Pro-life activists and public officials made significant legislative gains in 2018, reports the Huffington Post. Lawmakers passed nearly two dozen new protections for unborn children last year, including an unprecedented number of comprehensive abortion restrictions.
Iowa, for example, banned abortions of unborn children with detectable cardiac activity. Doctors frequently detect fetal heartbeats after just six weeks of gestation. Mississippi, meanwhile, voted to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Both states have eclipsed a benchmark previously established by pro-life activists: to ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation.
Pro-life lawmakers’ goals have become more ambitious, notes Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion think tank. “In some states that already have so many restrictions on the books, all that is left is to ban abortion . . . the next big leap is an early abortion ban,” Nash said.
State legislators also moved to protect unborn children from discrimination based on disability. In late 2017, Ohio legislators prohibited doctors from aborting an unborn child simply because the child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. The bill belongs to a broad family of legislative proposals which seek to protect unborn children from unequal treatment based on race, gender, or physical abnormality.
Further, pro-life activists successfully campaigned to ban abortion by “dilation and evacuation” in Kentucky. Such abortions dismember unborn children in order to remove them from the mother’s womb. Nash notes that Kentucky’s law would prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Finally, pro-life litigators sought to challenge permissive abortion statues in the courts. The appointments of conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have encouraged states to challenge the Supreme Court’s longstanding Roe v. Wade decision. “You have states across the country that are essentially lining up with prefiled abortion bans,” Nash said.
“If a state passes an abortion ban, it will be challenged and work its way through the system and can have impact[s] across the entire country. Because if the Supreme Court overturns or undermines Roe v. Wade, that applies to every state, not just the state with the case.”
States such as Oregon with no laws protecting the unborn, however, would not see any legal changes if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
Italy has experienced a steady decline in abortion rates, even though the country legalized abortion four decades ago, reports PRI. The reason? Doctors have become increasingly pro-life, and refuse to perform even legal abortions. Under Italy’s abortion law, gynecologists may register as “conscientious objectors,” and refuse to provide abortions without penalty.
“For example, in the public University of Rome, we have more than 60 doctors but only two provide abortion,” noted Silvana Agatone, a gynecologist who practices in Rome. “In 2005, the percentage of gynecologists that didn’t provide abortions was about 59 percent. Now [it is] 70 percent. And it’s growing every year.”
Nurses and anesthesiologists may also obtain conscientious objector status: In some regions of Italy, 90 percent of all care providers refuse to terminate pregnancies. Thus, many women who seek abortions at public hospitals cannot find any physician willing to end the life of their unborn children.
Agatone believes Italy’s pro-life movement has burgeoned because conservative political factions, such as the League and the Five Star Movement, have enjoyed recent success. Both the League and the Five Star Movement seek an outright ban on abortions.
Given the public’s support for pro-life measures, the ban may someday receive significant support in Parliament.
As Brendan Kelly danced to upbeat music at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, he heard a familiar sound: pop-pop-pop-pop. Kelly remembered hearing the same noise–the distinctive rattle of gunfire–at a country music concert in Las Vegas last year, and immediately took action.
“As soon as I identified where the target was, or where the threat was, I grabbed at least two people around me and yanked them as hard as I could to the nearest exit,” Kelly told KABC news, a CNN affiliate. Kelly and several other patrons escaped through a rear exit and fled to safety.
At that point, Kelly called his relatives to inform them he had lived through a second shooting. The Marine Corp veteran attributed his survival to divine providence. “Only thing I can attribute it to is God, his protective hand over me that night on October 1 (last year in Las Vegas) and last night,” he said.
Kelly’s phone call was interrupted by continued gunfire from the bar. As patrons streamed out of the building, Kelly rushed to administer first aid to the wounded. He removed his belt to slow the bleeding from a friend’s arm. “I wanted to help as best I could,” Kelly explained. “If we could be the first level of first responders before they got there, then you do all you can do instead of standing around not doing much.”
In his conversation with KABC reporters, Kelly struggled to come to grips with the Borderline shooting, which occurred just a block from his house. “It’s too close to home,” he said. Borderline had served as a “safe space” for Kelly and other survivors of the Las Vegas massacre–but that very place fell victim to the violence Kelly and his friends sought to escape.
Kelly’s conclusion? Only God could provide ultimate safety from danger.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will consider Texas’ ban on fetal dismemberment, reports the Texas Tribune.
In 2017, Texas legislators passed Senate Bill 8, which prohibited doctors from performing abortions via “dilation and evacuation”–grasping and extracting fetal tissue with surgical instruments. After a federal judge blocked the measure, Texas sought to reinstate the bill before the Fifth Circuit Court.
Justices on the court heard arguments from Texas attorneys and litigators from pro-abortion groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood. Texas assistant solicitor general Heather Gebelin Hacker deemed dilation and evacuation a “barbaric” procedure. “It’s illegal to kill an animal that way in Texas, we wouldn’t execute a murderer that way, and notably the abortion providers don’t tell women that that’s what the procedure entails,” Hacker stated.
Hacker noted that less harmful abortion methods, such as potassium chloride injections, have a proven safety record and are currently available at abortion clinics. Thus, Texas’ ban on fetal dismemberment would not affect abortion access in the state.
Center for Reproductive Rights counsel Janet Crepps, meanwhile, responded that the ban was “invasive” and “medically unnecessary,” and that potassium chloride injections increase patients’ risk for complications. “Just the idea the state thinks that’s what’s within its power is contrary to the whole idea that women have a right to autonomy, dignity,” Crepps added.
Judges on the Fifth Circuit Court asked litigators to interpret Alabama’s dilation and evacuation ban, which was struck down by the Eleventh circuit Court of Appeals. The justices also sought clarification on potassium chloride injections.
Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller told reporters after the hearing that alternative abortion methods, such as injections, are “absolutely not the standard of care.” Referring to Alabama’s failed dilation and evacuation law, Miller stated, “I really lean on the fact that a [dilation and evacuation] ban hasn’t withstood these kind of proceedings to date.”
Emily Horne, a senior legislative associate for Texas Right to Life, expressed a different view. “It comes down to we’re really talking about a modest restriction on a very brutal abortion procedure while the child is alive,” she said.
Observers expect the court to issue its ruling in the next few months.
According to a recent poll sponsored by Ligonier Ministries, more than half of Americans believe abortion is a sin, reports PR Newswire. Fifty-two percent of respondents considered abortion to be sinful, up from 49% just two years ago.
LifeWay Research interviewed 3,000 American adults from a variety of demographic backgrounds for the 2018 State of Theology survey, an annual poll which tracks public opinion on topics such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and gender identity.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, offered his assessment of the study’s results. “These survey results may surprise some people, but pro-life beliefs have definitely been gaining ground in recent years. . . . With a majority agreeing that abortion is a sin, we have a clear indication that many Americans want the state to restore protection for the unborn child.”
The survey not only considered Americans’ aggregate views on abortion, but also tracked the responses of various age groups. In a heartening result for pro-life advocates, the survey revealed that millenial Americans (those aged 18-34) expressed stronger opposition to abortion than any other age group.
Fully 57% of millenials believed abortion was a sin, while only 48% deemed abortion morally acceptable. Millenials’ opposition to abortion has increased by seven percentage points since 2016, according to the study.
In light of the survey’s results, Mohler expressed hope for future pro-life political gains. “There would be considerable support for a Supreme Court decision reversing Roe v. Wade. There is clear support for protecting the life of the unborn, which explains overwhelming opposition to abortion on demand.”
In spontaneous remarks to thousands of listeners at the Vatican, Pope Francis condemned abortion by comparing the practice to a targeted assassination.
“Is it right to hire a hit man to solve a problem?” the Pope asked. “You cannot, it is not right to kill a human being, regardless of how small it is, to solve a problem. [Abortion] is like hiring a hit man to solve a problem,” he stated.
Conservative Catholics had criticized the Pope for his reticence on abortion and other controversial topics. Observers considered Pope Francis’ latest pro-life remarks to be “some of his toughest to date.”
The Pope delivered his address at St. Peter’s Square during his weekly general audience, an occasion which attracted tens of thousands of spectators. Many in the crowd responded favorably to Pope Francis’ statements on abortion.
“I ask you: Is it right to ‘take out’ a human life to solve a problem? What do you think? Is it right? Is it right or not?” he asked. “No,” shouted the crowd.
“[H]ow can an act that suppresses an innocent and helpless life that is germinating be therapeutic, civilized or even simply human?” the Pope continued.
Catholic doctrine holds that life begins at conception and terminates at natural death. In previous interviews with news agencies, the Pope had focused his remarks on social issues such as inequality and immigration, stating that the Catholic Church had become “obsessed” with the debate surrounding abortion and traditional marriage. He had never questioned the Church’s teaching on abortion, however, and his latest comments confirm his commitment to pro-life values.