women has delayed child-bearing and then found it difficult or impossible to conceive - maybe there's a growing sense in our society that life is precious and sacred.
I've always thought our culture has serious disconnects on this matter. On one hand, doctors can and do successfully perform surgeries in babies while still in utero, yet at the same time, other doctors are aborting six-month old fetuses. There are still over 800,000 abortions performed a year in the U.S., yet there are many thousands of couples who desperately want children and a shortage of adoptable children in the U.S. Like I said, we've got a disconnect here. I hope hearts continue to change.
" 'I just thought I can't do this anymore, and it was just like a flash that hit me and I thought that's it,' said Abby Johnson in an interview with local news network KBTX 3."
"Johnson had been affiliated with Bryan's Planned Parenthood facility for eight years, and worked as its director for two. She said she began to feel uncomfortable with Planned Parenthood's business philosophy after the organization, suffering from the economic downturn, told her to try to bring more abortions in the door. 'The money wasn't in family planning, the money wasn't in prevention, the money was in abortion and so I had a problem with that,' said Johnson."
"But the turning point for Johnson was reportedly when she witnessed an actual ultrasound image of an abortion being performed on an unborn child."
There's a number of excellent lectures in the Boston area this week, per The Pilot:
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Spiritual Traditions Lecture, Brighton -- Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry and its Church in the 21st Century Center are hosting a lecture tonight from 7-9 p.m., entitled "Old Gold: Reclaiming Some Traditional Spiritual Practices." Boston College's Theology Professor Thomas Groome will be leading the lecture on BC's Lower Campus in Corcoran Commons' Heights Room. This workshop of presentation and conversation intends to help reclaim some "old gold" in spiritual practices from the faith of our mothers and fathers that have been neglected and to learn from them on our own spiritual journeys. For more information call 617-552-6501 or visit www.bc.edu/stmce.
Sounds like an excellent lecture for Lent, when we are called to more prayer and reflection.
Wednesday, March 10 and Thursday, March 11, 2009
"The Feminist Case Against Abortion" Lecture, Cambridge -- Harvard Law School is hosting Serrin M. Foster, president of Feminists for Life, for her presentation of "The Feminist Case Against Abortion" at 7 p.m. in Pound Hall, Room 201 (Oops, that was yesterday, March 9). Recognized as one of the "Great Speeches in History" in an anthology on Women's Rights, Foster's landmark speech aims to further its nationwide revolution on campuses to educate students at highest risk of abortion about the nation's rich pro-life feminist heritage and to redirect the debate toward woman-centered solutions. Foster has led the organization since 1994, helping to produce the groundbreaking legislation The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act that puts into hyper-drive new pro-woman solutions on college campuses.
More precisely, the baby was wrapped in a plastic bag and dumped in a dumpster. While Islamists have their culture of death (suicide bombers, sacrificing their own children), here in the West we have our own culture of death:
How timely. Around the state on Wednesday January 21, hundreds of Catholic churches in Masschusetts (thousands across the country) are holding a Holy Hours for Life, an hour of prayer and eucharistic adoration, praying in solidarity with thousands of pilgrims going to Washington, DC for the annual March for Life. Most service are being held at 7:30 PM.
President Bush has been a staunch pro-life advocate:
“ 'All human life is a gift from our creator that is sacred, unique and
worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our
country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to
be born, has a special place and purpose in this world,' reads the
“...'The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the
innocent.... The sanctity of life is written in the hearts of all men and women... History
tells us that with a cause rooted in our deepest principles and
appealing to the best instincts of our citizens, we will prevail.' ”
Strange but true. I did a double-take while watching NECN this morning before leaving for work. NECN's resident "child and youth expert" Charlie Applestein talked about movies that can inspire children and help parents be better parents. You can watch the video here, Charlie is the guy in the Santa cap. First up was Cider House Rules. It was a very well done movie, a kind of coming-of-age story of young man raised in a Maine orphanage in the 1940's. It's based on a John Irving novel. Applestein initially talked about the scene where the orpanage director Dr. Larch says goodnight, every night, to all the boys in his care: "Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England."
Even these abandoned boys feel that someone loves them and has high expectations for them So far, so good. But Applestein goes even further, saying that "it's a wonderful movie and it's a movie you can watch with your kids." The NECN reporter questions how appropriate it is for family fare, noting the adult themes of the movie. Such as incest, abortion, knife fights, "adulterous" sex and drug abuse. It has a PG-13 rating. What better holiday fare than that? Let's get in the holiday spirit, shall we?
Cider House Rules is a staunchly pro-abortion movie. Dr. Larch performs abortions at his orphanage (illegal then), and Homer Welles the young protaganist is his reluctant apprentice. Homer comes of age when he performs an abortion on Rose, a Black teenager who's father (an apple farm laborer) has impreganated her. That's some "heroic journey", being willing to pick up the speculum and scraper. Abortion is treated reverently and sympathetically in Cider House Rules.This movie review captures the insidious nature of this movie, and the moral atrophy of our society, which retains its revulsion for incest, but has lost its revulsion for infanticide.
"....this man (Obama) has a deplorable record when it comes to prolife issues and is
possibly in the pocket of Planned Parenthood, which, in its origins,
was a very racist organization to eliminate the blacks, and it's sort
of ironic that he's been coopted by them. However, he is the president,
and everyone wishes him well, and we will try to work with him."
"Women who take oral contraceptives may have more plaque buildup in
their arteries, according to a new study conducted by researchers at
the University of Ghent, Belgium, and presented at a conference of the
American Heart Association."
"Researchers conducted a long-term
observational study on 1,300 healthy women living in the small town of
Erpe-Mere, Belgium. Approximately 81 percent of participants had taken
birth control pills for at least a year at some point in their lives,
and 27 percent were currently taking the contraceptives."
"According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 80 percent of U.S. women use oral contraceptives at some point between the ages of 15 and 44. Current users are estimated to number 16 million."
researchers conducted ultrasound examinations of the participants' leg
and neck arteries to measure levels of plaque buildup. Every 10 years
of oral contraceptive use was correlated with a 20 to 30 percent
increase in plaque buildup."
incredible that a drug which has been taken by 80 percent of women ...
is almost bereft of any long-term outcome safety data,' Rietzschel said."
This isn't new news, there have been several studies which observed this before. But I'm glad to see it's reaching more people - this study was linked at Drudge Report and Instapundit:
"A study by British scientists suggests that taking the Pill can change a
woman’s taste in men — to those who are genetically less compatible."
"...The Pill is thought to disrupt an instinctive mechanism that brings together
people with complementary genes and immune systems. Such a couple, by
passing on a wide-ranging set of immune system genes, increase their chances
of having a healthy child that is not vulnerable to infection."
"Couples with different genes are also less likely to experience fertility
problems or miscarriages. Experts believe that women are naturally attracted
to men with immune system genes different to their own because of their
"Commenting on the latest study, the researchers said that it could indicate
that the Pill disrupts women’s ability to judge the genetic compatibility of
men by means of their smell."
"They said that this might not only impact on fertility and miscarriage risk,
but could even contribute to the end of relationships as women who stop or
start taking the Pill no longer find their boyfriend or husband so
When I was younger, I used looked at pictures of the Cardinals at Rome with bewilderment. What did all these old, white Italian guys in their long robes and lace surplices have to do with my life? Why exactly were we Catholics supposed to follow what they said? What did they know?! As I get older, I realize that the Vatican was right about one thing after another after another. The Volokh Conspiracy points to an essay by Mary Eberstadt titled The Vindication of Humanae Vitae at First Things. From Volokh Conspiracy:
"In this vein I offer a provocative essay by Mary Eberstadt on birth control and the sexual revolution. She writes about it through the lens of the Papal Encyclical Humanae Vitae, but I'm interested in it here as a non-religious sociological analysis. My guess is that most readers will conclude that the sexual revolution was a net positive for society. Certainly there were major social and widespread individual benefits from the sexual revolution and birth control technology, and one suspects that many of these social benefits were unforeseen at the time as well. Increased personal autonomy, freedom, and social and economic opportunities for women are certainly important benefits of access to birth control that most of us will easily recognize. Nonetheless, while most readers will conclude that the benefits overall outweighed the costs, Eberstadt frames the issue in a way that certainly caused me to think more deeply about the full costs and benefits of these social developments."
The next quote comes from Eberstadt's article:
"Let’s begin by meditating upon what might be called the first of the secular ironies now evident: Humanae Vitae’s specific predictions about what the world would look like if artificial contraception became widespread. The encyclical warned of four resulting trends: a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments."
"Paul VI predicted, as well, that the institution of marriage would have trouble surviving 'the conjugal infidelity' that contraception makes easy. Far from strengthening marriage as the Supreme Court seems to have imagined, the advent of birth control left marriage in tatters, as the sexual revolution roared through town. If many more people use contraception today than they used to—and do so certainly with less shame—then why have divorce, abortion, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and venereal disease done nothing but increase since 1968?"
Those old Italian white guys - who have protected and who disseminate the Catholic Church's teachings about sexuality morality (among other things) - were right! Please read the whole thing.
P.S. The Cardinals are a more diverse lot these days, reflecting the growing numbers of Catholics from the African continent, China, South America, etc. Things change slowly in the Catholic Church, but they do change.
the Massachusetts communities that traditionally have high teen birth
rates, nine showed double-digit percentage increases in 2006, according
to new numbers published last month by the state Department of Public
Health. The spike in those larger cities and towns stands in contrast
to a 2 percent drop in the state's overall teen birth rate."
increases in Leominster, Fitchburg, and other Massachusetts communities
are occurring after years of dropping teen birth rates in many of these
towns and cities. The Centers for Disease Control reported a 3 percent
jump in the national teen birth rate in 2006."
It's a shame for these young ladies, for their children, and for the wider society. Parents and schools have no problem telling our kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol. But we can't seem to teach children that it's not good for them to be sexually active when they're young teens, that they should (at least) wait until they're older. We'd rather hand out condoms and encourage the very activity that puts them at risk. It's dangerous for them medically, emotionally, physically, and economically. I don't understand the squeamishness of so many adults on this issue.
According to the MA State Department of Public Health, the birth rate
among Hispanic teens in Massachusetts is almost six times that of their
non-Hispanic peers. The MA DPH further reports on consequences of teen mothers:
"According to the state Department of Public Health, teenagers
expecting a baby are more likely to smoke cigarettes while pregnant and
less likely to receive adequate prenatal care than other pregnant
women. And once born, according to studies, these children are more
prone than their peers to becoming teen mothers themselves or ending up
in prison or dropping out of high school."
Maybe more hospitals and police stations need a "wheel of innocence," which allows mothers to anonymously drop off their unwanted babies. Interesting article here about the first hospital to begin this practice, the Ospedale degli Innocenti in Florence, Italy, the "oldestknown institution continuously devoted to the welfare of children." It operated from 1445 to 1875. "The Ospedale degli Innocenti has cared for over 375,000 in its five and a half centuries, and continues to help care for abandoned children today."
"I'm proudly Jewish, but not at all religious. Quite frankly, I'm the very picture of the Chinese food-eating secular Jew who drives some of my more devout co-religionists batty. But I'm pro-life, and adamantly so. Unlike the often erroneous stereotype of the pro-life citizen, I didn't arrive at my position as a matter of religious faith. Rather, my conclusions flow strictly from logical inquiry."
"The big moral question regarding abortion is, 'When does life begin?' ......You might expect that since I'm pro-life, I would argue that life begins at conception. Actually, that's not quite right. In answering the question of when life begins, the best I can do is say 'I don't know.' Life may begin at conception. It may begin during pregnancy. Or it may begin at childbirth. While I have a feeling that life begins at conception, I certainly can't prove it.
To clarify my discussion below about Gardasil, Merck's HPV vaccine: I am not opposed to Gardasil, I am opposed to mandatory vaccinations at middle schools. Merck lobbied some twenty legislatures to this end, despite the paucity of clinical data on the effects of Gardasil on girls or on its long term effects. I think the decision to vaccinate girls should be up to the parents and their doctor, not to governors and Merck lobbyists.
I also wonder why no one is calling for vaccinating boys, when males can unknowingly transmit HPV to their sexual partners, and males can get genital warts (no day at the beach, that). Wouldn't boys benefit by Garadsil's (limited) protection against genital warts, which can lead to penile cancer and anal cancer? Some 500 men per year die in the U.S. of these cancers. This article at the BBC discusses vaccinating boys and homosexual men:
"Merck is currently testing the vaccine's efficacy in 4,000 men, including 500 men who have sex with men. And the US National Institute of Health is also carrying out trials to see what benefits it could have for people with HIV. Merck said its priority was to tackle cervical cancer, but has not ruled out giving the vaccine to other groups - including men who have sex with men."
"Roger Peabody of the Terrence Higgins Trust said if the trials were successful, there would be a good case for vaccinating young boys, not only to stop the spread of HPV to women, but to protect men against HPV-related disease. Dr Szarewski agreed, saying: "It is bad enough suggesting to people that their 12-year-old daughter might need a vaccine against a sexually transmitted infection. I would be interested to see the response of suggesting to parents that they should vaccinate their boys at 12 in case they become gay."
Many groups (including Planned Parenthood) seem to be willing to jab our 9- to 12-year old girls, why not jab the boys too?
"Increase spending on the state's universal immunization program by $24.8 million, a 67 percent increase over this fiscal year, to add three new vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the governor's office, the money would provide 71,334 infants with a vaccine for rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea and vomiting; 108,188 children with a vaccine that prevents bacterial meningitis; and 72,126 girls between the ages of 9 and 18 with a human papilloma virus vaccine, which helps prevent sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer."
I'm a bit on the fence on Garadsil, the HPV vaccine developed by Merck. I don't want to be "anti-science" of course it would be a good thing to prevent cervical cancer. However, I'm increasingly skeptical about Gardasil for a few reasons. First, there's Merck's push to make the vaccine mandatory:
"Just a few months after federal regulators approved a vaccine against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, more than a dozen states - including Maryland - are considering a requirement that girls entering middle school get it. One of the primary drivers behind the legislative push: Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures Gardasil, the only vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV, on the market."
"The vaccine is expected to reach $1 billion in sales next year, and state mandates could make Gardasil a mega-blockbuster drug within five years, with sales of more than $4 billion, according to Wall Street analysts. State legislatures that are considering requirements for school-age girls to be vaccinated against HPV include California, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures."
State legislatures are requiring vaccinations? Unlike diseases like measles or the whooping cough, one acquires HPV from sexual activity, not from sitting next to another student in the classroom. Not all health professionals think it's a good idea:
"But some medical experts say lawmakers are moving too fast in their efforts to vaccinate all school-age girls. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, is urging a go-slow approach, with an initial focus on raising public awareness of HPV and more monitoring of the safety of the vaccine,which had minimal side effects in clinical trials but hasn't been observed in larger-scale rollouts."
Is Merck using young girls as guinea pigs? Merck's clinincal testing was been done mostly on women, not on girls (20,541 women, and only 1,121 girls under 16). No one knows what the long-term effects are.
" 'A lot of us are worried it's a little early to be pushing a mandated HPV vaccine,' said Dr. Martin Myers, director of the National Network for Immunization Information. 'It's not that I'm not wildly enthusiastic about this vaccine. I am. But many of us are concerned a mandate may be premature, and it's important for people to realize that this isn't as clear-cut as with some previous vaccines.' "
"The AAFP feels it is premature to consider school entry mandates for human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) vaccine until such time as the long term safety with widespread use, stability of supply, and economic issues have been clarified."
Most people don't like to think about cost-benefit analyses when it comes to their health or the health of their children, but everything has its price. The millions of dollars that Massachusetts spends on this vaccine is money that won't go to other deserving, effective programs. Gardasil is the most expensive vaccine ever developed. It requires three vaccinations over a six-month period ($360 for the doses plus doctor's fees), with a booster shot needed every five years. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal examined the cost/benefit of Gardasil, and found it poor. Gardasil has a much higher cost than expanding pap smear testing, which is an excellent way to detect this treatable disease.
While it is very tragic that 3,700 women are expected to die of cervical cancer in the U.S. this year, rates of cervical cancer have been dropping for more than 30 years. (Not so overseas, far more women in undeveloped countries die of cervical cancer.) More than ten times as many women will die of breast cancer. Heart disease, the leading killer of women, will kill almost 500,000 women a year. Spending $25 million of tax dollars on those diseases, instead of on Gardasil, could save literally thousands more lives.
Yet because Merck has such effective lobbyists, many states (including Massachusetts) are considering mandatory vaccinations. I'm not liking that. I want publicly-funded medical interventions to be based on long-term medical studies and on a cost-benefit analyses, not on Merck's lobbyists.
Jill over at Business of Life has an excellent post on the what widespread availability of abortion has led to in China and India, which is millions of fewer girl babies and too many young men without a the possibility of marrying. Those demographics are leading to greater violence and crime, creating quite a societal problem for these two countries, especially China, which has 40 million bachelors.
Meanwhile, back in the USA (where we abort without particular attention to the sex of the child), there have been psychic costs to indivuals and to our society too. Jill points to a four-part series at ShrinkWrapped about the availability of abortion on demand, and how it has affected women (and men) who had elective abortions, children, and our society. One poignant excerpt:
"Consider the impact of a child growing up in a society which believes that a child is a gift from the Deity. A child in such a culture knows that their surround considers them precious above and beyond the love they may receive from their all too human and fallible parent. While such an "archaic" notion opens one up to ridicule in the precincts of sophisticated thought where the liberal pro-choice views hold sway, it was the prevailing wisdom not that long ago. In contrast, a child who is growing up in a culture which idealizes the freedom of women to abort for no more reason than her comfort or convenience, is a culture that fundamentally does not value children. Children who experience themselves as commodities whose existence serves the needs of others, have a natural tendency to treat themselves and others as mere 'need satisfying objects. '"
ShrinkWrapped has changed his ideas about abortion over the years:
"It was through my work with Susan, and work with a number of other people touched by the tragedy of abortion, that I began to re-assess my conviction that abortion was a relatively minor, ultimately harmless exercise and that a woman’s right to choose was sacrosanct."
"At this point I have concluded that the only possible option for myself is to remain in a state of some conflict over the question. I can see no way to understand abortion as anything but the killing of child. I long ago concluded, along with Mrs. SW that, even in the event of an unexpected pregnancy, we could not choose to terminate our child. I have concluded for myself that the child’s right to life must trump the mother’s right to choose at the time of viability, which is now 22 weeks, though I do believe in exceptions for exceptional circumstances. I recognize that other people can come to different conclusions, but I also firmly believe that by short-circuiting the public discussion of what abortion means, we have done ourselves a terrible disservice."
"I have concluded that our society desperately needs to re-open the debate and discussion about abortion, which is really a debate about the value we place on our children and our future. .... For the most human of psychological reasons, I would like to see the Supreme Court repudiate and rescind Roe v Wade and return the debate to the people, where it belongs. In New York, where I live, abortion on demand is certain to be established as the law of the land. I suspect in Kansas, there will be a different outcome. Neither resolution will be fixed in stone; we will, as a nation, be forced to come to grips with what abortion means, to the individual and to our society... We will no longer be able to use facile intellectualization and rationalization to deny that abortion requires killing a living creature that by 22 weeks, ie, early in the second trimester, is a viable human being. The age of viability is being pushed closer and closer toward conception and we need to determine where the lines are to be drawn and how we are going to deal with the truth of the act."
Powerful stuff. The abortion debate does need to be re-opened. We have to stop pretending that taking a life is inconsequential.
A few items in the media this week about RU-486, the abortion pill. At NRO, there's a pointer to a Judicial Watch report about the Clinton administration's efforts to rush RU486 to market. Definite eugenic overtones in a letter from Ron Weddington, the co-counsel on Roe v. Wade, to President-elect Bill Clinton:
"You can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country. No, I'm not advocating some sort of mass extinction (sic) of these unfortunate people. Crime, drugs and disease are already doing that. The problem is that their numbers are not only replaced but increased by the birth of millions of babies to people who can't afford to have babies. There, I've said it. It's what we all know is true....We don't need more cannon fodder. We don't need more parishioners. We don't need more cheap labor. We don't need more poor babies."
According to The American Thinker, there is evidence in the Clinton files that Clinton pressured the FDA to approve RU486 without normal FDA review (The American Thinker mistakenly refers to RU486 as the "morning after" pill, which it is not).
"Worried about a bacterial infection that led to the deaths of at least five women who took the abortion pill RU-486, scientists from the nation's leading public health agencies will gather in Atlanta today for the first meeting in 10 years on the drug's safety."
"RU-486 by itself ends early pregnancies, but the pill is routinely given along with misoprostol, which causes uterine contractions that expel the dead fetus. After examining many studies, the F.D.A. in 2000 approved a protocol that requires women to take misoprostol orally..... Until March (2006), Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, continued to instruct its doctors to give misoprostol vaginally....But with the sixth death, in March, the organization now uses an oral protocol."
Women are dying from taking abortion pills, and Planned Parenthood continues to say "It's safe and effective"? If any other drug (say, a heart medication or diet pill) resulted in six womens' deaths, feminists would be demanding that the drug be taken off the market immediately. But not the sacred abortion pill.