Life and Death Struggle

Countdown to March For Life

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By Father John Flynn, L.C.

ROME, JAN. 16, 2010 ( With the new members of the U.S. House of Congress now in place, abortion looks like continuing to be very much a high profile issue.

Congressman Mike Pence introduced a bill, (the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act) with 122 cosponsors, to end federal funding for abortion providers, a Christian Newswire article reported Jan. 7.

Planned Parenthood would be the organization with the most to lose if the bill were to be passed. According to Pence, Planned Parenthood received more than $363 million in funds from the federal government last year. In this period they performed 324,008 abortions, up 5.8% on the previous year.

Pence declared his opposition to abortion and also stated that it is “morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to promote abortion at home or abroad.”

Planned Parenthood is receiving some unwanted publicity, with the publication this month of “unPLANNED,” a book by former abortion clinic employee, Abby Johnson.

After eight years of first being a volunteer and then working with Planned Parenthood her support for abortion dramatically changed the day she was asked to help in an abortion and witnessed on an ultrasound how a 13-week-old baby was fighting for its life as the procedure was under way.

According to an interview published Jan. 11 on the National Catholic Register Web site, Johnson said she had never witnessed an ultrasound during an abortion before. At the time of the abortion she was director of the clinic in Bryan, Texas

She explained that Planned Parenthood had always told them that a fetus had no sensory development until 28 weeks, something contradicted by what she saw on the screen as the fetus struggled to avoid being suctioned out.

Her book describes how this experience led her to quit her job at the clinic, and recounts her journey from college girl to being head of an abortion clinic and then on to pro-life advocate.

Planned Parenthood tried to prevent the book’s publication, in a lawsuit that failed. It was worried, no doubt, by her description of how the organization pushed to increase the number of abortions at Johnson’s clinic, which are a big profit-maker.

Worrying statistics

There are no comprehensive official statistics on the number of abortions in the United States. A good idea of the situation was given however, in a report published Jan. 11 by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.

According to the study, based on a census of all known abortion providers, the drop in abortion rates that had been a constant since 1981 has ceased. In a press release the institute said that the rate for 2008 stood at 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44. This was a small increase on the 2005 rate of 19.4.

The total number of abortions in 2008 (1.21 million) was slightly up, by around 6,000. The number of abortion providers also changed little — from 1,787 to 1,793 — between 2005 and 2008.

As well, the census found an increase in the use of pharmaceutical abortions in the early stages of pregnancy, usually by means of the RU-486 abortion drug, instead of surgical procedures.

In its Jan. 11 article on the latest data the Washington Post provided more information on the use of RU-486. In 2010 its use was up by 24% compared to the previous year, going from 161,000 to 199,000. This led to it accounting for 17% of all abortions.

The Guttmacher Institute’s reaction to the data was to call for more access to contraceptive services and also for a guarantee for women to be able to use abortion services.

By contrast, Jeanne Monahan, the Family Research Council’s director for the Center of Human Dignity, called for more to be done reduce the amount of abortions.

In a Jan. 11 press release she lauded the pro-life forces for their work and pointed out that polls show that an increasing number of Americans now declare themselves as being pro-life.

Monahan was critical of the claims by the Guttmacher Institute that restrictions on abortion should be eased. “How can they say abortion rates aren’t high enough?” she declared.

A commentary on the report published the same day by addressed the issue of the claim by the institute that more contraception would reduce abortions.

The report itself, the article noted, showed that a majority of abortions — 54% — took place after contraception failure. This is similar to other recent data from Spain, that showed abortion increasing while at the same time there had been stepped-up promotion of family planning.

Given that the pill and barrier methods do fail, plus the fact that people do not always use them properly, the article argued that birth control is simply incapable of eliminating “unplanned” pregnancies.


Just prior to the publication of the latest abortion figures, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York issued an appeal for efforts to reduce abortions in the city.

“That 41% of New York babies are aborted — a percentage even higher in the Bronx, and among our African-American babies in the womb — is downright chilling,” he declared at a Jan. 6 press conference.

His remarks took place at a press conference hosted by the Chiaroscuro Foundation at the Penn Club in New York City.

He commented that New York was known for its welcome to immigrants, and added, “we are tragically letting down the tiniest, most fragile and vulnerable: the little baby in the womb.”

In its Jan. 7 report on the press conference, the New York Times explained that it was a joint effort by a number of religious leaders, coordinated by the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a nonprofit group financed privately by its president, Sean Fieler, an investment banker.

The 41% figure came from a report by the city health department. The statistics showed that there were 87,273 abortions in 2009, down from 94,466 in 2000. The report also revealed that the abortion rate for pregnancies by black women was close to 60%.

The very high rate of abortion among black women is something not often talked about, something groups such as are trying to change.

According to information published on their Web site, nearly 40% of all black pregnancies end in abortion. This is three times the rate among white women and twice that of all other races combined.

The Web site also explains that the drive for “Reproductive Rights” had its origin in an elitist mentality promoted by the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger. She and others worked hard to promote abortion among blacks and the poor.

All of this news comes in the lead-up to the big annual pro-life event, the Washington, D.C., March for Life on Jan. 24. The Catholic Church will be marking the event with a National Prayer Vigil for Life from Jan. 23-24 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Although the rally normally receives little coverage by the mainstream media it attracts large numbers, many of them young people. Its success shows just how much the plight of aborted children continues to be an issue that galvanizes large numbers of people.

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