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Live ultrasounds at Times Square in massive anti-abortion campaign

Live ultrasounds of unborn children over 20 weeks in their mothers womb will be projected onto “jumbotrons” – the huge screens that dominate New York’s Times Square – as the abortion war hots up in the United States.

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Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organisation best known for parenting advice, is mounting “See Life Clearly”, a pro-life protest movement, with a rally in New York city on May 4, the day before Mothers’ Day (which is a week earlier in the US).

New York State has liberalised its abortion law, removing barriers to late term abortions after 24 weeks. The new law makes  late-term abortions legal if a doctor believes there is “an absence of foetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” New York has followed a similar law change in Queensland, which led New York in decriminalising abortion, and making late term abortion more widely available (but with two doctors’ support).

We want moms and dads and kids to come out and celebrate life.

Late term abortions involve cases that range from women who find out late that they are pregnant, to mothers carrying tragically unviable foetuses/babies.

Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly told Salem radio’s Hugh Hewitt that he hopes to fill Times Square with 50,000 pro life Americans, with Jumbotrons at the centre of the protest. “We want moms and dads and kids to come out and celebrate life.”

“And with the 4D technology that we have, it looks like a picture of a one-year-old,” Daly told CBN. “There is no way a person is going to be able to say, ‘That is not a child.’ It is a child and we want everybody to see it.”

On the Hewitt show Daly accused Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who supports similar legislation, of advocating infanticide and murder in the case of a child born with a severe handicap.

Vox reports that appearing to discuss what would happen if a child was born after a failed attempt at abortion, Northam said, “the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Daly was one of many abortion opponents who criticised the governor. “A spokesperson for Gov. Northam told Vox his comments were “absolutely not” a reference to infanticide, and that they ‘focused on the tragic and extremely rare case in which a woman with a nonviable pregnancy or severe foetal abnormalities went into labor.’”

To Australian eyes, attacking the very hard cases in the abortion debate such as a mother carrying a child not expected to live outside the womb appear to be taking an extreme position. It is likely that the Focus on the Family will show a perfectly healthy and viable child.

(Northam since has hit dire political trouble – accused of racism after a “blackface” photo of him in his medical school yearbook came to light.)

Daley and other activists on the left and the right believe that abortion will be centre stage in the US in the 2020 election.

A major difference with Australia is that the higher level of church going citizens contribute to a quarter of Americans opposing abortion – concentrated in one particular party, the Republicans. That gives anti-abortion activists leverage that does not exist in this country.

A number of states in the US such as Louisiana are passing bills restricting access to abortion, many by imposing hard-to-meet standards on abortion clinics. More progressive states such as New York or Virginia where the latest bill actually failed, are making abortion more widely available.

An analysis on the New York Times “daily” podcast gave an intriguing pointer as to why the Chief Justice John Roberts of the US Supreme Court, normally a conservative, voted with more progressive judges to strike down the latest Louisiana Bill.

The Supreme Court is tilting right, with President Trump’s nominee Kavanaugh on it, but Roberts is simply slowing down the pace of change towards more conservative outcomes. He is protective of court precedent. Abortion may be one progressive advance of recent decades that gets rolled back to some extent.

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