Monday, January 9, 2012

The state of the pro-life movement in Minnesota

Even as Planned Parenthood advances its agenda of more abortions through whatever means possible, and even as pro-abortion Gov. Mark Dayton vetoes every piece of lifesaving legislation that reaches his desk, the pro-life movement in Minnesota is making progress. As a result of public education, compassionate support and alternatives for pregnant women in need, and pro-life laws enacted in recent years (notably Woman's Right to Know and Positive Alternatives), the number of abortions has slowly but consistently declined in Minnesota.

Two new articles discuss the state of the pro-life movement in Minnesota. In the Northern Cross, Kyle Eller writes:
Someone scanning headlines about tax-funded abortion and conscience protection and the platforms of the president and governor might imagine the pro-life movement as downcast and dwindling.

But 39 years after Roe v. Wade, the reverse is true. Although it often comes with the caveat that the movement has a long way to go, prolife leaders feel the wind squarely in their sails. ...

"Pro-lifers and activists should be very encouraged," said Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of Minnesota's bishops.

He says public attitudes are changing, and presents polling to back it up. A May Gallup poll analyzed by National Right to Life shows 61 percent of Americans taking a generally pro-life position that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances. Only 37 percent took a position generally in favor of legal abortion.

It's true at the state level too, Adkins said. "I think Minnesotans are nice people, and it's not nice to kill babies."

Fewer babies are being killed in Minnesota—and in cities like Duluth and in the United States as a whole.

Bill Poehler, communications director for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, said that numbers are going down across the country, that the rate of abortions in Minnesota is the lowest since 1975, and that teen abortions are the lowest ever recorded. ...

Poehler said for the first time in 20 years an abortion facility in the state closed—at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. On the other hand, Planned Parenthood is building the third largest abortion facility in the country in the same city, within walking distance of seven college campuses and right on the rail line.

Joanne Martens, director of the Lake Superior Life Care Center, which served more than 2,300 clients (including 138 abortion-vulnerable women) at locations in Duluth and Superior last year and materially assisted many more, said the organization is getting more volunteers, including younger people. She said the center, which will soon offer ultrasounds for expecting mothers, is also seeing increased referrals from social service agencies that don't identify as pro-life, in part because the Positive Alternatives law passed in Minnesota several years ago has given it more visibility and credibility. ...

Among pro-life groups, there is also an improved sense of collaboration, according to many of those interviewed—something that is not always easy given the number of different organizations and approaches in the pro-life community.

Many leaders explain the change in cultural attitudes simply: Young people have grown up seeing amazing ultrasound pictures of life in the womb, and many have also seen the effect of 50 million abortions since 1973 on women. ...

There have been political victories. Poehler said both the United States and the European Union banned patenting of human DNA, and one large corporation involved in such research ceased operations.

But at the State Capitol, it's tough going. Five pro-life bills were passed last year, some with large, bipartisan majorities, and sent to Gov. Mark Dayton.

"Unfortunately, the governor vetoed them all," Poehler said.

Lacking a veto-proof majority for those measures, Poehler said the 2012 legislative focus will be on the safety of women.

For instance, cases in other states have drawn attention to a lack of regulation for abortion facilities, a situation pro-life leaders say is present in Minnesota. MCCL will be pushing legislation to address that.

Another issue is "webcam abortions," where a pregnant mother is given the abortion medication RU-486 after consulting with a provider in another city by video link, with no physical examination.

Poehler said Planned Parenthood has rolled out the practice to every facility in Iowa and in 2011 started doing them in Rochester, raising concerns that it will also expand in Minnesota and increase the number of abortions.

Poehler said the practice is unsafe, noting RU-486 has already been banned over safety concerns in Canada and that 14 women have died from it. Not being observed means still greater risk, he said, and may involve clients who lack nearby emergency medical care in case of complications.

Read the whole article here. Meanwhile, Scott Noble writes in the Minnesota Christian Examiner.
Number of abortions in the state at record lows, the closing of the abortion clinic at Regions Hospital and the continued move of more people to the pro-life position. These and a host of other factors give Minnesota's pro-life leaders encouragement for the movement and its future.

Two of the state's most well-known and effective pro-life groups—Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) and Pro-Life Action Ministries (PLAM)—have played key roles in advancing pro-life legislation and providing prayer support for the pro-life movement. ...

Even though the closing of the abortion clinic at Regions was good news for pro-life groups, it also highlighted what Scott Fischbach, executive director of MCCL, referred to as a "consolidation" of abortion services in Minnesota.

"Regions shutting down was good," he said. "But it's kind of like the corner grocery store that you had for years and then a big Cub moved in and now the corner grocery store is kind of a waste of time. Regions should have never been involved in abortions. They are a hospital. There's been a consolidation that we've seen in the abortion reports that come out every July. There has been a consolidation in the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood's numbers continue to go up and up and up. Everybody else's are going down." ...

"I think you are seeing, as the younger generation now matures, that they've lived through their friends and their brothers and sisters having gone through or experiencing close at hand people who have suffered from abortions," he said. "And they know it's not the route to take."

One of the reasons for the movement toward more pro-life support, Fischbach believes, is the advancement in technology.

"When Roe v. Wade was decided, we didn't have the neo-natal intensive care units, we didn't have the 3-D ultrasounds, we didn't have the audio of the unborn child's heart beating, we didn't have all of these studies of all of these women for the last 40 years who we now can study the effects that having had an abortion has," he said. "When you begin to put all of that together and you see the effects, different people, different arguments, different facts are going to bring people to the movement."

Read the rest here.