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"Choose Life" License Plates Go on Sale in Louisiana and Oklahoma

Motorists in Louisiana and Oklahoma started buying specialty "Choose Life" license plates November 1, with proceeds going to adoption programs. Florida, Mississippi, and Hawaii already offer the license plates, and Alabama will join them within a few months, according to the Times-Picayune.

Proponents of the Louisiana license plates, which feature the slogan "Choose Life" and a drawing of a baby wrapped in a blanket in the beak of the state bird, a pelican, prevailed after a long court battle. Authorized by the legislature in 1999, the tags were first rejected by a federal judge in August 2000, who declared that they constituted "viewpoint discrimination," the Associated Press (AP) reported.

However, in March and again in August 2001, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the pro-abortionists' challenge to the license plates, according to the AP. The U.S. Supreme Court refused October 16 to reconsider the appeals court decision.

The state's Office of Motor Vehicles reported that 52 plates were sold the first day, according to the Times-Picayune. They cost $50 more than traditional plates, but those who bought the "Choose Life" tags were happy to contribute to a special fund that will help facilitate adoptions, the Baton Rouge State-Times reported.

"I believe in life, have five children and 11 grandchildren," Carol Dazzio of Baton Rouge told the State-Times. "I think it is a blessing."

Pro-abortionists said they would file another request that the U.S. Supreme Court consider their case, according to the State-Times. Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, however, told the newspaper that his office would continue to support the license plates in court.

In Oklahoma, there was no court challenge to the "Choose Life" tags. Gov. Frank Keating signed legislation authorizing them May 6, and orders began to be placed November 1, according to Tulsa World. The license plates include the slogan and a childlike drawing of a boy and a girl, and proceeds from the extra $25 fee will go to the Choose Life Assistance Program.

The program will "pay for food, clothing, transportation, medical assistance, or whatever is needed by adoption-minded women," state Rep. Thad Balkman (R-Norman) told Tulsa World.

Nurse Charged with Killing 13 Patients Tried for Murder

A nurse in the Netherlands may face life in prison if a three-judge panel finds her guilty of killing 13 patients with injections of lethal drugs. Although Lucy Quirina de Berk's trial concluded September 24, the judges asked that more evidence be collected before they would make their ruling, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The judges called for de Berk to undergo psychiatric tests and requested further medical histories of some of the deceased patients, Reuters reported. The case will be suspended for at least three months while the evidence is gathered.

Four babies and an elderly United Nations judge were among de Berk's alleged victims in three hospitals where she worked from February 1997 to September 2001. The investigation into her actions began after a recovering five-month-old baby died in September 2001 just after de Berk went off duty, BBC News reported. An autopsy revealed evidence of a fatal dose of drugs.

De Berk denied that she killed the patients. "I am described as someone who kills, but that is simply not true," she declared at the trial, according to AFP.

In court, de Berk insisted that she tried to tell doctors about the failing health of one of the alleged victims, six-year-old Ahmad Noory, BBC News reported. "I warned the doctor that the child was very ill and nothing was done," de Berk testified. "Nobody did anything when I told them Ahmad had stopped responding and couldn't be woken up."

De Berk could not explain why so many deaths occurred on her shift. "I have a clear conscience," she told the court, according to BBC News. "I didn't do a thing. Of course it's strange, but I don't know how it happened."

Witnesses, however, said that de Berk told them she believed "the life of a terminally ill child is worth nothing," AFP reported. Prosecutors asserted that she "long applied the same method, asking to take care of handicapped children who were often alone in their rooms, and who died suddenly after their parents left the hospital," according to AFP.

Personhood Begins at Birth, According to Kentucky Court

An impaired driver who killed a mother who was in labor and her almost-born daughter cannot be charged with manslaughter for the death of the baby, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled. The three-judge panel ruled September 13 that even a viable unborn baby is not a person until he or she is born alive, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

"We view the born-alive rule as providing a cogent and well-defined legal criterion which has existed as common law in this commonwealth for more than a century," Judge John Miller wrote for the court.

On March 25, 2001, Troy Thornsbury was driving his wife Veronica to a Pikeville hospital so she could give birth to their daughter when Charles Morris, under the influence of drugs, smashed into their car. Veronica died immediately, and the baby, delivered in an ambulance by Caesarean section, never took a breath, the Herald-Leader reported.

Morris, who pled guilty to two counts of manslaughter and one charge of assault for injuries to Troy Thornsbury, is currently serving 10 years in prison. The court decision will not change his jail term, but it does dismiss one of the two manslaughter charges.

The reduction in charges may, however, make a difference when Morris seeks parole. "It sounds cold," Morris's attorney Stephen Owens told the Herald-Leader, "but it's better to go before the [parole] board with one [death] rather than two."

The Thornsbury family said they were "sickened" by the court decision. "I wish they would change the law to protect unborn babies because they're people, too," Teena Justice, Veronica Thornsbury's mother, told the Herald-Leader.

"I just don't think it's fair that people can sit up in their high place and decide she's not a baby," Justice said. "I saw my daughter's first child during an ultrasound when she was 7 months pregnant and he was sucking his thumb. How was something that's not a something sucking its thumb?"

Indiana Informed Consent Law Upheld

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a 1995 Indiana law requiring women to be counseled in person 18 hours before receiving an abortion.

The 2-1 court decision, announced on September 16, held that the law does not place an undue burden on women seeking abortions, since it contains an emergency clause if a woman is in physical or psychological danger, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Since a permanent injunction was placed on the in-person portion of the law in March 2001, abortion clinics have sent an information packet through the mail and then spoken over the phone by conference call to women contemplating abortions, according to the Indianapolis Star.

However, state attorneys argued that personal contact between the women and the abortionists was important to the intent of the law, to make sure the women are fully informed about abortion, the AP reported.

"Women should have the right to know and time to think over the consequences," Joan Byrum, president of Right to Life of Indianapolis, told the Star. "When you change your mind after an abortion, there's no going back."

Pro-abortionists argued that the law is burdensome and unnecessary. "Mandatory delay requirements serve no actual health purpose and prevent many women -- particularly those with the fewest financial resources--from obtaining abortions altogether," Simon Heller, attorney from the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, told the AP.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union filed a petition November 4 asking that the law continue to be enjoined until an appeal is filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the AP reported.

British Euthanasia Supporters Present Petition to Prime Minister

A petition calling for legalized euthanasia in Britain was presented to Prime Minister Tony Blair September 23. Headed by the widower of Diane Pretty, who tried to win the right to assisted suicide in court, the group of euthanasia supporters asked the government to change the law and allow the terminally ill to receive medical help to die, BBC News reported.

Brian Pretty worked with the Voluntary Euthanasia Society to gather 50,000 signatures on the petition, 10,000 of which were gathered over the Internet. Pretty, whose wife died of natural causes in May after both British and European courts denied her request for assisted suicide, told a crowd gathered outside the prime minister's residence, "Diane would be 100 percent behind this as she was from the start," according to the Associated Press.

The group also established a new web site and announced that the petition is the beginning of a nationwide campaign to change the law, BBC News reported.

The parliament of the British island of Guernsey voted September 26 to investigate legalizing euthanasia. Deputy Pat Miller told the Daily Telegraph that it is "the first British parliament to have made a decision to move forward on this matter. There now has to be a good deal of local consultation and investigation to see whether laws which are working in other parts of the world could be applicable in Guernsey."

Disability rights advocates condemned the call for assisted suicide. It would be "very wrong for justice to say in certain circumstances people can die," Rachel Hurst, director of Disability Awareness in Action, told BBC News. "It would be a slippery slope and many people who did not want to die could be affected."

Judge Permanently Enjoins Florida Women's Right to Know Law

Circuit Judge Ronald Alvarez declared unconstitutional Florida's 1997 Women's Right to Know Act, which would have required women seeking abortions to receive information about the techniques and risks of abortion and the age of their unborn children.

Alvarez's September 13 decision stated that the act would prevent a woman from receiving "her physician's opinion as to what is best for her considering her particular circumstances. This is constitutionally impermissible," the Palm Beach Post reported.

However, Department of Health General Counsel William Large asserted that the state "is trying to protect the women of Florida, ensuring them the most information possible before receiving an abortion," according to the Post.

The law has never gone into effect, since it was challenged immediately after it was passed in 1997.

Attorney Louis Silber, who represented the abortion clinic that challenged the law, insisted that the regulations "handcuff" doctors by putting up a "barrier or obstacle in the process," the Post reported.

Pro-lifers, on the other hand, argued that the law provides women with the facts they need before deciding to undergo an abortion. "If I'm going for open heart surgery, I want to hear all about it. I would want to see pictures of it. I want to understand everything," Richard Giesman, president of Palm Beach County Right to Life, told the Post. "We're doing an injustice to anyone not giving them the full information to make an informed decision."

Large said that the state will appeal Alvarez's ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal, according to the Post.

Arizona Court Expands Reasons for Taxpayer-Funded Abortions

The Arizona Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision October 22, declared that low-income women can receive taxpayer-funded abortions that are "medically necessary," a term that expands coverage from the previous requirement of "imminent danger," according to United Press International (UPI).

"There is no Arizona statute or policy defining the term `medically necessary,' thus allowing a broad and vague definition to be left wide open for interpretation by the state and abortion industry," said Shane Wikfors, executive director of Arizona Right to Life. "Among abortion-law experts, `medically necessary' abortions have come to mean any variety of reasons including emotional, economic, or even familial health reasons."

"This `medically necessary' excuse for taxpayer-funded abortions creates a loophole so big Planned Parenthood can now drive a Mack truck through the wallets of Arizona taxpayers," Wikfors added.

The court ruled that since Arizona covers the costs of abortions for poor women for rape or incest or whose lives are in "imminent danger," the state must also pay for abortions that are deemed "necessary" for their health, UPI reported.

Wikfors said that Arizona Right to Life and other pro-life groups will investigate legal remedies to change or reverse the court's ruling.>EN
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Author:Townsend, Liz
Publication:National Right to Life News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2002
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