Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lorraine Giorgio: One of Countless Unsung Heroes

Lorraine Giorgio, prolife volunteer extraordinaire, passed away on June 6, 2018 at the age of 93.

Many of you have never heard of Lorraine or her contributions to the prolife movement. Sadly, that's true of so many individuals involved in this grassroots movement. Lorraine was a shining example of the type of person that keeps this movement running and saving lives. Her commitment was so strong that you noticed her most when she wasn't there.

Lorraine had been a member of Right to Life of Michigan and her local affiliates for many, many years. Her daily commitment to saving the unborn was through praying in front of the abortion clinic on 8 Mile in Metro Detroit.

For 20 years, Lorraine was part of a local group of prolifers who prayed at abortion facilities, Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. For 19 of those years, Lorraine was on the sidewalk, praying for an end to abortion and everyone involved in abortions that day: the children, the mothers, and the clinic staff. She was at the abortion facility 4 days a week, up to 7 hours each day.

On the rare day Lorraine wasn't there, regular drivers on 8 Mile would pull over and ask if she was alright.

When Lorraine first joined the group, this elderly lady walked a mile from her home to the abortion facility, and back again when the day was done. Finally one of her group members caught on and they began giving her rides.

The weather never deterred Loraine. Cold, hot, raining, snowing, sleeting or raining, Lorraine was out there.

A few years ago, for health reasons, Lorraine was forced to cut back to "only" 2 days a week praying outside the abortion facility. For the last year she was forced to stay home, but that didn't stop her. She organized literature for the sidewalk counselors.

Like so many people involved in the prolife movement, it was easy to automatically count on Lorraine's help, without having to think about it.

Lorraine never wanted recognition or attention for herself. Well, too bad Lorraine, you deserve it!

In 2007, Right to Life of Michigan affiliates in Macomb wanted to give Lorraine the “Rose of Life” award at their joint Focus on Life Dinner. The award is given to a volunteer who gives their time and effort year after year in the cause of Life, never asking or expecting recognition for it.

Lorraine actually tried to refuse the award. After much begging and pleading, Lorraine finally surrendered, and she accepted it. Lorraine’s acceptance speech was simple: “Thank you very much." She then quickly returned to her seat.

Like so many others in this movement's past and present, Lorraine labored for many, many hours, with no motivation to ever to become famous for it, beloved, make money, or get her name in the paper. She did it because it was the right thing to do.

Lorraine will truly be missed, especially by her fellow prolife volunteers in Macomb County. To those like Lorraine who continue this fight every day to protect human lives, simply, thank you.

Lorraine (fifth from left, front row) with her group

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New Targeted Abortions Flyer

What is a targeted abortion?

A targeted abortion is one in which the child in the womb is targeted for some particular characteristic, rather than being unwanted (there is no such thing as an "unwanted" child!).

Typically a targeted abortion involves a diagnosed disability or illness of some kind, or the sex of the child.

We have a new flyer available in a one-page booklet format:Targeted Abortions. It's available for free download and printing from our website.

The new flyer combines and replaces two of our older flyers, Abortion & Disabilities and Sex Selection Abortions.

DOWNLOAD THE FLYER

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mercy Killing? Oppose it

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

What is a doctor? What role do they occupy in society?

While these questions may seem clear, in recent decades the fundamental role of physicians has become increasingly unclear. As advocates for doctor-prescribed suicide continue to try to convince states to change their laws, two paths forward present themselves.

The first path affirms the traditional role of doctors as healers. Though technology changes, bringing new opportunities for treatment and new challenges to face, the basic ethics of the doctor-patient relationship have remained unchanged for millennia. The value of, "first, do no harm," is a core part of the Hippocratic Oath: "I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous."

The second path is one that hasn't been traveled much, and when it has, the worst forms of abuses have emerged. If we embrace doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia, we give doctors the power over life and death itself. We would reject the essence of medical ethics as expressed by the Hippocratic Oath, and give doctors the power to kill.

Is "mercy killing" compatible with the role of physicians?

Accorded to Merriam-Webster, the most relevant definition of "mercy" is, "compassionate treatment of those in distress." Certainly we all agree that sick patients deserve compassionate treatment from their doctors. But is killing compassionate? Is it the best response to disease medical professional can take?

Doctors can't heal everything. For everyone an inevitable time will come when medical intervention can no longer work. Certainly we can all agree the role of healer at that point changes from curing to comfort.

There are other times when medical intervention may work to stave off death, but the person believes their time is at an end, or the tolls of healing may be too high. If the patient decides to let death take its natural course, we can agree the role of healer shifts away from curing to comfort.

But for those weary of life, offering them lethal doses of drugs or giving them lethal injections completely shifts the role of doctors. We can see evidence of it in countries that have embraced euthanasia fully. Power corrupts, and the power to help end a life prematurely or to take it quickly results in doctors sacrificing part of their healing role.

By embracing mercy killing, the doctor-patient relationship changes. Can patients trust that their doctor's medical advice is in their best interest, especially if situations of "involuntary euthanasia" become widespread and ignored by the public, as they are in Belgium and the Netherlands? Will patients be getting the best effort from their doctors, when death remains the cheapest and easiest solution for any health issue?

What's the merciful thing for doctors to do for suicidal patients? Those patients deserve proper care, not lethal drugs. If the doctor can't provide healing themselves through their relationship with a patient, they should refer patients caught in the grip of despair to those who can try healing through counseling and mental health.

Most doctors remain firmly committed to their role as healers. How long until they are forced from their practice because the law forces them to accept mercy killing as part of their role? Canadian courts mandated doctor-prescribed suicide, and the slippery slope manifested abruptly with efforts to force every doctor there to be complicit.

Though the Hippocratic Oath has been forgotten by many, many doctors' associations still recognize the grave danger of compromising the role of doctors as healers. Doctors themselves worry about being placed is situations. In their Code of Medical Ethics, the American Medical Association says, "Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Instead of engaging in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life."

The hands of healing and mercy cannot be the same hands that engage in death. Patients deserve doctors who will make it their mission to first, do no harm.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

New Gallup Poll Shows Massive Opposition to Roe v. Wade

Every year Gallup does polling on the issue of abortion. They are one of the better polling outfits, because they will ask more specific questions than most others.

For the first time since 2012, Gallup asked respondents if abortion should be legal or illegal in each trimester. The results show a massive majority of adults oppose Roe v. Wade.

There's one big caveat, sadly: a massive majority of adults have no clue about what Roe v. Wade does. That includes Gallup itself, an otherwise credible organization!


In their analysis of their poll, Gallup gets it utterly wrong: "The wording of Roe v. Wade aligns almost perfectly with where Americans stand on late-term abortions—keep them legal to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest, but not for other reasons."

What did Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton do? Those two Supreme Court cases legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason. If you find an abortionist who will do one, and will say it's for a "health" reason, no legal authority or court in America can stop it.

While Gallup does admit many Americans depart from Roe v. Wade about 1st trimester abortions, the above quote gets it wrong, both on what Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton did legally, but also when you consider the reasons women have abortions.

Let's break down their poll further based on the reasons women have abortions, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Here's the percentage of abortions performed for each of these reasons:

Women's Life in Danger: 4% - Michigan law has never made it illegal to end a pregnancy in the rare case where it's a choice between mother or child (both have an equal right to life). In the Guttmacher study, the response is, "physical problems with my health." That could range from concerns of age or past c-sections to true threats against a mother's life. So, the 4% number is extremely generous.

Rape or Incest: less than 0.5%

Child with life-threatening illness/disabled/Down syndrome: 3% - The Guttmacher study response is, "physical problems affecting the health of the fetus." This could range from true life-threatening conditions, to Down syndrome, to a cleft palate easily correctable by surgery.

Woman doesn't want child for any reason: more than 92%

So, even an extremely generous reading of reasons shows more than 92% of abortions are simply because the woman doesn't want the child. In the Gallup Poll, only 45% of U.S. adults believe first trimester abortions should be legal for social reasons.

Even though the Gallup poll found 60% of Americans saying abortion should be generally legal in the 1st trimester, 55% of Americans would ban more than 92% of abortions if given the opportunity.

Roe v. Wade says late-term abortions can be banned, but any ban has to have a "health" exception. Doe v. Bolton defined "health" as any reason, even economic reasons. You can have a late-term abortion in America for any reason, because any reason has a "health" exception according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Gallup poll found only 13% of Americans believe abortion should be generally legal in the 3rd trimester. When they broke it down, only 20% of Americans said abortion should be legal for social reasons in the 3rd trimester. (Who are the 7% of Americans who want to ban 3rd trimester abortions but allow them for any reason?).

Planned Parenthood opposes laws that ban abortions on children diagnosed with Down syndrome, even though a minority of Americans believe they should be legal. Planned Parenthood often uses children with disabilities to justify keeping third-trimester abortions legal for any reason. They say these disabilities aren't diagnosed until later in pregnancy, and somehow that means a woman should be able to get an abortion for any reason up to the moment of birth. Only 29% of Americans think abortion should be legal for Down syndrome in the third trimester.

While the abortion industry is happy to lie in media stories about the reasons women have late-term abortions, most are for purely elective reasons according to their own published research.

So, why do these 29% get to prevail over 71% of Americans? Why does their small minority mean children with Down syndrome at 39 weeks of pregnancy can be legally killed? Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

As many as 87% of Americans oppose the practical outcome of Roe v. Wade! Only 13% support legal abortions in the 3rd trimester. How can Gallup claim Roe v. Wade aligns almost perfectly with American's views on abortion? Well, even Gallup doesn't understand Roe v. Wade. Have they heard of Doe v. Bolton?

If two-thirds is a super-majority, a massive majority of Americans oppose Roe v. Wade. It's time for educators and journalists to stop running interference for the abortion industry and confusing even their own colleagues about the status of abortion law in America.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Informing people about abortion and vaccines

Last week legislation was introduced in the Michigan Senate to require informed consent about vaccines and abortions. As far as we're aware, it's first of its kind in the nation.

This is necessary legislation. One of the most popular pages on the Right to Life of Michigan website is our page on vaccines and abortion. We have an excellent LifeNotes edition that calmly and logically explains how the connection works, which vaccines were produced using tissue from aborted babies, which alternatives exist, and gives people an ethical framework to make decisions about using these vaccines. We're biased, but we think it's the clearest discussion of the issue on the web.

Many people have read our information and asked their doctor or nurse about it. Sadly, many have contacted us, asking if we've made some sort of mistake. They've been told by medical professionals that abortions have nothing to do with vaccines. This has happened to Right to Life of Michigan staff. Our information is accurate, but it must sound too outlandish for some medical professionals, who then dismiss it out of ignorance.

It's routinely required for doctors and nurses to give proper informed consent. They have a duty to give patients accurate information, and the state has a duty to make sure these ethical obligations for informed consent are being fulfilled. When it comes to abortion and vaccines, what we often see is misinformed consent. This is a serious problem.

So far, the first critic of our legislation reached out to us on Twitter to engage his concerns. Dr. David Gorski is a Wayne State University professor and oncologist who runs a medical news blog.

Let's address some of the objections Dr. Gorski brings up, and ones others might have.

Right to Life of Michigan is anti-vax now!

No. We don't even take a position on the ethics of using a vaccines produced using tissue from an aborted baby. We will however ensure that those people who ethically object to using such vaccines will have their conscience rights protected. This bill in particular is merely informed consent, all it does is make sure patients have accurate information.

Dr. Gorski accuses Right to Life of Michigan of being puppets of anti-vax groups (or sinisterly using them ourselves). Nope. We will not engage in any vaccine issue outside of the issue of our mission on abortion. We will, however, protect the conscience rights of every person who ethically object to procedures that involve abortion in some way.

This bill has inaccurate information in it!

Dr. Gorski takes issue with our use of the words "fetal tissue." But those are not "our" words. Here are the words of the researchers who created the MRC-5 cell line used in the production of several FDA-approved vaccines:

“We have developed another strain of cells, also derived from foetal lung tissue, taken from a 14-week male foetus removed for psychiatric reasons from a 27 year old woman with a genetically normal family history and no sign of neoplastic disease both at abortion and for at least three years afterward.”

When the bill says people should be informed that the vaccine was "derived from aborted fetal tissue," that's exactly how the cell lines were created. Now, keep in mind, this is legal language to create a law; doctors will not have to literally read the bill text out-loud to every patient. The bill does not mandate that doctors or nurses have to give some inflammatory statement; the bill doesn't even mandate how patients are told, simply that they must be informed.

These abortions used to create these vaccines happened in the 1960s!

That's true, and it does play a role in debating the ethics of using these vaccines. However, we shouldn't pretend that fetal tissue is not used in ongoing medical research. Newer cell lines taken from aborted babies are used in current vaccine research. Giving tacit approval to the use of these lines without acknowledging how they are created will encourage future abuses.

Because even so many doctors are unaware of how these vaccines are produced, many patients are in the dark and unable to express their objections. This lack of informed consent is leading pharmaceutical companies to believe society in general has approved involving elective abortion in the medical research process. Society in general doesn't even know it's going on.

You want patients to die! This is a plot to get fewer people to use vaccines!

No. Though Dr. Gorski won't put it this way, he believes that this knowledge is too dangerous for patients to know. His concern is that people will hear this and be horrified and not use vaccines. The unspoken assumption he is making is that withholding information from patients—even information that might lead them to strongly object to a procedure—is an acceptable means to maintain trust in the medical system.

Think about that for a minute. The current vaccine controversy is due in-part to a gaping lack of trust in medical institutions. The concept that some information is too dangerous for patients to know will only lead to eroding that trust further. One could make the argument that people will die because they've lost even more faith in their doctors' and nurses' recommendations.

Why would people be horrified, as Dr. Gorski fears? Because they had no idea several vaccines were created using elective abortions. Doesn't that imply people should have been told that to begin with? Many will conclude this information has been withheld from them, and in some ways it has. Dr. Gorski would prefer they never learn about these facts.

Dr. Gorski also believes people may link this to other vaccine issues, like thimerosal, animal cell lines, etc. That may happen, but that's why people should be given accurate information from doctors and nurses, which this bill does. Dr. Gorski can't claim to want to give people accurate information about vaccines on one hand, and hide it with the other. Would Dr. Gorski rather patients hear about this issue from their doctors, or from the first website they find on a search engine?

Most of the vaccines produced using aborted fetal tissue have alternatives. Some do not. There is no medical need for abortion for vaccine research, however. The MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) is a perfect example: there used to be an ethical alternative. It's no longer on the market, but it's time for it to return.

This bill is simply informing people of medical facts. They have a right to know. If Dr. Gorski wants to argue patients don't have a right to know, he should just say that rather than trying to confuse people with conspiracy theories about prolife people.

The short-term goals of this bill are to fix the misinformation being spread by medical professionals today and educate people.

Our long-term hope is that people will speak with vaccine manufacturers and ask them to stop utilizing abortion as means for research and development. It's unnecessary, as proven by the current ethical alternatives.

If the fight over this bill is about trust in the medical system, treating people as incapable of making their own ethical decisions will further erode that already tenuous trust.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Supreme Court Dissolves Abortion Precedent for Teen Immigrants

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced that they were granting the request of the Trump Administration to wipe away a ruling by a federal appeals court that allowed minor teen illegal immigrants in U.S. custody to obtain an abortion.

Back in October, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals sided with a federal district court in Azar v. Garza, and ordered the Trump administration to allow a 17-year-old girl who crossed the border illegally to obtain an abortion. Under current U.S. law, when a minor crosses into this country without parental supervision they are placed in federal custody. The court ordered that she be temporarily released from this custody specifically so she could have an abortion.

Unfortunately, the young girl followed through and was able to end the life of her child with the help of the pro-abortion ACLU. Even though the teen had already received an abortion, the Trump Administration saw this as a potentially dangerous precedent that could have applied in similar circumstances, resulting in the deaths of additional children in the womb.

In the statement released by the Supreme Court, it said that the matter was not debatable because the abortion had already happened. However, similar lawsuits will be allowed to continue through the court system, meaning the this issue could eventually come back to the Supreme Court as the courts start over in adjudicating the case.

In the original court proceedings, the Solicitor General charged the ACLU with deceiving the government about the timing of the young girl’s abortion. As a result the government did not have time to appeal the decision, and the girl was able to abort her unborn child before the courts could intervene. This fact was cited by the U.S. Justice Department to the Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court said it "took seriously" the allegations, the justices concluded "not all communication breakdowns constitute misconduct."

Though this is a small win, it is an important one. While immigration policy is often debated in our country, what should not be debated is the basic dignity of every human being, both inside and outside our borders. It would be a sad day if organizations like the ACLU—which claims to be committed to human rights—succeed in stripping away the rights from human beings crossing our border, and then succeed in forcing federal immigration officials into abetting the death of children in their care.

Keep your eyes peeled for a truly big Supreme Court decision in the coming weeks. The ruling on NIFLA v. Becerra about free speech rights of prolife pregnancy centers could come any day now.

Friday, June 1, 2018

What President Trump's Title X rule change really means

The Trump Administration's proposed changes to the federal Title X family planning program substantially protects against our tax dollars being used in any abortion-related activities.

The Title X program was designed to provide low income people with preventative family planning services. It clearly stated that monies were not to be used on programs that “promote abortion as a method of family planning.”

However, pro-abortion officials have loosely interpreted the law over the years, allowing abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to receive family planning dollars while only using clever accounting to separate abortion from our tax dollars. Currently Title X recipients are allowed to share facilities, staff and equipment with abortion clinics.

The proposed rule change will no longer allow abortion providers to receive Title X money, nor will it allow providers who refer for abortions, lobby for abortions or make contributions to abortion related-activities to receive Title X money. The new rule would require separate facilities for Title X and abortion.

The rule extends not only to Title X grantees, but also to their sub-grantees, sub-recipients and even their referral partners. It also stops tax dollars from being laundered into the political process by preventing Title X funding from going to organizations that promote, lobby for, or endorse candidates who espouse abortion as a method of family planning.

The rule would allow a Title X provider to provide non-directive counseling about abortion, but only if requested by the client. The provider would be allowed to distribute a list of referrals, which may include abortion providers, subject to the list also containing other types of service providers including those who do prenatal care. There is an exception for referring for abortion in cases of rape or incest provided the grantee documents in the patient file that statutory requirement for reporting were met.

While most of these details have been reported on extensively, the Trump Administration's proposed rule change does much more than stop Planned Parenthood from breaking the law against funding abortions.

The new rule would substantially increase transparency and reporting. Currently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relies on its grantees (usually state health departments) to monitor Title X legal compliance. The sub-grantees in many cases are Planned Parenthood affiliates, who in turn contract with sub-recipients and other agencies. The federal government does not maintain direct oversight of their own program, which is a big problem.

Currently all Title X clinics are required to comply with state and local reporting requirements for child abuse, sexual abuse, sex trafficking etc. The new rule will ensure that documentation of those reports is maintained in the patient’s file so that compliance can actually be verified. Health care workers will be required to conduct a preliminary screening on any teen who presents with a sexually-transmitted infection or pregnancy if he or she is under the age of consent. They will also conduct a screening if there is suspicion of abuse. President Trump's rule change will help combat child abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

Planned Parenthood has a long history of ignoring or even abetting sexual abuse. Not asking the age of the sexual partner to avoid having to report statutory rape will no longer be acceptable. The new rule makes it clear that confidentiality rules are subordinate to reporting requirements. Planned Parenthood never had their own #MeToo moment, despite blatant cases of allowing sexual abuse, rape, and incest to continue.

In addition, the new rule will amend the criteria for grants. It will increase competition and encourage broader and more diverse applicants with priority given to those programs that can demonstrate that they value complying with Title X rules, protecting victims of sexual abuse, and respecting conscience rights.

There are also numerous additional changes that would affect contracts and definitions and allow for better family planning programs than simply shoveling money to Planned Parenthood.

In summary, the Trump Administration's rule change will do the following:
  • Prevent sharing of facility, staff, records, and equipment between abortion providers and Title X programs.
  • Prevent Title X programs from facilitating, promoting, or referring for abortion or sharing space with entities who do.
  • Prevent expenditures of Title X money on events, materials, dues or organizations that promote, lobby for or endorse candidates who espouse abortion as family planning.
  • Require documentation screening for abuse and reports of abuse made to area law enforcement or agencies. Will clarify confidentiality rules so there is no confusion about reporting abuse or failing to ask questions to avoid having to report abuse.
  • Require compliance with Title X rules and documentation from all grantees, sub-grantees, sub-recipients, and substantial referral partners.
  • Provide for substantial conscience protection.
  • Amend regulations to allow contracts in addition to grants, and make the process much more competitive.
  • All aspects of the new rule will be implemented 60 days after approval, except for physical separation of facilities. Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood will be given one year to comply.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Medical Bias? Oppose It

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

Medical bias is real, and it could affect anyone. What happens when medical bias is paired with a seemingly cheap and simple solution: doctor-prescribed suicide or euthanasia?

In a perfect world, a doctor examines a patient, finds the underlying cause of the problem, and uses the best treatment available for that particular patient. However, our world is not even close to perfect.

Every patient is different. Every individual has their own unique health circumstances, and they come from different races, cultures, sexes, classes, etc. Not only do each of those groups have their own unique health concerns, but our medical system has been proven to treat them differently, often without being aware of it. Medicine is not like building a car in a factory with a set of unchanging instructions; personal interaction between patients and caregivers often determines whether a health problem is even identified.

Some health problems are not well-understood, and some remain essentially mysteries. Sometimes an underlying health problem may be misunderstood or ignored, leading to a wrong diagnosis or no diagnosis at all.

The best treatment is not always obvious. Individuals may respond differently to the same treatment.

When you add culture, the human body, and flawed and unique individuals together, you get an extremely complex situation. The opportunities for even subtle bias from well-meaning physicians to effect outcomes is large. Unlike cases of employment or housing, mistakes due to bias in medicine costs lives.

We can't fix such a complex system overnight. We can strive to be aware of medical bias and to work to fix it the best we can. The one thing we shouldn't do is ignore or even exacerbate medical bias. Doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia make medial bias harder to confront, and even provide an excuse to ignore or embrace it.

We must face several critical questions if we accept taking life as an acceptable practice of medicine. In dealing with a patient a doctor or nurse explicitly or implicitly sees as unworthy of their effort or perhaps even life itself, it's tempting to just shut the patient's file and encourage cheap, lethal drugs as the easy choice.

Studies show minority patients often have worse health outcomes. When deciding if a patient should be recommended for suicide, will our medical system treat patients of each race equally? Will patients feel confident that they can trust their caregivers when taking their life becomes a legal option? Women also have poorer health outcomes, will they be able to confidently trust their caregivers as well?

Women attempt suicide more often than men. Men have much higher rates of successful suicide. Will doctors be cognizant of the complex nature of suicide risk and be aware that many requests for suicide stem from depression or despair, or will they just encourage every patient to get it over with? Will they nudge a person from the brink of despair into the abyss, because it's easier than solving a complex problem? Based on how few people in states with legalized doctor-prescribed suicide receive counseling before receiving lethal doses of drugs, we can be confident about the answer to these questions.
 
Will poor patients have insurance companies in their corner for expensive treatments, or will they be refused care and offered the cheapest treatment as the only alternative? Will wealthy patients be pressured into suicide by their family members, especially if those family members will financially gain from a quick death?

We already know the disabled are marginalized by a society that often sees them as life unworthy of life. When ending their life becomes a viable option, their level of care will continue to suffer.

Nobody should feel safe from medical bias. Treating difficult cases asks the most of our medical system, while encouraging suicide via lethal doses of drugs is a cheap and easy shortcut. Which way helps us confront medical bias?


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ireland votes for abortion for no good reason

Image courtesy of the Life Institute
Sadly, the people of Ireland voted to strip recognition of the equal right to life of children in the womb from their constitution on Friday, May 25.

While most countries in Europe have stricter abortion laws than the United States, many of those are generally accepting of abortion. There are a few notable exceptions, including Poland and formerly Ireland.

Despite their prolife history, including a public vote to add constitutional protection for children in the womb in 1983, the final tally showed 66.4% of Irish voters stripping away the right to life.

Why did they do it?

If you look at the reasons most often used to justify abortions, they simply don't apply in Ireland.

Irish women aren't dying in "back alley abortions." Despite their law essentially banning all elective abortions, Ireland has significantly better maternal mortality statistics than the United States. With our country's extremely permissive abortion laws, pregnant women are nearly twice as likely to die in the U.S. than in Ireland.

The European Union's European Institute for Gender Equality shows Ireland to be above the European average in their measures of equality between the sexes. Ireland's score is 69.5, right behind the neighboring United Kingdom at 71.5. Which country scores the worst? Greece, at 50, with abortion there totally legal before 24 weeks.

What about poverty? The Irish poverty rate is nearly half that of the United States. Their gross domestic product per capita is the envy of most of the world, more than $10,000 more per person than the United States or Sweden, making them one of the richest countries per person among large European countries.

Overpopulation? Did Ireland need to "cull the herd," to put it bluntly? Ireland's population density is below countries like Iraq and Ukraine, and most other large European countries. Ireland has a higher birth rate than other European countries, but their total fertility rate is below two children per woman, meaning their population will shrink in the future.

Looking at the facts, it seems Ireland is a better place to live than most everywhere else, including just about every country with permissive abortion laws. So, if abortion is a necessary evil, where is the necessity? Well, there is no "need." Ireland didn't need abortion to thrive; they are doing just fine without it.

So, why did Ireland want to legalize abortion?

There seems to be three reasons:
  1. The unique history of Ireland and the Catholic Church has led many Irish citizens to become resentful of anything that seems remotely Catholic. By voting for abortion, many voters thumbed their nose at the Catholic Church.
  2. Ireland wanted to join the European club. Most countries considered progressive allow abortion, so many voters thought it was time for Ireland to "get with the program." For years international institutions pressured Ireland to remove legal protection for children in the womb.
  3. Irish voters bought the talking points. Even though the statistics show Irish women are doing as well or better than their European sisters in other nations, and that Ireland's abortion ban isn't killing women, they still bought into the rhetoric that abortion is somehow a necessary evil, even though Ireland was the strongest example that proved that it wasn't.
There were celebrations in the streets as Ireland voted to allow the brutal killing of children in the womb. Why do these children need to die? Purely out of spite and envy, it seems. Ireland will not be a better place by taking their lives of their own sons and daughters; abortion is a chosen evil, not a necessary evil.

Look to Poland as the next major target of the international abortion industry. After restoring protection for unborn children in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, Poland has also proved than abortion is not a necessary evil, and their country has growing prolife views. Will they weather the storm of those obsessed with bringing death to their nation's children?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

President Trump to divert Title X funding from Planned Parenthood

UPDATE: The rule change has been formally proposed. We'll have further analysis next week after Memorial Day. Here's the full proposed rule.

Late last week President Trump announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department will be introducing a policy that will remove Title X family planning tax funding from health-care providers that perform or refer women for abortions, shifting it to providers that don't.

Known as the "Protect Life Rule," this policy has yet to be officially written down and proposed through the federal government's rule-making process. While we don't have the fine-print details yet (and enforcement is always a challenge), this policy is another high-profile demonstration that the Trump Administration is committed to making sure that no federal tax dollars fund abortion.

This is not the first time a policy like this has been proposed. President Reagan proposed something similar while he was in office. Just like now, pro-abortionists were clamoring that the policy will hurt women. A judicial challenge to the Reagan-era policy reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where in 1991 the court ruled in favor of the legality of Reagan’s policy in Rust v. Sullivan. Unfortunately the incoming pro-abortion Clinton Administration quickly dropped the rule.

Both the Reagan-era rule and the Protect Life Rule have similar language and goals, which could be helpful if the new policy is challenged in court. Even more importantly, Justice Anthony Kennedy was on the Supreme Court when they made the 1991 decision in Rust v. Sullivan—the likely swing vote in this case has already spoken.

Title X Family Planning Program was created in 1970 to provide grants for family planning and health care to families in need. The law was never written or intended to pay for abortions. Unfortunately poor legal interpretations have resulted in accounting gimmicks being the only separation between tax dollars and abortions, violating the spirit of the law.

The policy change has the abortion industry very upset, because Planned Parenthood receives tens of millions of dollars in Title X funding every year. If the policy goes through as announced and is strictly enforced, some Planned Parenthood affiliates may have to restructure or even close due to their dependence on both abortion income and tax funding hand-in-hand.

While Planned Parenthood and others may claim women are at risk, not a single penny of Title X money will be cut. The only thing at risk is Planned Parenthood's profit margin, which often exceeds the amount of Title X funding they receive in a year.

Stopping our tax dollars from helping to pay for abortions has long been the goal of the prolife movement, because we are firmly committed to conscience rights. This policy could make a significant dent in the hundreds of millions of dollars that Planned Parenthood receives every year out of your pocket, courtesy of the IRS.

Abortion is not healthcare and tax dollars meant for health care shouldn't be wasted on ending lives, directly or indirectly.

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