Any person who saves the life of a fellow human being may rightfully be called a hero. By that measure, James Harrison, an 81-year-old resident of Australia, should be counted among history’s greatest heroes.
“The Man with the Golden Arm” has helped save the lives of 2.4 million babies by donating his blood 1,100 times, reports Livescience.com. He made his final donation in 2018 after giving blood for more than six decades.
Harrison’s unique blood type enabled him to save unborn babies who risked developing “Rh incompatibility” with their mothers, a condition in which the mother’s immune system destroy’s her fetus’s red blood cells. Harrison’s blood contains a rare antibody which can treat Rh incompatibility: Doctors extracted the antibody from Harrison’s blood samples and used it to manufacture the medication Rh immunoglobulin, which can prevent Rh incompatibility.
Without the medication, Rh incompatibility can lead to “a situation where a lot of these babies would have a significant amount of their red cells broken down while they were in the womb,” explained Dr. Saima Aftab, who directs the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Untreated Rh incompatibility can cause fetal jaundice, brain damage, or even stillbirth, Aftab said. Aftab considers the treatment for Rh incompatibility “one of the biggest life-saving discoveries of the last century.”
The antibody used to make Rh immunoglobulin, however, remains relatively rare. The Australian Red Cross estimates that only 200 blood donors contribute antibodies to the country’s Rh immunoglobulin supply. Thankfully, one of those donors was The Man with the Golden Arm. Harrison contributed blood to every batch of Rh immunoglobulin Australia has ever produced, according to CNN.
Doctors believe Harrison developed the unique antibody when he received a large blood transfusion as a teenager. Subsequently, “his immune system revved up a high concentration of antibodies,” explained Aftab.
Harrison stopped donating blood last year because Australia does not accept donations from individuals over 80. The Australian Red Cross also urged him to stop giving blood in order to safeguard his health. After 60 years on the job, Harrison has surely earned the right to retire.
A recent study from Pew Research reveals men and women share similar views on abortion. According to the polling agency, the findings suggest that abortion is not a “women’s rights issue,” as pro-abortion activists often claim. Rather, men remain just as likely or unlikely to oppose abortion as women.
The study considered data from the United States as well as 33 European nations. Out of 34 countries surveyed, 27 did not display a gender gap in citizens’ support for abortion. Overall support for abortion did not affect the gap. For instance, 77% of German men think abortion “should be legal in all or most cases,” compared with 76% of German women. Meanwhile, 45% of both men and women favor legal abortion in Greece.
While men and women share similar views about abortion in most nations, in some countries–Moldova, Georgia, Romania, Norway, and Portugal–women oppose abortion in significantly greater numbers than men. For example, while 65% of Portuguese men favor legal infanticide, only 57% of Portuguese women favor the practice.
The study’s authors suggest that women remain more pro-life than men in those countries because of their comparatively higher rates of religious participation. “[A]ttitudes toward abortion may be tied more closely to religion than gender,” the study concludes.
Republican lawmakers in Michigan’s Senate passed legislation to prohibit doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing drugs via online video chats with patients. The measure passed by a 12-vote margin, and extended an existing ban on abortion medications which would have expired in 2019.
Under the new law, women who desire abortion-inducing drugs must visit a physical clinic to obtain the medication. Pro-abortion lawmakers protested that Michigan women may lack access to such clinics, especially in rural areas of the state.
“Telemedicine works,” stated Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). “The bill before us forces Michigan backwards, plain and simple. The motivation here is purely ideological, not medical, and quite frankly it’s unconstitutional.”
Genevieve Marnon, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, expressed a different view. The FDA limits access to abortion-inducing drugs to reduce harmful side effects, she noted: for example, FDA regulators prohibit women from obtaining mifepristone (a common abortion medication) at retail pharmacies. Thus, for pro-life advocates, Michigan’s new law simply respects the spirit of FDA policy.
Since 19 other states have enacted telemedicine abortion bans, Marnon deems Michigan’s bill a “pre-emptive” move amid widespread support for restrictions on abortion drugs. Roughly 9,000 abortions were performed via medication in Michigan last year, Marnon noted.
The Michigan House will consider the measure later this month.
Oklahoma senator Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow) is working to stop all abortions in the state by classifying abortion as a felony homicide, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.
“It’s gonna be classified as a homicide because, essentially, a fertilized egg is a human life just like a 1-year-old baby is a human life. So, an abortion would be considered intentionally taking a human life,” Silk explained.
Silk hopes his measure will override federal laws which permit abortions in Oklahoma. “The Attorney General shall direct state agencies to enforce [the abortion ban] regardless of any contrary or conflicting federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, or court decisions,” the bill reads.
Silk has no qualms about opposing the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion. “The Supreme Court also ruled . . . that slaves were private property and they were wrong. And so, the courts do need to be challenged,” Silk stated.
The ACLU’s Oklahoma chapter expressed outrage at Silk’s proposal. The measure attacks Oklahoma women’s reproductive rights, believes Allie Shinn, who serves as deputy director for the chapter. “I’m not sure where Joseph Silk got to decide that he’s the morality police, but nobody elected him to do that,” Shinn said.
Silk responded that his measure is justifiably comprehensive. It includes no exceptions for rape and incest victims, for instance, because so few cases of rape and incest occur in Oklahoma. “The numbers of rape and incest are so tiny, under half a percent. So, it’s almost not even an arguable question,” Silk explained.
Ultimately, Silk seeks to respect the personhood of all unborn children, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their birth. “It is a human life, regardless of how it came to be,” Silk said.
A Kentucky legislator introduced a bill to ban doctors from aborting babies with detectable heartbeats, according to The Hill. Physicians who violate the proposed ban could be charged with a Class D felony and face up to five years in prison.
The measure would require doctors to examine unborn children for a heartbeat before performing abortions. If a fetus presents a heartbeat, a physician could only proceed with the abortion to avert a medical emergency.
Kentucky state representative Robert Goforth (R) prefiled the bill earlier in December for Kentucky’s 2019 legislative session.
“My proposal recognizes that everyone has a right to life,” Goforth explained. “My personal belief is that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. A heartbeat proves that there’s life that deserves protection under law–if a heart is beating, a baby needs to be protected and given an opportunity to live.”
Goforth noted that his bill represents a landmark in the history of Kentucky’s pro-life movement. “This is the most pro-life piece of legislation that has ever been filed in the Kentucky Legislature,” he said. Goforth recognizes that the measure may face judicial hurdles if it becomes law, but nevertheless deems his efforts worthwhile.
“I look forward to the day our laws and our court system give unborn children the legal right to life that they deserve so they can grow and live happy and productive lives,” he stated.
January 8th marks the start of the Kentucky General Assembly’s next session, during which legislators will consider Goforth’s bill.
Ohio and Iowa have already debated similar heartbeat legislation this year. In both states, the measures have not yet arrived at the governor’s desk.