Tiller murder suspect taken into custody

George Tiller, a notorious Kansas abortion doctor, was shot and killed yesterday in his church foyer. The suspect in his killing, Scott Roeder, was picked up about three hours later according to the Wichita Eagle.

Christian and pro-life groups were out immediately yesterday with condemnations of the shooting.

If readers have new information on Roeder or any pro-life connections, feel free to post a comment. This is a tragic turn of events and one that all pro-life groups should join in condemning.

More details emerging…

Imagine the potential – Obama's life an anti-abortion tribute

When I saw this ad, I thought of the statements of Hillary Clinton’s former OB-GYN, William Harrison when he told me that a physician conducting an abortion does God’s work because the abortion “cancels a luckless human soul.” Here is his statement:

“Do you ever regret that part of the decision? How do you come to terms with that, or do you not see the fetus as a life or a person? I don’t want to see either one die, and would do my best to save both. But your work on the other hand, seeks the end of one of these lives. How do you justify that decision?”
Here is my answer: Anyone who has delivered as many babies as I have, and has seen hundreds of living and dead embryos and fetuses being spontaneously aborted as have I, knows exactly what we are doing when we provide an elective abortion for our patient. We are ending the life of an embryo or a fetus. Not the life of a person, but certainly a creature that might have become a person under other circumstances. When I am asked this question, I always go back to two of the most insightful and beautiful verses of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam.
Oh, if the world were but to recreate
That we might catch ere closed the Book of Fate
And make the Writer on a fairer leaf
Inscribe our names, or quite obliterate.
Better, oh, better cancel from the Scroll
Of universe one luckless Human Soul,
Than drop by drop enlarge the Flood that roars
Hoarser with Anguish as the ages roll.
When Omar wrote his beautiful and treasured poem over a thousand years ago, mankind had no way of safely canceling “from the scroll of universe one luckless human soul” whose numbers make up that flood of howling anguish; at least, no way of canceling it without risking also the life of the woman carrying it. In this day of medical marvels and, hopefully, ever increasing social justice, we possess such a way.
Embryos and fetuses spontaneously aborted – most, but not all of those “canceled” by “God” – are just such luckless human souls. But a few spontaneous abortions occur in desired pregnancies with no discernable abnormalities. For those girls and women and their families whose circumstances would make their babies “luckless human souls,” I “cancel” them before they become babies.
Physicians who save wanted babies from being spontaneously aborted (and we can save a few now that God once seemed determined to abort), and we who cancel “luckless human souls” are doing God’s work.

This video invokes President Obama’s difficult life as a backdrop for the message, “imagine the potential.”

Year in review: Top ten stories of 2008

As in year’s past, I have enjoyed reviewing the posts from the year and coming up with the top ten stories.

1. Cancelation of the American Psychiatric Association symposium – Amidst threat of protests, the APA pressed to halt a scheduled symposium dedicated to sexual identity therapy and religious affiliation. Whipped up by a factually inaccurate article in the Gay City News, gay activists persuaded the APA leadership to pressure symposium organizers to pull the program. Gay City News later ran a correction.

2. The other APA, the American Psychological Association, released a task force report on abortion and mental health consequences. Basing their conclusions on only one study, the APA surprised no one by claiming abortion had no more adverse impact on mental health than carrying a child to delivery. I revealed here that the APA had secretly formed this task force after a series of research reports in late 2005 found links between abortion and adverse mental health consequences for some women. New research confirms that concern is warranted.

3. Golden Rule Pledge – In the wake of Sally Kern saying homosexuality was a greater threat to the nation than terrorism, I initiated the Golden Rule Pledge which took place surrounding the Day of Silence and the Day of Truth. Many conservative groups were calling for Christian students to stay home. This did not strike me as an effective faith-centered response. The Golden Rule Pledge generated some controversy as well as approval by a small group of evangelicals (e.g., Bob Stith) and gay leaders (e.g., Eliza Byard). Some students taking part in the various events were positively impacted by their experience.

4. Exodus considers new direction for ministry – At a leadership training workshop early in 2008, Wendy Gritter proposed a new paradigm for sexual identity ministry. Her presentation was provocative in the sense that it generated much discussion and consideration, especially among readers here. It remains to be seen if Exodus will continue to move away from a change/reparative therapy focus to a fidelity/congruence ministry focus.

5. New research clarifies sexual orienatation causal factors – A twin study and a study of brain symmetry, both from Sweden and a large U.S. study shed some light on causal factors in sexual orientation.

6. Letter to the American Counseling Association requesting clarification of its policies concerning counseling same-sex attracted evangelicals. Co-signed by over 600 counselors (many of whom were referred by the American Association of Christian Counselors), I wrote a letter to the ACA requesting clarification regarding how counselors should work with evangelicals who do not wish to affirm homosexual behavior. The current policy is confusing and gives no guidance in such cases. Then President Brian Canfield replied affirming the clients self-determination in such cases. He referred the matter back to the ACA ethics committee. To date, that committee has not responded.

7. Paul Cameron’s work resurfaces and then is refuted – Insure.com resurrected Paul Cameron’s work in an article on their website about gay lifespans. The article was later altered to reflect more on HIV/AIDS than on homosexual orientation. Later this year, Morten Frisch produced a study which directly addressed Cameron’s methods.

8. Mankind Project unravels – This year I posted often regarding the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. Recently, I reported that MKP is in some financial and organizational disarray.

9. Debunking of false claims about Sarah Palin’s record on support for social programs – I had lots of fun tracking down several false claims made about Sarah Palin during the election. Her opponents willfully distorted her real record to paint her as a hypocrite. I learned much more about Alaska’s state budget than I ever wanted to know but found that most claims of program cuts were actually raises in funding which not quite as much as the agencies requested. However, overall funding for such programs increased.

10. During the stretch run of the election, I became quite interested in various aspects of the race. As noted above, I spent some time examining claims surround Sarah Palin’s record. I also did a series on President-elect Obama’s record on housing, including an interview with one of Barack Obama’s former constituents.

I know, I know, number 10 is an understatement. (Exhibit A)

Happy New Year!

Top ten posts by number of comments and page views – 2008

Time to wrap up 2008 with a review of the stories told and topics covered. I also will give the top ten posts based on page views.
By far the election was the broad topic which generated the most page views. Aside from the Berg vs. Obama thread, readers prefer to comment on the sexual identity related posts. As in past years, I will pick out my top ten themes in a later post.
Top ten by number of comments (fluctuation should be minimal since most of these threads are quiet now)
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1 (796)
2. New study casts doubt on older brother hypothesis and reparative drive theory (460)
3. Gay City News prints letter clarifying sexual identity therapy (282)
4. New Direction for Exodus? (277)
5. Day of the Golden Rule? (264)
6. Sally Kern: What should she do? (248)
7. Study examines brain differences related to sexual orientation (239)
8. Multiple factors involved in sexual orientation, part 2 (221)
9. Sexual orientation theorizing: Is change possible? (219)
10. 60 Minutes Science of Sexual Orientation: An update from the mother of twins (217)
Top ten by page views are:
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1
2. Hey Florida, is this ok with you?
3. Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher talks about his dialogue with Obama and spreading the wealth
4. Berg vs. Obama: Update and current status
5. Michelle Obama likes upscale clothes too
6. Donofrio vs. Wells: NJ Obama citizenship case slated for SCOTUS conference
7. What Might Have Been – The Man Who Could Have Reversed Roe v. Wade, Part two
8. Some light on Sarah Palin’s church affiliation
9. Did Barack Obama vote to withhold treatment to infants surviving abortion?
10. Day of Silence and Golden Rule Pledge on Appalachian State University
The top post has been viewed over 15,000 times with the other posts gradually decreasing from there. These numbers are constantly changing.

New Zealand study examines abortion and mental health link

Joining the Coleman et al study is a study reported by this Medical News Today news release:

Women who have an abortion face a small increase in the risk of developing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, according to a new study from New Zealand.
But the researchers, writing in the December issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, say their findings point to a “middle-of-the-road” position on abortion – and do not support either the strong pro-life or pro-choice arguments.
Researchers from the University of Otago studied the pregnancy and mental health history of over 500 women born in Christchurch, a city in South Island.
The women were interviewed six times between the ages of 15 and 30. At each assessment, the women were asked whether they had been pregnant and, if so, what the outcome of that pregnancy had been. The women were asked whether the pregnancy was wanted or unwanted, and if this had caused them to be upset or distressed.
The women were also given a mental health assessment during each interview, to see if they met the diagnostic criteria for major depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol dependence and illicit drug dependence. The researchers took other confounding factors which might be associated with increased risks of various pregnancy or mental health outcomes into account.
Overall, 284 women reported a total of 686 pregnancies before the age of 30. These included: 153 abortions (occurring to 117 women), 138 pregnancy losses (including miscarriage, stillbirth and termination of ectopic pregnancy), 66 live births that resulted from an unwanted pregnancy (or one that provoked an adverse reaction), and 329 live births resulting from a wanted pregnancy (where there was no reported adverse reaction).
The study found that women who had had abortions had rates of mental health problems that were about 30% higher than other women. The conditions most associated with abortion included anxiety disorders and substance use disorders. In contrast, none of the other pregnancy outcomes were consistently related to significantly increased risks of mental health problems.
However, the overall affects of abortion on mental health were found to be small. The researchers estimated that exposure to abortion accounted for between 1.5% and 5.5% of the overall rate of mental disorders in this group of women.
Professor David Fergusson, John Horwood and Dr Joseph Boden said their study had “important implications for the ongoing debates between pro-life and pro-choice advocates about the mental health effects of abortion”.
Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry they said: “Specifically, the results do not support strong pro-life positions that claim that abortion has large and devastating effects on the mental health of women. Neither do the results support any strong pro-choice positions that imply that abortion is without any mental health effects.
“In general, the results lead to a middle-of-the-road position that, for some women, abortion is likely to be a stressful and traumatic life event which places those exposed to it at a modestly increased risk of a range of common mental health problems.”
Reference:
“Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study.” Fergusson D, Horwood LJ and Boden JM (2008). British Journal of Psychiatry, 193: 444-451

I am still reviewing the study but it looks like the APA should have waited to bring out their report on abortion and mental health.

Abortion and mental health disorders: New study finds relationship

A new study published online today finds varying degress of connection between induced abortion and later mental health problems. The article, published by the Journal of Psychiatric Research, used the National Comorbidity Study, a large representative sample of people carried out in the early 1990s. Here is the abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine associations between abortion history and a wide range of anxiety (panic disorder, panic attacks, PTSD, Agoraphobia), mood (bipolar disorder, mania, major depression), and substance abuse disorders (alcohol and drug abuse and dependence) using a nationally representative US sample, the national comorbidity survey. Abortion was found to be related to an increased risk for a variety of mental health problems (panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, major depression with and without hierarchy), and substance abuse disorders after statistical controls were instituted for a wide range of personal, situational, and demographic variables. Calculation of population attributable risks indicated that abortion was implicated in between 4.3% and 16.6% of the incidence of these disorders. Future research is needed to identify mediating mechanisms linking abortion to various disorders and to understand individual difference factors associated with vulnerability to developing a particular mental health problem after abortion.

In the discussion section, the authors believe that abortion contributes to the effect independent of other factors.

What is most notable in this study is that abortion contributed significant independent effects to numerous mental health problems above and beyond a variety of other traumatizing and stressful life experiences. The strongest effects based on the attributable risks indicated that abortion is responsible for more than 10% of the population incidence of alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, drug dependence, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and bipolar disorder in the population. Lower percentages were identified for 6 additional diagnoses.

Given the multidetermination of mental health disorders, these risks should be taken into account, especially those in double figures.
I believe another significant abortion and mental health study is due out next week as well.
The reference is: Coleman PK et al., Induced abortion and anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders: Isolating, Journal of Psychiatric Research (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.10.009

Will the Catholic Bishops shut down the hospitals?

Yesterday, Melinda Henneberger published an article on Slate that takes seriously the proposed response by the American Catholic in the event the Congress passes the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This follows a similar piece by my friend and colleague, Paul Kengor on Crosswalk which provides background for the Bishops’ stance.
Henneberger and Kengor make the case that the Catholic vote helped push Obama over the top. Surely a Catholic vote that resembled the evangelical vote would have made an Obama presidency more unlikely. Kengor writes,

The bishops are also upset that Catholic politicians helped make this possible. A short list includes vice-president-elect Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, both pro-choice Catholics, and plenty of pro-life Catholic Democrats around the country, such as Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), who worked his tail off to deliver Pennsylvania’s crucial Electoral College votes to Obama. And there were groups like “Catholics for Obama,” men like Doug Kmiec and Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner Dan Rooney, and all those young people who voted in hordes for Obama, including the 60 percent of students at Catholic colleges who believe abortion should be legal, according to a new study commissioned by the Cardinal Newman Center.

Addressing the crux of this post, Kengor summarizes a recent statement of the American Bishops regarding Catholic hospitals post-FOCA:

Further, the bishops dread that FOCA would require all hospitals with obstetrics programs to do abortions, a natural expectation given that Obama has spoken of abortion as a “fundamental right,” a basic government service, and a vital component of America’s “safety net.” He calls groups like Planned Parenthood a “safety-net provider.” The bishops fear that this aspect of FOCA would mandate Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, which would force the hospitals to shut down rather than compromise their beliefs.

Henneberger believes it could happen, saying,

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago warned of “devastating consequences” to the health care system, insisting Obama could force the closure of all Catholic hospitals in the country. That’s a third of all hospitals, providing care in many neighborhoods that are not exactly otherwise overprovided for. It couldn’t happen, could it?
You wouldn’t think so. Only, I am increasingly convinced that it could.

After correctly noting that Obama said during the campaign that the first thing he would do is sign the FOCA, Henneberg notes the potential moral meltdown for Catholic institutions:

Though it’s often referred to as a mere codification of Roe, FOCA, as currently drafted, actually goes well beyond that: According to the Senate sponsor of the bill, Barbara Boxer, in a statement on her Web site, FOCA would nullify all existing laws and regulations that limit abortion in any way, up to the time of fetal viability. Laws requiring parental notification and informed consent would be tossed out. While there is strenuous debate among legal experts on the matter, many believe the act would invalidate the freedom-of-conscience laws on the books in 46 states. These are the laws that allow Catholic hospitals and health providers that receive public funds through Medicaid and Medicare to opt out of performing abortions. Without public funds, these health centers couldn’t stay open; if forced to do abortions, they would sooner close their doors. Even the prospect of selling the institutions to other providers wouldn’t be an option, the bishops have said, because that would constitute “material cooperation with an intrinsic evil.”

Henneberger concludes her article with hopes that Obama will not be as President who he has always been. As she points out, Obama’s first appointments do not signal the moderate stance which pro-life Catholic Obama voters (somehow) hoped for.

At the very moment when Obama and his party have won the trust of so many Catholics who favor at least some limits on abortion, I hope he does not prove them wrong. I hope he does not make a fool out of that nice Doug Kmiec, who led the pro-life charge on his behalf. I hope he does not spit on the rest of us—though I don’t take him for the spitting sort—on his way in the door. I hope that his appointment of Ellen Moran, formerly of EMILY’s List, as his communications director is followed by the appointment of some equally good Democrats who hold pro-life views. By supporting and signing the current version of FOCA, Obama would reignite the culture war he so deftly sidestepped throughout this campaign. This is a fight he just doesn’t need at a moment when there is no shortage of other crises to manage.

Obama’s choice is clear. The Catholics will be under the bus, not the pro-choice groups. FOCA may face some Democratic pro-life opposition and maybe a filibuster, but if (when) it gets out of Congress, Obama will sign it. Word is that he wants to avoid controversy in the first year, however, he built it in to his campaign by promising the troops that he would sign FOCA first thing. If he signals Dem leaders to keep it down, he risks aggravating his base. In contrast to the hopeful Ms. Henneberger, I think Obama will probably keep his word.
UPDATE: I came across this Reuters article not long after I published this post. Note the NARAL reps understated approach to FOCA.

Another looming battle will involve the Freedom of Choice Act, or FOCA, which would further entrench a woman’s right to an abortion. It is seen as codifying Roe v. Wade.
It has never moved beyond the committee stage and is not seen as being at the top of the policy agenda next year.
But Obama has pledged to sign it into law, and the Democratic-led Congress might pass it.
Keenan said NARAL estimated that in the House of Representatives there were “185 fully pro-choice votes … 204 anti-choice votes and 46 mixed.” She added that the Senate was also seen to be still sharply divided on the issue.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before we even get around to considering a FOCA vote,” Keenan said.
FOCA has been like a red flag to social conservatives who say it will sweep aside most restrictions on abortion rights, such as parental notification laws and the Partial-Birth Abortion Act that bans a certain late-term procedure.
Americans United for Life Action said that as of Friday, it had more than 230,000 signatures on an anti-FOCA petition on its website fightfoca.com — virtually all since the election.

Is there (pro)life after the Obama victory?

In a Christianity Today article yesterday, Sarah Pulliam wrote about how an Obama administration might impact abortion and pro-life objectives.

In 2007, Obama promised Planned Parenthood that he would sign an act removing all restrictions on abortion at the state and federal level. He has also said he would appoint justices that would uphold Roe v. Wade.
Obama appealed to evangelicals by emphasizing his desire to reduce unintended pregnancies by providing more resources for women to carry pregnancies to term. Today the number of abortions—1.2 million in 2005—is nearly the same as in 1976, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
“Barack Obama will be held accountable on a serious commitment to abortion reduction,” said Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners. “He called for that, his campaign platform said that, and he should be held accountable to that. He needs prayer and accountability, support and pushing, both at the same time.”

I was surprised but pleased to read this quote from Jim Wallis. As I am able, I will try to hold the evangelical left to his call to hold Obama accountable.
The pre-election argument against Wallis and other evangelicals who supported Obama was that there is little chance Obama can make good on that promise. Obama supports taxpayer funded abortions and the Freedom of Choice Act. Both proposals almost certainly will increase the numbers of abortions. Making financial support more accessible to low income women may act as incentive to keep some unwanted pregnancies. However, providing increased funding for abortion might offset any of these reductions. The Freedom of Choice Act would invalidate all current restrictions on abortion and would most likely add to the abortion numbers.
The pro-life movement was dealt a body-blow by the election of Obama along with the defeat of pro-life propositions around the country. One wonders what common ground, if any, can be found with an administration and a Congress who seeks abortion without limitation.

Pro-life Day of Silence

Today is the other Day of Silence – a day of silence to speak for the babies silenced via abortion.
The website supporting the day begins:

On October 21st, people from all over this nation will give up their voices for a day in solidarity for these children. Red arm bands and duct tape will identify them as taking part in the Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity. They will carry fliers explaining why they are silent and educate others about the plight of the innocent children we are losing every day.

This Day of Silence is promoted by StandTrue Pro-life ministry and claims over 4500 schools are taking part.

Obama misleads again on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act

During Wednesday’s debate, Obama said this in an attempt to explain his vote against the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

Yes, let me respond to this. If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that’s because it’s not true. The — here are the facts.
There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.

We have been over this. His rationale at the time was that the bill would have violated Roe v. Wade. Factcheck.org noted that the bill he said he would have supported as a federal Senator was identical to the one he voted against as a state senator. Let me add this article recently published at the Catholic Exhange.

Freedom of Choice versus Born Alive: Critical questions for an Obama administration.
In a presidential campaign issues arise and then fade from view. The emergence of new media preoccupations may make it seem as though yesterday’s controversy has been resolved. This is rarely true.
Such is the case with the issue of Barack Obama’s position on legal protections for infants while an Illinois state senator. In a nutshell, the controversy comes down to a claim from Senator Obama that he would have favored the bill in the U.S. Senate that he opposed while he was an Illinois state senator. More specifically, at issue is the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA), which gave “human” legal status to infants born alive accidentally following an abortion. The federal version of the bill passed the U.S. Congress easily, with abortion-rights supporters like Hillary Clinton in the Senate and Jerald Nadler in the House voting in favor. After Obama left the Illinois Senate to run for the U.S. Senate, the Illinois version of the bill flew through that body 52-0. The bill, both the federal and state version, passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate and Illinois Senate, both in Obama’s absence.
During his term in the Illinois Senate, Obama opposed the bill, saying repeatedly that he did so because the state bill was worded differently than the federal bill. However, as noted by Factcheck.org and other sources, the bills were identical. As a committee chair, Obama did not allow the bill to get to the Senate floor, yet he said he would have voted in favor of the same bill had he been in the U.S. Senate. After Obama’s campaign admitted that Senator Obama was mistaken, it provided another rationale for his opposition, telling the New York Sun:

… that he had voted against an identical bill in the state Senate, and a spokesman, Hari Sevugan, said the senator and other lawmakers had concerns that even as worded, the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law. Those concerns did not exist for the federal bill, because there is no federal abortion law.

Versions of this explanation persist. During the Republican National Convention coverage, Alan Colmes of “Hannity and Colmes” said that the reason Barack Obama voted against the Illinois bill was because it conflicted with an existing Illinois law.
I submit that the Obama campaign’s explanation was a dodge. Look again at the campaign’s explanation: Obama says he would be unconcerned about voting for a federal bill giving human rights to born-alive infants of questionable viability because “the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law” and “there is no federal abortion law.”
First, his campaign claimed there was a state abortion law which influenced his vote. I have asked the campaign to identify the law but have received no clarification.
Second, the campaign’s explanation ignores the fact that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. When he was a state senator, Obama opposed BAIPA on constitutional grounds and claimed the legislation violated Roe v. Wade. Given this rationale, he should not have claimed support for the federal version with the exact same language and intent.
The strongest strike against the campaign’s rationale is this: Obama wants to create federal abortion law in the form of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) which would prohibit protection of “previable fetuses.” The Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama says would be a top legislative priority, says the government may not regulate abortion if such regulations contradict the following policy:

It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.

Recall that the Obama Doctrine of infant rights requires viability even if the baby has been born. In 2001, Obama said BAIPA was “an antiabortion statute” in violation of Roe v. Wade. He now says that his support of the federal BAIPA hinged on the absence of federal abortion law. It appears to me that Senator Obama has painted himself into a corner. Obama’s stated support for federal protection of infants who survive abortion is rendered moot by his support for the FOCA. If FOCA becomes law, then the rationale for supporting BAIPA disappears.
What happens in an Obama administration when there is a federal abortion statute in the form of FOCA which prohibits antiabortion statutes?
My pay grade is not as high a U.S. Senator, but I think I know the answer.