Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 10
No. 11
December, 2016
 
Pro-Life Actions
Trump's Election Triggers Pro-Abortion Fears Globally
Pro-abortion activists and organizations across the globe are still recovering from the aftershocks of the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned on a pro-life platform, and whose nominations for key cabinet positions embrace individuals who are committed to the pro-life position including Vice-President elect Mike Pence, Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions, Governor Nikki Haley as Trump's nominee for United Nations Ambassador, Congressman Tom Price to head the department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Dr Ben Carson to oversee the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education and Congressman Mick Mulvaney to head the Office of Budget and Management (OBM).  

Abortion-advancing activists had been strategizing on ways they could work with what they expected would be the uber friendly pro-abortion administration of Hillary Clinton to push international access to abortion but now face the reality of life under a pro-life U.S. administration. In contrast, advocates for the unborn are celebrating in the U.S. and around the world anticipating the pro-life actions that President Trump will undertake in the U.S., at the United Nations and abroad.   
 
The most pressing concern of abortion-minded NGOs is funding. Expectations are high that President Trump will restore the U.S. ban on funding to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that perform or promote abortion and refuse to stop these activities as a condition of receiving US funding. Foremost of the foreign NGOs that have previously lost funding under the Mexico City Policy are International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International (MSI); both operate affiliates in a large number of countries with pro-life laws and restrictions.

Read more here.
US: Abortion Rate Dropping
The official keeper of US abortion records, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports in the latest Abortion Surveillance Report that the total abortion number, rate and ratio of reported abortions for 2013 decreased and reached their lowest level since abortion was legalized dropping to 664,435 reported legal induced abortions.
 
According to Michael New, an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C, reporting data for both 2012 and 2013, the overall number of abortions fell by almost five percent. The decline was widespread, as the number of abortions fell in 41 of the 46 states that reported data for each of these two years. In fact, the U.S. abortion rate has declined consistently since it peaked in 1980; it fell by approximately 15 percent between 2004 and 2013 and has fallen by over 40 percent since 1980."

A portrait of the average woman having an abortion was described by Randall O'Bannon of the National Right to Life Committee,
 
"The latest CDC demographic data tell us that the woman who aborts today is more likely to be an unmarried minority, a twenty-something who already has at least one child. Chances are she will have her abortion at 8 weeks gestation or less and she is increasingly likely to turn to a chemical method."
 
He continues, "These are critical factors to keep in mind when developing a legislative, educational, or outreach strategy. Other surveys have told us that women often turn to abortion because they simply don't see any other options. Measures that not only make women aware of but help create and provide realistic alternatives to abortion may be one very effective means of saving lives."

There are many reasons for the drop in abortions including the passage of state legislation, the closing of large abortion clinics and successful pro-life outreach to abortion-minded women. O'Bannon explains, "These latest numbers from the CDC are confirmation that America is moving, perhaps even accelerating, towards a culture more hospitable to unborn life."
International Pressure for Abortion
New Pro-Abortion Collaboration to Counter Pro-Life NGOs
Pro-abortion activists have launched a new collaboration to attack pro-life and pro-family organizations around the world that are increasingly successful in their efforts, including at the United Nations, and which are falsely described as "anti-human rights". The press release of the Observatory on the Universality of Rights (OURs) explains that the time to act is now as "governments the world over shifting to the right, and most recently the election of Donald Trump in the United States, more power and legitimacy has been given to anti-human rights actors at both national and international levels."

The radical activists fear religious and cultural values that protect the unborn and national laws against abortion claiming that "today conservative actors are targeting the systems established to protect our human rights. These actors use arguments based on extreme interpretations of religion, culture, and tradition, along with rhetoric linked to state sovereignty to roll back fundamental rights - particularly women's rights and gender justice- and to justify state impunity."
 
Global support to protect the right to life of the unborn child and his or her mother from the violence of abortion and to affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman is growing. Countries are increasingly defending their religious and cultural values, as well as their sovereign laws during negotiations at the United Nations despite mounting pressure. Radical NGOs are increasingly frustrated.

The press release includes, "Religious fundamentalists are now operating with increased frequency, resources, and support in international human rights spaces. Furthermore, these actors are extremely well coordinated, building dynamic, issue-oriented affiliations between civil society actors, intergovernmental organizations, and states, and across regions and religions.

OURS self-described goal is "to monitor, analyze, and share information on these anti-rights initiatives threatening international and regional human rights systems. Grounded in a feminist framework, the OURs initiative works across regions, issues, and human rights spaces towards the advancement of social justice."
 
The effort should encourage pro-life and pro-family organizations around the world and at the UN as a sign of success. OURS acknowledges that "the strategies employed by anti-human rights actors have already had a substantive effect on the international and regional human rights systems..."
 
OURs is coordinated by the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID). Members include Ipas, Planned Parenthood and World Council of Churches (WCC).
Africa: U.S. Pro-Abortion NGOs Target Pro-Life Laws in Africa
The Guttmacher Institute and Ipas co-sponsored a conference in Addis Ababa with the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) entitled: The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion, From Research to Policy Conference. The conference was attended by 260 researchers, activists, policymakers and donors who issued a declaration that called for holding African governments accountable to eliminate "unsafe abortion" by not only changing national laws restricting access to abortion but by "supporting the work of civil society to expand safe abortion access".
 
The Maputo Protocol, the only treaty in the world that recognizes a right to abortion under select circumstances, was a major topic of the conference as attendees discussed ways to use the Protocol to pressure signatory countries to open their doors to abortion.
The Declaration was critical of cultural and religious opposition to abortion in Africa including by health care personnel as it stated:
"But throughout the region, women and girls are still denied the ability to control their reproductive lives. In many places, reproductive health care, including safe abortion care, is inaccessible--particularly for young, rural, poor, displaced and uneducated women--for a variety of reasons including legal restrictions, cost and cultural stigma. This stigma extends to health care providers who may not provide abortion care as a result."
Discussion topics at the conference included: Building societal support for safe abortion: The role of police, faith communities and the education sector; A new perspective on "youth friendly services": A dialogue between young people and health professionals; Why should we care about second-trimester abortion?; Potential for safe abortion in Francophone Africa; Self-use of medical abortion: What are we afraid of?; and How do we do it? Abortion legal and policy changes - lessons from the field
Other organizations joining Guttmacher Institute and Ipas and signing the declaration included: FEMNET, Gynuity Health Projects, Ibis Reproductive Health, International Planned Parenthood Federation, African Regional Office, Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre, Marie Stopes International, Population Council, and Women's Health and Action Research Centre (WHARC).
France: Senate Votes to Ban Pro-Life Websites
The French Senate moved in an extreme direction that violates free speech by banning pro-life websites that post information against abortion. The Senate vote, 173-126, follows action in the National Assembly to approve legislation that makes it a crime to publish any pro-life material that conflicts with the nation's abortion policy and seeks to prosecute pro-life activists for "exercising, by any means, moral and psychological pressures, threats or any act of intimidation against people seeking information on a voluntarily termination of pregnancy."
 
In response, Grégor Puppinck, Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, said: "Publishing the Christian teaching that abortion is a crime could be seen as putting pressure on people. The simple sharing of information that might upset moral conscience could be sufficient to constitute a crime."
 
Puppinck is concerned about the potential for a broad impact on religious freedom as the bill could extend beyond pro-life activist groups and websites and eventually include entire religions, especially impacting Catholic clergy. He explains, "This law may prohibit the church from publishing its position on abortion. If you teach that it is a sin then teaching itself would be sufficient for prosecution."
 
Pro-life websites were described as containing "horrors and lies" by Sen. Francoise Laborde. Violators of the ban face up to two years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
The French Senate and National Assembly next reconcile their respective bills before sending a final version one to Socialist President François Hollande.
Focus on the United Nations
Croatia: U.N. Special Rapporteur Visits, Promotes SRHR
UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mr. Dainius Puras, issued his preliminary observations on his recent visit to Croatia including his opposition to growing pro-life efforts, especially those associated with faith. One section of his report was dedicated to "sexual and reproductive health rights" in which he expressed his discouragement that "some policy makers are being influenced in their decisions by a growing number of church-affiliated organizations who continue to oppose well-established instruments and mechanisms for the promotion and protection of women's sexual and reproductive health rights."
 
He voiced opposition to efforts to revise the Law of Abortion of 1978 which is before the Constitutional Court stating, "The implementation of this Law was already facing some challenges, such as hospitals' denial of abortion on the ground of conscientious objection." He also stated that "while sexuality education was introduced in schools, not enough hours per year are allocated to this important topic and the delivery of the relevant module actually depends on each teacher, who often refuse to do it on the basis on misleading arguments that prevent children and adolescents from making informed decisions about their sexuality and adopt healthy sexual behaviours."

He labeled as "retrogressive measures" policies to prevent access to legal abortion that "may amount to human rights violations" and stated, "Sexual and reproductive health rights also indicate that primacy should be given to women's and children's rights and not to the family unit." 

In response to his visit and observations, Zeljka Markić, President of the organization "In the name of the family" wrote a letter of protest to Prime Minister Plenković, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeida Ra'ada Al Husseina, Chairman of the UN Human Rights Council, Choi Kyong-lima and others in which she states, "Among other things, we consider his work was done outside of his function, he did not respect the institutions of the Republic of Croatia, and that he wanted to impose certain forms of values that are not in harmony with democratically expressed will of the citizens of the Republic of Croatia."
Legislative News
Dominican Republic: Senate Maintains Ban on Abortion
The Dominican Republic Senate voted to maintain its ban on abortion by a vote of 19-1. Possible changes to the Penal Code to open the door to legal abortion have been under debate for nearly 20 years. The Chamber of Deputies first passed the bill before the Senate confirmed its support to increase the maximum sentence for abortion from 30 to 40 years in prison.
Poland: Parliament Approves Assistance to Families of Disabled Babies
Poland's Sejm has approved a new policy to offer financial assistance to families for the birth of disabled babies. The initiative, called the "For Life" plan, extends a payment of 4,000 zlotys ($1,000) upon the birth of a child with a disability or life-threatening disease. Government official Elzbieta Witek explained that the policy is intended to be the "first step" in extending government support to families of handicapped children who have been lobbying for federal assistance. The initiative was approved by a vote of 267-140 with 21 abstentions and is expected to be signed by President Andrzej Duda. President Durda has said he will also support legislation to further protect disabled babies from abortion. "I believe that the lives of these children are too poorly protected at the moment," stated Duda.
US: Senate Committee Calls for FBI and Justice Investigation of PP
The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Justice Department to investigate, and possibly prosecute, four Planned Parenthood affiliates and three private companies for the sale of aborted baby body parts. Senator Grassley's actions result from an examination by committee staff of over 20,000 pages of documents directly provided to the committee by the organizations and companies in question.

According to the senator, "I don't take lightly making a criminal referral.
But, the seeming disregard for the law by these entities has been fueled by decades of utter failure by the Justice Department to enforce it. And, unless there is a renewed commitment by everyone involved against commercializing the trade in aborted fetal body parts for profit, then the problem is likely to continue."   

The Majority's Report--Human Fetal Tissue Research: Context and Controversy--
includes the following: "The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) initially had a policy in place to ensure its affiliates were complying with the law, but the affiliates failed to follow its fetal tissue reimbursement policy. When PPFA learned in 2011 of this situation, PPFA cancelled the policy rather than exercise oversight to bring the affiliates back into compliance. Thus, PPFA not only turned a blind eye to the affiliates' violations of its fetal tissue policy, but also altered its own oversight procedures enabling those affiliates' practices to continue unimpeded."

The extensive report details the background and legislative history on the issue.
US: House Approves Doubling of Budget for Select Committee on PP
The US House voted to allocate additional funding for the select committee investigating Planned Parenthood (PP). The committee was created last fall to investigate the findings of undercover videos that revealed the abortion provider was illegally selling aborted babies' body parts and tissue. The approved funding of $800,000, which passed on a party-line vote of 234-181, doubles its' annual budget. "It is now up to us to build on the work, to hold the government accountable, and stop these affronts to human dignity," said committee chairwoman Rep Marsha Blackburn.
US: Congress Holds Dialogue with African Diplomats on First 1000 Days
Nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life was the focus of a recent Congressional-Diplomatic Dialogue between Members of Congress and members of the African diplomatic community. The dialogue, the sixth in a series of discussions between US Members and African diplomats, seeks to identify strategies to improve health in Africa by targeting child nutrition. "Every night 800 million people around the world go to bed hungry," said Rep Chris Smith, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization. About 165 million of these are children under five who are malnourished.
 
Roger Thurow, author of The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children - and the World testified to the detrimental effects malnutrition for women and children has on families, communities and entire countries. Diplomats from a number of African countries shared their nation's strategies to address this critical issue which impacts a child for his or her lifetime.
Executive News
Scotland: Government Rejects Call to Allow Abortion until Birth
The Scottish government has rejected calls for abortion to be allowed up to birth, extending abortion access beyond the current legal limit of 24 weeks, the same as in England and Wales, which also allows abortion throughout pregnancy if the child has a disability. Pro-abortion organizations, including Amnesty Scotland, want Scotland to follow the model of Canada which does not have a law on abortion allowing abortion on demand throughout pregnancy. A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it has "no plans to change the law".
New Zealand: Justice Minister Rules Out Abortion Expansion
Justice Minister Amy Adams is rejecting calls to change New Zealand's Crimes Act. Currently abortion is legal in the case of risk to the physical or mental health of the mother, in the case of incest and if there the unborn child has a disability. There is no exception for rape and abortion outside the exceptions remains illegal. The only political party to support the abortion law change is the Greens.Justice Minister Adams stated, "Abortion is a deeply personal issue and has traditionally been left as a conscience issue for MPs, and that's appropriate. Wholesale reform of abortion law is not something I'm currently looking at."
US: Texas Health Department Releases Informed Consent Booklet
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission released a revised booklet for women considering abortion informing them of the risks of abortion, including the increased risk of developing breast cancer. The booklet, "A Woman's Right to Know", states: "If you give birth to your baby, you are less likely to develop breast cancer in the future.. Research indicates that having an abortion will not provide you this increased protection against breast cancer. In addition, doctors and scientists are actively studying the complex biology of breast cancer to understand whether abortion may affect the risk of breast cancer."
 
It also includes information about the unborn child's development, including the baby's ability to feel pain at 20 weeks, and resources for pregnancy and parenting. Abortion advocates are protesting the revised booklet. Health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams clarified that the booklet aims to be "helpful, user friendly and medically accurate, and we carefully studied the medical and scientific research available to us along the way." She clarified the main purpose is to give pregnant women the information they need for informed consent.
India: Health Ministry Extends Abortion Policy to Single Women
The Indian government is expanding the current abortion policy to permit single women to procure legal abortions for "failure of contraceptive" and "unplanned pregnancy"; current law specifies only married women. The changes are part of a series of revisions to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act that seek to increase access to the destructive act of abortion in the country. "The amendments will increase women's access to safe abortion and we are hoping the government will attempt to pass the bill in Parliament at the earliest," said Vinoj Manning, executive director of abortion provider and promoter IPAS India, an affiliate of US-based Ipas.
Judicial News
France: Ban on Commercial Celebrating Children with Down Syndrome
France has banned an advertisement celebrating children with Down syndrome (DS), saying it would "disturb the conscience" of women who had aborted babies with DS. The commercial featured the joys of parenting children with DS and was aimed at a pregnant mother considering abortion. Happy children with DS offer a positive message telling her, "Dear future mom, don't be afraid... your child will be able to do many things," including "hug you", "run toward you", and "tell you he loves you". France's highest administrative court recently upheld the High Audiovisual Council's ban of the commercial.
Brazil: Supreme Court Legalizes Abortion in First Trimester
The Brazilian Supreme Court has legalized abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, citing the U.S. and other western countries that do not penalize first trimester abortions. The Supreme Court ruled that Brazil's pro-life law violates women's fundamental rights to autonomy, physical and psychological integrity, sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality. Brazil's House of Representatives plans to set up a special commission to review the Court's decision. Rep. Evandro Gussi called the ruling a "flagrant affront to the Constitution" which violates the government's separation of powers. "It's the Criminal Code that determines abortion to be a crime against life," said Rep Gussi.
South Africa: Supreme Court Rules No Euthanasia
The Supreme Court of South Africa has rejected euthanasia by overturning a lower court decision that approved the assisted suicide of a South African man. The court ruled that the issue is a matter for the legislature and not for the court to decide. The justices cited flaws in the medical information provided to the Pretoria High Court in the initial case and said the case was manipulated by a euthanasia lobby group. "A court addressing these issues needs to be aware of differing cultural values and attitudes within our diverse population," the Supreme Court stated. The approval of assisted suicide in this case would have opened the door to legislation legalizing it in the country.  
Issues
Photos Sought to Counter Images of Children in the Womb
A new pro-abortion effort seeks photographs to counter the images of prenatal development and the abundance of stock pictures of unborn children that are used so effectively to counter the false argument that abortion involves a 'blob of tissue'.

Activists seeking access to a universal right to abortion are increasingly frustrated with the positive emotions rendered by ultrasound images of the preborn child and the subsequent opposition to abortion they produce. In response, the Museum of Contraception and Abortion (MUVS) in Vienna, Austria has organized a contest on the topic of "Abortion" seeking photographs to counter what it calls the "one-sided visual language that projects a wrong impression of abortion and the circumstances of women affected by unwanted pregnancy." It claims that "the media resort to pictures of women in the final stage of pregnancy,or to ultrasound of rare late-term foetuses, and even to graphic pictures of late-term aborted fetuses".

 
 
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

Parents can meet unborn children for first time in 3D

 

Researchers in Brazil have combined ultrasound imagery with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to build a 3D model of an unborn child which can be brought to life by using a virtual reality headset. The new technique not only enables parents to have greater bonding with their child but provides for earlier surgical correction of abnormalities.



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