Friday, June 27, 2014

The Declaration's vision—not (yet) fully realized

On the Fourth of July we celebrate our Declaration of Independence and the founding principles expressed in that document. The most basic and important principle is "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."

Every great question of justice in American history, Randy Alcorn notes, concerns the proper application of this principle. Does "all men" include women? African Americans? Native Americans? What is the scope of the community of those who are "created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"? Who counts as one of us?

Not yet.
We have, over time, expanded the circle of our moral concern to include persons who had been unjustly relegated to the status of mere property or second-class citizenship. We have come to recognize the fundamental equality and rights to life and liberty of all human beings—irrespective of gender, and race, and ethnicity, and social status. Those differences don't matter morally. Everyone counts, right?

There is today only one glaring exception. The treatment of human beings before they are born is now the greatest issue of justice in American society. No other class of innocent humans is excluded from basic legal protection and dismembered and killed on an industrial scale (abortion is the leading cause of human death).

Does "all men" include human beings at their earliest developmental stages? Does each and every human being matter—simply on the basis of our shared humanity, irrespective of age, and size, and level of development—or do only some humans matter by virtue of criteria that some of us meet and others do not? No moral, cultural or political question is more important.

The Declaration presented a vision of human equality. We have not yet fully realized it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Parental notification law drives down teen abortions in Minnesota

Supreme Court ruling 24 years ago opened the door to similar lifesaving measures

The following is a news release issued on June 24, 2014.

MINNEAPOLIS—Teen abortions in Minnesota have declined dramatically since the state enacted a law requiring parental notification before minors undergo abortions. Tomorrow is the 24th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Minnesota's parental notification requirement.

The law (MN Statute 144.343), strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), was passed by the Legislature with large bipartisan majorities in 1981. It requires that both parents be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor girl. The measure includes a judicial bypass procedure, which is required by the courts, and exceptions for rare cases.

Minnesota's law was in place until 1986, when it was enjoined by a federal district court. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled on June 25, 1990, in the case of Hodgson v. Minnesota, upholding both the two-parent and 48-hour requirements. The law went back into effect that year.

"Our Minnesota law and the Supreme Court decision affirming it helped open the floodgates for more state parental involvement laws," commented MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Strong evidence shows that these laws, among other factors, reduce the incidence of teen abortions."

The annual number of minor abortions in Minnesota peaked at 2,327 in 1980, the year before the parental notification law first went into effect. Teen abortions then began to steadily decline. Since 1989, the last full year before the Supreme Court ruling, abortions performed on minors have dropped 71.7 percent. In 2012 (the latest year for which data is available), minor abortions fell to 403, the lowest number on record (statistics for minors go back to 1975) and only 3.8 percent of all abortions.

Despite clear public support for parental involvement laws, they are opposed by abortion advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood, and by Gov. Mark Dayton, who co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act as a U.S. senator. That measure would have eliminated virtually all state abortion laws, including Minnesota's parental notification requirement. Dayton also voted twice against legislation to require parental notice when a minor is taken across state lines for an abortion, circumventing the law in the state where she lives.

"Parental involvement laws don't just save unborn lives from abortion," noted Fischbach. "They reflect the commonsense principle that parents are responsible for their kids and that kids need their parents. To exclude parents, especially at a time of crisis, would be a tremendous disservice to children. Yet that is precisely what Gov. Dayton wants to do."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dads and abortion: Three ways they intersect

Abortion isn't only a women's issue. Here are three ways that fatherhood and abortion intersect.

(1) The importance of supportive fathers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, half of women having abortions say (as a reason) that they do not want to be a single parent or they are having trouble with their partner. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction found that pregnant women who felt they lacked support from the child's father were more likely to choose abortion. A 2004 study in Medical Science Monitor found that 64 percent of American women having abortions said they felt pressured by others to abort. A wealth of other evidence confirms that fathers often play a central role in determining pregnancy outcomes.

Men who help conceive a baby must support (emotionally, economically, or in whatever other ways) both mother and child. When they don't, abortion is more likely—and women and children pay a price, whether abortion is chosen or not.

(2) The effect of abortion on fathers. Abortion can detrimentally affect men just as it can women. Fathers may experience grief, guilt, anger, depression and other psychological consequences following abortion. Books like Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing, Redeeming a Father's Heart, Fatherhood Aborted and Men and Abortion: Losses, Lessons and Love have explored this issue. A number of ministries and websites (including, and seek to provide healing for men who have lost children to abortion.

(3) Defending the unborn. Pro-choice advocates sometimes say that only women may speak about abortion, and many men are silent or have their opinions disregarded. But the case against abortion is sound irrespective of the gender (or any other characteristic) of an individual making it. Many, many women, after all, make the very same pro-life case. Men have an obligation to graciously speak the truth and to defend the lives of those who cannot defend themselves—the little girls and boys who have not yet been born.

Father's Day recognizes that dads play an essential role in the lives of their children. They are also essential to restoring a culture of life in which all human beings, especially the youngest and most vulnerable, are respected and protected.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

MCCL celebrates 46 years of saving lives

The following news release was issued on June 11, 2014.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization, today celebrates 46 years of dedication to protecting and defending human life. Many lives have been saved, protective laws passed and hearts changed due to the tireless efforts of MCCL volunteers and contributors throughout the decades.

"The dedicated, compassionate work of our thousands of grass-roots members is the sustaining power of Minnesota's pro-life movement," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "MCCL is one of the most effective pro-life organizations in the nation, thanks to these activists. They are steadily transforming our state's culture into one that respects and protects all innocent human life at every stage."

MCCL has taken a three-pronged approach to advancing its lifesaving mission. First, citizens are continually educated on the threats to human life posed by abortion, euthanasia, infanticide and embryo-destructive experiments. People are then mobilized to become active pro-life citizens who in turn work to educate others and to support passage of lifesaving laws. Third, MCCL members work to establish legal protection for vulnerable lives.

From a handful of pro-life activists in 1968, MCCL has grown to include more than 70,000 member families and 200 chapters across the state. Together they deliver pro-life educational messages through booths at 90 county fairs and Student Day at the Capitol, call for protective legislation at the Jan. 22 MCCL March for Life and as citizen lobbyists, work with public officials to pass legislation protecting the right to life, and much more.

MCCL has expanded its reach in recent years, gaining approval to hold consultative status with the United Nations. MCCL Global Outreach (MCCL GO) has fought to protect the right to life internationally at the World Health Assembly, the Commission on Population and Development and other U.N. events. MCCL GO has created materials on maternal mortality, how abortion hurts women, and the critical importance of the first 1,000 days of life. These have been translated into 10 languages and distributed worldwide.

MCCL's innovation and leadership led to passage of one of the nation's first Parental Notification laws in 1981, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and became model legislation for other states. MCCL also has been instrumental in passage of Minnesota's Human Conceptus law (1973), Baby Doe provisions to protect disabled infants (1985), Fetal Homicide law (1986), tightened law on assisted suicide (1992), Woman's Right to Know law (2003), Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act (2005), Positive Alternatives (2005) and a ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning at the University of Minnesota (2009). MCCL also helped bring national attention to the brutal partial-birth abortion method when it was uncovered in 1993.

Abortion numbers have steadily declined since 2006 as a result of recent protective measures. In addition, MCCL has helped to pass seven pro-life initiatives in the Legislature since 2011, including the licensing and inspection of abortion facilities and a ban on dangerous webcam abortions. Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed all of these protective measures.

"It is very troubling to watch the governor protect the interests of the abortion industry at the expense of women and unborn children," Fischbach said. "MCCL will continue to compassionately fight for those who cannot fight for themselves."