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Climate change

"Climate change" Continued...

Issue: "Tsunami," Jan. 15, 2005

Last month the Pattersons filed suit against RU-486 maker Danco Laboratories, Planned Parenthood, and the National Population Council, the group that engineered the introduction in the United States and holds RU-486 patent rights. In his daughter's memory Mr. Patterson has testified before Congress, backed parental involvement initiatives, and lent his support to lawmakers hoping to reveal the dangers of the drug.

His efforts came at the end of a 108th Congress that had more pro-life productivity than any since Roe v. Wade-although that's not saying much, and judicial hostility often trumped legislative progress.

"We have achieved some major advances over the past several years, but the most critical battles still lie just ahead of us," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) in Washington, D.C. "In particular, it's absolutely necessary to have a majority of the Supreme Court willing to tolerate increased protections for unborn children. Unless that occurs, legislation to protect the unborn will ultimately be nullified . . . as we have seen so often before."

Case in point: partial-birth abortion. In Stenberg v. Carhart, the high court in 2000 rejected Nebraska's ban on the grisly late-term procedure, in the process wiping off the books similar bans in 30 states. Then came the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, one among the pro-life measures passed by the last Congress, including the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and a ban on the patenting of human embryos. But in 2004 the federal PBA ban did not survive the trio of federal lawsuits filed by abortion-industry lawyers, and the Supreme Court, based on its Carhart decision, may rebuff any appeals.

"The majority of the current court has been imposing a policy that is very extreme, which recognizes no intrinsic right of the unborn child, and that's out of step with the views of vast majorities of Americans," Mr. Johnson said. "In order to establish more substantial protections for unborn children, that has to change."

Substantial change is underway at the state level. Mississippi lawmakers in 2004 passed a record six new pro-life laws, including comprehensive conscience protection; fetal homicide protection; reporting requirements for abortion complications; and additional regulation of abortion clinics.

Meanwhile, a new Alaska law established a publicly funded abortion information website; Kentucky lawmakers provided protection for unborn victims of violence; Missouri and Pennsylvania earmarked significant public funds for crisis pregnancy centers and other abortion alternatives; and Ohio added new regulations for the distribution and use of RU-486.

In a recent review of state laws, NARAL analysts noted that they "have never seen such intense anti-choice activity in state legislatures."

But will that intensity harm Planned Parenthood's bottom line? The abortion behemoth killed 244,628 unborn babies in 2003 (a 6.1 percent jump over 2002) and, during the fiscal year that ended in June 2004, raked in more federal money than ever before. Both publicly and privately funded, Planned Parenthood performs more surgical abortions than anyone else in the nation, 3.5 million since 1970, the equivalent of killing every resident of Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington, D.C. In 2003-2004, Planned Parenthood pocketed an estimated $104 million from its surgical abortion business, more than one-third of its overall clinic income.

Nevertheless, the group is closing clinics and losing donors: Over the past year, the number of Planned Parenthood clinics dropped from 866 to 849; since its 1995 heyday, the group has shuttered a net of 89 clinics. According to its 2003-2004 annual report, private donations to Planned Parenthood fell 17 percent to $191 million, the second decline in three years.

Meanwhile, the overall number of abortions in the United States remains high. But according to the most recent figures available from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood's research arm, the number of abortions fell from 1.36 million in 1996 to 1.31 million in 2000, a decline of 3.6 percent.

Crisis pregnancy centers aim to drive that number down further. In 2003 CareNet, a network of more than 800 pregnancy centers, launched its "Urban Initiative," a project to plant centers in inner cities where abortionists tend to locate their clinics. Last year, CareNet worked with local pro-life groups to open new centers in Atlanta, Ft. Wayne, Ind., and Rockford, Ill. Three more centers, in Toledo, Washington, D.C., and Rochester, N.Y., will open in early 2005, with similar efforts underway in more than a dozen other cities.

Pregnancy centers also are adding medical services-most critically ultrasound and STD testing-in order to reach "abortion-minded" women. Focus on the Family is working with centers that want to add ultrasound through "Option Ultrasound," a grant program it launched in 2004. Aided by Focus funding, at least 55 centers added the technology last year. According to surveys by both Focus and CareNet, about four in five women considering abortion decide to carry their babies to term after viewing ultrasound pictures.

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