LIFE DIGEST: Abortions drop after law passed
The state reported there were 729 abortions in Arizona during September -- a decline of almost 31 percent from September 2010, nearly 32 percent from August of this year and 39 percent from the monthly average for the last year, the Associated Press reported Oct. 12.
The decrease in abortions came after the Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously upheld in August a 2009 state law that places limitations on abortion services. The Abortion Consent Act mandates only doctors perform abortions; requires women to receive full information 24 hours beforehand on abortion, its risks, fetal development and alternatives to the procedure; mandates parental consent for minors, and protects freedom of conscience for pro-life, health-care workers.
Even a strong advocate for the new law was surprised by the difference in the number of abortions.
"I don't know that I ever expected abortion numbers to drop, so I kind of feel like, 'O ye of little faith,'" said Cathi Herrod, executive director of the Center for Arizona Policy, according to CitizenLink.com. She said her organization is "very encouraged."
"This shows the critical need for pregnancy care centers," she said. "As abortion drops, it's a tremendous opportunity for pregnancy centers to step into the breach and really help these women in the community."
After the court's ruling, the Arizona affiliate of Planned Parenthood announced its clinics in Flagstaff, Prescott Valley and Yuma would stop providing abortions by means of the drug RU 486. The clinics did not perform surgical abortions.
40 DAYS SAYS 229 SAVED -- The 40 Days for Life campaign had received reports of 229 unborn children saved Oct. 17, the halfway point of this fall's effort.
The campaign focuses on peaceful, pro-life prayer vigils outside abortion clinics.
The 40 Days team at a Cherry Hill, N.J., abortion clinic reported nine women had changed their minds about aborting their children since the vigil began Sept. 28.
This fall's 40-day campaign includes outreaches at 301 sites, the most in the effort's history. Of those, 133 are at Planned Parenthood clinics, according to 40 Days staff. Planned Parenthood's affiliates performed more than 332,000 abortions in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
The semiannual, 40 Days campaigns consist of 40 days of prayer and fasting to end abortion, as well as community outreach and the prayer vigils outside clinics. The effort, which began in Texas in 2004 and went national in 2007, has received reports of more than 4,500 unborn lives saved from abortion as a result of its campaigns. In addition, more than 50 abortion clinic workers reportedly have quit and 14 abortion centers have closed following outreaches at clinics.
PARTIAL-BIRTH BAN ENACTED -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, signed a ban on partial-birth abortion into law Oct. 11, according to The Holland (Mich.) Sentinel.
The measure, which provides an exception if the mother's life is endangered, prohibits a gruesome method of abortion that normally involves an intact baby being delivered feet first until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the infant's skull with surgical scissors before inserting a catheter into the opening and suctioning out the brain, killing the baby. The technique, which normally is performed in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, provides for easier removal of the baby's head.
In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on partial-birth abortion.
SFLA STAFFER, CHILD DIE -- Kortney Blythe Gordon, a passionate advocate for preborn children, and her unborn daughter died Oct. 8 in an automobile accident in Georgia.
Meanwhile, Jon Scharfenberger, coordinator of SFLA's Pregnant on Campus Initiative, died Oct. 18 from injuries sustained in the crash. Two other passengers in the same car also were injured.
Gordon, 28, was the field director of Students for Life of America (SFLA). She was 21 weeks pregnant with her unborn daughter, whom her husband, Benjamin, and she had named Sophy.
Gordon said of herself in her Twitter profile: "Jesus Christ is my Lord; Abolishing abortion is my calling."
SFLA President Kristan Hawkins described Gordon as a "tireless abortion abolitionist" and said, "There are no words to describe what a loss we suffer alongside her husband Benjamin and their entire family, but we are comforted knowing that Kortney and her daughter are in the arms of our Lord and Savior."
CENTERS SUE AUSTIN -- Four pregnancy help centers in Austin, Texas, have sued the city, contending its 2010 sign ordinance violates their freedom of speech and religion.
The centers filed two lawsuits in federal court against a measure that requires them to display signs saying they do not provide abortions or contraceptives or make referrals for those services. Three of the four centers have not posted the signs, saying to do so would conflict with their religious beliefs, according to The Austin American-Statesman.
Austin "is engaging in unlawful viewpoint discrimination by subjecting these charitable centers to criminal liability for their religious viewpoints," according to one of the lawsuits, the newspaper reported. "The City of Austin is thereby attempting to suppress one side of a contentious social, ethical, and public debate."
The Austin ordinance does not require abortion clinics to display signs indicating what services they do not provide.
Other local governments that have adopted such sign ordinances have not fared well in court. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of similar laws in New York City; Baltimore, Md., and Montgomery County, Md.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.