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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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MCCL's Primary Election Voter's Guide is now available

MCCL's 2014 Primary Election Voter's Guide is now available for free 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 the significance of the Primary Election and the importance of electing pro-life public officials (see page 2).

The Minnesota Primary Election will be held on Aug. 12. More information about voting is available here.

Human lives are at stake in this critically important election. Please read and share MCCL's Primary Election Voter's Guide (and upcoming General Election Voter's Guide), and remember to vote pro-life in the Aug. 12 Primary Election and in the Nov. 4 General Election.

Friday, July 18, 2014

MCCL mourns the passing of Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba

On July 16th, former Minnesota State Representative Mary Ellen Otremba of Long Prairie passed away at the early age of 63. Mary Ellen was a warrior when it came to protecting the weak, the vulnerable, the elderly and the unborn. She was a staunch Democrat and just as dedicated a pro-lifer. She was a dear friend of the pro-life movement and an unwavering ally of MCCL.

After the passing of her husband, Rep. Ken Otremba, in the fall of 1997, Mary Ellen ran for and won the same House seat that he had held. And, just as Rep. Ken Otremba fought for life in the Legislature, so did Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba. In her very first legislative session, it was Rep. Otremba who offered the amendment that became our 1998 abortion reporting law that now gives us our annual abortion report to the Legislature each July. Nearly all legislative initiatives that dealt with life issues were touched in one way or another by Rep. Otremba in the course of her time in the Legislature.

During her 14 years in the House, Rep. Otremba cast nearly 140 votes on life issues, and each time, pro-life! She drew the ire of her fellow Democrats when they were electing a Speaker because she would not vote for a Speaker—even within her own party—who was not pro-life.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) Executive Director Scott Fischbach praised Rep. Otremba: "Mary Ellen was a dear friend, a real fighter for all vulnerable people. She had such a passion for the unborn and their mothers rooted in her deep love and compassion for people. She once said that she tried to make all decisions through the eyes of the poorest person she knew. Her willingness to stand up for life in the face of enormous pressure against her is inspiring to all of us."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Franken co-sponsors bill to establish unlimited abortion until birth

Al Franken speaks at a 2013
Planned Parenthood rally
Today the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the so-called "Women's Health Protection Act" (S. 1696), a radical measure that would eliminate almost all state and federal limits on abortion—including, for example, Minnesota's Woman's Right to Know law. It is co-sponsored by Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.

Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, testified at the hearing:
I would note at the outset that we find the formal title or marketing label, "Women's Health Protection Act," to be highly misleading. The bill is really about just one thing: It seeks to strip away from elected lawmakers the ability to provide even the most minimal protections for unborn children, at any stage of their pre-natal development. While the proposal is so sweeping and extreme that it would be difficult to capture its full scope in any short title, calling the bill the "Abortion Without Limits Until Birth Act" would be more in line with truth-in-advertising standards.
Tobias' full written testimony is available here. National Right to Life previously summarized what the bill would do:
The new bill would invalidate nearly all existing state limitations on abortion, and prohibit states from adopting new limitations in the future, including various types of laws specifically upheld as constitutionally permissible by the U.S. Supreme Court. Among the laws that the bill would nullify are requirements to provide women seeking abortion with specific information on their unborn child and on alternatives to abortion, laws providing reflection periods (waiting periods), laws allowing medical professionals to opt out of providing abortions, laws limiting the performance of abortions to licensed physicians, bans on elective abortion after 20 weeks, meaningful limits on abortion after viability, and bans on the use of abortion as a method of sex selection. These laws generally have broad public support in the states in which they are enacted, including support from substantial majorities of women.

The bill would also invalidate most previously enacted federal limits on abortion, including federal conscience protection laws and most, if not all, limits on government funding of abortion.
To support the "Women's Health Protection Act" is to support unfettered abortion on demand—with no serious regard for the welfare of pregnant women or for unborn children at any stage of development. It is to support a bill that would undeniably and substantially increase the number of unborn children who are killed.

Franken, one of 35 co-sponsors, has earned a zero percent pro-life voting record. He has vigorously opposed such commonsense bills as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would simply protect unborn children after 20 weeks, when they can experience pain.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dayton supports licensing dog breeders, yet rejects any oversight of abortion facilities

New regulations of pet breeders go into effect; governor previously vetoed abortion center licensing


ST. PAUL — A measure to license and inspect commercial dog and cat breeders—passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton earlier this year—went into effect on July 1. The new regulations throw into sharp relief Dayton's refusal to accept any state licensing or inspection of abortion facilities, which perform thousands of surgical procedures on Minnesota women each year.

"Gov. Dayton wants to safeguard the well-being of pets, and that is admirable," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "But his concern evidently does not extend to the human beings undergoing surgery in unlicensed and uninspected abortion centers."

The new law will impose health standards and require commercial breeding facilities to be licensed by the Board of Animal Health. "The humane and decent treatment of these innocent creatures is no longer an unwritten expectation—it is the law," said Dayton in a press release.

But Minnesota's abortion centers are neither licensed nor inspected by the Department of Health. In 2012 the Legislature passed a bill to license abortion facilities in the same way as other outpatient surgical centers, and to allow such facilities to be inspected. Dayton vetoed the bill.

Poor health conditions and dangerous practices have been uncovered in abortion centers in numerous other states. The horrific Philadelphia clinic of Kermit Gosnell, now serving life in prison, has especially drawn nationwide attention; the grand jury report in that case specifically blamed the lack of state oversight and called for abortion centers to be licensed as ambulatory surgical facilities. "There is no justification for denying abortion patients the protections available to every other patient of an ambulatory surgical facility," the grand jury noted, "and no reason to exempt abortion clinics from meeting these standards."

Dayton, however, favors denying women those protections and exempting abortion centers from the health standards that all other outpatient surgical facilities must meet. "The governor's advocacy for pet breeding regulations makes him more supportive of the welfare of animals than he is of the welfare of women who are seeking abortions," Fischbach observed. "That should be deeply troubling, because people matter more than animals."

"The state has a clear interest in ensuring at least minimal health and safety standards for women," Fischbach concluded. "This is common sense, regardless of one’s position on abortion. Yet Gov. Dayton seems more committed to toeing the abortion industry line and preserving unfettered abortion than to protecting women."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pro-life efforts continue to drive down abortion numbers

Dayton vetoes obstruct trend of more teens, women choosing life


The following news release is a follow-up to today's earlier release regarding the latest Minnesota Abortion Report.

ST. PAUL — More women and girls are choosing life for their unborn babies, driving down the number of abortions performed in Minnesota, according to the 2013 Abortion Report issued today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). About 800 fewer women resorted to abortion last year than in 2012, a decrease of 7.5 percent. The abortion rate fell to its lowest since 1974, and abortions performed on minors fell to the lowest number ever recorded.

But these numbers could have been even lower if Gov. Mark Dayton had not vetoed every effort to protect women and their unborn children.

"Governor Dayton has done everything in his power to slow down the decline in abortions," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "Had he not vetoed bills approved by the Legislature to protect unborn babies who can feel pain, to license and inspect abortion facilities, to ban taxpayer funded abortions and to ban dangerous 'webcam abortions,' even more women, teens and unborn babies would have been saved from the tragedy of abortion."

Many of the 2013 statistics are encouraging. Abortions have decreased nearly 24 percent statewide since the Positive Alternatives program began funding efforts to help pregnant women in need. It is by far the biggest seven-year decline since the state began recording abortion numbers in 1973.

Abortions performed on minors were down 27 percent to 295, representing less than 3 percent of all abortions in the state. This is the smallest number since the state began recording minor abortions in 1975 and follows a general decline in numbers since 1987.

More than 12,000 women received factual, state-provided information about abortion risks and complications, abortion alternatives and much more under the Woman's Right to Know law. MCCL helped to pass the informed consent law in 2003; state abortion numbers have decreased in all but one year since the law took effect.

Not all of today's report is good news, however. Abortions were performed at a rate of more than 27 every single day last year. More than 40 percent of abortions in 2011 were performed on women who had undergone at least one prior abortion; 306 women had four or more previous abortions. The report also shows that African Americans remain a target of the abortion industry. They represent just 5 percent of the state's population, yet 23 percent of abortions were performed on African Americans.

Planned Parenthood performed more abortions than ever last year—a total of 4,370—even as the state total decreased significantly. That was an increase of 11.6 percent over the previous year and 44 percent of the state total. Yet Planned Parenthood continues to claim credit for the decline in the state's abortion numbers.

Tax-funded abortions increased to 34.8 percent of all abortions. This is the highest percentage since the 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court required taxpayers to pay for abortions performed on low-income women. This percentage has increased nearly every year since the court ruling. Taxpayers have funded 69,265 abortions since the decision.

2013 Minnesota Abortion Report: Women embrace life-giving abortion alternatives

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

ST. PAUL — Abortion numbers have dropped for the seventh straight year in Minnesota to their lowest level since 1974, confirming the success of life-affirming laws that provide women with abortion information and alternatives and empower them to choose life for their unborn children—and themselves.

Women are turning away from abortion in greater numbers, according to the latest annual Abortion Report issued today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The 2013 decrease of 7.5 percent follows a trend of fewer abortions statewide since Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) helped to enact the Positive Alternatives law, which took effect in July 2006. But the abortion total could have been even lower.

"As governor, Mark Dayton has vetoed seven protective measures, at least four of which would have protected women and further reduced the number of abortions last year," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Dayton's defense of the abortion industry has been at the expense of unborn babies and their mothers, who are nonetheless rejecting the self-destruction, dehumanization and death that result from abortion."

Pro-life legislation—all of which Gov. Dayton vehemently opposes—has helped to empower women in their desire to give birth to their unborn babies. Positive Alternatives offers women life-affirming alternatives to abortion by funding programs that help women with health care, housing, education, transportation and much more. The state's Woman's Right to Know informed consent law and the parental notification law for minors considering abortion also serve to empower women and girls with factual information and trustworthy support. Ultrasound, in utero surgery and other technology have caused more Americans to reject what unquestionably kills a developing human life in the womb.

"Most women don't want to abort their unborn babies, and today's report is further evidence that the greater the access women are given to factual information and abortion alternatives, the fewer of them resort to abortion," Fischbach said. "MCCL has always been focused on empowering women to choose life and our efforts are clearly working."

The 2013 total of 9,903 abortions is a reduction of 7.5 percent from the previous year's 10,701 total. More than half were performed on women in their 20s. A total of 12,164 women received the Woman's Right to Know informed consent information, meaning 2,261 women chose not to abort after learning about fetal development, abortion risks and complications, and abortion alternatives.

Today's report also shows that taxpayer funded abortions grew to 34.8 percent of all abortions reported in the state, the highest percentage since the 1995 Doe v. Gomez Supreme Court ruling requiring taxpayers to fund abortions.

Full reports for 2013 and prior years are available at the MDH website.

MCCL will release a further analysis of the MDH Abortion Report later today.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Declaration's vision—not (yet) fully realized

On the Fourth of July we celebrate our Declaration of Independence and the founding principles expressed in that document. The most basic and important principle is "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Every great question of justice in American history, Randy Alcorn notes, concerns the proper application of this principle. Does "all men" include women? African Americans? Native Americans? What is the scope of the community of those who are "created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"? Who counts as one of us?

Not yet.
We have, over time, expanded the circle of our moral concern to include persons who had been unjustly relegated to the status of mere property or second-class citizenship. We have come to recognize the fundamental equality and rights to life and liberty of all human beings—irrespective of gender, and race, and ethnicity, and social status. Those differences don't matter morally. Everyone counts, right?

There is today only one glaring exception. The treatment of human beings before they are born is now the greatest issue of justice in American society. No other class of innocent humans is excluded from basic legal protection and dismembered and killed on an industrial scale (abortion is the leading cause of human death).

Does "all men" include human beings at their earliest developmental stages? Does each and every human being matter—simply on the basis of our shared humanity, irrespective of age, and size, and level of development—or do only some humans matter by virtue of criteria that some of us meet and others do not? No moral, cultural or political question is more important.

The Declaration presented a vision of human equality. We have not yet fully realized it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Parental notification law drives down teen abortions in Minnesota

Supreme Court ruling 24 years ago opened the door to similar lifesaving measures


The following is a news release issued on June 24, 2014.

MINNEAPOLIS—Teen abortions in Minnesota have declined dramatically since the state enacted a law requiring parental notification before minors undergo abortions. Tomorrow is the 24th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Minnesota's parental notification requirement.

The law (MN Statute 144.343), strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), was passed by the Legislature with large bipartisan majorities in 1981. It requires that both parents be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor girl. The measure includes a judicial bypass procedure, which is required by the courts, and exceptions for rare cases.

Minnesota's law was in place until 1986, when it was enjoined by a federal district court. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled on June 25, 1990, in the case of Hodgson v. Minnesota, upholding both the two-parent and 48-hour requirements. The law went back into effect that year.

"Our Minnesota law and the Supreme Court decision affirming it helped open the floodgates for more state parental involvement laws," commented MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Strong evidence shows that these laws, among other factors, reduce the incidence of teen abortions."

The annual number of minor abortions in Minnesota peaked at 2,327 in 1980, the year before the parental notification law first went into effect. Teen abortions then began to steadily decline. Since 1989, the last full year before the Supreme Court ruling, abortions performed on minors have dropped 71.7 percent. In 2012 (the latest year for which data is available), minor abortions fell to 403, the lowest number on record (statistics for minors go back to 1975) and only 3.8 percent of all abortions.

Despite clear public support for parental involvement laws, they are opposed by abortion advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood, and by Gov. Mark Dayton, who co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act as a U.S. senator. That measure would have eliminated virtually all state abortion laws, including Minnesota's parental notification requirement. Dayton also voted twice against legislation to require parental notice when a minor is taken across state lines for an abortion, circumventing the law in the state where she lives.

"Parental involvement laws don't just save unborn lives from abortion," noted Fischbach. "They reflect the commonsense principle that parents are responsible for their kids and that kids need their parents. To exclude parents, especially at a time of crisis, would be a tremendous disservice to children. Yet that is precisely what Gov. Dayton wants to do."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dads and abortion: Three ways they intersect

Abortion isn't only a women's issue. Here are three ways that fatherhood and abortion intersect.

(1) The importance of supportive fathers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, half of women having abortions say (as a reason) that they do not want to be a single parent or they are having trouble with their partner. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction found that pregnant women who felt they lacked support from the child's father were more likely to choose abortion. A 2004 study in Medical Science Monitor found that 64 percent of American women having abortions said they felt pressured by others to abort. A wealth of other evidence confirms that fathers often play a central role in determining pregnancy outcomes.

Men who help conceive a baby must support (emotionally, economically, or in whatever other ways) both mother and child. When they don't, abortion is more likely—and women and children pay a price, whether abortion is chosen or not.

(2) The effect of abortion on fathers. Abortion can detrimentally affect men just as it can women. Fathers may experience grief, guilt, anger, depression and other psychological consequences following abortion. Books like Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing, Redeeming a Father's Heart, Fatherhood Aborted and Men and Abortion: Losses, Lessons and Love have explored this issue. A number of ministries and websites (including www.fatherhoodforever.org, www.menandabortion.net and www.menandabortion.info) seek to provide healing for men who have lost children to abortion.

(3) Defending the unborn. Pro-choice advocates sometimes say that only women may speak about abortion, and many men are silent or have their opinions disregarded. But the case against abortion is sound irrespective of the gender (or any other characteristic) of an individual making it. Many, many women, after all, make the very same pro-life case. Men have an obligation to graciously speak the truth and to defend the lives of those who cannot defend themselves—the little girls and boys who have not yet been born.

Father's Day recognizes that dads play an essential role in the lives of their children. They are also essential to restoring a culture of life in which all human beings, especially the youngest and most vulnerable, are respected and protected.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

MCCL celebrates 46 years of saving lives

The following news release was issued on June 11, 2014.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization, today celebrates 46 years of dedication to protecting and defending human life. Many lives have been saved, protective laws passed and hearts changed due to the tireless efforts of MCCL volunteers and contributors throughout the decades.

"The dedicated, compassionate work of our thousands of grass-roots members is the sustaining power of Minnesota's pro-life movement," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "MCCL is one of the most effective pro-life organizations in the nation, thanks to these activists. They are steadily transforming our state's culture into one that respects and protects all innocent human life at every stage."

MCCL has taken a three-pronged approach to advancing its lifesaving mission. First, citizens are continually educated on the threats to human life posed by abortion, euthanasia, infanticide and embryo-destructive experiments. People are then mobilized to become active pro-life citizens who in turn work to educate others and to support passage of lifesaving laws. Third, MCCL members work to establish legal protection for vulnerable lives.

From a handful of pro-life activists in 1968, MCCL has grown to include more than 70,000 member families and 200 chapters across the state. Together they deliver pro-life educational messages through booths at 90 county fairs and Student Day at the Capitol, call for protective legislation at the Jan. 22 MCCL March for Life and as citizen lobbyists, work with public officials to pass legislation protecting the right to life, and much more.

MCCL has expanded its reach in recent years, gaining approval to hold consultative status with the United Nations. MCCL Global Outreach (MCCL GO) has fought to protect the right to life internationally at the World Health Assembly, the Commission on Population and Development and other U.N. events. MCCL GO has created materials on maternal mortality, how abortion hurts women, and the critical importance of the first 1,000 days of life. These have been translated into 10 languages and distributed worldwide.

MCCL's innovation and leadership led to passage of one of the nation's first Parental Notification laws in 1981, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and became model legislation for other states. MCCL also has been instrumental in passage of Minnesota's Human Conceptus law (1973), Baby Doe provisions to protect disabled infants (1985), Fetal Homicide law (1986), tightened law on assisted suicide (1992), Woman's Right to Know law (2003), Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act (2005), Positive Alternatives (2005) and a ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning at the University of Minnesota (2009). MCCL also helped bring national attention to the brutal partial-birth abortion method when it was uncovered in 1993.

Abortion numbers have steadily declined since 2006 as a result of recent protective measures. In addition, MCCL has helped to pass seven pro-life initiatives in the Legislature since 2011, including the licensing and inspection of abortion facilities and a ban on dangerous webcam abortions. Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed all of these protective measures.

"It is very troubling to watch the governor protect the interests of the abortion industry at the expense of women and unborn children," Fischbach said. "MCCL will continue to compassionately fight for those who cannot fight for themselves."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

World Health Assembly calls for improved palliative care

GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), has approved a resolution calling for the strengthening of palliative care as a component of integrated treatment throughout the life course.

Palliative care seeks to relieve pain and suffering and improve the lives of patients (and their families) who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses. WHO estimates that more than 40 million people around the world need palliative care each year.

"Human beings who are near the end of life should be treated with care and respect, no less than human beings at the beginning of life," stated Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), from Geneva. "This resolution expresses a welcome commitment to the dignity of terminally ill and other suffering patients."

The resolution was adopted on May 23 at the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The United Nations' Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has noted that "States are under the obligation to respect the right to health by … refraining from denying or limiting equal access for all persons … to preventive, curative and palliative health services."

WHO estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population lacks adequate access to pain-management medications that are crucial for palliative care. The WHO resolution calls for those drugs to be made accessible to all, and for information about palliative care and pain management to be made available and part of educational programs for medical students.

"MCCL Global Outreach continues its call for the international community to respect all human life, at every stage of development—with extra protection and care for those who are most vulnerable," Fischbach concluded.

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, May 27, 2014

Plan to reduce newborn deaths ignores effect of prior abortions

The following news release was issued on May 27, 2014.

GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Assembly (WHA) last weekend adopted a plan to improve the health of newborn babies worldwide. "Every newborn: An action plan to end preventable deaths" aims to reduce high rates of neonatal mortality in large parts of the world.

Each year, the action plan explains, an estimated 2.9 million children die within the first month after birth, and 2.6 million babies are stillborn. Neonatal mortality has declined at a slower pace than both under-five mortality and maternal mortality.

"Improving the quality of health care during labor, childbirth and the days following birth will substantially reduce newborn deaths in addition to improving maternal health," commented Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), from Geneva. "Proven measures that have saved the lives of newborns should be extended to countries and areas suffering from high neonatal mortality."

Prenatal care and nutrition are also crucial to the survival and health of newborns. Malnutrition during pregnancy can prevent healthy growth and lead to low birthweight and fetal growth restriction, increasing the risk of neonatal death and disability.

"It is wise to situate the issue of newborn mortality in the context of a continuum of care, covering healthy reproduction, maternal care, and infant and child care," Fischbach said. A new brochure produced by MCCL GO, released last week at the WHA, highlights the importance of the first 1,000 days in the life of a human being—from conception to the second birthday. This window of time is critical to the health and flourishing of mothers, babies and society as a whole.

MCCL GO participated in the online consultation on a draft version of the "Every newborn" plan. Fischbach noted that while preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn mortality (and second leading cause of under-five deaths), the action plan fails to mention a significant risk factor for premature delivery. A wealth of worldwide research has shown that induced abortion substantially increases the risk of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies.

"The prevalence of abortion significantly contributes to the problem of neonatal mortality," Fischbach observed. "The plan to end newborn deaths should have taken into consideration all of the known risk factors."

MCCL GO's brochure "1 to 1,000" is available in English, French and Spanish in the Resources section at the MCCL GO website, www.mccl-go.org.

Monday, May 19, 2014

MCCL GO highlights first 1,000 days of life at World Health Assembly

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

GENEVA, Switzerland — The first 1,000 days in the life of a human being—from conception to the second birthday—are crucial to the health and prosperity of both mother and child, according to a new document released this week at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. It was produced by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), a U.N.-accredited non-governmental organization.

"A wealth of research has demonstrated how important this 1,000-day window of time is," stated Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of MCCL GO. "Mothers and babies need quality health care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the two years after. This must be prioritized in the post-2015 development agenda."

This week's 67th annual WHA is a gathering of the U.N.'s World Health Organization, including delegations from all member states. This year's meeting will include consideration of an action plan to reduce newborn deaths.

An estimated 2.9 million children died within the first month of life in 2012. Many newborn deaths can be prevented by improving the quality of care during labor, childbirth and the days following birth, including essential newborn care, explains MCCL GO's new document, "1 to 1,000: How to ensure the health and flourishing of women, children, and society."

The brochure notes that prenatal care and nutrition greatly affect the life of a child. Malnutrition during pregnancy can hinder development of a child’s brain and immune system, inhibiting the child’s ability to learn and making her more susceptible to disease.

"Maternal and child health are intimately connected," said Fischbach. "Maternal mortality and morbidity remain a serious problem in large parts of the world. We can save the lives of both pregnant women and their babies by providing the care that they need, including skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, sanitation and clean water."

The brochure also describes the importance of early childhood, when suboptimum breastfeeding leads to an estimated 800,000 deaths each year, and it calls for respect and protection for women during pregnancy and motherhood, when they may be uniquely vulnerable to the threat of violence and abuse.

"The first 1,000 days after conception are so critical in so many ways, not just for women and children, but for society as a whole," Fischbach explained. "Good care throughout this period leads to healthier, better-educated and more-productive adults, increasing economic prosperity."

MCCL GO calls on the WHA to prioritize the 1,000-day continuum of care for mothers and babies. "It is absolutely essential to sustainable development," Fischbach concluded.

MCCL GO's brochure "1 to 1,000" is available in English, French and Spanish in the Resources section at the MCCL GO website, www.mccl-go.org.

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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A response to Planned Parenthood on taxpayer funding of abortion

In our May 7 Star Tribune commentary we made the case against taxpayer funding of abortion in Minnesota. On May 9 the newspaper published a reply from Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

It is utterly unpersuasive. Three points call for a response.

First, Stoesz claims it is "completely false" and "a blatant disregard for the facts" to say, as we did, that "public funding means more abortions." Why is it false? Because abortions in Minnesota have declined in recent years even though the state funds the procedure for low-income women.

Actually, though, the number of abortions increased in the years after Medicaid started paying for elective abortions in 1994—interrupting a very substantial decline—and did not start consistently dropping again until 2002.

In any case, our point, which I had thought was clear, was that public funding increases the incidence of abortion relative to what it would be without public funding, and limits on funding decrease the incidence of abortion relative to what it would be without those limits. This is virtually undeniable—it is supported by a wealth of peer-reviewed research and even confirmed in a Guttmacher Institute literature review, which we quoted in our op-ed and which Stoesz does not question. (Stoesz acknowledges that "some women will choose to carry a pregnancy to term if their insurance doesn't cover abortion," but that is just a another way of expressing the same point we made, which she condemns as "completely false"!)

Stoesz does, however, seem eager to downplay the number of women who choose life when state abortion funding isn't available. But the number is significant. Using Guttmacher's own 25 percent estimate (which may well be too low), about 893 fewer Minnesota women would have had abortions in 2012 (the latest year for which data is available) if the state did not pay for abortions through Medicaid. There would have been 16,456 fewer abortions since June of 1994, when public funding began.

In other words: Thousands and thousands of abortions have occurred because of this policy of taxpayer-funded abortion, which Stoesz and Planned Parenthood so strongly support.

Second, Stoesz "celebrates" the long-term abortion decline in Minnesota because, she asserts, it means that Planned Parenthood's work is succeeding. This is an odd statement. Planned Parenthood is the state's leading abortion provider, performing 3,917 abortions in 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Planned Parenthood has somehow managed to increase its abortion total by 60 percent since 2000—even as overall abortions have dropped 26 percent.

It seems more plausible to say that abortions have declined despite the work of Planned Parenthood, not because of it.

Finally, Stoesz repeatedly refers to taxpayer-funded abortion as a "medical decision" that must be preserved for the sake of "a woman's health and safety." But we are talking about elective abortion, which, we noted in our original commentary, "is not health care—it violently attacks the health and ends the life of a developing human being."

Stoesz offers no real justification for treating the killing of human beings in utero as a public good that all taxpayers should be required to subsidize. She offers only confused and misleading statements and tired rhetoric.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Star Tribune commentary: Taxpayer funding of abortion is cause for concern

The following op-ed was published on May 7, 2014, in the Star Tribune.

By Diane Paffel and Paul Stark

Taxpayers fund one-third of abortions in Minnesota, according to figures released in early April by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. This is cause for serious concern and discussion.

Consider, first, some history. Beginning in 1978, Minnesota law prohibited public funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest and a threat to the life of the mother. Then, in June 1994, 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 1995 Doe vs. Gomez decision. Not even the U.S. Supreme Court — in Roe vs. Wade or subsequent abortion cases — has gone that far.

The state has since paid $20.7 million for more than 65,000 abortions. In 2012 (the latest year for which data are available), taxpayers reimbursed abortion providers $822,403 for 3,571 abortions. That’s 33.4 percent of the total of 10,701. Most of these abortions were purely elective.

One need not support legal protection for unborn children to oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to facilitate their destruction. A poll released in March by CNN/ORC International found that 56 percent of Americans oppose tax-funded abortion; only 39 percent support it. There is, indeed, common ground in the abortion debate. This is part of it.

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 vs. McRae) upholding limits on public funding, "is inherently different from other medical procedures." Why are Minnesotans required to pay for this?

A substantial body of research has established that government funding increases the incidence of abortion. A 2009 literature review by the Guttmacher Institute — a vigorous defender 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. And fewer abortions is something almost everyone wants.

Minnesota's current policy allows abortion providers to market "free" abortions to economically vulnerable women. Planned Parenthood, which performs more abortions than any other provider, increased its state-funded abortion claims by 64 percent over the last six years. In 2012, the organization collected $255,000 from the state for performing 1,139 abortions on low-income women, a 30 percent revenue increase over the previous year.

But 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.

The Legislature passed bipartisan legislation in 2011 to stop public funding of abortion; the bill was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. This year the House of Representatives passed a similar measure on April 3, but it was defeated in the Senate on April 8.

So government support for the abortion industry will continue — for now. But this is no justice to the human beings in utero who are dismembered and killed. Nor to the taxpayers who are made complicit despite broad and bipartisan disapproval. Nor to the women who are offered a quick fix that doesn't really fix anything.

There is a better way.

Diane Paffel is vice president and Paul Stark is communications associate for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

Friday, April 11, 2014

MCCL GO defends life at the United Nations; executive director addresses assembly

The following was released on April 11, 2014.

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development took place this week at the United Nations. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), a U.N.-accredited non-governmental organization, encouraged delegates to prioritize the improvement of maternal health care rather than promote the legalization of abortion.

The meeting sought to assess the implementation of the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, which was adopted in Cairo in 1994. The Program of Action calls for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, among other goals. It does not call for the legalization or expansion of abortion.

Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of MCCL GO, addressed the full assembly of nations on Friday. "We can save women's lives with prenatal and antenatal care, skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, basic sanitation and clean water," he stated. "These measures helped lead to a 47 percent decline in maternal deaths worldwide from 1990 to 2010, according to estimates. Now they must be extended to the places where basic health care is still lacking."

International abortion advocacy groups, including Ipas and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, argued that abortion must be legalized worldwide to protect women's health. "That is not true," Fischbach noted. "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."

MCCL GO also distributed brochures explaining the inherent risks of abortion. "Legalized abortion is often touted as beneficial to women, but a wealth of medical and psychological evidence suggests otherwise," Fischbach said. "Legal or illegal, abortion poses both short-term and long-term risks to the physical health of women. It can also seriously affect their mental health."

MCCL GO 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 told the assembly. "Member states should reject all efforts to legalize or promote abortions and instead focus on maternal health care and healthy reproductive outcomes."

Fischbach's remarks are expected to be available online at the U.N.'s video page; he spoke about 12:50 p.m. this afternoon, EDT. A written statement submitted by MCCL GO and circulated at the U.N. is available online in English and five other languages (under agenda item 4).

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.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Planned Parenthood targets low-income women

Click to enlarge

Taxpayer funding of abortion in Minnesota is a result of the state Supreme Court's Doe v. Gomez decision. See also MCCL's coverage of the latest report on taxpayer-funded abortions.