Friday, May 22, 2015

Senate rejects abortion facility licensing; protective legislation falters

The following news release was issued on May 22, 2015.

ST. PAUL — Legislation to require licensing and inspections of abortion facilities failed to become law as the 2015 legislative session ended this week. The effort to ensure the safety of women entering abortion facilities was strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

Authored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, and Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, the initiative to safeguard the health of women entering abortion centers (originally S.F. 616, H.F. 606) would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed by the state commissioner of health. It would also authorize inspections of abortion facilities (up to two inspections per year), with no prior notice required.

"Abortion centers perform invasive, outpatient surgery," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. "It makes no sense that these surgical centers should be excluded from the health and safety standards that apply to other outpatient surgical centers. This bill is necessary for us to ensure that the very unsafe conditions uncovered in other states never happen in Minnesota."

Abortion centers in Minnesota currently are neither licensed nor inspected by any state agency—even though dangerous conditions and unscrupulous abortionists have been discovered in numerous other states. Filthy conditions and unqualified staff have led to women being dangerously overmedicated, treated with unsanitary equipment and worse. A few women have even died.

The language to require licensing and inspections of abortion facilities was added to the Minnesota House of Representatives Health and Human Services omnibus bill on a bipartisan vote of 76-57 after being approved in several committees. The Senate did not even allow a hearing on the bill. An effort to include it in the Senate HHS omnibus bill was rejected in a floor vote of 29-32.

"The state licenses tattoo parlors, cosmetology salons and even dog and cat breeders—but not abortion facilities," Rau added. "It is time for this special exemption for abortion to end so that the state can ensure a degree of basic safety for women."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WHO report mistakenly links maternal mortality to abortion laws

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new report concerning the global problem of maternal mortality. MCCL GO issued feedback on the draft version when it was being discussed. The final document correctly notes that while maternal mortality ratios (MMRs) have declined, this issue "remains an unfinished agenda and one of the world’s most critical challenges."

Unfortunately, however, WHO states in its report that "treaty monitoring bodies have ... linked elevated rates of maternal mortality to ... restrictive abortion laws [and] unsafe or illegal abortion." But WHO cites only old, and flawed, country reviews. The truth is that maternal mortality depends on the quality of maternal health care, not the legal status of abortion. Some countries prohibit abortion and have very low MMRs; others permit abortion and have very high MMRs. Legalizing abortion is demonstrably unnecessary to improve maternal health and save women's lives.

WHO also asserts that maternal deaths from abortion "are likely to be underreported or misclassified" and have recently "increased significantly in sub-Saharan Africa." The problem, however, is that we lack accurate data about the number of lives lost to abortion. As the WHO report acknowledges, "Only an estimated one third of countries have the capacity to count or register maternal deaths." That's why "estimation is necessary to infer MMRs in many countries where little or no data are available." Such estimates have too often proved inflated and unreliable.

No one knows exactly how many unborn children and mothers die from abortion worldwide each year. But we do know that providing adequate care—before, during and after childbirth—and establishing a robust and accessible health care system can prevent maternal deaths. That's how lives are saved.

Abortion doesn't save anyone. WHO has elsewhere acknowledged that legalizing abortion doesn't suddenly make it safe. Abortion poses inherent risks to women. The safest abortion in the world is the one that is never performed.

MCCL GO is a pro-life NGO global outreach program of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund. Learn more at www.mccl-go.org.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dakota Co. jury finds Final Exit Network guilty of violating Minnesota law against assisting suicide

The following statement may be attributed to Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL):

Today's jury conviction of Final Exit Network sends a very clear message that assisting suicide in our state is illegal. We commend Dakota Co. District Attorney James Backstrom and his counsel for having the courage to bring this suit against Final Exit Network. Final Exit Network purposely came into our state, broke our law and assisted in a suicide of a vulnerable person who needed care, not suicide.

Our law protecting Minnesotans from suicide predators like Final Exit Network and other assisted suicide advocates has been in place since 1992 and has served all of us well.

Two bills are currently before the Minnesota Legislature that would endanger us all with legalized assisted suicide. S.F. 1880 and H.F. 2095 can lead to:

  • Abuse: Abuse of people with disabilities, and elder abuse. An heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone toward assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug.
  • Mistakes: Diagnoses of terminal illness are too often wrong, leading people to give up on treatment and lose good years of their lives.
  • Carelessness: People with a history of depression and suicide attempts have received the lethal drugs.
  • Contagion: Assisted suicide is a contagion and can increase suicide rates for all populations.
  • PTSD: Stress disorder rates increase for family and friends who participate in a suicide.

The jury conviction of Final Exit Network is another step in the right direction to protect those who could become victims of assisted suicide in Minnesota.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Publicity over assisted suicide corresponds to spikes in monthly Oregon data

Media campaign by advocacy group likely resulted in suicide contagion


MINNEAPOLIS — The publicity campaign surrounding one young woman's decision to die by assisted suicide in Oregon correlates closely with a significant increase in assisted suicides and requests for lethal drugs in that state, an indication of suicide contagion. A white paper analysis of suicide contagion and Oregon assisted suicide statistics was released today by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

Assisted suicide advocacy group Compassion & Choices (the former Hemlock Society), the nation's leading advocate and facilitator of assisted suicide, used Brittany Maynard's intention to end her life by assisted suicide to launch a massive public relations campaign. Compassion & Choices aggressively promoted the story, which ended up on the cover of People magazine and received extensive coverage by CNN and many other media outlets. In the process, Compassion & Choices and its media allies violated nearly every suicide prevention media guideline, including those strongly recommended by the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Mental Health.

"Compassion & Choices' sensationalizing of this woman's assisted suicide obviously benefited the organization with massive donations, but it was a disaster in terms of suicide contagion," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "The collateral damage Compassion & Choices caused by its exploitation of Maynard's story was tragic and entirely avoidable."

As the MCCL white paper explains, suicide contagion occurs when one or more suicides contribute to additional suicides. The number of deaths from assisted suicide in Oregon was 37.1 percent higher in October than the 2014 average. The death total then spiked in November, following Maynard's own death on Nov. 1, rising 71.4 percent above the 2014 average. The number of assisted suicide deaths in November 2014 was higher than that of any other month in at least the last five years.

The white paper places the Oregon figures in the broader context of media reporting and contagion. More than 50 studies worldwide have found that suicides increase with certain types of news coverage. Evidence indicates that the promotion, publicity and legalization of assisted suicide also likely have a contagion effect.

"The impact of the Compassion & Choices media blitz is indefensible," Fischbach added. "Its reckless promotion of assisted suicide has served as encouragement to depressed, vulnerable people to end their lives. These people need hope and help, not a push into assisted suicide."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

House includes pro-life bills in HHS omnibus legislation

The following news release was issued on April 29, 2015.

ST. PAUL — Legislation to license abortion facilities and end taxpayer funded abortion has been added to the Minnesota House of Representatives Health and Human Services omnibus bill. Both measures were approved yesterday on votes of 76-57 and are strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

Authored by Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, the amendment to safeguard the health of women entering abortion centers (originally H.F. 606) would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed by the state commissioner of health. It would also authorize inspections of abortion facilities (up to two inspections per year), with no prior notice required.

Abortion centers in Minnesota currently are neither licensed nor inspected by any state agency—even though dangerous conditions and unscrupulous abortionists have been discovered in numerous other states.

"Abortion centers perform invasive, outpatient surgery," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. "Why are they excluded from the health and safety standards that apply to other outpatient surgical centers? This bill is necessary for us to ensure that the very unsafe conditions uncovered in other states never happen in Minnesota."

The House also passed an amendment to ban taxpayer funded abortion (originally H.F. 607), authored by Rep. Tama Theis, R-St. Cloud. The state has paid for elective abortions performed on low-income women since the Minnesota Supreme Court’s 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision.

"While the vast majority of state money is arguably used to build a better life for Minnesotans, some tax dollars help to end the lives of Minnesotans," noted Rau. "Unless we wish to force citizens to fund an act which they do not support and which doesn't further the public good—and do it at a rate of roughly 10 times every day, weekends included—we should all be supporting this common-sense legislation."

Abortions funded by taxpayers have increased to 34.2 percent of all abortions performed in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In 2013, taxpayers were billed more than $800,000 by the abortion industry for nearly 3,400 abortions. Since the Doe v. Gomez decision, the state has paid $21.5 million to the abortion industry for almost 70,000 abortions.

Both pro-life bills had already passed through several House committees.

The House HHS omnibus bill also includes $350,000 to raise awareness of the state's Safe Place for Newborns program, which allows mothers at risk of harming their newborn babies to relinquish their child to a hospital, urgent care facility or by calling 911. The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, strengthening the state law protecting infants born alive as the result of an abortion, was also added to the omnibus bill.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Senate votes down abortion facility licensing, inspection amendment to HHS omnibus bill

The following news release was issued on April 24, 2015.

ST. PAUL — An amendment aimed to safeguard the health of women in abortion facilities was voted down in the Minnesota Senate today. Advocates for women's safety sought its inclusion in the Senate Health and Human Services omnibus bill. It is strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

Sponsored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, the amendment would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed by the state commissioner of health. It would also authorize inspections of abortion facilities (up to two inspections per year), with no prior notice required.

Abortion centers in Minnesota currently are neither licensed nor inspected by any state agency—even though dangerous conditions and unscrupulous abortionists have been discovered in numerous other states. The proposed legislation would rectify this problem by applying the licensing requirements for outpatient surgical centers to abortion centers.

"Abortion centers perform invasive, outpatient surgery, so it makes no sense that they are exempted from the health and safety standards that apply to other outpatient surgical centers," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. "This basic licensing requirement is necessary to ensure that the very unsafe conditions uncovered in other states never happen in Minnesota."

The amendment failed on a 29-32 floor vote. Similar legislation has been approved by several House of Representatives committees and a House floor vote is expected. The licensing requirement would apply to the state's five abortion facilities, which together perform 99 percent of all abortions in Minnesota.

"MCCL urges state legislators to include this much-needed licensing in health care legislation to protect the safety and health of women," Rau added.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Letter to the editor: Abortion is not a public good

The following letter to the editor was published on April 21, 2015, in the Pioneer Press.

A recent letter ("Planned Parenthood tax dollars," April 12) claims that "abortion is not paid for by taxpayers," citing the Hyde Amendment. But that policy only applies at the federal level.

In Minnesota, taxpayers funded 3,391 abortions in 2013 at a cost of $809,915, according to the Department of Human Services. These abortions are now 34.2 percent of all abortions in our state—that's an all-time high.

And Planned Parenthood, of course, is the biggest beneficiary. It billed taxpayers $295,216 in 2013 (a 16 percent increase over 2012) for 1,287 abortions (a 13 percent increase, following a 32 percent jump the previous year). The state's leading abortion provider is receiving more and more taxpayer dollars to perform more and more abortions.

Elective abortion is not health care. It is not a public good deserving of public support. A bill currently before the state Legislature, SF 683/HF 607, would end taxpayer funding of abortion. We should urge our legislators to pass it and Gov. Dayton to sign it into law.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Letter to the editor: Assisted suicide bill has insufficient safeguards

The following letter to the editor was published on April 20, 2015, in the Minnesota Daily.

The Editorial Board contends that a new proposal to legalize assisted suicide in Minnesota includes sufficient safeguards. It most certainly does not.

Consider, for example, that the bill does not require that anyone witness the death. There are no safeguards at all once the lethal drug has been dispensed. The proposed legislation opens the door to various kinds of pressure, coercion and abuse.

Or consider that the bill does not require that a patient undergo psychiatric evaluation before receiving the lethal prescription. In Oregon, which pioneered assisted suicide, only 5.5 percent of assisted suicide victims first receive psychiatric evaluation—some would want to live if given proper mental health care.

The Editorial Board suggests that suicide may be necessary to prevent pain and suffering. But concern about pain is not a major reason cited by those who seek suicide in Oregon or Washington—the primary concerns involve disability ("losing autonomy," inability to do certain activities, etc.).

Our state should reject the discriminatory and harmful idea that the lives of disabled, sick and elderly persons are worth less than the lives of others. Everyone deserves our support and care, including the best palliative and hospice care. No one should be denied the equal protection of the law.

The legalization of assisted suicide would pose broad dangers to vulnerable members of our society.

Friday, April 17, 2015

House panel votes to license abortion facilities in Minnesota

Measure to help ensure safety of women has passed through four committees


ST. PAUL — Legislation to license abortion facilities in Minnesota was approved today by the House Ways and Means committee. The measure aims to safeguard the health of women entering abortion centers. It is strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

The bill (H.F. 606), authored by Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed by the state commissioner of health. It would also authorize inspections of abortion facilities (up to two inspections per year), with no prior notice required.

Abortion centers in Minnesota currently are neither licensed nor inspected by any state agency—even though dangerous conditions and unscrupulous abortionists have been discovered in numerous other states. The proposed legislation would rectify this problem by applying the licensing requirements for outpatient surgical centers to abortion centers.

"Abortion centers perform invasive, outpatient surgery," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. "Why are they excluded from the health and safety standards that apply to other outpatient surgical centers? This bill is necessary for us to ensure that the very unsafe conditions uncovered in other states never happen in Minnesota."

The case of Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell, now serving life in prison for murder (among other crimes), is the most notorious example. Gosnell operated his dangerous "house of horrors" for years, and the grand jury investigation into his clinic specifically blamed state officials for failing to inspect abortion centers or to enforce regulations.

"Minnesota should have higher standards than that," said Rau. "Women deserve better."

The licensing bill was approved by the Ways and Means committee Friday on a voice vote. It had already passed through the Health and Human Services Reform, Government Operations and Elections Policy, and Health and Human Services Finance committees.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Safe Place for Newborns bill to protect newborns in danger of harm approved by Senate panel

The following news release was issued on April 13, 2015.

ST. PAUL — A state program offering a lifesaving option to women in danger of harming their newborns would receive much-needed funding under legislation approved today by the Health and Human Services Finance committee of the Minnesota Senate. This protective measure is strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

The Safe Place for Newborns program is a last alternative for mothers who feel desperate, and their babies who are at risk of harm or abandonment. Resources and funding are needed to expand awareness of the program statewide.

The bill approved today would appropriate funds enabling the Department of Human Services to distribute information about the Safe Place option. Increasing public awareness in this way would help to prevent unnecessary tragedies. The chief author of S.F. 796 is Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley.

"This law is intended for those rare and heartbreaking instances where the mother either was not aware of, or was unable to cope with, her pregnancy or plan for the birth," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau in her testimony on behalf of the measure. "S.F. 796 seeks a one-time appropriation for the Department of Human Services to increase awareness of this law."

Minnesota enacted the Safe Place for Newborns law in 2000. This program aims to prevent infant abandonment or infanticide by allowing a mother to anonymously surrender her newborn at a designated "safe place," no questions asked. Several cases of infanticide have occurred in the state in recent years.

MCCL helped to amend the law in 2012 to expand the number of safe places and the length of time women have this option. Under the amended law, a mother, or someone acting with her permission, may leave her newborn at a hospital, an urgent care facility, or an ambulance dispatched in response to a 911 call within seven days of birth. Personnel at the safe place immediately begin arrangements for care for the child.

"A new generation of women needs to be made aware of the existence of Minnesota’s Safe Place for Newborns law," Rau added.

Friday, April 10, 2015

MinnPost commentary: Bills to license facilities and ban public funding of abortion reflect state's values

The following op-ed was published on April 10, 2015, in MinnPost.

In their recent Community Voices commentary ("Five anti-choice bills would especially burden low-income women," April 1), Karen Law and Andrea Ledger write that legislative proposals to license abortion facilities and prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion would "undermine" the "core values" of our state. I disagree. These are common-sense bills that would benefit women, taxpayers and unborn children.

Consider, first, SF 616/HF 606. This measure would require that facilities performing 10 or more abortions per month be licensed by the Department of Health. It would also authorize inspections (no more than two per year).

Why is it necessary? Because abortion centers in Minnesota are neither licensed nor inspected by any state agency. This makes little sense. Unsafe abortion centers and unscrupulous providers have been discovered in many other states; some women have died. But our state lacks the ability to even determine if these dangerous conditions are present in Minnesota — or to prevent them from happening in the future.

Minnesota currently licenses "outpatient surgical centers," but abortion centers also perform invasive, outpatient surgery. Why are they not held to the same standards of patient care? The proposed legislation would simply apply the existing licensure requirements for outpatient surgical centers to abortion facilities. It would help ensure minimum health standards and a degree of basic safety for women.

The other proposal targeted by Law and Ledger is SF 683/HF 607, which would end the use of public funds for abortion. New numbers from the Minnesota Department of Human Services show that the state paid $809,915 in 2013 for 3,391 abortions. Since the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision, taxpayers have reimbursed the abortion industry $21.6 million for more than 69,000 abortion procedure claims. Abortions funded by taxpayers now comprise 34.2 percent of all abortions in Minnesota — an all-time high.

Law and Ledger believe low-income women should have access to the health care they need, and I strongly concur. But elective abortion is not health care — it attacks the health and ends the life of a developing human being. Abortion is not a public good that calls for government support.

And most people agree. A Marist poll this year found that 68 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 69 percent of women and 49 percent of those who identify as "pro-choice." This is not about whether the law should protect the lives of unborn children. It is about whether Minnesota taxpayers should be made complicit in their destruction.

Law and Ledger tout the values of justice and compassion. But public funding of abortion — which increases the incidence of abortion relative to what it would otherwise be — is no justice for the human beings who are killed in utero as a result. Nor does it offer true compassion to pregnant women facing difficult circumstances. The problems these women confront are not solved by "free" abortions courtesy of the government. They deserve better, and we owe them more.

The bills to license abortion facilities and ban taxpayer funding of abortion are currently making their way through the Minnesota House of Representatives. They are reasonable, modest and bipartisan, reflecting our state's values of health and life, justice and compassion. They should receive the support of all Minnesotans.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Taxpayer funded abortions reach highest percentage ever in Minnesota

The following news release was issued on April 1, 2015.

ST. PAUL — After 18 years of taxpayer-funded abortions, Minnesotans have funded more than 69,000 abortions at a cost of $21.5 million, according to a just-released report from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). Taxpayer-funded abortions numbered almost 3,400 in Minnesota in 2013; nearly all of those abortions were elective.

The state's abortion industry in 1995 successfully challenged Minnesota's law which prohibited funding of most abortions. Since then, abortion advocates have steadily marketed taxpayer-funded abortions to low-income women. Taxpayers now pay for 34.2 percent of all abortions performed in the state, the highest percentage ever.

"The state's abortion facilities target economically vulnerable women to ensure steady revenue from abortion," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "It is time to end this exploitation of poor women and their unborn children."

Minnesota taxpayers have been required to fund elective abortions since the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez ruling. In that decision, the Court created a state "right" to abortion on demand and obligated all taxpayers to fund abortions, including purely elective procedures.

Since the Doe v. Gomez ruling, taxpayers have paid $21,554,018 for a total of 69,214 abortion procedure claims. Taxpayers' 2013 portion (the latest available) was $816,729 for 3,391 abortions. Prior to the court decision, taxpayers were charged about $7,000 per year for about two dozen abortions in cases of rape and incest and to save the life of the mother.

Planned Parenthood's taxpayer funded abortion claims rose 13 percent in 2013, after rising 32 percent in 2012. Planned Parenthood increased its revenues from taxpayer funded abortions in 2013 by 16 percent to $295,216; it filed claims for 1,287 abortions, which represented 38 percent of the claims that year.

Whole Woman's Health, which purchased and merged two abortion facilities in Minneapolis, filed 1,089 abortion claims, the second largest. The abortion business has paid several large fines for breaking the law in Texas. Legislation currently before Minnesota lawmakers (S.F. 616, H.F. 606) would require the state's five surgical abortion facilities to be licensed and inspected by the Department of Health as outpatient surgical centers. None is licensed or inspected by the state.

"Polls continue to show that most Minnesotans and most Americans are opposed to taxpayer funded abortions, yet they continue to be forced to pay for them," Fischbach said.

MCCL helped to pass a ban on taxpayer funded abortion during the 2011 legislative session; it was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. Similar legislation (S.F. 683, H.F. 607) has been introduced this year in the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives. The House bill has been approved by several committees and is now before the full House. The measure would end the forced funding by taxpayers of this mistreatment of poor women and the killing of unborn children.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bill to legalize assisted suicide receives Senate committee hearing

Legislation would authorize lethal prescriptions, threaten the most vulnerable members of society


ST. PAUL — A state Senate committee yesterday heard about a new bill to legalize assisted suicide in Minnesota. The legislation is riddled with problems and would threaten the lives of the most vulnerable members of society.

S.F. 1880, authored by Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, would authorize a physician to prescribe a lethal drug for a patient to intentionally take his or her own life. The March 23 hearing in the Health, Human Services and Housing committee was merely informative and no vote was taken. Dozens of citizens at the hearing wore "No Assisted Suicide" stickers to show their opposition to the measure.

"This bill opens the door to various kinds of coercion and abuse," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "No witness is required at the death. There are no safeguards whatsoever once the lethal drug has been dispensed." In Oregon, 40 percent of assisted suicide victims have expressed concern about being a "burden" on family and friends. In Washington, 61 percent of victims in 2013 expressed the same worry.

The committee heard testimony from David Grube, a retired practitioner of assisted suicide in Oregon and medical director for Compassion and Choices, the nation's leading advocate and facilitator of assisted suicide. The organization is the successor to the Hemlock Society, founded by notorious euthanasia activist Derek Humphry. No disability rights advocates or other opponents of the bill were allowed to speak at the hearing.

S.F. 1880 does not require that a patient undergo psychiatric evaluation before receiving the lethal prescription. "This legislation would lead to the death of some patients who would want to live if given proper mental health care," explained Fischbach. "Suffering and depressed people deserve treatment and care, not killing."

The proposed legislation relies on correctly diagnosing that a patient has less than six months to live. But such predictions are inexact and often mistaken. "S.F. 1880 would encourage patients who would live for weeks, months, years or even decades to throw their lives away," noted Fischbach.

Testifiers suggested that suicide may be necessary to alleviate pain and suffering, but concern about pain is not a major reason cited by those who commit suicide in Oregon or Washington—the primary concerns involve disability ("losing autonomy," etc.). "We must reject the discriminatory idea that the lives of the disabled, sick and elderly are worth less than the lives of everyone else," said Fischbach. "Everyone deserves support and care, including the best palliative and hospice care. Killing is not the solution."

Proponents of the bill said they plan to hold a series of meetings across the state in which Minnesotans can voice their opinions on the issue. "We should take this opportunity to make clear that Minnesota does not want assisted suicide, and to make clear the many ways in which it would threaten the vulnerable," Fischbach concluded.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bill to license abortion facilities approved by second House committee

ST. PAUL — Legislation that aims to safeguard the health of women in abortion facilities passed through a second committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives today. It is strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

The bill (H.F. 606), authored by Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed by the state commissioner of health. It would also authorize inspections of abortion facilities (up to two inspections per year), with no prior notice required.

Abortion centers in Minnesota currently are neither licensed nor inspected by any state agency—even though dangerous conditions and unscrupulous abortionists have been discovered in numerous other states. The proposed legislation would rectify this problem by applying the licensing requirements for outpatient surgical centers to abortion centers.

"Abortion centers perform invasive, outpatient surgery, so it makes no sense that they are exempted from the health and safety standards that apply to other outpatient surgical centers," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. "This bill is necessary for us to ensure that the very unsafe conditions uncovered in other states never happen in Minnesota."

The bill was approved Wednesday on a 9-6 vote by the Government Operations and Elections Policy committee. It had earlier passed the Health and Human Services Reform committee. The licensing requirement would apply to the state's five abortion facilities, which together perform 99 percent of all abortions in Minnesota.

Another pro-life bill (H.F. 1047), authored by Rep. Abigail Whelan, R-Anoka, and supported by MCCL, was approved March 17 by the Civil Law and Data Practices committee. It would clarify and strengthen Minnesota's existing law protecting babies who are born alive as a result of abortion. A similar federal law was passed by the U.S. House on a voice vote and by the Senate with unanimous consent in 2002.

Assisted suicide bill introduced in the MN Senate

The following news release was issued on March 18, 2015.

ST. PAUL — The lives of elderly, severely ill and disabled persons would be threatened under a proposal to legalize assisted suicide introduced in the Minnesota Senate today. Because of the broad dangers of assisted suicide, the bill is strongly opposed by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization.

S.F. 1880 would overturn the state's longstanding prohibition against assisted suicide.

"Our law against assisted suicide has protected vulnerable people for many years," said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau. "Minnesotans recognize that persons seeking help to kill themselves need immediate care, including medical and mental health care—not assisted suicide."

By legalizing assisted suicide, this bill would open the door to new kinds of pressure and coercion. In Oregon, which pioneered physician-assisted suicide, 40 percent of assisted suicide victims have expressed concern about being a "burden" on family and friends, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. S.F. 1880 does not require the prescribing physician to even be present when the lethal dose is administered, and no witnesses to the death are required.

If assisted suicide is legalized, public and private insurers may have a financial incentive to steer patients toward suicide rather than life-extending treatment. This has already happened to some patients in Oregon.

The Senate bill relies on a terminal diagnosis, but such diagnoses are sometimes wrong. Legalizing assisted suicide encourages patients who would live for weeks, months, years or even decades to throw their lives away.

"The broad dangers of legalizing assisted suicide must not be ignored," Rau added. "The bill introduced today poses serious risks for Minnesotans. MCCL urges legislators to oppose this measure."

Friday, March 6, 2015

International Women's Day to celebrate landmark Beijing Platform for Action

The following is a news release issued on March 6, 2015, by MCCL GO.

International Women's Day will be celebrated globally on March 8. This year's celebration will emphasize the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which is marking its twentieth anniversary in 2015.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO) urges nations to pursue gender equality and women's rights without promoting or expanding access to abortion. The Beijing Platform for Action never advocates the legalization of abortion. The Platform quotes from the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development: "In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning. ... Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process" (paragraph 106-k).

Gender equality and female empowerment do not require legalized abortion or access to abortion.

On this International Women's Day, MCCL GO also encourages nations to prioritize maternal health care and combat all forms of violence against women, including sex-selective abortion and forced abortion. The Platform for Action describes forced abortion, forced sterilization, sex-selective abortion, and female infanticide as acts of violence against women (paragraph 115).

The Platform calls for the elimination of "all forms of discrimination against the girl child and the root causes of son preference, which result in harmful and unethical practices such as prenatal sex selection and female infanticide; this is often compounded by the increasing use of technologies to determine foetal sex, resulting in abortion of female foetuses" (277-c). It also calls for governments to "enact and enforce legislation protecting girls from all forms of violence, including female infanticide and prenatal sex selection" (283-d).

The fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which will take place March 9-20 at the United Nations in New York, will review implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

MCCL GO is a pro-life NGO global outreach program of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund with one goal: to protect as many innocent lives as possible. Learn more at www.mccl-go.org.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

House committee approves bills to ban taxpayer funded abortion, license abortion facilities

ST. PAUL — Bills to license abortion facilities and end taxpayer funding of abortion passed a committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives on Wednesday. Both protective measures are strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

H.F. 606, authored by Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, passed through the Health and Human Services Reform committee on a 12-9 vote. The legislation would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed by the Department of Health. The bill also authorizes inspections of abortion facilities, with no prior notice required.

"Minnesota abortion facilities act like outpatient surgical centers, and it is time they are regulated like them," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau in her testimony before the committee. Currently, Minnesota's abortion centers are neither licensed nor inspected by any state agency—even though dangerous abortion center conditions have been discovered in numerous other states.

The licensing requirement would apply to the state's five abortion facilities, which together perform 99 percent of all abortions in Minnesota. Two amendments that would have hindered the legislation were defeated.

The committee also voted 12-8 to approve H.F. 607, authored by Rep. Tama Theis, R-St. Cloud, which would prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion. The state has paid for elective abortions performed on low-income women since the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision.

"While the vast majority of state money is arguably used to build a better life for Minnesotans, some tax dollars help to end the lives of Minnesotans," noted Rau. "Unless we wish to force citizens to fund an act which they do not support and which doesn't further the public good—and do it at a rate of roughly 10 times every day, weekends included—we should all be supporting this common-sense legislation."

Abortions funded by taxpayers have increased to 34.8 percent of all abortions performed in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. In 2012, taxpayers paid more than $822,000 for 3,571 abortions. Since the Doe v. Gomez decision, the state has paid $20 million to the abortion industry for more than 65,000 abortions.

A third pro-life bill, H.F. 1047, authored by Rep. Abigail Whelan, R-Anoka, and supported by MCCL, was approved by the committee on a voice vote. It would clarify and strengthen Minnesota's existing law protecting babies who are born alive as a result of abortion. A similar federal law was passed by the U.S. House on a voice vote and by the Senate with unanimous consent in 2002.

Friday, February 27, 2015

March 1 is Zero Discrimination Day

The following news release was issued on Feb. 27, 2015.

The United Nations has designated March 1 as Zero Discrimination Day. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO) welcomes this designation and urges the global community to come together to combat discrimination against the most vulnerable members of the human family.

"Discrimination is a violation of human rights. It is immoral, hurtful and dehumanizing. Too many people around the world face unequal treatment because of their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or identity, disability, gender or age," states the United Nations. "Zero Discrimination Day ... is a chance to celebrate diversity and to reject discrimination. By joining our voices together, we can be part of a resounding call for compassion, tolerance and peace that cannot be ignored."

It is in this spirit that MCCL GO implores all nations to reject the discriminatory killing of female children through sex-selective abortion and infanticide, to speak out against the denial of health care to the needy and elderly, and to stand up for the disabled who are pushed toward euthanasia and assisted suicide.

We must not discriminate on the basis of race or religion, but neither should we discriminate on the basis of age, size, ability, dependency or stage of biological development. Denial of the right to life itself is the worst form of discrimination. The killing of innocent human beings through abortion, infanticide and euthanasia is a violation of this right and a rejection of human equality.

"Discrimination is a violation of human rights and must not go unchallenged," says United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "Everyone has the right to live with respect and dignity."

On Zero Discrimination Day, MCCL GO urges all nations to reject discrimination and affirm the equal dignity of all human beings, including the unborn, the disabled and the elderly. Everyone deserves respect and protection. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world."

MCCL GO is a pro-life NGO global outreach program of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund with one goal: to protect as many innocent lives as possible. Learn more at www.mccl-go.org.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bill to protect newborns in danger of harm approved by House panel

The following news release was issued on Feb. 26, 2015.

ST. PAUL — A state program offering a lifesaving option to women in danger of harming their newborns would receive much-needed funding under legislation unanimously approved today by the Health and Human Services Finance committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives. This protective measure is strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

The Safe Place for Newborns program is a last alternative for mothers who feel desperate, and their babies who are at risk of harm or abandonment. Resources and funding are needed to expand awareness of the program statewide.

The bill approved today would appropriate funds enabling the Department of Human Services to distribute information about the Safe Place option. Increasing public awareness in this way would help to prevent unnecessary tragedies. The chief author of H.F. 825 is Rep. Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville.

"This law is intended for those rare and heartbreaking instances where the mother either was not aware of, or was unable to cope with, her pregnancy or plan for the birth," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau in her testimony on behalf of the measure. "H.F. 825 seeks an appropriation for the Department of Human Services to increase awareness of this law."

Minnesota enacted the Safe Place for Newborns law in 2000. This program aims to prevent infant abandonment or infanticide by allowing a mother to anonymously surrender her newborn at a designated "safe place," no questions asked. Several cases of infanticide have occurred in the state in recent years.

MCCL helped to amend the law in 2012 to expand the number of safe places and the length of time women have this option. Under the amended law, a mother, or someone acting with her permission, may leave her newborn at a hospital, an urgent care facility, or an ambulance dispatched in response to a 911 call within seven days of birth. Personnel at the safe place immediately begin arrangements for care for the child.

"A new generation of women needs to be made aware of the existence of Minnesota's Safe Place for Newborns law," Rau added.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mexico study shows areas with greater protection for unborn have lower maternal mortality

Abortion advocates often say that legalizing abortion reduces maternal mortality and improves the health of women. That's simply not true. A new study of data from Mexico provides more evidence debunking the connection between maternal mortality and the legal status of abortion.

The study—by Elard Koch of the MELISA Institute in Chile, Monique Chireau of Duke University Medical Center, and an international team of researchers—was published on Feb. 23 in the open access version of the British Medical Journal. The researchers looked at maternal mortality data from the 32 Mexican states, which vary in their abortion policies, during a 10-year span (2002-2011).

The results? States with less permissive abortion laws actually had significantly lower maternal and abortion-related mortality ratios than states with more permissive laws.

Koch et al. found that this disparity is "explained by differences in other independent factors known to influence maternal health rather than by abortion legislation itself." Those factors included skilled birth attendants, women's education, and clean water and sanitation. The incidence of maternal mortality depends on such factors—it does not, according to the evidence from Mexico, depend on the legal status of abortion.

"No statistically independent effect was observed for abortion legislation," the study's authors explain. "A less permissive abortion law ... was not associated with increased maternal and abortion-related deaths."

In light of this evidence, Koch et al. propose seven evidence-based public health interventions that would decrease maternal mortality in developing countries, including antenatal care, emergency obstetric care, and clean water and sanitation.

MCCL GO (Global Outreach) has always emphasized that improving maternal health care, not advocating abortion, is the key to reducing maternal mortality and saving women's lives. You can find our educational materials on our website.

More information about the Mexico study is available from the MELISA Institute, including a video in which the researchers discuss their findings.