Jan. 22, 2014 marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion in the United States. Since that decision, more than 56 million unborn babies have been aborted in the United States, 1.2 million in 2013 alone, with approximately one-third at the hands of Planned Parenthood. Grim, sad statistics indeed. In the words of Pope Francis, part of “a culture of waste,” a “throwaway culture.”
However, there is cause for hope. Within the United States and throughout the world, remarkable witness to those advocating a culture of life is increasingly being seen, heard and felt. Michigan became the 24th state to ban abortion from the state Obamacare exchange, setting the example for the other half of the country to do the same.
Choose Life specialty license plates are now available in 29 states in the United States, expressing a pro-life message. At least 54 abortion providers across 27 states have shut down or stopped abortion procedures within the past three years.
One of Us, a European Citizens’ Initiative backed by almost 2 million citizens of the union from 28 European Union member states, was the first to raise a concrete proposal to request that the union end the financing of activities that presuppose the destruction of human embryos.
A bill is being considered that would mandate an ultrasound to be done prior to an abortion: Sonya’s Law. The reaction from Planned Parenthood’s Nicole Safar was that “the legislation threatened to take the state back 50 years.” Although packaged as an issue of the doctor-patient relationship, the more significant issue for Planned Parenthood might be that women who see their unborn baby might decide to keep their baby, similar to Sonya, for whom the bill is named after. Wouldn’t providing the ultrasound actually result in a more informed “choice”? Wisconsin has already passed Sonya’s Law.
Adult stem cells are rising in popularity, not only among those who are morally and ethically principled, but also by scientists who now see firsthand the empty promises spun by advocates of human embryonic stem cells. In 2007, the newly created California Institute for Regenerative Medicine funded 100 grants, spending $121 million, all on human embryonic stem cell research. Five years later, nearly 75 percent of the funding is now awarded to non-embryonic research projects. Similarly, a 2012 report for the Lozier Institute noted that in 2007, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission funded 11 projects that used human embryos and four that used adult stem cells. Five years later, the Maryland commission funded only one embryonic stem cell project and 28 non-embryonic projects.
At his installation on March 19, Pope Francis spoke of the “need to protect every person, especially children, from the ‘Herods’ of our day who plot death.” Abortion is the greatest human rights cause of our age. We won’t eliminate problems by eliminating the most defenseless of our society. Please strongly consider a New Year’s resolution to become actively involved in solutions that support a pro-life position — with 1.2 million abortions in the United States and 40 million worldwide in 2013 alone, there is so much more to be done!
Throughout the United States and worldwide, may 2014 continue to showcase individuals and organizations demonstrating exceptional situational leadership as they bear witness to the dignity, beauty and incomparable worth of the human person, from the embryo to the elderly.
Martin M. Bednar, M.D.