Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A look back at 50 years: 1990

This is the fifth entry in a monthly series we’ll be running throughout 2017 looking back at historically significant profile moments in our state’s history.

1990 was a huge year for the prolife movement for two big reasons.

There were a lot of minor teen abortions in Michigan. In 1990 there were 3,820 abortions performed on girls 17 and under in Michigan. In most cases the parents had no clue their child had surgery and their grandchild had died. The position that children need permission to be given aspirin in school but can undergo surgery in secret is not very popular, yet it carried the day for years in Michigan, largely thanks to just one man: Governor Jim Blanchard.

Michigan's Legislature passed a bill in 1990 requiring parental consent for minors before they can have abortions, but Governor Blanchard vetoed it. So, Right to Life of Michigan did what we do best, and that's take advantage of Michigan's constitutional provision that allows citizens to initiate legislation.

Right to Life of Michigan's grassroots army of unpaid volunteers pounded the pavement and obtained more than 333,000 signatures in under 100 days to initiate our parental consent legislation. Approximately 192,000 valid signatures of registered voters were needed. With the legislation initiated, it was passed by large margins in the Legislature on September 12, 1990. The House vote was 61 to 40, and the Senate vote was 28 to 9. Because of the initiative process, Governor Blanchard was cut out of the process, just like he was cut out of the 1988 ban on tax-funded abortions in Michigan. Our bill became law!

Minor teen abortions in Michigan dropped from 3,820 in 1990 to 791 in 2016. It's difficult to figure out how much of that decrease is solely due to our legislation, but that's definitely thousands of lives saved over the years thanks to something simple like allowing parents to be involved with their children. The abortion industry can no longer count on roping-in scared youth for hundreds of dollars in cash each. Our law protects the rights of parents, vulnerable youth, and unborn children.

While that was an important victory, Governor Blanchard was still a large roadblock to additional life-saving progress. His opponent in the 1990 gubernatorial election, John Engler, was prolife, but a lot of smart politicos and reporters were writing his campaign off as hopeless. The prolife movement did not write him off and we pounded the pavement again.

On the Sunday before election day, a Detroit News poll had Governor Blanchard running away with victory with a 14-point advantage over John Engler. The only poll that mattered was the one on Election Day, however, and Engler beat Blanchard by a razor-thin margin of 17,595 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast; that's less than a single percentage point. Engler's victory stunned state and national media.

Engler and his running mate, committed prolifer Connie Binsfeld, would finally welcome the prolife agenda to Lansing for the first time in our history. Once again, prolife grassroots provided the edge that made the difference, which is every bit as true today as it was in 1990.

Governor Blanchard once remarked that you can only tell the same group "no" so many times, referring to our grassroots organization. True.

Honoring 50 years of prolife advocacy in Michigan
1972: The Voice of the Unborn
1979: Michigan Citizens for Life
1981: First Media Campaign
1988: Medicaid-Funded Abortions Ban

Facebook shuts down Michigan prolifers again

Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life, an affiliate of Right to Life of Michigan, discovered on October 4 that their Facebook advertising account had been shut down without explanation.

This is the third time this year Michigan prolife organizations have had their Facebook advertising accounts summarily banned. Right to Life of Michigan's advertising account has been banned twice without cause in 2017, but was restored thanks to media scrutiny.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, "Facebook's self-described mission is to, 'give people the power to build community...' It's hard to do that when community organizations have tools taken away from them without an explanation. Unfortunately many local organizations don't have the resources we did to demand an explanation and receive a solution."

Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life has not been given any specific details about what caused the ban. They were not directly informed their account had been banned; they only discovered the ban when attempting to purchase additional advertising.

Similar to the ban of Right to Life of Michigan's advertising account, Facebook's support team refused to answer specific questions and instead sent a vague form response. On October 4 Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life was told by Facebook, "There's no further action you may take here. We don't support ads for your business model."

Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life has the exact same "business model" as Right to Life of Michigan and our other local affiliates who utilize Facebook advertising. Their "business model" was never in question for earlier advertising purchases.

Right to Life of Michigan in April was similarly told our ban was a final decision beyond appeal, but after a Detroit News reporter contacted Facebook for details in May, our advertising account was restored. Facebook told the Detroit News the ban was a mistake and that they had contacted Right to Life of Michigan to inform us of the resolution. Facebook has not contacted us to this day to explain how the mistake occurred.

Right to Life of Michigan's advertising account was again shut down a few days after our account was restored in May, but a support request including a link to the Detroit News article led to the account being quickly reinstated.

Listing said, "We achieved no results working through Facebook's customer service department and the Better Business Bureau. Facebook only appears to respond to media attention to fix what they claim is a simple mistake."

In 2016 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with conservative leaders who expressed fear that they would be victims of censorship following an accusation that Facebook staff members were blocking legitimate political pages based on personal biases. After the meeting Zuckerberg said, "I wanted to hear their concerns personally and have an open conversation about how we can build trust."

Listing said, "Are these bans automated? Does a human being respond to questions from users? Does Facebook think they can get away with censoring smaller pages and users because they can't draw attention? These are questions Facebook must respond to if they truly want to build community trust."

Right to Life of Michigan is calling on Facebook to be more transparent. They must do a better job of communicating with users who make good-faith attempts to abide by their guidelines.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Abortion is not the most common medical procedure

As abortion supporters struggle to fight against rising prolife momentum nationwide, some have turned away from glossing over abortion with statements like “safe, legal and rare.” Instead some are beginning to make statements like “I love abortion.” They think being disingenuous about abortion is ceding the broader argument to prolifers, and so embracing abortion as a positive good will remove the “stigma” from it.

One tactic used to bolster their argument is to claim that abortion is one of the most common medical procedures. Some go so far to say it’s the most common medical procedure for women in America. It’s doubtful that claim will remove the stigma from abortion, because it’s hard to really have a person watch something like a late-term abortion and have them believe it’s perfectly acceptable, much less lovable.

While there are certainly a tragically large number of abortions in America, is their claim true? Is abortion the most common medical procedure in America?

First, some definitions. A surgical procedure is a medical procedure, but not all medical procedures are surgical procedures. It’s important to mention this for two reasons. On one hand, most people making this claim about abortion probably have surgery in mind. On the other hand, many abortion supporters frequently claim abortion is completely different from common outpatient surgeries. They do this because they don’t want clinics that provide outpatient surgical abortions to be regulated as outpatient facilities or ambulatory surgical centers.

Now, let’s get into some numbers. There are just under 1 million induced abortions every year in America, including surgical and medical abortions. Here’s a list of medical procedures in hospitals that were performed more than 1 million times each in 2010: blood transfusions, vaccinations, intubations/ventilations, episiotomy repairs, diagnostic cardiac catheterizations, c-sections, upper G-I endoscopies/biopsies, and circumcisions. That’s not even mentioning common things that are medical procedures, for example, intravenous fluid replacement.

Let’s get really specific here. What about outpatient surgical procedures for women? Is abortion the most common outpatient medical procedure for women? Here’s a list of outpatient procedures performed more than 1 million times each a year on just women: spinal canal injections, eyelid operations, cataract replacements, and lower G-I endoscopies. Again, this list doesn’t include common medical procedures for women provided in outpatient settings. For example, there are tens of millions of pap tests every year.

If we listed out every "medical procedure" more common than abortion, you’d stop reading. In 2010 there were 46 million in-patient surgeries and 53 million outpatient surgeries in the U.S. Surgical abortions are small subset of that large total.

Let’s just look at Planned Parenthood’s statistics. They do about 320,000 abortions every year, and they claim this is just three percent of their services (which it really isn’t). So, the leader of the abortion movement itself claims abortion is uncommon in their clinics, even though they are the country's largest abortion provider.

So, which is it abortion supporters? Abortion organizations will probably continue to fight over whether to say abortions are rare/tragic or common/lovable, and then no doubt they’ll decide which statistic is the one that will be repeated over and over in media coverage.

We do concede there are a lot of abortions. Abortion would be the number-one cause of death, if it counted. There have been more abortions committed in the Black community than every cause of death combined since 1973. Facts are important, but we all need to get them right.

Ultimately, every claim abortions supporters make has one common purpose: distract from the key truth that abortion takes the life of an innocent child. One thing they’ll never want to talk about—no matter how popular they try to make abortion—is what an abortion actually does to an unborn child.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Who's That Senator? Episode 2

Debbie Stabenow loves spending her time in Washington, D.C., sending your tax dollars to the abortion industry. What happens when you call her out on it?

Learn more about Senator Debbie Stabenow's record of putting human lives in jeopardy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Even when we give out free healthcare, pro-abortion groups still attack us

Going on today, from October 23-27, abortion organizations are pushing a national campaign using the hashtag #ExposeFakeClinics. An article at The Federalist highlights their campaign. Their hope is to end the "deception" that surrounds pregnancy resource centers and discredit their efforts to help women in need.

This argument isn’t new. It is something that they have been pushing for a long time, but we know that these claims are completely false.

All over the state of Michigan there are pregnancy resource centers that work with expectant and new mothers. These centers work with these mothers who are often scared, alone and have nowhere else to go for support. Through local donations and support they are able to help provide these women with important resources like ultrasounds, counseling, and some of them will even help these mothers find housing.

Their services even go outside of that with many of them providing free pregnancy and STI testing as well. Their missions are to help preserve life through empowering women. After the baby is born these centers still work with the mothers. They help them find childcare, diapers, clothing and even things as simple as a car seat to take the baby home from the hospital. They are truly and tirelessly dedicated to helping women in need.

Even though they help provide women (and some men) with all of these services for free, abortion supporters still use strong and false rhetoric to the contrary. Abortion supporters want to paint these help centers as illegitimate, even though they are fulfilling a legitimately large public need.

You might expect that groups that claim to be "pro-woman" would want to support these clinics that are helping women. Instead pro-abortion groups want to lie to poor women in need, sending them a message that not only is abortion the right option for them, but pregnancy help centers are really not there to help them at all.

In the eyes of the pro-abortion movement, there is nothing that prolife people can do right. Even giving free ultrasounds, diapers and supplies to new and expecting mothers makes them angry. Last week they were upset that a prolife lawyer was defending a rape victim. This week it is fighting against organizations that help women.

In the end, these attacks are not about what we say or do, they are because we believe the unborn child is a human person who deserves care and protection.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Remembering Dr. Joe Kincaid

We are sad to announce that Dr. Joseph Kincaid passed away unexpectedly on Friday. Dr. Kincaid's life is our history. Dr. Kincaid devoted nearly half a century to working to defend the life of the unborn child.

Dr. Kincaid founded Kalamazoo Right to Life in 1970, the first large-scale prolife group in Michigan. Kalamazoo Right to Life and other local groups founded by committed advocates for the unborn coalesced together to successfully fight off an attempt to legalize abortion in 1972. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton a few weeks later, these local groups truly came together to create Right to Life of Michigan, then called Michigan Citizens for Life.

Dr. Kincaid served on the board of Right to Life of Michigan for decades as a founding member. At one point he served as the executive vice president of the board. He continued to serve on the board of Kalamazoo Right to Life until his death on Friday.

The last time many of us saw Dr. Kincaid was at our annual Conference in Kalamazoo a few weeks ago. Dr. Kincaid was such a committed volunteer that it was strange to not see him at a prolife event. He did not let anything be an obstacle to sacrificing his time to help restore legal protection to the unborn child. If you were out-of-state at a national prolife event like the National Right to Life Convention and ran into Joe, you weren't surprised he was there. He is an excellent example of how blessed the prolife movement is to have grassroots individuals willing to always be there for the unborn child.

He often used his medical expertise as a foundation for communicating about the value of all human life. He frequently wrote publicly about the issue of abortion in the pages of his hometown Kalamazoo Gazette. He helped defeat efforts to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in Michigan in the 1990s.

Many Michiganders are alive today thanks to Dr. Kincaid's efforts over many years, yet likely none of those individuals are aware of the role he played in saving their lives.

Requiescat in pace.

Dr. Joe Kincaid's obituary

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rewire slams prolifer for helping rape survivor

If you haven’t been following the news, a Sanilac County judge granted custody to a convicted rapist for a child he conceived following the 2008 abduction, torture, and rape of a young girl. Years later the mother was trying to get some federal aid for her son when her story turned into a legal battle against her attacker. Thankfully Tuesday the same judge who ruled for joint legal custody overturned his decision.

This is something that should have never been a problem to begin with, especially because in Michigan we already have a law on the books called the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. This law was put into place in 2016 to allow rape survivors to terminate the parental rights of their attacker, even if the rapist was not convicted. A mother can go to court and terminate the rapists parental rights using a "clear and convincing evidence" standard, the same used for child abuse or neglect in custody hearings

Instead of focusing on the victory for this rape survivor and mother, the pro-abortion news website Rewire attacked the lawyer who took her case. Rewire writer Imani Gandy posted a story bashing her lawyer, Rebecca Kiessling, for also being a prolife speaker.

Rebecca herself was conceived in rape and offered to represent the mother pro bono. Raised in a loving adoptive household, Rebecca learned the truth about her biological parents and has since become an outspoken supporter of life. She has long stood up for the rights of children conceived in rape and rape survivors. She even created an organization dedicated to telling their stories and advocating for their rights called Save the 1.

Gandy tried to discredit Rebecca, arguing that Rebecca tried to make this case about something other than the mother's situation. She said that Rebecca’s defense of life is built on a straw man argument and that all mothers deserve to have the choice to abort their babies. Gandy doesn't even consider the effect that abortion might have on a woman who has already gone through something as traumatic as being sexually assaulted. Gandy even suggested that Rebecca pushes her beliefs on women using "junk science." In reality, many women pregnant following a sexual assault don't want abortions, and it's not "junk science."

Gandy gets the whole story wrong for one important reason, however. The mother in this case called us asking for help. She didn't call Rewire, which holds itself out as the champion for justice and women's health, and speaks of us as some den of crazed ideologues. When we got the call, the first person who came to mind was Rebecca. Rebecca was perfectly suited to know how to move forward to protect this mother and her son, because she's "been there, done that." Thankfully Rebecca decided to provide legal help herself and won the case. She did generate media coverage in this case, but it was sorely needed to let the prosecutor and judge know that there would be consequences if they continued to sleepwalk through this mother's case, delivering her son into the hands of a rapist.

Ultimately all Rebecca did was give this mother the opportunity to be heard—an opportunity she sought us out for. There's no need to "beware" of that, Rewire. Where's your nonjudgmental support for the choice of the woman in this case? Isn't that what Rewire stands for, affirming every choice a woman makes? We'll guess that Gandy won't want to hear what the mother chooses to say after this ordeal is finally over.

Rebecca has been a strong and tireless advocate for woman who have gone through the traumatic experience of rape. Her hard work has been able to bring together people from all over the world and helped get legislators around the country to face situation like this mother in Sanilac County experienced. Her selflessness to win a victory for a young woman and her son pro-bono should be commended, not dismissed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Car trunk abortionist pleads no contest to three felonies

Yesterday long-time Michigan abortionist Michael Roth pleaded no contest to three felonies in Macomb County Circuit Court. The convictions stem from his suspected practice of illegal at-home abortions.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, “These convictions should spell the end of his medical license. Unfortunately felonies haven’t always stopped abortionists from working in Michigan in the past.”

Roth’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 7. Roth is still facing other criminal charges including identity theft and possession with intent to deliver the schedule 2 narcotic Fentanyl.

In September 2015 Roth was involved in an accident in West Bloomfield, Mich., when his car struck a 31-year-old man with special needs. Police found medical equipment, controlled substances, and tissue from aborted babies in the trunk of his car. Police found additional evidence during a later search of his home.

Listing said, “Roth is the face of abortion in America. He is just one of many examples of felons, crooks and quacks who continue to work in the abortion industry today.”

Roth stole drugs and equipment from his former employer Angel Ojeda, an abortionist who runs the Eastland Women’s Center in Eastpointe, Michigan. Given Roth’s previous history of performing abortions in women’s homes in 1998 and 1999, it is reasonable to believe he was committing illegal at-home abortions.

The Michigan Board of Medicine suspended Roth’s license on September 13 for a year and fined him $25,000 for unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Right to Life of Michigan released a report in 2012, Abortion Abuses and State Regulatory Agency Failure, including several of Roth’s violations. In addition to his at-home abortions, Roth was disciplined in 2002 for drug-related violations, including prescribing drugs without a license. He was disciplined in 2004 for violating patient consent laws and was accused of falsifying medical records by a former employee and performing illegal late-term abortions.

In 2012 Roth received six months of probation and was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine for Public Health Code violations involving botched abortions.

Listing said, “Planned Parenthood and government officials who support abortion provided the cover that allowed him to operate. Who in their right mind would allow this man to continue to practice for decades after so many violations? Where were those self-proclaimed advocates for women’s health on this?”

Roth’s most recent abortion business, the bizarrely-named Novi Laser and Aesthetic Center, was closed in 2014.

The Prolife Omnibus Act in 2012 significantly strengthened oversight of the abortion industry in Michigan. Since passage of the law 16 abortion businesses in the state have closed, many due to substandard practices.

Listing said, “The worst of the worst were quickly driven out of business in Michigan following passage of our Prolife Omnibus Act, but Roth is an example of how dangerous sub-standard abortionists are still out there and allowed to practice.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Michigan’s Rape Survivor Child Custody Act put to the test

***UPDATE: On October 17 Judge Ross reversed his order and terminated the parental rights of the rapist***

A widely-reported case in Sanilac County has led to the first known court case involving Michigan's Rape Survivor Child Custody Act of 2016. The Act increased legal protection for rape survivors facing child custody cases.

Sanilac County Circuit Court Judge Gregory S. Ross granted joint legal custody of an eight-year-old child to a man convicted of attempted third degree criminal sexual conduct against the child's mother. The mother is challenging the ruling and a hearing is scheduled for October 25.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, "This case is exactly why we passed this law. When we became aware of this hole in Michigan law, the need to fill it became glaring."

Prior to passage of the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, termination of parental rights in Michigan involving a child conceived in rape required a felony rape conviction. Felony rape convictions are often difficult to obtain, however.

The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act now allows rape survivors who become pregnant from assault to terminate the parental rights of their attacker under a "clear and convincing" evidence standard without the necessity of a criminal conviction. "Clear and convincing" is the same evidentiary standard used in custody cases involving suspected child abuse or neglect.

The sex offender in this case, Christopher Mirasolo, was convicted in 2008 of attempted rape in a plea deal. He served less than a year in jail. In the eyes of the law, the child was not conceived in rape because Mirasolo was only found guilty of an attempted rape.

Right to Life of Michigan was contacted about the case and the mother was immediately referred to Michigan attorney Rebecca Kiessling. Kiessling was conceived in rape and is an internationally-known prolife speaker. Her organization Save the 1 advocates for legal protection of children conceived in rape, incest, or who have special needs. Kiessling is representing the mother pro bono.

Listing said, "We often get calls asking for legal help in a variety of situations. For this call we had just the right law and the right assistance in place to help this mother facing this terrible legal situation."

The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act came about following Right to Life of Michigan's Compassion Project campaign in 2015 highlighting the issue of rape and abortion. One of the four women who participated in the Compassion Project, Shauna, faced a similar situation. Shauna became pregnant following an assault. Her attacker filed for custody of her daughter to induce Shauna to drop the charges against him. Shauna has worked in other states to change their laws to be more protective of rape survivors.

Kiessling helped connect Right to Life of Michigan with Shauna and other women involved in the Compassion Project. Their stories are also featured in the 30-minute documentary "Life Uninvited," which first aired in January 2016.

The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act was passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in 2016. The Michigan Senate passed it unanimously and the final Michigan House vote was 101 to 4.

Listing said, "It's unfortunate that politics surrounding rape and abortion often results in real women and children with serious issues being ignored. Without Shauna and Rebecca educating people about this issue, the mother in this case could be forced to live with her rapist having legally-protected access to her child."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mourning Chris MacDonald, a truly special lady

Monday morning Right to Life of Michigan staff received truly terrible news: a staff member had passed away Sunday evening.

Christine MacDonald had served as the manager for our Wayne County Resource Center for nearly 20 years. Chris didn’t really manage the resource center; she was the resource center. Chris passionately worked in her community with a servant’s heart. Her impact on lives will be felt for generations to come.

Chris’ family was very important to her. She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was always there to serve the affiliates in her area, especially Upper Downriver Right to Life. She was always reaching out to people to share important prolife news and information with them. She was always a willing listener for those who would visit her center. She was active in her community and engaging everyone she met in the cause of honoring life.

Wyandotte is quite far from our Grand Rapids headquarters, yet most of our staff members were very familiar with Chris. Chris frequently sent messages to staff wishing them a happy birthday or to give them kind words before leaving on a vacation. It didn’t take long for people to realize what a genuine person she was.

Chris’ final day on Earth was in service to protecting the lives of innocent children. Sunday was Respect Life Sunday, which meant prolifers in her area were taking part in the annual Life Chain, reaching members of their community with prolife messages. Chris always held an open house at her resource center to welcome and serve the Life Chain participants. Of course the day she died was no exception, and Chris hosted her open house, one final time.

The last thing Chris did was serve her fellow prolifers. That is a perfect tribute explaining who Chris was and the hole she will leave in her community.

Please pray for comfort for Chris’ entire family, as they mourn her sudden passing.

Requiescat in pace, Chris.

Chris’ Obituary & Service Information