Thursday, July 29, 2010

New abortion rule proves defects in health care law

The following is a news release from National Right to Life.

In New Rule Published Today, Obama Administration Backs Off Funding Elective Abortions in High-Risk Insurance Program -- But Vows This is "Not a Precedent" for Decisions on Future Health Programs

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2010) – The Obama Administration, caught in a spotlight of publicity generated by mid-July releases from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), today issued a formal regulation that will prevent federal funding of elective abortions in just one of the new programs created by the health care bill signed into law by President Obama on March 23.

At issue is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), also known as the “high-risk pool” program, which is one of many programs created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The high-risk pool program is completely federally funded ($5 billion), and may cover up to 400,000 people when fully implemented.

"Without blinking, the Obama Administration had approved high-risk pool plans submitted by at least three states that would have funded virtually all abortions – until NRLC raised the alarms starting on July 13," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "In the regulation issued today, the Administration tells states that elective abortions may not be covered in the high-risk pool program – but simultaneously, the head of the White House Office of Health Reform, Nancy-Ann DeParle, issued a statement on the White House blog explaining that this decision 'is not a precedent for other programs or policies given the unique, temporary nature of the program.'"

"This entire episode demonstrates what National Right to Life said in March – there is no language in the new health care law, and no language in Obama's politically contrived March 24 executive order, that effectively prevents federal subsidies for abortion on demand," Johnson said. "This means that unless Congress repeals the health care law or performs major corrective surgery on it, there will be years of battles, as each new program is implemented, over how elective abortion will be covered – and the White House is suggesting that today's policy will not necessarily be applied when implementing the other programs, some of which will cover far larger populations."

"Lawmakers who voted for the gravely flawed bill must be held accountable, because we warned them that it left numerous doors open for federal subsidies for abortion," Johnson said.

On July 23, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report confirming that neither the PPACA (the health care law signed by Obama), nor the March 24 executive order on abortion, nor the longstanding Hyde Amendment, prevent the use of funds in the new high-risk pool program from being used to cover all abortions, but added that the law does give the Secretary of HHS authority to impose "any other requirements determined appropriate by the Secretary" with respect to the high-risk pool program. The CRS report is posted here.

In a July 22 report, found that NRLC's July 13 warning, which focused initially on abortion coverage in the HHS-approved plan submitted by Pennsylvania, was well founded. "It would be easy to miss the fact that Pennsylvania's official solicitation called for coverage of all state-legal abortions," observed. The report is posted here.

On July 14, the Associated Press confirmed an NRLC report that New Mexico was enrolling people in the new program with a prospectus that explicitly covered "elective abortions." On July 16, NRLC confirmed that Maryland was also signing up enrollees based on a document that pointed to abortion coverage.

Some pro-abortion advocacy groups, and some members of Congress, have suggested that the Administration should allow the new high-risk pool program to pay for abortions with "private funds." NRLC's Johnson commented, "It is a political scam to suggest that a federal program can pay for abortions, or anything else, with 'private funds.' When a federal program pays for abortions, that is federal funding of abortion. To claim otherwise would be particularly absurd with respect to the high-risk pool program, since 'the program is entirely funded by the federal government,' as Nancy-Ann DeParle, head of the White House Office of Health Reform, noted in her statement posted on the White House blog today. Any funds collected from enrollees become federal funds once the government has them, and when they are spent, that is federal spending."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Post-Abortion Syndrome in the 1800s

Marvin Olasky writes:
The psychological stress [of abortion] is particularly interesting, because supporters of abortion have labeled "post-abortion syndrome" a recent invention of anti-abortion forces. And yet, in 1875 feminist Elizabeth Evans was describing the effects of abortions on women who had them a decade or two earlier. One woman, she reported, was "wild with regret at my folly in rejecting the (alas! only once-proffered) gift of offspring." Another woman described how her "thoughts were filled with imaginings as to what might have been the worth of that child's individuality; and especially, after sufficient time had elapsed to have brought him to maturity, did I busy myself with picturing the responsible posts he might have filled."

This sad lady added that she never "read of an accident by land or by water, or of a critical moment in battle, or of a good cause lost through lack of a brave defender, but my heart whispered, 'He might have been there to help and save; he might have been able to lead that forlorn hope; his word or deed might have brought this wise plan to successful issue!'" Other women told Evans similar stories, and she concluded that "the enormity of the crime of foeticide may be, in some degree, estimated by the excessive remorse which, sooner or later, is sure to follow its perpetration."

Pro-life forces distributed gripping accounts of psychological damage. "I was for a long time as near as being insane as one can be without really going mad," one woman recalled. "I had an idea that I had lost, through that unnatural deed, the normal powers and qualities of a human being. I no longer ate and drank with the old hunger and thirst, nor slept the quiet sleep of innocence; I took no heed of the passage of time, and all that I saw and hear seemed to be the occurrence of a dream, as though my life was already finished for me."

Friday, July 23, 2010

How feminism is inconsistent with legal abortion

Pro-life women at the 2010 MCCL March for Life in St. Paul.
Abortion was legalized in the United States during what is often called the "second wave" women's movement of the 1960s and '70s. Many self-proclaimed feminists argued for the right to abortion, claiming that it empowered women—that it gave them "choice" and control over their bodies and their reproduction. But does feminism really entail support for abortion?

The term "feminism" is used to mean different things. But if it is defined simply (and uncontroversially) as a commitment to the well-being of women and to the equal fundamental dignity and rights of both sexes, then it seems to me that feminism is inconsistent with abortion and/or the pro-choice movement in a number of important ways.

First (and most fundamentally), abortion relegates a class of vulnerable human beings (the unborn) to the status of non-persons that may be killed for the convenience or benefit of others. Thus, it contradicts the basic principle of equal dignity for all human beings, the same principle that properly grounds the feminist effort to ensure female equality with men.

Second, there is overwhelming evidence that abortion can harm women both physically and psychologically. Yet defenders of legal abortion almost always downplay or dismiss these risks, and they typically oppose any requirements that women be properly informed of them prior to an abortion.

Third, the claim that abortion access is necessary for pregnant women to be equal to men—a common assertion of pro-choice feminists—implies that women are inferior by nature. Janet E. Smith, a professor of moral theology, wrote in her 1978 essay "Abortion as a Feminist Concern":
[Some argue] that as long as men [can] engage in sex without the "danger" of becoming pregnant, women should have this "right" also: otherwise the sexes would not be equal. Thus women should go to the extreme of killing their offspring in order to gain so-called "equality" with men. It seems to me that feminists should find this a very "unliberated" attitude. At root this argument suggests that the manner in which a male's body functions is better than that of a woman. The argument amounts to an admission that a woman would rather be a man and that she is willing to ... have sex on a man's terms, not on a woman's.
Thus, Smith says, "Abortion is a denigration of women, a denial of one of the defining features of being a woman—her ability to bear children." Philosopher Francis J. Beckwith explains further:
[Some] popular abortion-choice rhetoric ... asserts that women cannot achieve social and political equality without [abortion access]. ... But the assumption behind this rhetoric—that equality can only be achieved through special surgery (abortion)—implies that women are naturally inferior to men, that they need abortion (a form of corrective surgery) to become equal with men. This is hardly consistent with any feminism that claims that men are not naturally superior to women. ... It seems to me that this argument is rhetorically powerful in some circles because it taps into an unconscious sexism that assumes that male sexuality is the paradigm of human sexuality. Consequently, the inequality does not lie in the nature of women but in the disordered way in which our society places value on that nature. The key to ending this inequality is not to socialize women into the male paradigm, but to celebrate and honor the indispensable role that mothers play in caring for the most vulnerable and defenseless members of our population, the unborn.
Teresa Collett, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, puts it this way: "True equality requires society to accept women with their fertility intact."

Fourth, suggesting that abortion is a "need" for some women—given difficult economic or social conditions—implies that women are unable to succeed economically or socially without killing their own offspring. Writes Janet Smith:
Why is it that we assume women are incapable of dealing with the adversity of an unwanted pregnancy by any other means than that of destroying life? Is this a flattering view of women? Is this a true view of women? Are women so weak psychologically that they cannot deal with what I so often hear referred to as the "trauma" of an unwanted pregnancy? I argue that by allowing women to abort their unwanted pregnancies we are telling them that we have a very low opinion of them. Isn't a mark of a mature and responsible person the ability to face problems squarely? Does not the mature person have the ability and the desire to consider the well-being of all those who are involved in a situation which presents problems—not just herself?

In fact, I take the legalization of abortion to be an indication that as a society we expect less of our women than we do of our men. After all, society has traditionally in times of war asked men to risk their own lives. But we are unwilling to ask women to offer a few months of their lives in order to give life. Why is it that we expect men to be able to risk their lives for the well-being of us all, while we do not ask a woman to give a few months to protect a life she is responsible for creating?

In this day of unparalleled opportunities for women, when women pride themselves on their ability to fend for themselves, when many agencies are designed for helping women in distress—why do we assume that women who become pregnant when inconvenient for them are not resourceful enough to find a way to nourish the life they have conceived?
Feminists for Life of America says, "Refuse to choose. Refuse to choose between women and children. Refuse to choose between sacrificing our education and career plans and sacrificing our children."

Fifth, the acceptance of abortion may help enable the mistreatment of women. Abortion can be (and sometimes is) used to hide pregnancies resulting from incest and statutory rape, allowing those crimes to continue. Moreover, abortion access unfairly shifts the responsibility for child rearing to women. As Richard Stith writes, "Men these days can choose only sex, not fatherhood; mothers alone determine whether children shall be allowed to exist. Legalized abortion was supposed to grant enormous freedom to women, but it has had the perverse result of freeing men and trapping women."

So, I think there are good reasons to think that abortion is incompatible with the equal rights of every human being, and with the welfare and special dignity of women.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

At African Union Summit, mothers and children should be focus

The following op-ed by Scott Fischbach, MCCL GO president, is being distributed in Africa.

As the 15th African Union Summit gets underway in Kampala, Uganda this week, it is critical for leaders to remain focused on the theme of the Summit: Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa. This week's meetings can bear much fruit for the women and children of Africa as long as the proceedings do not get side-tracked into a push for legalized abortion.

Some prior Continental meetings have been hijacked by those who have an agenda to legalize abortion throughout Africa. These calls for outright legalized abortion, coming via documents like CARMMA or MPOA, ought to be resoundingly rejected by African leaders. References to abortion and "reproductive health services" ought to be stripped from all Summit documents, and the focus should remain on the well-being of the women and children in the Union.

Leading experts in the field of maternal mortality are fast coming to the same conclusion: adequate health care, not legalized abortion, will reduce the incidence of maternal mortality. Globally, countries with some of the lowest maternal death rates also do not have legalized abortion -- countries like Malta, Nicaragua, Poland and Ireland. Interestingly, in New York City, New York, USA, the maternal mortality rates are now increasing, even though abortion has been legal and easily available with more than 120,000 abortions per year there since 1970.

The people of Africa are its greatest resource. The children of Africa are its greatest hope. This historic Summit ought to be a time to harmonize positive efforts to lift all mothers and babies in life.

Recent international activity on issues relating to maternal mortality and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations have steered clear of the abortion issue. The G 8 meeting in Canada as well as the G 20 meeting both specifically did not take any action or make any statements regarding abortion while promising billions in U.S. dollars to aid Africa. Melinda Gates from the Gates Foundation promised an additional $1.5 billion in aid on maternal mortality, and when asked about abortion she stated very emphatically that she would not get into the matter and the funds would not be used to pay for abortions.

Clean water, clean blood supplies, trained health care workers, emergency obstetric care and adequate health care facilities will dramatically reduce maternal mortality rates in Africa. Legalizing abortion will not. It will only increase the number of abortions and maternal deaths. Leaders of the AU should remain focused this week on life-affirming results for the women and children of Africa.

Scott Fischbach is the Executive Director of MCCL Global Outreach, a life-affirming international outreach program based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He also serves as an NGO representative of the National Right to Life Educational Trust.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On our moral obligations, the requirements of conscience

Princeton professor Robert P. George:
It is [natural] law which binds in conscience all of us—Catholics, Protestants, Jews, members of every faith and even those without faith—not simply to refrain from taking innocent human life but to avoid the injustice of supporting policies which, for example, deprive the unborn and frail elderly of the protection against wrongful killing to which every member of the human family is strictly entitled ... The moral prohibitions of abortion [and] euthanasia ... are examples of the "negative" norms of the natural law which apply always and everywhere to everyone alike.

But, of course, the requirements of morality are not exhausted by these negative norms. The vast majority of our moral duties are affirmative, not negative—norms such as "feed the hungry," "stand with victims of injustice," "foster the common good." These precepts are no less integrally parts of the natural law than are the negative norms; nor is it the case that our obligations under the affirmative norms are any less stringent. Conscience, properly informed, requires more—much more—than the mere avoidance of the sort of wrongdoing involved in, say, having an abortion, or performing or paying for abortions, or supporting legal abortion and its public funding. All of us are morally bound affirmatively to combat injustice and other evils ... and not merely to avoid unjustly inflicting evil on others.

Robert P. George
However, affirmative norms differ from negative ones in an important respect. There is no single, uniquely correct way of fulfilling affirmative responsibilities. The precise nature of such responsibilities, in fact, varies in significant ways from person to person, depending on people's circumstances, commitments, and opportunities, not to mention their talents and abilities.

The problem of unjust laws usefully illustrates the difference between negative and affirmative obligations. Consider a law requiring Christian physicians or hospitals to perform, or, at least, refer for abortions. Now, what this law would demand is strictly excluded by a negative norm; no Christian physician or hospital could, in conscience, perform or refer for an abortion. The norm applies to everyone and applies to everyone in the same way. The only way to fulfill its requirements is by refusing to comply with the law.

Now, let us consider a different sort of unjust law, the one we already have, namely, a national policy which, while requiring no one to perform or participate in abortions (though the public funding of abortion by certain states requires people to materially cooperate in abortions in ways that, at least, raise a question) fails to protect the right to life of unborn children and severely restricts pro-life efforts to dissuade women from aborting them. The norms to which conscience adverts here are the closely related affirmative obligations to stand with the victims of injustice and to foster the common good. To fulfill our obligations under these norms, we must combat the injustice of legal abortion and abortion funding and work for laws which respect the profound and equal worth and dignity of women and their unborn children. But these affirmative obligations, unlike negative ones, can be fulfilled by different people in different ways. Everyone has an obligation to support the pro-life cause, and to pray for its success, but depending on people's circumstances, commitments, opportunities, talents, and abilities, different people can legitimately support the cause in different ways and with different levels of involvement.

No one should conclude from this legitimate relativity, however, that his or her own responsibility in the face of the grave injustice of our abortion laws is a matter of moral indifference. Our duties under the relevant affirmative norms are relative to our individual circumstances, but, given my circumstances or yours, you or I may be strictly bound in conscience to make a particular, and possibly quite substantial, contribution to the cause of justice for the unborn. Our duties in conscience, though particular to each of us as individuals, may be no more optional in this case than in the case of negative norms. Even when it comes to affirmative norms, conscience is a stern monitor.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Penn. plan approved to federally subsidize coverage of abortions

The following is a news release from the National Right to Life Committee.

WASHINGTON (July 13, 2010) -- The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new "high-risk" insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March -- and has quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of Governor Edward Rendell (D) under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania.

The high-risk pool program is one of the new programs created by the sweeping health care legislation (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) that President Obama signed into law on March 23. The law authorizes $5 billion in federal funds for the program, which will cover as many as 400,000 people when it is implemented nationwide.

"The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we've discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life organizations in all 50 states. "This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama's assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion -- but it will not be the last."

An earlier version of the health care legislation, passed by the House of Representatives in November 2009, contained a provision (the Stupak-Pitts Amendment) that would have prevented federal funds from subsidizing abortion or insurance coverage of abortion in any of the programs created by the bill, including the high-risk pool program. But President Obama opposed that pro-life provision, and it was not included in the bill later approved by both houses and signed into law. An executive order signed by the President on March 24, 2010, did not contain effective barriers to federal funding of abortion, and did not even mention the high-risk pool program.

"President Obama successfully opposed including language in the bill to prevent federal subsidies for abortions, and now the Administration is quietly advancing its abortion-expanding agenda through administrative decisions such as this, which they hope will escape broad public attention," Johnson said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has emphasized that the high-risk pool program is a federal program and that the states will not incur any cost. On May 11, 2010, in a letter to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on implementation of the new law, DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that "states may choose whether and how they participate in the program, which is funded entirely by the federal government."

Details of the high-risk pool plans for most states are not yet available. But on June 28, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario (a member of the appointed cabinet of Governor Edward Rendell, a Democrat) issued a press release (see here) announcing that the federal Department of Health and Human Services had approved his agency's proposal for implementing the new program in Pennsylvania. "The state will receive $160 million to set up the program, which will provide coverage to as many as 5,600 people between now and 2014," according to the release. "The plan's benefit package will include preventive care, physician services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, mental health services, prescription medications and much more, with subsidized premiums of $283 a month."

Examination of the detailed Pennsylvania plan (posted here), reveals that the "much more" will include insurance coverage of any legal abortion.

The section on abortion (see page 14) asserts that "elective abortions are not covered." However, that statement proves to be a red herring, because the operative language does not define "elective." Rather, the proposal specifies that the coverage "includes only abortions and contraceptives that satisfy the requirements of" several specific statutes, the most pertinent of which is 18 Pa. C.S. § 3204, which says that an abortion is legal in Pennsylvania (consistent with Roe v. Wade) if a single physician believes that it is "necessary" based on "all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age) relevant to the well-being of the woman." Indeed, the cited statute provides only a single circumstance in which an abortion prior to 24 weeks is NOT permitted under the Pennsylvania statute: "No abortion which is sought solely because of the sex of the unborn child shall be deemed a necessary abortion."

As a result, "Under the Rendell-Sebelius plan, federal funds will subsidize coverage of abortion performed for any reason, except sex selection," said NRLC's Johnson. "The Pennsylvania proposal conspicuously lacks language that would prevent funding of abortions performed as a method of birth control or for any other reason, except sex selection -- and the Obama Administration has now approved this."

A group of Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who initially withheld support from the federal health care bill, because of concerns about pro-abortion effects, cited President Obama's March 24 executive order in justifying their votes to pass the bill over objections from NRLC and other pro-life groups, which argued that the executive order did not contain effective barriers to federal subsidies for abortion. As USA Today reported on March 25, “Both sides in the abortion debate came to a rare agreement on Wednesday: The executive order on abortion signed by President Obama, they said, was basically meaningless. 'A transparent political fig leaf,' according to the National Right to Life Committee's Douglas Johnson. 'A symbolic gesture,' said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards."

MCCL sues state for violating first amendment rights

The following is a press release from the law firm of Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom, issued last Thursday, July 8.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Inc., The Taxpayers League of Minnesota, and Coastal Travel Enterprises, LLC want to be able to make contributions to political parties and/or candidates, and also produce political ads supporting the candidates they like. The First Amendment says they have the right to do these things. But Minnesota law forbids it.

Minnesota says that corporations may only make political ads if they pay for them from what the State calls a "political fund." These political funds have lots of burdensome registration, record-keeping, and reporting requirements. But the Supreme Court recently ruled in a case called Citizens United that corporations have a First Amendment right to make political ads from their own money, without having to submit to burdensome registration, record-keeping, and reporting requirements. So Minnesota requires the very thing the Supreme Court said is unconstitutional.

Minnesota also bans political contributions from corporations, unless they are made through a "conduit fund" that has these same type of burdensome requirements. Even then, corporations do not get to decide which candidate the money in their conduit fund should be contributed to. Instead, whoever donates to the fund gets to decide. But every other type of association— including unincorporated labor unions—get to decide which candidates the money in their funds should be contributed to. This treats corporations differently than everybody else, and prevents them from making contributions they want to make.

As a result, MCCL, Taxpayers League and Coastal Travel filed suit in federal court yesterday, asking the Judge to strike these unconstitutional laws.

James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for the Corporations, stated, "The Supreme Court was clear when it said in Citizens United that corporations have free-speech rights. Minnesota's attempt to subvert the Supreme Court is blatantly unconstitutional. And, the reasoning of Citizens means that corporations should also be able to make their own contributions, without having to use a special 'fund.' Regardless, the Constitution forbids government treating similar groups differently, as Minnesota does to corporations and every other type of association."

The case is before the Honorable Donovan Frank, District Judge in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. The case number is 10-CV-2938 DWF/JSM, and is known as MCCL v. Swanson. The complaint may be viewed at

Friday, July 9, 2010

'Both hearts and laws must be changed'

Fr. Frank Pavone writes:
Some people say that the solution to the abortion problem is to change people's hearts.

In fact, changing people's hearts is the solution to every problem that the world faces.

But that doesn't mean that we don't have laws. The fact is that while there are people around whose hearts are not in the right place, there have to be laws to restrain their heartless activities. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, the law cannot get the white man to love me, but it can stop him from lynching me.

We also should not overlook the power that laws have to shape minds and hearts. When our children learn in school that something is legal, they are learning that such a thing is right.

Whether regarding abortion or anything else, both hearts and laws must be changed.

‘Everyone Counts’ is theme of World Population Day

The following was released today by MCCL Global Outreach.

Nations throughout the world will celebrate World Population Day Sunday, July 11, with the theme, "Everyone Counts." Established in 1989 by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Population Day calls attention to urgent global issues.

"MCCL GO is pleased to see the United Nations express concern for the lives of all human beings," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of MCCL Global Outreach. "People in many parts of the world are suffering from lack of food, water, health care and other essentials to life. One of the worst threats humans face, however, is that of being killed by abortion before they are even born."

The UNFPA is "an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity." The UNFPA's stated goals are to advance "policies and programs to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect." In the pursuit of these goals, the lives of unborn children must not be forgotten.

The rights of unborn children have been clearly delineated in United Nations documents. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Dec. 10, 1948) includes life as a universal right:
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (Nov. 20, 1989, General Assembly Resolution 44) states the following:
Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth." ...

Article 6

1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
The destruction of human life by abortion is the greatest human rights struggle of our time. The World Health Organization estimates that 42 million abortions are performed worldwide each year—a profound violation of the equal dignity and rights of human beings. The destruction of unborn human life is in direct opposition to the "Everyone Counts" belief fostered by World Population Day.

"As the UNFPA seeks an all-inclusive approach to addressing the concerns of human life, MCCL GO calls for renewed recognition of unborn children as essential members of the human family," Fischbach added. "Real progress in lifting people out of extreme poverty and suffering will never be achieved without guaranteeing the right to life for all human beings, before as well as after birth."

MCCL GO is the international outreach arm of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization. MCCL has been dedicated for 42 years to the single issue of life itself. For more information about MCCL, visit

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rationing advocate Berwick appointed to head Medicare, Medicaid

The following is a National Right to Life press release, issued yesterday, July 7.

WASHINGTON — Today, President Obama used the power of the recess appointment to install Donald Berwick as the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in an attempt to avoid examination, through the pending confirmation process, of Berwick's well-documented support for rationing health care.

"The Obama recess appointment of rationing advocate Donald Berwick to head the key government agency that will apply the new health care law is disastrous news for the vulnerable, especially the elderly and the sickest of American patients," said Burke Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life's Powell Center for Medical Ethics.

Confirmation of Berwick would have faced strong opposition from pro-life Republican senators appalled by his open advocacy of government-imposed rationing of medical treatment. In a June 2009 interview with the journal Biotechnology Healthcare, Berwick said, "The decision is not whether or not we will ration care – the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open."

In an article in the May/June 2008 issue of Health Affairs, he called for "rational collective action overriding some individual self-interest" so as to "reduce per capita costs." Lamenting that "[t]oday's individual health care processes are designed to respond to the acute needs of individual patients," Berwick wrote that instead government should "approach new technologies and capital investments with skepticism and require that a strong burden of proof of value lie with the proponent."

Berwick's advocacy of the decimation of American health care is long-standing. In a 1994 Journal of the American Medical Association article, he wrote, "Most metropolitan areas in the United States should reduce the number of centers engaging in cardiac surgery, high-risk obstetrics, neonatal intensive care, organ transplantation, tertiary cancer care, high-level trauma care, and high-technology imaging."

"Donald Berwick is a one-man death panel," said David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., National Right to Life executive director. "While Americans may not remember the agency he heads, he will quickly become known as Obama's rationing czar."

Berwick is also an enthusiastic supporter of Britain's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), the agency charged with determining which medical advances will – and which will not – be made available to the British public. Berwick claims NICE has "developed very good and very disciplined ... models for the evaluation of medical treatment from which we ought to learn." England's five-year cancer survival rate for men is only 45%, compared with 66% in the U.S. That for women is 53%, compared to 63% in the U.S. (See: Arduiono Verdecchia and others, "Recent Cancer Survival: a 2000-02 period analysis of EUROCARE-4 data," Lancet Oncology, 2007, no. 8, pages 784-796.)

The difference can in large measure be attributed to the refusal of NICE to authorized British use of pioneering cancer drugs routinely available in the United States. That is to say – currently routinely available in the United States – an availability Berwick will soon be using the power of government to curtail.

"President Obama's appointment of this open advocate of rationing to implement his health care law underlines the need for repeal before untold numbers of vulnerable Americans suffer death from denial of life-saving treatment," O'Steen added. "The Obama health care rationing law much be repealed and voters need to remember its deadly provisions in November."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Obamacare threatens conscience

In addition to its many other problems, Pres. Obama's new health care law threatens the conscience rights of pro-life health care workers. Read about it here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence Day: Does 'all men' include the unborn?

The Declaration of Independence, issued on July 4, 1776, includes this famous affirmation of human dignity: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Randy Alcorn reflects:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident." There are certain truths so basic, so foundational that we must hold to them if the social fabric of this country is to endure. What are those truths?

First, "That all men are created equal." Flowing out of that it says, "That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Note the order: the cornerstone is that all are created equal, then that there are certain rights given by God that you and I are not free to ignore. Then, that the first and most basic inalienable right is the right to life. The exercise of our right to liberty and our right to the pursuit of happiness are secondary to respecting the right to life. Our pursuit of happiness must not compromise any other person's right to live. So, the right to life is not some modern anti-abortion slogan. It is the most fundamental assertion of the document upon which this nation was founded.

The three most significant moral issues in American history have each hinged on an understanding of what it means that "all men are created equal."

The first question: Does "all men" mean only the white race or does it include blacks? The second question: Does "all men" mean males, or does it mean all mankind, male and female? Laws were changed as our nation came to a correct answer to these questions.

The question before us today is a third one, with as much moral significance as the first two. Does "all men" include not only the bigger and older, but also the smaller and younger? Does it include our preborn children?

Kagan discarded science, integrity in defense of partial-birth abortion

Recently released White House papers indicate that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, while working as an aide to Pres. Bill Clinton, manipulated a highly influential statement from a medical organization on partial-birth abortion.

Instead of saying the medical group "could identify no circumstances under which this procedure [partial-birth abortion] ... would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman," as the statement did originally, Kagan changed it to read: "[Partial-birth abortion] may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman."

Kagan's maneuver was apparently crucial to preventing enactment of the ban on partial-birth abortion (which didn't happen until years later, under Pres. Bush).

Yuval Levin writes:
What's described in these memos is easily the most serious and flagrant violation of the boundary between scientific expertise and politics I have ever encountered. A White House official formulating a substantive policy position for a supposedly impartial physicians' group, and a position at odds with what that group's own policy committee had actually concluded? You have to wonder where all the defenders of science—those intrepid guardians of the freedom of inquiry who throughout the Bush years wailed about the supposed politicization of scientific research and expertise—are now. If the Bush White House (in which I served as a domestic policy staffer) had ever done anything even close to this it would have been declared a monumental scandal, and rightly so.

Apparently scientific integrity only matters as long as it doesn't somehow infringe on abortion.
This is one good reason, among many, for pro-lifers to oppose the confirmation of Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. (It turns out Kagan also tried to influence the position of the American Medical Association on partial-birth abortion, in order to bolster the Clinton administration's pro-partial-birth abortion position.)

Read a detailed explanation of Kagan's abortion distortion here, and see responses to the recent questioning of Kagan on this issue here, here and here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Teen abortions drop to lowest number ever

The following MCCL news release provides a more in-depth analysis of the annual Minnesota Abortion Report, released today.

Teen abortions drop to lowest number ever as young people embrace life for their unborn babies
But Planned Parenthood sets new record even as state abortion numbers decline

ST. PAUL — Abortions performed on minors dropped sharply last year by a full 10 percent to a total of 579, according to a state report released today. Deaths from abortion decreased 4.3 percent in Minnesota last year. Teen abortions accounted for just 4 percent of the 2009 state total.

The 2009 Abortion Report shows a total of 12,388 abortions were performed in the state in 2009, compared to 12,948 the previous year. The 2009 total is the lowest number on record since 1975 and is also the lowest abortion rate (10.9 per 1,000 females age 15-44) since 1975.

The dramatic drop—560 fewer babies were killed than in 2008—demonstrates that pregnant women are being helped and empowered to choose life by the numerous resources available to them across the state.

"MCCL is pleased to see that more and more minor girls are rejecting abortion, in spite of Planned Parenthood's aggressive marketing efforts that target teenagers," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Pro-life efforts to provide real help to pregnant girls and women continue to succeed. We want every pregnant woman to know that we will help them every step of the way, and that no one should ever force them to have an abortion."

The 579 abortions performed on minor girls last year was the lowest number of abortions on minors ever recorded in Minnesota. Minor abortions peaked at 2,327 in 1980.

Even though the abortion total was the lowest in 34 years, Planned Parenthood managed to increase its abortions last year to a record 3,996. Planned Parenthood performed 1,600 more abortions than the next largest provider. It now performs more than 32 percent of all abortions in the state—its highest percentage ever.

"Despite its claims to the contrary, Planned Parenthood clearly is not concerned with reducing the number of abortions performed in Minnesota," Fischbach said. "Today's report confirms that Planned Parenthood's aggressive marketing of abortion to teenagers, minorities and low-income women is enabling it to achieve its business goal of performing more abortions every year."

Other increases in 2009: Chemical abortions using the dangerous and sometimes lethal RU486 drug rose to 19 percent of all abortions, and taxpayer-funded abortions rose to 31.9 percent of all abortions. Both of these were the highest percentages ever in the state.

The total number of reported abortions performed in Minnesota since 1973 is 555,650.

The following is additional information concerning “Induced Abortions in Minnesota, 2009, Report to the Legislature,” released July 1, 2010, by the Minnesota Department of Health:

40% of women who received an abortion in 2009 had at least one prior abortion. A total of 949 women reported they had had 3 or more prior abortions

15,158 women received information about abortion risks, complications and alternatives under the Woman's Right to Know informed consent law, which is 2,770 more than the number who underwent abortions

31.9% of all abortions were taxpayer funded in 2009—this is the highest percentage since the Minnesota Supreme Court’s 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision required taxpayers to pay for elective abortions. Self-funded abortions are at their lowest level since state abortion reporting began in 1998

Planned Parenthood performed an average of more than 10 abortions every day in 2009, for a total of 3,996. The provider increased its abortions by 1% while total abortions decreased 4.3%

Planned Parenthood now performs 32% of abortions in Minnesota, its largest percentage since abortion reporting began in 1998. It has been the state's largest abortionist since 2004

Planned Parenthood increased its abortions by 63% from 2000 to 2009; total abortions dropped 14% over the same period


  • 98 different people performed abortions in 2009
  • 8 physicians each performed more than 600 abortions last year
  • Minnesota's 7 abortion clinics performed more than 99% of all abortions in 2009

Abortions performed on minors (under age 18) declined 10% to 579 from 645 in 2008. With very few exceptions, abortions performed on minors have been declining steadily since 1987. In 2006, abortions on minors spiked 16% after Planned Parenthood opened two feeder clinics in Twin Cities suburbs and marketed its services to minors

Race and abortion: African Americans—4% of population, 24% of abortions; Asians—3% of population, 7% of abortions; Caucasians—90% of population, 60% of abortions; Hispanics—3% of population, 6% of abortions

Chemical abortions (RU486) accounted for 19% of the 2009 total, up from 17% in 2008

Rape, incest or "continued pregnancy will cause impairment of major bodily function" combined represented less than 1% of all abortions in 2009

Suction was the most common form of abortion, used for 75% of abortions (76% in 2008). Six instillation (saline) abortions were performed; induction of labor, as a form of abortion, decreased to 6

Reasons women gave for their abortions (more than one reason could be given):

  • Less than 1% for rape, incest, "impairment of major bodily function"
  • 64% "does not want child at this time"
  • 31% economic reasons (down 1% from 2008)


  • 9 occurred during abortion procedure (6 cervical lacerations, 2 hemorrhage, 1 other)
  • 79 occurred after abortion procedure

12,388 abortions equates to more than 33 abortions performed every single day last year.

MCCL is Minnesota’s oldest and largest pro-life organization with more than 70,000 member families and 240 chapters across the state. For more information about MCCL, visit

MN abortion numbers drop in 2009

The following MCCL news release was issued today, July 1.

ST. PAUL — Abortion numbers fell for the third straight year in Minnesota, according to the latest report on abortion issued today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The decrease is part of a three-year trend of fewer abortions statewide since the Positive Alternatives program has funded efforts to help pregnant women in need.

Positive Alternatives is one of several pro-life legislative efforts by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) to offer women life-affirming alternatives to abortion and to significantly reduce the number of unborn babies aborted each year.

"MCCL is very pleased to see that abortion numbers fell again last year," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Even so, the fact that so many pregnant women last year believed that abortion was their only option remains a tragedy."

The annual Abortion Report shows that abortion providers reported a total of 12,388 abortions were performed in the state in 2009, compared to 12,948 the previous year. The 2009 total is the lowest number on record since 1975. The full reports for 2009 and prior years are available at the MDH website.

Positive Alternatives was passed by the Legislature in 2005 to establish a grant program through MDH. Grants are given to life-affirming organizations offering essential services to women; 31 organizations are currently participating in the Positive Alternatives grant program. A MDH report showed that more than 12,000 women statewide were helped through the Positive Alternatives program in its first two years (July 2006-June 2008), and 6,000 women received help in the program's third year. The fact that thousands of pregnant women last year still believed that abortion was their only option underscores the enormous need for women to find alternatives to abortion.

MCCL connects pregnant women throughout Minnesota with these and other pregnancy care providers every day. A comprehensive list of nearly 100 pregnancy care centers is available on the MCCL website at and in print form in Spanish and English. MCCL is committed to guaranteeing that every woman knows about the life-affirming options and services available to her in the event of an unexpected pregnancy.

"It is crucial that every pregnant woman know that she does not need to have an abortion," Fischbach said. "There are literally thousands of health care professionals and compassionate volunteers ready to help pregnant women all over Minnesota facing unintended pregnancies."

* * MCCL will issue a more in-depth analysis of the MDH report later today * *