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The Point Washington Update - January 23, 2014

In this edition of The Point:

Article #1

Excerpted from "Annual 'March for Life' to go on despite ice and cold," USA Today, Jan. 22, 2014 - "We march because 56 million Americans never had a chance to experience snow," the March for Life's Twitter account posted Tuesday, referring to the estimated number of abortions since the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide.

Veronika Johannsen, 22, of College Station, Texas, beat the weather and arrived safely for her second time at the march.

"The face is changing. It's not just white male politicians like the pro-choice people like to say," Johannsen said. "All kinds of people come. Religious groups of all different denominations, former abortion workers, women who have been raped or have been conceived in rape."

This is the 40th year that protesters will march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court, and 2014 is bringing changes like social media and a March For Life app. There is a "virtual march" on Facebook where users who can't make it can post a past March for Life photo as their cover photo to show support.

The theme this year is adoption. Speakers will include Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois.

"We want to encourage women facing the option of abortion to choose adoption," said Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund. "Adoption is at the center of motherhood. Motherhood is all about sacrifices. This is an ultimate sacrifice for the good of the baby."

Commentary #1

CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody– “Respect for life need not be a partisan proposition, and thankfully some politicians challenge the notion that a party cannot simultaneously advance the interests of women and babies. That's crucial, because decades ago, a specious argument of radical feminists began to prevail in the courts and with many politicians and women--namely, that a woman cannot advance professionally apart from the ability to terminate the life of her unborn child. Thankfully, many pro-life professional women, including members of organizations like CMDA's Women in Medicine and Dentistry, are demonstrating the fallacy of that assertion.

“I enjoyed the privilege of joining my good friend Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life, on stage Wednesday. I felt heartened as I looked out on the enormous crowd on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.—women, children and men who had braved 18-degree cold to join our march to the Supreme Court to solemnly protest the Roe v. Wade 1973 abortion decision. Especially encouraging are the vast numbers of young men and women who have seen through the deception that separates women from their babies and have determined to see the horror of abortion on demand abolished in their lifetime.

“If you can make it to next year's March for Life, please do so and bring family and friends. I hope you will also winsomely engage others in personal conversations, social media networks and professional opportunities to help them unpack the deception of abortion rights and recognize the gift of life.

“You can also help build a culture of life by encouraging and supporting options for women in challenging pregnancies--including by serving as a medical advisor in your community's pregnancy center.”

"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God…" (2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB).

Article #2

Excerpted from "How I Changed My Mind about Abortion," by Julia Herrington, Patheos, accessed on January 20, 2014 - Abortion was not an issue that I had ever imagined I’d become remotely passionate about. I am a bona-fide feminist with extreme ideas and boisterous opinions. Secretly, I’ve always felt that abortion wasn’t ideal and maybe not even right. But it’s complicated to believe that when you’re a feminist, and it’s certainly not something you profess publicly.

Working at a Pregnancy Resource Center changed all of this. This organization exists to offer women alternatives to abortion. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my co-workers were kind, compassionate and thoughtful.

My perspective changed dramatically because I determined that abortion does not actually benefit women. In so much as this is a women’s issue, it seems that abortion actually oppresses women. Procedurally what abortion requires is the silencing of a woman’s body and the unmitigated dismissing of her gender. What’s more, the reason a woman finds herself seeking out an abortion is that society holds her solely liable for pregnancy. Why are we letting men off the hook?

Abortion has a lot more to do with sex than we might have thought. Pornography, sexual crimes and abuses against women cannot be disconnected from the issue of abortion. Sexual liberation has made slaves out of women; it has only perpetuated and glorified their objectification. Sex that is void of relationship, honor and respect is why we’re here, be it the woman who is raped or the teenager who gets pregnant.

Just because a child is born into tragedy does not mean that his or her life is destined for a tragic ending. Regardless of circumstance, we as Christ followers must possess hope that any situation is redeemable. That’s what Jesus does, He redeems things. To be honest, I’m a fledgling where this conversation is concerned. I have really only just opened the door on this issue.

We cannot disregard this issue. We can no longer allow for the continued unquestioned oppression of women to persist. We need to reclaim healthy sexuality for ourselves, our children, our communities and our culture. And we must defend the weak, the defenseless; the children who might not be born.

Commentary #2-A

CMDA Member and Care Net Medical Advisor Sandy Christiansen, MD, FACOG– As an ‘older’ pro-life woman, it does my heart much good to see the next generation taking the standard and running with it. Kudos to Julia Herrington! Right you are that pregnancy centers are all about dispensing the compassion of Jesus to women—and men—at their point of need. Women facing an unplanned pregnancy come to our centers with a jumble of emotions and find a safe place to be heard, to gain valuable information about their bodies and their baby and to explore life-affirming alternatives to abortion.

“Abortion is not healthy for women. In fact, there are no scientific studies demonstrating how abortion improves women's mental health.1 On the contrary, there is a lot data supporting induced abortion's harmful effect on women's wellbeing and mounting evidence of its negative impact on men.

“Not to burst Miss Herrington's feminist bubble, but pregnancy centers actually are responding to this new research and are customizing services for both women and men. Women are more likely to choose abortion because of lack of support and because they don't want to become single mothers.2 Men who have experienced a partner's abortion can struggle with anger, anxiety and depression.3 No matter how you cut it, men are involved and need support, too. To find a pregnancy center near you or to talk to someone who cares, visit”

1Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Boden JM. Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy? A re-appraisal of the evidence. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2013 Sep;47(9):819-27. doi: 10.1177/0004867413484597. Epub 2013 Apr 3
2Finer, L. (2005). Reasons U.S. women have abortions: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37(3), 110–18.
Coleman, P.K., Maxey, C., Spence, M., Nixon, C. (2009). Predictors and correlates of abortion in the fragile families and well-being study: Paternal behavior, substance use, and partner violence. Int J Ment Health Addict., 7(3), 405–22.
3Rue, V. (1996). His abortion experience: The effects of abortion on men. Ethics and Medics, 21(4), 3–4.
Coyle, C. (2007). Men and abortion: A review of empirical reports. Internet J of Mental Health, 3(2).

Commentary #2-B

President of Heartbeat International Dr. Peggy Hartshorn– “What a breath of fresh air it was to read this clear and articulate, first-hand account of a woman whose eyes were opened to the fact that abortion, far from advancing women's rights—or human rights for that matter—instead contributes to the increased and continued oppression of women.

“How fitting to come to grips with this truth in a Pregnancy Help Center, which for over 40 years have offered women in the United States and around the world the type of emotional support and practical resources needed in the midst of an unexpected or difficult pregnancy. Out of a sea of statistics showing that the pro-life movement is gaining ground in recent years, stories like Ms. Herrington's burst forth in vivid light and color, screaming, ‘Pregnancy Help Centers are good for America!’

“Today more than ever, physicians and everyone in the medical field have a critical role to play in the protection and cherishing of all life—born and preborn. Pregnancy Help Centers across the nation are adding and enhancing existing medical services, and they are in need of life-minded professionals from all corners of the medical field to lend their expertise to everything from medical advisory boards to staff physicians. What a joy it would be for the director of a local Pregnancy Help Center to receive a call from a pro-life medical professional in its community, asking what he or she can do to help save lives from the violence of abortion.”

Article/Commentary #3

Excerpted from "Why religious freedom matters" CNN commentary by Robert P. George and Katrina Lantos Swett, January 16, 2014 - Editor’s note: Robert P. George and Katrina Lantos Swett serve as chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively, of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Supporting religious freedom or belief abroad is not just a legal or moral duty, but a practical necessity that is crucial to the security of the United States – and the world – as it builds a foundation for progress and stability. Research confirms that religious freedom in countries that honor and protect this right is generally associated with vibrant political democracy, rising economic and social well-being, and diminished tension and violence. In contrast, nations that trample on religious freedom are more likely to be mired in poverty and insecurity, war and terror, and violent, radical extremism.

Given the compelling case for supporting religious freedom abroad, why is it still so often given short shrift?

Simply stated, powerful concerns and emotions and differing world views are in play. For example, some people erroneously believe that democratic governance requires the exclusion or marginalization of any public dialogue, debate or policy that includes religion. Others view religion and related issues as exclusively personal and thus belonging solely in private life.

Still others worry that, when connected to an issue, religion generates needless and/or unresolvable tensions and controversies and thus is best left alone, perhaps recalling some of history's worst excesses in religion's name. Some are uncomfortable specifically with "organized religion" and may prefer to frame issues in terms of general spirituality. And some who have an exclusively secular approach and a non-theistic perspective may think that promoting religious freedom infringes on their right not to believe.

What all of these concerns share is the view that religion and religious freedom should be off the radar and divorced from foreign policy.

The answer to such concerns is that advocating for freedom of religion overseas is not about supporting a privileged position for religion, but the right to follow one's conscience. It is about insisting that advocating for religious freedom abroad be viewed in the same way as advocating for other essential rights guaranteed under international law. And, contrary to popular myth, this view encompasses not just the freedom to practice peacefully any religion and all that is associated with it, but the freedom not to believe – the right to reject any and all religion, publicly and privately.

While religious freedom cannot be separated from religion, it is actually less about religion per se than affirming a bedrock, internationally-recognized human right, one that has proven time and again to be a foundational freedom for other freedoms.

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