Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bill to legalize assisted suicide receives Senate committee hearing

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bill to license abortion facilities approved by second House committee

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assisted suicide bill introduced in the MN Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

March 1 is Zero Discrimination Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

January-February MCCL News now available online

The January-February 2015 issue of MCCL News is now available online. Stories include an overview of MCCL's current legislative agenda, reviews of the March for Life and Legislative Dinner, and a preview of Student Day at the Capitol.

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

Your support is greatly appreciated, and we hope you enjoy and make use of MCCL News.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Safe Place for Newborns bill would strengthen efforts to protect newborns in danger of harm

ST. PAUL — A state program offering a lifesaving option to women in danger of harming their newborns would receive much-needed funding under legislation introduced today in the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives. This protective measure is strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization.

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

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

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

"No troubled mother needs to resort to abandoning or killing her newborn child," said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau. "Safe Place is a wonderful program that many more people need to know about."

The measure introduced today would appropriate funds enabling the Department of Human Services to distribute information about the Safe Place option. Increasing public awareness in this way would help to prevent unnecessary tragedies.

The chief author of S.F. 796 is Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley. In the House of Representatives, the chief author of H.F. 825 is Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Canada's legalization of assisted suicide poses dangers for Minnesotans, MCCL warns

The following news release was issued on Feb. 6, 2015.

MINNEAPOLIS — Today's decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to legalize assisted suicide poses multiple dangers to Minnesotans, according to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). Legal assisted suicide across the state's northern border puts the lives of disabled, ill and elderly citizens in danger.

"The Canadian Supreme Court ruling creates a situation ripe for abuse, and MCCL stands with our friends across the border who are against assisted suicide," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach.

When assisted suicide is legalized it is a deadly mix with our profit-driven health care system and opens us all to:

• Abuse: Abuse of people with disabilities, and elder abuse. An heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug.

• Mistakes: Diagnoses of terminal illness are too often wrong, leading people to give up on treatment and lose good years of their lives.

• Carelessness: People with a history of depression and suicide attempts have received the lethal drugs.

• Contagion: Assisted suicide is a contagion and can increase suicide rates for all populations.

• PTSD: Stress disorder rates increase for family and friends who participate in a suicide.

In practice, assisted suicide in Canada can impact Minnesota. State residents have been ordering medications from Canadian pharmacies for years. Now that lethal drugs will be available from those pharmacies, Minnesotans may have access to them.

Suicide tourism represents an additional threat. Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, has become a destination for suicidal Europeans. About one-third of assisted suicide victims in Switzerland are foreigners, most with non-fatal diseases.

Alex Schadenberg, an international anti-assisted suicide expert from London, Ontario, is the featured speaker at MCCL's 2015 Legislative Dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in St. Paul. He will discuss the impact of today's Supreme Court ruling on Minnesota, and explain why efforts to legalize assisted suicide in the state would put vulnerable lives in danger.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

MCCL backs bills to ban taxpayer funded abortions, require abortion facility licensing

ST. PAUL — Justice and safety regarding abortion are the focus of two initiatives introduced today in the Minnesota House of Representatives (Senate companion bills are expected next week). A bill to ban taxpayer funded abortions and another to license abortion facilities have the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization.

H.F. 607, authored by Rep. Tama Theis, R-St. Cloud, would ban taxpayer funded abortions in the state. Because of the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision, taxpayers are forced to fund elective abortions performed on low-income women. Most Minnesotans are opposed to taxpayer funded abortions, including many who support legal abortion.

"Killing unborn babies and requiring Minnesota citizens to pay for it are both grave injustices that must be corrected," said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau.

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

"Taxpayer funded abortions offer a guaranteed revenue stream for abortionists, who market 'free abortions' to vulnerable women," Rau added. "The bill introduced today would end this exploitation of women."

H.F. 606, authored by Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed. The legislation would apply existing licensing requirements for outpatient surgical centers to surgical abortion facilities, ending their special exemption. The bill also authorizes the state commissioner of health to perform inspections of abortion facilities, with no prior notice required.

"This common-sense legislation is important to ensure the safety of women," said Rau. "There is no reason for abortion facilities to be granted special exclusion from licensing that governs other outpatient surgical centers across the state."

The requirement would apply to the state's five surgical abortion facilities, which together perform nearly 99 percent of all abortions in Minnesota. In 2013, a total of 9,903 abortions were performed in the state.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

MCCL March for Life draws thousands to call for end of taxpayer funded abortions

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

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

View more photos from the 2015 MCCL March for Life
The 41st annual MCCL March for Life marked the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that have resulted in the deaths of more than 600,000 unborn Minnesota children (Minnesota Department of Health), and more than 57 million unborn babies nationwide.

"In Minnesota, more than one-third of all abortions are paid for by you and me as taxpayers in this great state," MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach told the huge crowd of citizens gathered from across the state. "Today we call upon the Legislature to end taxpayer funding of abortion."

MCCL's 2015 legislative agenda calls for lawmakers to ban taxpayer funded abortions, which account for 34.8 percent of all abortions performed in the state. This is the highest percentage since the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision forced taxpayers to pay for abortions performed on low-income women. This percentage has increased nearly every year since the court ruling. Taxpayers have funded 65,823 abortions since the decision at a cost of more than $20 million, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

MCCL's pro-life agenda also seeks the licensing and inspection of abortion facilities, which currently are exempt from licensing and inspection required of other outpatient surgical centers across the state. Such minimal oversight by the Minnesota Department of Health would help ensure a degree of safety for women entering abortion facilities.

MCCL is also urging state lawmakers to allocate funding and resources for the Safe Place for Newborns program. More people need to know about the option to anonymously surrender a newborn to a "safe place" (hospital, urgent care facility, ambulance), to prevent cases of abandonment and infanticide.

Many of Minnesota's pro-life state legislators were in attendance and were introduced during the brief program on the lower Capitol Mall steps. Pro-life Congressmen John Kline, Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer and Collin Peterson sent written greetings that were read to the crowd.

View historical photos of the MCCL March for Life and access photos and audio from today's event on the MCCL website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The three intractable problems of Roe v. Wade

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

The New York Times proclaimed the verdict "a historic resolution of a fiercely controversial issue." But now, 42 years later, abortion is as unresolved and controversial as ever. Three intractable problems will continue to plague the Court and its abortion jurisprudence until the day when, finally, Roe is overturned.

Marchers at the MCCL March for
Life
on Jan. 22, 2012
First, and most importantly, the outcome of Roe is fundamentally harmful and unjust. Why? The facts of biology show that the human embryo or fetus (the being whose life is ended in abortion) is a distinct and living human organism at the earliest stages of development. "Human development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, a zygote," explains the textbook The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. "This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

Justice requires that the law protect the equal dignity and basic rights of every member of the human family—irrespective of age, size, ability, dependency, and the desires and decisions of others. This principle of human equality, affirmed in the Declaration of Independence and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the moral crux of western civilization. But the Roe Court ruled, to the contrary, that a particular class of innocent human beings (the unborn) must be excluded from the protection of the law and allowed to be dismembered and killed at the discretion of others. "The right created by the Supreme Court in Roe," observes University of St. Thomas law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen, "is a constitutional right of some human beings to kill other human beings."

After Roe, the incidence of abortion rose dramatically, quickly topping one million abortions per year and peaking at 1.6 million in 1990 before gradually declining to 1.06 million in 2011 (the latest year for which estimates are available). Under the Roe regime, abortion is the leading cause of human death. More than 57 million human beings have now been legally killed. And abortion has significantly and detrimentally impacted the health and well-being of many women (and men). The moral gravity and scale of this injustice exceed that of any other issue or concern in American society today.

The second problem with Roe is that it is legally, constitutionally mistaken. Justice Harry Blackmun's majority opinion claimed that the "liberty" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes a "right of privacy" that is "broad enough to encompass" a right to abortion. "As a constitutional argument," notes University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt (who favors legalized abortion), "Roe is barely coherent. The Court pulled its fundamental right to choose more or less from the constitutional ether."

The right alleged in Roe is blatantly contradicted by the history of abortion law in the United States. Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment roughly coincided with enactment of a wave of state laws prohibiting abortion from conception with the primary aim (according to clear and abundant historical evidence) of protecting unborn children. Most of these statutes were already on the books by the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted in 1868, and many of them remained unchanged until Roe struck them down more than a century later. "To reach its result," Justice William Rehnquist thus concluded in his dissenting opinion, "the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment."

Blackmun's reasoning was fallacious, his facts erroneous, his key historical claims demonstrably false. The process behind the decision, we now know, was remarkably shoddy. Roe and Doe constituted a full-blown exercise in policy-making—the arbitrary (untethered to the Constitution) invention of a new nationwide abortion policy to reflect the personal preferences of a majority of the justices.

Even pro-choice legal experts don't try to defend Roe on its merits. "What is frightening about Roe is that this super-protected right is not inferable from the language of the Constitution, the framers' thinking respecting the specific problem in issue, any general value derivable from the provisions they included, or the nation's governmental structure," wrote the eminent constitutional scholar and Yale law professor John Hart Ely. "It is bad because it is bad constitutional law, or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be."
Sign at the 1977 MCCL March for Life

Third, Roe is undemocratic. It struck down the democratically decided abortion laws of all 50 states and imposed abortion-for-any-reason nationwide, whether the people like it or not. Because the Court lacked any constitutional warrant for this move, it usurped the rightful authority of the elected branches of government to determine abortion policy.

The radical scope of the Roe regime was not and has never been consistent with public opinion, which favors substantial legal limits on abortion. (Polling questions on Roe are often inaccurate, and ignorance of the extent of the decision is widespread). Roe has disenfranchised millions and millions of Americans who will not rest while Roe and abortion on demand persist. They want to have a say. The Court decided they could have none.

So these are the intractable problems of Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court abused the Constitution to usurp the authority of the people by imposing a gravely unjust policy with breathtakingly disastrous results.

Unjust. Unconstitutional. Undemocratic. Together, these problems will lead, eventually, to Roe's collapse.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Assisted suicide practitioner stripped of medical license

The following news release was issued on Jan. 7, 2015.

ST. PAUL — A physician charged with assisting the suicide of a Minnesota woman has been barred from practicing medicine. The Maryland Board of Physicians revoked the medical license of Dr. Lawrence Egbert after he facilitated the suicides of six people in Maryland.

"We commend this decision of the Maryland Board of Physicians," stated Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. "Egbert's actions promoting killing are simply incompatible with the role of a physician, which is to heal and care for patients, not to kill them."

Egbert was the medical director for Final Exit Network, an organization that helps people kill themselves, including people who are mentally ill. Egbert says he has helped arrange about 300 suicides and been present for 100, but he has so far avoided any convictions.

Egbert is also part of an ongoing case in Minnesota. Egbert and Final Exit flew to Minnesota in 2007 and assisted the suicide of an Apple Valley woman using helium and a plastic bag. They sought to cover up the evidence after she died. Egbert is now charged with assisting suicide and interference with a dead body. Minnesota law prohibits assisted suicide under Minnesota Statutes section 609.215, subdivision 1.

"Assisted suicide is not legal in Minnesota," said Fischbach. "Our law protects patients who are vulnerable, depressed, sick or disabled. No one should be excluded from our protection and care."

The Final Exit case was put on hold until a related assisted suicide case was resolved last fall. It was then sent back to the trial court, which held a hearing on Dec. 8. The trial will take place later this year.

Newsweek has called Egbert the "New Doctor Death," following in the footsteps of the late Jack Kevorkian, the notorious pathologist who assisted 130 people in killing themselves during the 1990s and spent years in prison for murder. None of Egbert's six suicide victims in Maryland were terminally ill, according to the Maryland Board of Physicians, and one victim appeared to be merely depressed. The board determined that Egbert's actions were illegal and violated the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics, which strongly condemns assisted suicide.

In a 2012 interview with the Washington Post, Egbert described how his helium suicide contraption works. "[The people committing suicide] turn blue or bluish — we can say gray," Egbert said. "After they're unconscious, their muscles start twitching. That's very upsetting to relatives. Some think they're trying to wrench the bag off."

"Patients need our support and care," Fischbach responded. "They need to know that their lives matter. They do not need a so-called doctor to guide them in taking their own lives."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three things Christmas tells us about human life and dignity

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

1. Each of us was once an unborn child. The Incarnation—the coming into the world of Christ—did not happen in the manger. It happened some nine months earlier. This is what the facts of human embryology and developmental biology tell us, and it is what the scriptural accounts affirm.

Mary is said to be "with child" (Matthew 1:18) upon Jesus being "conceived ... from the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20). Earlier, Mary is told she will "conceive in [her] womb ... a son, [to be named] Jesus" (Luke 1:31), who even before birth is called a "child ... [who] will be called holy—the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Luke 1:41-44 recounts that the unborn John the Baptist (who was probably in his sixth month) "leaped for joy" in his mother's womb when he entered the presence of the unborn Jesus (who was probably a very young embryo at the time).

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MCCL News available online

The November-December issue of MCCL News is now available on our website. It includes stories on the emerging threat of assisted suicide, MCCL's upcoming March for Life and Legislative Dinner, the 2014 elections, and more.

MCCL News Online is available to registered NetCommunity members who are also current donors. Be sure to keep your membership current by making at least an annual donation to MCCL. Your support is greatly appreciated, and we hope you enjoy and make use of MCCL News.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Minnesota taxpayers have funded 65,000 abortions since 1995

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

ST. PAUL — More than 65,000 unborn babies have been killed in Minnesota with taxpayer funds since a Dec. 15, 1995, Minnesota Supreme Court ruling required taxpayers to fund abortions, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MDHS). The Doe v. Gomez ruling established the most extreme abortion-on-demand state policy in the nation.

"The Doe v. Gomez decision by a handful of activist judges has been disastrous for Minnesota women and their unborn babies,” said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "On this 19th anniversary of the decision, Minnesotans continue to believe it is not the mission of the state to abort thousands of innocent unborn children each year, yet that is exactly what is happening under this radical ruling."

The Supreme Court's Doe v. Gomez decision established a new state constitutional "right" to abortion on demand. This supposed right would remain protected by the state Constitution even if Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion in the United States, were to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Doe v. Gomez allows abortions for reasons such as "stress" or "discomfort." It forbids the state to "interfere" in any way with a woman's "decision making" regarding abortion.

Doe v. Gomez also obligates the state—and thus, taxpayers—to pay for abortions, something not required by the U.S. Supreme Court. From June 1994 (under an earlier decision) through 2012, state taxpayers paid more than $20.7 million for 65,823 abortions, according to MDHS. In 2012 alone (the most recent statistics available), state taxpayers paid $822,000 for 3,571 abortions (MDHS). The state does not report how many women have been hurt or killed from these abortions.

While the total number of abortions in the state is declining gradually, taxpayer funding of elective abortions has risen most years since 1995. Minnesota taxpayers now pay for 34.8 percent of all abortions performed in the state—the highest percentage ever.

"This is not the will of the majority of Minnesotans, who oppose abortion on demand," Fischbach said. "The Court took away the people's ability to decide whether they want abortion on demand in the state and whether they should be required to pay for others' elective abortions. After 19 years, it's time for the Supreme Court to revisit this wrongly decided ruling."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How we know that the unborn is a human being

Here's how we know that the unborn (the human embryo or fetus developing in utero) is a living human organism—a member of the species Homo sapiens.

  • We know that the unborn is living because he or she (sex has been genetically determined) is growing through cellular reproduction, metabolizing food into energy, and responding to stimuli. So the unborn meets the biological criteria for life.
  • We know that the unborn is human because she has human DNA. She is also the offspring of human parents, and living beings reproduce after their own kind (e.g., humans only beget humans). So the unborn is biologically human.
  • We know that the unborn is a whole (albeit immature) organism, not a mere part (like a skin cell or the sperm and egg) of someone else, because she is actively developing via a self-directed process through the different stages of life—embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent, adult—as an individual member of the species. She needs only a suitable environment and nutrition to develop herself to maturity.
  • Finally, we know that the unborn is a living human organism because the embryology textbooks and other relevant scientific authorities tell us so. "[F]ertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed," explains Human Embryology & Teratology. The authors of The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology write, "Human development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

That's how we know beyond any doubt that the unborn is a human being in the biological sense. She is a living organism of the species Homo sapiens, the same kind of being as each of us, only at an earlier developmental stage.

The important question for our society is an ethical one: How should we treat these young human beings? Do they deserve the same kind of respect and protection as the other members of our species? Do all human beings have a right to life, or do only some?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Preterm birth is a serious global problem—but its link to abortion is ignored

Nov. 17 was World Prematurity Day. New global estimates indicate that, as Eve Lackritz of the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth explains, "important gains have been made for nearly all causes of child death, except one in which progress has remained nearly stagnant: newborn mortality."

Preterm birth is not only the leading cause of newborn mortality. It is now the leading cause of all under-five deaths. About 3,000 children die each day from complications of prematurity, and those who survive are much more likely to have cerebral palsy or other health problems.

But the international community and media coverage have failed to acknowledge a significant risk factor for premature delivery. A wealth of worldwide research has established that induced abortion substantially increases the risk of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies. For example, a 2009 systematic review published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that a history of one induced abortion increased the risk of preterm birth by 36 percent and increased the risk of low birth weight by 35 percent. The increased risks greatly escalated with additional abortions—to 93 percent and 72 percent, respectively. Another 2009 systematic review, in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, concluded that abortion raised the risk of birth before 32 weeks' gestation by 64 percent. A 2013 study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada showed "a significant increase in the risk of preterm delivery in women with a history of previous induced abortion."

The prevalence of abortion undeniably contributes to the problem of newborn mortality (as well as to cerebral palsy and other disabilities). Abortion doesn't just take the lives of human beings in utero—it leads to the deaths of already-born babies too.