Thursday, December 29, 2016

Last chance to double your donation!

It's lunchtime on Thursday and there's just 60 hours left in 2016.

To hit our goal of $50,000 in year-end online donations to the Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund, we need to receive $250 every hour from now until the ball drops on New Year's Eve.

Can you cover this hour with a donation of $250? Your gift of any amount is tax deductible and will be matched through generous support.

Help us make sure we don't leave a single dollar of the $50,000 match on the table!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Michigan closes loophole for fetal organ trafficking

Today Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley signed into law the Fetal Organ Trafficking Ban. Right to Life of Michigan applauds Lt. Gov. Calley and the Michigan Legislature for taking action to prevent abortion clinics profiteering from the sale of babies' body parts.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, "The undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood haggling over the broken bodies of developed babies rightly disgusted our nation. Trafficking in human body parts has no place in the state of Michigan."

Federal and Michigan law bans tissue trafficking, but a loophole allows tissue traffickers to compensate abortion clinics. Vague language together with federal officials friendly to abortion meant that abortion clinics could successfully evade the law.

The Center for Medical Progress first began releasing their undercover footage in July of 2015. Throughout the process Planned Parenthood has denied all accusations, despite incriminating statements caught on video. Their staff repeatedly engaged in sales discussions, discussed ways to disguise the profiteering, and indicated a willingness to change abortion procedures to procure fresher organs.

Michigan's new ban is comprised of two bills. S.B. 564 prohibits the exchange of any form of compensation for fetal tissue or organs. S.B. 565 describes the legal penalties for engaging in the trade of fetal tissue or organs. The bills received bi-partisan support, including some legislators in the Michigan House who generally support abortion.

Listing said, "We welcome the opportunity to work with anyone who can agree with us on a particular issue. Most people broadly agree that buying and selling human body parts is beyond the pale."

Michigan's new ban will still allow organ and tissue donations to proceed, but no longer can abortion businesses abuse the spirit of the law by profiting from such donations.

Listing said, "For years Planned Parenthood successfully kept their organ trafficking behind closed doors, but now it's coming to an end thanks to the public hearing them talk about it in their own words."

The Fetal Organ Trafficking Ban ends another successful prolife legislative session in Michigan. Earlier in 2016 the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act and the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act were also signed into law. No pro-abortion legislation received any serious consideration in the Legislature in 2015-2016.

Listing said, "In January we're looking forward to starting another successful legislative session for advancing the protection of all human life."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Recapping prolife legislative victories in 2016

The 2015-2016 legislative session in Lansing saw several important policy successes for the prolife cause. Other legislation made partial progress, hopefully setting the stage for action in the 2017-2018 session. Here's a recap of these victories.

State Family Planning Funds to Planned Parenthood Ended!
The annual state health department budgets adopted in 2015 and 2016 included language prohibiting state family planning funds from going to abortion-providing organizations, including Planned Parenthood (PP). This is only a first step, because PP is still able to receive federal family planning dollars through Medicaid. PP can provide non-abortion services to Medicaid-eligible patients and be reimbursed directly by Medicaid. Based on their own annual reports this frees up money in their budget to increase abortions while their non-abortion services actually decrease.

The impending battle over PP federal funding with the election of Donald Trump will be the golden opportunity to end PP’s access to millions of your taxpayer dollars here in Michigan. Meanwhile, we will continue to press for a law to make the state funding ban permanent rather than a year-to-year budget rider.

Coercing Abortion Now a State Crime!
When Michigan enacted the Prolife Omnibus law in 2012, it added provisions to screen women seeking abortions for signs of coercion. That screening was dependent on passage of a second law defining coercion as a crime. Unfortunately, the effort to pass the criminal bill was stymied for more than 3 years. The wait came to an end in June when House Bills 4787 and 4830 were signed by Gov. Snyder.

We are working with state regulators to implement the screening protocol and make sure that a sign is posted in every abortion clinic warning that coercion to abort is a crime. Sidewalk counselors and prolife pregnancy centers can now use this law to empower women being coerced into abortion to push back against this assault on them and their unborn babies.

Fetal Organ & Tissue Selling Banned in Michigan! 
In July of 2015 the country was shocked and sickened by undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress showing Planned Parenthood personnel haggling over the “fees” they would collect for harvesting organs from aborted babies. State Sen. Phil Pavlov sprang into action and after working through the process his legislation was approved during the lame duck session. The Fetal Organ Trafficking Ban will be signed into law this week.

The new law couldn’t be anymore simple or straightforward: no more money, perks or benefits of any kind (especially not a Lamborghini) can go to abortion providers for selling fetal tissue in Michigan!

Rape Survivor Child Custody Law & Domestic Violence Funding Secured 
We took up the cause of protecting the courageous women who give birth to children conceived by rape by giving them the ability to pre-empt the rapist from seeking custody and parenting rights. Michigan prolifers became familiar with this issue through the advocacy of Shauna Prewitt, a Chicago attorney who experienced such a nightmare.

In addition to getting states to pass laws similar to Michigan's, Shauna took the fight to Washington, D.C. and got Congress to pass a funding provision to encourage states to pass this law. HB 4481 (sponsored by State Rep. Lisa Lyons) was passed in April 2016. A second state bill had to be passed to qualify Michigan for hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to help sexual assault victims and make them aware of their rights. We spearheaded the passage of SB 858 (sponsored by State Sen. Rick Jones) in only 9 days during May 2016.

The Michigan Domestic Violence Prevention & Treatment Board wrote a special letter of thanks to us: “Your advocacy was key in establishing our eligibility for an additional $236,452 in federal grant funding for the next 2 years…”

Other Important Legislative Actions
Bills to outlaw dismemberment abortions were introduced in Lansing for the first time in 2015. House Bills 4833-4834 (sponsored by State Rep. Laura Cox) were reported from the House Criminal Justice Committee to the House floor, but did not advance. Other laws addressing late-term abortions have already passed in a few other states, but in many cases have been challenged in court and suspended. It remains an open question as to whether Michigan and other states can help create momentum for a precedent-setting Supreme Court case by passing dismemberment bans.

A bill to create a Choose Life specialty fundraising plate (sponsored by State Sen. Patrick Colbeck) passed the Michigan Senate in 2015. It stalled, however, in the Michigan House as another bill affecting all fundraising license plates took center stage, HB 5447. That law was designed to put a hard cap on the number of allowed specialty plates. Initially that cap would have precluded a Choose Life plate from being passed for many years to come, perhaps never. RLM intervened before the bill was passed to adjust the cap so that a Choose Life plate can be approved in the future.

A set of bills regarding end-of-life decision making was introduced in May 2016 to implement a Michigan POST document (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment). RLM legislative staff have been guiding the development of legislation to be sure that it does not become a vehicle to promote passive euthanasia. The bills will be reintroduced in 2017, with more work to do on them before they can pass.

Court Cases Affecting Life Issues 
We went to court in 2014 to challenge the Obamacare HHS Mandate, which requires employers to purchase health insurance that must cover contraceptive drugs and devices, including those that may cause early abortions. Right to Life of Michigan, like many other plaintiffs, lost its case at the trial court level. With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, the ongoing case with the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the prospect of significant portions of Obamacare being repealed and replaced, there remains a good chance of long-term success on this issue to respect the conscience rights of prolife citizens.

We got involved in a case—Simpson v. Pickens—regarding the loss of an unborn child due to medical malpractice. The doctor in the case happens to be one of Detroit’s more notorious abortionists, Dr. Alex Pickens, who maintains a separate OB/GYN practice from the abortion clinic. Pickens argued that because the baby was lost at 18 weeks (i.e. not “viable”), he was not liable under the Wrongful Death Act. We amended that act more than 15 years ago clarifying that a wrongful act that causes the death of an unborn child applies regardless of gestational age. The state trial court agreed with Pickens; the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the flawed ruling and cited specifically the prolife laws we initiated; Pickens then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. RLM submitted an amicus curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to reject the appeal and uphold the Court of Appeals decision, which they did!

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in People v. Ambrose that a man convicted of nearly taking the life of his pregnant girlfriend could receive an enhanced sentence based on Michigan’s “multiple victim” sentencing guidelines. Ambrose argued that his unborn child was not a “victim” under the sentencing law. The Court cited our Prenatal Protection Act, which it said makes very clear that the unborn child can be considered a separate victim of a crime in state law, even if the sentencing law does not have a formal definition of “victim."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dispelling the myth: abortion side effects and the new JAMA study

Abortion is procedure that can cause some major side effects, substantially contributing to women’s mental health problems (and physical health problems as well). But unfortunately the media tries to divert the truth and push stories that neglect to talk about women’s health and safety.

Over the years there have been conflicting studies brought forth on whether or not there is mental health implications that come after having an abortion. JAMA Psychiatry recently released a study from the pro-abortion University of California-San Fransisco stating that women who had an abortion are not any more likely to have psychological damage than those who couldn't have one.

UCSF researchers looked at 956 women for five years who were either post-abortive or women who tried to get an abortion and were denied. This data comes from their "Turnaway Study," which was widely reported. Their new study went on the claim that through the information that they collected, they could decide that abortion really had no long-term effect on mental health.

It takes a lot to jump to a conclusion about everyone who has ever had an abortion from just one study, especially one whose data has some very glaring problems.

Most women in the original "Turnaway Study" turned away from participating in it. Only a small selection of women asked to participate volunteered. Were those that actively chose to participate more likely to think about their abortions positively?

The UCSF researchers did not note what types of abortions these were. First trimester abortions can still be traumatizing, but late-term abortions are widely-recognized to have a larger affect. Were these not more traumatizing second trimester abortions? Where are those details?

There are several other problems with the basic data they used.

Back in 2011 an extensive study review was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (BJP) on the psychological effects of abortion. The BJP sample consisted of 22 studies and over 800,000 participants. The results showed that women who aborted experienced an 81% increased risk for mental health problems. This study offers the largest estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion currently available.

Abortion supporters often fail to look at the countless testimonies of women who have experienced the real psychological side effects of abortion like depression, anxiety, stress, and even suicidal thoughts. Many of these women wish they had access to more information when they had an abortion.

Some states, like Michigan, have laws in place to educate women on abortion before the procedure can take place. In 1993 Michigan passed our Informed Consent Law, which creates a 24-hour waiting period before a women can receive an abortion. Information pertaining to abortions must be made available to women who are abortion-mined at least 24 hours prior to their abortion being performed. This includes a summary of the procedure, gestation age of the baby, prenatal care information and parenting information.

Making sure that women are educated and know the potential mental health risks related to abortion is important for safety. When taking something as routine as an antibiotic, you are made aware of potential side effects; abortion should be no different.

Every few years a study comes out—usually funded by the same pro-abortion sources—and it gets widely hyped in the media. The study and media coverage utterly delegitimizes any women who don't believe their abortion was a positive good. We know the goal here is to normalize abortion rather than educate women about the psychological harm abortion can do to them.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Last chance to make an impact in 2016

2016 was certainly an interesting year. We frequently address prolife legislative and political action achievements in Michigan as we approach the end of the year, but what about just our educational efforts? What about that third, critical leg of our prolife stool?

The Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund had another excellent year. There are many educational programs that are daily, never-ending activities. Of course these continued throughout the year: making educational resources available (most for free and available 24/7 on our website), daily social media activity, resource centers across the state, directing people online to pregnancy help resources, etc.

There were some unique and interesting accomplishments, however, worth highlighting individually.

Both Michigan’s state report and the annual CDC report released in 2016 showed abortion continued it’s long-term decline. In both cases abortion ratios also declined, meaning a higher proportion of women chose life for their children. Those numbers are the ultimate way we measure our educational success. Prolife education literally saves lives in ways other educational efforts simply can’t!

One example was the infamous (depending on who you ask) prolife Doritos ad during Superbowl 50. The ad showed an unborn child via ultrasound, and some hapless media staffer at NARAL freaked out via their social media account on Twitter, creating a wonderful educational opportunity that prolifers took full advantage of. The Ed Fund’s reach through social media, technology, and communications allows us to take such educational opportunities and amplify them greatly.

New resources were created:
  • We debuted a bi-weekly podcast, LifeBeat.
  • Our information on doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia were overhauled in the face of renewed pro-suicide advocacy. 
  • A new free Powerpoint presentation compares abortion methods with fetal development.
  • We created a new poster that highlights fetal development, as well as updating the free flyer that goes along with it.
  • We created a new brochure to help churches understand how 501(c)3 nonprofits can educate people involving election activities.

Two new ground-breaking educational ads made their debut. Back in January, our 30-minute documentary "Life Uninvited" aired statewide on television. The documentary was a capstone for our Compassion Project TV ad campaign run throughout 2015 that delved into the difficult issue of rape and abortion.

"War on the Unborn” was a radio ad that debuted just before the election, receiving overwhelmingly positive responses. Called “the BB ad" by most, "War on the Unborn" was another example of the Ed Fund taking a prolife opportunity and amplifying its effect. The ad was based on a popular YouTube video by Peter Heck, and we were able to take his video and turn it into an ad heard throughout the state; it was an ad powerful enough to cause people to pull their cars over as they were overwhelmed by the sound of abortion.

Before these resources and opportunities can be utilized by volunteers and the public, they first need to be created. Besides helping prolife educational efforts using your own time and effort, you too can help play a part in the creation stage.

Now is our opportunity to finish the year strong! Please help the Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund meet the goal of $50,000 in year-end online donations. Thank to generous support those donations will be matched, doubling your impact for life! Help us finish strong and lay the groundwork for greater achievements in 2017.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Michigan Legislature passes bills to ban fetal tissue trafficking

On December 14, the Michigan House passed SB 546 and 565 with a vote of 69-37 and 68-39. These bills received support from several members of the Democratic House Caucus who usually are solid pro-abortion votes. These bills are now headed to the desk of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, where he is expected to sign them.

SB 564 will prohibit the exchange of any form of compensation for fetal tissue or organs. SB 565 establishes the legal penalties for engaging in fetal tissue trafficking.

State Senator Phil Pavlov introduced this bill after the Center for Medical Progress had released a series of videos showing senior members of Planned Parenthood engaging in fetal organ and tissue trafficking. The videos further show abortion providers haggling over the prices for certain fetal parts, and being willing to change abortion procedures to get them.

While it is currently legal to receive a procurement fee for removing and delivering fetal organs and tissue, the videos show a picture of profiteering and greed. Because there are no guidelines within the law for fees that can be collected, this legislation will simply prohibit any exchange of money in Michigan, but will allow the practice of fetal tissue and organ donations.

Fetal tissue research is nothing new. Since at least the 1920s, scientists have used fetal tissue for various medical reasons. However it wasn't until elective abortions became legal that the ethics of fetal tissue experimentation became hotly debated. Last year alone the National Institutes of Health spent $76 million of projects involving fetal tissue. Any existing or potential funds from the federal government for research projects in Michigan will not be affected by these bills, but the exchange of money to abortion providers who are selling fetal tissue for profit will end once these bills are signed into law.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

An end to US aid for abortions overseas?

Did you know that the United States currently sends money overseas to promote abortions and abortion-related services?

President Ronald Reagan wanted to prevent US tax dollars to be given to other countries for promoting abortion. In 1984 he created the Mexico City Policy, which required all foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services as a method of family planning internationally. After it passed, several international groups changed their policies so that they could still receive funding. Some groups, like the International Planned Parenthood Federation, did not.

This policy was in place until it was rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton in January 1993. It was re-instituted in January 2001 when President George W. Bush took office, and rescinded again in 2009 after President Barack Obama took office.

Since being rescinded in 2009, US tax dollars have been used to not only promote abortions, but to help perform abortions. The Helms amendment is a permanent law created in 1973 after Roe v. Wade to forbid foreign aid from directly paying for abortions. Without the Mexico City Policy, however, a loop hole is provided allowing abortion organizations to receive funding. In the same way Planned Parenthood expands abortion when they receive tax dollars at home, they and other abortion organizations can provide more abortions overseas with access to our tax dollars. Once in their budget, one dollar is as good as the next despite whatever accounting gimmicks they are required to abide by.

With thousands of service points in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, hundreds of thousands of abortion-related services have taken place in the absence of the Mexico City Policy. There is no denying that this aid to other countries  drives up their abortion numbers, only hurting them. Many of these countries where abortion is being introduced have strict social and religious mandates against killing the unborn. Aid to abortion organizations takes away money that could be given to other legitimate healthcare organizations that work to provide family planning and other health services.

We need policies that help people internationally, not cause further harm by promoting an abortion-on-demand agenda. President-elect Trump will have an opportunity to revisit the Mexico City Policy next month.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Double your gift for life

This month, Right to Life of Michigan supporters have the opportunity to double their impact on the prolife movement. 

When donating to the Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund, generous donors will be matching the donations of individuals up to $50,000.

But hurry! The deadline is December 31.       

Please consider donating as we look to reach our goal in these last days of 2016. Your support makes all of the life-saving work that we do possible!

Double your donation today by donating online to Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund.