Solid Majority of U.S. House Members Vote to Prevent Abortions of Babies Who Can Experience Pain
In an historic vote last week, a solid majority of the U.S. House voted to reject the current abortion policy of the District of Columbia, which permits legal abortion for any reason until birth, and to replace it with a law that would generally prevent abortion after 20 weeks fetal age.
The legislation, H.R. 3803, is known as the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The vote was 220-154 in favor of the bill, a strong majority but short of the two-thirds vote required under the procedure used yesterday ("suspension of the rules").
Wisconsin Right to Life strongly supports the legislation. All five Republican members of Wisconsin's U.S. House delegation are co-sponsors of H.R. 3803 (Representatives James Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan, Tom Petri, Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble). Of the three Democratic members of the Wisconsin delegation, Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore were recorded as "not voting" and Ron Kind voted against the life-saving legislation.
In the bill, Congress adopts findings that by 20 weeks after fertilization (if not earlier), the unborn child has the capacity to feel great pain. The bill prohibits abortion after that point, except when an acute physical condition endangers the life of the mother.
Seven states have already enacted similar legislation. On July 30, a federal judge in Arizona upheld as constitutional a new state law that generally prohibits abortions after 18 weeks fetal age - two weeks earlier than H.R. 3803. U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg, a Clinton appointee, found that "by 20 weeks, sensory receptors develop all over the child's body" and "when provoked by painful stimuli, such as a needle, the child reacts, as measured by the increases in the child's stress hormones, heart rate and blood pressure." He also noted "Given the nature of D&Es and induction abortions...this Court concludes that the State has shown legitimate interest in limiting abortions past 20 weeks gestational age." But no sooner than the law been upheld by Judge Teilborg, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU filed an emergency appeal. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals then temporarily prohibited Arizona from enforcing the new law. The Arizona law will be on hold until the
appeal is decided. The panel said it would hold a hearing as soon as possible.
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), sponsor of the Senate companion bill (S.2103), which has 30 Senate co-sponsors, filed the bill as an amendment to an unrelated bill pending on the Senate floor, S. 3414.
Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee referred to last week's groundbreaking majority vote as "a giant step towards this bill ultimately becoming law - perhaps after the replacement of some of the lawmakers who today were unwilling to protect pain-capable unborn children in the sixth month of pregnancy and later."
Susan Armacost, Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life expressed the organization's appreciation to Representatives Sensenbrenner, Ryan, Petri, Duffy and Ribble for their co-sponsorship of the legislation. "We thank them for their care and concern for the most vulnerable members of the human family. Their compassion stands in stark contrast with Representative Ron Kind's vote that demonstrated an utter contempt for the value of human life. Pro-abortion Representatives Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore were recorded as 'not voting' so we are unable to comment about them beyond that - at least in regard to this particular legislation."
Dangerous Physician-Prescribed Suicide Ballot Measure in Massachusetts
Organizations that support physician- prescribed suicide have submitted more than the necessary number of signatures to place a pro-physician prescribed suicide measure on the ballot in Massachusetts in the 2012 general election. Organizations such as Compassion & Choices and the Death With Dignity Center have formed a coalition that calls itself “Dignity 2012.” The ballot measure is strongly opposed by the Massachusetts Alliance Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide, made up of disability rights groups and other state-based advocacy organizations.
Countless similar measure have been proposed for the past two decades across the nation in the form of ballot initiatives, court challenges and over one hundred legislative efforts. Despite the number of attempts, success for supporters of physician-prescribed suicide has been limited to legalization in only Washington and Oregon. Once the public was educated on the dangers of these measures, most states have rejected them.
But the Massachusetts Alliance Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide is rightly concerned about the November ballot measure in their state and is working to insure that their state does not follow in the footsteps of Washington and Oregon. They are educating Massachusetts citizens about the dangers of the ballot initiative.
Jennifer Popik, J.D. of the Robert Powell Enter for Medical Ethics points out the key points the organization making:
1. The proposed initiative cannot be legally restricted to only the competent.
While the ballot initiative that is currently being promoted claims to restrict doctor prescribed suicide to only the competent, there is no requirement that the patient be given a psychiatric evaluation. It is a well established psychological fact that nearly every terminally ill patient who desires death is suffering from treatable depression. This means that a physician, with no previous relationship with a patient, can prescribe suicide to that patient without even a specialist’s evaluation to see if there is common depression, or other judgment-impairing conditions.
Even more shockingly, State courts have ruled time and again that if competent people have a right, the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment requires that incompetent people be “given” the same “right.” Under the Massachusetts state constitution, this would also be the case. Consequently, a “surrogate” could direct doctor-prescribed death for those unable to make decisions for themselves, such as patients with an advance Alzheimer’s.
2. The proposed safeguards are extremely difficult to enforce.
Even if the safeguards were legally meaningful, which they are not, how would one go about enforcing them? Suppose that a cancer patient who has recently moved to Massachusetts requests doctor prescribed suicide and is given the lethal drugs. Then her daughter, who lives out of state, only finds out about it once her mother has committed suicide. Suppose the daughter knew her mother was being treated for early dementia in a nearby state. Not only would there be no legal requirement to notify the daughter, she also would have a very difficult time seeking legal recourse. Under the proposed initiative, the standard of care doctors are required to meet is lowered far below the regular standard of car in malpractice lawsuits.
What is even more disturbing is that in Washington and Oregon, death certificates are not permitted to give suicide as the case of death. Moreover, in those states the health department must destroy the required underlying reporting paperwork after only one year. This makes both potential litigation, and identifying true numbers of suicides very difficult.
3. While it is claimed that only religious and pro-life groups oppose these measures, the strongest opponent of these laws in the states are disability rights groups and medical societies.
One very outspoken group against the practice of doctor-prescribed death is the disability rights group “Not Dead Yet.” According to the group’s website, “Since 1983, many people with disabilities have opposed the assisted suicide and euthanasia movement. Though often described as compassionate, legalized medical killing is really about a deadly double standard for people with severe disabilities, including both conditions that are labeled terminal and those that are not.” There is a long list of national and state disability rights groups that join them in opposing these laws.
Additionally, on December 3 the Massachusetts Medical Society’s House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to retain the Society’s long-standing opposition to physician assisted suicide. The final tally was 178 to 56.
4. Not one person in Oregon has chosen suicide because he or she was in pain.
In Oregon, where doctor prescribed death has been legal for well over a decade, there have been several studies conducted through family members and even patients before they died about why they are using suicide. Shockingly, not one person has requested suicide because he or she was in pain. In fact, the studies show the predominate motive is fear of becoming a burden.
Moreover, modern medicine has the ability to control pain. A person who seeks to kill him or herself to avoid pain does not need doctor prescribed suicide, but a doctor better trained in alleviating pain.
5. There is evidence that the overall state suicide rate for teens and other will rise.
Oregon’s suicide rate, which excludes suicides under its physician-assisted suicide law, has been “increasing significantly” since 2000 according to a 2010 state-issued report. Moreover, the suicide rate in Oregon is a full 35% higher than the national average. Not attempting to prevent suicide in the very ill, and in fact encouraging it, appears to have also had an effect on suicide in general.
There is a lot at stake in Massachusetts. If the ballot measure is approved, doctors will be turned from healers into those who prescribe death to their most vulnerable patients.
Chen Guangcheng, who exposed China’s policy of forced abortions, meets with Congressional leaders
By Dave Andrusko, National Right to Life
Chinese pro-life human rights activist Chen Guangcheng met with Congressional leaders on August 1st, expressing doubts that the investigation the Chinese government promised into the abuses he and his family had suffered in China had even begun and renewed concern about the fate of his nephew.
After a harrowing journey that included four years in jail and more than 19 months under house arrest, Chen, who is blind, and his family were finally allowed to leave China in May. He is now studying at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at New York University’s School of Law
“Up until now — and it has been more than three months — I have not received any news on the progress of this investigation or even whether it has commenced,” Chen said through his interpreter. “Since my arrival in the United States, no Chinese government officials have contacted me.”
Significantly, he added, “If a case as high profile as mine can’t be handled properly in accordance with Chinese law and international legal norms, how are we able to believe that China will respect human rights and the rule of law?”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) hosted the bipartisan meeting with Chen. In his remarks following the meeting, Speaker Boehner referred to what Chen is best known for in the West: exposing China’s brutal policy of forced abortion and forced sterilization, part and parcel of its “One Child” policy.
“It’s truly an honor and privilege to welcome Mr. Chen to the United States Capitol. Like many Americans, I have followed his remarkable journey with great admiration for the courage he and his family have shown. Their example humbles us, it reminds us why we cherish life and freedom so much, and why we work so hard to preserve and protect these fundamental values. Let me also personally thank Mr. Chen and his family for the sacrifices they have made in the cause for human rights, religious freedom, and the rights of the unborn.
“While our economic relationship with China is important, the United States has an obligation to engage with China and press for democratic reforms and improvement in its human rights practices. We cannot remain silent when fundamental human rights are being violated. We cannot remain silent when religious liberty is under attack. And we cannot remain silent regarding China’s reprehensible ‘one-child’ policy.
“When it comes to guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of all her citizens, the Chinese government has a responsibility to do better, and the United States government has a a responsibility to hold them to account. Mr. Chen, thank you for coming today.”
Chen was candid and straightforward in his criticisms of the Chinese regime. “He said the human rights situation in China is deteriorating but change is inevitable as increasing numbers of citizens shed their fears and assert their rights,” the Associated Press reported. “He said equality, justice and freedom do not have borders, and the forces of history toward development and democracy ‘are something no one can stay in the way of.’”
As he has many times, including in an op-ed for the Washington Post, Chen talked about nephew Chen Kegui, “who has been charged with attempted homicide after he fought with local officials who stormed into his father’s house looking for Chen Guangcheng following his escape in late April,”” according to the AP. “Chen said his nephew had used a kitchen knife to defend himself to avoid being beaten to death.”
Where Do the U.S. Senate Candidates Stand on Life?
Where do the U.S. Senate candidates stand on life? This comparison sheet shows you the candidate's positions on abortion, taxpayer funding of abortion, keeping a minor girl's abortion secret from her parents, human cloning and whether health care workers who don't want to participate in abortion should be denied protections.
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This easy-to-use resource also includes helpful links to voting information for Wisconsin Voters, including links to help you find your voting district, where to vote, how to register and how to vote with an absentee ballot.
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Important Right-to-Life Links
Wisconsin Right to Life founded the Nightingale Alliance in 2002 and operates its website in partnership with Christian Life Resources. This is the site for important, up-to-date information on assisted suicide and euthanasia worldwide.
Do No Harm
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