Wednesday, November 19, 2014

U.N. marks 25th anniversary of Convention on the Rights of the Child

The following news release was issued on Nov. 19, 2014.

NEW YORK, N.Y. — On Nov. 20, 1989, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed the dignity and rights of all children by adopting the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Events marking the 25th anniversary of the recognition of those rights will be held Thursday at the United Nations in New York.

As nations celebrate their accomplishments in establishing legal rights and protections for the world’s children, the unmet needs of multiple millions of young human beings must be prioritized in order to secure their safe and hopeful future. A new literature piece, "Celebrating the Rights of the Child," details areas in which the rights of children still are not honored or defended.

"On the 25th anniversary of this landmark human rights treaty, we should celebrate our progress on behalf of the youngest members of the human family while also acknowledging the ways in which the rights of children remain unprotected," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), a U.N.-accredited non-governmental organization. Fischbach will be in New York for Thursday's U.N. events.

The first 1,000 days of a child's life—from conception to the second birthday—dramatically shape his or her prospects for survival and future well-being. Lives can be saved by improving the quality of care during labor, childbirth and the days following birth, including essential newborn care. Prenatal care and nutrition and optimum breastfeeding are also important to ensure healthy development.

Tens of millions of abortions occur around the world each year, and countries that protect unborn children face pressure to legalize the procedure. This is a profound injustice. The Convention on the Rights of the Child affirms that, quoting the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth." All children, born and unborn, deserve protection.

The Convention calls for securing the rights of each child "without discrimination of any kind." But sex-selective feticide—when abortion is performed solely on the basis of the unborn child's sex—is a massive problem in areas where culture and tradition favor boys over girls, including parts of Asia, Southeast Europe and the Caucasus.

"Great progress has been made in the past 25 years on behalf of children," said Fischbach. "But many still suffer. All children, born and unborn, male and female, have an equal dignity and right to life. They deserve our respect, protection and care."

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Will 1 in 3 women have an abortion?

Abortion advocacy organizations often say that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. In fact, a whole campaign is based on that statistic.

But it's not accurate. Secular Pro-Life has put together a new website, Not1in3.com. The website explains:
The study most activist groups cite in order to justify the "1 in 3" statistic is Changes in Abortion Rates Between 2000 and 2008 and Lifetime Incidence of Abortion, published in 2011 by Dr. Rachel K. Jones and Dr. Megan L. Kavanaugh. ... The lifetime abortion rate given by the study is approximately 3 in 10, not 1 in 3. But the authors caution us that even the lower figure of 3 in 10 may be overstated ...
Moreover, given the recent declining abortion numbers, the 30 percent figure is clearly obsolete:
Abortion statistics are always a few years behind. That's why the Jones & Kavanaugh study, which was published in 2011, contained an analysis of data only as recent as 2008. It wasn't until three years after the study was published that reliable numbers were available through 2011. In 2014, Dr. Jones revealed the stunning news: between 2008 and 2011, abortion rates plummeted to the lowest level recorded since Roe v. Wade.

The 2011 study's prediction that 3 in 10 American women would have an abortion came with an important caveat; it only applied if American women were "exposed to prevailing abortion rates throughout their reproductive lives." There were almost 165,000 fewer abortions in 2011 than there were in 2008.

The positive trend shows no signs of stopping. Although reliable post-2011 abortion statistics are not yet available, we know that dozens of abortion businesses across the country have closed in the last three years due to a combination of decreased demand and pro-life legislation.
So it is likely that significantly fewer than 1 in 3 women will have an abortion.

Of course, more than a million abortions still occur in the United States each year—it is the leading cause of human death. But the prevalence of abortion should not lead us to accept it, as abortion advocates apparently think. It should lead us to work to protect the unborn, meet the needs of pregnant women, and care for those who have been detrimentally affected by abortion—so that the impact of abortion in American culture will continue to diminish.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maximize your pro-life impact on Nov. 13

Thursday, Nov. 13, 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. 13 is the day to maximize your impact for life. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Vote for life on Nov. 4: What you need to know before you head to the polls

Before you vote on Nov. 4, consider what is at stake.

Abortion is the leading cause of human death in Minnesota (almost 10,000 deaths annually) and the United States (almost 1.1 million). The candidates we elect to public office will affect our laws and policies in ways that influence the incidence of abortion. Unborn lives are on the line.

In the race for governor, incumbent Mark Dayton faces pro-life challenger Jeff Johnson. Dayton has vetoed seven different pro-life measures, single-handedly preventing those lifesaving bills from becoming law.

In the U.S. Senate race, pro-lifer Mike McFadden is running against incumbent Al Franken, who has earned a zero percent pro-life voting record. In a narrowly divided Senate, the success or failure of federal abortion-related bills may depend on one or two seats.

Also on the ballot are candidates for the Minnesota House of Representatives and the U.S. House. Use MCCL's Voter's Guide to check the races in your own districts to see which candidates have committed to voting pro-life. You can find your district numbers at MNVotes.org.

Here are some other helpful links:

MCCL General Election Voter's Guide (where the candidates for governor, Congress, the state Legislature and other offices stand on right-to-life issues)
Additional information about voting
How pro-life laws save lives
Can pro-life voters reasonably support pro-choice candidates?

The race for governor:
Comparison flier: Jeff Johnson v. Mark Dayton
Mark Dayton's record on protecting human life: Veto, veto, veto (etc.)
Tina Smith: Dayton running mate, former abortion industry leader
Dayton supports licensing dog breeders, yet rejects any oversight of abortion facilities

The race for U.S. Senate:
Comparison flier: Mike McFadden v. Al Franken
Al Franken's record: Advocating unfettered abortion until birth
Franken-sponsored bill would nullify most limits on abortion

Justice requires that the law protect the equal dignity and right to life of every member of the human family, especially the most vulnerable. Elections play a huge and necessary part in working toward that goal.

Please use this information to learn about the candidates and the stakes, and share it with others. Then vote on Nov. 4!

Friday, October 31, 2014

How pro-life laws save lives

The election of pro-life candidates leads to pro-life laws proven to reduce abortions


Some people believe that the election of pro-life candidates to public office does nothing to reduce abortions or protect unborn children. But that's simply not true.

The success of pro-life candidates has led to the enactment of pro-life laws and policies at both the state and federal level. And those laws have saved many lives from abortion.

Evidence: Laws reduce abortions

A substantial body of research shows that pro-life laws—e.g., informed consent, parental involvement, bans on taxpayer funding of abortion—help to modestly but significantly reduce the incidence of abortion.

Consider the evidence here in Minnesota:

  • The Woman's Right to Know informed consent law was enacted in 2003. Under this law in 2013, a total of 12,164 abortion-minded pregnant women received factual information about fetal development, abortion procedures, abortion risks and complications, and alternatives to abortion. That number is 2,261 more than the number of women who actually underwent abortions. Since Woman's Right to Know became law, as many as 20,687 women have chosen life for their unborn children after receiving the information.

  • The Positive Alternatives Act of 2005 created a program to provide grants to pregnancy care centers and other programs that help women in difficult circumstances and offer life-affirming alternatives to abortion. More than 35,000 women statewide were helped through the Positive Alternatives program in its first six years (July 2006-Aug. 2012).

  • The number of abortions performed on Minnesota minors peaked in 1980 at 2,327. In 1981 Minnesota passed a law requiring that both parents be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor (a court-required judicial bypass option is included). After years of steady decline, minor abortions in 2013 fell to 295, the lowest number on record and only 3 percent of all abortions.

Success in Minnesota

The number of abortions in our state has declined for seven straight years, and dropped 30 percent from 2003 to 2013. The abortion number and rate are now at their lowest levels since 1974.

Thousands of Minnesotans are alive today who would have been killed in utero if not for pro-life laws. Those laws continue to save lives from abortion every day.

Pro-life candidates essential

But they would not exist if we had not elected pro-life candidates to public office. And no new pro-life laws can be enacted if we do not elect pro-life candidates this year. Several recent pro-life measures in Minnesota—including bills banning taxpayer funding of abortion and protecting pain-capable unborn children—were stopped precisely because voters had chosen pro-abortion candidates.

Progress has been made, but abortion remains the supreme injustice and leading cause of human death in Minnesota. Much more work lies ahead, and it begins on Nov. 4.

This article was published in the Sept./Oct. 2014 issue of MCCL News.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Al Franken's record: Advocating unfettered abortion until birth

U.S. Senator Al Franken is up for re-election this year. What's his record on right-to-life issues?

Franken's consistent record

Since taking office in 2009, Franken has earned a zero percent pro-life voting record, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

In 2009 he vocally opposed and voted against an amendment to remove abortion subsidies from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). In 2011 he denounced legislation in the House that would have stopped federal funding of abortion.

In 2011 Franken also spoke out and voted against a measure to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading performer and promoter of abortion.

In 2013 he voted against the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, a bill intended to curb the transport of minor girls across state lines for abortions without parental involvement.

Abortion until birth

Franken is currently one of 35 Senate co-sponsors of the "Women's Health Protection Act" (S. 1696), a misleadingly titled bill designed to nullify most state and federal limits on abortion.

The proposed legislation would (for example) wipe away state laws protecting unborn children after 20 weeks as well as meaningful restrictions after viability (when a broad "health" exception would make bans impossible). It effectively would establish abortion on demand until birth nationwide.

The bill also would eliminate informed-consent laws such as Minnesota's Woman's Right to Know, which requires that women be provided with basic factual information at least 24 hours before an abortion. Woman's Right to Know empowers pregnant women and, in doing so, makes abortion less likely.

But Franken won't stand for any of it.

Standing with abortion industry

Franken, whose campaign website boasts that he is "a fierce defender of a woman's right to choose," doesn't just vote against the lives of unborn children—he actively champions his commitment to the abortion industry.

In 2010 Franken delivered the keynote address at a NARAL Pro-Choice America luncheon celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. He called the abortion advocacy group's work "indispensable" and told them, "I'm proud to stand with you."

Franken was one of only two elected officials to speak at a July 2013 Planned Parenthood rally in opposition to the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would protect unborn children at the point (20 weeks) when they can experience pain.

"You have my promise to keep fighting. Thank you, Planned Parenthood," he told the crowd.

Minnesotans should know what Al Franken is fighting for.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Who is Tina Smith? Dayton running mate, former abortion industry leader

Who is Tina Smith? Most Minnesotans have no idea.

Smith is Gov. Mark Dayton's running mate in the Nov. 4 election. She served as his chief of staff during his first term. And she’s a former vice president for the state’s leading performer and promoter of abortion.

Smith put her marketing background to work for Planned Parenthood from January 2003 to February 2006. The organization performed 9,717 abortions in Minnesota during that period. It was also reimbursed $458,574.74 by Minnesota taxpayers for performing 1,892 abortions on low-income women. Planned Parenthood became the largest abortion provider in the state in 2004—and has held that position ever since. It received $12.65 million in government grants from 2003 to 2005.

As a top representative for the abortion industry, Smith strongly opposed commonsense legislation such as the Positive Alternatives Act of 2005, which provides pregnant women in need with practical assistance and life-affirming alternatives to abortion. During Smith's tenure as chief of staff, Dayton vetoed seven different pro-life measures, including licensing of abortion facilities and protection for pain-capable unborn children. He also vetoed a bill to stop the public funding of abortions at facilities like Planned Parenthood.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund honored Smith in 2012 "for her passion and commitment to Planned Parenthood." It's clear what Tina Smith fights for: no-limits abortion, subsidized by taxpayers.

Is this who Minnesotans want in the governor's office?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cairo and abortion

MCCL Global Outreach (MCCL GO) has written an article for Truth and Charity Forum about the effects of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. The article begins:
Abortion advocates didn't get what they really wanted 20 years ago. They have not stopped trying.

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo, Egypt, in September 1994, adopted a Program of Action seeking to achieve a range of important development goals. The plan does not call for the legalization or expansion of abortion.

On the contrary, the Program of Action affirms the equal dignity and right to life of every human being (chapter II, principle 1). It also instructs governments to help women avoid abortion and states that abortion should never be promoted as a method of family planning (paragraph 7.24). And it states that changes to abortion policy should be made at the local or national level (paragraph 8.25).

The debate about Cairo has continued, however, as the world now looks to the post-2015 development agenda.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Melchert-Dinkel headed to jail for assisting suicide

The following news release was issued on Oct. 15, 2014.

FARIBAULT — A Faribault man who went online and urged people to commit suicide while he watched has been sentenced to nearly six months in prison for assisting in a suicide. William Francis Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in September and sentenced today under a Minnesota law which prohibits assisted suicide.

"Assisted suicide is illegal in Minnesota, and if you violate the law you will be caught, convicted and imprisoned," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "Justice has finally been served for these families, even though it has been long delayed. No more stays were granted; this criminal is headed to jail."

Rice Co. District Court Judge Tom Neuville sentenced Melchert-Dinkel to 178 days in jail (to begin no later than Oct. 24) and fined him $3,000 after earlier finding him guilty of assisting the suicide of an English man and of attempting to assist in the suicide of a Canadian woman. The law allows imprisonment for up to 22 years and fines up to $44,000 combined for the two crimes of which Melchert-Dinkel was convicted.

Melchert-Dinkel admitted to posing as a depressed female nurse in online chat rooms using several names. He claimed that no treatment had helped ease his suffering and entered into suicide pacts with his victims. He urged each of them to use a webcam as they committed suicide, as he would, so that they would not be alone as they died. Melchert-Dinkel was not suicidal but secretly wanted to watch others kill themselves.

His victims include 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario. Drybrough hanged himself in his home in 2005. Kajouji jumped into a frozen river and drowned in 2008.

Melchert-Dinkel encouraged his victims to hang themselves and he gave them details about how to do so. He boasted online about watching the death of Drybrough. Melchert-Dinkel admitted he entered into about 10 suicide pacts and believed five killed themselves.

Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in 2011 under Minnesota Statutes section 609.215, subdivision 1, which provides criminal penalties for anyone who "advises, encourages or assists" suicide. MCCL was instrumental in the passage of this protective law in 1992. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in State v. Melchert-Dinkel that "advising" or "encouraging" suicide is protected speech under the First Amendment. The case was remanded to the lower court to rule on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted in the suicides of Drybrough and Kajouji.

"Whatever their reasons, people who attempt to assist others in killing themselves need to be prevented from doing so," Fischbach said. "Assisted suicide is a violent, inhuman act against an individual in desperate need of help. Vulnerable people need protections, including the medical and mental health care they need to live."

Melchert-Dinkel plans to appeal his conviction.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Oct. 11 marks International Day of the Girl Child

The following news release was issued on Oct. 10, 2014.

The third annual International Day of the Girl Child is Oct. 11, 2014, declared by the United Nations as a day to acknowledge and promote the rights of female children. The theme of this year's observance is "Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence."

"The theme should draw attention to the plight of young women forced to undergo abortion in certain parts of the world," noted Scott Fischbach of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO). Under rigid population control policies in China, countless women have been coerced into choosing abortion. Many have even been violently and forcibly subjected to it.

"Adolescent girls need support, protection and empowerment—not violence," Fischbach said. "This abuse of human rights and women's rights must stop, for the sake of both women and children."

Girl children are most at risk from abortion. Today, parents can identify the gender of their unborn child early in pregnancy, and abortion can be performed solely on the basis of the baby's sex. The victims of these sex-selective abortions are overwhelming female.

Sex-selective feticide, which has appropriately been called "gendercide," is commonplace in China, India and Korea, where culture and tradition favor boys. U.N. estimates indicate that more than 200 million females are "missing." This gender imbalance has serious social and demographic consequences.

The Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, which is marking its 20th anniversary this year, acknowledges that the practices of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide reflect a harmful son preference and calls on governments to take steps to prevent these forms of discrimination.

"Legal and educational initiatives to protect the girl child ought to be implemented," said Fischbach. "As we celebrate the rights of girls, we must remember that the most basic human right is the right to life. Before everything else, the right to life must be protected for all girls."

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MCCL's 2014 General Election Voter's Guide is available online

MCCL's 2014 General Election Voter's Guide is now available online. It shows where candidates for the U.S. Senate and House, Minnesota House, governorship and state offices stand on right-to-life issues such as abortion, assisted suicide and health care rationing. It also explains what is at stake and how pro-life laws save lives (see page 2). Candidate comparison fliers for the governor's race and U.S. Senate race are also available online.

The election will be held on Nov. 4. More information about voting is available here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mark Dayton's record on protecting human life: Veto, veto, veto (etc.)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is up for re-election this year. What's his record since taking office in 2011? Where does he stand on right-to-life issues? And what are the stakes on Nov. 4?

Dayton's record as governor

Dayton addressed activists at "Pro-Choice Lobby Day" shortly after becoming governor. He pledged to prevent any pro-life bills from becoming law. "It will not happen here in Minnesota," he told them.

Dayton kept his promise:
  • The Legislature passed a bill to stop the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions. Dayton vetoed the bill.

    Taxpayers will pay about $3.5 million for 14,000 abortions during Dayton's four years as governor. If a 2009 estimate from the Guttmacher Institute (a staunch advocate of unlimited abortion) is applied to the public funding numbers in Minnesota, about 3,500 fewer Minnesota women would have had abortions over Dayton's tenure if the state did not pay for abortions.
  • The Legislature passed bans on human cloning and the taxpayer funding of human cloning, but Dayton vetoed both.
  • The Legislature passed a bill to license abortion facilities (applying to them the same safety standards as other outpatient surgical facilities) and allow for inspections. Dayton vetoed the bill—even though poor health conditions and dangerous practices have been uncovered in abortion centers in numerous other states.
  • The Legislature passed a bill to require that a doctor be physically present when administering chemical abortions. This would have stopped the "webcam abortions" Planned Parenthood is now remotely conducting in Rochester. Dayton vetoed the bill.
Planned Parenthood, the state's leading performer and promoter of abortion, responded to these actions by presenting Dayton with its Courage Award at a 2012 gala.

Dayton's other positions

Dayton strongly opposes Minnesota's existing Woman's Right to Know law—which requires that basic information regarding risks and alternatives be offered to women considering abortion—and Minnesota's law requiring parental notification before a minor girl has an abortion. He has harshly criticized the work of pregnancy care centers that help pregnant women in need, claiming in a 2010 questionnaire that they "scare [women] into not having abortions."

During his time in the U.S. Senate, Dayton voted in favor of abortions in military facilities, endorsing Roe v. Wade, keeping partial-birth abortion legal, funding abortion-promoting organizations overseas, and funding embryo-destructive research. He also voted against parental notification before an abortion is performed on a minor from another state. And he cosponsored the radical Freedom of Choice Act, which would have eliminated virtually every limitation on abortion, no matter how modest.

As Dayton explained in a 2010 letter:
I strongly support a woman's right to choice, and I have a 35-year record in strong support of that right. As a U.S. Senator, I voted consistently for pro-choice measures. I voted against the so-called "partial-birth abortion" ban. And I voted against Senate confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alioto [sic], in significant part because of their anticipated anti-choice positions.

My positions earned me very high ratings and frequent commendations from NARAL, including "Hero of the Month."
Dayton's running mate is Tina Smith. She is a former executive at Planned Parenthood, the state's biggest abortion business and a fierce opponent of pro-life laws like Woman's Right to Know and Positive Alternatives.

The stakes

Mark Dayton, who was described by the Star Tribune as "an ardent advocate of abortion rights," is an abortion absolutist. Late-term abortion? Yes. Partial-birth abortion? Yes. Taxpayer funding of elective abortions? Yes. Informed consent for women before undergoing abortion? No. Basic health standards in abortion facilities? Nope. Parental notification before minor abortions? Certainly not.

Since becoming governor, Dayton has single-handedly (literally) prevented seven different pro-life measures from becoming law. Lives that could have been saved weren't—simply because voters had not elected a pro-life governor. No laws to protect the unborn and their mothers can be enacted as long as Dayton remains in office.

That's the kind of difference a governor can make.

Monday, September 22, 2014

U.N. marks 20th anniversary of Cairo conference

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Today a special session of the United Nations General Assembly will mark the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo, Egypt, in September 1994. The ICPD adopted a Program of Action that calls for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, among other goals; it does not call for the legalization or expansion of abortion. The special session will review the progress that has been made and consider the challenges going forward.

"The world has made headway toward implementing the Program of Action, but much work remains to support women and their children," says Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), a U.N.-accredited non-governmental organization. "We can save women's lives with prenatal care, skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, basic sanitation and clean water. These measures have helped substantially reduce maternal mortality in large parts of the world. They must be extended to the places where basic health care is still lacking."

The Program of Action affirms the equal dignity and right to life of every human being (chapter II, principle 1). It also states that abortion should never be promoted as a method of family planning (paragraph 7.24) and that changes to abortion policy should be made at the local or national level (paragraph 8.25).

Yet international abortion advocacy groups argue that abortion must be legalized worldwide to protect women’s health. "That is not true," Fischbach notes. "Maternal health depends on the quality of maternal health care, not on the legal status or availability of abortion. Countries such as Ireland, Chile and Malta prohibit most or all abortions and have a very low incidence of maternal mortality."

The 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development, which was held last April at the United Nations in New York, considered the status of the ICPD Program of Action. MCCL GO addressed the assembly and urged U.N. delegates to avoid pushing abortion as the international community looks to formulate a new global development agenda.

"Legalizing abortion does nothing to address the underlying issue of poor health care," Fischbach explained. "Member states should reject all efforts to legalize or promote abortions and instead focus on maternal health care and healthy reproductive outcomes."

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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Former Faribault nurse convicted under Minnesota’s prohibition of assisted suicide

The following news release was issued on Sept. 10, 2014.

FARIBAULT — William Francis Melchert-Dinkel has been convicted under a Minnesota law which bans assisted suicide. A former Faribault nurse who went online and urged people to commit suicide while he watched, Melchert-Dinkel was found guilty of assisting the suicide of an English man and of attempting to assist in the suicide of a Canadian woman. Rice Co. District Court Judge Tom Neuville made his ruling public yesterday after hearing arguments from both sides four weeks ago.

"This case exposes the abhorrence of assisted suicide," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "Vulnerable citizens need protections, including the medical and mental health care they need to live. It is illegal to assist someone in committing suicide."

Melchert-Dinkel
Melchert-Dinkel had admitted earlier to posing as a depressed female nurse in online chat rooms using several names. He claimed that no treatment had helped ease his suffering and entered into suicide pacts with his victims. He urged them to turn on webcams as they committed suicide so that they would not be alone. He had no intention of killing himself but secretly wanted to watch them die.

The victims include 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario. Drybrough hanged himself in his home in 2005. Kajouji jumped into a frozen river and drowned in 2008.

Melchert-Dinkel encouraged his victims to hang themselves, and he gave them details about how to do it. He boasted online about watching the death of Drybrough. Melchert-Dinkel admitted he entered into about 10 suicide pacts and believed five killed themselves.

Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in 2011 under Minnesota Statutes section 609.215, subdivision 1, which provides criminal penalties for anyone who "advises, encourages or assists" suicide. MCCL was instrumental in the passage of this protective law in 1992. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in State v. Melchert-Dinkel that "advising" or "encouraging" suicide is protected speech under the First Amendment. The case was remanded to the lower court to rule on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted in the suicides of Drybrough and Kajouji.

"Whatever their reasons, people like Melchert-Dinkel who prey on the vulnerable need to be prevented from doing so," Fischbach said. "The law is in place to protect citizens from criminals like Melchert-Dinkel who target those in need of compassion and help."

Melchert-Dinkel will be sentenced on Oct. 15. He plans to appeal his conviction.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Minnesota man convicted of assisting suicide

Today William Melchert-Dinkel, a Minnesota man who sought online to manipulate depressed people into killing themselves, was finally convicted of violating Minnesota's law against assisted suicide.

The Associated Press reports:
Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville ruled that the state proved that William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, assisted in the suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. He said the state failed to prove Melchert-Dinkel's assistance was a direct cause of the suicide of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, but found him guilty on a lesser charge of attempting to help her take her life. ...

In his ruling, Neuville said Melchert-Dinkel provided both Drybrough and Kajouji with detailed information about how to hang themselves, and that Drybrough followed his instructions. However, he noted that while the defendant gave Kajouji detailed and specific instructions about hanging, she did not follow them and chose another method. So the judge said Melchert-Dinkel was guilty only of attempting to assist her suicide. ...

Evidence in the case showed Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and sought out depressed people online. He posed as a suicidal female nurse, feigning compassion and offering step-by-step instructions on how they could kill themselves. He acknowledged participating in online chats about suicide with up to 20 people and entering into fake suicide pacts with about 10, five of whom he believed killed themselves.
Melchert-Dinkel will be sentenced on Oct. 15.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Franken-sponsored bill would nullify most limits on abortion

The following op-ed was published on Aug. 29, 2014, in the Duluth News Tribune.

By Ruby Kubista and Paul Stark

U.S. Sen. Al Franken is cosponsoring a far-reaching but little-known new abortion bill. It should alarm all Minnesotans who care about empowering pregnant women and minimizing the incidence of abortion.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last month on the Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696). This badly misnamed legislation would nullify most federal and state limits on abortion.

At the federal level, it would eliminate most, if not all, limits on government funding of abortion and laws respecting the conscience of health care workers who do not want to be involved in abortion.

At the state level, the bill would wipe away laws protecting unborn children after 20 weeks as well as meaningful restrictions after viability (when a broad "health" exception would make bans impossible).

It effectively would establish abortion on demand until birth nationwide.

Al Franken
Further, the new bill would nullify sex-selective abortion bans and requirements that only licensed physicians perform abortions.

And it would eliminate informed-consent laws such as Minnesota's Woman's Right to Know. This law, enacted in 2003, requires that women be provided with basic factual information at least 24 hours before an abortion (except in medical emergencies). That information includes the medical risks of the abortion procedure (as well as the risks of childbirth), the age of the unborn child, the medical assistance benefits available for prenatal care and childbirth, and the father's legal responsibilities. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, abortion providers must discuss with women the option of using anesthesia to alleviate pain experienced by the unborn child. And women must also be given the opportunity to review materials produced by the Minnesota Department of Health (available at health.state.mn.us/wrtk/handbook.html). Those materials include information about fetal development, abortion methods and risks, and alternatives to abortion.

Why is this state law important? Because women have a right to be fully informed before undergoing any surgery — especially surgery with profound moral significance and life-changing consequences. They have a right to know all the facts. And they have a right to pursue the abortion alternatives that are available to them.

In 2013, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, 12,164 women received the Woman's Right to Know information; 9,903 actually had abortions. That means 2,261 women opted against abortion when presented with basic facts and alternatives and when given time to arrive at a decision.

Woman's Right to Know empowers women and, in doing so, makes abortion less likely. Polls consistently show that informed-consent laws enjoy broad public support.

But Franken, it seems, won't stand for it. He is one of 35 co-sponsors of the federal bill that would erase Woman's Right to Know from the books — along with many other popular, common-sense laws in states across the country. Franken always and vigorously has opposed protections for unborn children, and he always and staunchly has supported abortion advocacy groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America. But the extremism of this legislation takes his commitment to another level.

The Women's Health Protection Act is not about protecting women's health. On the contrary, it would invalidate some measures that safeguard health in abortion facilities. It seems designed to strip away abortion limits and prevent states from regulating abortion in the future.

The bill reflects no concern for or even recognition of the developing human being who is killed in abortion. Nor is there much regard for the way abortion can impact women. Abortion, in this view, is a morally trivial act and a public good calling for immediate and unencumbered access. But that is not what most people, whether they consider themselves pro-life or pro-choice, believe.

Franken's support for unfettered abortion until birth puts him far outside the American mainstream. Minnesotans should know where he stands.

Ruby Kubista is chapter coordinator and Paul Stark is communications associate for the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (mccl.org).

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dangers of assisted suicide highlighted as Minnesota judge hears closing arguments

The following news release was issued on Aug. 8.

FARIBAULT — Closing arguments were heard today in the case of a former Faribault nurse who went online and urged people to commit suicide while he watched. William Francis Melchert-Dinkel has been charged under Minnesota's law which bans assisted suicide. Rice Co. District Court Judge Tom Neuville heard half-hour arguments from each side this morning and will rule on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted in two suicides.

"This case exposes the abhorrence of assisted suicide," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "Vulnerable citizens need protections, including the medical and mental health care they need to live. It is illegal to assist someone in committing suicide."

Melchert-Dinkel, a Faribault ex-nurse, is charged with assisting two vulnerable people to commit suicide. He posed as a depressed female nurse in online chat rooms using several names. He claimed that no treatment had helped ease his suffering and entered into suicide pacts with his victims. He urged them to turn on webcams as they committed suicide so that they would not be alone. He had no intention of killing himself but secretly wanted to watch them die.

The victims include 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario, and 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England. Kajouji jumped into a frozen river and drowned in 2008. Drybrough hanged himself in his home in 2005.

Melchert-Dinkel encouraged his victims to hang themselves, and he gave them details about how to do it. He boasted online about watching the death of Drybrough. Melchert-Dinkel may have had contact with 50 other suicidal persons online.

Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in 2011 under Minnesota Statutes section 609.215, subdivision 1, which provides criminal penalties for anyone who "advises, encourages or assists" suicide. MCCL was instrumental in the passage of this protective law in 1992. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in State v. Melchert-Dinkel that "advising" or "encouraging" suicide is protected speech under the First Amendment. The case was remanded to the lower court to rule on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted in the suicides of Kajouji and Drybrough.

"Minnesota's law prohibiting assisted suicide has been upheld," Fischbach said. "Assisting individuals in killing themselves is illegal in Minnesota. The law is in place to protect citizens from criminals like Melchert-Dinkel who prey upon those in need of compassion and help."

Deborah Chevalier, the mother of Nadia Kajouji, has created a website dedicated to raising awareness at www.nadiaslight.ca.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Life as an intern

By Molly Blaeser

Before I talk about my experience as the MCCL summer communications intern, I should share a little story.

Let's set the scene. It's the day we celebrated MCCL staff with a June or July birthday. Meaning: Jennifer, Paul and I.

Kris, who runs the front desk, brought in cake-pies (seriously, it's a thing) from Baker's Square, when Jennifer walked in with a German chocolate cake.

MCCL intern Molly Blaeser
"Molly once told me her favorite cake is German chocolate cake, so I made one," she said with a smile.

I was beyond touched. Jennifer and I talk about a million things when we carpool to and from work, and I'd forgotten I had even mentioned my favorite cake.

Clearly, she hadn't.

Which leads me to the best part about being an MCCL intern: The people here treat you like family.

Of course, not every day was spent eating cake. I did real work at MCCL, too.

To be brief, I designed buttons and memes, wrote some articles, filled county fair orders and proofread the Voter's Guide with Andrea. This week, I will be helping with the Dakota County Fair. Those are the highlights of my work here — the real list would be much longer!

For me, the best day at MCCL was when the new buttons arrived. Along with the other designs, eight of my own had been sent to the printer. I hadn't done much design work before and had definitely never had my design work actually used. Hence my eagerness to see how my designs had turned out.

Bill came to me with a smile on his face and said, "Molly, the new buttons are here."

I spent nearly a half-hour digging through a bag of 1,500 buttons to find each of my designs. I laid them out before me and smiled. They looked even better as buttons than as images on my monitor.

When I passed by Diane's desk, I just had to show her the designs I was so proud of. And the way she complimented each one and then bragged about them to Ruby, who also smiled over them … well, it just lifted my heart.

Thank you to the wonderful people at MCCL. You made this a great experience. You all have touched me with your dedication to the pro-life movement. But even more so, you all have made me feel like part of the family, for which I couldn't be more grateful.

Friday, August 1, 2014

MCCL GO addresses the rights of older persons at the United Nations

The following news release was issued on Aug. 1, 2014.

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The fifth working session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing convened this week at the United Nations. Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), spoke today at the session about the importance of protecting the rights of older persons.

"The number of older persons in society is increasing, the cost associated with aging is increasing, and the medical advances enabling longer life expectancy are increasing," Fischbach stated. "These facts point to the need to improve protection of the rights of the elderly if we are going to build a world in which all human beings are respected and protected by law."

Twelve years ago, the United Nations adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. It included a call to ensure "the full enjoyment of all human rights" of older persons and to combat "all forms of discrimination."

"The denial of medical treatment, withdrawal of nutrition and hydration, and active and passive euthanasia are direct violations of every human being’s right to life," Fischbach explained. "Euthanasia does not address physical and mental diseases that can be treated with today's medical advancements."

MCCL GO also noted that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires that we must "prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability." Such language should be used to protect those at the end of life as well.

"Our older people are amazing resources of knowledge and understanding, history and compassion—they are human beings and have human rights that require protection," Fischbach concluded. "The first of these rights is life itself."

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.

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