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."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

House includes pro-life bills in HHS omnibus legislation

The following news release was issued on April 29, 2015.

ST. PAUL — Legislation to license abortion facilities and end taxpayer funded abortion has been added to the Minnesota House of Representatives Health and Human Services omnibus bill. Both measures were approved yesterday on votes of 76-57 and are strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

Authored by Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, the amendment to safeguard the health of women entering abortion centers (originally 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 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.

"Abortion centers perform invasive, outpatient surgery," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. "Why are they 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."

The House also passed an amendment to ban taxpayer funded abortion (originally H.F. 607), authored by Rep. Tama Theis, R-St. Cloud. 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 34.2 percent of all abortions performed in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In 2013, taxpayers were billed more than $800,000 by the abortion industry for nearly 3,400 abortions. Since the Doe v. Gomez decision, the state has paid $21.5 million to the abortion industry for almost 70,000 abortions.

Both pro-life bills had already passed through several House committees.

The House HHS omnibus bill also includes $350,000 to raise awareness of the state's Safe Place for Newborns program, which allows mothers at risk of harming their newborn babies to relinquish their child to a hospital, urgent care facility or by calling 911. The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, strengthening the state law protecting infants born alive as the result of an abortion, was also added to the omnibus bill.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Senate votes down abortion facility licensing, inspection amendment to HHS omnibus bill

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

ST. PAUL — An amendment aimed to safeguard the health of women in abortion facilities was voted down in the Minnesota Senate today. Advocates for women's safety sought its inclusion in the Senate Health and Human Services omnibus bill. It is strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

Sponsored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, the amendment 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 basic licensing requirement is necessary to ensure that the very unsafe conditions uncovered in other states never happen in Minnesota."

The amendment failed on a 29-32 floor vote. Similar legislation has been approved by several House of Representatives committees and a House floor vote is expected. The licensing requirement would apply to the state's five abortion facilities, which together perform 99 percent of all abortions in Minnesota.

"MCCL urges state legislators to include this much-needed licensing in health care legislation to protect the safety and health of women," Rau added.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Letter to the editor: Abortion is not a public good

The following letter to the editor was published on April 21, 2015, in the Pioneer Press.

A recent letter ("Planned Parenthood tax dollars," April 12) claims that "abortion is not paid for by taxpayers," citing the Hyde Amendment. But that policy only applies at the federal level.

In Minnesota, taxpayers funded 3,391 abortions in 2013 at a cost of $809,915, according to the Department of Human Services. These abortions are now 34.2 percent of all abortions in our state—that's an all-time high.

And Planned Parenthood, of course, is the biggest beneficiary. It billed taxpayers $295,216 in 2013 (a 16 percent increase over 2012) for 1,287 abortions (a 13 percent increase, following a 32 percent jump the previous year). The state's leading abortion provider is receiving more and more taxpayer dollars to perform more and more abortions.

Elective abortion is not health care. It is not a public good deserving of public support. A bill currently before the state Legislature, SF 683/HF 607, would end taxpayer funding of abortion. We should urge our legislators to pass it and Gov. Dayton to sign it into law.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Letter to the editor: Assisted suicide bill has insufficient safeguards

The following letter to the editor was published on April 20, 2015, in the Minnesota Daily.

The Editorial Board contends that a new proposal to legalize assisted suicide in Minnesota includes sufficient safeguards. It most certainly does not.

Consider, for example, that the bill does not require that anyone witness the death. There are no safeguards at all once the lethal drug has been dispensed. The proposed legislation opens the door to various kinds of pressure, coercion and abuse.

Or consider that the bill does not require that a patient undergo psychiatric evaluation before receiving the lethal prescription. In Oregon, which pioneered assisted suicide, only 5.5 percent of assisted suicide victims first receive psychiatric evaluation—some would want to live if given proper mental health care.

The Editorial Board suggests that suicide may be necessary to prevent pain and suffering. But concern about pain is not a major reason cited by those who seek suicide in Oregon or Washington—the primary concerns involve disability ("losing autonomy," inability to do certain activities, etc.).

Our state should reject the discriminatory and harmful idea that the lives of disabled, sick and elderly persons are worth less than the lives of others. Everyone deserves our support and care, including the best palliative and hospice care. No one should be denied the equal protection of the law.

The legalization of assisted suicide would pose broad dangers to vulnerable members of our society.

Friday, April 17, 2015

House panel votes to license abortion facilities in Minnesota

Measure to help ensure safety of women has passed through four committees


ST. PAUL — Legislation to license abortion facilities in Minnesota was approved today by the House Ways and Means committee. The measure aims to safeguard the health of women entering abortion centers. 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," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. "Why are they 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."

The case of Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell, now serving life in prison for murder (among other crimes), is the most notorious example. Gosnell operated his dangerous "house of horrors" for years, and the grand jury investigation into his clinic specifically blamed state officials for failing to inspect abortion centers or to enforce regulations.

"Minnesota should have higher standards than that," said Rau. "Women deserve better."

The licensing bill was approved by the Ways and Means committee Friday on a voice vote. It had already passed through the Health and Human Services Reform, Government Operations and Elections Policy, and Health and Human Services Finance committees.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Safe Place for Newborns bill to protect newborns in danger of harm approved by Senate panel

The following news release was issued on April 13, 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 approved today by the Health and Human Services Finance committee of the Minnesota Senate. 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 S.F. 796 is Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley.

"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. "S.F. 796 seeks a one-time 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.

Friday, April 10, 2015

MinnPost commentary: Bills to license facilities and ban public funding of abortion reflect state's values

The following op-ed was published on April 10, 2015, in MinnPost.

In their recent Community Voices commentary ("Five anti-choice bills would especially burden low-income women," April 1), Karen Law and Andrea Ledger write that legislative proposals to license abortion facilities and prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion would "undermine" the "core values" of our state. I disagree. These are common-sense bills that would benefit women, taxpayers and unborn children.

Consider, first, SF 616/HF 606. This measure would require that facilities performing 10 or more abortions per month be licensed by the Department of Health. It would also authorize inspections (no more than two per year).

Why is it necessary? Because abortion centers in Minnesota are neither licensed nor inspected by any state agency. This makes little sense. Unsafe abortion centers and unscrupulous providers have been discovered in many other states; some women have died. But our state lacks the ability to even determine if these dangerous conditions are present in Minnesota — or to prevent them from happening in the future.

Minnesota currently licenses "outpatient surgical centers," but abortion centers also perform invasive, outpatient surgery. Why are they not held to the same standards of patient care? The proposed legislation would simply apply the existing licensure requirements for outpatient surgical centers to abortion facilities. It would help ensure minimum health standards and a degree of basic safety for women.

The other proposal targeted by Law and Ledger is SF 683/HF 607, which would end the use of public funds for abortion. New numbers from the Minnesota Department of Human Services show that the state paid $809,915 in 2013 for 3,391 abortions. Since the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision, taxpayers have reimbursed the abortion industry $21.6 million for more than 69,000 abortion procedure claims. Abortions funded by taxpayers now comprise 34.2 percent of all abortions in Minnesota — an all-time high.

Law and Ledger believe low-income women should have access to the health care they need, and I strongly concur. But elective abortion is not health care — it attacks the health and ends the life of a developing human being. Abortion is not a public good that calls for government support.

And most people agree. A Marist poll this year found that 68 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 69 percent of women and 49 percent of those who identify as "pro-choice." This is not about whether the law should protect the lives of unborn children. It is about whether Minnesota taxpayers should be made complicit in their destruction.

Law and Ledger tout the values of justice and compassion. But public funding of abortion — which increases the incidence of abortion relative to what it would otherwise be — is no justice for the human beings who are killed in utero as a result. Nor does it offer true compassion to pregnant women facing difficult circumstances. The problems these women confront are not solved by "free" abortions courtesy of the government. They deserve better, and we owe them more.

The bills to license abortion facilities and ban taxpayer funding of abortion are currently making their way through the Minnesota House of Representatives. They are reasonable, modest and bipartisan, reflecting our state's values of health and life, justice and compassion. They should receive the support of all Minnesotans.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Taxpayer funded abortions reach highest percentage ever in Minnesota

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

ST. PAUL — After 18 years of taxpayer-funded abortions, Minnesotans have funded more than 69,000 abortions at a cost of $21.5 million, according to a just-released report from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). Taxpayer-funded abortions numbered almost 3,400 in Minnesota in 2013; nearly all of those abortions were elective.

The state's abortion industry in 1995 successfully challenged Minnesota's law which prohibited funding of most abortions. Since then, abortion advocates have steadily marketed taxpayer-funded abortions to low-income women. Taxpayers now pay for 34.2 percent of all abortions performed in the state, the highest percentage ever.

"The state's abortion facilities target economically vulnerable women to ensure steady revenue from abortion," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "It is time to end this exploitation of poor women and their unborn children."

Minnesota taxpayers have been required to fund elective abortions since the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez ruling. In that decision, the Court created a state "right" to abortion on demand and obligated all taxpayers to fund abortions, including purely elective procedures.

Since the Doe v. Gomez ruling, taxpayers have paid $21,554,018 for a total of 69,214 abortion procedure claims. Taxpayers' 2013 portion (the latest available) was $816,729 for 3,391 abortions. Prior to the court decision, taxpayers were charged about $7,000 per year for about two dozen abortions in cases of rape and incest and to save the life of the mother.

Planned Parenthood's taxpayer funded abortion claims rose 13 percent in 2013, after rising 32 percent in 2012. Planned Parenthood increased its revenues from taxpayer funded abortions in 2013 by 16 percent to $295,216; it filed claims for 1,287 abortions, which represented 38 percent of the claims that year.

Whole Woman's Health, which purchased and merged two abortion facilities in Minneapolis, filed 1,089 abortion claims, the second largest. The abortion business has paid several large fines for breaking the law in Texas. Legislation currently before Minnesota lawmakers (S.F. 616, H.F. 606) would require the state's five surgical abortion facilities to be licensed and inspected by the Department of Health as outpatient surgical centers. None is licensed or inspected by the state.

"Polls continue to show that most Minnesotans and most Americans are opposed to taxpayer funded abortions, yet they continue to be forced to pay for them," Fischbach said.

MCCL helped to pass a ban on taxpayer funded abortion during the 2011 legislative session; it was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. Similar legislation (S.F. 683, H.F. 607) has been introduced this year in the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives. The House bill has been approved by several committees and is now before the full House. The measure would end the forced funding by taxpayers of this mistreatment of poor women and the killing of unborn children.

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.