Wednesday, March 20, 2013

International Day of the Unborn Child: March 25, 2013

The following was released today, March 20, 2013, by MCCL GO.

The International Day of the Unborn Child is to be celebrated by all citizens on Monday, March 25, 2013. It is a day to recall the remarkable journey of life each member of the human family has taken in our commonality as human beings and our uniqueness as individuals.

Initiated by Pope John Paul II to coincide with and to honor the Feast of the Annunciation, the March 25 event has grown into a day of celebration and remembrance for all unborn human beings. It is a time to celebrate human dignity and the amazing world of the developing child yet to be born. It is also a day to remember the millions of unborn children whose lives have been ended by the violence of abortion.

In 1993, El Salvador became the first country to officially celebrate a "Day of the Right to Be Born." Subsequently other countries have begun official celebrations for the unborn, including Argentina with "Day of the Unborn" in 1998, Chile with "Day of the Conceived and Unborn" in 1999, and also in 1999, Guatemala's "National Day of the Unborn." Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic and Paraguay are all nations that now celebrate a day for the unborn child.

While many nations celebrate the unalienable worth and value of every unborn child, we must raise our voices against the current U.S. administration's unrelenting war on the innocent unborn child. Since President Obama's election in 2008, the U.S. administration's policy of advocating the destruction of unborn children has come in all forms, from taxpayer funding of abortion and embryo-killing research, to funding efforts abroad to rid other countries of their pro-life constitutions. Never before in the history of the world has an unborn child faced such a great struggle just to be born.

It is important in 2013 to recall how much we have learned about the intricate world of the unborn child and humanity itself. Current developments include intrauterine surgery, ultrasound, neo-natal intensive care, fetal heart monitoring and much more. We also know now that the unborn child has the ability to feel pain.

To help spread this message of this special day, MCCL GO has created web graphics for pro-life people and groups to share. They are available for free here (click to enlarge) and at MCCL's Facebook page.

MCCL GO is a pro-life global outreach program of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund with one goal: to save as many innocent lives as possible from the destruction of abortion. Learn more at

Please subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Richard Dawkins and the ability to feel pain

"With respect to those meanings of 'human' that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig," tweeted Richard Dawkins on Wednesday, echoing philosopher Peter Singer, who has made the same comparison.

(Dawkins is probably the world's most famous, or infamous, proponent of atheism, but a belief in atheism need not entail the pro-choice position on the ethics of abortion that Dawkins holds. Indeed, that position is contravened by science and reason accessible to people of any or no faith, independent of any religious teaching or texts.)

A clarification must be made regarding Dawkins' use of the term "human." It can be used in a biological sense to mean a living human organism—a member of the species Homo sapiens—and in that sense the fetus, from the beginning of his or her existence at conception, is a full-fledged human being, like you and me only at an earlier developmental stage, while the pig is not and never will be. But Dawkins uses "human" in a different sense to refer to certain characteristically-human qualities that he considers morally relevant with respect to how a being ought to be treated—qualities that may not be possessed by all human beings (those who have yet to acquire them, or who have lost them, are excluded from serious moral regard) and that may be possessed by some non-human animals (such as pigs).

Dawkins went on to further discuss abortion and clarify his position. He considers the ability to experience pain the decisive factor: Only beings who can feel pain deserve the sort of moral respect that would preclude killing them. Only when an unborn child is developed enough to feel pain is abortion (presumably) morally impermissible.

But this position does not seem defensible. Surely we may not kill people as long as we do so in a painless fashion. So it must be, as Dawkins puts it, the ability to feel pain that counts. But what about people who are under anesthesia or temporarily comatose? What about people with the condition called congenital insensitivity to pain? They cannot experience pain. Do they not still have a right to life? Imagine an intelligent alien race whose physiology is such that, though in every other way like us, they cannot feel pain or pleasure. Imagine a person whose brain has been surgically altered to prevent the experience of pain. Are these people not still people?

Even normal, adult human beings who can suffer pain have that ability in varying degrees. Does that mean that our moral worth, our right not to be killed, is also a matter of degree? Are some people more valuable than others? Philosopher Christopher Kaczor writes:
The kung fu master can put his arms around a burning cauldron, endure the searing of flesh, and carry the weighty object. The proverbial princess cannot stand the pea under her multiple mattresses. Many men cannot bear the least discomfort, and many women endure childbirth without anesthetic. Certain injuries and diseases greatly hinder the human capacity for pain, as do drugs of various kinds, as do differences in degrees of concentration and experience. ... Our experiences of pains and pleasures are conditioned by our prior experiences, beliefs, and habits. Since no two human persons have the same experiences, beliefs, and habits, no two human persons have equal capacities for pleasure and pain, and therefore human persons do not have equal rights [if rights depends on the ability to feel pain, which Kaczor rejects].
This is not to say that pain and suffering are morally irrelevant—clearly they matter a great deal. But it is just as clear that the ability to experience pain is not a necessary criterion for having a right to life or for deserving the kind of moral respect that precludes killing for socio-economic reasons. Nor can the ability to experience pain serve as the basis for equal dignity and rights.

Dawkins will have to rethink his position. (In the meantime, he can at least support current legislation in the United States to stop the dismemberment and killing of unborn children developed enough to feel pain.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Abortion, women's equality, and the misogynist male standard

Erika Bachiochi, who in 2011 authored "Embodied Equality: Debunking Equal Protection Arguments for Abortion Rights" in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, explains a key problem with the claim that "women's social, relational, and legal equality requires abortion":
By equating equality with abortion access, we have capitulated to the misogynist view that equality requires women to become more like men, i.e., not pregnant. This is not to say in a biologically determinist fashion that because women's bodies have the capacity to gestate fetal life, women are assumed by nature to be designed only, or even primarily, to be wives and mothers. It is to say that a culture that relies on abortion to achieve equality between the sexes takes male—wombless—physiology as the norm, and in so doing perpetuates the cultural devaluation of motherhood, and of parenting generally, and the social conditions that are often inhospitable to childrearing. Abortion leaves every societal and familial injustice just as it is, and expects nothing more or different of men.

Sexual equality via abortion looks to cure biological asymmetry—the fact that women get pregnant and men don't—by promoting the rejection of women's bodies. Authentic equality and reproductive justice would demand something far more revolutionary: that men and society at large respect and support women in their myriad capacities and talents which include, for most women at some time in their lives, childbearing.

If pregnancy and motherhood are understood as burdensome conditions to women—experiences that represent our inability to compete with wombless men—they will never be given the respect and accommodation they deserve. Not all women become mothers, but those who do so depend upon a cultural esteeming of both pregnancy and motherhood—the nurturance of an individual and unique human being—for their social and professional support.

To belittle the moral status of the unborn child is to belittle the state of pregnancy, and so too the child's mother. To upend the mother's bond with her unborn child by allowing abortion is also to deny the paternal duties that come with siring offspring. Current abortion law treats pregnancy as a woman's choice—and so too her problem. And many men have been just as happy to (have sex and) oblige.

The sacrifices that mothers endure during their pregnancies—and mothers and fathers endure beyond—would be far more honored (and perhaps even rewarded) were we as a culture honest about the dignity of the human beings—born and unborn—entrusted to our care.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The consequences of more webcam abortions in Minnesota

We noted last week that Whole Woman's Health in Minneapolis may soon offer RU486 abortions remotely via telemedicine. These "webcam abortions" are already offered at the Planned Parenthood facility in Rochester. What will be the consequences?

A recent study of webcam abortions in Iowa, which were introduced in 2008 and administered at 11 different clinics by 2010, provides evidence that the use of telemedicine for abortion does precisely what one would expect: it increases the incidence of RU486 abortions, increases the percentage of overall abortions that use RU486, and increases the incidence of abortion among women in rural areas—which increases the overall incidence of abortion relative to what it would otherwise be.

None of that is good for the unborn children who are killed by this chemical abortion method. It is certainly not consistent with a desire to reduce the number of abortions. But what about the women?

Dr. Jacqueline Harvey of notes that the study's authors (who strongly favor abortion) neglect the health consequences of webcam abortions for women. The researchers "fail to note medical [RU486] abortions have greater rates of complications than surgical abortions," she explains. "The researchers only examine geography and service delivery, not safety or complication."

In her own analysis, then, Harvey uses "the number of abortions by type provided in the ... study" together with "the percentage of women facing complications from each abortion method (also provided by [the study's lead author in his other work])" to conclude that "the increased prevalence of medical abortion will likely yield an 11% increase in the number of women suffering from complications."

An estimated 11 percent increase in the number of women suffering from abortion complications. Based on data provided by abortion advocates, including one who worked for Planned Parenthood in Iowa at the time of the study.

And that is not to mention concerns about the webcam method itself, such as the absence of doctors nearby to treat complications. "The incidence of requiring follow-up care face-to-face with a physician is greater with medical abortions than with surgical abortions—in spite of the fact that telemedicine is justified as expanding access to abortion in rural areas that lack qualified doctors," writes Harvey. "Telemedicine therefore increases the incidence of women electing for the abortion method with a greater incidence of risk, confounded with reduced access to medical professionals when these risks become reality."

It was for the health and safety of pregnant women that the Minnesota Legislature passed a ban on webcam abortions in 2012—requiring simply that a doctor be physically present when administering RU486—but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. And now this dangerous and abortion-expanding practice is beginning to grow.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Health care exchange made pro-life by Minnesota House

The following news release was issued today, March 4.

ST. PAUL — Abortion coverage was removed from the state's health care exchange bill by the Minnesota House of Representatives this afternoon. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) strongly supported the amendment, which passed on a 71-57 vote.

"The health care exchange bill in the House now reflects the will of the Minnesota House of Representatives and the will of the people of Minnesota, the majority of whom oppose abortion and abortion coverage," said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau.

H.F. 5, the bill to create a state-run health care exchange, is a result of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. Under the federal law, every state must offer a health care exchange—an online marketplace of insurance plans. States may establish their own exchange or defer to one created and run by the federal government.

Minnesota legislators have until March 31 to turn the bill into law (the Senate has its own bill, S.F. 1); otherwise the federal exchange will be imposed. The Legislature will break March 25 until April 1, so the bill must be passed before then.

The federal law allows states to exclude coverage for abortion in health insurance plans that participate in the exchange.

"Abortion is not health care and it should not be among the procedures covered in the state exchange's insurance plans," Rau added. "MCCL is pleased to see the House recognize that abortion is outside the realm of health care."

The amendment to make the state's health care exchange pro-life, A13-0121, was offered by Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault. It was one of many amendments considered in today's House floor debate of the exchange bill.

Are they not man?

Civil rights activists refuted racism in four words: "I am a man!" Because people of African descent are man (human), they ought to be treated as such. They are the kind of being who bears intrinsic value and inalienable rights, the kind of being against whom we may not discriminate on the basis of superficial characteristics such as race or skin color.

Children in the womb cannot speak for themselves, but the same question determines how we ought to treat them. Are they not man (human)? Human beings may not be killed for the reasons for which elective abortions are performed. Human beings may not be discriminated against on the basis of superficial characteristics such as age or stage of biological development.

Are they not man? Who will speak on their behalf?

Family Cap repeal approved by Minnesota Senate committee

The following news release was issued today, March 4.

ST. PAUL — Poor women would no longer be denied public assistance for an additional child under legislation unanimously approved by the state Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing today. S.F. 245, authored by Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, calls for repeal of the Family Cap law, and has the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

"The Family Cap has proven to be a failed policy that does not serve the interest of the state or its people," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach, who testified on behalf of the repeal measure.

Family Cap legislation was passed during the 2003 legislative session and went into effect in May 2004. MCCL opposed the 2003 legislation; its opposition to this policy has only intensified since that time.

Statistics reveal why the Family Cap has failed as a welfare reform policy. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Department of Health:

  • More than 19,540 children in 16,030 cases had their grants reduced in at least one month due to the Family Cap.
  • Birth rates in families that are under the Family Cap have not dropped.
  • During the period 2001-2010, the overall number of abortions in the state dropped 22 percent. The percentage of taxpayer funded abortions (performed on low-income women) in our state has risen from 21 percent in 2001 (prior to the Family Cap) up to 34 percent in 2010 (after the Family Cap became law).
  • The reasons why women have abortions in our state have not changed for many years. The state's annual abortion report shows that women feel they cannot have a baby due to lack of financial, educational and emotional support.

Various academic institutions, including a widely cited study from Rutgers' University, have concluded that not only do Family Caps not lower birth rates for poor families, but Family Caps increase abortion rates—as evidenced by our own numbers in Minnesota.

"The Family Cap has created undue economic pressure on poor families. It is time for the Minnesota Legislature to repeal this failed policy," Fischbach said.

The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Whole Woman’s Health brings dangerous ‘webcam abortions’ to Minneapolis

The following news release was issued today, March 1, 2013.

MINNEAPOLIS—The state's newest abortion center is bringing a dangerous Internet abortion method to Minneapolis. Texas-based Whole Woman's Health, which purchased a second abortion center in downtown Minneapolis in November, revealed in a Bloomberg interview that it plans to add "webcam abortions" to its offerings, which also include surgical abortions.

Webcam abortions involve RU486, the chemical abortion method that requires taking two drugs, two days apart (neither is "emergency contraception"). The first, mifepristone, cuts off nutrition to the developing unborn child, causing it to die. The second drug, misoprostol, induces powerful contractions to expel the now-dead baby. The process can take from a few days to several weeks, and in rare cases does not work at all.

At least 14 women are known to have died in the U.S. from RU486 (September 2000-April 2011), according to the Food & Drug Administration. Many died from sepsis, hemorrhage or an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy. More than 2,000 others have suffered adverse effects. As a result, women have petitioned the FDA to remove this dangerous drug from the market to prevent more deaths. The RU486 method accounted for 2,175 abortions in Minnesota in 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Health—about 20 percent of the statewide total.

The webcam abortion method exacerbates the risks of RU486 to women, because the prescribing doctor is not physically present when women take the drugs. Instead of examining her to determine whether the woman is at risk of an ectopic pregnancy or another complication, the abortionist uses a webcam. The woman sits in front of a computer; the doctor is typically in another city or state. After a conversation, the abortionist hits a button to open a drawer containing the two drugs. The woman ingests the first and takes the other home to have her abortion alone.

"Another abortion provider in our state is willing to put women's lives at even greater risk by offering webcam abortions," lamented Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). Planned Parenthood brought dangerous webcam abortions to the state in 2010. "Whole Woman's Health is seeking to increase its revenues at the expense of women's health."

Whole Woman's Health (WWH) was fined $83,000 in Texas, along with its medical waste vendor, for illegally dumping the remains of aborted babies in open trash receptacles. Eight of its abortionists were disciplined by the Texas Medical Board for numerous allegations, including the illegal dumping of private patient medical records, HIPAA violations, and violations of Texas informed consent laws. Several WWH abortionists have previous disciplinary histories, including one who was responsible for a patient death.

"Their past record demonstrates that Whole Woman's Health is willing to violate the law. This only underscores the need to license and inspect abortion facilities in the state," Fischbach said. MCCL supports S.F. 752/H.F. 900 to require licensing of abortion facilities.

Legislation to ban webcam abortions was passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2012, but vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.