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Sunday, October 31, 2004

John Kerry's Abortion Ban

The campaign confirms that Kerry supports a measure that could ban thousands of abortions

Sen. John Kerry supports banning most abortions of fetuses post-"viability," the campaign confirmed Thursday.

Roughly 10,000 abortions occur each year in the third trimester, after fetuses are commonly thought to be viable, so this approach could curtail a greater number of late term abortions than the "partial birth abortion" ban often discussed by President Bush.

In 1997, when Congress was first considering whether to prohibit partial birth abortion, Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota offered a compromise amendment that banned abortion for any fetuses that could be considered viable. [Text here]. Kerry voted for the amendment, which was defeated by an alliance of Republicans and liberal Democrats. [Click here for roll call.]

Kerry has never mentioned his support of such a ban in any major speeches, debates or campaign documents and usually emphasizes a woman's "right to choose." However, in response to questions from Beliefnet concerning the 1997 vote, campaign spokesman Jim Chon, emailed Thursday, "John Kerry stands by his vote."
The Daschle amendment stated: "It shall be unlawful for a physician to abort a viable fetus unless the physician certifies that the continuation of the pregnancy would threaten the mother's life or risk grievous injury to her physical health."

At the time Daschle proposed his amendment, also called the "comprehensive abortion ban act of 1997," the American Civil Liberties Union attacked it as "unconstitutionally narrow" because it didn’t allow enough health-of-the-mother exceptions. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League president Kate Michelman said Daschle's amendment "goes too far" in restricting abortion.

Republicans opposed the Daschle amendment too, arguing that it gave too much authority to doctors to determine "viability."

Though President Bush has spoken in general about the need to "protect life" -- and the Republican platform calls for a constitutional amendment banning most abortion -- it is the partial birth ban he mentions most often. There has been much debate about the actual number of late term partial birth abortions, with most estimates ranging from a few hundred to 1,500. The ban signed by President Bush did not affect other kinds of late term abortions.

Medical conventional wisdom holds that fetuses generally become viable – able to live outside the womb - by the beginning of the seventh month of pregnancy. The Alan Guttmacher Institute has estimated that .08% of abortions, or about 10,000, occur after the 24th week. The Daschle bill also would have prohibited any "partial birth" abortions of fetuses that were viable.

The Bush campaign has criticized Kerry's votes against the partial birth ban and the Bush-Cheney campaign's official website notes several other examples of Senator Kerry opposing restrictions on abortion. As a result of his pro-choice record, several Catholic bishops have said that voting for Kerry is a sin.

The Church's position -- and the Kerry campaign's statement -- may be significant because several battlegrounds states have large Catholic populations: Pennsylvania (30%), New Jersey (45.9%), Ohio (28%), Michigan (28%), Wisconsin (34.4), Minnesota (28.7%) and New Hampshire (38.2%), according to the Gallup Organization.

A TV ad being run by National Right to Life states: "John Kerry supports abortion for any reason, all nine months of pregnancy." A voters guide being distributed to churches around the country by the American Conservative Union says Kerry "never met an abortion he didn't like."

The Kerry campaign did not elaborate on the vote, or attempt to reconcile it with other votes the senator cast against partial birth abortion, a procedure which can occur in both the second or third trimester.

The 1997 fight created some unusual alliances. Two pro-life academics Stephen C. Meyer and David K. DeWolf wrote in the Wall Street Journal at the time that the Daschle amendment would have stopped more than 10,000 abortions each year. The writers declared, "For Americans who want to limit abortion on demand, a historic opportunity stands open in Congress. Whether pro-life legislators seize this opportunity will depend on whether they prefer symbolic victory or substantive reform."

Several pro-choice groups opposed the approach. In a letter opposing the amendment, the ACLU stated at the time that the ban would "would prevent women with serious and legitimate health problems from obtaining the abortions they need."

On the other hand, Republicans argued that because the determination of "grievous injury" and fetal viability would be left to the physician, the ban would have been toothless. "If we pass the Daschle amendment and require this concept of physician certification, that the pregnancy would risk grievous injury, I believe that clearly would render this bill meaningless," said Senator Mike Dewine, a Ohio Republican. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania declared, "Put yourself in the position of the abortionist. Are you going to say the baby was viable and I killed it?”

In an article about the 1997 battle, former Daschle aide Amy Sullivan recalled that "the Alternative was never so popular as in defeat. Leading conservatives immediately scolded Republicans for missing their last best chance to cooperate with Democrats on abortion legislation, recognizing that the Alternative would have been a big step toward reducing abortion rates. 'You can't be so used to drubbing your enemy that you don't recognize it when they make some sense,' William Bennett told The Washington Times. 'If I didn't know who sponsored this, I would have thought it was a pro-life Republican.'"

The timing of the Kerry campaign’s acknowledgement may relate to the phase of the campaign. In a panel on religion and politics during the Democratic convention, Sean Casey, a professor at Wesley Theological Seminary, speculated that early in the campaign season, Democratic candidates highlight only their most-pro-choice positions because "there's so much early pro-choice money in the Democratic Party."

Now that the campaigns have progressed past the fundraising period and into the vote-gathering period, the calculus may have shifted for the Kerry campaign.

Steven Waldman

Bush's "Christian" Blood Cult

[Wayne Madsen, Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist and former intelligence officer with the National Security Agency drops some big bombshells in George W. Bush's spiritual back yard. This highly respected journalistic veteran quotes sources closest to the Vatican as saying that Pope John Paul II suspects that the Bush administration had foreknowledge of the 9-11 attacks. He also points out the obvious: Bush behavior and attitude are anything but Christian. – MCR]

Concerns Raised by the Vatican

George W. Bush proclaims himself a born-again Christian. However, Bush and fellow self-anointed neo-Christians like House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, John Ashcroft, and sports arena Book of Revelations carnival hawker Franklin Graham appear to wallow in a "Christian" blood lust cult when it comes to practicing the teachings of the founder of Christianity. This cultist form of Christianity, with its emphasis on death rather than life, is also worrying the leaders of mainstream Christian religions, particularly the Pope.

One only has to check out Bush's record as Governor of Texas to see his own preference for death over life. During his tenure as Governor, Bush presided over a record setting 152 executions, including the 1998 execution of fellow born-again Christian Karla Faye Tucker, a convicted murderer who later led a prison ministry. Forty of Bush's executions were carried out in 2000, the year the Bush presidential campaign was spotlighting their candidate's strong law enforcement record. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen reported in October 2000 that one of the execution chamber's "tie-down team" members, Fred Allen, had to prepare so many people for lethal injections during 2000, he quit his job in disgust.

Bush mocked Tucker's appeal for clemency. In an interview with Talk magazine, Bush imitated Tucker's appeal for him to spare her life - pursing his lips, squinting his eyes, and in a squeaky voice saying, "Please don't kill me." That went too far for former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer, himself an evangelical Christian. "I think it is nothing short of unbelievable that the governor of a major state running for president thought it was acceptable to mock a woman he decided to put to death," said Bauer.

A former Texas Department of Public Safety officer, a devout Roman Catholic, told this reporter that evidence to the contrary, Bush was more than happy to ignore DNA data and documented cases of prosecutorial misconduct to send innocent people to the Huntsville, Texas lethal injection chamber. He said the number of executed mentally retarded, African Americans, and those who committed capital crimes as minors was proof that Bush was insensitive and a "phony Christian." When faced with similar problems in Illinois, Governor George Ryan, a Republican, commuted the death sentences of his state's death row inmates and released others after discovering they were wrongfully convicted. Yet the Republican Party is pillorying Ryan and John Ashcroft's Justice Department continues to investigate the former Governor for political malfeasance as if Bush and Ashcroft are without sin in such matters. Hypocrisy certainly rules in the Republican Party.

Bush's blood lust has been extended across the globe. He has given the CIA authority to assassinate those deemed a threat to U.S. national interests. Bush has virtually suspended Executive Orders 11905 (Gerald Ford), 12306 (Jimmy Carter), and 12333 (Ronald Reagan) which prohibit the assassination of foreign leaders. Bush's determination to kill Saddam Hussein, his family, and his top leaders with precision-guided missiles and tactical nuclear weapon-like Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bombs is yet another indication of Bush's disregard for his Republican and Democratic predecessors. It now appears that in his zeal to kill Hussein, innocent civilian patrons of a Baghdad restaurant were killed by one of Bush's precision Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs). Like it or not, Saddam Hussein was recognized by over 100 nations as the leader of Iraq -- a member state of the United Nations. Hussein, like North Korea' Kim Jong Il, Syria's Bashir Assad, and Iran's Mohammed Khatami, are covered by Executive Order 12333, which the Bush mouthpieces claim is still in effect. Bush's "Christian" blood cult sees no other option than death for those who become his enemies. This doctrine is found no place in Christian theology.

Bush has not once prayed for the innocent civilians who died as a result of the U.S. attack on Iraq. He constantly "embeds" himself with the military at Goebbels-like speech fests and makes constant references to God when he refers to America's "victory" in Iraq, as if God endorses his sordid killing spree. He makes no mention of the children, women, and old men killed by America's "precision-guided" missiles and bombs and trigger-happy U.S. troops. In fact, Bush revels in indiscriminate blood letting. Since he never experienced such killing in Southeast Asia, when he was AWOL from his Texas Air National Guard unit, Bush just does not seem to understand the horror of a parent watching one's children having their heads and limbs blown off in a sudden blast of shrapnel or children witnessing their parents burning to death with their own body fat nurturing the flames.

Bush and his advisers, previously warned that Iraq's ancient artifacts and collection of historical documents and books were in danger of being looted or destroyed, instead, sat back while the Baghdad and Mosul museums and Baghdad Library were ransacked and destroyed. Cult leaders have historically attempted to destroy history in order to invent their own. The Soviets tried to obliterate Russia's Orthodox traditions, turning a number of churches into warehouses and animal barns. Cambodia's Pol Pot tried to wipe out Buddhism's famed Angkor Wat shrine in an attempt to stamp out his country's Buddhist history. In March 2001, while they were negotiating with the Bush administration on a natural gas pipeline, Afghanistan's Taliban blew up two massive 1600-year old Buddhas in Bamiyan. The Bush administration, itself run by fanatic religious cultists, barely made a fuss about the loss of the relics. It would not be the first time the cultists within the Bush administration ignored the pillaging of history's treasures.

The ransacking of Iraq's historical treasures is explainable when one considers what the blood cult Christians really think about Islam. Franklin Graham, the heir to the empire built up by his anti-Semitic father, Billy Graham, has decided being anti-Muslim is far more financially rewarding than being anti-Jewish. Billy Graham, history notes from the Nixon tapes, complained about the Jewish stranglehold on the media and Jews being responsible for pornography.

Franklin Graham continues to enjoy his father's unfettered and questionable access to the White House. But in the case of Bush, the younger Graham has a fanatic adherent. Graham has called Islam a "very evil and wicked" religion. He then announces he wants to go to Iraq. Graham obviously sees an opportunity to convert Muslims and unrepentant Eastern Christians, who owe their allegiance to Roman and Greek prelates, to his perverted form of blood cult Christianity. Graham says he is ready to send his Samaritan's Purse missionaries into Iraq to provide assistance. Muslims and mainstream Christians are wary that Graham wants to exchange food, water, and medicine for the baptism of Iraqis into his intolerant brand of Christianity. In the last Gulf War, Graham could not get away with his chicanery. The Desert Storm Commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf, stopped dead in the tracks Graham's plan to send 30,000 Arabic language Bibles to U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. Today's Pentagon shows no such compunction to put a rein on Graham. It invited him to give a Good Friday sermon at the Pentagon to the consternation of the Defense Department's Muslim employees. To make matters worse, under Bush's "Faith Based Initiative," Graham's Samaritan's Purse stands to receive U.S. government funds for its proselytizing efforts in Iraq, something that should be an affront to every American taxpayer.

Bush's self-proclaimed adherence to Christianity (during one of the presidential debates he said Jesus Christ was his favorite "philosopher") and his constant reference to a new international structure bypassing the United Nations system and long-standing international treaties are worrying the top leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. Well-informed sources close to the Vatican report that Pope John Paul II is growing increasingly concerned about Bush's ultimate intentions. The Pope has had experience with Bush's death fetish. Bush ignored the Pope's plea to spare the life of Karla Faye Tucker. To show that he was similarly ignorant of the world's mainstream religions, Bush also rejected an appeal to spare Tucker from the World Council of Churches - an organization that represents over 350 of the world's Protestant and Orthodox Churches. It did not matter that Bush's own Methodist Church and his parents' Episcopal Church are members of the World Council.

Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs, and his constant references to "evil doers," in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations - the anti-Christ. People close to the Pope claim that amid these concerns, the Pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations. John Paul II has always believed the world was on the precipice of the final confrontation between Good and Evil as foretold in the New Testament. Before he became Pope, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla said, "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel." The Pope, who grew up facing the evils of Hitler and Stalin, knows evil when he sees it. Although we can all endlessly argue over the Pope's effectiveness in curtailing abuses within his Church, his accomplishments external to Catholicism are impressive.

According to journalists close to the Vatican, the Pope and his closest advisers are also concerned that the ultimate acts of evil - the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon - were known in advance by senior Bush administration officials. By permitting the attacks to take their course, there is a perception within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy that a coup d'etat was implemented, one that gave Bush and his leadership near-dictatorial powers to carry out their agenda.

The Pope worked tirelessly to convince leaders of nations on the UN Security Council to oppose Bush's war resolution on Iraq. Vatican sources claim they had not seen the Pope more animated and determined since he fell ill to Parkinson's Disease. In the end, the Pope did convince the leaders of Mexico, Chile, Cameroon, and Guinea to oppose the U.S. resolution. If one were to believe in the Book of Revelations, as the Pope fervently does, he can seek solace in scoring a symbolic victory against the Bush administration. Whether Bush represents a dangerous right-wing ideologue who couples his political fanaticism with a neo-Christian blood cult (as I believe) or he is either the anti-Christ or heralds one, the Pope should know he has fought the good battle and has gained the respect and admiration of many non-Catholics around the world.

Originally published by CounterPunch – www.counterpunch.org -Â
on April 22, 2003.

-- Wayne Madsen is a Washington-based investigative journalist and former naval officer assigned to the National Security Agency. He testified before Cynthia McKinney's hearing on the genocide in the DRC in May 2001 and has worked with Bob Barr on privacy legislation in the past. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth. Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com

No Matter Who Wins,

The Election has been stolen…
And the war continues

Join us
Wed. Nov. 3
Union Square

End the Colonial Occupation of Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, and

We Need Money for Jobs, Housing, Healthcare & Education!
Not for War & Occupation!

US Hands Off Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Korea,
Philippines, Puerto
Rico, Sudan & Everywhere!

The choices for young people - particularly in communities
of color, are joblessness and police brutality, or the
military. Recruiters are stepping up recruitment of youth
in working class high schools throughout the country!

We can't depend on Bush or Kerry to end the war with no
end. Only a mass movement can stop this madness!

Whoever wins, the People have been disenfranchised

Whichever candidate wins on Election Day, the fact remains
the people have been locked out of the political process.
The election has a multi-million dollar entrance
fee--only candidates financed by the super-rich have any
chance of getting elected. Neither candidate speaks for
the people—both are owned by Wall Street.

Neither candidate speaks for the millions who do not have
health insurance. Neither candidate speaks for working
people who need a living wage. Neither candidate speaks
out against police brutality, racial profiling, and the
Patriot Act. Neither corporate candidate can speak for
the people--we must continue to build a movement in the
streets that will raise the issues of working and
oppressed people.

Racism and the Stolen Election

Across the country, vote fraud, voter intimidation, and
dirty tricks are being used to suppress the vote,
particularly the votes of people of color and immigrants.

Robert Kutner, writing for the October 20 Boston Globe,
stated, "The Republicans are out to steal the 2004
election -- before, during, and after Election Day. Before
Election Day, they are employing such dirty tricks as
improper purges of voter rolls, use of dummy registration
groups that tear up Democratic registrations, and the
suppression of Democratic efforts to sign up voters,
especially blacks and students.

"On Election Day, Republicans will attempt to intimidate
minority voters by having poll watchers threaten criminal
prosecution if something is technically amiss with their
ID, and they will again use technical mishaps to partisan

In Nevada, where the two presidential candidates are in a
dead heat, Republican operatives are attempting to purge
about 17,000 voters from the rolls.

Voters Outreach of America, run by Nathan Sproul, an
Arizona GOP political consultant whose firm, Sproul &
Associates, has been paid nearly $500,000 by the
Republican National Committee to do "voter outreach," is
facing a voter fraud investigation for allegedly
destroying voter-registration forms they had collected
from Democratic voters. Similar allegations have surfaced
in Oregon and West Virginia, where the group has been

In Florida, Republicans are being accused of dirty tricks,
intimidation, and poll fraud. According to the New York
Times, officers from the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement – which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush – have gone
into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and
interrogated them as part of an "investigation" that has
frightened many voters. Many of the elderly black voters
who were question by state police officers are members of
the Orlando League of Voters, which has been effectively
in mobilizing the city's black vote.

In Kentucky, Arizona, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and other
"swing states" the Republicans have made plans to station
thousands of “vote challengers" at the polls to intimidate
voters and challenge votes, especially in largely
African-American precincts.

In Ohio, using tactics reminiscent of the "Jim Crow" days,
the GOP is sending thousands of recruits to polling places
on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters.
The challenges could be made on four main grounds: whether
the voter is a citizen, is at least 18, is a resident of
the county and has lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days.

In Philadelphia, Republican operatives made a last ditch
attempt Friday to relocate 63 polling places – many of
them in Black neighborhoods – all of them in districts
where Democrats have an advantage.

Civil rights and labor unions have brought suit in U.S.
District Court in Newark, saying the GOP is violating a
consent decree, issued in the 1980s by Judge Dickinson R.
Debevoise and still in effect, that prevents the
Republicans from starting "ballot security" programs to
prevent voter fraud that target minorities.

Judith A. Browne, acting co-director of the Advancement
Project, which filed the lawsuit along with the Leadership
Conference on Civil Rights, said the Republican
"challenges were, and currently are, used to
disenfranchise minority voters."

Bush & Kerry: Pro-War, Pro-Business

Millions in the U.S. and around the world have
demonstrated against the war in Iraq. Many among them
hoped that the Democratic presidential candidate would
champion peace. But instead of saying he'll end the war in
Iraq, Kerry has said repeatedly, "we cannot lose in Iraq,"
and has called for 40,000 more troops.

In Sadr City, Samara, Fallujah and Baqubah, hundreds have
been killed in recent U.S. strikes and raids. The US
military is preparing for an assault on Fallujah and other
areas held by the resistance. To date, at least fourteen
to fifteen thousand Iraqis have been killed and over
eleven hundred U.S. soldiers have died. No matter who is
elected, the death toll will continue to climb at a
horrific rate.

In Haiti, over the past several weeks the interim
government of Gérard Latortue has dramatically increased
the level of repression against the people of Haiti,
especially supporters of Fanmi Lavalas. Since the
February 29, 2004 coup, and the kidnapping by U.S. Marines
of President Aristide, thousands of trade union, community
and Fanmi Lavalas activists have been murdered and
thousands more have been imprisoned.

In Palestine, the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza has
resulted in hundreds of Palestinians either dead or
injured. Neither Bush nor Kerry has said one word in
opposition to this murderous assault. In fact, they blame
the Palestinians for trying to defend their land while at
the same time proudly proclaiming their support for the
Israeli government.

Under Bush, discrimination against South Asian, Arab-
American, Muslim and other immigrants and people of color
continues, and the USA Patriot Act has been extended.
Massive military spending is draining badly needed
resources, and as Bush quietly guided the $446 billion
Pentagon budget through congress, Kerry didn't utter a
word of protest. Health care facilities are closing,
community colleges have suffered cuts in staff and
programming, and the availability of jobs is less hopeful
with each day.

Bush & Kerry sell themselves as pro-big business, pro-free
trade, and fans of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan
Greenspan's monetary policies. These are the same
policies that have resulted in growing unemployment, the
falling standard of living for working people, and the
disappearance of union jobs that pay a living wage.

We must continue to build a mass movement to say:

End the Colonial Occupation of Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, and

We Need Money for Jobs, Housing, Healthcare & Education!
Not for War & Occupation!

US Hands Off Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Korea,
Philippines, Puerto
Rico, Sudan & Everywhere!

Wed. Nov. 3
Union Square


The International Action Center
mail to:iacenter@iacenter.org