Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mark Dayton's record on protecting human life: Veto, veto, veto (etc.)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is up for re-election this year. What's his record since taking office in 2011? Where does he stand on right-to-life issues? And what are the stakes on Nov. 4?

Dayton's record as governor

Dayton addressed activists at "Pro-Choice Lobby Day" shortly after becoming governor. He pledged to prevent any pro-life bills from becoming law. "It will not happen here in Minnesota," he told them.

Dayton kept his promise:
  • The Legislature passed a bill to stop the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions. Dayton vetoed the bill.

    Taxpayers will pay about $3.5 million for 14,000 abortions during Dayton's four years as governor. If a 2009 estimate from the Guttmacher Institute (a staunch advocate of unlimited abortion) is applied to the public funding numbers in Minnesota, about 3,500 fewer Minnesota women would have had abortions over Dayton's tenure if the state did not pay for abortions.
  • The Legislature passed bans on human cloning and the taxpayer funding of human cloning, but Dayton vetoed both.
  • The Legislature passed a bill to license abortion facilities (applying to them the same safety standards as other outpatient surgical facilities) and allow for inspections. Dayton vetoed the bill—even though poor health conditions and dangerous practices have been uncovered in abortion centers in numerous other states.
  • The Legislature passed a bill to require that a doctor be physically present when administering chemical abortions. This would have stopped the "webcam abortions" Planned Parenthood is now remotely conducting in Rochester. Dayton vetoed the bill.
Planned Parenthood, the state's leading performer and promoter of abortion, responded to these actions by presenting Dayton with its Courage Award at a 2012 gala.

Dayton's other positions

Dayton strongly opposes Minnesota's existing Woman's Right to Know law—which requires that basic information regarding risks and alternatives be offered to women considering abortion—and Minnesota's law requiring parental notification before a minor girl has an abortion. He has harshly criticized the work of pregnancy care centers that help pregnant women in need, claiming in a 2010 questionnaire that they "scare [women] into not having abortions."

During his time in the U.S. Senate, Dayton voted in favor of abortions in military facilities, endorsing Roe v. Wade, keeping partial-birth abortion legal, funding abortion-promoting organizations overseas, and funding embryo-destructive research. He also voted against parental notification before an abortion is performed on a minor from another state. And he cosponsored the radical Freedom of Choice Act, which would have eliminated virtually every limitation on abortion, no matter how modest.

As Dayton explained in a 2010 letter:
I strongly support a woman's right to choice, and I have a 35-year record in strong support of that right. As a U.S. Senator, I voted consistently for pro-choice measures. I voted against the so-called "partial-birth abortion" ban. And I voted against Senate confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alioto [sic], in significant part because of their anticipated anti-choice positions.

My positions earned me very high ratings and frequent commendations from NARAL, including "Hero of the Month."
Dayton's running mate is Tina Smith. She is a former executive at Planned Parenthood, the state's biggest abortion business and a fierce opponent of pro-life laws like Woman's Right to Know and Positive Alternatives.

The stakes

Mark Dayton, who was described by the Star Tribune as "an ardent advocate of abortion rights," is an abortion absolutist. Late-term abortion? Yes. Partial-birth abortion? Yes. Taxpayer funding of elective abortions? Yes. Informed consent for women before undergoing abortion? No. Basic health standards in abortion facilities? Nope. Parental notification before minor abortions? Certainly not.

Since becoming governor, Dayton has single-handedly (literally) prevented seven different pro-life measures from becoming law. Lives that could have been saved weren't—simply because voters had not elected a pro-life governor. No laws to protect the unborn and their mothers can be enacted as long as Dayton remains in office.

That's the kind of difference a governor can make.

Monday, September 22, 2014

U.N. marks 20th anniversary of Cairo conference

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Today a special session of the United Nations General Assembly will mark the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo, Egypt, in September 1994. The ICPD adopted a Program of Action that calls for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, among other goals; it does not call for the legalization or expansion of abortion. The special session will review the progress that has been made and consider the challenges going forward.

"The world has made headway toward implementing the Program of Action, but much work remains to support women and their children," says Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO), a U.N.-accredited non-governmental organization. "We can save women's lives with prenatal care, skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, basic sanitation and clean water. These measures have helped substantially reduce maternal mortality in large parts of the world. They must be extended to the places where basic health care is still lacking."

The Program of Action affirms the equal dignity and right to life of every human being (chapter II, principle 1). It also states that abortion should never be promoted as a method of family planning (paragraph 7.24) and that changes to abortion policy should be made at the local or national level (paragraph 8.25).

Yet international abortion advocacy groups argue that abortion must be legalized worldwide to protect women’s health. "That is not true," Fischbach notes. "Maternal health depends on the quality of maternal health care, not on the legal status or availability of abortion. Countries such as Ireland, Chile and Malta prohibit most or all abortions and have a very low incidence of maternal mortality."

The 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development, which was held last April at the United Nations in New York, considered the status of the ICPD Program of Action. MCCL GO addressed the assembly and urged U.N. delegates to avoid pushing abortion as the international community looks to formulate a new global development agenda.

"Legalizing abortion does nothing to address the underlying issue of poor health care," Fischbach explained. "Member states should reject all efforts to legalize or promote abortions and instead focus on maternal health care and healthy reproductive outcomes."

MCCL GO is a pro-life NGO global outreach program of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund. Learn more at

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Former Faribault nurse convicted under Minnesota’s prohibition of assisted suicide

The following news release was issued on Sept. 10, 2014.

FARIBAULT — William Francis Melchert-Dinkel has been convicted under a Minnesota law which bans assisted suicide. A former Faribault nurse who went online and urged people to commit suicide while he watched, Melchert-Dinkel was found guilty of assisting the suicide of an English man and of attempting to assist in the suicide of a Canadian woman. Rice Co. District Court Judge Tom Neuville made his ruling public yesterday after hearing arguments from both sides four weeks ago.

"This case exposes the abhorrence of assisted suicide," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "Vulnerable citizens need protections, including the medical and mental health care they need to live. It is illegal to assist someone in committing suicide."

Melchert-Dinkel had admitted earlier to posing as a depressed female nurse in online chat rooms using several names. He claimed that no treatment had helped ease his suffering and entered into suicide pacts with his victims. He urged them to turn on webcams as they committed suicide so that they would not be alone. He had no intention of killing himself but secretly wanted to watch them die.

The victims include 32-year-old Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario. Drybrough hanged himself in his home in 2005. Kajouji jumped into a frozen river and drowned in 2008.

Melchert-Dinkel encouraged his victims to hang themselves, and he gave them details about how to do it. He boasted online about watching the death of Drybrough. Melchert-Dinkel admitted he entered into about 10 suicide pacts and believed five killed themselves.

Melchert-Dinkel was convicted in 2011 under Minnesota Statutes section 609.215, subdivision 1, which provides criminal penalties for anyone who "advises, encourages or assists" suicide. MCCL was instrumental in the passage of this protective law in 1992. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in State v. Melchert-Dinkel that "advising" or "encouraging" suicide is protected speech under the First Amendment. The case was remanded to the lower court to rule on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted in the suicides of Drybrough and Kajouji.

"Whatever their reasons, people like Melchert-Dinkel who prey on the vulnerable need to be prevented from doing so," Fischbach said. "The law is in place to protect citizens from criminals like Melchert-Dinkel who target those in need of compassion and help."

Melchert-Dinkel will be sentenced on Oct. 15. He plans to appeal his conviction.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Minnesota man convicted of assisting suicide

Today William Melchert-Dinkel, a Minnesota man who sought online to manipulate depressed people into killing themselves, was finally convicted of violating Minnesota's law against assisted suicide.

The Associated Press reports:
Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville ruled that the state proved that William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, assisted in the suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. He said the state failed to prove Melchert-Dinkel's assistance was a direct cause of the suicide of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, but found him guilty on a lesser charge of attempting to help her take her life. ...

In his ruling, Neuville said Melchert-Dinkel provided both Drybrough and Kajouji with detailed information about how to hang themselves, and that Drybrough followed his instructions. However, he noted that while the defendant gave Kajouji detailed and specific instructions about hanging, she did not follow them and chose another method. So the judge said Melchert-Dinkel was guilty only of attempting to assist her suicide. ...

Evidence in the case showed Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and sought out depressed people online. He posed as a suicidal female nurse, feigning compassion and offering step-by-step instructions on how they could kill themselves. He acknowledged participating in online chats about suicide with up to 20 people and entering into fake suicide pacts with about 10, five of whom he believed killed themselves.
Melchert-Dinkel will be sentenced on Oct. 15.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Franken-sponsored bill would nullify most limits on abortion

The following op-ed was published on Aug. 29, 2014, in the Duluth News Tribune.

By Ruby Kubista and Paul Stark

U.S. Sen. Al Franken is cosponsoring a far-reaching but little-known new abortion bill. It should alarm all Minnesotans who care about empowering pregnant women and minimizing the incidence of abortion.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last month on the Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696). This badly misnamed legislation would nullify most federal and state limits on abortion.

At the federal level, it would eliminate most, if not all, limits on government funding of abortion and laws respecting the conscience of health care workers who do not want to be involved in abortion.

At the state level, the bill would wipe away laws protecting unborn children after 20 weeks as well as meaningful restrictions after viability (when a broad "health" exception would make bans impossible).

It effectively would establish abortion on demand until birth nationwide.

Al Franken
Further, the new bill would nullify sex-selective abortion bans and requirements that only licensed physicians perform abortions.

And it would eliminate informed-consent laws such as Minnesota's Woman's Right to Know. This law, enacted in 2003, requires that women be provided with basic factual information at least 24 hours before an abortion (except in medical emergencies). That information includes the medical risks of the abortion procedure (as well as the risks of childbirth), the age of the unborn child, the medical assistance benefits available for prenatal care and childbirth, and the father's legal responsibilities. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, abortion providers must discuss with women the option of using anesthesia to alleviate pain experienced by the unborn child. And women must also be given the opportunity to review materials produced by the Minnesota Department of Health (available at Those materials include information about fetal development, abortion methods and risks, and alternatives to abortion.

Why is this state law important? Because women have a right to be fully informed before undergoing any surgery — especially surgery with profound moral significance and life-changing consequences. They have a right to know all the facts. And they have a right to pursue the abortion alternatives that are available to them.

In 2013, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, 12,164 women received the Woman's Right to Know information; 9,903 actually had abortions. That means 2,261 women opted against abortion when presented with basic facts and alternatives and when given time to arrive at a decision.

Woman's Right to Know empowers women and, in doing so, makes abortion less likely. Polls consistently show that informed-consent laws enjoy broad public support.

But Franken, it seems, won't stand for it. He is one of 35 co-sponsors of the federal bill that would erase Woman's Right to Know from the books — along with many other popular, common-sense laws in states across the country. Franken always and vigorously has opposed protections for unborn children, and he always and staunchly has supported abortion advocacy groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America. But the extremism of this legislation takes his commitment to another level.

The Women's Health Protection Act is not about protecting women's health. On the contrary, it would invalidate some measures that safeguard health in abortion facilities. It seems designed to strip away abortion limits and prevent states from regulating abortion in the future.

The bill reflects no concern for or even recognition of the developing human being who is killed in abortion. Nor is there much regard for the way abortion can impact women. Abortion, in this view, is a morally trivial act and a public good calling for immediate and unencumbered access. But that is not what most people, whether they consider themselves pro-life or pro-choice, believe.

Franken's support for unfettered abortion until birth puts him far outside the American mainstream. Minnesotans should know where he stands.

Ruby Kubista is chapter coordinator and Paul Stark is communications associate for the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (