Sunday, May 31, 2009

MCCL strongly condemns abortion-related violence

In the wake of the tragic death of abortionist George Tiller, below is MCCL's policy conerning violent acts, which is shared by the vast majority of those active in our peaceful movement.

MCCL condemns the use of any kind of violence or harassment. We condemn it even when used to prevent the violence of abortion, euthanasia or infanticide. We have always and will continue to work through peaceful, legal means to ensure the right to life for all citizens, including unborn children, people with disabilities and elderly persons.

MCCL's objective is to work in educational, legislative and political areas to bring peaceful solutions to these social problems. The solutions involve helping women, their children and the vulnerable, and our methods do not involve violence toward or harassment of anyone.

To underscore this long-standing policy, the MCCL Board of Directors adopted the following by-law on Oct. 18, 1987:
RESOLVED, that the following amendment be added to the by-laws of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Inc. No officer, board member, or employee of this corporation shall engage in or promote activities which are intended to, or likely to result in:

(a) violation of a court order;
(b) the arrest of said person;
(c) the citation of said person for the violation of criminal law or ordinances of the relevant jurisdiction.

Persons deemed in violation of this by-law by a majority of the officers shall be asked by the chief executive officer to submit a formal letter of resignation. Failure to submit a resignation within ten (10) days shall result in automatic termination. The chief executive officer shall inform the full Board of Directors of action taken under this by-law.

Terminations and removals of persons under this provision shall be considered as automatic actions by the Board of Directors pursuant to the provisions of Article 10, Section 10 Article VI, section 3 and Article VII section 3, of these by-laws.

Appeals by terminated parties, if requested in writing, will be heard by the full Board of Directors at the next scheduled meeting or at a special meeting called for that purpose.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pro-life position getting more popular in Minnesota

Following the recent Gallup poll showing a majority of Americans identify as "pro-life" for the first time, the U of M's Smart Politics blog analyzed 48 polls and found that Minnesotans are also calling themselves pro-life in increasing numbers.
A Smart Politics analysis of 48 polls conducted by SurveyUSA in Minnesota since 2005 finds a gradual increase in the yearly aggregate percentage of Gopher State residents identifying as pro-life: from 41.1 percent in 2005, to 41.6 percent in 2006, to 41.8 percent in 2007, to 42.6 percent in 2008, to 46.0 percent in the one poll conducted by SurveyUSA on this question in 2009.
The same is true in Wisconsin and Iowa.
Despite the limitations of the SurveyUSA polling question, which offers just the two response categories, the poll has been conducted with the same survey question across five years and nearly four dozen polls in each state, and the takeaway point is that the momentum is definitely with the pro-life movement.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NRLC responds to Obama's Supreme Court nomination

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life organizations in all 50 states, issued the following statement regarding President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that is being vacated by the impending retirement of Justice David Souter.

What we have seen of Judge Sotomayor's record so far sheds little light on her views regarding how the Constitution bears on the powers of elected lawmakers to protect the right to life of unborn children.

Members of the Senate should not be pressured to act on this nomination with undue haste. We believe it is critical that senators thoroughly explore whether Judge Sotomayor believes that Supreme Court justices have the right to override the decisions of elected lawmakers on such issues as partial-birth abortion, tax funding of abortion, and parental notification for abortion.

Moreover, in the years ahead debates will intensify on other public policy issues bearing on the right to life -- for example, the status of humans who are created by human cloning, or the permissibility of abortion as a method of preventing the birth of a child of an undesired sex. Does Judge Sotomayor believe that Supreme Court justices have the right to declare that the Constitution empowers them to impose their own opinions on all such matters, or is she willing to allow the decisions of elected lawmakers to stand except where they violate a clear and explicit prohibition in the actual Constitution?

There are currently four justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who apparently believe that their strong pro-abortion opinions should override the judgments of elected lawmakers, despite the complete lack of support for their position in the text and history of the Constitution. In its most recent ruling dealing with abortion and the rights of unborn children, Gonzales v. Carhart, on April 18, 2007, a five-justice majority upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. On that occasion, four justices dissented -- including Justice David Souter -- and argued for a constitutional doctrine that would have invalidated the ban on partial-birth abortions and also, by implication, condemned virtually any other law or government policy intended to discourage abortion. If the dissenters’ position became the position of the majority of the Supreme Court, various types of laws that have been deemed permissible under Roe v. Wade could be invalidated by judicial decree, perhaps including the Hyde Amendment (restricting government funding of abortion) and parental notification laws.

It is, then, very appropriate for senators to press for Judge Sotomayor's views on the analysis adopted by the dissenters in Gonzales, an analysis that could bar virtually all limitations on abortion.

Pro-life concerns are reinforced by the knowledge that Judge Sotomayor has been nominated to the Supreme Court by a president who himself criticized the Supreme Court majority for upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion, who previously had opposed a bill to recognize all babies born alive during abortions as fully protected by law, and who endorsed a proposed federal law (the "Freedom of Choice Act") that has as its major purpose the invalidation of virtually all of the types of abortion regulations that have been upheld by the Supreme Court as consistent with Roe v. Wade.

On judges and abortion, president is far outside the mainstream

In a recent piece on National Review Online (prior to the president's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court), David Freddoso discusses a revealing new poll showing that President Obama's views on abortion and judicial philosophy go sharply against the grain of American public opinion. Freddoso writes:

Pollster Kellyanne Conway recently conducted a survey comissioned by Americans United for Life to measure public opinion about Obama’s impending choice of a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. What is most interesting about her poll is that respondents reject precisely the kind of nominee that President Obama is almost certain to pick. Far from preferring “empathy,” 92 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Independents, and 84 percent of Democrats said they prefer a nominee who “will interpret the law as it is written and not take into account his or her personal viewpoints and experiences.”
On the issue of abortion:

Conway’s poll suggests that a vast majority of Americans want President Obama to nominate someone who disagrees with nearly everything he believes about abortion. Of those surveyed, 82 percent said they oppose a nominee who “supports late-term abortions, which are abortions in the seventh, eighth or ninth months of pregnancy and are also known as ‘Partial-Birth Abortions.’” When the Supreme Court upheld a congressional ban on partial-birth abortion in 2007, then-candidate Obama said that even such a modest restriction on abortion is completely unacceptable ...

In the new poll, 69 percent said they do not want a new justice who opposes “making it illegal for someone to take a girl younger than the age of 18 across state lines to obtain abortions without her parents’ knowledge.” Then-senator Obama voted against precisely such a ban in 2006, known as the Child Custody Protection Act. The bill received 65 Senate votes, including those of many pro-choice Democrats.

Seventy-one percent said they oppose a justice who “favors using tax dollars to pay for abortions here in the United States,” and an even higher percentage said they oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortions abroad. President Obama’s record demonstrates that he favors both. As a state senator in Illinois, he voted twice (in 1998 and 2000) to preserve Medicaid funding for abortion. He supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which would strike state prohibitions on abortion funding. And as president, he has effectively allowed the funding of abortion abroad by rescinding the Mexico City policy.
More about Obama's record and positions here. Freddoso continues:

Conway’s survey asked Americans whether they agreed that “abortions should be allowed at any time during a woman’s pregnancy, and for any reason” — which is, essentially, Obama’s position. Only 7 percent of respondents supported it.
Only 7 percent of the poll respondents agreed with the president on abortion. It's clear that Barack Obama did not win the '08 election because of his views on abortion and judicial nominees, but in spite of those views, which have been and increasingly are unpopular with the majority of Americans.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Video: MCCL GO in Geneva, Part 4

See parts one, two and three.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Video: MCCL GO in Geneva, Part 3

MCCL GO's efforts are being covered by ("Pro-Lifers Tell World Health Assembly Mtg Abortion Won't Help Maternal Mortality") and by Focus on the Family's Citizen Link. Our goal is to show that, contrary to the claims of groups like the International Planned Parenthood Federation, legalized abortion would not decrease maternal mortality in the developing world -- in fact, it would make things worse. Better maternal health care, not legalized abortion, is the key to protecting the lives and health of women across the globe.

By preserving the pro-life laws in developing countries -- and by working to improve maternal health care -- we can save many lives, born and unborn.

See our last post for more information.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New analysis of maternal mortality finds health care, not abortion, key factor to save lives

Call for renewed WHA focus on improving women’s health care in developing world

The following MCCL news release was issued on May 21, 2009.

GENEVA, Switzerland – Improved medical care, not abortion, is the solution to the problem of maternal deaths in the developing world, according to a new analysis of World Health Organization and United Nations documents released today by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO). MCCL's international outreach, MCCL GO called for a renewed emphasis on improving health care for women as the only sure means of reducing maternal mortality.

“We have known for decades that most maternal deaths can be prevented with adequate nutrition, basic health care, and good obstetric care throughout pregnancy, at delivery, and postpartum,” said MCCL GO Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “Yet some in the international community have focused its resources primarily on legalizing abortion, in many cases at the expense of women’s lives.”

The analysis, “Does Legalizing Abortion Protect Women’s Health?”, compares the impact of improved medical care and legalized abortion on maternal mortality rates in several countries. Maternal deaths declined sharply in the United States, England and Wales through the 1930s and 1940s, for example, coinciding with advancements in antibiotics, penicillin and blood transfusions. This occurred long before the widespread legalization of abortion. Sri Lanka sharply reduced its maternal mortality rate by making professional midwives and supervisory nurse-midwives widely available in rural areas and by providing a steady supply of appropriate drugs and equipment, improved communication, transportation, and backup services. Sri Lanka does not have legal abortion except to save the life of the mother.

By comparison, according to the United Nations Population Division (UNPD), there has been no substantial decrease in maternal mortality or child mortality in the developing world since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. This is true even though, in that same period, more women have had access to legal abortion than ever before. For example, in India abortion is broadly legal, but maternal deaths are common due to dangerous medical conditions.

In the developing world, the danger of legalized abortion is profound, the analysis found. Fischbach explains: “Women generally at risk because they lack access to a doctor, hospital, or antibiotics before abortion’s legalization will face those same circumstances after legalization. And if legalization triggers a higher demand for abortion, as it has in most countries, more injured women will compete for those scarce medical resources. The number of abortion-related maternal deaths may actually increase.”

MCCL GO called upon the World Health Assembly to focus its resources on the improvement of women’s health care in the developing world.

“We urge the World Health Assembly to move ahead in areas where there is broad international agreement,” Fischbach added. “We can reduce maternal mortality in the developing world by half through access to safe blood, sanitary medical facilities, and basic health care and prenatal care. We call upon the WHA to save lives, not expend endless energy and resources in areas where there is profound disagreement, such as the legalization of abortion.”

A copy of the analysis is available by contacting

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Video: Maternal mortality report will challenge pro-abortion orthodoxy

GENEVA, Switzerland – A new report to be released Thursday, May 21, at the 62nd World Health Assembly in Geneva will challenge pro-abortion orthodoxy regarding maternal mortality. The report was created by MCCL Global Outreach (MCCL GO), the international outreach effort of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

For decades, advocates of abortion on demand have argued that legalized abortion is the only effective means of reducing maternal mortality in the developing world. The MCCL GO report analyzes data from around the world and reaches a very different conclusion.

“MCCL GO is excited to release this report in Geneva after months of preparation,” said MCCL GO Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “Our analysis has the potential to redirect the conversation and international resources toward truly effectual ways of saving women’s lives.”

The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the key issues to be addressed in Geneva is U.N. Millennium Development Goal 5—to improve maternal health. Maternal mortality is a serious problem in the developing world and is often associated with childbirth and abortion. This issue has been placed under the category of “reproductive health.” MCCL GO and other pro-life non-governmental organizations have worked hard to prevent “reproductive health” from including abortion.

“WHA delegates in Geneva will make decisions that will have long-lasting implications,” Fischbach said. “MCCL GO is hopeful that our efforts to provide this vital information about reducing maternal mortality will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of woman and unborn children every year across the globe.”

'Nuancing' the abortion debate

Yesterday on Minnesota Public Radio there was an hour-long discussion on the politics of abortion, and specifically on the new Gallup poll showing a majority of Americans identify as "pro-life," as well as on President Obama's Notre Dame speech.

The guests emphasized that the abortion views of most Americans are "morally nuanced." As in South Dakota, many people may consider themselves "pro-life" and strongly dislike abortion and think it should be regulated. But they are also uncomfortable with an outright ban on elective abortion, and they are especially sympathetic to the individual cases/stories of women who are in difficult circumstances and want an abortion.

It's true that a great number of Americans think this way. In effect, they take the old "personally opposed" position that is a favorite among pro-choice politicians: I may be personally opposed to abortion, but the government shouldn't impose that view on everyone. As one caller on the program put it, there is a difference between "personal values" and "social values."

This thinking is deeply troubling. At first blush, it doesn't make sense: Consider why people think abortion is wrong (why they are "personally opposed") -- because it kills an innocent human being. If that isn’t a reason for government involvement, what is? After all, the state’s most basic function is to protect its people from being killed. As philosopher Francis Beckwith once wrote, the "personally opposed" line is downright "perplexing" because "the reason [one] is probably personally against abortion is the reason why he should be against publicly permitting it."

So what accounts for the prevalence of the "personally opposed" attitude? I think it stems from the influence of an idea called moral relativism, which reduces moral claims to mere taste or preference. Saying "abortion is wrong" is kind of like saying "I don't like brussel sprouts" -- true for me, but maybe not for you. It's a matter of individual preference.

Rudy Giuliani, a pro-choice advocate, once said, "If a woman chooses that, that’s her choice, not mine. That’s her morality, not mine." The problem with moral relativism is that it leaves no basis for any kind of real moral evaluation, for saying that slavery and genocide, for example, are truly wrong. This rejection of objective morality is wildly counterintuitive. Imagine saying, "I'm personally opposed to slavery, but I don't want to force my view on others"!

Killing babies, like owning a slave or abusing a child, is very different than one’s taste in vegetables. That's something that Americans who consider themselves "personally pro-life" need to understand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MCCL posts gains in 2009 Minnesota legislative session

The 2009 legislative session ended yesterday with two key victories for the pro-life movement: full funding for Positive Alternatives and a ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning. These achievements are particularly significant because of lawmakers’ attentiveness to the state budget.

Positive Alternatives was passed by the Legislature in 2005 to establish a grant program through the Minnesota Department of Health. Grants are given to life-affirming organizations offering essential services like medical attention for the woman and the unborn child, nutritional services, housing assistance, adoption services, education and employment assistance, child care assistance, and parenting education and support services.

Positive Alternatives funding was expected to be cut due to the state budget shortfall. However, members of all parties understood the crucial nature of the program and both the House and Senate recommended full funding for Positive Alternatives in their Health and Human Services (HHS) omnibus bills. The final HHS bill was signed into law by Gov. Pawlenty last week.

The language to ban funding of human cloning was successfully amended into the higher education funding bill, S.F. 2083, in both the House and Senate. The provision proved to be contentious in Conference Committee negotiations, but ultimately was kept in the final version of the bill. Pawlenty signed the bill on Saturday, May 16.

The language prohibits the University of Minnesota from using taxpayer dollars to pursue human cloning. The U of M’s Stem Cell Institute in Minneapolis is conducting embryo-destructive experiments and is believed to be pursuing human cloning for research purposes.

MCCL is grateful to state legislators and our 70,000 member families for their efforts in support of Positive Alternatives funding and the cloning funding ban since the session began in January. Citizens’ phone calls, emails, letters and meetings with their state lawmakers were critical to passage of these protective provisions. Women have been empowered to choose life, and lives will be saved.

Questions for President Obama after his Notre Dame speech

On Sunday President Barack Obama gave the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. It was controversial -- and protested by many pro-lifers -- because Notre Dame (a Catholic school) also chose to give him an honorary degree in law, despite the fact that Obama's radical support for abortion on demand and embryo destruction contradicts basic Church teaching about the dignity of the human person.

The problems with honoring and validating the president's position in this way have been thoroughly detailed by Catholic thinkers like Gerard Bradley and others. Notre Dame, writes George Weigel, "bestowed an honorary doctorate of laws on a man determined to enshrine in law what the Catholic Church regards as a fundamental injustice."

I think Francis Beckwith puts it well: “Unless the university does not believe that the Church’s understanding of the moral law is true and knowable, it can no more in good conscience award an honorary doctorate of laws to a lawyer who rejects the humanity of the proper subjects of law than it could in good conscience award an honorary doctorate in science to a geocentric astronomer who rejects the deliverances of the discipline he claims to practice.”

Bradley asks: "Why doesn’t full-throttle support for a grave injustice such as abortion disqualify one from university honors? I am confident that no one — not even a high-office holder — who publicly embraced a less respectable injustice, such as racism or anti-Semitism, would be fêted here. In moral truth if not in civil law, lethal discrimination against the unborn is at least as monstrous."

Here, though, I want to address some of the statements Obama made in his speech, and ask some questions.

"Those who speak out against [embryonic] stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved."

That's right. The question (which the president never seems to address) is whether the embryo is one of us, a valuable human person (like a child with juvenile diabetes). If so, then embryo-destructive research is gravely immoral, for one cannot kill other innocent human beings so that "their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved."

Question: If a promising kind of stem cell research is supported by both sides of this debate (induced pluripotent stem cell research), and has the potential to make the controversial use of human embryos for research scientifically obsolete, why would the president rescind a previous executive order requiring research into that area?

"Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually. It has both moral and spiritual dimensions."

Question: On Obama's pro-choice view, why is abortion a "heart-wrenching decision"? What are the "moral and spiritual dimensions" of this act? And why would it be wrong for a woman to make the decision casually?

"So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let's reduce unintended pregnancies. Let's make adoption more available. Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women. Those are things we can do."

Question: On the president's pro-choice view, why should we want to "reduce the number of women seeking abortions"? No one talks about reducing the number of tonsillectomies. Is abortion somehow morally different than removing one's tonsils? If so, how? And if abortion is a moral tragedy, why does Obama want to allow it -- and even promote it with tax dollars, in the United States and around the world?

Question: If Obama wants to reduce the number of abortions, why does he want to make every taxpayer fund elective abortions, which studies clearly show increases the number of abortions? Why won't he support even the most modest, meager limitations on abortion? Why does he support the radical Freedom of Choice Act, which would likely result in hundreds of thousands of more abortions?

Question: If the president wants to "provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term," why did he commit during the campaign to de-funding pregnancy care centers that provide that support?

Question: If Obama wants to "honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause," why is his administration moving to rescind a Bush order enforcing basic conscience protections for health care workers who don't want to be involved in abortion?

The president's speech was yet another example of the divergence between Obama's rhetoric and his actions/actual beliefs. He talked about common ground, but his positions on right-to-life issues allow for none of it.

"We must find a way to live together as one human family."

Yes. But the very question at issue in the abortion and embryo research debates surrounding Obama's visit is who qualifies as part of the human family (are unborn human beings included?). That's how fundamental Obama's disagreement with the Catholic Church (and all pro-lifers) is. And that's why honoring Obama was such a terrible mistake for a supposedly pro-life institution.

Update: Yuval Levin explains why pro-lifers actually have reason to be optimistic following Obama's speech: "Although it was certainly not his intention, the president’s remarks point to the profound and growing weakness of the case for America’s radical abortion laws."

Ramesh Ponnuru has a fantastic analysis:

President Obama's speech at Notre Dame yesterday is another sign that pro-lifers are slowly winning the political battles over abortion. It was not the speech of a man who is confident that his position is right and popular. It was the speech of someone who is trying to minimize a problem--which is what the association with abortion assuredly is for the Democratic party.

More voters have left the Democrats over abortion than have joined it. And the public has been moving in a pro-life direction for years. (The latest Gallup poll even has a majority of Americans calling themselves pro-life.) Obama wants to defend a status quo in which abortion is effectively legal through all stages of pregnancy and abortion policy is sealed off from democratic decision-making. He even wants to make taxpayers pay for abortion. So at Notre Dame, he handled the political difficulty deftly. He didn't try to make the case for his views on abortion and related issues. He just plead for mutual understanding, civility, and the search for common ground. All of those are perfectly valid goals, of course, but they are also the ones you'd expect to see emphasized by the side that's defending a politically dangerous position.

Pro-lifers often get annoyed when they see politicians with hard-line records in favor of legal and subsidized abortion talk, as Obama did, about how much he wants to reduce abortion. But that type of rhetoric, however little follow-through it generates, is itself a concession to the moral and political force of the pro-life case. The more politicians who favor unrestricted, subsidized abortion talk about what a tragedy it is, the more they undermine their own premises. If it's such a terrible thing, why fund it? Why not allow states to try different methods of discouraging it, including restrictions?

Obama has handled the politics of abortion deftly. He is doing the best he can from a position of weakness.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Press Release: Gov. Pawlenty signs ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning

The following news release was issued on May 18, 2009.

ST. PAUL – Pro-life Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning on Saturday, reported Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.

“MCCL applauds Governor Pawlenty and the state Legislature for establishing a clear ethical boundary which upholds the integrity of the human embryo and opposes the commodification of the human body,” said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “The majority of Americans and Minnesotans oppose human cloning and do not want to be forced to pay for it.”

Read the rest of this story.

Friday, May 15, 2009

'No, Mr. President': John Piper confronts our pro-abortion president from the pulpit

Well-known pastor and author John Piper (Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN) delivered a wonderful sermon on the preciousness of human life back in January (coinciding with the Roe v. Wade anniversary). I was fortunate enough to be at Bethlehem when he gave it.

An excerpt from that sermon is used in a powerful new video, below. It's a must-see.

Piper says: "The only newly-originating life in the universe that comes in the image of God is Man. The only newly-originating life in the universe that lasts forever is Man. This is an awesome thing." But "that reverence is not shared by our new President, over whom we have rejoiced ..."

(HT: Evangelical Outpost)

Press Release: Positive Alternatives fully funded by Minnesota Legislature in bipartisan consensus

The following news release was issued on May 15, 2009. Learn more about the Positive Alternatives program and its tremendous impact on the lives of women and children across the state.

ST. PAUL – The state’s Positive Alternatives program remains fully funded for the 2009-2010 biennium, thanks to the support of pro-life Gov. Tim Pawlenty and state legislators in both parties. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) worked tirelessly to ensure that pregnant girls and women would continue to find the help they need to bring their pregnancies to term through organizations funded by the Positive Alternatives grant program.

"Positive Alternatives is one of Minnesota’s most essential and successful programs for women," said Scott Fischbach, MCCL Executive Director. "This modest program offers a lifeline to women in need every day across the state, and MCCL is pleased that lawmakers -- both Democrats and Republicans -- agreed on the importance of keeping funding intact."

Positive Alternatives funding was expected to be cut due to the state budget shortfall. However, the DFL-controlled Legislature understood the crucial nature of the program and both the House and Senate recommended full funding for Positive Alternatives in their Health and Human Services (HHS) omnibus bills. The final HHS bill was signed into law by Gov. Pawlenty last night.

Read the rest of this story.

The Obama effect? More Americans identify as 'pro-life'

A brand new Gallup poll shows 51 percent of Americans call themselves "pro-life" while 42 percent identify as "pro-choice." According to the report, "This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995." Only one year ago, 50 percent identified as pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life.

The Gallup report concludes:

With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation's policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans -- and, in particular, Republicans -- seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.

It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public's understanding of what it means to be "pro-choice" slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.
Jill Stanek has similar thoughts. President Obama's radical policies will cost many innocent human lives, but one bright spot may be a boost in pro-life activism and a growing trend toward the pro-life position among those in the middle.

Update: The excellent Michael New says pro-lifers shouldn't read too much into this sort of poll. But he adds:

That having been said, the broader gains that pro-lifers have made in public opinion over time can be readily seen in other ways. In fact, Erbe and others of like mind are somewhat naïve if they have missed the change in abortion politics over the past several years. For instance, the pro-choice Governors who were once thought to be the future of the Republican party (Whitman, Weld, Wilson) have vanished from the political scene. Furthermore, the amount of infighting over the Republican party's pro-life plank has greatly diminished.

More importantly, Democrats have made a concerted effort to reach out to pro-life voters. Neither Barack Obama nor John Kerry even mentioned support for legal abortion during their respective acceptance speeches at the 2004 and 2008 Democratic convention. When asked about abortion, President Obama seems somewhat dodgy and a little evasive. Instead of presenting the pro-choice position in a shrill, uncompromising way, he usually talks about the need to reduce abortion and ways of finding common ground. Furthermore, many Democrats have (unpersuasively) made the argument that more generous welfare programs are an effective strategy for reducing abortion.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

MN pro-lifers: Contact your lawmakers before session ends!

The following is MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach's column in the latest issue of MCCL News.

By Scott Fischbach

The 2009 legislative session is in its home stretch, and your pro-life voice is needed now more than ever.

As lawmakers accelerate their work in anticipation of their May 18 deadline, votes occur rapidly, sometimes with very little advance notice. Citizen advocates who can respond quickly with calls and emails can make a significant impact on legislative outcomes.

Make sure you are among those pro-life citizens who make a priority of contacting state House and Senate members when lives are on the line.

MCCL will be at the Capitol until the closing gavel, working hard to pass protective bills and to prevent passage of anti-life measures. Our lobbyists work late into the evening and also weekends, whenever legislators are meeting, to make sure we take every opportunity to save lives.

Many times MCCL has called pro-lifers like you in key districts in which lawmakers had not committed to support a protective bill. And your calls often have made the difference in pro-life measures becoming law.

Your help is needed again. I anticipate more votes on pro-life legislation before the end of the session. Bills include the coerced abortion ban, the saline abortion ban, the sex-selection abortion ban, and the hospital admitting privileges requirement for abortionists.

Each of these is a crucial effort to save lives from the abortion industry’s extreme violence and injustice against women and unborn babies. In the midst of budget concerns, state lawmakers need to be reminded that women continue to be exploited and wounded, and unborn children continue to die, at the hands of heartless abortionists.

You are the key to saving lives in Minnesota! Statistics verify that more lives are saved from abortion through protective laws than from any other effort. And those laws can only be passed while the Legislature is in session.

So let’s make the most of the 2009 session! Be respectful but bold when you call and email your elected officials. Keep your message short and clear. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number to show you are a constituent.

Be ready to respond immediately when you receive a call or email from MCCL. Keep a pen and notepad by your phone so you can write down the information and quickly contact your legislators.

I also urge you to involve friends and family members in your district; activate them as citizen lobbyists to join you in defending life.

Make every effort to save as many lives as possible before the session ends. Every call you make and email you write makes a difference.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rebecca Kiessling and the rape/incest argument for abortion rights

We've all heard someone say: "I'm pro-life, well, except in cases of rape ..." or "I'm pro-choice, especially in cases of rape!"

Have you ever considered how really insulting it is to say to someone, "I think your mother should have been able to abort you"? It's like saying, "If I had my way, you'd be dead right now." And that is the reality with which I live every time someone says they are pro-choice or pro-life "except in cases of rape" because I absolutely would have been aborted if it had been legal in Michigan when I was an unborn child, and I can tell you that it hurts. But I know that most people don't put a face to this issue -- abortion is just a concept -- with a quick cliche, they sweep it under the rug and forget about it.

I do hope that, as a child conceived in rape, I can help to put a face and a voice to this issue.

-- Rebecca Kiessling
Rebecca Kiessling was conceived in rape and nearly aborted; now she's a mother, attorney and international pro-life speaker. She recently shared her story at It is definitely worth checking out. Those living today who were conceived by rape -- and who, according to even many pro-life politicians, should have been allowed to be aborted -- are perhaps the most emotionally powerful response to the rape/incest argument for abortion rights.

Here's what I wrote about the rape/incest argument in the January '09 issue of MCCL News.

Women who become pregnant against their will as a result of rape or incest are often used as an emotional appeal for the legality of abortion. In these "hard cases," the pro-abortion side has the upper hand of public opinion. Even most pro-life political leaders support legal abortion in cases of rape and incest.

Pro-lifers must be prepared to address this concern when it arises and to apply their pro-life principles to difficult circumstances. Three points are crucial.

First, the vast majority of abortions are not performed because of rape or incest. In Minnesota, less than one percent of women who had abortions in 2007 reported that the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. Nationwide, these cases account for less than two percent of all abortions. To any abortion advocate who offers the rape argument, I ask: "So do you agree with me, then, that all the other abortions -- 99 percent of them -- should not be allowed?" I would be thrilled to find such common ground.

More often, though, an abortion advocate appeals to the hard cases in order to mask his abortion-on-demand position. Always make him defend his real view.

Second, if the pro-life position is true, abortion because of rape or incest is unjust. Why? Because the circumstances of a child’s conception clearly have no bearing on her moral status as a human being. While a rapist must be severely punished for his crime, the unborn child remains innocent.

In the case of rape/incest abortions, a valuable human being is intentionally killed for elective reasons -- e.g., because the survival of the child would be psychologically traumatic for the mother. But it is wrong to dismember someone because she stirs memories of a painful event. Put another way: Why should the innocent child die for the crime of her father?

Third, having an abortion typically does nothing to relieve the pain of the mother. In a lengthy study on the pregnancies of sexual assault victims, researchers David Reardon, Julie Makimaa and Amy Sobie concluded: "Pregnancy resulting from sexual assault is actually a contraindication for abortion .... Both the mother and child are helped by preserving life, not by perpetuating violence."

Indeed, "Abortion only adds to and accentuates the traumatic feelings associated with sexual assault. Rather than easing the psychological burdens, abortion adds to them." These findings undermine the reasons given for rape/incest abortion in the first place!

Rape and abortion are wrong for the same reason: the brutal, dehumanizing treatment of an innocent human person. That’s why abortion in cases of rape or incest makes no moral sense.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Samuel Armas 10 years later -- the photo that helped change the abortion debate

It's been 10 years since this famous photo was taken of Samuel Armas, as an unborn child, reaching out of his mother's womb during fetal surgery. The photo has been used as powerful testimony to the humanity of the unborn child. "When I see that picture, the first thing I think of is how special and lucky I am to have God use me that way," Samuel told

According to the story, "Samuel, now 9 and living in Villa Rica, Ga., said the photo likely gave countless 'babies their right to live' and forced many others to debate their beliefs on abortion, something he's proud of." The photographer who took the photo, Michael Clancy, changed from pro-choice to pro-life on abortion.

Here's some background:

In 1999, the unborn child of Julie and Alex Armas -- later named Samuel -- was diagnosed in the womb with spina bifida. Dr. Joseph Bruner was recruited to perform a pioneering spine operation on Samuel in order to save him from serious brain damage. Samuel was a 20-week-old fetus at the time.

A photographer in the room during the surgery captured perhaps one of the most remarkable photographs ever taken. It shows the tiny hand of Samuel reaching out from his mother’s womb to clasp Dr. Bruner’s finger.

Michael Clancy, the photographer, gives this account of the experience:

As a doctor asked me what speed of film I was using, out of the corner of my eye I saw the uterus shake, but no one's hands were near it. It was shaking from within. Suddenly, an entire arm thrust out of the opening, then pulled back until just a little hand was showing. The doctor reached over and lifted the hand, which reacted and squeezed the doctor's finger. As if testing for strength, the doctor shook the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. I took the picture! Wow!

It happened so fast that the nurse standing next to me asked, “What happened?”

“The child reached out,” I said.

“Oh. They do that all the time,” she responded.

The procedure was a success. Samuel was born on December 2, 1999.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How to increase your pro-life 'footprint'

The following first appeared in the March issue of MCCL News.

How to increase your pro-life ‘footprint’
Pro-life citizens can make a difference in many, many ways

By Paul Stark

The killing of unborn children is the greatest human rights issue of our time, and cultural trends have also endangered other vulnerable human persons—elderly persons, people with disabilities and the very young.

It seems incumbent upon every pro-life citizen to take meaningful steps to right these injustices and save lives. Increasing your pro-life “footprint”—your overall influence on behalf of human lives threatened by abortion, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research—involves three key elements.

First, we must reach out to women facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, offering help and life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Second, we must educate ourselves, our friends and family, and our fellow citizens about the issues and the truth of human dignity. Third, we must take political and legislative action to secure just protection for innocent human life.

So what, specifically, can you do to make a difference? Here are a few ideas.

Donate your time, money or resources to a pregnancy care center that helps women in need who are at risk for abortion. (Click here for a list of these pro-life centers.) Help your own friends or family members who may be experiencing difficult pregnancies.

Educate yourself with the facts about abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research and human cloning. Talk to others about these issues and offer them pro-life literature. Visit for a wealth of information, including fliers and brochures to download and share.

Equip yourself to winsomely articulate and defend the pro-life position—and then do so in your conversations with friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. Familiarize yourself with the moral reasoning that undergirds the pro-life perspective and the flaws in popular pro-abortion rhetoric.

Utilize books like “Defending Life” by Francis Beckwith (Cambridge University Press, 2007), “Embryo” by Robert George and Christopher Tollefsen (Doubleday, 2008), “Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments” by Randy Alcorn (Multnomah, 2000) and “The Case for Life” by Scott Klusendorf (Crossway, 2009).

Write a letter to the editor or call in to a radio talk show regarding a right-to-life issue. Use pro-life pins, wristbands, t-shirts and yard signs to spark conversations with others. Contribute to message boards and blogs on the Web, and take advantage of social networking sites like Facebook. Consider starting your own blog via a Web site such as

Start pro-life work within your church. Organize a pro-life task force, set up a pro-life table on Sunday and encourage your pastor to become more active.

Attend and promote MCCL events, such as the Jan. 22 March for Life, Student Day at the Capitol and the Fall Tour. Get involved with your local MCCL chapter to make a difference in your community.

Write, call or meet with your elected officials in your district, St. Paul and Washington, D.C., urging them to stand up for vulnerable human life. Always press them to take the pro-life side on important legislation. Give your representatives pro-life literature (such as that offered by MCCL) and attractively present yourself as an ambassador for the pro-life position.

During election years, donate to pro-life candidates. Consider volunteering for their campaigns, and urge your friends to prioritize the issue of protecting innocent human life.

Give as much as you can financially to an effective pro-life organization like MCCL. Give your friends and family subscriptions to MCCL News so they stay abreast of the latest developments. Join National Right to Life and make sure you receive their monthly publication, NRL News.

David N. O’Steen and Darla St. Martin of National Right to Life once wrote, “Whatever the outcome, the [abortion] struggle itself will alter the course of human history. Each of us has the opportunity and the responsibility to play an important role in that struggle.” If every pro-lifer takes just a little time and effort to increase his or her pro-life footprint, the lives of many innocent children will surely be saved.

Further information and a variety of helpful resources are available at or by calling the MCCL State Office at 612-825-6831.

Saline abortions still happen in Minnesota

American abortionists have denied saline abortion’s dangers to women and cruelty to unborn children for far too long. According to the Center for Health Statistics at the Minnesota Department of Health, the procedure may have been performed on more than 50 women in the state between 2002 and 2006.

It is unacceptable that saline instillation methods of abortion are still being performed on women in Minnesota. Saline abortions are a very real, serious threat to pregnant women’s lives and overall health, and an unnecessarily brutal way to kill unborn children.

Current state legislation would ban this gruesome abortion technique. From a February MCCL press release:
Cruel saline abortions would be banned under H.F. 1058 / S.F. 905, authored by Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault, and Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo. In a saline abortion procedure, the abortionist replaces the life-giving amniotic fluid in the womb with a hypertonic saline (salt) solution toxic to the unborn child. The baby swallows the salt and is poisoned. The corrosive effect of the salt solution often burns the outer layer of the baby’s skin. The mother delivers a burned, shriveled and dead baby.

“Saline abortions are one of the most brutal and inhumane medical procedures performed today,” said Andrea Rau, MCCL Legislative Associate. “Even though saline abortion causes horrific suffering for unborn babies and poses great dangers to women’s health, it is still legal in Minnesota. Outlawing this grotesque abortion procedure is long overdue.”
Learn more about saline abortion.

Learn about saline abortion survivor Gianna Jessen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Coerced abortion

Forced abortion is one of the abortion industry’s dirty little secrets. Even though Planned Parenthood and other abortionists deny it, post-abortive women confirm the grim truth that most abortions—nearly two out of three—involve pressure, coercion or even violence against pregnant women.

Read more.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Positive Alternatives program making a tremendous difference

Minnesota's Positive Alternatives program, which provides grants to pregnancy care centers that assist pregnant women and new mothers in need, is at stake as the legislature deliberates over the state budget. See here for 13 short stories highlighting the difference Positive Alternatives is making in lives of women and families all across Minnesota.