Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nebraska Bill Bans Abortions After 20 weeks Based on Fetal Pain

by Kerby Anderson, Point of View: Pro-life advocates have always been looking for ways to reduce the number of abortions. A Nebraska law may provide another means of achieving this goal. It would make abortions after the 20th week illegal and will no doubt be the basis for another Supreme Court abortion battle.

The justification for the limitation on abortion is fetal pain. The law bans abortions after the 20th week because of the medical claim that a fetus can feel pain from that point onward. The claim, as you might expect, is considered controversial.

Some expert testimony challenged the idea that a fetus feels pain. But others point to the fact that by 20 weeks, unborn babies have pain receptors throughout their body and nerves that link to the brain. They also recoil from painful stimulation. And we might note that doctors performing fetal surgery at or after 20 weeks routinely use fetal anesthesia.

Doctors, lawyers, and judges will continue to debate the issue of fetal pain, but the uncertainty should be enough to render a verdict in favor of the law. If we are unsure whether the unborn feel pain, then we should assume they do in light of the circumstantial medical evidence. The burden of proof should be placed on abortion rights advocates to prove the unborn feel no pain.

The bill will not take effect until October and will certainly be challenged in court. Pro-life groups herald it as a landmark law. Other legislatures are sure to follow the Nebraska model. Sooner or later this law will be debated before the Supreme Court.

When the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade it fixated on viability. A state, they said, could have a compelling interest in regulating abortions on a viable fetus. This new law has the potential to move the debate from fetal viability to fetal pain. It will force judges to consider the possibility that the unborn feel pain and should be protected. I'm Kerby Anderson, and that's my point of view.
Tags: abortion, fetal pain, Nebraska, 20 weeks, Kerby Anderson, Point of View

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bringing humanity back to the abortion debate

by Marc A. Thiessen, Contributing Author, ARRA News Service: Can an unborn child feel pain? That question will dominate the abortion debate in America for the next several years thanks to Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska. Last week, Heineman signed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law, banning abortions in Nebraska at and after 20 weeks based on growing scientific evidence that an unborn child at that age can feel pain.

The legislation was enacted as a defensive measure. After the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller, a physician named LeRoy Carhart declared his intention to carry on Tiller's work at his Bellevue, Neb., clinic. State legislators did not want Nebraska to become the country's late-term abortion capital -- so they voted 44-5 to stop him.

The new law will probably spark a Supreme Court showdown, because it directly challenges one of the key tenets of Roe v. Wade -- that "viability" (the point at which an unborn child can survive outside the womb, generally held to be at 22 to 24 weeks) is the threshold at which states can ban abortion. In defending the law, Nebraska will ask the high court to take into account scientific research since Roe and push the legal threshold back further.

In 1973, when Roe was decided, it was believed that the nervous systems of even newborn babies were too immature to feel pain -- so doctors generally did not provide anesthesia to infants before surgery. But 25 years ago, a young doctor at Oxford University named Kanwaljeet Anand noticed that babies coming to his neonatal intensive care unit from surgery suffered a massive stress response -- indicating they had been through extreme pain. His research into this phenomenon shifted medical opinion, and today even the most premature newborns are given anesthesia to alleviate pain during surgery.

Anand -- now a professor at the University of Arkansas and a pediatrician at the Arkansas Children's Hospital -- continued his research into infant pain, which has led him to conclude that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, and possibly as early as 17 weeks when a portion of the brain called the "subplate zone" is formed. Indeed, according to a New York Times Magazine story on Anand's research, a fetus's "immature physiology may well make it more sensitive to pain, not less: The body's mechanisms for inhibiting pain and making it more bearable do not become active until after birth."

Other medical experts share Anand's assessment. Jean Wright, executive director and vice president of operations for Children's Hospital and the Women's Health Institute at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga., has testified before Congress that an "unborn fetus after 20 weeks of gestation, has all the prerequisite anatomy, physiology, hormones, neurotransmitters, and electrical current to 'close the loop' and create the conditions needed to perceive pain. In a fashion similar to explaining the electrical wiring to a new house, we would explain that the circuit is complete from skin to brain and back."

Not everyone in the medical community agrees. Just as there were skeptics about newborn pain a quarter-century ago, there are skeptics of fetal pain today -- and these views will be aired as the legal battle unfolds. But regardless of the legal outcome, a national discussion on the topic of "fetal pain" can only help the pro-life movement.

A Gallup poll last year found that, for the first time, more Americans called themselves "pro-life" than "pro-choice" by a margin of 51 percent to 42 percent. In 1995, the numbers were more than reversed: Fifty-six percent of Americans said they were "pro-choice" and just 33 percent said they were "pro-life."  How did the pro-life position gain 18 percentage points in just 15 years? For one thing, scientific advances have allowed us to see inside the womb as never before. Once-experimental medical procedures, such as fetal surgery to repair spina bifida, have become increasingly common. And a 1999 photo of baby Samuel Armas, then at 21 weeks gestation, reaching out of his mother's womb and holding his doctor's finger touched millions of hearts around the world. People have been able to witness with their own eyes the humanity of the unborn child.

As this window into the womb was opening, the pro-choice movement was busy defending the gruesome practice of "partial birth" abortion. A ban on the practice was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007. Now, thanks to the people of Nebraska, the national debate will shift to the topic of "fetal pain," which once again underscores the humanity of the unborn.  As this debate unfolds, science will continue to advance, allowing us to see -- and save -- babies at earlier and earlier periods of gestation. And the consensus will continue to grow that pre-born babies are indeed human beings, deserving of our love, our compassion and, most important, our protection.
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Marc A. Thiessen is a conservative National Security / Public Policy Expert. He submitted this article to the ARRA News Service Editor which also appeared in his weekly column in The Washington Post. Thiessen is the author of The New York Times Best Selling Book - COURTING DISASTER: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama is Inviting The Next Attack. Thiessen is a visiting fellow at both the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution,  former member of the White House Senior Staff, and chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Tags: Marc Thiessen, pro-life, abortion, late-term abortion, fetal pain, humanity, abortion debate, pre-born baby, human being, fetus, Gov. Dave Heineman, Nebraska, Kanwaljeet Anand
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Friday, April 2, 2010

Reflecting On "Good Friday": The Purpose of the Passion

A shout out to the Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council staff and thank you for the following post:
The Purpose of the Passion can be summed up as -- a second chance! The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ provides a second chance for mankind to walk in relationship with the God who created them. The Scriptures make clear that through Adam sin entered the world, but through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ there is justification for every man, woman, boy and girl--if they only place their trust in Him.
The passion of Christ provides a second chance for each of us to be right with God by being forgiven of everything and anything we have ever done. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives you and me the ability to live life to its fullest because we can be free of guilt and be guided by a purpose that eclipses all that the world has to offer.
Mel Gibson, in his movie The Passion, captures both the need and the power of the second chance available to us through Christ. Jesus is praying in Gethsemane when the guards of the high priest arrive to arrest Him. The guards approach and ask for Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus identifies Himself and Judas comes up to Him and kisses Him, saying "Hail, Rabbi." Jesus asks Judas why he is betraying "the Son of Man with a kiss?" Judas is stunned and steps back.
The guards move in to arrest Jesus. Suddenly, Peter explodes into action, attacking the guards. Ultimately, Peter pulls out a sword and cuts off the ear of one of the guards. Peter is eventually subdued, and Jesus tells him to drop his sword, saying, "Those who live by the sword die by the sword." Then Jesus reaches down, picks up the guard's severed ear, and looking into the guard's eyes, heals him.
Jesus stands up, and the remaining guards move in and arrest Him -- striking Him and handling Him roughly. They shove Him along the road and begin to leave. The healed guard is still on his knees, unmoving. His fellow guards tell him to get up and come along, but he cannot. The guard can no longer participate in anything that brings harm to the Christ.
He was left in the garden of Gethsemane to marvel at what the Savior had done for him. In the film, Peter, left behind, then comes face to face with the guard after Jesus healed his ear and touched his life. This is especially poignant, as within hours Peter would need that same forgiving touch of Jesus and a second chance.
This is the same Peter who had walked with Jesus (Matt 4:18-20). This is the same Peter who boldly declared that Jesus was the Son of God (Matt 16:13-17). This was the same Peter who committed to follow Jesus to the death (Matt 26:35). Despite all of this, Peter denied even knowing Jesus, not once, but three times (Matt 26:75). Was this the end for Peter? Was Peter beyond the forgiveness of Jesus Christ? Not at all! Following the resurrection, Jesus gave Peter a second chance (John 21:15-17).
The Purpose of the Passion is to give each of us a second chance. Whether you're like the guard who came face to face with Jesus for the first time or whether you're like Peter who had walked with Jesus in the past, declared who He is to others and even committed his life to Him, if something is separating you from the abundant life Jesus has obtained for you--a second chance awaits you. That's the Purpose of the Passion.

Tags: Good Friday, The Passion, Jesus Christ, Family Research Council, Christians
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Five years later, Pro-Life Leaders Remember Terri Schiavo's Murder

LIFESITENEWS.COM — On the fifth anniversary of the court-ordered death by starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler Schiavo, Terri's family, pro-life leaders and anti-euthanasia advocates have united to call attention to the silent abuse of people with disabilities, and the new dangers posed by the recently-passed federal health care reform legislation... [Full Article]
 Remembering the death of Terri Schiavo

Tags: court ordered death, murder, starvation, Terry Schiavo, history,