Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Trump Administration, year 1

It's been nearly a year since the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. What has the president's record been on prolife issues so far?

Supreme Court and other court appointments
President Trump nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch's record indicates he will follow the U.S. Constitution as written, rather than accepting an invented, unwritten right to abortion in the Constitution. President Trump has worked closely with prolife leaders in the Senate to fill vacancies in other federal courts with nominees who also have records of fairness and honesty.

Conscience protection
The Trump administration has taken action to protect the moral and religious rights of conscience so that medical professionals, religious institutions and employers may not be forced to participate in abortion. This includes expanding exceptions to organizations under the Obamacare HHS Mandate, which required coverage of drugs that may cause abortions.

Mexico City Policy
President Trump restored the Mexico City Policy, preventing tax dollars from being given to organizations that perform or promote abortion overseas. The policy was later expanded to include a broader range of health-related foreign aid program.

United Nations Population Fund
The Trump administration cut off funding for the United Nations Population Fund due to that agency’s involvement in China’s two-child policy, which involves forced abortions and forced sterilizations.

Title X
In 2016, the Obama Administration issued a regulation to prevent states from withholding Title X family planning funds from organizations like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions. President Trump signed into law H. J. Res 43 to restore authority to the states to direct Title X funds to providers they deem suitable.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

BB ad to air again in Michigan

Starting tomorrow the Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund radio ad, "War on the Unborn," will air throughout Michigan. The ads will continue to run through the annual memorial of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton on January 22.

The ad is popularly known as the "BB ad." Audio in the ad comes from this popular YouTube video by Peter Heck. Peter uses just BBs and a tin can to put the high cost of abortion in context.

For more information about the numbers used in this ad, read our factsheet on the topic.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

The tip of the iceberg of organ trafficking

The oft-repeated narrative regarding the undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in the tissue of aborted babies is that the issue is entirely made-up—“fake news” via “heavily-edited videos.”

This narrative was aided when investigations in several states turned up no legal charges. These were states where Planned Parenthood wasn’t involved in organ harvesting or pro-abortion officials were the investigators. Recent events have undermined this narrative, however, showing we’ve barely seen the tip of the iceberg of this macabre trade in human corpses.

On December 7, news broke that the Department of Justice is investigating Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Given the evidence Congress compiled over many months—and the plain statements from Planned Parenthood leaders caught on camera—we believe there is not just smoke there, but true fire.

Another story broke two days later out of California, where officials are forcing two connected biotechnology companies to shut down for breaking laws banning fetal organ harvesting. The evidence used in the conviction came directly from David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress’ undercover investigation. Those videos are more properly called “evidence” than “heavily edited.”

Two days after that, yet another story broke, this time in New Mexico. It was announced that the FBI is investigating the University of New Mexico and an infamous late-term abortion clinic in Albuquerque for their fetal organ harvesting. Now we have learned that one of the researchers at the center of this trafficking case was sending body parts to a man in Michigan.

Then at the end of December, Reuters released an exclusive story regarding a 2013 raid on a “body broker” Detroit, Arthur Rathburn. Rathburn’s business was buying corpses, chopping them up with chainsaws, and selling them to medical conferences. During the raid four unborn babies were discovered by the FBI in his warehouse.

There is no evidence yet showing where Rathburn obtained these babies, or if they were aborted or stillborn.

Rathburn’s trial is now underway; he stands accused of 10 federal counts. Reuters has been pursuing Rathburn’s case as one of several in a seven-part series on the body broker industry. The parallels between the body broker industry (Rathburn’s case in particular) and the abortion industry are eerie, especially when it comes to a lack of regulatory oversight.

Where will these stories lead? We’re not sure, but they deserve more public scrutiny than they’ve received so far. Much, much more.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Babies missing from Rathburn trial

Arthur Rathburn's trial is underway in federal court in Detroit. The "body broker" is alleged to have knowingly sold a cadaver infected with HIV and Hepatitis to a medical conference, where attendees would have used the body for a cadaver lab.

Rathburn is facing 10 counts related to his business of buying and selling corpses. Part of this story is the fact that the bodies of unborn babies were discovered in his disheveled facility in a raid in 2013. So far, they have gone unmentioned.

Thursday, January 4, was the first day of his trial, including opening statements and testimony from two witnesses. The first witness was an FBI agent who managed the search of Rathburn's facility, including the finding of the unborn babies. Prosecutors detailed the macabre results of the search, including bizarre storage methods. For example, severed human heads were all packed together in ice, touching each other. Talking about the unborn babies (stored in a bin with human brain tissue) would have been a perfect example of his shoddy practices, and for a moment it seemed like they might be mentioned, but they remained conspicuously absent.

Why? A theory would be that the photo was disallowed by Judge Paul D. Borman. A day after Reuters leaked photos of the unborn babies, there was a closed hearing in the case to suppress evidence. Where those photos of the babies the subject of that hearing, or part of the hearing?

It may be the case that the babies were stillborn and obtained through legal means, and the only purpose for including them in the trial would be the photos showing his storage methods. Or, it may be the case that Rathburn illegal obtained the babies from an abortion clinic. Federal prosecutors then would have ignored the violation, didn't have enough evidence to convict him, or focused on other easier aspects of his case. Absent critical evidence, we don't know yet.

One disturbing aspect is that most of Rathburn's clients were medical conferences, where attendees would use body parts for cadaver labs. What sort of medical association purchases unborn children to dissect in hotel ballrooms and conference centers?

Any prolifer attending the trial would see a lot of eerie similarities between Rathburn's business and the abortion industry, particularly Kermit Gosnell:

  • Rathburn outwardly appears to be a nondescript business man.
  • His wife was a critical part of his business, and will testify against him.
  • There was little regulatory oversight of his work.
  • There was a gross disregard for human life and sloppy medical practices; many of the body parts strewn across his facility showed ragged cuts on them, undoubtedly made by the chain saws and other shop tools found in his facility.
  • Body parts were found in food containers, even in the fridge next to sandwiches.
  • A defense attorney excused the state of his facility as the nature of the business, and portrayed Rathburn himself as someone just willing to help people.
  • Dog bowls were found in Rathburn's facility, implying he kept pets in his facility, just as Gosnell had cats wandering around his abortion clinic.
  • Gosnell kept pet turtles in his facility, dead turtles were found in Rathburn's facility.

We'll continue to cover this story and hope to get to the bottom of the unborn babies after the trial concludes. The trial is expected to run a few weeks.

Monday, January 8, 2018

New adoption ad campaign in Michigan

Today two Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund television ads are debuting across the state. The ads focus on adoption. A third ad was also produced, as well as a four-minute short film weaving the three stories together. The campaign's purpose is to encourage adoption as a positive, life-giving, and often life-completing option for unplanned pregnancies.

Watch them below and share them!







Thursday, January 4, 2018

Planned Politics: Planned Parenthood released their latest annual report

Over the holidays Planned Parenthood released their 2016-2017 annual report. The report did not feature many big changes from the previous year, except for two things: they had much more donations come in, and they spent many of those dollars on politics.

Having read many Planned Parenthood reports over the years, the tone of this year's report continues a noticeable shift from those a decade prior or more. Previous reports naturally included sections dedicated to legislative battles over abortion, but this year's report has a much darker tone while featuring politics more prominently.

First, let's quickly detail Planned Parenthood's reported services. They reported 2.4 million clients in 2016, no change from the previous year. The number of abortions they performed dropped slightly from 328,348 to 321,384. That means 13 percent of their clients received abortions.

There were small increases in their sexually-transmitted infection testing, which is the only service besides abortion that Planned Parenthood has expanded in recent years. Their contraceptive services decreased again, serving 82,000 fewer women. Several other health screenings, treatments, and other services had small declines. Their reported services continue to be less than detailed, enabling them to fudge numbers as necessary to continue claiming that abortion is only 3 percent of their services.

Their revenue from medical services and tax monies didn't change significantly, but they did receive nearly $87 million more in private donations than the previous year. Their annual revenue is quickly approaching $1.5 billion. Where do these additional fund get spent?

It's clearly not spent on helping more people. Every year Planned Parenthood's health services continue a pattern of decline, including the number of clients they serve overall. In their 2006-2007 annual report, they claimed $1 billion in revenue and 3.1 million clients served. Now they report a nearly 50 percent increase in income while serving 700,000 fewer people

That money is being invested in continuing the transformation of Planned Parenthood from a birth control to a political empire. This empire serves to expand abortion, protect their spigot of tax dollars, and to insert itself into every facet of American life.

Their national staff has become top-heavy. In 2006-2007, they reported 14 senior management members. In 2016-2017, they report 26 senior management members, despite being a significantly smaller organization in terms of clients served, and after their affiliates across the country underwent reorganizations and consolidation in recent years, closing dozens of clinics. What are these extra senior leaders focusing on with fewer clients and fewer affiliates to manage?

They increased their "medical services" expenses by $23 million from the previous year (without any increase in clients), but increased their management expenses by $20 million. They spent $2 million more on sexual education. All of the rest is hard to track, because they changed the names of items in their report, for example, "increase access" has become "promote health equity," whatever those terms mean. All of those vague terms allude to politics, policy and advocacy, and they increased from $193 million in the previous year to $231 million in total expenses. That's $38 million in additional investments. Add it all up, and only a quarter of their new funding is actually being spent on the patients they claim to serve.

That's not to mention their "profit" in the most recent annual report of nearly $100 million. Nonprofits can not profit by law, so "excess of revenue over expenses" has to be spent on something. Planned Parenthood is spending the bulk of it on lining the pockets of their leadership in the form of salaries and increasing their political influence.

Their annual report details some of this increasing focus on "movement building." Planned Parenthood has explicitly embraced the concept of intersectionality, explaining, "that's why Planned Parenthood worked with leaders in the racial justice, immigrant rights, and economic justice movements to highlight the intersection between these issues..." Intersectionality is a left-wing theory that says every issue in politics and society are linked together, and that anyone who considers themselves progressive must engage on every single one of these issues. So, the theory holds that if you support animal rights or pay equity, but not abortion, you are a still just a tool of the oppressors.

The benefits of this to Planned Parenthood should be obvious. Abortion has always been a strange fit for progressives. After all, what is abortion but violent oppression by the powerful over the most innocent of all? Abortion literally draws a line through the human race and declares everyone over the line to be unpersons to disposed of or used at will, even sold for profit.

Planned Parenthood takes time in their annual report to denounce white supremacy. It shows a lack of self-awareness on their part, especially given Planned Parenthood is specifically embracing their 100 years of history in this report. Planned Parenthood used to be led by the vice president of the American Eugenics Society. Their founder, Margaret Sanger, once gave a speech to the white supremacists of Ku Klux Klan, and allowed white supremacists to publish racial eugenic ideas in her journal. Black abortion rates are appallingly high. How can an organization that has done so much harm over a century convince themselves they are in the vanguard of the civil rights movement?

Intersectionality allows Planned Parenthood to put a moral claim on the efforts of everyone who considers themselves a progressive, even though many progressives would be honestly horrified to read Planned Parenthood's 100 years of history. It's also a trendy concept, especially on college campuses. Planned Parenthood has taken to heart the advice from former president of NARAL Nancy Keenan that the pro-abortion youth are not stepping up like prolife youth are. Included in this turn to politics are appeals in their annual report to popular industries that reach youth like entertainment, technology, and fashion. If Planned Parenthood can't raise new leaders, they will co-opt them.

Even though their strategy makes some sense, it is still bizarre to see the leader of the abortion industry take to social media to advocate for gun policies or immigration policies. What does the corporate tax rate have to do with abortion? Why is the founder of the birth control movement spending time weighing in on regulatory policy in the field of telecommunications?

This strategy has some large drawbacks. The prolife movement from the beginning decided to focus on our identified issues, and our issues only. Though people are becoming more tribal in their political views, there is still significant overlap between people of differing views or voting patterns. It's easier to persuade people to a position and join your organization when they don't have to accept a ton of other political baggage.

This is also why many prolife pregnancy centers have no direct affiliation with prolife advocacy organizations. Organizations dedicated to actually helping people should focus on that mission; anything else takes away from that mission. How strange would it be if your local pregnancy help center started arguing with you about your lack of outrage over Congress re-approving the federal Export-Import Bank?

All of this leads us to a key question: why should a nakedly political organization like Planned Parenthood receive a third of their budget from taxpayers? Could you imagine the National Rifle Association or the Sierra Club being given $500 million tax dollars every year? Imagine the outrage from either side. How about Right to Life of Michigan?

Planned Parenthood is not just caught up in the polarization of American politics, they are helping to lead the charge. Only time will tell what the result may be, but so far it's certainly not providing more tangible help to the women Planned Parenthood claims to be dedicated to serving.