Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Doctor Prescribed Suicide? Oppose It

This is the third in a five-part series contrasting the ways our society could handle end-of-life care moving forward.

 “That was the one thing my doctors didn't give me: hope. Not at all.”

 “It will only prolong the inevitable.”

“You predicted a miserable and very low quality of life.”

“We know they are not going to be given any hope. Almost everyone we talk to has a negative story.”

“They were not happy with me because I didn't do what they wanted me to do. They thought I was in denial.”

We’ve heard these words and many more like them. Far too many in our medical system seek the easy way out rather than adequately responding to patients’ needs as human beings. Make no mistake, there are mountains to climb when it comes to health challenges. Some mountains are just too tall to climb, but many are not, and some want to give up before even starting.

It can be tough being a doctor or a nurse. Often you see people at their worst, and eventually many of your patients die. You often see caregivers at their worst, too, struggling to take care of a terminally-ill child, or a parent with dementia, or many other tragic conditions. It can be tempting to embrace despair.

Some in our medical system sadly internalize that despair, and it infects their role as healers. Some even let it control their professional judgement, giving patients and their family unrealistically bleak prognoses or even trying to pressure or coerce patients and caregivers into giving up. Perhaps they believe they are doing those patients a favor.

Despair is badly failing patients, however. Countries and states that legalize doctor-prescribed suicide run roughshod over concerns about how it really affects patients. Instead of despair, patients should be offered realistic views centered on hope and life.

Sometimes diagnoses are wrong, including terminal diagnoses. When patients express hope to overcome their disease, they should be given accurate information, including about risks of treatments, and then their decision should be respected, whether it’s deciding they no longer want to receive medical care they believe is burdensome, or they want to try to continue their fight. They should not be overridden in secret or bombarded with offers of lethal doses of drugs.

Some patients know they are going to die, but have not prepared themselves for it, or have some unfinished business, or simply enjoy life and want to have a few more months of it. They shouldn’t be told their quality of life makes those last few moments less important or unworthy of care than others.

Other patients succumb to despair. This isn't merely deciding the time is right for their terminal condition to take its course, but truly the same despair that afflicts others in the prime of life and leads them to attempt suicide. We should not look at one person and say, “you have so much to live for!”, and at the other person and say, “do it!” That mode of thought degrades the value of life and will quickly metastasize to other issues.

Often caregivers can become exasperated. The persons they care for may be unable to express their own wishes. Sometimes medical decisions fall on them, with no clear instructions from their loved ones. They should be given advice in line with the best interest of the patient, not offered euthanasia as a solution to their own struggles, or even having their loved one passively euthanized in secret—supposedly to spare them grief.

Despair is often short-lived. When patients and caregivers get the care and support they deserve, they are often able to continue on with dignity—for however long life allows or it.

Robert Salamanca was one such person. Suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Bob wanted to die. In fact, he wanted to travel to Michigan to die here; at the time Jack Kevorkian was working to end the lives of as many people as possible here. But suicide is not what Bob really wanted; he was facing the dark pit of despair. Thankfully, Bob had family and friends in place to pull him back from the brink. Bob was able to spend the end of his life with his family, learning new skills, and indulging his great love of boxing as a quadriplegic (watching on cable, of course). He passed away peacefully in his sleep.

Others are not as blessed as Bob with such a great support system. Before his death, Bob wrote an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how advocacy for euthanasia and doctor-prescribed suicide fed his despair rather than offering him hope.

If physician-assisted suicide is legally available, the right to die may become a duty to die. The hopelessly ill may be subtly pressured to get their dying over with — not only by cost-counting providers but by family members concerned about burdensome bills, impatient for an inheritance, exhausted by care-giving or just anxious to spare a loved one further suffering.

In my view, the pro-euthanasia followers’ posture is a great threat to the foundation upon which all life is based, and that is hope. I exhort everyone: Life is worth living, and life is worth receiving. I know. I live it every day. 

Too often our hospitals and our society see challenges and pressure people into just giving up. Instead of despair, we must offer people a realistic view focused on hope and life.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

2017 Michigan Abortion Report

Last week the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) released their latest abortion statistics report for the state of Michigan. In 2017, 26,594 abortions occurred in the state: 97% of those abortions were done on Michigan residents. The overall number is sadly slightly up 0.8% from 2016, with 26,395 abortions reported that year.

Even with the heart-breaking news of a slight increase instead of a massive decrease—as we work and hope for ever year—overall abortions in Michigan are down 45.6% since 1987.

There were several key trends to take note of in the 2017 report.

52% of Michigan resident women who received an abortion were receiving their second or more abortion. This repeat abortion figure has been slowly increasing annually. 65% of women having an abortion had carried a previous pregnancy to term. 90% of women who had abortions were not married.

Medical abortions using the RU-486 abortion pill regimen continue to trend up as the cheapest method for the abortion industry to use. In 2017, RU-486 accounted for 35.5% of abortions, up from 30% in 2016. Seeing this trend shows us how important it is that we continue educating women about abortion pill reversal. We will never know how many of the women would have changed their minds if they knew that was an option, but we do know many women have instantly regretted their abortion decision, and some have been able to use abortion pill reversal to save their child’s life.

Black abortions saw a tiny decline, from 12,794 to 12,789 abortions. Any decline is welcome, however, as Black abortions remain high despite the decreasing overall abortion rates.

Teen abortions once again saw a decrease. In 1987, women under 20 accounted for 28.5% of abortions in Michigan. Today they account for 9%. Recently there has been an aging trend with abortion. In 2017, the 25-29 age group had the highest percentage of abortions, 31%. Women 30 and older had 29.3% of abortions and women 20-24 had 30.6%.

After reading through the 2017 report, there were some very odd numbers noticed this year. A huge chunk of abortion data was missing and uncategorized. Despite this, abortions with missing data were still used to calculate overall percentages in the report. Right to Life of Michigan staff had to spend extra time combing through the data and recalculating the numbers from the MDHHS to make sure that the statistics above were accurate.

For example, the repeat abortion rate according to the report’s summary is 55%, but the MDHHS included 1,720 abortions in that calculation for which they have no idea if the woman had a previous abortion or not. Using some simple math, we discovered the correct known repeat abortion rate is actually 52%, what we included above.

While none of the numbers were extremely off, bad statistics are bad statistics, and Right to Life of Michigan doesn’t do bad statistics. Also, abortion clinics are required to report these statistics by law. Right to Life of Michigan doesn’t look the other way on that, either.

It could be discouraging to see this slight uptick in numbers, but it should be an indication of how much harder we have to work to see an end to abortion. We have seen huge prolife victories the past year and a half with the election of President Trump, and with the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. With upcoming elections in August and November, we have to make sure we elect prolife officials at all levels so we can pass more life-saving legislation and ensure our laws are being properly enforced.

Now is not the time to get complacent; long-term abortion declines only continue when we work to continue them.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Still on That Journey: New Video Series

The Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund has developed a series of four new 3-minute films for our continued multicultural outreach efforts.

In our "Still on that Journey " series, prolife advocate Christina Marie Bennett, herself almost aborted, explores feminism, black history, and the barriers that often exist between the mainstream prolife movement and the African American community.

The films were produced by artist film studio Minus Red and award-winning director Jim Hanon, who has done such an excellent job with many of our other ads.

Christina will be speaking at our annual Conference on September 27. Save the date so you can hear more from her!

Watch a 30-second preview of the short films below. Visit our YouTube Channel to see all four short films!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Right to Die? Oppose it

This is the second in a five-part series contrasting the ways our society could handle end-of-life care moving forward. 

The right to die is an odd concept. Everyone will inevitably die. Many people fear what sort of condition they may be when they are older or suffering from a terminal disease. Some people express that fear in these exact words: "I don't want to be hooked up to all of those machines."

Patients certainly have a right to refuse unwanted medical treatment. But when people speak of the "right to die," they don't mean allowing someone at the end of life to let life take its natural course. People have had that right for a long time, even before the advent of modern palliative care and adequate pain control. No, the "right to die" means euthanasia or suicide: the right to kill a suffering person or to kill oneself.

Autonomy is given as the reason we need to have a "right to die," but embracing a "right to die" quickly ends with sacrificing patient autonomy. "I don't want to be hooked up to all of those machines" turns into, "You shouldn't be hooked up to all of those machines."

It's a slippery slope. Some accuse people who refuse to embrace euthanasia of committing a logical fallacy by saying it's a slippery slope. It's not a fallacy, however, and real world experience backs up the simple observation that people will often take the easy way out instead of the right way through a problem.

The Alfie Evans case is a prime example. Courts in Britain thought that death was preferable to Alfie living, despite his loving parents' decision to let his life continue with palliative care. The court ordered he must die now, because of his "quality of life." Alfie's autonomy, as expressed and protected by his parents? Ruled irrelevant, not in his best interest, in the opinion of a judge who never has to visit Alfie's grave.

In countries that have embraced a legalized "right to die," a "duty to die" is quickly taking hold. In the Netherlands and Belgium, involuntary euthanasia—we call that "murder" here—is a significant proportion of euthanasia deaths. Efforts to prosecute doctors who decide to kill their patients—for their own good they say—fail. The autonomy of patients who want to live but are killed anyway? Unprotected, of little value.

Here in Michigan, we know of cases where patients who request medical treatments have them denied in secret and have secret orders placed into their charts, because the doctors believe the patient is better off dead. Imagine the horror of learning a hospital has placed a do-not-resuscitate order in your file, even though you expressed your wishes for life-saving care. What can you do when your life depends on those who think you need to die? The autonomy of those with the will to live? Not just ignored, but undermined in secret.

As we pointed out in part one, what happens when health insurance costs combine with a "right to die"? Patients find themselves being encouraged to exercise their cheaper "right to die" than their right to life. The autonomy to choose your own medical care? Rejected, some rights are apparently better than others (and cheaper).

A society that protects patient autonomy and gives them the compassionate care they deserve simply cannot be a society that embraces suicide or killing as a solution for the sick and disabled. They don't go together, today or in the future. Caring for the sick and disabled can be hard and places demands on the healthy and able. It's cheap and easy to lethally inject someone or give them a lethal dose of drugs. The "right to die" gives moral window-dressing to taking the easy road at the expense of the good road.

Patients deserve protection, from food and water to the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment. Killing patients isn’t a right, however, it’s wrong.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The impact of Alfie Evans

Photo source: Daniel Evans
The story of Alfie Evans in the United Kingdom shocked and captivated an international audience. His death on April 28 was tragic, leaving his parents and countless people across the globe heartbroken, including his devoted online advocates in "Alfie's Army."

Many things happened during his case. The medical details are complex, with Alfie perhaps suffering from a unique disease.

While the details may be hard to follow, the controversy over Alfie is really quite simple: Alfie's medical care was forcibly removed from him because of his quality of life. This was a fight about imposing "quality of life" judgements on the unwilling.

If you didn't follow all of the ups and downs of his story the last few months, you really ought to care about how he died, because it could very well impact you soon, or a loved one.

Here's all of the important points you need to understand, and this might be all you need to read:

1. Patient choice matters. Parents are responsible for children who can't express their own wishes.
2. Subjective "quality of life" concerns are dangerous for the sick and disabled.  
3. Courts took away Alfie from his parents entirely based on their opinion of his "quality of life." His parents were doing nothing wrong or abusive.
4. There was no evidence that Alfie was suffering other than his being alive with a disability.
5. Courts should not take children away from their parents because judges believe death is preferable to disability.

Some people are having difficulty grasping the above points, however, or disagree, especially on the first two statements.

If you want to read more about Alfie's case, please do so. There are a lot of important issues that deserve discussion. The source of the controversy, however, was the legal fight to force the hospital's care plan over the objection of Alfie's parents, forbidding them to even take him home to die. The purpose of that care plan was to let Alfie die on the hospital's terms because the hospital did not believe his life was worth living anymore.

Alfie was only a toddler, unable to express his wishes about what level of care to continue to receive, so instead his parents were responsible for determining his care. They decided it was in Alfie's best interest to stay alive. They made a decision for Alfie that many adults legitimately make for themselves. Alfie's case appeared to be terminal, but that doesn't make it morally wrong or abusive to live out as much life as possible in his parents' care. Medical miracles happen and doctors can be wrong about a diagnosis.

How a patient views their health is important, but it's a very subjective value. Unfortunately many doctors, hospitals, academics, and government officials have come to believe that many forms of disability are so insufferable that a person is objectively better off dead. "I wouldn't want those tubes hooked up to me" is quickly turning into, "You shouldn't have those tubes hooked up to you." Even subtle bias in treatment decisions can have deadly effects.

Many terminal patients decide to forgo exceptional treatments, and that's their right to do so. Many do not, but more and more those choices are being frowned upon, or quietly or actively blocked. It's one thing to have a broad discussion about good end-of-life decision-making on the frontier of new medical advances, but it's an entirely separate thing to legally coerce someone into dying.

You may have decided on a different care plan for Alfie based on the medical facts. But you are not Alfie, nor are you his parents. Neither were his doctors, or the UK courts.

Theoretically there could have been good reasons to remove Alfie from his parent's care. Alfie could have been older and communicated that he didn't want to remain on a ventilator. His parents could have been abusive or been keeping him alive for financial interest. Alfie's medical care could have been actually futile. Alfie could have been suffering. None of those were true. The courts simply decided they knew better about what Alfie needed than his parents, and that need was death.

This was not a case where Alfie's medical care was futile. Alfie was still able to digest food and fluids. Alfie was not brain dead, obviously proven when he continued breathing on his own for days after the ventilator was removed. The hospital took away his efficacious care so that he would die quickly, and they were clearly shocked when Alfie refused to die. It took the hospital nearly a day to begin feeding Alfie again, and his parents had to beg to have him allowed oxygen. Either the hospital was hoping to speed along his death, or they were shockingly incompetent in delaying proper care.

Alfie's case is another dangerous precedent, like the recent Charlie Gard case. Alfie and Charlie are not alone. There was a bone-chilling case where authorities started a manhunt for parents who sought care for their critically-ill son, Ashya. The child survived, proving doctors and authorities heinously wrong. There's been other cases as well. It's encouraging, however, that Charlie's parents are helping to revise laws in the UK so that quality of life values are not just imposed on children.

One huge obstacle, however, is the unshakeable faith of those who believe that imposing quality of life views on patients is a good thing, even if the patient expresses their will to live. In commenting on Alfie, Prime Minister Teresa May said it was a great tragedy, but ultimately said medical experts should decide on patient care, not patients or their parents: "It's important that decisions about medical support that are given to children and to others are made by clinicians, by those who are expert in that matter..."

Were the experts who launched an international manhunt to nab Ashya's parents humbled after radiation treatment abroad left him cancer-free?

The people who took away Alfie are likely utterly convinced they did the right thing. The sinister nature of a "quality of life" ethic is that those who believe people are better off dead feel completely morally justified in the death of human beings. They are blind to the dangers of their beliefs. Removing care or giving people lethal doses of drugs is cheap, whereas caring for the sick and disabled can be very difficult. People have a habit of taking the easy route, sometimes even if it harms other people. Now the easy route has a worldview justifying even causing death as compassionate.

Restoring a belief in the fundamental value of human life is what the prolife movement is all about. We'll continue to fight for it, in memory of Alfie, Charlie, and others like them.

Alfie's aunt, Sarah, left this final tribute to her nephew on the Alfie's Army Facebook page:

"Our beautiful soldier, your stubbornness will carry on through your beautiful Mum Kate, your strength you found from your hero your Dad: Both sides of the family are shattered. Never has there been a boy so beautiful special and precious as you are. Hearts are broken all over the world. Your cousins miss you so much. The tears that are shed are for the love we all have for you. It’s never goodbye, its until we all meet again. We love you Alfie we do, we love you Alfie we do, we love you Alfie we doooooo oh Alfie we love you."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Abortion: the only right that matters?

On April 19 a federal appeals court struck down an Indiana law that banned abortions based on the child's race, sex, or disability status.

While some claim those kind of abortions are so rare they aren't worth discussing, these type of abortions are happening, even millions of them globally every year.

The ruling was very simple: "The Supreme Court has been clear: the State may inform a woman’s decision before viability, but it cannot prohibit it," Judge William Bauer wrote.

Roe v. Wade recognizes zero limit on abortion before viability (and no real enforceable limit after viability). That's it. Abortion is sacrosanct. A right not even worth a footnote in the actual Constitution takes precedence over real rights included in it. The 14th Amendment due process protections mean you can't deprive someone of their life because of their race.

When the 14th Amendment conflicts with abortion, our many pro-abortion judges in America say we must toss aside the 14th Amendment. Anti-discrimination laws are upheld as constitutional, but when it comes to abortion, anti-discrimination itself becomes a form of discrimination, according to those who believe only some human beings are worthy of human value.

The ability to take the life of your child is so sacred in the minds of some that they embrace without question violent manifestations of racism, sexism, or able-ism.

Should it be legal to violently take the life of a child in the womb because of their race? Roe v. Wade says it has to be, and so do abortion supporters.

Should it be legal to violently take the life of a child in the womb because she's a girl? Roe v. Wade says it has to be, and so do abortion supporters.

Should it be legal to violently take the life of a child in the womb because of a cleft palate? Roe v. Wade says it has to be, and so do abortion supporters. 

The prolife movement often makes the argument that support for abortion is also wrong because it degrades how we value humanity in general. Look no further than in how abortion is a tool for the largest form of sex-discrimination in history.

By some estimates, more than 160 million women are missing because of sex-selection abortions. Yet when our highly-respected public officials like former Vice President Joe Biden travel to China and have a chance to confront them for violations of basic human rights, they flub it. Joe Biden even went so far to say that he "fully understands" China's brutal one-child policy, and wouldn't "second guess" it.

So, how does one become so morally warped that they don't think 160 million missing women deserves even a second guess? By believing that the value of human life always depends on the circumstances.

Today, it's fashionable to be at the forefront of movements to expand rights and privileges. When the people in groups considered unprivileged collide with our regime of abortion-on-demand, however, abortion always wins. Abortion declares that the ultimate value of those groups of human beings is purely subjective; it's all up to your opinion.

The horrific nature of abortion means those who support it inevitably become incapable of seeing horror in abortion in any form, because once you do, the foundation comes crumbling down.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Assisted Suicide? Oppose it

This is the first in a five-part series contrasting the ways our society could handle end-of-life care moving forward.

"It was horrible. I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die. But we won't give you the medication to live."

That’s how Barbara Wagner described to ABC News her reaction when the state of Oregon decided she wasn’t worth keeping alive anymore in 2008.

Assisted suicide—the act of helping someone commit suicide—is often regarded as ghoulish if the person considering suicide is young and healthy. When the sick and disabled are the ones facing the same gripping despair, instead, groups like Compassion and Choices say they should succumb and call it “dying with dignity.”

Were Barbara Wagner’s choices honored? Did the state of Oregon show compassion when they offered her suicide instead of care? Where's the dignity in being told you aren't worth more than a few dollars worth of poison?

Assisting people in need is a good thing, and caring for the sick and disabled should be something our society places a high value on. When you look at the amount of money we spend on medical care and pioneering new treatments and cures, it’s clear our society does place a high value on assisting the sick. The newest treatments at the edge of discovery are quite expensive, however. It can take years for revolutionary treatments to become standard, routine, and generally affordable.

How we as a society can ensure that those who can’t afford pioneering treatments still have means to access them is an important, ongoing debate and process. Instead of coming up with innovative ways to confront our challenges, simply offering to cover $50-worth of lethal drugs so a person can kill themselves is a cheap cop-out. It’s unbecoming of a society that holds itself out as truly compassionate and caring about choices.

American society continues to become greyer and greyer as fewer and fewer children are born. That's also a reality in many other developed nations. Just as we begin to unlock some of the greatest mysteries of the human body to improve the lives of billions of people, the financial incentives are now there to instead sacrifice the aged and the infirm. Whether it’s a looming entitlement crisis or a dearth of young people paying health insurance premiums, it’s tempting to just give up on those who feel like giving up on themselves.

It won’t end there, however. Barbara Wagner wasn’t ready to give up to cancer and wanted to fight one last round. Her doctors had recommended her for treatment, and that was her choice. Her choices, her personal autonomy, her financial situation: ignored. Oregon’s compassion for her ran dry. The bureaucrats managing the Oregon Health Plan had to worry about the bottom line, perhaps telling themselves it's for the greater good.

Barbara hasn't been the only person to receive such a letter. As other states begin to slowly embrace doctor-prescribed suicide, as health insurance companies and government health plans continue to feel the squeeze from our aging demographics, how many more stories like Barbara will we hear? Will we cease to care? Will we feel comfortable about not caring, because it's for the "greater good"?

Sadly Barbara Wagner passed away years ago, though thankfully the maker of the denied drug eventually donated to her the one last fight against cancer she chose.

Our society is at its best when we assist patients in caring for their needs. It’s at its worst when we tell the vulnerable and depressed that they’ve outlived their usefulness to us, and dress up death as assistance.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New study: abortion pill reversal saves nearly 68% of babies

Last week the Issues in Law and Medicine journal published a study conducted by Dr. George Delgado, who is the doctor behind the abortion pill reversal medical intervention. This is the first data published since 2012 that supports the effectiveness of the abortion pill reversal process.

Some young women are pressured into having RU-486 abortions, either by family and friends or the abortion facility staff after expressing doubts. Some undergo that abortion procedure without fully understanding the consequences. Others are conflicted and go through with them, only to instantly regret their choice that ends with the death of their child. There was little hope for these women until now.

The reversal process is simple, using a natural progesterone treatment approved by the FDA to help prevent miscarriages. The treatment has been used to try to save pregnancies for decades, and is now being used to combat the progesterone-starving effects of the RU-486 abortion pill.

This new study followed 754 women, who after taking the first pill in the medical abortion process regretted their decision and received progesterone treatment. The study found the lives of 261 babies were saved by progesterone treatments within 72 hours of taking the first abortion pill. Various methods were examined. Women taking high-dose oral progesterone treatments had 68% of their children saved, and women receiving progesterone injections had 64% of their children saved.

The study used a conservative benchmark of only 25% of children surviving when their mothers took only RU-486 and not the second pill in the medical abortion regimen.

The study also noted that there was no increased risk of birth defects of preterm births, and further noted that progesterone had been used safely in pregnancy for decades.

Though abortion advocates are still clamoring that this procedure is junk science, it is hard to deny its effectiveness when there are lives being saved. They certainly have a vested interest in keeping women in the dark about this potentially life-saving procedure.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Another reminder that elections have consequences

Another federal budget, another year of Planned Parenthood receiving your tax dollars. You may be thinking that since the Republican Party controls Congress and the presidency, this ought to have been addressed by now. Why?

Well, it came down to one single vote in the U.S. Senate.

Frankly, not every Republican is prolife. Though the two major parties are becoming increasingly polarized on the abortion issue, it's a mistake to assume the position of any politician in any party.

Following the 2016 election, the prolife margin in the Senate was zero. Though the Republican majority was 52-48, two Senate Republicans are pro-abortion: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

In March, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a vote to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate regarding funding of Planned Parenthood. Congress removed an Obama Administration regulation meant to stop states like Michigan from shifting Title X family planning funding away from abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.

That year prolifers in the Senate were on the verge of using a special budgetary provision to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare, including Obamacare provisions that allow tax-funding to go to insurance plans that cover abortions. This combined effort failed in July, however, by one vote.

The expectation was that Senate Republicans would go back to the drawing board and come up with yet another plan that could garner 50 votes. Then in November, Roy Moore lost the Alabama Senate election to Doug Jones. Now there are only 49 prolife votes in the U.S. Senate.

Many people have strong opinions on Roy Moore, who was an extremely flawed candidate, but the practical reality of his loss and the decisions of Alabama voters means Planned Parenthood now has a Senate majority backing their tax-funding.

The votes aren't there to be had.

Some people are wondering why their prolife elected officials voted for this budget. Typically most elected officials vote for the budget. The politics over budget shutdown fights are not easy. Even Senate Democrats who thought they automatically get to win budget shutdown fights got their noses badly bloodied in January when they tried holding out for a controversial policy that opinion polls say a majority of Americans support.

We may wish the U.S. Senate had the votes, or that Congress settled on a different plan to achieve their promises in 2017, or that the Alabama election went differently, or that the politics and realities surrounding the federal budget operated differently, or that we don't even need to be arguing to stop tearing the arms and legs off of defenseless children in the womb in the first place. Wishing isn't good enough, though.

The current Senate margin may provide enough votes for the most important item—a fair Supreme Court justice to replace one of the justices who brings their abortion advocacy with them to the bench—with effort from prolifers. The margin is not enough, however, to get any prolife legislation to the desk of President Trump today. If you don't like that reality, it's time to go to some serious work.

Elections have consequences, and for prolifers we must recognize these consequences include the life and death of millions of people. Thankfully Michigan prolifers have a chance to address this reality in the 2018 election when they vote for a U.S. Senator to represent us in Washington, D.C. Are you prepared to go to work?

As Vice President Mike Pence said recently, "I truly do believe, if all of us do all that we can, that we will once again, in our time, restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law. But we have to do the work."

So, be frustrated, but it's important to understand how we got into this particular situation. Here's three important takeaways from this story:

  1. Don't assume politicians' positions on abortion. They can lie about them, change them, or the media might never bother to even tell you what their position is. Sometimes politicians don't even really know what they believe, or are open to a positive change. Sometimes the pressure becomes too much to bear and they crack.
  2. Prolifers need to make sound choices in primary and general elections. The RLM-PAC works hard to make sure every candidate receiving their endorsement actually has to sit down to an in-person interview, from U.S. Senators to drain commissioners. They do everything possible to make sure a candidate is who they say they are on our prolife issues. President Donald Trump and National Right to Life PAC endorsed Luther Strange over Roy Moore in the Alabama primary, and if every prolife voter had listened to them, Planned Parenthood might have been defunded today. Sometimes being successful means giving up on your personal preferences or preferred strategy.
  3. Prolifers need to be realistic. The effort to end tax-funded abortions in Michigan was a long and awful fight. We fought through multiple vetoes, a stunning last-minute betrayal by a prolife elected official, overcame a nearly hopeless election fight, and we even lost a budget shutdown fight along the way. Sound familiar? Tactics had to be changed and numerous pro-abortion officials had to be voted out of office. We eventually got our bill, however, and so many lives have been saved as a result. Nothing easy is going to be given to the prolife movement, not when you consider the monstrous nature of abortion.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pulling back the curtain

Dear Lifesaver,

It is one of the most memorable scenes in one of the most watched movies in film history. Dorothy Gale of Kansas, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion are returning to Emerald City having defeated the Wicked Witch of the West. Now it’s time for the Wizard of Oz to keep his promise and send Dorothy home.

Instead, the Wizard uses fear and intimidation to conceal his true identity and the motives of his heart. In a last-ditch effort to keep the charade going, he thunders number 24 of the 100 greatest movie lines of all time: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

Abortion providers and all those who prop up this corrupt industry use the exact same tactics as the Wizard of Oz. Consider these similarities:

  • The image they portray is a complete farce. They do not support women. They victimize women and their innocent children for a profit. 
  • The promises they make are all smoke and mirrors! Abortion never solves a thing; it’s just a doorway to more heartache and regret. 

Every day the abortion industry uses fear and intimidation to pad their pocketbook. I’ve often said that an abortionist is nothing more than a bully with a scalpel!

Like Toto, we need to pull the curtain back! When we do so, we will expose the abortion industry for who they really are and lay bare the intentions of their hearts.

But I must tell you, it’s crowded behind that curtain! In virtually every sector of our society, you will find people who are pushing the buttons and pulling the levers to deceive and intimidate. It’s a long list:

  • The media and news commentators
  • Educators, counselors and school administrators
  • Doctors, nurses and health systems
  • Pastors and denominational leaders (yes, it’s true!)
  • Hollywood celebrities and entertainers
  • Professional athletes
  • The list goes on...

You can clearly see, we have our work cut out for us. But, today, as I sit down to write this month’s newsletter, we are micro-focused on a group of some of the greatest pretenders: politicians!

Now let me hasten to say, the unborn child and women in crisis are valiantly represented today by many fine men and women in both Lansing and in Washington, D.C. But, at the same time, there’s curtain-pulling work needing to be done.

That’s exactly what we intend to do in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

Priority number one will be to prepare for the primary elections which take place on Tuesday, August 7. Then immediately, we will turn our attention to the general election, Tuesday, November 6. The list of offices up for election is long.

Please help us pull the curtain back! We cannot allow pro-abortion politicians to hide from the truth! In the days ahead, we must serve the unborn and our fellow citizens by thoroughly vetting these candidates for public office.

We need to do our best to explain where these candidates stand on the life and death issue of abortion. Then we need to pull the curtain back and invite concerned citizens from Marquette to Monroe to join us as we step into that ballot box!

Don’t underestimate the importance of your participation! Your gift of $10, $20, $25, $50 or even $100 represents an incredibly important investment in our curtain-pulling work! Go to www.RTL.org and give online right now.

Make no mistake about it, we will face strong opposition at every step of the way. You will hear political parties, political action committees and the candidates themselves say,“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

Please join us right away with your most generous financial contribution possible and your continued prayer support. Thank you!

With deepest appreciation,
Barbara Listing, President Right to Life of Michigan

P.S. As far as the womb goes, “There’s no place like home!” (Number 11 out of the 100 greatest movie lines of all time.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tough day for California & abortion industry in Supreme Court

Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in NIFLA v. Becerra. The Supreme Court is facing the question if the state of California can force prolife pregnancy centers to advertise free abortions.

The consensus opinion between court watchers seems to be that California had a horrible day in court. Even abortion supporters agree:


Certainly the law is problematic on 1st Amendment grounds; you can't force someone to speak. California and several justices appeared to try to liken these forced advertisements to informed consent before an abortion. There's a big difference however; California's law is not requiring centers to provide informed consent of ultrasound procedures. That would not be objectionable. Instead, it forces prolife pregnancy centers to deface their own advertisements and advertise in their clinics for a hotline for free, tax-funded abortions.

Also, giving people diapers and advice isn't like a surgical procedure. Diaper rash can be truly awful, but you don't need informed consent before purchasing Pampers, and informed consent for diapers would not include advertising for free abortion.

In the oral arguments the justices seemed to focus on how the law was specifically targeting prolife pregnancy centers, exempting almost every other entity that comes into contact with pregnant women. Even the very pro-abortion justices were troubled by the focused nature of the law.

It's obvious to everyone that the law targets prolife pregnancy centers. California legislators, the media, prolife and pro-abortion groups, even the justices themselves all knew the genesis of this law. In particular pro-abortion groups billed it as addressing the problem of "fake clinics." That's how the law was thought up, lobbied, written, sold, and defended.

California's Deputy Solicitor General tried to do the impossible, however, in arguing that the law was really about reaching low-income women with pertinent information. In an act of sheer mendacity, he even threw away a lifeline from Justice Elena Kagan when she suggested the law is about dealing with a specific problem of deceptive centers, and that maybe that's a legitimate purpose for the law being so specific about prolife pregnancy centers.

You can read the oral arguments for yourself, but this is essentially how that argument went:

California: We're targeting prolife pregnancy centers! They are fake clinics!
Supreme Court: So, you're targeting prolife pregnancy centers it seems?
California: No, of course not your honor. Who? Us?
Supreme Court: Hmm, are you sure about that?
California: Well, maybe we're targeting them just a tiny bit, but really it was just in the back of our mind what those filthy fake clinics were up to when we crafted our FACT Act to STOP THE LIES!!!

It's always difficult predicting what the U.S. Supreme Court will do, even when the oral arguments appear to be pretty decisive. We'll go out on a limb, however, and say prolifers should be optimistic that today was the beginning of the end of California's Reproductive FACT Act (they capitalized FACT, in case you miss that part).

Such a victory would be important to pregnancy centers in other states facing repeated attacks on their 1st Amendment rights by hostile pro-abortion legislators.

The Supreme Court's decision in this case is expected to be released around June.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Do we need abortion for Down syndrome?

Luke Pardue
Luke Pardue, human being
Have you ever met someone with a genetic disease? Chances are you have. There is also a chance that you have met someone who has a disease, but you have no idea that they do.

Down syndrome is one genetic disease that might be more apparent than some. As many know, there are several different tests that a mother can have while she is pregnant to find out if their baby will have this genetic disease.

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus recently wrote an opinion piece about the topic. She notes several states are seeking to ban abortion on eugenic grounds. She wrote that if she had found out she was potentially having a baby with Down syndrome, abortion would have been her first pick.

She isn’t the first one to write about this issue, but her argument might be the most lifeless.

Since her March 9 article was published, many people (even members of Congress) have taken to news and social media to share their first-hand experience with Down syndrome, either through their own pregnancy or a person they know.

Down syndrome takes place in about 1 in every 700 births. Many of these women are told by their physicians or others that abortion is the best option for them. In her opinion piece, Ruth Marcus even wrote, "I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted."

That's what the entire abortion debate boils down to, isn't it? This child is not what I want. This child is not good enough for me.

Just because these babies are a little different, or need a little extra care does not make them any less precious.

This latest opinion piece echoed the same sentiment of news out of Iceland that Down syndrome has been largely "eliminated" there. In reality, they didn’t eliminate Down syndrome, they just kill any baby unfortunate enough to have a positive text result before birth.

One big problem with prenatal testing is that it opens up the door to abortion for any characteristic. You can test for all sorts of things today, even physical features like hair or eye color. This problem is mentioned by Ruth Marcus, but waved away in her commitment to abortion-on-demand for any reason. What if Marcus' parents didn't like her hair or eye color? What if she had a genetic disorder herself?

Everyone should have a conversation with someone who lives with a genetic disease, especially someone who has a genetic disease that was detected in the womb, but is able to live a completely normal life. Maybe someone like Ruth Marcus will come to realize that we are more than our defects.

Many babies who have genetic diseases often aren’t even given the opportunity to live because they are merely classified as a "burden." Well, every person is a burden at multiple times in their life. Is society only meant for the fit, wealthy, and independent? Is eugenics worth embracing?

There are also cases where women are told that their child might have a genetic disease when they are born, but when they are born they have no such disease. Apparently the lives of these children with false positives are simply collateral damage in our quest to avoid having to deal with the disabled.

Our society is obsessed with avoiding discrimination in any form and overturning every bastion of privilege, but unfortunately our society seems only too willing to discriminate against people based on their number of chromosomes.

No, Ruth Marcus, we don't need to be able to get rid of people with Down syndrome. We need a society where every human life is valued for what they are, not what they can or can't do for you.

ABORTION & DISABILITIES FACTSHEET

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Forcing the abortion agenda at the Supreme Court

Choice: the word is a rallying cry for the abortion industry, which holds personal autonomy as a supreme value in our culture. Even in their minds, however, some choices are more equal than others.

In two weeks the next major abortion case will come before the U.S. Supreme Court: NIFLA v. Becerra. On Tuesday, March 20, the Court will hear oral arguments about whether or not the state of California can force prolife pregnancy centers to advertise for free taxpayer-funded abortions.

California's 2015 Reproductive FACT Act law was specifically written to target prolife pregnancy centers; other medical and non-medical facilities that offer similar or related services are not required to give free advertising to abortion clinics.

The case should be an open and shut decision based on the First Amendment, but when it comes to abortion, throw out the law, the U.S. Constitution, and reality itself. The decision will hinge on the personal biases of the judges involved, in this case likely Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Learn more about the case here.

California is not alone. On Saturday the Washington State House approved a bill forcing any health insurance plan in the state that covers maternity care to also cover elective abortions.

Oregon took similar action in 2017, requiring insurance plans to provide free abortions.

While many politicians hold themselves out as "pro-choice" or "personally opposed to abortion," they are in reality pro-abortion. When they have the reigns of power, they move to force people to participate in abortions.

The abortion industry wants:
  • taxpayers to cover every abortion for free. They believe every person must help enable every abortion to take place.
  • every hospital, doctor, nurse, health insurance company, and everyone else connected to the health industry to either participate with abortions or help promote them. They believe no person of any belief ever has the right to conscientiously object.
  • to shutter every prolife pregnancy center. They don't want any person helping a woman through a crisis pregnancy unless they are willing to help her have an abortion, even as they accuse prolife people of refusing to help them.
  • to stop any protection for women facing abortion coercion. The abortion industry knows a significant number of women coming to them for abortions are not doing so by free will. They believe abortion coercion is not a problem and they refuse to do anything about it.
  • taxpayers to fund programs overseas that pressure prolife countries to change their laws, and to fund coercive population control programs in horribly repressive countries. They believe China's one-child policy was a good thing, because too many human beings is a bad thing.

This should be no surprise. Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, praised the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Buck v. Bell upholding forced sterilization programs. Today Planned Parenthood is forced to limply disavow Sanger's support for forced sterilization. They claim they care about liberty and the conscience of individuals.

The reality, however, is that the abortion industry and their supporters will not rest until there's not a single person left in the public square expressing the view that every human being has moral worth. They shrug their shoulders at the horrors of population control programs in places like China.

It's the prolife movement that truly values personal autonomy. We firmly believe in it, because it's part of our basic, unalienable human dignity. We know, however, that your autonomy ends when it directly impacts the life of another human being, because they have the same personal autonomy you have.

Personal autonomy is the reason abortion is wrong—a human being's life is taken from them simply because their existence is an inconvenience. If we can declare entire classes of innocent human beings unpersons, what's the point of personal autonomy after all?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Making the U-turn on abortion

Dear Lifesaver,

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the Winter Olympics. Political tensions aside, it was a thrill to watch some of the finest athletes in the world compete against one another, each and every one of them an expert in their field.

The same thing is true in the ever-changing world of technological advances. It seems like virtually every day there’s news of yet another astonishing breakthrough. Again, the work of experts in their field!

I’m also fascinated with medical research. Through the relentless pursuit of new and innovative treatments, diseases that were once incurable are wiped from the face of the earth. The result of experts in their field hard at work.

We are experts too! We are experts at the “U-turn.” Without hesitation, I would suggest that our expertise in this area is second to none in our modern-day culture.

Today, the prolife movement is filled with people who once considered themselves to be “pro-choice.” Perhaps they kept their opinion to themselves. Maybe they were a pro-choice donor. Maybe they were a pro-abortion activist. Some who have experienced the prolife U-turn even worked in an abortion clinic once upon a time. Or, tragically, had an abortion themselves.

Countless people have made a U-turn. It’s not just a matter of educating the general public on the realities of abortion. Sure, that’s certainly part of it, but not the whole story. The U-turn experience is much deeper. It is rooted in love and acceptance. Everyone is welcome in this movement! Everyone!

Meet Abby Johnson. At one point in time, Abby ran a large Planned Parenthood affiliate in Texas. But Abby has made a U-turn. She now leads an organization called, “And Then There Were None.” Their mission is to offer a U-turn to those working in the abortion industry.

In her latest report, Abby indicated that an amazing 419 abortion clinic workers have made a prolife U-turn in their lives, including 7 full-time abortionists.

Just recently, Abby introduced Adrienne Moton to the prolife movement. Adrienne was one of Kermit Gosnell’s employees. For over 30 years, Gosnell ran the most notorious and brutal abortion clinic in the country. Moton had worked side-by-side with Gosnell in his grisly trade. But then Adrienne began to make her U-turn.

After his arrest, she helped authorities put Gosnell away for the rest of his life. Though she had helped prosecutors, she was still convicted of third degree murder and went to prison. On the day of her sentencing in May 2013, Adrienne Moton, through tears, told the court, “I don’t feel like I got arrested. I feel like I got rescued.”

Abby Johnson reached out to Adrienne while she was still behind bars. Abby spoke passionately of the love, forgiveness and redemption that she had experienced. Adrienne has now joined Abby in making a U-turn. Now she’s free—free indeed!

I am so proud of the prolife movement. As I look across the landscape of America and investigate our rich heritage as a nation, I see absolutely no parallel to our movement. We labor 24/7 for people who will never be able to thank us. We are ridiculed and mocked at every step of the way. Daily, we are slandered and mischaracterized in the news and on social media. Yet, through all the abuse, we exemplify unconditional love. We are experts at the U-turn.

But I must tell you, I am deeply troubled by what I see happening in our great state. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, the latest annual statistics tell us that 49% of all abortions performed in our state are repeat! These are people who desperately need a U-turn in their lives.

Because of a past abortion, many are experiencing damaged relationships, broken marriages, mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, increased sexual promiscuity and generally a dysfunctional lifestyle. All this can lead to another abortion. You and I desperately need to intervene, not only to prevent a future casualty, but to provide people on a dead-end road with a way of escape: a U-turn!

The good news is we are living in a day when people are converting to the prolife movement in droves. Women, men, parents, brothers, sisters, friends and teachers are coming to grips with either a past abortion or the role that they played in a past abortion. We are living in a day when doctors and nurses are escaping the bloody clutch of the abortion industry, where people like Adrienne Moton are finding forgiveness and redemption.

The prolife U-turn: a sign of the times!

We’re here. Everyone is welcome. We desperately need to put up more U-turn signs in Michigan. Are you with me? If so, please, give your most generous donation possible online to Right to Life of Michigan for $100, $50, $45, $25 or whatever you can afford. We must dig in for the long haul.

If you are able, I would encourage you to join me as a member of our 2018 Life Support Team with a gift given on a monthly, bimonthly, quarterly or semiannual basis. If you are sold on the concept of the U-turn, the Life Support Team is an unprecedented way to make an impact. Send us an e-mail at info@rtl.org if you'd like us to sign you up.

Thank you for helping us provide a U-turn!

With deepest appreciation,

Barbara Listing, President
Right to Life of Michigan

Treating the U.S. Treasury as a political slush fund

Yesterday BuzzFeed News reported that several large political organizations are helping several Parkland students organize for political events in the wake of the shooting there.

One of those groups is Planned Parenthood.

Right to Life of Michigan doesn't have a position on guns, and a great many other otherwise important issues. That's because those issues have nothing to do with our issues: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia. They are not a part of our mission.

Right to Life of Michigan does not receive $500 million tax dollars every year, either. And why would we? We're an organization heavily involved in politics and policy (and education). It would be strange if our legislative office was using tax dollars to lobby legislators, perverse even.

Planned Parenthood has no such qualms. Their original mission was population control through encouraging use of birth control. At least abortion relates to that mission. In the last several months Planned Parenthood has abandoned their mission statement as the leader of the "reproductive rights movement" and has engaged on issues that are entirely unrelated to their mission.

What does gun control have to do with birth control? How does tax policy impact abortion? Where does immigration fit into all of this?

Meanwhile, all the stuff they routinely tout as their true activities like mammograms (which they don't provide) and birth control are in decline as their clients and health services drop.

Planned Parenthood maintains the fiction that they are integral to the health care system when citizens complain that this highly political organization has received billions in tax dollars over the years. The media is happy to assist them in their endeavors, seemingly always failing to hold them accountable.

But where you spend your resources shows everyone what kind of person you truly are.

Planned Parenthood's heart lies in two places: the abortion clinic pathology lab, where the broken body parts of an unborn child are crudely reassembled to make sure the abortion was completely properly, and the U.S. Capitol building.

The U.S. Treasury should be used for the general welfare, not abused by greasing the skids of government through lobbyists and campaign contributions, and certainly not for taking the life of innocent human beings.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Remembering the impact of Mildred Jefferson



Often it can seem a deep-seated problem is too impossible to resolve, too broken to fix, and a single voice can’t make an impact.

Dr. Mildred Jefferson was a testament to the power one voice can have to address a problem that sometimes seems impossible to resolve and beyond our abilities to repair.

In the few years before the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973, abortion activists were blitzing state legislatures, convincing several of the merits of taking away the right to life of unborn children. Even Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, was not immune to this advocacy. At first, very few voices rose in defense of the rights of the unborn. The American Medical Association once was dedicated to protecting the rights of unborn children and protecting medical professionals from being turned into merchants of death. Yet even they were undermined by the movement to embrace abortion, and in 1970, they endorsed the policy of abortion-on-demand.

When pro-abortion forces came to Massachusetts in earnest in 1970 to change state laws there, one doctor took a different path: Dr. Mildred Jefferson.

By 1970 Dr. Jefferson already had a brilliant history of firsts. Born and raised in small town Texas, Dr. Jefferson always wanted to be a doctor, but being a Black woman in a town with segregated schools in the 1940s wasn’t exactly an easy path to medical school. That didn’t even begin to hold her back, however.

Dr. Jefferson was only 15 when she graduated high school and went on to a small historically-Black college, Texas College. She was too young to pursue medical school after graduating from Texas College, so she bided her time by working on her master’s degree from Tufts University, way up in Massachusetts. It was a short trip from there to her next destination in nearby Cambridge.

In a truly momentous first, Dr. Jefferson became the first Black women to graduate from Harvard Medical School. Then she achieved another one, becoming the first female intern at Boston City Hospital, and another one when she became the first female surgeon at Boston University Medical Center.

The sky was her limit. She could have spent the rest of her life basking in the glow of her achievements, perhaps becoming a universally-celebrated historical figure for breaking down so many racial and gender barriers. History, however, set a different path before her.

Appalled by the idea that a doctor should engage in taking human life, Dr. Jefferson accomplished another first, helping to officially found the prolife movement in Massachusetts under the name Massachusetts Citizens for Life. She went on to be a founding member of the National Right to Life Committee, a chair of their board in 1974, and president of the organization from 1975 to 1978.

At the beginning of the prolife movement, Dr. Jefferson was our national spokesperson. She was not just an eloquent speaker, but impactful on her listeners. One such listener was that former California governor who legalized abortion in his state, Ronald Reagan. After seeing Dr. Jefferson speak about the issue, he wrote a note thanking her. Part of the note read, “I wish I could have heard your views before our legislation was passed. You made it irrefutably clear than an abortion is the taking of a human life. I’m grateful to you.”

Ronald Reagan was the first prolife president since Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973. Helped by the persuasive words of Dr. Jefferson, he went on to galvanize the prolife movement at a time when most of the learned minds and voices of the day were still predicting that prolifers would gradually vanish from America. We’re still here, and our voices are louder than ever.

For Dr. Jefferson, being a doctor was inseparable from being prolife. She once said, “I became a physician in order to help save lives. I am at once a physician, a citizen, and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow the concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live.”

Abortion has not yet ended; it still ravages communities in America. Dr. Jefferson’s mission has yet to be achieved. Yet, there is progress: an increase in prolife protections at the state level, decisions chipping away at Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, and an abortion rate in decline for nearly 30 years.

Sadly, Dr. Jefferson died in 2010, before she was able to see Roe v. Wade reversed. At her death she was still dedicated to the prolife movement, serving on the board of the National Right to Life Committee. Though she began her career as a physician saving individual patients, she will be most remembered as a person who helped lay the foundation for saving millions of lives.

Just one voice can indeed change the world around them and the course of history.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Missing history during Black History Month

Black History Month has a long and venerable tradition. It began with a press release in 1926 celebrating a week to showcase the advancement of the Black community from bondage to freedom. It was set in February to coincide with the birthdays of two great men: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. These men sacrificed much for the principle that every member of the human race enjoys the same inalienable rights.

While the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution have done much to protect the inalienable rights of every American, abortion is a gaping hole in the foundation of our inalienable right to life. Millions of lives have disappeared into this hole, and no community has been more affected by abortion than the Black community.

Since 1973 there have been more than an estimated 19 million abortions in the Black community. Today in America there are 43 million Americans who are Black. A third of Black History Month is missing because a third of the people whose stories make up that history are gone.

There are many problems facing the Black community today, but abortion is frequently overlooked. Since 1973 abortion has taken more Black lives than every other cause of death combined. Let’s repeat it, and reflect on this: if you add up every death for every reason for every member of the Black community since 1973, it doesn’t equal the amount of Black abortions.

That’s the bad news. The good news is abortion rates in minority communities are declining, though very slowly. In Michigan additional effort by the prolife movement is being focused on reaching out to communities with high abortion rates, particularly Detroit. Though they don’t get much media attention, many prolife people serve in organizations whose mission is to help women and men in crisis pregnancies.

What more can be done? This is a complex issue. Women have abortions for many reasons, including diverse issues like economics, relationships, and futures. There are many complicated reasons for high Black abortion rates, and these reasons can’t be addressed overnight.

The most important roadblock to addressing this problem is not its complicated nature; it’s the failure of many to even identify there’s a huge problem here.

Facing complex problems is difficult, especially one touching issues that already generate controversy. Yet Black History Month remains a living testament that America has the resolve to face down difficult challenges.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Stem cell hucksters back for more cash

The CIRM was to be the great hope for cures for millions of Americans suffering from incurable diseases. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was created by 59 percent of California voters in 2004 and given $3 billion in tax dollars to pursue cures by killing human embryos and taking their embryonic stem cells.

Now, 16 years later, CIRM is running out of cash and needs to come back to California voters and ask for more funding. Will voters give it to them?

The first question all people should ask is this: what price should society put on purposefully taking one human life to help another? For people who value every human life, the answer is each life is invaluable, and that such actions erode the fundamental nature of rights. It also subtly subverts the fundamental role of medicine in saving lives.

The second question—for those who aren't persuaded by those arguments—is this: will it work? What will the return on their investment be? How many cures have the CIRM researchers developed using human embryonic stem cells?

Zero.

The CIRM was not the only player in the gold rush for stem cell cures in the first decade of the 21st century. Michigan voters narrowly approved a state constitutional amendment to allow taking human life for medical research in 2008. Other states saw votes and debates as well. Presidents and Congress clashed over this issue. One thing in common to all of these debates were promises of endless cures for basically every major condition you can think of, even conditions like Alzheimer's that appear to be incurable through stem cell treatments.

Opposing these wild claims were prolife groups and others who pointed out the extensive problems with human embryonic stem cell research ever being utilized, including risks, practicality, and basic science. Prolifers pointed out that ethical alternatives like adult stem cells had already shown real results and newer forms of personalized regenerative medicine would quickly overtake human embryonic stem cell research.

Let's revisit these claims.

In 2004, now-disgraced vice presidential candidate John Edwards promised voters that if they voted for John Kerry for president, famous actor Christopher Reeves and others with spinal cord injuries will walk again. Today, no treatment for spinal cord injuries exists using human embryonic stem cell research. Adult stem cell treatments continue to be pioneered, however, and have shown real benefits.

Also in 2004, Ron Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, spoke at the Democratic National Convention about human embryonic stem cells. He promised listeners cures to Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and more. Today no treatments for those conditions exist using human embryonic stem cell research and no cure is even on the horizon.

Contrary to Reagan's promises, current research using induced pluripotent stem cells is moving towards a clinic trial for Parkinson's. Adult stem cells have been able to reduce symptoms in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. Researchers are attacking diabetes in mice by combining adult stem cells with drug therapy. These are just a handful of examples of ethical stem cell sources that show as much promise as human embryonic stem cells once did, or are actually helping treat some patients today. 

In Michigan, supporters of Proposal 2 in 2008 promised cures as well. They touted a study claiming 770,000 lives could be saved. They also made a bevy of other promises: a renaissance for regenerative medicine in the state, a solution to Michigan's health care crisis, health care savings of $80 million a year, business revenue of $27 million. Michigan would step out of the "dark ages" and become a global leader in fighting disease.

After 10 years, did these claims actually come true? Did we even get a biomedical renaissance for the price of sacrificing human life? The most vocal University of Michigan researcher backing the proposal, Dr. Sean Morrison, left the state for Texas a couple of years after passage. Maybe Michigan is still in the dark ages after all.

So far the only people who truly benefited from Proposal 2 were the campaign consultants and signature gatherers paid to promote the constitutional amendment.

Voters in California will hopefully reexamine the many claims backers of the CIRM made and the false hope they promised to people suffering from terminal illness. So far the only success the CIRM is relying on for their latest sales pitch involves adult stem cells. If regenerative medicine institutes had abandoned Quixotic and unethical forms of research at the beginning, imagine how much closer we might be to effective treatments for suffering patients. Maybe backers of the CIRM could turn a new leaf and not lie to voters this time?

It's understandable that people suffering from disease and their family members want to see cures right around the corner. These people deserve many things, including honesty. Every human being deserves the promise that their life will be valued and respected, and ignoring the value of some human beings will never benefit us all in the long-term. 

It's well past time for Americans to abandon unethical research with diminishing hope of ever working out.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Late-term abortion ban fuel emotions of abortion advocates

Last week’s Senate vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act once again sent abortion advocates into a tail spin. Unfortunately it was clear the bill was not going to get enough votes to overcome a filibuster, and the cloture vote on it failed. It is effectively dead for now. Pro-abortion groups didn't rest on their laurels, however, and were busy deceiving people about abortion statistics and medical research.

The failure of this bill came after a poll was released showing that 60 percent of Americans who say they are "pro-choice" believe that second and third trimester abortions should be restricted. New York Times writer David Brooks wrote a high-profile article as a hypothetical Democratic Party political consultant urging the national party to abandon their platform of unlimited tax-funded abortions. Brooks' fictitious consultant realizes that such an extreme position on abortion alienates millions of voters that would otherwise be a part of their base.

The popularity of late-term abortion bans and the extreme unpopularity of our current status quo of abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy forces the abortion industry to deceive as many people as possible in order maintain the state of the law.

The news website Salon.com recently provided an excellent example. Writer Amanda Marcotte slammed the prolife movement’s recent push towards late-term abortion bans, saying we are now openly challenging Roe v. Wade. Her article makes a claim that "legitimate scientists" say that the earliest possibility that unborn babies can feel pain is at 29 weeks.

Let's consult one, shall we? How about Dr. Robin Pierucci, a board-certified neonatologist in Michigan?

Dr. Pierucci wrote an article for the website The Federalist last week talking about how the premature babies she works with—some at 23 weeks gestation—are obviously capable of reacting to painful or uncomfortable procedures.

Dr. Pierucci said, "For example, when you poke them for blood work, the babies wrinkle up their faces, kick their feet, clench their hands into tiny fists, curl their toes, arch their backs and try to wriggle away, or smack at the offending person. Just ask the nurses."

Will Amanda Marcotte claim these babies aren't actually reacting to painful stimuli and showing natural reactions to pain every other human being does? If these babies born at 23 weeks can feel pain outside of the womb, wouldn’t that mean that they would also be able to feel pain inside the womb?

Who are those "legitimate scientists" Amanda Marcotte mentioned, anyway? Marcotte is relying on a 2005 article written to oppose efforts to ban partial-birth abortions; it wasn't an actual study. The first author listed is a lawyer who worked for NARAL, not a scientist. Her co-authors include abortionists who financially profit from late-term abortions. Would you say that's a slight conflict of interest? It's doubtful Amanda Marcotte took the time to actually read who the authors were, or perhaps to even read the article herself.

If you want to read what actual scientists with expertise on studying and caring for unborn children have to say, click here.

The abortion industry's understanding of science is stuck in 1876, back when we still only had theories that fertilization was the beginning of every human life (and even then theories were compelling enough for the unborn child to be protected in law).

There is no denying that Americans generally oppose late-term abortions. It is going to be very difficult for abortion-on-demand supporters to hold up their claims forever when they are so easily rebutted.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lyin' about late-term abortions

"Lie" and "gaslighting" are strong words, but they are necessary to use in this case.

Yesterday a majority of the U.S. Senate voted to ban most abortions past 20 weeks based on evidence that the unborn child can feel pain. The bill was blocked by a filibuster of 44 Democrats and 2 Republicans.

The most frequent argument against the bill that we saw was that most women who have abortions past 20 weeks have some health issue, or the child has a fatal condition or disability. Here's an example, from Planned Parenthood:


It's a bad argument for three reasons:

A) Killing someone is not an appropriate response to suffering.
B) Having a disability doesn't diminish your human rights.
C) It isn't true. It's a lie.

It's not like this is a mistake, or an assumption, or wishful thinking. Planned Parenthood's own favorite research institution has studied the issue. They found most women who have late-term abortions past 20 weeks fit one of these five profiles:

1) Single mothers with other children.
2) Depression or substance abuse.
3) Relationship issues or domestic violence.
4) Trouble deciding earlier in the pregnancy.
5) Young and without children.

These are reasons for many early abortions as well. Conspicuously absent is any mention of a child with a disability or health issues.

It's also a disingenuous argument. Planned Parenthood doesn't oppose a ban on late-term abortions because of health issues, they oppose them because they believe no unborn child has a right to life at any point in pregnancy. If such an exception were included in a late-term ban, Planned Parenthood would move on to a completely different and equally-deceptive argument to oppose it. Planned Parenthood knows that late-term abortion bans usually poll in the 60 percent range, and that even many self-identified pro-choice Democrats support such bans, so they have to skirt the issue.

Planned Parenthood gaslights the public, they gaslight the media, and they gaslight their own supporters. Gaslighting is a term for emotional/mental abuse that involves repeatedly lying and deceiving someone, with the goal of having them question their own perceptions and instead rely on the deceptive person for their view of reality.

Practically every common argument or talking point from the abortion industry involves deception of some kind: only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's work involves abortions, "heavily edited" undercover videos involving fetal tissue trafficking, Planned Parenthood's fictitious mammogram machines, or the lie that launched the movement into the mainstream itself: back alley abortions. We could go on and on.

Why do Planned Parenthood and others do this? Because the second you acknowledge even a sliver of the truth or the humanity of the unborn child, the entire abortion house of cards comes tumbling down. Abortion rests on the idea that a child has zero moral worth before the moment of birth, or as former Sen. Barbara Boxer put it, a baby doesn't have value until you take her home from the hospital.

Just yesterday in discussing with someone the reasons women have abortions past 20 weeks, the person was unable to accept that the study discussed above from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute was legitimate. The person claimed the study was about abortion after 14 weeks, even though the title of the study is, "Who Seeks Abortions at or After 20 Weeks?". She was unable to accept the truth, and confabulated a reason to ignore the evidence.

That's why you can show someone a video of Planned Parenthood talking in their own words about selling the organs of aborted babies, and the person will likely find an excuse to assume what they've just seen isn't real or must be a deception itself. They are incapable of believing Planned Parenthood is in the wrong.

That's why it's important to keep your cool when debating people who support abortion. Most abortion supporters aren't dismissing your claims to purposefully lie or deceive. Their support of abortion rests on denying the reality of the unborn child, and they have been conditioned to accept claims from Planned Parenthood uncritically and doubt everything the profile movement says. Getting angry at them only drives them further away from your point.

That doesn't mean the prolife movement should abandon debunking pro-abortion claims. You can still sow seeds of doubt in abortion supporters, and sometimes they do see the truth when they are ready to emotionally accept it. So be patient, and continue keeping your arguments grounded in the facts and on point.

You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A movement for everyone, for everyone

The message of the prolife movement is extremely simple: every human life has inherent value, and thus an inalienable right to life. It's because of this simple belief that the prolife movement is committed to fighting the injustices of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.

It's a belief so simple every person of good will ought to be able to get behind it. It's the foundational creed of our nation, as declared by our Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The prolife movement is thus a movement for everyone, for everyone. We all should support respect for our right to life, because it's the one thing we all share in common: our humanity.

One poignant moment at the March for Life really highlighted this fact.

Every year the Family Research Council hosts ProLifeCon, an online streamed convention for prolife people across the digital fruited plains. Every year ProLifeCon features several prolife government officials, speakers, and leaders. This year Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood abortion facility director and leader of the organization And Then There Were None.

Abby's mission is to convince every employee at an abortion facility to leave, from the clinic escort outside who often intimidates prolife sidewalk counselors, right up to the abortionist performing an abortion. It's tough work, it has to be often heart-breaking work, but it has born fruit.

At the 2018 ProLifeCon, just before the March for Life began, Abby gave a message aimed at members of the prolife movement. She told them workers in the abortion industry do listen to them. What sort of messages should the prolife movement want them to hear? Which words drive them deeper into their abortion work, and which words help them to realize the gross injustice they are engaged in and leave it forever?

Abby highlighted her message using one person: Adrienne Moton. Adrienne was one of Kermit Gosnell's employees. She had helped Gosnell as he cut the necks of born-alive babies. Her mug shot had appeared in the Philadelphia papers, and later the national media.

It was Adrienne's conscience that helped authorities end Gosnell's clinic. She had taken the photo of one of the babies killed after birth by Gosnell. Only known to the world as "Baby Boy A," this child's photo and Adrienne's testimony helped convict Gosnell.

Adrienne helped the prosecutors, but still was convicted of third-degree murder herself. She spent time in jail, though she had a light sentence for her help in the case. It was time to reflect on what she had done.

Abby Johnson said she was appalled at what some prolifers were saying during the Gosnell trial. So, Abby said she decided to send letters to all of the Gosnell clinic employees and pray for them, hoping to receive a response. She finally did, though only one: Adrienne Moton.

After talking about her efforts to reach Adrienne, Abby invited Adrienne up to the podium at ProLifeCon. It was a surprise to the several people attending the digital convention in person. This person who was a prominent figure in a nearly unbelievable grand jury report and trial was present in person. Several years ago, Adrienne was helping Kermit Gosnell to run his clinic from Hell. On January 19, 2018, she was a member of the prolife movement, adding her voice to the hundreds of thousands of prolifers gathering in our nation's capitol for the March for Life that day.

It's a movement for everyone, for everyone.

Adrienne's story is not dissimilar to many prolifers. Many people today leading the movement have themselves been uncaring for the rights of unborn children in the past, or had a very imperfect view of those rights. The only qualification for joining the movement is being committed today to the belief that every human life has value and that every society has a fundamental duty to protect our common inalienable right to life.

Adrienne's story really recalls that of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, however. Dr. Nathanson was an early architect of the abortion movement and did tens of thousands of abortions. He could not shake his understanding of fetal development and images and sonograms of babies in the womb, just like Adrienne could not delete her photo of Baby Boy A. Nathanson left his deathly trade forever. He devoted the rest of his life to protect those he had once preyed upon.

Dr. Nathanson's autobiography, "The Hand of God," recounts his story and his long trek to his eventual home in the prolife movement:
"The keenest of human tortures is to be judged without a law, and mine had been a lawless universe. Santayana once wrote that the only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself. I despised myself. Perhaps I had at least arrived at the beginning of the quest for human dignity."