Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 12
No. 10
November, 2018
Defending Life
Abortion in the U.S. at Historic Low

The leading national public health institute of the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tracks legal induced abortion in the U.S. and reports that the total number of abortions, the abortion rate, and the ratio of reported abortion are all at an historic low.

Overall, the U.S. abortion rate has declined nearly 24 percent from 2006 to 2015. The number of abortions in 2015— 638,169— dropped 2% from the number in 2014.

This is excellent news for pro-life advocates who have worked to enact pro-life laws on the state level and to help meet the needs of women facing unexpected pregnancies.

The latest CDC report, Abortion Surveillance 2015, finds that a majority of abortions occurred among women in their twenties (57%–59%) and the majority of abortions (91.1%)took place before 13 weeks gestation. 7.6% of abortions were performed at 14-20 weeks gestation and 1.3% at more than 21 weeks gestation.

Non-surgical abortions have increased with 24.6 percent of abortions reported as “early medical abortions (a non-surgical abortion at ≤8 weeks’ gestation)” reflecting an increase in the use of abortion-inducing drugs of 114% from 2006 to 2015, and an 8% increase from 2014 to 2015.

The smallest percentage of abortion occurred among adolescents under age 15 and the greatest decreases in the abortion rate occurred among adolescents less than 20 years of age. The passage of parental involvement laws appears to have contributed to the reduction in adolescent abortion. The largest percentage of abortion occurred among women aged 20–24 years (26.5%–32.2%) and 25–29 years (26.7%–28.8%).

CDC identified six deaths were related to legal abortion and none to illegal abortion for 2014 and is assessing possible abortion-related deaths that occurred during 2015–2018.

The report does not reflect the total picture of abortion in the U.S. as not all states provide data on all areas as reflected in the report’s tables. The CDC requests voluntary reporting of abortion data from central health agencies of 52 areas (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City) but the states of California, Maryland, and New Hampshire have consistently not provided data. The CDC used data provided by the 49 reporting areas each year during 2006-2015 to analyze abortion trends in the U.S.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, cheered the news stating, "I am gratified that the number of abortions in the United States continues to decline. The reduction in the number of abortions is due to many factors, from declining rates of sexual activity, especially among teens, to pro-life legislative gains."

"The efforts of the staff and volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers, as well as pro-life educational efforts, are to be commended. At the same time, we cannot be content with hundreds of thousands of abortions occurring annually in our nation," Archbishop Naumann added.

Another recent report, this one by the pro-abortion Abortion Care Network —"Communities Need Clinics: Independent Abortion Care Providers and the Future of Abortion Access in the United States"— provides more encouraging news in the struggle to protect unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion. It reports a decline in the number of abortion clinics in the U.S. which it states are “closing at an unprecedented rate”. As of November 2018, 370 independent abortion clinics remain open, down from 510 in 2012, reduced by nearly 28 percent.

Ireland: Lawmakers Defend Pro-Life Position

Debate in Ireland’s Dáil Éireann is increasingly filled with intolerance for the pro-life position and the right of conscience by lawmakers as debate on amendments to the government’s bill to legalize abortion takes place. At the committee stage, 180 amendments have been offered and pro-abortion lawmakers have ardently rejected any pro-life protection from being added to the bill.

Pro-life TD Carol Nolan, punished earlier this year by her party Sinn Féin for her pro-life vote, opposed government funding for abortion during committee consideration and described a late term abortion during debate on providing pain relief to unborn children before late term abortions and received the ire of pro-abortion colleagues in return.  Demonstrating a lack of tolerance for any legislator or view that supports a consistent respect for life that opposes abortion, Ms Nolan’s amendment was described as “sinister” by Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers while Nolan’s realistic description of a late term abortion procedure was said by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett to be designed to induce "trauma, fear and shock."

The extreme intolerance of the pro-abortion TDs to hearing the truth about an abortion procedure and what it does to the unborn child was exhibited by Sinn Féin's Louise O'Reilly who accused Deputy Nolan of trying to "inject shock tactics and US nonsense" and shamelessly charged Nolan’s comments against abortion "displayed no compassion" and were "dripping with judgement, dripping with a kind of visceral hatred of women."

In response to the small-minded and completely false comments, Deputy Nolan reiterated that she was seeking to represent the views of the 723,632 people who voted No in the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, and the many people who voted Yes who but who have problems with the legislation as it now stands. 

She explained the lack of tolerance for the pro-life position in the Dáil Éireann stating"Unfortunately, many Pro-Life have been bullied into silence, but I won’t allow my views on the issue to be silenced, it appears that democracy in Dáil Éireann only exists if you hold a liberal and pro-choice view - so much for equality and respect. My sole motivation at all times has been a concern for the welfare of women and their unborn babies.”

Independent TD Mattie McGrath, a pro-life champion, described the situation in an insightful opinion piece entitled 'New form of misogyny denies women facts about abortion' which he begins with the simple statement, “In all my years in politics, I have never dealt with an issue that even comes close to the distortions and misinformation that occur in the abortion debate.”

McGrath explains the ridicule endured by pro-life TDs, “For bringing forward these amendments, we have been taunted and derided by pro-choice TDs and some journalists, not over what the amendments would achieve but over what our detractors want people to think they would do.”

He continues, “I've been in politics long enough not to take jeers or insults personally but I find it really disturbing that an issue of such importance - about life and death - should be demeaned and misrepresented in such a constant and relentless way.”

The lawmaker from Tipperary laments the situation in the Dáil and concludes, “So much for choice. So much for giving women information. Denying women basic information is a new form of misogyny. It is practised every day in Dail Eireann.”

Read more here.

International Pressure for Abortion
MPs in Europe Working to Advance and Fund Abortion

The European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) conducted a strategy meeting in Krakow on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with top staff from All Party Parliamentary Groups on Population and Development and Reproductive Health from national legislative bodies from throughout Europe and with pro-abortion NGOs, including International Planned Parenthood Federation.


Twitter— EPF @EPF_Pop_Dev— provided information on the meeting during which speakers addressed “challenges to SRHR” and “the vital role of the @Europarl_EN to get on board with #SRHR issues in order to push for real progress within the #EU”. Discussions were held on “the pre-election European political context and the rise of the far right”. Identified as obstacles to the advance of the agenda were: “funding cuts, ultra-conservative anti-choice movements and social/gender inequalities”. Hands on advice was also given including “how to use Instagram for parliamentary advocacy” in order to achieve a more progressive 2019.

Speakers included Ragaa Said, listed as a Parliamentary Affairs Specialist at UNFPA in New York, who offered “a perspective from @UNFPA regarding progress with #reproductiverights and how they aim to engage more with both civil society and parliamentarians, especially in times of change and crisis.”

UN meetings were discussed for their importance in advancing the agenda, “Next year it will become a key year in the global fight for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, both for the review of # Agenda2030 , and for the 25 years of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). “

A second meeting took place at the European Parliament, where Members of the European Parliament, MEPs for SRR, conducted a meeting on the EU’s funding priorities for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021 to 2027, focusing on funding for SRHR. Presenters included IPPF Europe which pushed for additional funding for the agenda.

Pro-abortion MEPs have been promoting additional funding for abortion throughout the year during committee meetings.  The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality submitted its opinion on the MFF (passed the committee by 24-5) that seeks funding to counter President Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy stating that the committee “recalls the urgent need to increase EU funding for SRHR and involve Member States in order to counter the impact of the financing gap left by the US after the reinstatement and expansion of its ‘global gag rule’”.

It also claimed a need for national governments to fund the agenda stating “whereas the reduction of aid from other donors in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and women’s reproductive health requires the Union and its Member States to increase current funding, especially in those fields with a particular gender dimension.”

The MFF process has been filled with differences of opinion on a number of funding priorities. The President of the EP is expected to present a Progress Report to the European Council in December.


Legislative News
Ireland: No on Decriminalizing Abortion; No on Pro-Life Amendments

Debate over how to implement access to abortion is underway in Ireland’s Dail with pro-life amendments being rejected and pro-life legislators subjected to extreme intolerance and offensive and insulting comments by their pro-abortion colleagues.

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 would legalize abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to six months for several exceptions. It is the government’s response to the national referendum vote to permit abortion. TDs voted 90-9 against an amendment to ban federal funding of abortions. At the committee stage, 180 amendments were offered and pro-abortion TDs ardently rejected any pro-life protections being added to the bill including conscience protections and a clause prohibiting abortion on the basis of sex, race or disability

Decriminalization of abortion failed to pass Ireland’s Dail despite opposition to pro-life amendments to the current bill to legalize abortion. In explaining his opposition to decriminalization Minister of Health Simon Harris said, “I did say after the referendum to Repeal the Eighth that I did feel a responsibility to stick to what was in the general scheme, and these provisions were in the general scheme,” said Harris. He also noted that the language is important to protect woman from forced abortions. More amendments are expected as the Dail continues debate on the bill, which pro-life TDs have noted is already more extreme on abortion than what was expected when the country voted in the referendum.


Isle of Man: Tynwald Approves Bill to Legalize Abortion

Legislators in the Isle of Man’s parliament- the Tynwald- have cleared legislation to legalize abortion after the upper house unanimously approved a bill to permit abortion on demand for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation also permits abortions up to 24 weeks for cases of fetal anomaly, health and social risks to the mother, and creates “access zones” prohibiting peaceful protests outside abortion facilities. Current law bans abortion in the Isle of Man except for limited circumstances. The Tynwald members signed the bill and it is now passed on for Royal Assent.

Executive News
Two African Nations Shut Down Marie Stopes Abortion Clinics

The African nations of Kenya and Niger have shut down abortion facilities operated by UK-based Marie Stopes International. Kenya’s Medical Practitioners Board issued the decision after an investigation into advertisements by Marie Stopes promoting abortion services. Abortion is banned in Kenya unless the mother’s health is at risk. A letter from the board ordered the abortion provider to stop operations- "Marie Stopes Kenya is hereby directed to immediately cease and desist offering any form of abortion services in all its facilities within the republic." Marie Stopes has to provide a weekly report of all its services rendered for 60 days.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit challenging the decision on behalf of the Network for Adolescents and Youth of Africa (NAYA) and a woman of reproductive age claiming, “Any ban on reproductive health services is a violation of the Kenyan Constitution and fundamental human rights and is an affront to women and girls.”

Niger also closed two Marie Stopes facilities for performing illegal abortions and violating the 2006 law banning abortions. Health Minister Idi Illiassou said Marie Stopes was violating its partnership agreement with the country by “enabling the voluntary interruption of pregnancy”. The Minister explained the abortion group was offering “manual vacuum aspiration for a fee of 30,000 CFA francs (46 euros/$52)” and that the government would be taking legal action against the violators.



AU: Queensland Premier Calls for Inquiry into Euthanasia

The Queensland Premier Anastacia Palasczuk has issued a parliamentary inquiry into assisted suicide, opening the door to potential legislation next year. The investigation will include parliamentary committee hearings on end of life issues and the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, with a report on the committee’s findings due next November. Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Catholic Church would be involved in the inquiry process. “And we will do so not just in defence of our massive presence in health and aged care but out of concern for society as a whole, because euthanasia, like abortion, goes to the heart of what kind of society we choose to be,” said Coleridge.

AU: Queensland Premier Calls for Inquiry into Euthanasia

The Queensland Premier Anastacia Palasczuk has issued a parliamentary inquiry into assisted suicide, opening the door to potential legislation next year. The investigation will include parliamentary committee hearings on end of life issues and the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, with a report on the committee’s findings due next November. Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Catholic Church would be involved in the inquiry process. “And we will do so not just in defence of our massive presence in health and aged care but out of concern for society as a whole, because euthanasia, like abortion, goes to the heart of what kind of society we choose to be,” said Coleridge.

Judicial News
UK: Couple Awarded Settlement After Hospital Removes Daughter’s Life Support

A couple in the UK has won a lawsuit against a hospital that turned off their newborn baby’s life support without their consent. In 2012, the newborn daughter of Sian Hill and James Towers was put on life support shortly after birth at Darlington Memorial Hospital. The parents were unable to see her and made it clear they wanted to see their daughter alive, however, a pathologist’s report revealed that the decision was made by staff to remove life support. The couple was awarded a five-figure sum as a bereavement settlement.

Belgium: Doctors on Trial for Assisted Suicide Death

Three Belgian doctors are on trial for certifying a woman as autistic so she could be killed by assisted suicide. Belgium is one a two countries along with the Netherlands that allow euthanasia of individuals for psychiatric reasons if they can prove the individual has “unbearable and untreatable” suffering. The woman, Tine Nys, told doctors her suffering qualified her for euthanasia. The family claims that Nys was actually suffering from a broken heart after the end of a relationship and that she never received treatment for autism. She was killed two months after the diagnosis. The family accuses the doctors of rushing the decision and failing to comply with Belgian’s euthanasia law.

It is reported that among Belgians euthanized for mental health reasons, the most common conditions are depression, personality disorder and Asperger’s. However, many experts, in Belgium and elsewhere, dispute whether autism should be considered a valid reason to be killed.

Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
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