A Cause For Pause

There is only one other cause of death that claims more victims than cardio vascular disease.  Do you know what it is?  Every year it claims; three times as many victims as all the cancers combined, more than seven Darfurs, fifty times the number of prostate cancer victims, and over one hundred times the number of AIDS victims.  It effects males and females about equally but blacks are three times more likely to be killed than whites.
 
Two weeks  ago,  as I was checking out at the grocery store the clerk asked me,  "would you like to make a donation to help fund research for Prostate  cancer?"  Last week I attended a concert by pop/rock musician Sheryl Crow  during which she stopped in the middle of her set to bemoan the human toll of  the Darfur genocide.   This week, the first week of October, is the  start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and leaves us less  than sixty days away from the Aids Awareness Month of December. 
 
All of this got me  thinking about 'causes'.   Since most causes  seem to start and/or end with death, I decided to do a little research on the  subject.  
 
Aids was the cause in the  late 80's and 90's.  In 1991, Frank Moore, a painter living and working in  New York, had the idea to create a symbol of compassion for, and solidarity  with, the AIDS cause.   Inspired by the yellow ribbons hung in hope of  Gulf War I veterans returning home safely,  Mr. Moore came up with the  idea of the red ribbon.   Jeremy Irons was the first actor to wear it  onscreen that year and it went on to make appearances on many lapels at the  Democratic National Convention and the 1992 Oscars.  The image of the red  ribbon was even featured on a US stamp and circulation reached ranks only  formerly attained by the Elvis Presley and Joe Louis stamps.  Aids is  responsible for the deaths of 500,000 since it was discovered about twenty five  years ago.  Treatments have improved greatly but in 2004, 15,798  individuals succumbed to the disease.
 
Who can forget Rosie O' Donnel's ambush of Tom Selleck on her talk  show.  Gun control has long  been a celebrity cause.  The NRA-ILA has a long list of  celebrity gun control advocates here.  Guns are used in  approximately 11,000 of the 16,000 homicides nationwide.  The recent spate  of school shootings has lead President Bush to mention putting together a  government panel to investigate why the shootings are taking place and how we  might prevent them. 
 
George Clooney recently  spoke to the United Nations General Assembly about the human slaughter taking  place in Darfur.  The general overview is that Arab Muslims are attacking  and slaughtering African (Black) Muslims with the help of the Sudanese and  Syrian governments.  Casualty estimates vary widely. Sheryl Crow used  200,000 as her official tally at the  concert, the World Health Organization estimates the number is closer to 70,000  and some experts say it is as high as 400,000.  In every case a tragedy, I  do however wish that these casualties were counted in the context of Muslim  violence and that George Clooney were speaking to the UN about its role in  helping to end it.
 
The American Cancer Society reports that all cancers combined will  claim approximately 560,000 lives this year.  This includes 160,000 victims  of Lung Cancer, the leading cause of cancer related deaths according to the  American Lung Association.  The  Prostate Cancer Foundation, says  prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America and men are  33% more likely to get prostate cancer (1 in  6) than a woman is breast cancer (1 in 10).   This year  30,000 men will die of prostate cancer and statistics available at www.komen.org indicate breast  cancer will claim 41,000 women.    Fortunately, the American Cancer Society, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the  Suzan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Lung Association are  doing an incredible job of making people aware of their diseases and raising  money to fund research for cures. 
 
Cardio vascular diseases  are considered the leading causes of death in America.  The diseases  include; Coronary Heart Disease, Myocardial Infarction (MI or 'heart  attack') and Stroke.  Combined these diseases contribute to the deaths of approximately  1,400,000 Americans each year.  Coronary Heart Disease is considered a  related or underlying cause of 1 in every 5 deaths and MI is  listed as the cause of death for approximately 220,000 Americans  annually.  Larry King wrote a book in which eighteen celebrities talked  candidly about their struggles with heart disease.  The celebrity list  included: Larry King, Regis Philbin, Tommy Lasorda, Peggy Fleming, Joyce Carol  Oates, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more.
 
There is only one other  cause of death that claims more victims than cardio vascular disease.  Do  you know what it is?  Every year it claims; three times as many  victims as all the cancers combined, more than seven Darfurs, fifty times the  number of prostate cancer victims, and  over one hundred times the number of AIDS victims.  It effects  males and females about equally but blacks are three times more likely to  be killed than whites.  Yet, no one in government has suggested  putting together a panel to research its causes, effects or  preventability.   There are a few celebrities that have spoken about  it -Brooke Shields, Kathy Ireland, Mel  Gibson - however, no one person has seen fit to put  their full weight behind the cause. 
 
It's not a disease - it's a choice: abortion.  
 
The CDC estimates there  are 1,500,000 abortions reported annually and about 10% of abortions go  unreported bringing the total to 1,700,000 each and every year.  I have to  say, I was shocked that for all the press that AIDS gets, it would take 100  years of AIDS victims dying at current levels or higher to equal one year of  abortions.  I was shocked to read that 45% percent of abortions are repeat  abortions.  I was shocked to read that black woman were three times as  likely to have an abortion and yet I could not find a high-profile black pro-life spokesperson.   I was shocked to read that one out of every three pregnancies ends in an  abortion. 
 
Even if you believe in  choice, wouldn't you like to see a reduction in the number of times  that this choice is  made?
 
Earlier this year, my  wife, her sister and mother did a Breast Cancer Three Day Walk and raised over  $12,000 for research for a cure.  They did it because they know women  who have had breast cancer, who have  died of breast cancer or who are currently fighting breast cancer.  Would  they do the same thing for a pro-life organization?  I don't know.   Women who have had abortions rarely talk about it and there is no such thing as  an abortion survivor to tell their story and gain sympathy.  While you  might be seen as sympathetic and compassionate for walking 60 miles for Breast  Cancer, you might be seen as a religious zealot for doing the same thing for a  pro-life organization. 
 
So next time someone asks  you, "would you like to add a dollar to your Taco Bell order as  a donation to the National Colo-rectal Cancer Foundation?"  Pause, and  think , 'is this the cause about  which I am most concerned?'  Then  think about making a donation, anonymously  perhaps, to a pro-life organization instead.