Pro-Life News in Brief
By Liz Townsend
Parenthood Official Speaks Up for Life
Watching an unborn
baby die during an ultrasound-guided abortion changed the heart and
life of Abby Johnson, the former director of Planned Parenthood in
Bryan, Texas. Johnson, 29, resigned from her job October 6 and has
begun speaking out against abortion and Planned Parenthood’s
“What I saw on the
screen was a 13-week baby fighting for its life,” Johnson said on
Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor. “And I had flashes in my head of my
own daughter. I remembered having an ultrasound at 12 weeks with my
own daughter. And I just was thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ I was
thinking, ‘I’ve never seen this before.’”
Johnson said that
this was the first time she actually saw a child killed during an
abortion. “Planned Parenthood really tries to instill in their
employees and the women that are coming in for abortions that this
is not a baby, that this is just a mass of cells,” she explained on
The O’Reilly Factor. “You know, don’t say ‘baby’ in the clinic.
Don’t say ‘baby’ to the women coming in for an abortion. And so you
begin to believe that. You begin to believe that it’s not a life.”
filed a request for an injunction against Johnson, asking the court
to forbid her from speaking about the organization. A temporary
order was granted, but a judge lifted the injunction November 11 and
refused to issue a permanent one, according to the Associated Press.
group contends that Johnson is a disgruntled ex-employee whose
performance was being questioned when she quit, Salon.com reported.
But Johnson told Bill
O’Reilly that “their business model has changed. And that, you know,
this prevention that they preach about maybe is not really what
Planned Parenthood is all about. And that, with the downward
economy, they are really trying to increase their abortion numbers,
because that is the most lucrative part of their business.”
Johnson said she will
continue to speak about her recent conversion and about the lessons
she has learned. “I plan on doing some public speaking on my change
of heart and moving away from the abortion industry,” she told The
Eagle. “I am just going to be spending a lot of time in prayer and
waiting for God to lead me to my next opportunity. ... There are
already quite a few events planned.”
Lowest Number of Abortions
The Ohio Department
of Health reported in October that 29,613 babies were aborted in the
state in 2008, down 4% from the year before and the lowest number
since records began being kept in 1976.
Pro-life groups said
they were pleased with the decline, although more work needs to be
done to protect all babies in Ohio. “We are winning the fight
against those who push abortion as the first and sometimes only
choice for women in crisis,” Ohio Right to Life Executive Director
Mike Gonidakis said in a press release. “While we take great joy
that the collective efforts of Ohio’s pro-life community are making
significant strides in ending abortions, the total number is
The number of
abortions declined between 2007 and 2008 in just about every
statistical category. There were 35% fewer abortions among women 18
years old and younger, 22% less among women 20–24 years old, and 19%
fewer among women 25 years and older. In addition, abortions
decreased 30% among white women, 10% among African American women,
and 15% among other groups.
showed that the largest number of abortions—47% of the total—were to
mothers were older than 24 years old, while most aborted
Pro-lifers hope to
see even larger declines as they spread the message of life and
bring real assistance to women in need. “Ohio Right to Life and our
life-affirming crisis pregnancy centers help women see that they
have real alternatives to abortion,” Gonidakis said. “We will
continue to promote life-affirming options including adoption and
will work to increase the understanding that abortion hurts not only
the unborn, but also the women who have them.”
Woman in Jail for
Forced Abortion Attempt
arrested a woman December 5 for trying to kill a baby conceived by
her husband and another woman. The baby boy, born October 27,
survived an abortifacient drug and another poisoning attempt,
according to the New York Daily News.
Keisha Jones, 38,
discovered that Monique Hunter was pregnant with her husband’s baby,
although Hunter claimed that she did not know that Anthony Jones was
married, the Daily News reported.
Mrs. Jones called
Hunter October 26 posing as a health care worker and told Hunter to
pick up a prescription that was supposed to prevent Down syndrome.
The medication Hunter received was actually Cytotec, which is the
prostaglandin used in the RU486 abortion technique, according to the
Hunter, seven months
pregnant at the time, took the drug and quickly went into labor.
Anthony Jones, Jr., was born the next day.
Police alleged that
Mrs. Jones next tried to kill the baby by sending what she claimed
was “breast milk” to the hospital. The liquid, which actually
contained an unidentified poison, was confiscated by workers and
never reached the baby, the Daily News reported.
Mrs. Jones is
expected to be arraigned on felony reckless endangerment and forged
medical prescription charges, along with a misdemeanor criminal
impersonation charge. She is currently in custody.
Despite his remature
birth, the baby is reported to be doing well. “The doctors told me
he’s going to be okay,” Hunter told the Daily News.
Hope for Brain-Injured Patients
Patients diagnosed as
minimally conscious or in a vegetative state can respond to stimuli
and even learn, according to a new study. The findings from
researchers at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina; the
University of Cambridge, England; and the Institute of Cognitive
Neurology, Argentina, could enable doctors to better diagnose
patients and could even lead to therapies for brain-injured
patients. (For more, page 15.)
“Although it requires
further investigation, our finding that individuals with chronic
pathologies of awareness can acquire trace conditioning (and may
recover) suggests that there is a window for cognitive neuro-rehabilitation,”
the researchers wrote in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience.
“Although extremely speculative, it is important to investigate
whether training the circuits involved in awareness may help the
recovery of consciousness.”
The study involved a
control group of volunteers who were under anesthesia along with
patients who had been diagnosed as in a vegetative or minimally
conscious state. The researchers blew a puff of air into their eyes,
causing a reflexive blink, at the same time a sound was played.
After a time of
training, researchers would play the sound and see if the patients’
eyes would blink even without the puff of air. “The team found that
most of the people diagnosed as being minimally conscious and some
with a [vegetative state] diagnosis blinked on hearing the beep,”
New Scientist reported. “They were anticipating the air puff, even
when it didn’t come, a sign that they had learned to make the
The patients under
anesthesia, however, did not react to the sound. This finding
indicated that there is a significant difference between true
unconsciousness and a minimally conscious state.
The research could
also be used to develop a test to better diagnose brain injury.
“This test will
hopefully become a useful, simple tool to test for consciousness
without the need for imaging or instructions,” lead researcher Dr.
Tristan Bekinschtein of Cambridge University told Press Association.
“Additionally, this research suggests that if the patient shows
learning, then they are likely to recover to some degree.”
against South Korean Embryo Research; Hwang Convicted
A group of South
Korean citizens filed a constitutional complaint against research
that harms human embryos, objecting to programs heavily supported by
the country’s government, Korea Times reported. The Constitutional
Court heard their arguments in an October 8 hearing. A ruling has
not yet been announced.
disgraced embryo researcher Hwang Woo-suk was convicted October 28
of fraud and embezzlement and given a suspended prison sentence. For
three years after the world discovered that Hwang faked research on
human cloning, the South Korean government imposed limits on
embryonic stem cell research. However, in April officials lifted the
restrictions, and pledged to triple government funding of
destructive research to about $103 million by 2015, according to the
In response to
government backing of embryo research, the citizens’ complaint
contends that embryos are human beings and should not be killed in
experiments, the Times reported.
“Embryos are the
fundamental source of new beings and personalities, and their
dignity and value should be rightfully respected,” the plaintiffs
wrote in a statement, according to the Times.
Bioethics Committee, the government agency that regulates embryonic
stem cell research, sent a representative to oppose the complaint.
“The human embryo should be respected as a potential human being,
but should not be regarded with the same legal status as real
persons,” the representative said during the hearing, the Times
In Hwang’s case, he
has appealed his conviction for “breaching bioethics laws in
purchasing human eggs and embezzling a combined 835 million won (US
$705,200) he obtained based on a fake stem cell experiment,”
according to Yonhap. Hwang’s downfall came after “breakthrough”
papers in the journal Science, claiming that he cloned the first
human embryo and extracted viable stem cell lines, were proven to be
false. During testimony in 2006, Hwang asserted that his junior
researchers were the ones who faked the data.
asked for a four-year sentence, Judge Bae Ki-yeol said Hwang had
shown “remorse” and suspended the prison term, International Herald
Tribune reported. Other researchers who helped Hwang with the
articles also received suspended sentences and fines, according to
Another Adult Stem
Cell Success for Cardiac Treatment
Expanding on initial
promising results announced in March 2007, researchers at the
University of Miami declared that their “clinical trial is the first
to show that treating patients with adult stem cells after a heart
attack is safe and that it appears to repair damaged heart tissue,”
according to a press release.
In an article in the
December 8 issue of the Journal of the American College of
Cardiology, the researchers reported that 53 cardiac patients who
received adult stem cells derived from bone marrow showed much more
improvement than those who received placebo injections.
The bone marrow cells
did not even have to be derived from the patients themselves. All of
the patients received cells that had been harvested from a single
unrelated donor, according to Reuters Health Medical News.
Six months after
receiving the adult stem cells, the patients saw an improvement in
their overall condition, pumped more blood with each heartbeat, had
far fewer irregular heartbeats, and suffered no side effects or
immune system rejection, according to the Miami Herald.
“The stem cells take
part in the growth of new blood vessels to bring more oxygen to the
heart,” Dr. Alan Heldman of the University of Miami told the Herald.
“They help modulate the scarring from the heart attack. They fight
inflammation. There’s a lot going on.”
The next phase of the
trial will involve 220 patients in medical centers around the
country, according to the Herald. The researchers are hopeful that
if this next phase is successful, the procedure could be approved by
the Food and Drug Administration within five years, lead author Dr.
Joshua Hare told the newspaper.
The success of this
trial should open the way for even more uses of adult stem cells.
“Many have argued that it’s premature to test stem cells in
patients,” Hare said in a press release. “This trial proves the
value of rigorous and monitored clinical testing. It lays the
foundation for a brand new cell-based therapy for the human heart.”