Friday, February 12, 2016

MCCL News February issue

The January-February 2016 issue of MCCL News is now available online. It includes stories on the March for Life, the upcoming legislative session and MCCL agenda, and more.

MCCL News online is only available to registered NetCommunity members who are also current donors. Be sure to keep your membership current by making at least an annual donation to MCCL.

Monday, February 8, 2016

'The State of Abortion in the United States'

Last month National Right to Life released its annual report The State of Abortion in the United States. The report provides the most up-to-date overview of abortion in America today, including:

  • The latest abortion statistics and trends
  • An analysis of Planned Parenthood's annual report
  • Public polling on abortion
  • Court cases
  • Federal policy
  • State laws

The pro-life movement has made undeniable progress. Abortions are dropping, most Americans oppose most abortions, and pro-life laws continue to proliferate. But much more work remains to be done.

Friday, January 22, 2016

MCCL March for Life draws thousands, calls for dismemberment abortion ban

The following news release was issued on Jan. 22, 2016.

ST. PAUL — An enormous crowd of Minnesotans came to the State Capitol today to urge lawmakers to ban dismemberment abortions. Pro-life citizens also called on legislators to protect the safety of women by licensing abortion centers, and to ban taxpayer funded abortion. The annual Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) March for Life commemorates the millions of lives lost to abortion.

The 42nd annual MCCL March for Life marks the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that have resulted in the deaths of more than 600,000 unborn Minnesota children (Minnesota Department of Health), and more than 58 million unborn babies nationwide.

"Every abortion kills an unborn child, but dismemberment abortions are some of the cruelest abortions of all and it's time to ban them," MCCL Executive Committee member Jaclynn Miller told the huge crowd of citizens gathered from across Minnesota. "In 2014 there were more than 700 dismemberment abortions in the state and it has to end!"

MCCL's 2016 legislative agenda seeks the licensing and inspection of abortion facilities (H.F. 606/S.F. 616), which currently are exempt from licensing and inspection required of other outpatient surgical centers across the state. Such minimal oversight would help ensure a degree of safety for women entering abortion facilities.

MCCL's pro-life agenda also calls for lawmakers to end taxpayer funded abortions (H.F. 607/S.F. 683), which account for 38 percent of all abortions performed in the state. This is the highest percentage since the 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court forced taxpayers to pay for abortions performed on low-income women. This percentage has increased nearly every year since the court ruling. Taxpayers have funded more than 69,000 abortions since the decision, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Pro-life Speaker of the Minnesota House Kurt Daudt spoke briefly at the March, stating, "Every child in the state of Minnesota has a right to life and a right to fulfill their God-given potential. ... I am very encouraged to see so many of you here, in the cold, to march for life and to stand up to protect the unborn. Minnesota is a pro-life state!"

Many of Minnesota's pro-life elected officials, including state legislators, were in attendance and were introduced during the brief program on the lower Capitol Mall. Minnesota's pro-life Members of Congress John Kline, Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer and Collin Peterson sent written greetings that were read at the March.

View photos of today's MCCL March for Life and from past marches on the MCCL website.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The devastation of Roe v. Wade—and how to end it

Richard John Neuhaus called it "the most consequential moral and political event of the last half century of our nation's history."

On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The Court ruled that abortion must be permitted for any reason before fetal viability—and that it must be permitted for "health" reasons, broadly defined in Doe (so as to encompass virtually any reason), all the way until birth. Roe legalized abortion on demand nationwide.

The harm of that decision is difficult to overstate.

2015 MCCL March for Life
Roe is unjust. The Court ruled that a particular class of innocent human beings (those in utero) must be excluded from the protection of the law and allowed to be dismembered and killed at the discretion of others. More than 58 million unborn children have now been legally killed, including more than 600,000 in Minnesota.

Roe is unconstitutional. "It is bad because it is bad constitutional law," wrote the eminent constitutional scholar and Yale law professor John Hart Ely (who personally favored legalized abortion), "or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be."

Roe is undemocratic. Roe and Doe struck down the democratically decided abortion laws of all 50 states. Because it lacked any constitutional justification, the Court's ruling usurped the authority of the elected branches of government to determine abortion policy.

Forty-three years later, what can we do?

Overturning Roe would allow states to once again enact their own abortion laws. But this requires at least one more Supreme Court justice committed to interpreting and applying the law as it actually is (rather than making it). And that requires electing a president who will nominate and senators who will confirm such a judge. Changes to the Court's composition in the past have already led to greater (though still very modest) protection for the unborn.

In the interim, we should continue the multi-pronged effort to reduce abortions. That means providing practical assistance and resources to pregnant women facing difficult circumstances. It means educating and persuading the public. And it means enacting legislation to save as many lives as currently possible.

The success of this strategy is tangible. The number of abortions has dropped 47 percent in Minnesota since its peak in 1980. Abortions have fallen 28 percent since 2006. Yet 10,123 unborn children were destroyed in 2014. Much, much more work remains to be done.

MCCL will hold its annual March for Life on Friday, Jan. 22, the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The purpose of the March is to commemorate the lives lost to abortion and to call for renewed respect and protection for all members of the human family, especially unborn children and their mothers. It is an opportunity to re-energize, remobilize, and refocus. MCCL will introduce its 2016 legislative agenda during the event.

The March for Life begins at 12 noon on the Capitol grounds in St. Paul, followed by a short program at 12:30. We hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Planned Parenthood annual report reveals abortion focus in MN

The following news release was issued on Jan. 19, 2016.

MINNEAPOLIS—With the recent release of the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) 2014 annual report, it is important for Minnesotans to know that abortion is the one area where it is growing its business. A Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) fact sheet comparing services provided by PPMNS in 2013 and 2014 shows that abortion was the organization's only significant growth area in 2014.

"The latest PPMNS annual report demonstrates what MCCL has been saying for years—that Planned Parenthood's focus is abortion, not health care," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Fewer and fewer women are resorting to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services. But greater numbers of women are being pressured to abort their unborn babies at Planned Parenthood."

The annual reports list eight services; among them, six saw declines in 2014 over 2013. For example, contraception units distributed were down 13 percent, and family planning visits fell 8 percent. PPMNS also saw a decline in its total number of patients (down 4 percent to 65,332) and total patient services (down 10 percent, or 62,040 fewer) in 2014.

Abortion was the exception among services, increasing fully 10 percent in 2014. A total of 5,500 unborn children were aborted at Planned Parenthood that year, according to its report. PPMNS expanded its abortion business by 10 percent in a year when the number of abortions in the state rose just 2.2 percent. PPMNS now commands more than 49 percent of the state’s abortion business, and it increases its market share every year.

Revenue rose significantly in 2014. PPMNS ended the year with total assets up 8 percent to $64.5 million and investment income quadrupled to $1.7 million. Even patient service fees increased 6 percent to $26.7 million. Despite diminished numbers of clients and services, 2014 was a very good year for PPMNS.

"Fewer patients and fewer services, more abortions and more revenue—that is the story of Planned Parenthood in Minnesota," Fischbach added. "Planned Parenthood is focused on dominating the profitable abortion industry, not on providing health care for women."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why even many abortion practitioners refuse to perform dismemberment abortions

Vincent Argent is a long-time practitioner of abortion in the United Kingdom. But, as Sarah Terzo notes, he refuses to perform elective dismemberment (dilation & evacuation) abortions after 16 weeks. Argent writes:
In the full knowledge of what is involved in late abortions, and the widespread distaste for them among the medical profession, I would ... support an amendment proposing 16 weeks [as a legal limit].

I am not alone. Within the [UK's National Health Service], the majority of doctors are refusing to carry out late abortions. Three quarters of late procedures are now carried out by private clinics. At Eastbourne Hospital, where I worked for 19 years, the medical staff eventually decided we would perform no abortions on social grounds after 14 weeks.

When I was at Addenbrooke's in Cambridge we agreed on 16 weeks. When I worked as a consultant, and later as medical director for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, I maintained my stance, leaving any "social" abortions which went beyond 16 weeks for colleagues who did not share my qualms.

Now, with increasing specialisation in gynaecology, many younger doctors are avoiding abortion completely, preferring to go instead into areas such as IVF or cancer treatment. Abortion has become the part of gynaecology that no one wants to be associated with, and late abortion is the least popular type of work of all.
Click to enlarge 
Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc. 
All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com
Why do doctors object to the dismemberment procedure? Argent explains:
For some doctors their objections are religious or ethical. Often, as with me, it is based on a distaste for carrying out a procedure which is so traumatic.

Most people do not realise just how distressing late abortions can be. The procedure remains the last taboo. While heart and brain surgery are regularly shown on television, the reality of a late abortion has never been seen on British screens.

There are two main types of procedure ... [T]he surgical procedure [dilation & evacuation] uses instruments to remove parts of the dismembered body from the uterus, limb by limb. It is hard to describe how it feels to pull out parts of a baby, to see arms, and bits of leg, and finally the head.
Even a firmly pro-choice doctor—who has personally performed abortions for decades—draws the line at this barbaric procedure.

Dismembering a 20-week baby is obviously inhumane. It undermines the integrity of the medical profession. And it ought to be stopped.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Congress votes to defund Planned Parenthood; Peterson only Democrat willing to protect the unborn

The following news release was issued on Jan. 6, 2016.

Congressman Collin Peterson (DFL, CD7) again today was the only Democrat to vote in favor of a pro-life bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The House took up a special fast-track bill (H.R. 3762, the "pro-life reconciliation bill") that would cut off nearly 90 percent of the federal funds that go to Planned Parenthood—about $400 million. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) strongly supports the measure, along with the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

Minnesota Congressmen John Kline (CD2), Erik Paulsen (CD3), Tom Emmer (CD6) and Peterson voted in support of the Senate amendments to the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (H.R. 3762). Members of Congress Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Rick Nolan voted against the measure, which was approved in a 240-181 vote.

"We commend Representative Peterson for his longstanding commitment to life, and urge other Democrats to follow his lead," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "The cause of life must transcend partisan boundaries. Life is not a partisan issue but rather, most importantly, a human rights issue. Here in Minnesota we are fortunate to have pro-life Democrats and pro-life Republicans who are willing to cross the political divide to protect and defend human life."

The legislation would suspend funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, for one year. It would close the largest pipeline for federal funding of Planned Parenthood, Medicaid, and apply as well to the CHIP and the Title V and Title XX block grant programs. The amounts denied to Planned Parenthood in effect are reallocated to community health centers.

In addition, the Senate-passed H.R. 3762 would repeal many components of Obamacare, including the program that provides taxpayer subsidies to about 1,000 health plans that cover elective abortions.

The legislation will now be sent to President Obama, who has threatened to veto it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

What Christmas tells us about human life and dignity

A version of the following ran last year.

Christians use the Christmas holiday to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This event (apart from everything else it entails) provides a number of insights about human life and dignity. Here are three.

1. Each of us was once an unborn child. The incarnation—the coming into the world of Christ—did not happen in the manger. It happened some nine months earlier. We know this because that's how human development works according to the science of embryology and developmental biology. And because that's what the scriptural accounts affirm.

Mary was "with child" (Matthew 1:18) after Jesus was "conceived ... from the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20). Earlier, Gabriel told Mary she would "conceive in [her] womb ... a son, [to be named] Jesus" (Luke 1:31). Luke 1:41-44 recounts that the "baby" John the Baptist (who was in his sixth month post-conception) "leaped for joy" in his mother's womb when he entered the presence of the unborn Jesus (who was probably a several-days-old embryo).

Jesus began his earthly existence as an embryo and fetus. So did all of us.

2. The weak and vulnerable matter just as much as the strong and independent. God himself chose to enter the world in the most vulnerable condition possible: as a tiny embryo, and then a fetus, and then a newborn baby lying in a manger. This turned ancient "might makes right" morality on its head. It suggests that human dignity is not determined by age, size, power, or independence.

3. Human life is extraordinarily valuable. Christmas is part of God's larger plan to rescue humanity because He loves us (John 3:16). Jesus came so that we might live. From this Christian perspective, God considers human life to be immensely precious and worth saving at tremendous cost. "Christian belief in the Incarnation is thus inseparable from belief in the objective, and even transcendent, value of the human race as a whole, and of each human person as an individual," writes Carson Holloway.

Christmas proves that human beings matter. All of them, at all stages of their lives—including the youngest and most vulnerable.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Taxpayer funding of abortion in Minnesota: Three reasons it must end after 20 years

Minnesota law prohibited public funding of abortion (except in cases of rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother) until June 1994. That's when Hennepin County District Judge William Posten decided that the state Constitution requires Medicaid coverage of abortion for low-income women. The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the ruling in its Dec. 15, 1995, Doe v. Gomez decision. Not even the U.S. Supreme Court—in Roe v. Wade or subsequent abortion cases—has gone that far.

Twenty years later, taxpayers have funded more than 73,000 abortions at a cost of more than $21.5 million. In 2013 alone (the most recent statistics from the Department of Human Services), Minnesotans paid $810,000 for 3,391 abortions.

One need not support legal protection for unborn children to oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to facilitate their destruction, as we explained in a 2014 op-ed in the Star Tribune. Here's why taxpayer funding must end.

(1) Elective abortion is not a public good deserving of public support. It is not health care—it violently attacks the health and ends the life of a developing human being. "Abortion," the U.S. Supreme Court explained in a 1980 case (Harris v. McRae) upholding limits on public funding, "is inherently different from other medical procedures." Why are Minnesotans required to pay for this?

(2) A substantial body of research has established that government funding increases the incidence of abortion (relative to what it would otherwise be). A literature review by the Guttmacher Institute—a proponent of unlimited abortion—concluded that "approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable." Public funding means more abortions. Limits on public funding mean fewer abortions. Doe v. Gomez has led to the killing of thousands of young human beings who otherwise would have lived.

(3) Taxpayer funding of abortion enables economic exploitation. It allows the abortion industry to generate more revenue by marketing "free" abortions to economically vulnerable women. Minnesota taxpayers are now billed for 38.1 percent of all abortions—the highest percentage ever. Planned Parenthood, which performs more abortions than any other provider, increased its state-funded abortion claims by 13 percent in 2013 (following a 32 percent rise in 2012). The organization collected $295,216 from the state for performing 1,287 abortions on low-income women, a 16 percent revenue jump over the previous year (after a 30 percent increase in 2012).

Abortion doesn't solve anyone's problems. Pregnant women facing difficult circumstances deserve our compassion, care, and support. We can put tax dollars to better use.

That's why MCCL strongly favors current legislation, H.F. 607/S.F. 683, to ban taxpayer funding of abortion. Twenty years is 20 years too long—and 73,000 lives too many.

Monday, December 14, 2015

MCCL News December issue

The November-December 2015 issue of MCCL News is now available online. It includes stories on the upcoming March for Life, dismemberment abortion, assisted suicide, ways to make a difference in 2016, and more.

MCCL News online is only available to registered NetCommunity members who are also current donors. Be sure to keep your membership current by making at least an annual donation to MCCL.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The horror of dismemberment abortion awakens the conscience

In a paper published many years ago, prominent late-term abortion practitioner Warren Hern studied the reactions of abortion center staff to the dilation and evacuation (D & E) dismemberment abortion procedure, which at the time was becoming more and more common (today it is the main abortion method during the second trimester of pregnancy).

"Many of the [clinic worker] respondents reported serious emotional reactions that produced physiological symptoms, sleep disturbances, effects on interpersonal relationships, and moral anguish," Hern and his co-author, Billie Corrigan, conclude.

Hern notes that, among the different abortion facility staff members, "it appears that the more direct the physical and visual involvement with D & E, such as that experienced by nurses and physicians, the more stress is experienced. This is evident both in conscious stress and in unconscious manifestations such as dreams."

It is easy to ignore what we can't see or experience at a visceral level. D & E abortions are impossible for abortion practitioners to ignore. That's why these abortions can powerfully awaken the moral sensibilities—the conscience—of those who are involved.

"The most important challenge in [the practice of] late abortion ... is how we feel about doing it," Hern acknowledges. "Some part of our cultural and perhaps even biological heritage recoils at a destructive operation on a form that is similar to our own," he writes. "We have reached a point in this particular technology where there is no possibility of denying an act of destruction. It is before one's eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current."

Conscience is a stubborn thing.

Clinic workers, Hern explains, respond to D & E using traditional defense mechanisms:
We discerned that the following psychological defenses were used by staff members at various times to handle the traumatic impact of the destructive part of the operation: denial, sometimes shown by the distance a person keeps from viewing D & E; projection, as evidenced by excessive concern or anguish for other staff members assisting with or performing D & E; and rationalization.
Hern and Corrigan try to help staff "cope" with the experience by encouraging them to talk about their feelings and giving them occasional time off.

But this trauma is not merely an emotional response that must be strategically managed and overcome. The anguish of clinic staff reflects a deep knowledge that there is something wrong with tearing off arms and legs and crushing the skulls of tiny human beings. It feels terrible because it actually is terrible.

Dr. Anthony Levatino used to perform dismemberment abortions, but everything changed after the tragic death of his young daughter. "All of a sudden, the idea of a person's life becomes very real," he says. "It is not an embryology course anymore. It's not just a couple of hundred dollars. It's the real thing. ... I couldn't even think about a D & E abortion anymore."

He continued to perform abortions, but the procedure became much more difficult. "If I knew I had an abortion scheduled in the office the next day, I got very surly. I was hard to be around. I was getting very, very rough with the staff in our office," he says. "My own sense of self-esteem went down the tubes. I began to feel like a paid assassin. That's exactly what I was."

Dr. Levatino continues:
It got to a point ... that it just wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth it to me anymore. The money wasn't worth it. I don't care. This is coming out of my hide; it is costing me too much. It is costing me too much personally. For all the money in the world, it wouldn't have made any difference. So I quit. I slept a lot better at night after that.
More than 700 D & E abortions were performed in Minnesota last year. Many tens of thousands are performed nationwide. It's long past time to wake up to what this really is.

Friday, November 27, 2015

MCCL condemns violence in Colorado Springs

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) vigorously condemns the shooting today at a Colorado Springs, Colo., Planned Parenthood facility. Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee (with which MCCL is affiliated), issued the following statement in response to today's tragedy:
National Right to Life, which represents 50 state affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, unequivocally condemns unlawful activities and acts of violence regardless of motivation. The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life. The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal.
MCCL works peacefully and legally through education, legislation, and political action to protect innocent human life from the violence of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. MCCL's official policy strongly forbids the use of any kind of violence or illegal activity.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Human embryos: Property or persons?

A judge ruled last week that a San Francisco woman's frozen embryos must be "thawed and discarded" against her wishes. The woman sought to gestate and raise the embryos, but her ex-husband, with whom she created the embryos through in vitro fertilization, wanted them destroyed. The couple had signed a consent form indicating that the embryos should be destroyed in the case of divorce, and Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo decided that the agreement is legally binding.

Massullo writes: "It is a disturbing consequence of modern biological technology that the fate of nascent human life, which the embryos in this case represent, must be determined in a court by reference to cold legal principles."

Legal disputes over the fate of frozen embryos—and over who "owns" them—seem increasingly common. A high-profile conflict is ongoing between actress Sofia Vergara and her ex-fiance, Nick Loeb. "When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property?" asks Loeb in a New York Times op-ed.

This is the fundamental issue at stake. The embryos in these legal cases are treated as property. They are treated as things. Things have merely instrumental or extrinsic value. We may use them for our own purposes or discard them if we feel like it. Things may be owned as property.

Persons, by contrast, have intrinsic value: they are valuable in themselves. They have rights. They are not objects to use but individuals whom we must respect. The great philosopher Immanuel Kant famously wrote: "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end."

Should we treat human embryos as property or persons?

Embryos are living human organisms (human beings) at the embryonic stage of their development. Under our law, however, they are not treated in the same way as older human children (infants, toddlers, adolescents). Simply being human is insufficient for protection. Human beings during the earliest developmental periods are not considered persons. All of us (at least those born after January 22, 1973) were once "non-persons" by law.

Our current legal situation, then, has effectively divided humanity into two categories: persons and things. Some members of our species are persons whom we respect and some members are things that may be owned, used, or killed by other members (those who do qualify as persons).

This should be alarming. As philosopher Christopher Kaczor observes, every instance throughout history in which such a division of humanity was implemented (e.g., slavery, genocide) is now recognized as a horrific moral mistake. Every single time. If those who today deny the value of human embryos are correct, it marks the first time in the history of the world that the division of human beings into persons and property is not a moral disaster.

What is the justification for this current discrimination? Embryonic human beings are tiny. They are less developed. They lack the cognitive abilities of older members of our species.

But none of these differences are morally significant. Big people are not more valuable than small people. A teenager does not have a greater right to life than a less-developed five-year-old. A toddler, who is self-aware, does not deserve more respect than a newborn baby, who cannot yet exercise higher mental functions.

Intrinsic value doesn't depend on age, size, or ability—any more than it depends on gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. When we treat some human beings as property, we prioritize differences that don't matter while dismissing the one characteristic that human beings have in common: We are all human. We are all the same kind of being. And that's what matters.

Human beings by nature are persons rather than property. We ought to treat our fellow members of the human family accordingly.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The facts about dismemberment abortion in Minnesota

The primary method of abortion during the second trimester of pregnancy is called dilation and evacuation (D & E). It essentially involves dismembering the young human being in utero. Instruments are used to grasp parts of the fetus and tear them out piece by piece. Afterward, the body parts are examined on a tray to make sure nothing is left inside the mother.

Last year, 704 D & E abortions took place in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. It is the third most common abortion technique in the state and the main method during the second trimester. A total of 993 abortions occurred at 14 weeks gestation or later in 2014, including 174 at 20 weeks or later (the latest abortion took place at 27 weeks). These 20-week abortions are at least mostly D & E procedures.

In the U.S. Supreme Court's Stenberg v. Carhart decision (2000), Justice Anthony Kennedy (who in 1992 voted to uphold Roe v. Wade) summarizes the method:
As described by [well-known late-term abortion practitioner] Dr. [Leroy] Carhart, the D & E procedure requires the abortionist to use instruments to grasp a portion (such as a foot or hand) of a developed and living fetus and drag the grasped portion out of the uterus into the vagina. Dr. Carhart uses the traction created by the opening between the uterus and vagina to dismember the fetus, tearing the grasped portion away from the remainder of the body. ... The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. Dr. Carhart agreed that "[w]hen you pull out a piece of the fetus, let's say, an arm or a leg and remove that, at the time just prior to removal of the portion of the fetus, ... the fetus [is] alive." Dr. Carhart has observed fetal heartbeat via ultrasound with "extensive parts of the fetus removed," and testified that mere dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born "as a living child with one arm." At the conclusion of a D & E abortion no intact fetus remains. In Dr. Carhart's words, the abortionist is left with "a tray full of pieces."
In 2013 testimony before a U.S. House subcommittee, Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former practitioner of abortion, describes how he performed the procedure:
Imagine if you can that you are a pro-choice obstetrician/gynecologist like I once was. Your patient today is 24 weeks pregnant. At twenty-four weeks from last menstrual period, her uterus is two finger-breadths above the umbilicus. If you could see her baby, which is quite easy on an ultrasound, she would be as long as your hand plus a half from the top of her head to the bottom of her rump not counting the legs. Your patient has been feeling her baby kick for the last 2 month or more but now she is asleep on an operating room table and you are there to help her with her problem pregnancy.

The first task is remove the laminaria that had earlier been placed in the cervix to dilate it sufficiently to allow the procedure you are about to perform. With that accomplished, direct your attention to the surgical instruments arranged on a small table to your right. The first instrument you reach for is a 14-French suction catheter. It is clear plastic and about nine inches long. It has a bore through the center approximately 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Picture yourself introducing this catheter through the cervix and instructing the circulating nurse to turn on the suction machine which is connected through clear plastic tubing to the catheter. What you will see is a pale yellow fluid that looks a lot like urine coming through the catheter into a glass bottle on the suction machine. This is the amniotic fluid that surrounded the baby to protect her.

With suction complete, look for your Sopher clamp. This instrument is about thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At the business end are located jaws about 2 1/2 inches long and about 3/4 of an inch wide with rows of sharp ridges or teeth. This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go. A second trimester D & E abortion is a blind procedure. The baby can be in any orientation or position inside the uterus. Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can. At twenty-four weeks gestation, the uterus is thin and soft so be careful not to perforate or puncture the walls. Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard—really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about six inches long. Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.

The toughest part of a D & E abortion is extracting the baby's head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby's brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you. ... If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again.
Click to enlarge. 
Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc. 
All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com
In his widely used textbook Abortion Practice, abortion practitioner Warren Hern acknowledges: "Another disadvantage of the D & E procedure is that it is objectionable to physicians and their assistants. ... It is clear that the D & E procedure ... is an emotionally stressful experience for many" (p. 134).

Nucleus Medical Media offers a medical illustration of a D & E abortion of a 23-week-old fetus (right). The procedure is explained in clinical detail in the textbook Management of Unintended and Abnormal Pregnancy, published in 2009 by the National Abortion Federation.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Latest global maternal mortality estimates show continuing need for improved care

The World Health Organization (WHO) has just released its latest estimates of maternal mortality, "Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015." Millennium Development Goal (MGD) 5A sought to reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015. The world did not meet that target, although it made significant progress.

While acknowledging that "accurate measurement of maternal mortality levels remains an immense challenge," WHO estimates that the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR; maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) fell almost 44 percent over the last 25 years. Nevertheless, approximately 303,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2015. About 99 percent them took place in developing regions, with 66 percent occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. The MMRs were highest in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Southern Asia. Among countries, Nigeria and India had the most maternal deaths, while Sierra Leone had the highest MMR.

The new data further discredit the claim that legalizing abortion is necessary to reduce mortality rates. For example, Ireland, Poland, Malta, Chile, Kuwait, Libya and the United Arab Emirates ban most or all abortions and have very low MMRs (all but one have a lower MMR than the United States). And of the nine countries that actually achieved MGD 5A, a majority of them did so while generally prohibiting abortion. Maternal mortality simply does not depend on the legality or availability of abortion. It depends, instead, on the quality of maternal health care before, during and after childbirth. Women's lives are saved by improving care—not by legalizing or promoting abortion.

The WHO report concludes: "Among countries where maternal death counts remain high, the challenge is clear. Efforts to save lives must be accelerated and must also be paired with country-driven efforts to accurately count lives and record deaths." The Sustainable Development Goals now aim to reduce the global MMR to 70 by 2030. This is possible—but only if we focus on the measures that actually save lives.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Maximize your pro-life impact on Nov. 12


Thursday, Nov. 12, is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota.

Beginning at midnight and all day Thursday, donations to MCCL through GiveMN.org will be doubled, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000. Donation activity also boosts MCCL's chances to win a cash prize from GiveMN.

Your generous gift will expand our pro-life educational work and help save lives. Use MCCL's GiveMN fundraising page to make a secure credit card gift. (Donations to the MCCL Education Fund are tax deductible.)

Nov. 12 is the day to maximize your impact for life. Thank you for your support!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The reality of human cloning

The following first ran in the September-October 2015 issue of MCCL News.

By Paul Stark

In 2013, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University announced a major scientific breakthrough. They had, for the first time, successfully derived stem cells from cloned human embryos. Today, the creation and destruction of cloned embryos takes place in several laboratories around the country.

Few people are aware of this research, the ethical problems it raises, or the disturbing practices to which it could lead. The dangers are spelled out in "The Threat of Human Cloning: Ethics, Recent Developments, and the Case for Action," an important new report by the Witherspoon Council on Ethics and the Integrity of Science. We ought to heed the warning.

What is cloning?

Cloning researchers employ a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer—the same process famously used to create Dolly the cloned sheep in 1996. It involves removing the nucleus from an egg and replacing it with the nucleus from a somatic cell (a regular body cell, such as a skin cell), which provides a full complement of 46 chromosomes. The egg is then stimulated and, if successful, begins dividing as a new organism at the earliest (embryonic) developmental stages. This new individual is genetically (virtually) identical to the person from whom the somatic cell was taken. It is a human clone.

Theoretically, a cloned human embryo could be implanted in a uterus and allowed to develop into a fetus, infant, child and so on. The Witherspoon report calls this "cloning-to-produce-children" (often dubbed "reproductive cloning"). Almost everyone opposes it, and it is not yet practically feasible.

Alternatively, a cloned human embryo can be destroyed at the blastocyst stage (about five days after creation) in order to derive stem cells for research purposes. This is cloning-for-biomedical-research (usually called "therapeutic cloning"). And, following the breakthrough in 2013, it is happening right now.

Cloning is unnecessary

So what are the problems with this research? First, it is unnecessary. Scientists long sought cloned human embryos because their pluripotent stem cells would be genetically matched to potential patients (whose genetic material could be used to create the embryos). In 2007, however, researchers found a way to reprogram regular adult cells to become virtually equivalent to embryonic stem cells. These induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are genetically identical to the prospective patients from whom they are derived. So they have the same theoretical advantages as stem cells from cloned embryos—but without the creation and destruction of embryonic human beings.

The advent of this ethical alternative diminished the demand for human cloning. Cloning research continued, though, and the Oregon announcement rejuvenated it. But there is no compelling medical rationale for human cloning.

Cloning is wrong

Second, cloning for research is unethical. The science of embryology establishes that cloned embryos are living human organisms; they are members of the species Homo sapiens at the earliest developmental stages. Each of us was once an embryo. And all human beings—regardless of age, size, appearance, location (e.g., a petri dish) and method of creation—have intrinsic value and deserve respect. They are not raw material to treat as a mere means to an end. They should not be killed so that their parts can be used for the theoretical benefit of others.

Cloning is even worse than ordinary embryo-destructive research (which utilizes leftover embryos from fertility clinics). Cloning is the deliberate manufacturing of human beings solely in order to exploit and destroy them. It is a total commodification of human life.

Cloning also requires harvesting large numbers of eggs from women. This process poses risks to women's health and can threaten their future fertility. And the offer of payment for eggs can lead to the exploitation of low-income women.

Cloning is dangerous

Third, research cloning enables other morally problematic activities. It lays the technical groundwork for cloning-to-produce-children, which raises a host of ethical concerns. It could lead to fetal farming—growing cloned embryos to a later stage so that their valuable organs can be harvested for research or transplantation. And cloning technology may facilitate the genetic engineering of children, as it already has animals.

These are among the reasons why the Witherspoon Council calls for a complete ban on human cloning. MCCL helped to pass such a ban in Minnesota in 2011, but it was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. The threat is greater now than it was then. Human cloning is unnecessary, unethical and dangerous, and it ought to be stopped.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October issue of MCCL News

The September-October 2015 issue of MCCL News is now available online. It includes coverage of the Planned Parenthood videos, federal legislation, assisted suicide, MCCL's Fall Tour and other events, and more.

MCCL News online is only available to registered NetCommunity members who are also current donors. Be sure to keep your membership current by making at least an annual donation to MCCL.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

U.S. House, Senate vote on three pro-life bills

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

Three major pro-life bills intended to protect the lives of unborn babies and their mothers have received votes in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) strongly supports these measures, along with the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

Congressmen John Kline, Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer and Collin Peterson voted in support of two protective bills on Friday, Sept. 18. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, H.R. 3504, would strengthen and expand federal legal protection for babies born alive during abortions. The Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, H.R. 3134, would suspend funding of the nation's largest abortion provider for one year. Members of Congress Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Rick Nolan voted against both measures. Both bills were approved in the House.

"Thankfully Minnesota has four members of Congress who consistently vote to protect and defend our most vulnerable citizens—unborn children and their mothers," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "It is unthinkable that an elected official would side with the abortion industry over the right to life of a human being born alive, whatever the circumstances."

In the U.S. Senate today, a procedural vote needed to advance the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, H.R. 36, failed on a 54-42 vote (60 votes were needed). The legislation would have banned abortion at the point when the unborn child can feel pain, which research has determined is 20 weeks or five months of pregnancy. More than 70 percent of Americans oppose abortion after 20 weeks.

U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar voted against the effort to protect pain-capable unborn children by opposing the procedural measure to advance the bill. Both of Minnesota's senators have longstanding records of opposition to pro-life legislation.

"Senators Franken and Klobuchar hold an extreme position on abortion opposed by the vast majority of Minnesotans," Fischbach said. "They will side with the abortion industry even when it results in the senseless suffering of innocent unborn children."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Final Exit Network fined nearly $33,000 after found 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 sentencing of Final Exit Network by Dakota Co. Judge Christian S. Wilton sends a very clear message that assisting suicide is illegal in our state, and that violations of our law will be punished. We commend Dakota Co. District Attorney James Backstrom and his counsel for having the courage to prosecute this violation. Final Exit Network purposely came into our state, broke our law and assisted in the 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.

Final Exit Network and other groups seek to legalize assisted suicide, which can lead to:

  • Abuse: Abuse of people with disabilities, and elder abuse. An heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards 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.
  • Trauma: Stress disorder rates increase for family and friends who participate in a suicide.

The fine imposed upon Final Exit Network reaffirms our law's intent to protect those who could become victims of assisted suicide in Minnesota.

More information about growing opposition to assisted suicide can be found at the website of Minnesotans Against Assisted Suicide (MNAAS) at www.mnaas.org.