National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

LIFE in 1998-VICTORIES and DEFEATS

BY Jim Cosgrove

December 27, 1998-January 2, 1999 Issue | Posted 12/27/98 at 1:00 AM

 

JANUARY

A Pro-Life Activist Returns to Jail

A judge in Pittsburgh sentences Joan Andrews Bell to serve three to 23 months in jail for violating terms of her probation after she joined a picket at an abortion clinic.

Healing From the Pain of Abortion

Rachel's Vineyard is a post-abortion healing ministry in many dioceses around the country and has spread to other countries. It was started by Barbara Cullen and psychologist Theresa Karminski Burke in the mid-1980s, and has helped hundreds of women heal through weekend retreats and a 13-week group counseling program.

FEBRUARY

Florida Women Brings Healing to Bosnia

Sandy Tobin managed to head regular missions from Pilgrims’ Peace Center in Florida, to bring aid to the people in and around Medjugorje, many of whom were forgotten after the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Chastity After the Sexual Revolution

Abstinence-only sex education programs struggle to gain a stronger foothold in the culture. Chastity educators in the United States note a few trouble spots in an otherwise favorable response to morality-based sex education. With the rise in the number of teenage pregnancies, abortion, and out-of-wedlock childbirth, many have look with renewed interest on chastity and abstinence as a remedy.

MARCH

Surrogate Motherhood in the Holy Land

Surrogacy becomes a subject for debate in Israel after a Jewish woman, hired by an infertile Jewish couple to serve as a surrogate mother, gave birth to twins. The local Catholic clergy reiterate Church teaching against fertility treatments such as artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood.

Underage Pregnancies in Britain Hit New High

More adolescent girls in Great Britain than ever before are taking the contraceptive pill, according to new figures. Meanwhile, a legal suit is launched against manufacturers of the pill by 170 women or their relatives who claim the contraceptive drug caused serious side effects or, in some cases, death.

APRIL

Pro-Lifers Maneuver to End Partial-Birth Abortion

Congress begins considering how to override President Clinton's veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. It was the second round of a political showdown that began in 1996 when Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) challenged on the floor of the Senate the late-term procedure known in the medical industry as dilation and extraction, or “D & X.”

Coast-to-Coast Walk Attracts Committed Young Pro-Lifers

Students from Franciscan University of Steubenville hit the road in a coast-to-coast walk to witness to life “from the womb to the tomb.” The annual walk was begun in 1995 by then student Steve Sanborn to provide American youths and Steubenville students with an impetus to speak out and witness to the value of human life.

Where Have All Italy's Children Gone?

The country most associated with the Church now has the world's lowest birth rate. Demographers warn that the low birth rate, coupled with one of the world's highest life expectancies, could produce disturbing consequences for Italian society. One of these is the reversal of the “age pyramid,” which means that people older than 65 are becoming much more numerous than those younger than 18.

Canadian Court Accords ‘Rights Status’ to Sexual Orientation

The Supreme Court of Canada delivered a sweeping decision on homosexual rights, using what some decry as an exercise of raw judicial power. The court unanimously ruled that the province of Alberta's human rights legislation must include sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds for discrimination. Instead of declaring the law unconstitutional as written, the Court decided to “read in” sexual orientation.

MAY

A Pro-Life Justice's Freedom To Speak is Upheld

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders, 52, is cleared of a reprimand he received for speaking in January 1996 to a pro-life group. Apanel of nine court of appeals judges ruled that he had not diminished public confidence in the judiciary with his remarks. A controversy brewed for two and a half years around Saunders after he spoke at a pro-life rally.

Pharmacists Point to Dark Side of ‘Beauty Pill’

Manufacturers of the birth control pill launch a new marketing campaign. Their target audience: teen-age girls seeking a clear complexion. Ortho Pharmaceutical Co. launches a major ad campaign touting their Ortho Tri-Cyclen birth control pills as dual-purpose: as a birth control pill and as a pill to help clear up or avoid acne. A “beauty pill,” according to the company. Pro-lifers such as Pharmacists for Life's Bo Kuhar fear that Ortho's new marketing campaign may be the sign of “more tricks to get young girls” to use birth control pills. He warned that the pill has bad physical side-effects.

Canadian Doctor Gets Two-Year Jail Term for Assisted Suicide

Church and pro-life organizations in Canada are appalled by a light jail sentence given a Toronto AIDS specialist Dr. Maurice Genereux for assisting in the death of a depressed but otherwise viable patient. Genereux prescribed powerful sleeping pills in 1996 to two depressed male patients who wanted to end their lives. Ontario Crown Prosecutor Attorney Michael Leshner described Genereux's actions as “the worst thing a doctor could have done.” He added that while a prison sentence was appropriate, the presiding judge should have sent a stronger message by way of a longer term.

JUNE

Prospects for Premature Babies Are Improving

Babies born prematurely aren't necessarily destined for death or life with severe disabilities, according to a study released at the Pediatric Academic Society's annual conference in New Orleans. The study debunks the popular notion that many babies will not survive or will suffer severe disabilities.

Jane Roe's Long Road to Truth

Norma McCorvey—the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade—speaks to the Register about how the deceit of abortion industry drew her in and brought her to the depths of anguish and confusion. That deceit began when she was told by attorneys that they could help her. Instead she never received the help she needed, was never asked to come to court, and was simply used to advance the so-called pro-choice agenda. A convert to the pro-life movement, McCorvey received confirmation in the Church.

House Vote Bans Funding for Abortion Pill RU-486

Pro-life forces score a major congressional victory in the fight against the abortion pill RU-486. The House adopts an amendment to prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from proceeding with activities related to the drug. The amendment stipulates that no federal money would be made available to the FDA"for testing, development, or approval (including approval of production, manufacturing, or distribution) of any drug for the chemical inducement of abortion.” The initiative passes 223-202.

Portugal's Voters Reject Attempt to Liberalize Abortion Law

The pro-abortion victory party planned in Portugal for the end of June never happens. Abortion advocates and the media predicted the first-ever referendum would result in the liberalization of the country's abortion laws. When the votes were counted though, pro-lifers were the ones claiming victory.

Study Confirms Creighton Method's Reliability in NFP

The Creighton Method of natural family planning (NFP) is roughly as effective as the birth control pill when used to avoid pregnancy, according to a 14-year, five-state study published in the June Journal of Reproductive Medicine.

JULY

Canada Softening Stand On New Reproductive Technology

Canadian Church groups raised concerns that the federal government may be backing away from a pledge to regulate a number of controversial practices in the new areas of reproductive technology.

Abstinence Education Gets a Boost in Ontario

Ontario Education Minister Dave Johnson announced that, beginning in September, the province's public schools must include information about abstinence in sex-education programs.

AUGUST

Bioethicist's Views Generate Controversy at Princeton

Princeton University hires an Australian bioethicist Peter Singer, 52, best known in this country for his views on animal rights but who has described people with birth defects and some disabilities as “defective.” National attention focuses on his controversial writings on euthanasia.

SEPTEMBER

A Pro-Life Credit Card

Vitae Corp. is trying to “change the world” by helping those groups fighting the battle on the front lines. Steve Thomas, director of Illinois-based Vitae, said the idea for the organization came after several years of working in the pro-life movement. Vitae seeks to raise funds for pro-life groups through a pro-life credit card.

‘Brain Death’ Issue Sparks Debate

At the Catholic Medical Association's annual convention in New York, a debate ensues over “brain death.” Dr. Paul Byrne, the outgoing CMA president, says “brain death” is a non-medical term that was invented to allow the harvesting of vital organs from patients who may be dying but not yet dead. Taking organs in such cases actually kills the patient, he states.

Canadian Pro-Life Activist Jailed For Her Silent Witness

The arrest of pro-life activist Linda Gibbons underscores the Canadian pro-life movement's ongoing struggle against injunctions limiting right-to-life demonstrations. Gibbons was arrested Sept. 9 for picketing outside a Toronto abortion clinic. It was the 10th time since the fall of 1994 that she had been arrested for pro-life activity.

New D.C.-Area Black Group Vows to Fight for Life

Through adoption, education, and promotion of strong family life, black Catholics can defeat abortion, speakers say at a pro-life conference in Washington, D.C. Human Life International and St. Joseph Catholic Church of Alexandria, Va., co-sponsor the Pierre Toussaint Pro-Life Conference at St. Luke Catholic Church. About 50 people attended the event, which took place the day after the U.S. Senate failed to override President Clinton's veto of the ban on partial-birth abortion.

OCTOBER

Bishops Oppose Execution of Retarded Man in Illinois

Catholic leaders, including Francis Cardinal George of Chicago and Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, oppose the state of Illinois’ proposed execution of Anthony Porter, a 41-year-old retarded man convicted of murdering two people in a 1982 robbery. Porter, who according to reports has an I.Q. of 51, would be the most severely retarded person to be executed in the United States since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. The hearings for his case continue.

NOVEMBER

Faiths Unite to Fight Death Penalty in California

Members of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, and Quaker groups meet at the Changing Hearts and Minds conference in San Francisco to speak out against capital punishment in California. Religious leaders released a collective Statement of Conscience pledging to work actively for the abolition of the death penalty.

Terminally Ill Mother Rallies Physicians Against Euthanasia

From her wheelchair, Deanna Aikman, a victim of Lou Gehrig's disease, rallies support against Proposal B, the attempt to legalize assisted suicide which was crushed by Michigan voters. Aikman spoke of living with a terminal illness with hope, rather than despair, as a life-and-death choice. She credited God with giving her the grace to make the choice for hope.

Euthanasia Movement Marches Forward in Europe

The Socialist Party in Belgium is pushing for the legalization of assisted suicide—a move which would make Belgium the third European country, after Holland and Switzerland, to permit the euthanization of the terminally ill. Although Belgium is nominally Catholic, proponents of the measure claim that only 20% of the Belgian electorate is opposed to assisted suicide, and that many doctors routinely prescribe lethal doses of pain killers to patients who request them.

Hard Data Show Unreliability of U.N. Population Projections

The United Nations announces new population forecasts showing that the annual increase in population has dropped to 1.37%, or 78 million—far below the figure of 94 million projected in 1992. Consequently, the United Nations once again had to drastically reduce projections for the year 2050. The medium variant now sits at 8.91 billion, compared with 9.37 billion in a 1996 report.

Execution Up Close Underscores the Indignity of Death Penalty

On Oct. 7, the day of his execution in Texas, double murderer Johnathan Wayne Nobles fasts, prays the rosary with visitors, and receives Holy Communion in lieu of his last meal. Nobles, a Third Order Dominican who converted to Catholicism seven years ago, chooses Bishop Edmond Carmody of Tyler, Texas, as a witness to the execution. “It's a terrible thing to witness a person being executed,” Bishop Carmody says. Nobles was buried in his Dominican habit with a rosary in his hand.

Kevorkian's Euthanasia Stunt Rankles Hospice Chief

The medical director of Hospice of Michigan says Dr. Jack Kevorkian's latest victim “didn't have to die that way.” The victim, Thomas Youk, died by assisted suicide with the help of Kevorkian. Avideotape of the death was later broadcast on national television. Dr. Walter Hunter, the Hospice director, said his type of institution tries to get at the root of the patients’ fears, their concerns, and tell them what can be done and the types of treatment available. “I do not believe that any patient with this condition need have active euthanasia performed,” he said.

DECEMBER

10-Year Term Reimposed in Daughter's Death

A provincial Canadian Court of Appeal ruling reimposes a 10-year prison sentence on a Saskatchewan farmer who killed his disabled 12-year-old daughter in 1993. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that Robert Latimer, 45, of Wilkie, must serve at least 10 years, the minimum under Canadian law for those convicted of second-degree murder, for his role in the death of Tracy Latimer, who suffered from a severe form of cerebral palsy. The court overturned the 1997 decision of Judge T.G. Noble, who bypassed the minimum penalty on the grounds that Latimer's move was an act of “compassionate homicide.” Latimer is free on bail, pending an appeal of the latest ruling.

Can an Unborn Child Sue his Mother?

In Canada, a Supreme Court decision is anticipated concerning the right of children to sue their mothers for injuries suffered prior to birth. The case revolves around 5-year-old Ryan Dobson of Moncton, who was born prematurely as a result of an auto accident, and suffers from cerebral palsy and other disabilities. The suit alleges that Ryan's mother, Cynthia Dobson, was negligent for engaging in risky behavior while pregnant. Her insurance company has argued that granting unborn children the right to sue their parents infringes severely on a pregnant woman's “lifestyle and freedom of mobility.”