Infanticide – the uncomfortable elephant in the pro-choice room

On February 29, 2012, in Blog, by The Radical Feminist

little elephant zoom Infanticide   the uncomfortable elephant in the pro choice roomYou may have seen the story about the two Italian ethicists associated with Australian universities who are seriously proposing that “killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be”.

As far as I can tell this story was first reported by the excellent BioEdge website last Saturday, and then a Christchurch-based religious pro-life organisation were the first to alert kiwis to this story via an update on their Facebook Page on Monday morning, however the story has garnered far greater attention in the last 24 hours after various international pro-life news sites, and even a NZ talkback radio station have begun to focus on this story.

What I find most interesting about this whole issue is that some people are talking about this story as if it is a new development within the world of academia and ethical discourse, when in actual fact there is nothing new about this idea at all. Ethical theories attempting to legitimize infanticide have been floating around for a long time now, with utilitarian ethicist Peter Singer being one of the more famous proponents of such ideas.

What I think is worthy of our attention and discussion here is the issue of ethical consistency that underlies the arguments of these two Italian ethicists who support infanticide (although they use the euphemism “after-birth abortion” to describe the act of infanticide in their writings).

You see, for a long time now, certain people within the pro-life movement have been stating that almost all of the arguments used by the pro-choice movement to try and claim justification for abortion can also be used to support the killing of newborn infants.

Let’s take a quick look at the key arguments often used by the pro-choice movement to try and ethically justify abortion, and how they can also be used to justify infanticide…

1. The fetus can’t feel pain

This argument is a disputed point amongst experts in the area of fetal pain, with some suggesting that a fetus feels little to no pain, while others suggest that they do feel pain, and that at certain early stages they may even feel it more intensely than they do later in the pregnancy.

Ultimately this argument is a total red herring though, because whether an entity can feel pain is totally irrelevant to the question of whether it is ethically acceptable to end the life of that entity.

If pro-choicer’s truly believe that an inability to feel pain equals the loss of the right to life, then this would mean that infanticide would be ethically permissible as long as we first anesthetized the infant before ending its life.

2. The fetus is an imposition on the bodily rights/freedoms of the woman

Basically this argument is built on the idea that a fetus is little more than a parasite (obviously it ignores the many health benefits that a normal pregnancy can offer a woman), and that the relationship between mother and unborn child is that of a host/parasite (which obviously ignores the fact that the relationship the two entities share is not that of cold and indifferent strangers, but that of the profoundly mysterious relationship we call ‘the maternal bond’ – which can only ever be shared by a mother and her offspring).

The argument goes on to suggest that no one, not even her biological child in its fetal stage of development, has the right to impose upon the bodily rights/freedoms of a woman, therefore a woman should have the right to consent, or reject pregnancy via abortion if so desired.

If pro-choicer’s accept this argument as valid, then surely they must also have to accept that a newborn infant has no right to impose itself upon the bodily freedoms/rights of the woman by robbing her of sleep, requiring breastfeeding, regular nappy changes, etc. – all of which make ongoing and often intense bodily demands of the woman.

Some pro-choicers will respond to this by saying ‘ah, but once the baby is born it can be adopted out, or another adult can take care of it, but before birth it is only the mother who is forced into sacrificing her bodily rights/freedoms’.

However what they are suggesting here is really just a matter of degree, rather than something that is substantively different – in other words, if you can immediately hand the baby off to another person then terminating it is ethically unacceptable, however if you can’t, and you would be required to sacrifice your bodily freedoms/rights for months before you could hand it off to another person to take care of (because it is in the womb) then terminating becomes okay.

But just imagine the following thought exercise: what if a mother of a newborn infant was on a remote island, with no communication to the outside world, and she decided that she no longer wanted to have her bodily rights/freedoms imposed upon by that baby. No one else on the island was willing/able to care for the child, and the next boat off the island (which would allow her to take the baby off the island to have it offered up for adoption/state care, etc.) didn’t leave for another nine months. Would it be ethically acceptable to end the life of that child?

If pro-choicers are going to adhere to the idea that having to wait for months before your bodily freedoms/rights are restored (i.e. waiting until birth when the baby can be adopted/given to someone else) is justification enough for abortion, then surely they must also accept that the same must also apply when the child is out of the womb, and unless bodily freedoms/rights can be restored immediately after birth, then surely infanticide is justifiable using the pro-choice reasoning here?

3. The fetus is totally dependent on its mother for viability

This is a similar argument to the one above.

Obviously things change at the point of fetal viability outside the womb (which is getting earlier and earlier as medical technology advances), which is why so many pro-choicers are hesitant to support, or at the very least are uncomfortable about abortions being carried out after a certain point in the pregnancy.

I won’t go into it here, but basically viability is a totally unreliable marker for determining whether abortion is an ethical act or not. For starters, every healthy fetus is totally viable as long as it is left in the womb long enough, and viability outside your current location does not tell us anything about the nature of what you are as an entity (i.e. are you a human being or not – and therefore entitled to fundamental human rights?), it simply tells us that you can’t survive outside your current location.

Just as a fetus early in the pregnancy is not viable outside the womb, neither is an astronaut viable outside her lunar module when she is in space, yet you don’t hear too many people suggesting that space traveling astronauts aren’t human beings entitled to the right to life because of this fact.

The key point here is that, not only is a fetus early in the pregnancy totally dependent on her mother for viability, so is a newborn infant – it can’t feed, clothe, shelter, hydrate or deal with waste by itself. It is totally dependent on its mother, or another adult (remember that variation by degree thing we talked about above) for its continued viability.

No new born infant is viable outside the women for more than a matter of hours without the essentials of life (life-support) being administered and provided to it, so if viability is a justification for abortion then surely it can also be used as a justification for infanticide.

4. The fetus has no self-awareness

Proponents of this argument will try and tell you that you aren’t a human being unless you currently possess self-awareness, or consciousness – I don’t think too many sleeping people, or people in comas, or those who have imbibed far too much alcohol will be too happy to learn that their present lack of self-awareness has just cost them their right to life.

Just like viability, self-awareness/consciousness is a totally unreliable marker for determining whether abortion is an ethical act or not. The lack of self-awareness does not tell us anything about the nature of what you are as an entity, it simply tells us that you aren’t currently self-aware as an entity.

If pro-choicers are going to accept the notion that a lack of self-awareness equates to being no longer human, and is therefore an ethical justification for abortion, then surely they must also accept that it is also an ethical justification for infanticide, because a new born infant does not posses self-awareness until several weeks after birth.

(This reasoning would also give ethical justification to the killing of any human being who is sleeping, in a coma, excessively drunk or lying unconscious on a sports field).

5. People can’t be expected to care for babies they can’t afford, or are not ready for

This argument is a pretty straightforward one, and I’m sure everyone can see how it can also be applied to new born infants to try and justify infanticide – imagine a situation in which a mother decides moments after birth that she is no longer ready, or financially capable to care for a new born baby, then surely she could also invoke such reasoning to justify infanticide?

I could go on, but I think you probably get the point by now.

So the only question that remains to be asked is this:

If many of the pro-choice arguments used to try and provide an ethical justification for abortion can also be used as an ethical justification for infanticide (er, I mean ‘after-birth abortion’), then doesn’t that make them completely flawed arguments that are not worthy of truly caring, compassionate and intelligent human reasoning?

If the answer to this question is ‘no’, then the only other option, that infanticide is an ethically acceptable act that we should also be pro-choice about, is just far too frightening and ethically abhorrent for any normal person to even contemplate.


“The Global War on Baby Girls” Part I

On February 29, 2012, in Blog, by Miriam

Screen shot 2012 02 28 at 11.10.45 PM “The Global War on Baby Girls” Part I

On Monday we took a look at the recent controversy in the UK surrounding an investigation by The Telegraph that found that abortionists were willing to perform abortions on babies on the grounds of gender. These sex-selective abortions are part of a  global phenomenon which has resulted in at least 100 million girls being killed, aborted  or neglected.   Today we are going to begin a three part series from MercatorNet that takes an indepth look at this “Global War On Baby Girls”.

Today, I want to look at a long piece written by Nicholas Eberstadt. Eberstadt’s article is provocatively entitled “The Global War Against Baby Girls”.  In it, he details the shocking statistics from various parts of the world that show the results of sex-selective feticide.  The ability to determine the sex of a baby before he or she is born is now widespread, as is the ability to abort that baby if the parents wish to.  These abilities have resulted in what Eberstadt describes as:

“…an ominous and entirely new form of gender discrimination: sex-selective feticide…In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.”

Come now, surely it isn’t that bad? A global war? Those dreadful things kill millions don’t they? Well:

“The practice has become so ruthlessly routine in many contemporary societies that it has impacted their very population structures, warping the balance between male and female births and consequently skewing the sex ratios for the rising generation toward a biologically unnatural excess of males. This still-growing international predilection for sex-selective abortion is by now evident in the demographic contours of dozens of countries around the globe — and it is sufficiently severe that it has come to alter the overall sex ratio at birth of the entire planet, resulting in millions upon millions of new ‘missing baby girls’ each year.”

First of all, Eberstadt looks at the “missing” girls in China (a nice euphemism, as if we have just misplaced them somewhere, rather that deliberately aborting them).  He starts by explaining that there is a regular relationship between the number of male and female births in the human population – the sex ratio at birth (SRB) for large populations generally falls within a narrow range of 103-106 boys for every 100 girls. Thus, there is a naturally occurring slight “oversupply” of boys at birth.

However, in China, this naturally occurring oversupply has grown alarmingly.  In 1982, China was reporting a nationwide SRB of 108.5, by 1995, this had grown to 115.6 and by 2005 a “mini-census” of 1% of the population was reporting an SRB of 118.9.  This divergence between the number of boys and girls is even wider if the scope is extended to the population under 5 years old – in 2005 the ratio for this cohort was 122.7!  So, not only are more boys being born in China than girls, more of them are surviving infancy.  Eberstadt recognises that these figures are not 100% accurate, but maintains that they are still indicative of a disturbing trend:

“Although, as recently noted in a study by Daniel M. Goodkind in the journal Demography, there remain some discrepancies and inconsistencies among data sources (census numbers, vital registration reports, hospital delivery records, school enrollment figures, and so on) concerning China’s SRBs and child sex ratios over the past two decades, there is absolutely no doubt that shockingly distorted sex ratios for newborns and children prevail in China today — and that these gender imbalances have increased dramatically during the decades of the One Child Policy.”

When the data is broken down within China, it shows that the SRB is higher in rural areas than in cities – thus in 2005, the SRB was 123 for rural areas, 120 for towns and 115 for cities.  At the regional level, only three provinces reported “normal” SRBs, while two (Anhui and Shaanxi) reported SRBs above 130.  Eberstadt provides a map of China broken down by country and illustrating the sex imbalance in the 0-4 year age cohort in the year 2000.  What it shows is a marked regional variation:

“…sex ratios are essentially “normal” (105 or lower) in much of Western China and along parts of the country’s northern border — areas where non-Han ethnic minorities predominate — while unnatural gender imbalances characterize virtually the entirety of the Han-majority areas in China’s east and south. There are tremendous variations in the extremity of the condition within this Han expanse: a number of inland and coastal areas stand out as epicenters of the problem, and are marked by concentrations of counties, each encompassing millions or tens of millions of people, wherein child sex ratios of 150 or greater prevail.”

When broken down by birth order, Eberstadt’s research sheds more light – while SRBs for firstborn children remains within the “normal” range of around 105, in 2005 the SRBs for second births was 143 and for third births was 156.  Why is there this massive difference between firstborn Chinese children and their younger siblings?

“An influential 2006 Harvard dissertation by Emily Oster hypothesized that the emerging gender imbalances in China and elsewhere were primarily a consequence of the spread of the hepatitis B virus, which is known to skew SRBs in favor of male babies in maternal carriers — but clearly that theory cannot account for the extraordinary and continuing disparities between first births and higher-order births in China. Instead, it is by now widely recognized that these gender disparities are the consequence of parental intervention — namely, mass feticide, through the agency of medically induced abortion and prenatal gender determination technology. Chinese parents appear to have been generally willing to rely upon biological chance for the sex outcome of their first baby — but with increasing frequency they have been relying upon health care technology and services to ensure that any second- or higher-order baby would be a boy.”

So why are Chinese SRBs so imbalanced?  Eberstadt dismisses the argument that it is due to “backward” thinking in China for the following reasons:

  1. High SRBs are almost entirely a Han phenomenon within China. Han Chinese are generally better educated and more affluent that non-Han minorities;
  2. Although SRBs are higher in rural than urban areas, this have more to do with the rural areas higher fertility levels – there are more second and third pregnancies in rural China and these tend to be overwhelmingly male.
  3. There has been an extraordinary surge in development and prosperity in China during the same period that its SRB has become so imbalanced. Between 1982 and 2005, female illiteracy dropped from 25% to 4%, the mean years of schooling for Chinese women rose by nearly 50%, estimated per capita income jumped nearly fivefold while the fraction of the population living in extreme poverty dropped from 75% to roughly 15%.
  4. Finally, China is far more open to the outside world today than it was in the early 1980s (as shown by statistics on international trade, investment, finance to travel and communications).

Thus, to say that China’s SRB figures are due to its “backwardness” and lack of education and wealth is not backed up by the statistics.  No doubt a lot of it has to do with the Chinese One Child policy, but as we shall see in the next post, when I will look at the rest of Eberstadt’s piece, China is not the only country in the world to have a large SRB imbalance.

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female infanticide doctor uk Dear England, I’m very confused. Is abortion a ‘choice’ or is it ‘morally repugnant’?

UK doctor filmed admitting termination would be tantamount to ' female infanticide'.

Dear England,

Last week, it seems everyone flew into a tizzy because the Daily Telegraph reported that abortion facilities are allowing women to abort their children if the child is the “wrong” sex. The papers and politicians are saying that “sex-selective abortion” is illegal and “morally wrong.” In fact, the whole business has upset everyone so much that Scotland Yard is now involved.

But I’m afraid I just don’t understand, England. Hadn’t you accepted the pro-abortion/pro-choice movement’s assertion that abortion is always a “choice”? Isn’t it supposed to be entirely a “private decision between the woman and her doctor”? I had understood that you believe it is the choice alone that makes the act “moral.”

Yet here we have one of your elected officials, Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, saying yesterday, “sex-selective abortion is morally wrong” because it isn’t on the list of accepted reasons. Today he wrote in The Telegraph: “Carrying out an abortion on the grounds of gender alone is in my view morally repugnant.”

Do I understand this correctly? It is morally wrong to end the life of someone specifically because she is a girl (and I am going to assume specifically because he is a boy, though this seems never to be mentioned out loud), but you can certainly end the life of a girl because you just don’t really feel like having a child at all, of either sex.

Or, as the law currently permits, if the girl is suspected of being “severely handicapped”? To clarify: it is morally wrong to end the life of a child specifically because she is female, but not morally wrong to end the life of a child who has Down’s Syndrome, but just happens to be female at the same time?

Or, to look at it another way, is it “morally repugnant,” as Mr. Lansley says, to end the life of a female child who, let us say, has a cleft palate or a club foot and who also happens to be female if your reason is not a loathing of these malformations but a loathing of female children? This seems odd because the end result is precisely the same.

Quite honestly, I’m surprised you are bothered. It seemed that after a few troubled nights, the whole issue of ending the life of children for their disabilities really just didn’t seem to worry you too much at all. 

I would like to ask you, and Mr. Lansley, according to what criteria is an act “morally wrong”? What possible difference does it make to anyone what reason is given on the forms? Isn’t a key point of legalised abortion to allow our society to end the life of children? If we have established that it is ever morally permissible to do this, does it matter so very much why they want to?

England, you say that someone seeking an abortion has to have, or, more to the point, has to say they have the correct, socially approved reasons. But if you have accepted that we as a society can end the life of a child, that in some cases doing so is even a meritorious act, how does this ending of a life ever become “morally repugnant” if it is carried out for some reason that does not make the current list of socially approved reasons?

Also, could I ask, England, who makes this list? Where does it come from? How are the criteria for “morally repugnant” and illegal and the criteria for legal and meritorious decided?

It does not come from your 1000 years of jurisprudence that established civil liberties based on the person’s inherent rights as a human being.

It also doesn’t come from traditional medical ethics, the ancient cornerstone of which is “Do no harm” to anyone, mother or child, and which specifies that no doctor can give a woman a “pessary to cause an abortion”.

At the risk of sounding impertinent, where did you get the idea that abortion is acceptable under any circumstances? Who exactly told you that? And why did you suddenly decide to believe it?

If the list of morally acceptable reasons for abortion is derived from the general social opinion, what happens if and when that changes? What if you, England, become a society dominated by a culture that thinks it is not the least bit “morally repugnant” to end the life of girls before or after birth? Will this mean that it is still, objectively, immoral? Will you change the law?

Once you have established that as a society we can end the life of an unborn child, what is the point of maintaining any sort of pretense of moral outrage if the reason for ending the life is not to your personal liking or the personal liking of your politicians? Why retain these oddly archaic, traditional moral restrictions at all? Does this not seem somewhat contradictory?

The Telegraph’s video clip of a Dr. Raj approving an abortion more or less sums up the whole problem. The pregnant women explains that she wants to terminate her pregnancy because she had discovered she was having a girl but her and her partner “don’t want a girl”. What happens next?

“Is that the reason?” Dr Raj asks. “That’s not fair. It’s like female infanticide isn’t it?”

The solution becomes clear in an instant: simply put down some other reason. Dr. Raj says, “I’ll put too young for pregnancy, yeah?” Because everyone in that room, including Dr. Raj and the Telegraph reporter, knows that these regulations are a farce.

Clearly the difficulty you are having, England, is that while abortion comes with a moral framework that admits of no exceptions, politicians know that that framework is not accepted by the general public, which views it as “morally repugnant.” The trick so far to keeping everything going has been to never talk about it. Never let anyone ask the kind of questions I have asked above.

The Telegraph tells us, “The disclosures are likely to lead to growing pressure for pregnant women considering an abortion to be offered independent counseling”. And Mr. Lansley has said that there will be a “public consultation” on the issue. So it seems we are, at last, going to talk about it.

This seems like a good idea, but I wonder if we are clear about what, exactly, the consultation will ask the public? Mr. Lansley seems to think it is only a matter of women receiving “independent counseling”. “All women seeking an abortion should have the opportunity, if they so choose, to discuss at length and in detail with a professional their decision and the impact it may have,” he says.

But who is going to do this counseling? The staff and operators of these abortion “charities” whose six-figure salaries depend upon abortion?

I wonder, England, are you really ready to face the results of such a public discussion? You are clearly ill at ease with things as they are now.

Either way, it seems that we are getting close to the time when you will have to decide which way you want to go. These contradictions can no longer be hidden, even from those most determined to ignore rampaging elephants.

Dearest England, if there is to be a consultation, I do hope that you will not hesitate to ask the questions I have asked above.

Should you ever feel the need to revert back to your previous moral convictions – that something that is “morally wrong” is so because of the nature of the act itself, and not because it contravenes the strictures of some ephemeral social trend – please be assured of my whole-hearted support, and that of many more who love you tenderly.

Cross posted from LifeSiteNews with additional reporting from ProLife NZ.

Make 2012 Count! Get Involved with ProLife New Zealand

On February 23, 2012, in Blog, by Simeon

Volunteer with ProLife NZ Make 2012 Count! Get Involved with ProLife New Zealand

Hey Everyone: Hope you’ve had a safe and rewarding summer! It’s that time of year and the new semester is nearly upon us. In case you’re new to ProLife NZ, or need a refresher, this is just a short message to let you know about our clubs around the country, and the awesome line up of Orientation Week activities we’ve planned!

ProLife NZ is an association of pro-life clubs throughout Aotearoa, with affiliated members from Auckland to Southland. University-based with a student focus, ProLife NZ promotes educational initiatives which encourage discussion on the issue of abortion in a friendly and non-confrontational context. We welcome students from all backgrounds, irrespective of their ethical views, creed, ethnicity, etc.

So get in touch with your local club today, even if it’s just to say hi, or if you’re not on campus, encourage students you know to get involved. Check out our Facebook pages below for more details:

ProLife New Zealand (National)

University of Auckland

University of Waikato 

University of Massey (Palmy)

University of Wellington

University of Canterbury

University of Otago

Our clubs will be organising a sweet line up of events and speakers over the course of the academic year, so get in quick and don’t miss out. You could also subscribe to our blog!

Finally, ProLife NZ is pleased to announce that we will be hosting Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute in 2012, for the 2012 National Tour. A best-selling author and internationally-acclaimed authority on Chinese reproductive and population policies, having published widely on the government’s ‘One Child’ laws, Steven will be talking on the role and ethics of abortion in the population control debate. We will be oranising speaking events all over the country; stay tuned for more updates on dates and venues.

Good luck with the new year, and hope to see you all soon.

For Life,

The Prolife NZ Team


Gendercide nz Sex selection shocks us but abortions on disabled babies don’t

In a recent, now famous editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, interim editor-in-chief Rajendra Kale called abortion of female babies “discrimination against women in its most extreme form.” He called for the withholding of information regarding the sex of any unborn baby until 30 weeks gestation in order to stop the female feticide that he reports to be occurring mainly in certain ethnic groups.

While abortion advocates are in an uproar over a woman’s right to choose to abort a female baby because she wants a boy instead, others are calling for the education of these ethnic groups against sexist rationale. But what if this debate was instead about the unborn child with cystic fibrosis or Down Syndrome?

I believe most of us would agree that sex selective abortions are an act of discrimination. And I believe most of us would agree that this discrimination must end. But if the same ultrasound technology which revels the sex of a baby also revels the existence of a disability and that baby is then aborted because of that disability, is that not discrimination against the disabled at its worst? Why isn’t society standing up for these babies? Why aren’t doctors fighting to stop this practice of eugenics? Why is discrimination against females viewed as abhorrent, while discrimination against the disabled is considered justifiable and compassionate?

For those with disabilities, and for myself and other parents of a child with a condition able to be diagnosed prenatally, the idea of disability selective abortions is just as disconcerting as that of sex selective abortions. Prenatal testing exists in order to detect fetal abnormalities. In fact, new technologies that allow for easier, earlier testing of Down Syndrome have been boasted as the way to eliminate the condition. But the only way to eliminate Down Syndrome is through abortion.

Doctors advise expectant parents of a child facing a diagnosis that it is more compassionate to abort the child than allow her to live. Many people agree that aborting a disabled baby is the right thing to do so that the child won’t have to grow up suffering in any way. In fact, some parents have brought a wrongful birth lawsuit against their doctor when the doctor failed to diagnosis a disability in their unborn child. But is it really about compassion or is it about convenience? Can we really decide for someone else whether or not her life is worth living? And are these parents being educated about their child’s condition like Canadian parents should be educated about the joys of raising a daughter instead of a son?

The fact is that aborting a baby based on a disability is the same as aborting a child based on sex or race. It’s discrimination and it sends the message that people with disabilities are less than human and don’t deserve a chance at life. Unfortunately, doctors can’t withhold information regarding a prenatal diagnosis without the risk of being sued. So until society is educated on the realities of living with a disability, this discrimination will continue.

Unless people come forward for disabled children like Kale did for female babies, a prenatal diagnosis won’t be used to inform and educate parents, but instead will continue to be the reason many unborn children never see the light of day.

Cross posted from LifeNews with additional reporting from ProLife NZ.

infanticide nz What if arguments for abortion were applied to infants?

You would get something that sounds like this…

6 Arguments for Infanticide

  1. Criminalizing infanticide is dangerous for women. In societies where infanticide is illegal, young women who do not want their child are forced to secretly dispose of their babies in back alleys or public restrooms. When legal, however, infanticide is 100% safe. There are absolutely no health risks associated with the procedure.
  2. Women have the right to choose. To rob a woman of her infanticide rights is to rob her of her reproductive freedom. Don’t like infanticide? Then don’t do it!
  3. Infanticide prevents unwanted children. For example, some mothers do not know that their child is physically or mentally handicapped until after the child has been born. It is a great injustice that these mothers are now forced by the state to raise a child they do not want.
  4. Infanticide is ultimately better for children. Unwanted children are much more likely to experience abuse or neglect; infanticide ensures that every child is a wanted child.
  5. Infanticide benefits society. In developing countries, orphanages are overcrowded and the streets are swarming with homeless children. Countless millions are expended every year to keep these children alive, when the money could be used much more effectively to build economies and create jobs. Infanticide, administered systematically on a large scale, would relieve societies of this burden, thus creating a better world for all.
  6. Criminalizing infanticide violates the separation of church and state. Those who oppose infanticide rights do so because they believe it is evil to kill children, but this assertion cannot be proven empirically by the scientific method. Thus it is merely a personal opinion based on religious beliefs, and as such, it cannot form the basis of public policy in a secular democracy.

Cross posted from

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Ryan Bomberger Ryan Bomberger: The Man Behind the Pro Life Billboard Campaign

Ryan Bomberger tears up when he recites the lyrics to “Meant to Be,” a song he wrote as a tribute to his birth mother—a woman he’s never met. The man behind the controversial pro-life billboard campaign, Too Many Aborted, was conceived in rape. His birth mother was white, and the rapist was black. Despite the circumstances of his conception, his mother allowed him to live.

Bomberger was born in Pennsylvania in 1971, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court declared a “right to privacy” to abort in Roe v. Wade. In the late 1960s, however, states began allowing abortions in cases of rape, incest, and health of the mother or fetus. Prior to Roe, some states even allowed abortion on demand, including neighboring state New York. If Bomberger’s birth mother had wanted an abortion, the option was available. But she chose life.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how much life is a gift,” Bomberger said in a telephone interview. “I can’t help but think about my biological mother’s decision, the reverberation…that’s like a powerful, resurging thought in my mind every day, and that’s no exaggeration.”

The first child adopted by a white Christian family, Bomberger said he tried to find his birth mother in 2004 just to thank her, but was unable to locate her. “I still believe that some day, some way, she’ll be able to hear those words of gratitude. Her decision put me in a family. It’s a very different kind of family. An amazing, loving family.”

Bomberger called his parents “two of the most remarkable people in the world.” They had a heart for adoption even before they married. His adoptive mother’s parents were divorced, and her father was an alcoholic. “She was placed in an orphanage as a young child, and she made a promise to God at the age of five that she’d be a mommy to kids who didn’t have one.”


Ryan B family Ryan Bomberger: The Man Behind the Pro Life Billboard Campaign

Ten adopted and three natural children later, the Bombergers were a multiracial assortment that made the Jolie-Pitt family look like amateurs, with American Indian, Vietnamese, black/white, white, and black children. “People look at us like we’re some kind of freak show,” he said, laughing. “‘What is this?’ This is family. This is what it looks like.”

While the media hype celebrities who adopt transracially, Bomberger said, there’s a different level of sacrifice when you don’t know where the next check or meal is going to come from. But his parents felt they were called to adopt.

“They could have had a life of convenience,” he said. “Our family owns a department store, and they could have had a cushy sort of life, but instead they have thirteen children. There were lots of hand-me-downs, handed down hand-me-downs…they really understood what sacrifice was…they knew that adoption was a way of unleashing purpose, and our family was transformed by that. It was transformed culturally and in so many other ways, because of the beautiful act of adoption.”

Bomberger and his wife share this calling. He adopted his wife’s daughter, and the couple gave birth to two children, adopted another, and are considering adding a fifth child to the family through adoption

Cross posted from LifeSiteNews.

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Looking for films about bioethics?

On February 12, 2012, in Blog, by Alisdair

This is well worth checking out: an annotated list of dramas and documentaries about bioethical topics at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics (SCHB). It was launched this week.

My test for the completeness of a such a list is whether it includes the film with the desperate line, “I am not an animal. I am not an animal. I am a human being!”. Give up? That’s from David Lynch’s haunting film The Elephant Man. And yes, the SCHB has listed it. At the moment, there are 118 documentaries and 165 dramas on the list. It even has some famous foreign titles, like the German classic Homunculus (1916) and the Nazi voluntary euthanasia film Ich Klage An (I accuse, 1941).

I was pretty keen to check out a 1952 drama listed under “Human-Nonhuman Hybrids and Chimeras” – Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. I looked at the trailer on YouTube: it richly deserves the SCHB’s warning that it is among the 50 worst films ever made. Do yourself a favour: check it out now.

Cross posted from BioEdge.

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Amazing new HDlive ultrasound technology

On February 11, 2012, in Blog, by Alisdair

twins hdlive Amazing new HDlive ultrasound technology

During the 1970’s the widespread introduction of ultrasound in the area of obstetrics led to a heating of the debate among ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-abortion’ groups about the ethical and moral issues surrounding abortion, as it was used to visually highlight the level of development of foetuses at early stages of pregnancy.

This technology was grasped by ‘pro-life’ groups, including the distribution of the video The Silent Scream consisting of an ultrasound taken during an abortion at 11 weeks gestation. While quite benign compared to videos of terminations that have been released since, this video led to intense debate during the time, in some cases swaying the opinions of those on both sides of the issue .

A few years back,  the introduction of 4D ultrasound into the mainstream enabled a real-time 3D view of a foetus. This provided society with further evidence of the advanced development of the foetus early in pregnancy.

Just recently medical technology manufacturer General Electric has produced amazing new ultrasound imaging technology which provides an even more detailed and realistic view of life inside the womb. This technology, which has been branded HDlive, combines the technology that brought us 4D ultrasound with improved post processing rendering, delivering an amazingly clear image. It achieves this by a new advanced illumination model and advanced skin rendering techniques.

Technical jargon aside, the results speak for themselves and are extraordinary. Below is a preview video of this new technology that we picked up from – we are sure you will be seeing more on this soon.

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UN abortion New analysis on the WHO/Lancet report claiming a rise in ‘unsafe’ abortion rates


This article by Lucia Muchova from provides new analysis on the UN WHO report ”Induced Abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008″  we looked at a couple weeks ago on this blog.

A widely publicized report in The Lancet medical journal calling for the legalisation of abortion contained inflated numbers, flawed data collection and highly misleading language.

The recent article on “Induced Abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008” updates abortion estimates to show progress on improving maternal health. The Alan Guttmacher Institute and staffers with the World Health Organization claim the number of unsafe abortions per 1,000 women has risen from 44% to 49% between 1995 and 2008 while the global abortion rate has declined from 29 to 28 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age. “Unsafe abortions” are concentrated in developing countries. In Middle and Western Africa 100% of abortions are deemed “unsafe.” Presenting various statistics, the authors call for increased efforts to legalize abortion and expand investment in contraception in developing countries.

However, the paper suffers from three main faults. First, the authors use quasi-legal rather than medical definitions. Second, the authors use problematic data collection. Third, the authors have manipulated the data non-transparently. These recurring problems in World Health Organization (WHO) data on maternal mortality have been well documented by Donna J. Harrison, M.D.

Though not a WHO paper per se, much of the Lancet article draws on previous WHO studies, with the estimation of unsafe abortions “developed and commissioned by WHO.”  The WHO defines “unsafe” abortion as “a procedure for terminating an unintended pregnancy carried out either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both.”

However, in academic papers written by WHO staff members, like the Lancet article, this definition becomes interchangeable with a quasi-legal one: “As elaborated by WHO, abortions done outside the bounds of law are likely to be unsafe even if they are done by people with medical training… Thus, as in previous efforts to estimate abortion incidence and consistent with WHO practice, we used the operational definition of unsafe abortions, which is abortions done in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, and those that do not meet legal requirements, in countries with less restrictive laws. Safe abortions were defined as those that meet legal requirements, in countries with liberal laws, or where the laws are liberally interpreted such that safe abortions are generally available.” No mention is made of medical standards or skills of those performing abortion.

What this means is that abortions performed in countries with liberal laws, like the U.S., which result in serious complications or death would be classified “safe” abortions. Abortions in restricted countries, sometimes facilitated by activist groups funded by progressive governments and foundations, fit in the “unsafe” category.

WHO researchers acknowledge the difficulty in obtaining good data on abortion. Records of hospital admissions cannot distinguish between spontaneous and induced abortions; surveys underreport the number of abortions; ambiguous language prevents clear classifications of pregnancy outcomes; and in countries where abortion is illegal or hardly accessible, information is limited. Unsafe abortion in particular is, according to the WHO, “one of the most difficult indicators to measure.” Even for “safe” abortion, only 66% (2/3) of the countries with liberal abortion laws have a mechanism to collect relevant data. Nevertheless, statistics are reproduced, referenced and relied upon as if their validity was set in stone.

The most recent WHO Unsafe Abortion report asserts that 13% of maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortion, identified as one of the three main causes of maternal deaths globally, together with haemorrage and sepsis due to childbirth. This statistic is relied upon in the Lancet article. Given the ambiguity of the term “unsafe” and the unreliability of the data, one is left wondering why more money should be spent on increasing access to abortion instead of measures to improve antenatal and post-partum care.

The Lancet article indicates that “on the whole,” chemical abortion procedures are classified as unsafe. Crucially, this includes misoprostol, regarded as unsafe due to the risks of heavy bleeding associated with incorrect usage. This means that organizations, such as the International Consortium on Medical Abortion, that encourage and actively distribute misoprostol for abortions are in fact raising the numbers of unsafe abortions, which they claim to be preventing. Note: Lucia Muchova writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.