Monday, August 24, 2015

Final Exit Network fined nearly $33,000 after found guilty of violating Minnesota law against assisting suicide

The following statement may be attributed to Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL):

Today's sentencing of Final Exit Network by Dakota Co. Judge Christian S. Wilton sends a very clear message that assisting suicide is illegal in our state, and that violations of our law will be punished. We commend Dakota Co. District Attorney James Backstrom and his counsel for having the courage to prosecute this violation. Final Exit Network purposely came into our state, broke our law and assisted in the suicide of a vulnerable person who needed care, not suicide.

Our law protecting Minnesotans from suicide predators like Final Exit Network and other assisted suicide advocates has been in place since 1992 and has served all of us well.

Final Exit Network and other groups seek to legalize assisted suicide, which can lead to:

  • Abuse: Abuse of people with disabilities, and elder abuse. An heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug.
  • Mistakes: Diagnoses of terminal illness are too often wrong, leading people to give up on treatment and lose good years of their lives.
  • Carelessness: People with a history of depression and suicide attempts have received the lethal drugs.
  • Contagion: Assisted suicide is a contagion and can increase suicide rates for all populations.
  • Trauma: Stress disorder rates increase for family and friends who participate in a suicide.

The fine imposed upon Final Exit Network reaffirms our law's intent to protect those who could become victims of assisted suicide in Minnesota.

More information about growing opposition to assisted suicide can be found at the website of Minnesotans Against Assisted Suicide (MNAAS) at

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rubio, Cuomo, and the beginning of human life

The following first ran at National Right to Life News Today.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) recently sparred with host Chris Cuomo on CNN over the beginning of human life. Cuomo denied Rubio's contention that science has established that the life of a human being begins at conception.

"It having a DNA map—so does a plant," Cuomo said. But a plant doesn't have human DNA. A plant life isn't a human life. Rubio, obviously, was talking about human life.

Writing at Slate, Amanda Marcotte also takes issue with Rubio's contention. "Actual biologists, for what it's worth, argue that life is continuous and that a fertilized egg is no more or less alive than a sperm or an unfertilized egg," she argues. "Human sperm cells, much like fertilized eggs, have human DNA."

This is remarkably biologically uninformed. Life in general is continuous (sperm and egg are alive), but the life of an individual human being is not continuous. It has a beginning and an end. Rubio, obviously, was referring to the beginning of the life of an individual human being.

Human sperm cells do have human DNA. So do human skin cells and human heart cells. But none of those cells are whole organisms. They are merely parts of larger organisms, not human beings themselves. The zygote/embryo/fetus is an actual human organism—an individual member of the species Homo sapiens, like each one of us—at the earliest stages of his or her development. That is simply not true of sperm cells.

The embryology textbook Human Embryology & Teratology makes the point clear: "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization ... is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed."

Indeed, Rubio's position is fully established by science. "Human development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, a zygote," explains The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. "This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

In his exchange with Rubio, Cuomo also showed a deeper confusion. Cuomo said Rubio's scientific assertions were actually a matter of "faith. That's not science." But here Cuomo mixed two different issues. The first is a scientific question: When does the life of a human organism begin? That's what Rubio was talking about, and his answer was correct. The second is a moral question: When does this developing member of our species become valuable and deserving of respect and protection?

Science shows that human embryos and fetuses are human beings in the biological sense. The real question is how we ought to treat these young human beings. This isn't a matter of religious "faith," but basic morality. Do all human beings have a right to life, or do only some? Is human equality true or just a myth?

And, on that foundational question, Rubio made his own position clear in the previous night's debate: "I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws."

On the science and on the morality, Rubio is right.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Franken, Klobuchar vote to fund Planned Parenthood

The following news release was issued on Aug. 4, 2015.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar joined Senate Democrats Monday to block a bill that would end all federal funding of the nation's largest abortion provider. The measure, S. 1881, would block funding of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates. The Senate showed strong support for the bill but fell short of the votes required to advance the legislation.

The votes cast by senators Klobuchar and Franken are consistent with their 100 percent pro-abortion voting records. Neither Klobuchar nor Franken has ever cast a pro-life vote in the U.S. Senate.

"Planned Parenthood's political arm is a major backer of many senators, who voted to block the bill to defund their political ally," said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). "As longtime recipients of Planned Parenthood campaign funding, senators Klobuchar and Franken chose to continue to support Planned Parenthood in spite of its dismemberment of living human beings in the womb."

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced S. 1881 last week with the strong backing of Majority Leader McConnell, in response to a series of videos released by The Center for Medical Progress. The videos, which underscore the need for passage of legislation to cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, show top Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and trafficking of body parts from unborn babies killed by abortion.

S. 1881 states, "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or to any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics." The bill also contains language to provide that "all funds no longer available to Planned Parenthood will continue to be made available to other eligible entities to provide women's health care services." In other words, any funds cut from Planned Parenthood would be reallocated to women's health services provided by others.

Community health centers across the United States vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood, totaling 9,059 to 669, according to the Washington Post. Women could still access the health care they need without Planned Parenthood.

"Senator Ernst's bill would push the snout of Planned Parenthood, a bloated abortion mega-marketer and a fetal organ trafficker, out of the U.S. Treasury feeding trough," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life.

Planned Parenthood performs more abortions than any other organization in the nation: About one-third of all abortions in the U.S. are performed at Planned Parenthood-affiliated facilities. According to its most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood receives at least $528 million annually from the federal government and other levels of government.