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BY Jim Cosgrove
FBI Investigating Sales of Fetal Body Parts
REUTERS, March 11 — The FBI in Kansas City, Missouri, has launched a probe into the marketing of fetal tissue, reported the news service.
“We are investigating possible criminal violations in the marketing of fetal tissue to determine if there is a violation of federal criminal law,” FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza told Reuters.
Earlier this month, members of a House Commerce subcommittee called on Attorney General Janet Reno to open an investigation into the selling of fetal tissue after a Kansas City-area pathologist was featured in an ABC News undercover report about the alleged selling of fetal body parts for profit.
The pathologist, Dr. Miles Jones, was recorded by a hidden camera discussing making thousands of dollars a week selling fetal parts.
Jones was subpoenaed to testify before the committee and was held in contempt of Congress when he failed to appear.
Two Hawaiian Suicides Linked to Final Exit Video
HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN NEWS, March 7 — Two people who suffered from depression used the same method to kill themselves as described on a controversial guide to committing suicide that was aired on public access television, reported the Honolulu Star-Bulletin News.
The victims, who suffocated themselves, were pronounced dead within two days of the showing, the Honolulu medical examiner's office said. Dr. Kanthi von Guenthner, first deputy medical examiner, said she has never seen two suicides using the same method occur on the same weekend.
“I don't think this was coincidence,” von Guenthner told the News. “Once they see the method, it encourages them to practice it.”
The video, Final Exit, was based on a best selling book by Derek Humphry.
The victims, a man in his 60s who was depressed over a failed relationship and a woman in her 40s with a history of clinical depression, were not chronically ill, von Guenthner said to the News.
Assisted Suicide Comes to New York
SYRACUSE HERALD-JOURNAL, March 3 — New York State Supreme Court Justice James Tormey ordered that nutrition and hydration be withheld from Sheila Pouliot, a 42-year-old mentally and physically retarded patient at University Hospital, reported the Herald-Journal.
Doctors testified in court that the judge should order the euthanasia saying that her worsening condition would see her “die by millimeters.” “Her body is basically starting to devour itself,” one of the doctors testified.
“I believe anyone who has any compassion for a person in a situation like Sheila Pouliot would not file an appeal of my order,” Tormey told Assistant Attorney General Winthrop Thurlow. The judge said he thought it “unconscionable” to continue the hydration treatment, given its consequences for Pouliot, reported the Herald-Journal.
Thurlow vigorously objected to terminating hydration for Pouliot. “I believe withholding of nutrition and hydration represents assisted suicide, which is not permitted under New York law,” Thurlow said.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Beatty Clarifies His Stance on Abortion
WEEKLY STANDARD, Nov. 15—In September E-journalist Matt Drudge claimed that Warren Beatty, after having three children, became pro-life.
The Register and other media reported Drudge's claim ("Actor Warren Beatty Says He's Pro-Life,” Oct. 17–23, 1999).
But the claims are “not true,” reports the Weekly Standard.
Beatty explained to students at the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government the conversation he had with Matt Drudge.
According to the Weekly Standard, “Beatty said that Drudge asked him, ‘Now that you have three kids, how do you feel about abortion?’ I said, ‘It really makes you think.’”
The magazine wrote, “Then Beatty stammered a bit and looked uncomfortable (as he did in response to numerous questions) but recovered in time to conclude with the unflinching reaffirmation, ‘I'm pro-choice.’”
Abortion Facilities Operate Without Proper Licensing
CLEVELAND RIGHT TO LIFE, Nov. 2—A review of records from the Ohio Department of Health confirmed that 17 of the 21 freestanding abortion clinics in Ohio were illegally operating without the proper licensing required by Ohio law, said Cleveland Right to Life in a statement.
Cleveland Right to Life immediately notified the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. J. Nick Baird, and Ohio Governor Robert Taft, who it says is pro-life.
Denis Mackura, of Cleveland Right to Life, appealed to fellow pro-lifers in the Buckeye State to shut down abortion facilities operating illegally.
“If we don't keep up the pressure on the department, their response will be the weakest possible — like giving them time to comply, or leveling a slight financial penalty. Even if we could only shut the clinics down for a month or two, it would be a great victory — and many lives would be saved. And of course, it also will help the public understand that abortion facilities are not the safe, clean havens they pretend to be,” said Mackura.
Canada Approves “Morning-After” Pill
TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL, Nov. 5—Canada has approved the “morning-after” pill, used to abort the tiniest of humans, said the Globe.
The government's health department quietly gave its approval in March, a department spokeswoman said, but news of the approval only emerged in late October as the manufacturer prepared for its advertising campaign.
A spokeswoman for Roberts Pharmaceutical Canada Inc. aimed to distinguish the pill, Preven, from RU-486, the dangerous French-made abortion drug which can kill an unborn child up to seven weeks after conception.
Roberts will market the abortion drug in Canada, though it is made by the New Jersey-based Gynetics, Inc. Approved in the United States back in 1998, Preven must be taken within 72 hours after the child is conceived. Pro-lifers expressed health concerns over the drug.
“We feel that it can be very dangerous to women. However, our major objection arises because it is abortifacient — it causes an early abortion,” Campaign Life Coalition spokeswoman Karen Murawsky said.
“Once a sperm and an egg meet and the egg is fertilized, you then have a new human being, one that is biologically accurate. You have the total DNA, you have everything that ever will be.”
Preventing the implantation was “like putting a newborn child in a desert and walking away.”
Campaign Life Coalition said in a statement the group would boycott of “all products produced by Roberts Pharmaceuticals and pharmacies which dispense the drug.”
In the United States, Wal-Mart has declined to sell Preven, said the Globe.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Nurse Testifies Against Infanticide
ILLINOIS RIGHT TO LIFE, Nov. 1—Jill Stanek, the nurse who told the Register and other media about the practice of “therapeutic abortions” tat Christ Hospital, recently wrote reflections for the Illinois Right to Life newsletter.
In “therapeutic abortions” infants are born live and then given “comfort care” while they are allowed to asphyxiate or starve.
“We did such a thing almost exclusively to rid ourselves of babies with physical or mental handicaps. These handicaps could range from being fatal in nature such as having no brain or severe hearing abnormalities to being non-fatal but ‘marked by substantial uncertainly or variability’ such as spina bifida or Down Syndrome.”
After hearing about the horrifying procedure, it took her Stanek a few years before she realized that she needed to do something.
“What began with my writing a letter to the powers that be at my hospital has steadily mushroomed to nationwide public knowledge of this atrocity and federal and state investigations. As I write this, I do not know the end of the story.
“Christ Hospital and its parent company Advocate Health Care Systems appear to be set on defending and continuing their abortion practice. I wish they'd realize against whom they are fighting, because if they did I believe they would see that they are fighting in vain. Their fight is not really against the media or even the pro-life or Christian communities. It is against the person their hospital is named after, Christ himself.”
Abortionists Challenging Ind. Waiting Period Law
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Nov. 2—Women wishing to abort their children have to wait 18 hours after consulting with a medical expert under an Indiana law.
Pro-lifers insist that it's a way to ensure women know about the potential risks and complications.
Agroup of abortion lawyers are challenging the constitutionality of the 1995 law in federal court because it places what opponents call an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.
The law has the effect of making women take two trips to the clinic, which is difficult for poor women, Janet Crepps, an attorney for the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Law and Policy told the AP.
The current lawsuit was delayed until now because of a similar case being considered by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reviews federal court cases from Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. That court in August ruled that Wisconsin's in-person requirement did not pose an “undue burden” to women, a decision that could make the current legal battle difficult for opponents of Indiana's counseling law.
Historian Silences Feminists' Pro-Life Views
FEMINISTS FOR LIFE, Nov. 3—Ken Burns' documentary, Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony does not tell their whole story.
Burns became famous for his comprehensive documentaries of the Civil War and baseball, but he was more selective about the history of the women's movement, the Washington-based organization said.
“Without known exception, the early American feminists opposed abortion,” said FFL President Serrin Foster, “but you won't learn this by watching PBS.”
Like many feminist papers of the day, Anthony and Stanton's Revolution often editorialized against abortion while simultaneously identifying the root causes that drove women to abortion. They referred to abortion as “child murder, infanticide, feticide.”
“Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and other feminist foremothers provide a rich history of pro-woman, pro-life activism that continues to inspire us today. By providing ample documentation to Florentine Films, Burns' production company, FFL had hoped that their whole story would be told. Burns chose to ignore what the early feminists would not — abortion,” said the group in a statement.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Conscience Clause Left Out of Calif. Bill
CALIFORNIA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE, Sept. 13—Two bills that would require all insurance plans in the state of California to offer contraceptive coverage, without exceptions for Catholic health institutions, is before the California Senate. The bill's sponsors have rejected a version that would allow a conscience clause for Catholic institutions. The bill was scheduled to be be debated before Sept. 17 in the opposite house. An amendment containing a respectful conscience clause will be offered in the Senate before the final vote is taken.
Bishop Participates in Prayer Vigil
PRO-LIFE ACTION LEAGUE, Sept. 9—The Most Rev. Raymond E. Goedart, vicar general for the Archdiocese of Chicago, will be the main celebrant at a pro-life Mass on Sept. 25, at St. Joseph's Church in Chicago.
After the Mass, Bishop Goedart will join the congregation in a prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion facility nearby. The Mass and prayer vigil follow a method of prayer and compassion for mothers and their unborn babies developed by Msgr. Philip J. Reilly of Brooklyn, N.Y., executive director of the group “Helpers of God's Precious Infants,” which organized the Chicago event.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago led a similar event in his diocese in June, drawing a crowd of some 1,000 worshippers. Since 1989, fifty bishops and four cardinals have participated in Helpers' Prayer Vigils at abortion clinics in their respective dioceses and archdioceses throughout the country, according to a press release issued by the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League.
Bill Gates to Hear From Pro-Lifers
AMERICAN LIFE LEAGUE, Sept. 18—The Washington-based pro-life organization American Life League is beginning a campaign to convince Bill Gates, the world's richest man, to stop donating money to population control groups.
The initial thrust of the campaign is an effort to obtain a personal meeting between Gates and Judie Brown, the president of American Life League, said the organization.
Brown has said that she thinks Gates has “the best of intentions,” but that he is being “misled in his philanthropic activities.” Brown intends to place ads in the East Side Journal, a Seattle newspaper, to reach Gates through the media if she can't get a personal appointment. In the ads, Brown hopes to convey to Gates that the world's population problem is one of too few children, not too many, a statement issued by the American Life League said.
The Sept. 12 New York Times featured a front page story on the William and Melinda Gates Foundation, which, with over $17 billion to give away, is the largest charitable trust in the World.
Brown might want to go through the elder Gates, however, if she wants a hearing. According to the Times article, Gates has handed control of his philanthropic work over to his father, Bill Gates Sr., because he's too busy to handle it.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Abortion Clinic Abuses Studied
ELLIOT INSTITUTE, Aug. 18-State attorneys general may soon be prosecuting abortion clinics for deceptive business practices, the Elliot Institute reported in an Aug. 18 statement.
The Institute, a research and education group, is working with individuals and organizations around the country to collect complaints about abortion's risks.
The goal of the project, entitled Expose Deceptive Abortion Practices, or EDAP, is to “prove to state attorney generals what we already know to be true — that the abortion industry is willfully deceiving women about the dangers of abortion,” said Elliot Institute director David Reardon, Ph.D.
The Elliot Institute has prepared a brochure describing its nationwide project, which includes a survey to collect preliminary data about what information was denied to each woman. Women who fill out the surveys may later be asked to make a formal complaint to the attorney general, which can be done anonymously.
“When we have lined up a hundred or more complaints in each state, we will work with groups in that state to coordinate a flood of complaints to their attorney general's office,” Reardon said.
Courts Beef-Up Animal Rights Law
THE NEW YORK TIMES, Aug. 18-Protecting the rights of animals has become a hot issue in U.S. courts and law schools recently.
A cadre of passionate attorneys specializing in animal rights law announced Aug.17 that the annual pigeon shoot in Hegins, Pa., was canceled after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court put pressure on local organizers,the New York Times reported.
Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that a zoo visitor could be given the legal standing to sue the government so that it would issue regulations on improved living arrangements and amenities for chimpanzees.
Several other groundbreaking animal rights cases have been argued before the nation's courts in the past year, and small firms specializing inp animal rights law have appeared on the legal scene. A scholarly journal that serves the animal rights movement has been published at Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., for the last five years.
In 1994, 44 states considered animal cruelty a misdemeanor; today, 27 states consider animal abuse a felony, with fines reaching $100,000 and >prison terms up to 10 years.
Abortion Drop in Wisconsin Reported
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Aug. 11-The State of Wisconsin has released its annual report on the number of induced abortions for 1998. The report indicated that 1,500 fewer abortions were reported last year than in 1997, continuing a trend in Wisconsin that began about ten years ago. The only increase in abortions reported in Wisconsin during the last decade was from 1995 to 1996, when the number jumped by 891.
But this year's figures indicate a full 35% fewer abortions in 1998 than in 1997. Wisconsin residents between the ages of 5 to 44 had 10 abortions per 1,000 women last year. That was half the rate of abortions performed per 1,000 women nationally in 1996, which is the most recent year for which data is available, the Associated Press reported.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Abortion Advocates Targeting State Laws
INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, Aug. 17-The newspaper reported that in Indiana and Arizona, abortion advocates are using the courts to force the issue of taxpayer-funded abortions.
“Officials with the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York filed lawsuits last week seeking more state funding for abortions in Arizona and Indiana. They want the states to use state Medicaid funds to pay for abortions that are supposedly medically necessary,” said the report.
In Indiana, such an act would go against state laws which direct that state Medicaid funds to be used for abortions when the woman's life is in danger or when the woman is a victim of rape or incest, it said.
The lawsuit's backers retort that Indiana's policies are violating its own state constitution by not providing equal protection for pregnant women, said the report.
Richard Coleson, general counsel for Indiana Citizens for Life, criticized the move.
“Many people in Indiana and other states are morally opposed to abortions,” Coleson told the paper. “They should not be forced to pay for things that they are morally opposed to.”
Abortion Practitioner Embraces Abortion-Crime Study
OTTAWA CITIZEN, Aug. 20-Reported the Canadian daily, “A controversial study supposedly linking abortion to lower crime rates in the United States has been greeted with enthusiastic approval by Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian abortion practitioner. And he claims that higher abortion rates have significantly reduced the number of people suffering from mental illness and emotional disorders.”
Reporting that Morgentaler had suspected a connection between the two phenomena more than four years ago, it quoted him saying:
“It was clear to me that if, over the years, poor women would have the option of abortion, fewer unwanted children would be born — children who are more prone to be neglected and poorly treated.”
Morgentaler's own life has a link between abortion and alleged crime. The paper noted that he was jailed for 10 months in 1975 for performing illegal abortions, but was later cleared in a second trial, the paper noted.
India to Crack Down on Sex Selection Abortions
BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, Aug. 14-The Indian Medical Association and the Medical Council of India have asked doctors to stop providing sex determination services and participating in selective abortion of female unborn children, reported the British Medical Journal.
“The association has said that it will launch independent investigations against those people suspected of being involved in such practices and will advise the council to revoke licenses of errant doctors,” said the report.
“This is the first time since the Indian parliament outlawed sex selection abortions five years ago that medical institutions are trying to step up pressure. Sex determination and selective abortion of female unborn children is widespread in India. Non-government organizations in India, such as the Voluntary Health Association, estimate that hundreds of thousands of unborn children are aborted each year only because they are female. One study of several hospitals in Bombay alone found 80,000 cases of sex selection abortions over a five year period.
“The practice stems from a sex bias against female children in India and has contributed to India's declining proportion of females to males; the ratio dropped from 935 males for every 1000 females in 1981 to 927 for every 1000 in 1991. In certain communities in the northern states of Bihar and Rajasthan the ratio has plummeted to 600 for every 1000, one of the lowest in the world.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Ohio Judge Rejects Death Sentence
AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, May 25—A Wayne County judge has rejected a jury's recommendation for the death penalty in the 1998 murder of a retired Air Force officer.
“Instead of sending Gregory D. Crawford, 37, to death row, Common Pleas Judge Mark K. Wiest handed down the only alternate sentence allowed by Ohio law: life in prison with no possibility of parole,” reported the Akron Beacon Journal.
It was only the fifth time since 1981 that a jury's verdict of death was overturned.
The judge said he was “not firmly convinced death is the appropriate punishment,” reported the paper.
Crawford was convicted of bludgeoning Gene O. Palmer, 55, during a robbery at abarn near his home.
Palmer never regained consciousness and died 72 days later.
The jury deliberated two days before convicting Crawford of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, burglary and grand theft of a motor vehicle, said the paper. Six days later,during the penalty phase of the trial, the jury returned a recommendation for the death penalty.
“Wiest disagreed, citing several factors in Crawford's background that argued for mercy, including his ‘relative youth,’ normal intelligence and good behavior while awaiting trial in the county jail, where he underwent a religious conversion,” the paper stated.
An attorney with the Ohio Public Defender's office specializing in capitalcases, Richard Vickers, said “that a life sentence, with the possibility of doing something productive while in prison, is appropriate for someone ‘who doesn't pose a dangerto other inmates or corrections officers,’” the paper reported.
Forbes to Ask Princeton To Shun ‘Professor Death’
THE WASHINGTON TIMES, May 24—Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, a member of the board of trustees at Princeton University, said he will ask the school's president to rescind the appointment of bioethicist Peter Singer, The Washington Times reported.
Singer, 52, who teaches at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, advocatesthe killing of certain disabled babies within the first month of their lives and is scheduled to arrive at the university July 1, said the report.
His theories on the value of human life have not only drawn fire abroad, “but also in this country where he has earned the label of ‘Professor Death,’” said the paper.
“Others have called him ‘a bigot against people with disabilities.’”
Singer welcomes the opportunity to work in the United States, said the report.
Harold Shapiro, Princeton's president and head of President Clinton's National Bioethics Advisory Commission, defended the hiring and said Singer was “internationally ‘revered,’ and would spark a vigorous debate among students,” said the paper. “He characterized Mr. Singer's views on the efficacy of killing the disabled as ‘provocative.’”
Mary Jane Owen, director of the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities, described Singer's hiring as “a disservice not only to Princeton but the nation,” said the paper.
Singer “lacks knowledge and sensitivity about the commonality of human vulnerability and fragility.”
In the report, Owen added, “The American spirit is that we've alwaysadmired persons who overcome challenges.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Suicide Is Not a Treatment
LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 4—The paper reported that an earnest debate had begun in the state legislature over physician-assisted suicide with the introduction of Assembly Bill 1592.
“Unfortunately,” the article stated, “although this measure is born out of a sincere desire to help suffering people, it does so in the worst possible way.”
The paper described the assembly bill as not only leading society down the dangerous slippery slope of euthanasia but undermining California's accomplishments in addressing individuals suffering from pain.
The Times reported that Derek Humphrey, a leading proponent of euthanasia, has just released a book titled Freedom to Die in which he admits cost containment is an ultimate goal: “A rational argument can be made for allowing [assisted suicide] in order to offset the amount society and family spend on the ill, as long as it is the voluntary wish of the mentally competent terminally ill adult . … The hastened demise of people with only a short time left would free up resources for others. Hundreds of billions of dollars could benefit those patients who not only can be cured but who want to live.”
However, the paper said, “California must continue down the humanitarian path of treating pain in suffering individuals — not authorizing HMO administrators to end lives to bolster their bottom line.”
Freshmen Reveal Surprisingly Conservative Views
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, April 6—College students are no longer showing up at home with more than just their usual baggage. The paper reported that this year's college freshmen may have also brought home some surprises for spring break. “They include conservative views on casual sex, abortion and other issues,” said an article in the News.
“A comprehensive survey of this year's college freshmen finds a host of areas where young adults are taking decidedly different turns on issues than previous generations of students. From the lowest support ever for casual sex and keeping abortion legal, to questions of law and order and even their goals in life, the differences are sometimes wide,” said the article.
The paper reported that Chris Gillott, chairman of Pennsylvania State University's Young Americans for Freedom, said “their members are more conservative than their parents.”
The paper added that he said young adults are looking for a return to religious or more traditional moral values after the legacy left by the baby boomers.
BY Jim Cosgrove
A Pharmacist Revolt Over Abortion Pills?
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, March 28—New pills called “emergency contraception” threaten to turn pharmacists into abortion providers, and some of them don't like it, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Pharmacist associations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and numerous other states have responded to concerns about emergency contraception, as well as the specter of assisted-suicide drugs and the abortion pill RU-486, by adopting ‘conscience-clause’ guidelines that affirm pharmacists' right to refuse to fill prescriptions on moral, ethical or religious grounds. They also have pushed for legislation to protect druggists from retribution,” said the report. “Emergency contraceptives” prevent an embryo from implanting in the uterus, thus causing an early abortion.
Abortion supporters argue that pharmacists should be expected to help find alternate providers for pills they won't prescribe, said the report. But it cited one organization, Pharmacists for Life, which retorted, “any accommodation amounts to cooperation in abortion.”
“Pharmacists for Life urges its 1,500 members to refuse to fill not only emergency contraception but all birth-control prescriptions — pills, implants, injections and intrauterine devices — because of the chance, no matter how remote, of disrupting implantation of a fertilized egg,” noted the report.
The Kevorkian Slope
NEW YORK POST, March 27—The headline of the editorial made no bones about its view of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. “Dr. Death, Murderer,” it said.
“At long last, a jury got it right,” the New York Post editorial began in its treatment of the Pontiac, Mich. jury's verdict in the death of Thomas Youk, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's Disease . A videotape of his death by injection of fatal drugs was broadcast on the CBS television show “60 Minutes.”
The editorial noted that the case shows the consequences of legalizing assisted suicide. “The first victims will be those who — in a state of depression — declare that life is no longer worth living, whether or not they are terminally ill. The next step on the slippery slope is state-sanctioned murder, as practiced in Nazi Germany, when officials declared that someone's quality of life was impaired. ... “It's a truly frightening prospect, and we can only hope that yesterday's verdict puts a giant roadblock in the way of Kevorkian's murderous parade,” it concluded.
U.N. Conferees Target U.S. ‘Human Rights Abuses’
THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 28—At the United Nations annual meeting on human rights in New York, officials singled out their host country for criticism, reported the Times.
Said the paper, “The sharpest blow came from ally Germany, whose foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, announced that the 15-member European Union for the first time would submit an anti-death-penalty resolution to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.”
“He told delegates from the 53 member countries that the resolution was intended to prevent ‘the execution of minors, of the mentally ill, enforcement before completion of ongoing procedures, and extradition to countries where the death penalty is in force.’” The paper said, “Fischer did not single out the United States by name, but Germany protested when Arizona executed two German-born men earlier this year.”
“On the commission's opening day, Amnesty International for the first time placed the United States on its list of human rights violators, in the company of Algeria, Cambodia and Turkey, among others, because of police brutality, violations against people in detention and more executions,” said the report.
BY Jim Cosgrove
What Do the Statistics Mean?
AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHICS, February 1999—A recent article asked,“Do 57% of Americans think abortion is wrong? Or do 69% think a woman should be able to get an abortion?” According to the report in American Demographics, both poll results are valid. “The difference is all in the way the questions are worded.”
As part of a regular Newsweek poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates asked a series of questions about abortion in late 1998. The response to one question—"Do you personally believe that abortion is wrong?" — seemed to indicate strong support for the pro-life view. A total of 57% of the public answered that abortion is wrong.Thirty-six percent said abortion is not wrong.
But, according to the report, “the very next question found results that the pro-choice side couldn't help but like:‘Whatever your own personal view of abortion, do you favor or oppose a woman in this country having the choice to have an abortion with the advice of her doctor?’ On this question, 69% said they favor a woman having the choice to have an abortion. Only 24% said no.”
How can these two sets of numbers be reconciled? Isn't the public taking two opposing views on abortion at the same time? asked the article.
Its answer:The public is listening to the exact questions and giving a nuanced set of answers.Poorly stated or slanted questions simply generate confusing and often meaningless results, it said. It's impossible to understand a poll's findings without knowing the exact wording of the questions.
So what is the best thing to do? “The next time someone quotes a poll to you, make sure you ask:‘What was the question?’” suggests the report.
N.Y. Gov. Urges Removal of GOP Plank on Abortion
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, March 13—At a time when the Republican Party is struggling to overcome strong internal disagreements on abortion and other social issues, New York Gov. George Pataki told the Calif. Daily, it is “time to remove the anti-abortion plank from the party's platform.”
The plank in question reads, in part, “The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,”according to the report. It goes on to call for a constitutional amendment banning abortions.
Said the report, Pataki said that the platform should recognize “diverse opinions” on abortion.In a report by the Associated Press, Pataki said, "Where there are differences, such as on the question of abortion, I think we should just recognize … the existence of a diversity of opinion, tolerate that diversity of opinion and have a big-tent type of philosophy.”
But in 1990, when Pataki, then a state assemblyman and chairman of the state GOP platform committee, set off a battle with other party members when he fought to have an anti-abortion plank removed from the state platform, said the report.The battle led to a poor GOP showing in that fall's gubernatorial election, won by the Democrat, Mario Cuomo.
Minnesota Law Fuels a Hot Debate
U.S. NEWS & World Report, March 22— “Pro-life” groups and “pro-choice” activists can agree on one thing, according to a recent article. “Minnesota's new abortion reporting requirements are the nation's most comprehensive.” “What they can't agree on is what impact they will have,” it said.
“The rules require doctors to pinpoint why patients want abortions by using a 10-point checklist that includes motives ranging from "emotional health" to "economics" to "does not want children at this time." Doctors must also record the number of abortions they perform, in addition to post-abortion complications and the woman's method of payment,” it said.
Although the new requirements took effect last year, the state health department won't begin compiling the data until April 1, it said. But pro-life groups that helped push the reporting law through last year's legislative session hope the new data yield a better understanding of abortion. "If we could find out why women are having abortions, maybe there is a way to address the issue in terms of public policy," says Jackie Schwietz of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, told the magazine. She hopes the law becomes a model for other states.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Dr. Death Has Another Day In Court
U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, March 20—No jury will convict Jack Kevorkian for helping a suffering person die, said an article in U.S. News and World Report. But they may convict him for first-degree murder.
The trial was scheduled to open Mar. 22 and this time Kevorkian is charged with first-degree murder — not assisted suicide — in connection with the videotaped death of Thomas Youk. CBS's 60 Minutes aired the tape in November. “If he is convicted,” the report said, “Kevorkian could face life in prison.” “If Kevorkian is acquitted, opponents — and even some supporters — of assisted suicide worry that the jury will send the message that it's OK for physicians to administer fatal drugs to patients,” said the magazine. “The reason: This time, Kevorkian isn't merely arguing that doctors should be allowed to assist dying patients; he's arguing they should be the ones to do the deed, as he did when he injected the 52-year-old Youk with deadly drugs.”
Pro-Lifers Say Bush Isn't Pro-Life
MIAMI HERALD, March 21—A report in the Miami Herald said, “The decision by the nation's largest anti-abortion group to certify George W. Bush as “pro-life” has angered some abortion opponents who say the Texas governor does not deserve the label. Bush, early favorite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, “supports abortion, in all three trimesters, in cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother's life,” said the newspaper. The National Right to Life Committee last week urged GOP presidential contenders who oppose abortion not to attack each other but instead to focus on Vice President Al Gore, the likely Democratic nominee and an abortion rights supporter, it said. “There is no way [Bush's] stance can be described as pro-life,” Colleen Parro of the Republican National Coalition for Life told the newspaper.The National Right to Life Committee, with 3,000 chapters nationwide, issued a statement to clarify what it said was a misunderstanding about Bush's position on abortion, said the paper.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Buchanan Urges Congregation to Fight for Life
ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, March 8—“Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan capped a three-day campaign swing through Alaska with a brief spell at the pulpit Sunday, where he urged parishioners at the Anchorage Baptist Temple to take action in the fight for the right to life,” reported the Alaskan paper. Buchanan called the pro-life movement “God's cause … above all other today.” Four of Buchanan's eight Alaska stops — in Kenai, Fairbanks and Anchorage — were at right-to-life fund-raisers, reported the paper. “We've got to make both parties pro-life, and then we've got to get together and make all America pro-life again,” he told the Sunday congregation, according to the report. The paper also reported that Buchanan would visit several other states, among them North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.
Northern Ireland Bans Pro-Life Advertisement
BELFAST TELEGRAPH, March 9—The Northern Ireland newspaper reported that two Ulster radio stations banned a pro-life group from the air-waves. Citybeat and Downtown told the pro-life group Precious Life they could not run its advertisements. “The advertisements were part of an allout campaign by the group to oppose any change to abortion legislation in Northern Ireland.” It added that the County Antrim-based organization has already “bought advertising space on 70 billboards and 300 buses for the major publicity campaign.” Bosses at Downtown said the advertisements were refused “because it might cause offense.” Sales director Ciaran Boyle told the paper, “We would avoid any ad which was likely to stir up a contentious public debate.” Citybeat station manager Simon Walker said his station had “referred the advertisement to the radio advertising watchdog … which advised them to drop it.” Walker added, “We run the risk of incurring a fine from the watchdog if we run politically sensitive advertising,” reported the paper.
Pro-Life Supporters Sue Over Taxes
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE, March 5—According to the newspaper report “more than 40 pro-life supporters have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Minnesota charging that the use of Medicaid funds for abortions violates their right to freedom of religion. The suit also argues that the court must adhere to federal rulings that public funds may be used for abortion only in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman's life.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the suit “seeks to overturn a December 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that a previous state ban on suing medical assistance funds for abortions interfered with a woman's so-called right to have an abortion because it added financial considerations to that decision.”