Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Human embryos: Property or persons?

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

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

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

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

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

Should we treat human embryos as property or persons?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The facts about dismemberment abortion in Minnesota

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Latest global maternal mortality estimates show continuing need for improved care

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Maximize your pro-life impact on Nov. 12

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

The reality of human cloning

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

By Paul Stark

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

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

What is cloning?

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

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

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

Cloning is unnecessary

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

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

Cloning is wrong

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

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

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

Cloning is dangerous

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

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October issue of MCCL News

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

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Final Exit Network fined nearly $33,000 after found guilty of violating Minnesota law against assisting suicide

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

Today's sentencing of Final Exit Network by Dakota Co. Judge Christian S. Wilton sends a very clear message that assisting suicide is illegal in our state, and that violations of our law will be punished. We commend Dakota Co. District Attorney James Backstrom and his counsel for having the courage to prosecute this violation. Final Exit Network purposely came into our state, broke our law and assisted in the suicide of a vulnerable person who needed care, not suicide.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rubio, Cuomo, and the beginning of human life

The following first ran at National Right to Life News Today.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) recently sparred with host Chris Cuomo on CNN over the beginning of human life. Cuomo denied Rubio's contention that science has established that the life of a human being begins at conception.

"It having a DNA map—so does a plant," Cuomo said. But a plant doesn't have human DNA. A plant life isn't a human life. Rubio, obviously, was talking about human life.

Writing at Slate, Amanda Marcotte also takes issue with Rubio's contention. "Actual biologists, for what it's worth, argue that life is continuous and that a fertilized egg is no more or less alive than a sperm or an unfertilized egg," she argues. "Human sperm cells, much like fertilized eggs, have human DNA."

This is remarkably biologically uninformed. Life in general is continuous (sperm and egg are alive), but the life of an individual human being is not continuous. It has a beginning and an end. Rubio, obviously, was referring to the beginning of the life of an individual human being.

Human sperm cells do have human DNA. So do human skin cells and human heart cells. But none of those cells are whole organisms. They are merely parts of larger organisms, not human beings themselves. The zygote/embryo/fetus is an actual human organism—an individual member of the species Homo sapiens, like each one of us—at the earliest stages of his or her development. That is simply not true of sperm cells.

The embryology textbook Human Embryology & Teratology makes the point clear: "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization ... is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed."

Indeed, Rubio's position is fully established by science. "Human development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, a zygote," explains The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. "This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

In his exchange with Rubio, Cuomo also showed a deeper confusion. Cuomo said Rubio's scientific assertions were actually a matter of "faith. That's not science." But here Cuomo mixed two different issues. The first is a scientific question: When does the life of a human organism begin? That's what Rubio was talking about, and his answer was correct. The second is a moral question: When does this developing member of our species become valuable and deserving of respect and protection?

Science shows that human embryos and fetuses are human beings in the biological sense. The real question is how we ought to treat these young human beings. This isn't a matter of religious "faith," but basic morality. Do all human beings have a right to life, or do only some? Is human equality true or just a myth?

And, on that foundational question, Rubio made his own position clear in the previous night's debate: "I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws."

On the science and on the morality, Rubio is right.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Franken, Klobuchar vote to fund Planned Parenthood

The following news release was issued on Aug. 4, 2015.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar joined Senate Democrats Monday to block a bill that would end all federal funding of the nation's largest abortion provider. The measure, S. 1881, would block funding of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates. The Senate showed strong support for the bill but fell short of the votes required to advance the legislation.

The votes cast by senators Klobuchar and Franken are consistent with their 100 percent pro-abortion voting records. Neither Klobuchar nor Franken has ever cast a pro-life vote in the U.S. Senate.

"Planned Parenthood's political arm is a major backer of many senators, who voted to block the bill to defund their political ally," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "As longtime recipients of Planned Parenthood campaign funding, senators Klobuchar and Franken chose to continue to support Planned Parenthood in spite of its dismemberment of living human beings in the womb."

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced S. 1881 last week with the strong backing of Majority Leader McConnell, in response to a series of videos released by The Center for Medical Progress. The videos, which underscore the need for passage of legislation to cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, show top Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and trafficking of body parts from unborn babies killed by abortion.

S. 1881 states, "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or to any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics." The bill also contains language to provide that "all funds no longer available to Planned Parenthood will continue to be made available to other eligible entities to provide women's health care services." In other words, any funds cut from Planned Parenthood would be reallocated to women's health services provided by others.

Community health centers across the United States vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood, totaling 9,059 to 669, according to the Washington Post. Women could still access the health care they need without Planned Parenthood.

"Senator Ernst's bill would push the snout of Planned Parenthood, a bloated abortion mega-marketer and a fetal organ trafficker, out of the U.S. Treasury feeding trough," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life.

Planned Parenthood performs more abortions than any other organization in the nation: About one-third of all abortions in the U.S. are performed at Planned Parenthood-affiliated facilities. According to its most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood receives at least $528 million annually from the federal government and other levels of government.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Investigation reveals that Planned Parenthood harvests the organs of aborted unborn children

Undercover videos released this summer reveal that Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading practitioner of abortion, sometimes harvests the body parts of babies killed by abortion. Planned Parenthood receives payment in exchange for the parts from companies that provide the tissue to researchers.

In one video, Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, discusses how Planned Parenthood alters the dismemberment abortion process in order to preserve the desired organs and fill specific pre-orders.

"I'd say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they'll know where they're putting their forceps," she says. "We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."

A second video shows Mary Gatter, president of Planned Parenthood's Medical Directors' Council, negotiating the compensation for aborted baby parts with prospective buyers. She says that "the money is not the important thing, but it has to be big enough that it is worthwhile." Gatter concludes: "Let me just figure out what others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it's fine, if it's still low, then we can bump it up." She then laughingly adds, "I want a Lamborghini."

Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, writes: "While Planned Parenthood in our state does not have a [fetal] tissue donation program, we stand behind our colleagues around the country [who do harvest fetal parts]."

A few key facts about Planned Parenthood:

  • Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) is Minnesota's leading practitioner of abortion. The organization performed 4,981 abortions in 2014, nearly half of the statewide total.
  • PPMNS billed taxpayers $295,216 for 1,287 abortions in 2013.
  • PPMNS received more than $5 million in government grants and contracts in 2013.
  • Abortion facilities in Minnesota, including Planned Parenthood's abortion center in St. Paul, are unlicensed and uninspected by the state.
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading provider of abortion. The organization performed 327,653 abortions in 2013.
  • Planned Parenthood received $528.4 million from the government in the year ending in June 2014.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2014 Abortion Report: Planned Parenthood performs more abortions than ever

This news release is a follow-up to the release earlier today

ST. PAUL — Planned Parenthood proved again to be Minnesota's largest abortionist and grew its market share even bigger despite only a small increase in abortions statewide, according to the state's annual Abortion Report issued today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Planned Parenthood managed to increase its abortions by another 14.2 percent last year, following increases of 8.6 percent in 2012 and 11.6 percent in 2013. State abortion totals declined 5.4 percent over the same three-year period. Planned Parenthood's 2014 total of 4,990 abortions was its highest number ever, and a record market share of 49.3 percent of all abortions performed in Minnesota.

Despite Planned Parenthood, many of the 2014 statistics are encouraging. Just 307 abortions were performed on minors, representing 3 percent of the total. This is the second smallest number (295 in 2013) since the state began recording minor abortions in 1975 and represents a decline of 87 percent from their peak in 1980, the year prior to passage of Minnesota's Parental Notification law.

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 two years since the law took effect. The 2014 increase of 2.2 percent is the first since MCCL helped to enact the Positive Alternatives law, which took effect in July 2006.

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 2014 were performed on women who had undergone at least one prior abortion; 295 women had four or more previous abortions. The report also shows that African Americans remain a target of the abortion industry. They represent just 5.5 percent of the state's population, yet 23 percent of abortions were performed on African Americans.

Tax-funded abortions increased from 34.8 to 38.1 percent of all abortions last year. 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 73,072 abortions since the decision.

Full reports for 2014 and prior years are available at the MDH website.

MDH Report: Abortions up slightly in 2014

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

ST. PAUL — Abortion numbers in Minnesota increased slightly last year after having fallen for seven consecutive years to their lowest level since 1974, according to the state's 2014 Abortion Report. The report, issued today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), showed that the vast majority of abortions performed in our state are done at five abortion facilities.

Nearly the same number of women had abortions last year as did in 2013, according to the latest report. The 2014 total of 10,123 represented an increase of 2.2 percent and the second-lowest annual number since 1975.

"Minnesota's five major abortion centers are not licensed or inspected by state agencies," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "This is all the more reason for women to turn away from the destruction of abortion and toward life-affirming alternatives."

State legislators have pressed for basic state oversight of the five remaining abortion facilities (two others have closed in recent years). Bills to license abortion clinics as outpatient surgical centers, which are licensed and inspected by the MDH, have been introduced in each of the past four years. The abortion industry has fervently opposed any licensing or inspection requirements, and Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed licensing legislation approved by the Legislature in 2012.

"There is no good reason for abortion providers to oppose being held to basic health facility standards," Fischbach said. "Their primary concern ought to be for their clients' health and safety, which would only be enhanced by state licensing and inspection."

More than half were performed on women in their 20s, and less than 3 percent on minors. A total of 12,231 women received the Woman's Right to Know informed consent information, meaning 2,108 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 38.1 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 2014 and prior years are available at the MDH website. MCCL will release a further analysis of the MDH Abortion Report later today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Parental Notification law reduces teen abortions in Minnesota

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

MINNEAPOLIS — Teen abortions in Minnesota have declined dramatically since the state enacted a law requiring parental notification before minors undergo abortions. Tomorrow is the 25th 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 in 38 states, 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 79 percent. In 2013 (the latest year for which data is available), minor abortions fell to 295, the lowest number on record (statistics for minors go back to 1975) and only 3 percent of all abortions.

Despite broad public support for parental involvement laws, they are opposed by abortion advocacy groups. Planned Parenthood has fought against parents who want to be informed before an abortion is performed on their minor daughter at an unlicensed facility. Planned Parenthood has also fought against state oversight of abortion centers, which remain unlicensed and uninspected in Minnesota.

"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 Planned Parenthood wants to do."

Monday, June 15, 2015

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day calls for end of neglect, mistreatment of older persons

The following news release was issued on June 15, 2015.

Today marks the 10th annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which has been observed globally since 2006. This year's event will continue to raise awareness of the exploitation of seniors and the need for better understanding and protection.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO) urges communities and nations to provide safety and care to their older citizens. Hundreds of thousands of elders are abused, neglected and exploited each year, yet few of these incidents are ever reported. In the United States alone, older persons lose an estimated $2.6 billion annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation—funds that could have been used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food and medical care. Such abuse leaves elders even more vulnerable.

"Countless senior citizens across the world lack proper medical care when they become sick, and many die when care is either unavailable or withheld from them," said MCCL GO Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "These vulnerable persons need care and protection, not hastened death."

On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, MCCL GO encourages nations to prioritize access to medical care for elders. Seniors worldwide who suffer from serious illness are subjected to pressure to end their lives prematurely, whether by assisted suicide, euthanasia or the withholding of medical treatment against the patient's wishes. MCCL GO has just released a brochure about the dangers of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and on patients’ rights to health and the alleviation of suffering. It is available at the MCCL GO website.

"Euthanasia and assisted suicide violate the right to life," Fischbach said. "All patients have a right to health and deserve care rather than killing. We encourage everyone to share the vital information in our brochure."

On Oct. 1, the world will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons, which will focus on Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment. The world's elder population continues to grow, and with it opportunities for both exploitation and protection.

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. Learn more at www.mccl-go.org.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May issue of MCCL News: Session outcome, Final Exit verdict, and more

The May 2015 issue of MCCL News is now available online. It includes coverage of the state legislative session, the recent Final Exit assisted suicide court case, upcoming MCCL events, and much more.

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

Thanks for your ongoing support!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Senate rejects abortion facility licensing; protective legislation falters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WHO report mistakenly links maternal mortality to abortion laws

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 4, 2015

Publicity over assisted suicide corresponds to spikes in monthly Oregon data

Media campaign by advocacy group likely resulted in suicide contagion

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

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

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

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

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

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