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6/1/2007 - June 2007 Educational Update - The Sanctity of Life: Two Examples of How Education Works




To:                  SLI Supporters                                 


Date:               June 2007


From:              A. Eric Johnston


Re:                  The Sanctity of Life:  Two Examples of How Education Works



            In the mid-1990's there were state and federal efforts to pass partial birth abortion ban laws.  These laws would ban a gruesome type of abortion procedure.  It was well known by experts that a ban of this procedure would stop relatively few abortions.  However, it was also understood that a public discourse on the nature of abortion and the taking of innocent life would be educational and would advance the sanctity of life cause.


            On April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Gonzales v. Carhart, 127 S.Ct. 1610 (2007).[1]  By a five-four decision, the justices upheld the federal partial birth abortion ban.  The opinion was written by Justice Kennedy, who reaffirmed his belief in the right to abortion, but expressed his opposition to a procedure that comes so close to bringing life outside the womb and then destroying it.  He said that it was reasonable for Congress to be concerned that the partial birth abortion procedure "undermines the public's perception of the appropriate role of a physician during the delivery process, and perverts a process during which life is brought into the world."


            Two recent events in which SLI has been involved also serve the educational process.  There have been many local funerals and burial services for unborn children.  For many years we have discussed how good it would be if we could have such a service in which millions of persons could participate.  The only way that could be done would be through television.  Working with Jim Pinto and Priests for Life, we approached the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) about having a funeral service and burial of an unborn child broadcast throughout its worldwide network.  There were many questions to be answered concerning whether it may violate any federal communications laws, health regulations relating to actual burial, and other concerns. 


            We decided the best place for the service would be at The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Cullman County, Alabama.  On March 15, 2003, we met with officials at EWTN.  They were enthusiastic about the prospects.  On March 18, 2003, we wrote a legal opinion in support of it.  On April 15, 2005, we met with local governmental authorities and determined there would be no problem having the burial on the grounds of the Shrine. 


            On May 16, 2007 a funeral service was held for Baby Deborah, a victim of a saline abortion at about 20 weeks.  She had been a missionary for the pro-life cause.  She was laid to rest in a quiet garden of prayer.  The service and burial were filmed and will be shown on EWTN around the world.  In the service, Jim Pinto gave a compelling celebration of her life which will speak to us about the reality of unborn life and to women who have suffered at the hands of abortionists and who seek forgiveness, repentance and restoration.  SLI is privileged to have worked on this project.  The far greater amount of credit must be given to Jim Pinto for his persistence in seeing this through.


            In another example of education, the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) visits college campuses and sets up large pictorial displays in public areas.  Local chapters of Students for Life and others assist by passing out information and giving explanations to students and others about abortion.  One of the compelling features of this is the graphic pictorial presentation of abortion.  This project is organized and funded by The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) under the leadership of Dr. C. Fletcher Armstrong. 


            Abortion is not always something others want to hear about.  There have been many court cases around the country which have opened the way for abortion-related speech to take place.  In order to avoid conflict with campus authorities, CBR contacts them in advance and explains what it expects to do.  In February 2007, SLI was asked by CBR to contact authorities at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  On March 6, 2007, SLI wrote letters on behalf of CBR and the Thomas Moore Law Center, a national public interest law firm, to university counsel with copies to campus public safety officers and other appropriate representatives.  In our letter we explained in clear terms with supporting legal precedent the constitutional rights of CBR to set up its displays in public areas on the campus and communicate with students and others.   


            There was no problem.  CBR set up and carried out the GAP at the University of Alabama in Birmingham on April 16-17, 2007 and at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa on April 18-19, 2007.  There were no unfortunate events and the efforts were a success.  A significant amount of educational material was given to students, professors and others who passed by on the sidewalks where the GAP was being presented.  For more information on the GAP and CBR, check their website at www.achoiceforlife.com.  CBR is looking for persons to work with the GAP.  If you are interested, check the website and let them know.


            SLI is grateful for the opportunity to have participated in these two educational events.  While we so often work in courts, legislatures, administrative bodies, and other arenas, we must not forget that education on any subject is important to its proper understanding.  These two efforts are among the finest tools the pro-life movement has to educate and change minds, hearts and laws.  

[1] For a detailed analysis, visit our website www.southeastlawinstitute.org, select newsletter and click on 4/27/2007 - Gonzales v. Carhart - A Step Away From Roe. 

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