December 22, 1997 Issue No. 29
P L A G A L
M E M O R A N D U M
Post Office Box 33292
Washington, DC 20033
A Newsletter for Members and Friends of the
Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians
MARCH FOR LIFE APPROACHES
The Annual March for Life in protest of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, declaring abortion a constitutional right, will take place at Noon, January 22, 1998, beginning in the Ellipse just south of the White House. After several speeches, the March will proceed up Constitution Boulevard to the Supreme Court Building, after which participants will visit the offices of their Senators and Representatives in Congress. As we have done since 1991, PLAGAL will march.
Members of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians will gather at 11:30 A.M. before the statue of Benjamin Franklin in front of the Old Post Office, near the corner of Twelfth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest. We will then walk to the corner of Constitution Boulevard and Fifteenth Street, where we will join Feminists for Life, Democrats for Life, and other non-traditional pro-life groups for the March.
As is our custom, at the top of Capitol Hill, we will stop in front of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and distribute flyers as the rest of the March goes by. By distributing these flyers, we hope to let other pro-lifers know the arguments that we as lesbian and gay pro-lifers have found most effective in advancing the pro-life cause in our community. Though Congress will not be in session on January 22nd, at 3:30 P.M. we are trying to arrange a meeting with one or more Congressional offices to present our particular spin on the universal pro-life message.
FOR JANUARY 22ND
While PLAGALites on the east coast will be attending the 1998 March for Life in Washington, DC, the rest of the world should not let this anniversary go unnoted.
Most states and larger cities have commemorations on January 22nd -- or on more conveninent weekend dates. PLAGALites should contact their local pro-life leadership, and where available their local PLAGAL Contact, and try to arrange some form of pro-life presence at these events.
Depending on local conditions, the presence of a lesbian and gay contingent in these events may well serve to highlight to broad, inclusive nature of the pro-life cause.
OUTREACH PROJECT BEGINS
PLAGAL has begun an outreach program to present the pro-life message to lesbian and gays organizations and individuals throughout the country -- and in Canada. The initial focus of this project is the seven hundred gay and lesbian religious groups in the United States and Canada. A copy of the introductory letter is enclosed.
To finish this project, PLAGAL will need the assistance of not only its active officers and local contacts, but also other PLAGALites throughout the country. While we do not expect an overwhelming response -- or at least an overwhelming positive response -- we need to be prepared for requests for speakers from the least likely places. Currently, we have proven speakers only in Los Angeles, San Jose, Seattle, Houston, Minneapolis, Boston, Jacksonville, Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Washington, DC. If you have ever taken part in a debate or speakers' bureau on behalf of the unborn, please let us know. And -- more important -- if you are willing to learn those rhetorical skills -- with the help of an experienced PLAGAL speaker -- contact the National Office. We must keep in mind that the primary mission of PLAGAL is not just to gather pro-life lesbians and gays together for mutual support, but to present the pro-life message to our brothers and sisters, and to do so effectively.
However, the religious groups are only the beginning. As time and resources (read money) permit, we will send approximately the same package to other lesbian and gay non-political groups. We are purchasing the mailing lists at $.10 per organization though Gayellow Pages -- which offers reasonable prices and fairly good quality. The priority has not yet been set, but business groups and sports groups are at the top of the current wish list.
The Annual Meeting of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians will be held on January 21, 1998, at 1747 "S" Street, Northwest, Washington, DC 20009, beginning at 8:00 P.M. The main order of business is the election of the Members of the Board of Directors for 1998. Any PLAGAL Member whose dues ($10.00) have been paid as of January 10, 1998, is eligible to vote. Following the Annual Meeting, there will be a Dutch Treat Pizza and Beer Supper. Please plan to attend.
WHAT'S IN A NAME
Over the years, there have been a number of suggestions that PLAGAL change its name to reflect the diversity of its membership and that of the "queer" community. A couple of years ago, one of our most active members in Boston urged that we add "straights" to our name. More recently, there have been suggestions that we recognize the participation of bisexuals, transvestites, transgenders. Since one of our Vice-Presidents, Steve Cook, identifies himself as a bisexual, this is not an entirely academic question.
There are several reasons for retaining the current name of PLAGAL. First PLAGAL is a word. Check your unabridged dictionary. Second, PLAGAL is a pronounceable acronym. Any attempt to pronounce PLAGLTTB will sound like Donald Duck having a temper tantrum. Most pro-lifers know vaguely that PLAGAL is a gay pro-life group, even if they are not certain of every word in the title. Often we are simply asked, "are you with PLAGAL?" Third, we have worked long and hard to establish name recognition for PLAGAL -- and we have invested substantial resources in banners, signs, t-shirts, flyers and other material emblazoned with PLAGAL.
PLAGAL has since its beginning benefited from an extraordinarily diverse spectrum of members. Though founded and lead exclusively by lesbians and gays, straights have been an important factor in our operation. Their participation does not divert us from the focus and primary mission of PLAGAL -- to advance the pro-life cause within the lesbian and gay community.
DID PLAGAL GET INK?
When anything appears in the lesbian and gay media discussing the Pro-Life movement, or in any media discussing PLAGAL, Please, PLEASE send it to us. We do not have -- and cannot afford -- a clipping service or subscriptions to the multitude of lesbian and gay media. We are always discovering -- sometimes months after the event -- that we were mentioned somewhere. As has become our custom, we would also like to remind our readers that PLAGAL needs the names (and addresses, voice and fax numbers, and now e-mail addresses) of local gay and lesbian media.
Monday, December 8, 1998 saw Moses Remedios, PLAGAL's Los Angeles Contact, appearing on KATT Radio, in a talk show hosted by Marc Scalzo, a pro-life liberal Democrat in California's Central Valley. Moses reports that Scalzo was converted to an active pro-life position because he encountered a pro-life information table at a local mall. If you have ever questioned the effectiveness of staffing one of those tables -- either at Pride or elsewhere, don't! Moses promoted the 1998 March for Life and PLAGAL's participation in local Pride events.
Tom Sena's column, adapted from last issue's piece in the PLAGAL Memorandum, was printed in Minneapolis's Focus Point.
ITALIAN STUDY SHOWS
ABORTION RISKIER FOR
In December 1994, PLAGAL sponsored a seminar in Boston on the methods and probabilities of reducing the transmission of the HIV virus from an infected mother to her child. At that time we concentrated on the life of the child, and the absence of any reason to abort the child because of the likelhood of infection.
Now an Italian study shows that " Induced abortion" increases subsequent HIV-1 infection risk by 172 percent ."Significantly higher prevalences of infection [HIV-1] were associated with induced abortion (0.49%) than with delivery (0.18%) (OR: 2.72; 95% CI: 2.29-3.22)" (European Journal of Epidemiology, Deliveries, abortion and HIV-1 infection in Rome, 1989-1994, 1997, 13:373-378). Translated into plain English, women who have induced abortions have an increased risk of HIV-1 infection of 172% and the researchers were at least 99% confident of this result.
How many U.S. women would get HIV-1 infection yearly from induced abortion? If the same 172% increase risk of HIV-1 infection applied to U.S. women, there would be roughly 4,000 HIV-1 infections per year from women having induced abortions (1,300,000 abortions X .31%).
Is this the only medical journal report linking induced abortions to increased HIV-1 infection risk? No, the authors (Damiano D. Abeni et al.) cite four other studies that have found increased HIV-1 risk from induced abortion.
CLINTON AGAIN VETOES PARTIAL BIRTH BAN
Defying a majority of Congress a second time, President Clinton vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortion procedures Friday.
The president, who signed the veto papers privately and without fanfare in the Oval Office, is counting on the bill surviving a Senate override effort. The Senate passed the bill in May by three votes less than the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override his veto. ``The president is confident his position can be sustained,'' White House spokesman Mike McCurry said.
The House's separate vote on Wednesday, 296-132, was by a margin that would be more than enough to carry a later attempt to override Clinton. But both chambers must vote by two-thirds majorities in order to override a veto.
Within moments of Clinton's veto, Rep. Charles Canady, chief sponsor of the House bill, pledged that pro-life supporters would ``work tirelessly to get the last few votes needed in the Senate.''
``Now Bill Clinton will go down in history as the president whose veto had to be overridden in order to protect the innocent babies from a brutal, heinous death,'' Canady, R-Fla., said in a statement.
Though Clinton prevailed on the election-year issue in 1996, pro-life supporters revived the bill this year after learning the partial-birth abortion' procedure was more common than previously believed and performed for mostly elective reasons.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said, ``President Clinton's veto means that each year, thousands of living babies will be pulled feet-first from the womb and their heads punctured.''
Johnson, Canady and other supporters of the ban compare the procedure to infanticide and insist there is no medically justifiable reason to use it. They also maintain that the partial-birth abortion procedure, more complicated that first-trimester abortions, is common and often elective.
TIBET: "FORCED" ABORTIONS UNDER CHINESE RULE
Kate Saunders reports in Marie Claire magazine that China has "implemented [its] harsh birth control policy" in Tibet, including "forced abortions and sterilization of Tibetan 'minority' women." Married women ages 25 to 35 are allowed one to two children -- "fewer in urban areas, more in less populated regions."
One woman recalled her experience when she had exceeded her village's three-child limit: "When I was pregnant with my fourth child, Chinese officials kept coming into my house, pressuring me to have an abortion. I kept refusing. I wanted my baby and I knew what Chinese clinics were like. In the clinic near my home, ten to twenty forced abortions were carried out daily, in terrible conditions."
Saunders writes that in China, and therefore Tibet, "it is legal to administer abdominal injections to women who are nine months pregnant and to kill infants still in the birth canal." Many women, facing these conditions, "try to escape from Tibet," an often harrowing journey across the mountains. The article also notes there are five films currently in production or completed about Tibet.
Two films deal with the Dalai Lama (one directed by Martin Scorcesse and the other staring Brad Pitt) and two others deal with smaller plots of personal and spiritual challenge. The fifth film, called tentatively, "Dixie Cups," stars Steven Seagal as a CIA agent assisting Tibetan rebels. Release of "Dixie Cups" has been delayed "by concern over China's reaction."
KATIE COURIC: PRO-ABORTION DEMONSTRATOR
In a recent interview, "NBC Today Show" Co-host Katie Couric was "outed" as a pro-abortion demonstrator. Tim Graham of the Media Research Center says viewers should beware of potential bias. "I'm not saying Katie Couric shouldn't have a right to march and protest. What I'm saying is the viewer needs to decide, when she's doing interviews, whether or not she's being fair."
CAMPAIGN REFORM AFFECTS PRO-LIFE EFFORTS
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) released this short summary of the speech-restriction provisions of the new (Sept. 29) McCain-Feingold "campaign reform" bill. The Senate will be conducting important votes relating to this bill during the week of October 6. The House of Representatives may consider similar legislation before adjournment in early November. For further information, contact NRLC at (202) 626-8820.
For a full analysis of the McCain-Feingold Sept. 29 version, see NRLC's paper, "An Analysis of the Speech-Restriction Provisions of the McCain-Feingold Substitute Amendment" (Sept. 29), available at www.nrlc.org/mccain.html. For an examination of recent statements by advocates of the bill and their troubling implications, see "Do American Voters Need Speech Nannies?" by NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson (Sept. 30), available at www.nrlc.org/dimwit.html.
"Campaign Reform:" The New McCain-Feingold Bill's Year-Around Speech Bans
1. Under the new (Sept. 29) McCain-Feingold bill, at any time of any year, a non-PAC incorporated organization is at very grave risk of becoming the target of a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, and subsequent costly investigation and litigation, any time it issues to the public a print, broadcast, or other type of communication that mentions the name of a Member of Congress, or other "candidate," with any sort of viewpoint expressed regarding the rightness or wrongness of that politician's position -- whether that viewpoint is suggested implicitly (by the selection of issues discussed, context, etc.), or explicitly by direct commentary regarding the politician's position.
2. In addition, at any time of any year, any non-PAC incorporated group is at risk of violating the ban on making an illegal corporate "contribution" if it issues a communication to the public on an issue that is already being debated by candidates -- even if the communication itself does not contain the name of a candidate. All that is required for such an ad to be unlawful is a finding (1) that it was "of value" to a candidate (for example, by taking the same side on the issue as that candidate, even though his name was not used), and (2) that the group had engaged in "coordination" with a candidate. The bill defines "coordination" in such vastly expansive terms that it would be nearly impossible for issue-oriented groups that conduct two-way communications with congressional offices to avoid so-called "coordination."
Moreover, "coordination" would be automatically presumed if a group merely shares a single professional vendor, during a two-year period, with a congressional candidate.
3. In addition, within 60 days of a congressional primary election (which occur as early as March 1) or general election, there is an absolute ban on any non-PAC group broadcasting a communication that includes even the name or likeness of a candidate, whatever the rest of the content, and regardless of whether the communication deals with an imminent vote in Congress.
4. The so-called "exception" for printed material "solely about the voting record or position on a campaign issue of 2 or more candidates" is a further insult to the First Amendment. This bogus "exception" would ban (to non-PASS) printed materials (such as typical "scorecard" and voter guides) that express viewpoints on candidates' positions, by prohibiting publications that go beyond discussion "in an educational manner," or that can have no "reasonable meaning" other than to "urge the election or defeat" of a candidate (even if the communication contains no words that explicitly urge such election or defeat), or that discuss the position of
only one "candidate" (as is often the case with ads and brochures urging letters to Congress regarding an upcoming vote).
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