Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mugged by Ultrasound

Pro-life/Anti-abortion news is on the rise, and I am glad to find that there is good news on the topic for a change. The two articles below are long, but oh so worth reading if it is an issue that is important to you as well.

Incidently, abortion numbers are increasing again in America after years of decline. I strongly suspect that has a lot to do with the tanking economy. Out of work families likely feel they dare not have an unplanned child.

Because of that situation, I am thrilled about the anti-abortion commercial that is scheduled to air during the Super Bowl. Curiously, it is a message about one particular woman, her choice, and her now adult child.

The National Organization of Women is protesting this ad. This group is always so vocal about "choice" yet apparently can not tolerate an ad about a woman who choses life instead of abortion. Something to think about!

For several years I've supported Focus on the Families program to buy ultra sound equipment for crisis pregnancy centers. The following story really made me glad for the way those dollars were spent.

Mugged by Ultrasound
Why so many abortion workers have turned pro-life.
BY David Daleiden and Jon A. Shields
January 25, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 18
Abortion rights activists have long preferred to hold themselves at some remove from the practice they promote; rather than naming it, they speak of “choice” and “reproductive freedom.” But those who perform abortions have no such luxury. Instead, advances in ultrasound imaging and abortion procedures have forced providers ever closer to the nub of their work. Especially in abortions performed far enough along in gestation that the fetus is recognizably a tiny baby, this intimacy exacts an emotional toll, stirring sentiments for which doctors, nurses, and aides are sometimes unprepared. Most apparently have managed to reconcile their belief in the right to abortion with their revulsion at dying and dead fetuses, but a noteworthy number have found the conflict unbearable and have defected to the pro-life cause.

In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, second-trimester abortions were usually performed by saline injection. The doctor simply replaced the amniotic fluid in the patient’s uterus with a saline solution and induced labor, leaving it to nurses to dispose of the expelled fetus. That changed in the late 1970s, when “dilation and evacuation” (D&E) emerged as a safer method. Today D&E is the most common second-trimester procedure. It has been performed millions of times in the United States.

But although D&E is better for the patient, it brings emotional distress for the abortionist, who, after inserting laminaria that cause the cervix to dilate, must dismember and remove the fetus with forceps. One early study, by abortionists Warren Hern and Billie Corrigan, found that although all of their staff members “approved of second trimester abortion in principle,” there “were few positive comments about D&E itself.” Reactions included “shock, dismay, amazement, disgust, fear, and sadness.” A more ambitious study published the following year, in the September 1979 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, confirmed Hern and Corrigan’s findings. It found “strong emotional reactions during or following the procedures and occasional disquieting dreams.”

Another study, published in the October 1989 issue of Social Science and Medicine noted that abortion providers were pained by encounters with the fetus regardless of how committed they were to abortion rights. It seems that no amount of ideological conviction can inoculate providers against negative emotional reactions to abortion.

Such studies are few. In general, abortion providers have censored their own emotional trauma out of concern to protect abortion rights. In 2008, however, abortionist Lisa Harris endeavored to begin “breaking the silence” in the pages of the journal Reproductive Health Matters. When she herself was 18 weeks pregnant, Dr. Harris performed a D&E abortion on an 18-week-old fetus. Harris felt her own child kick precisely at the moment that she ripped a fetal leg off with her forceps:

Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes—without me—meaning my conscious brain—even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling—a brutally visceral response—heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life.

Harris concluded her piece by lamenting that the pro-choice movement has left providers to suffer in silence because it has “not owned up to the reality of the fetus, or the reality of fetal parts.” Indeed, it often insists that images used by the pro-life movement are faked.

(Pro-choice advocates also falsely insist that second-trimester abortions are confined almost exclusively to tragic “hard” cases such as fetal malformation. Yet a review of the literature in the April 2009 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that most abortions performed after the first trimester are sought for the same reasons as first-trimester abortions, they’re just delayed. This reality only intensifies the guilt pangs of abortion providers.)

Hern and Harris chose to stay in the abortion business; one of the first doctors to change his allegiance was Paul Jarrett, who quit after only 23 abortions. His turning point came in 1974, when he performed an abortion on a fetus at 14 weeks’ gestation: “As I brought out the rib cage, I looked and saw a tiny, beating heart,” he would recall. “And when I found the head of the baby, I looked squarely in the face of another human being—a human being that I just killed.”

In 1990 Judith Fetrow, an aide at a Planned Parenthood clinic, found that disposing of fetal bodies as medical waste was more than she could bear. Soon after she left her position, Fetrow described her experiences: “No one at Planned Parenthood wanted this job. .  .  . I had to look at the tiny hands and feet. There were times when I wanted to cry.” Finally persuaded to quit by a pro-life protester outside her clinic, Fetrow is now involved in the American Life League.

Kathy Sparks is another convert formerly responsible for disposing of fetal remains, this time at an Illinois abortion clinic. Her account of the experience that led her to exit the abortion industry (taken from the Pro-Life Action League website in 2004) reads in part:

The baby’s bones were far too developed to rip them up with [the doctor’s] curette, so he had to pull the baby out with forceps. He brought out three or four major pieces. I took the baby to the clean up room, I set him down and I began weeping uncontrollably. I cried and cried. This little face was perfectly formed.

A recovery nurse rebuked Sparks for her unprofessional behavior. She quit the next day. Sparks is now the director of a crisis pregnancy center with more than 20 pro-life volunteers.

Handling fetal remains can be especially difficult in late-term clinics. Until George Tiller was assassinated by a pro-life radical last summer, his clinic in Wichita specialized in third-trimester abortions. To handle the large volume of biological waste Tiller had a crematorium on the premises. One day when hauling a heavy container of fetal waste, Tiller asked his secretary, Luhra Tivis, to assist him. She found the experience devastating. The “most horrible thing,” Tivis later recounted, was that she “could smell those babies burning.” Tivis, a former NOW activist, soon left her secretarial position at the clinic to volunteer for Operation Rescue, a radical pro-life organization.

Other converts were driven into the pro-life movement by advances in ultrasound technology. The most recent example is Abby Johnson, the former director of Dallas-area Planned Parenthood. After watching, via ultrasound, an embryo “crumple” as it was suctioned out of its mother’s womb, Johnson reported a “conversion in my heart.” Likewise, Joan Appleton was the head nurse at a large abortion facility in Falls Church, Virginia, and a NOW activist. Appleton performed thousands of abortions with aplomb until a single ultrasound-assisted abortion rattled her. As Appleton remembers, “I was watching the screen. I saw the baby pull away. I saw the baby open his mouth. .  .  . After the procedure I was shaking, literally.”

The most famous abortion provider to be converted by ultrasound technology, decades ago, is Bernard Nathanson, cofounder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, the original NARAL. In the early 1970s, Nathanson was the largest abortion provider in the Western world. By his own reckoning he performed more than 60,000 abortions, including one on his own child. Nathanson’s exit from the industry was slow and tortured. In Aborting America (1979), he expressed anxiety over the possibility that he was complicit in a great evil. He was especially troubled by ultrasound images. When he finally left his profession for pro-life activism, he produced The Silent Scream (1984), a documentary of an ultrasound abortion that showed the fetus scrambling vainly to escape dismemberment.

This handful of stories is representative of many more. In fact, with the exception of communism, we can think of few other movements from which so many activists have defected to the opposition. Nonetheless, the vast majority of clinic workers remain committed to the pro-choice cause. Perhaps some of those who stay behind are haunted by their work. Most, however, find a way to cope with the dissonance.
Pro-choice advocates like to point out that abortion has existed in all times and places. Yet that observation tends to obscure the radicalism of the present abortion regime in the United States. Until very recently, no one in the history of the world has had the routine job of killing well-developed fetuses quite so up close and personal. It is an experiment that was bound to stir pro-life sentiments even in the hearts of those staunchly devoted to abortion rights. Ultrasound and D&E bring workers closer to the beings they destroy. Hern and Corrigan concluded their study by noting that D&E leaves “no possibility of denying an act of destruction.” As they wrote, “It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment run through the forceps like an electric current.”

Jon A. Shields is assistant professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. David Daleiden is a student there.

The second article is below:

Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad: Anti-Abortion Commercial to Air
CBS to Run Controversial Ad Promoting Family Values During the Game
Jan. 26, 2010—

He was the first sophomore in history to win a Heisman trophy. He was the first college football player both to rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season. Last year, he led his college team, the Florida Gators, to their second national championship in three years. At 6 feet 3 inches and 245 pounds, Tim Tebow may go down in history as the greatest college football player who ever lived.
And to think none of that would have happened if not for a decision his mother made nearly 23 years ago.
That is the message of a controversial new ad starring Tebow and his mother, Pam. Paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, the ad tells the story of Bob and Pam Tebow, who was pregnant with their fifth child when the couple travelled to the Philippines on a missionary trip.

While there, Pam contracted amoebic dysentery and the medicines used for her recovery threatened her unborn fetus. Doctors advised her to abort the fetus. Pam ignored their advice and gave birth on Aug. 14, 1987, to a baby boy. That boy was Tim Tebow.

Watch World News with Diane Sawyer at 6:30 p.m. EST for more on this story.

Now arguably the highest profile player in college football for the past several years, Tebow cites his mother's decision as a key reason he chose to participate in the Focus on the Family ad, which created a mild uproar after CBS agreed to air it on Super Bowl Sunday.

"I know some people won't agree with it," said Tebow of the 30-second ad at a press conference in Mobile, Ala., on Sunday, in preparation for next weekend's Senior Bowl. "But I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe. I've always been very convicted of [his views on abortion] because that's the reason I'm here, because my mom was a very courageous woman."

Tebow has long been open about his strong Christian beliefs and family values. Focus on the Family says the ad will highlight the theme "Celebrate family, celebrate life."

The spot will mark a departure for the Super Bowl, which draws the largest TV audience every year and usually has commercials featuring dancing lizards or fortune-telling snow globes.

The major television networks have previously declined to air polarizing advocacy ads. In 2004, CBS and its competitors rejected an ad by the United Church of Christ, welcoming gays and others who may have felt felt snubbed by more conservative churches. At the time, CBS was heavily criticized. It says that in recent months, it has run more issue-oriented advertising, such as ones for health care.

Firestorm or Tempest in a Teapot?
Gary Schneeberger, a spokesperson from Focus on the Family told ABC News he was puzzled over the controversy surrounding the ad.

"There is nothing political or controversial about the spot. It's a personal story about the love between a mother and son," he said.

But a national coalition of women's groups is calling on CBS not to air the ad.

"This campaign is about holding CBS and the NFL and the other Super Bowl advertisers accountable," said Jehmu Greene, president of the Women's Media Center, "for inserting an exceedingly controversial issue into a place where we all hope Americans will be united, not divided, in terms of watching America's most-watched sporting event."

A spokesperson for CBS told the Associated Press that the network had approved the script for the ad and that it would ensure that any issue-oriented ad was "appropriate for air."

In a statement this afternoon the network said: "At CBS, our standards and practices process continues to adhere to a process that ensures all ads -- on all sides of an issue -- are appropriate for air. We will continue to consider responsibly produced ads from all groups for the few remaining spots in Super Bowl XLIV."

The ad has not been released publicly, but a source at CBS tells ABC News that the the words "abortion" and "pro-life" do not appear anywhere in the ad.

A 30-second ad during the Super Bowl is a highly-coveted advertising spot, with CBS selling its spots in this year's Super Bowl for $2.5 to $2.8 million. Despite an ailing economy, CBS is close to selling out its 62 ad spots for the broadcast, according to a USA Today report earlier this month.

However, CBS will not be counting on its usually reliable sponsors, with big companies such as General Motors, Pepsico and Fedex staying away from the Super Bowl, according to a study by ad researcher TNS Media Intelligence.

"CBS is doing this for the money," said Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein School of Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. "It will indicate that a policy has changed. The networks have traditionally not put these kinds of ads on during the Super Bowl. This has been an area that has been kept relatively squeaky-clean of highly-polarizing politics. There is no way to be putting in an anti-abortion ad without prompting the pro-abortion side of the debate to get their message across. This may be a new profit center."

A Highly Coveted Spot
The ad would not be the first spot purchased by Focus on the Family. In 2005, the group purchased an ad spot during the show "Supernanny."

At the time, the group said that the show was all about Focus on the Family principles. "It was boundaries and using the time-out chair, respect for authority and good parenting skills," said Jim Daly, the group's president and CEO.

"This ad is frankly offensive, " said Erin Matson, the Action Vice President of the National Organization for Women, speaking of the Tebow commercial. "It is hate masquerading as love. It sends a message that abortion is always a mistake."

And then there's the matter of the ad airing on Super Bowl Sunday.

"If you're a sports fan, and I am, that's the holiest day of the year," wrote Gregg Doyel of "It's not a day to discuss abortion. For it, or against it, I don't care what you are. On Super Bowl Sunday, I don't care what I am. Feb. 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion."

( think a football game is "holy"? I'll be praying for you! Jill)


ellen b. said...

Well I plan to watch the Super Bowl just because of this ad! This is great information Jill. I'm going to have to come back when I have more time and read it more thoroughly!

Lovella ♥ said...

Fascinating articles Jill. . .thanks for posting them. I am just amazed and sad and left bewildered that it is even a topic of discussion at all .. .how can there be any question of life?

Anneliese said...

Wow! Thank you for posting this.

Kathy said...

Very interesting read. I'm sure grateful for every provider whose heart has a conversion. Let the light of truth shine.

Islandsparrow said...

Thanks for this informative post Jill (Yay librarians!!)

I'm sending it to a very dear friend who runs a pregnancy crisis center here on the Island. She'll be interested.

Laura said...

EXCELLENT post momma! Thanks for not aborting me! Big hugs