Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Why a Dismemberment Abortion Ban?

Since New York’s Legislature cheered legislation endorsing abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy, the prolife movement has been on the move. Many people who considered themselves prolife but didn’t commit themselves to regular efforts to end abortion have suddenly been awakened, angered, and activated.

In recent years, the prolife movement has been very successful pursuing prolife legislation on the state level. In just the last few months, that activity has become even more energized. Not only are more people getting involved, but with the replacement of pro-abortion U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Roe v. Wade faces its first real danger in a generation.

Many people new to the movement have seen prolife legislation being passed in other states and are wondering what Michigan will do as a response to New York and other states supporting abortion-on-demand. In Michigan, our focus will be a ban on the dismemberment abortion procedure (also called a D&E abortion).

Sadly, in Michigan, this prolife crescendo came at a bad time. Michigan went from having an indifferent governor in Rick Snyder to now having an actively pro-abortion governor in Gretchen Whitmer. The silver lining is Michigan voters returned prolife majorities to the state legislature.

Right to Life of Michigan will work to advance all legislation possible, but in light of this split in Michigan government, there’s only a few prolife bills likely to be supported by both the Legislature and Governor Whitmer. These bills probably won’t deal directly with abortion, unless Governor Whitmer has a miraculous change of heart.

However, Michigan’s Constitution has a provision that doesn’t require miracles for prolife bills to become laws in this situation—all it requires is hard work, and tons of it. Citizens can initiate legislation directly to the Legislature by collecting a large number of signatures. If the Michigan House and Senate approve the legislation, it becomes law without any input from the governor.

Right to Life of Michigan and our dozens of local affiliates have been very successful in the past using these petition drives, most recently in 2013. We’ve used it to pass legislation to require parental consent for minor teens seeking abortions, ban partial birth abortion, and prevent insurance from becoming part of every health insurance plan. Our 1987 petition drive to end Medicaid-funded abortions in Michigan has saved an estimated 228,917 lives so far!

We still want to provide Governor Whitmer with opportunities to do the right thing and send her prolife bills. However, the most likely scenario is that any big, impactful prolife bills in the next two years will require prolifers to engage in a gigantic grassroot effort to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures in the span of several weeks. Such an effort requires a laser-like focus, and for the next two years the focus of Right to Life of Michigan and our affiliates is on a bill to ban dismemberment abortion.

Why a dismemberment ban? Several other states have advanced different pieces of big, impactful prolife legislation: bans on abortion after 20 weeks, heartbeat bans, bans on sex-selection abortion, banning abortions targeting children with disabilities, and some have passed dismemberment bans. Some have passed a combination of two or more of these bills.

Michigan is unique. Michigan has an important Michigan Supreme Court precedent from 1973, shortly after Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton were decided. Michigan law has banned abortion except to save the life of the mother since 1846. After Roe was decided in 1973, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in People v. Bricker that Roe and Doe are only blocking enforcement of Michigan's law; Michigan's law was not repealed. Our abortion ban is in legal effect, but only partially-enforceable at the moment.

Our situation is truly unique. The day Roe v. Wade is overturned, our law has an opportunity to go back into effect. So, Michigan law already bans abortions after 20 weeks, or after a heartbeat is detected, or abortion targeted at a specific demographic. For any of those laws to go into effect, Roe likely needs to be completely overturned; when Roe is overturned, any of those laws would become legally pointless in Michigan since our ban covers them anyway. Other states are not so lucky; very few will have the opportunity to immediately end abortion after Roe goes.

A ban on dismemberment abortion is different from those other laws in two important ways. It too would be legally pointless if Roe v. Wade is overturned and our ban is restored to full effect, but what if Roe is not overturned completely? Some speculate that the current conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will dismantle Roe v. Wade piece by piece over the course of years rather than consigning it directly to the ash heap of history in which it belongs.

In his opinion upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion, pro-abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy specifically mentioned dismemberment abortion as a similarly violent procedure. His opinion laid a clear legal path forward, meaning a dismemberment abortion ban is the most likely piece of big prolife legislation to be upheld. It’s the most likely next step of the U.S. Supreme Court. Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court can also use a dismemberment ban to completely overturn Roe v. Wade if they wish.

We’re happy that other states with prolife governors and state legislatures are pursuing those other bills if they can’t yet pass a 100% prolife ban like Michigan has. However, we only have the opportunity to get one big, impactful bill done before 2020, so Michigan should focus our time on a bill that has the most chance of actually being legally enforceable and thus actually saving lives.

Those bills in other states do have important educational messages that focus people on the humanity of the child in the womb. Our dismemberment abortion ban also has a vital educational message, one that focuses people on the violent nature of abortion. It’s easier for the prolife movement to inform people about fetal development facts, but extremely more difficult to effectively educate people about the inherent violence of abortion procedures. By pursuing a dismemberment ban, we’re forcing the media and our opponents to confront the issue. It gives us the opportunity to use excellent resources to help people understand how abortion works.

The greatest gain in prolife opinion in recent decades was because of partial-birth abortion bans. Our dismemberment abortion ban mirrors legislation to ban partial-birth abortions (in fact, we’re just amending our state’s partial-birth ban by adding dismemberment abortions to it). It also will mirror the educational effort to help people understand that abortion takes the life of a unique human being in horrifically barbaric fashion. It will hopefully mirror the large prolife shift in public opinion.

For the foreseeable future, we are focused on working through the legislative process on our dismemberment abortion ban to give Governor Whitmer a chance to enact it. Whether or not we have to collect several hundred thousand signatures to help pass the ban, you have a wonderful grassroots opportunity here. Please use this opportunity to focus your efforts on informing your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and others about the violence of dismemberment abortion.

For details as we work through this process and for news and resources to help you in your personal educational grassroots campaign, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, our bi-weekly podcast, or sign-up for our weekly e-mail on RTL.org. Now is the time to inform your fellow citizens so that Michigan never becomes New York.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Top 10 Abortion Myths: #9

So much of the abortion debate is based on myths, bad assumptions, bad logic, or outright gaslighting through deception. For the rest of 2019 we will highlight one common abortion myth every month. 

#9: Abortion is a small part of Planned Parenthood’s services 

The Bottom Line: Planned Parenthood is the number three cause of death in America—if abortions were counted that way.

This myth is always relevant because of Planned Parenthood’s situation as the de facto leader of the abortion movement and the recipient of more than half a billion taxpayer dollars annually.

This myth is so common that you probably don’t need an example of its use. Media outlets will frequently fall back on Planned Parenthood’s self-proclaimed statistic that abortion is only three percent of their services. This myth is used so often that some people have developed an unshakable belief that Planned Parenthood doesn’t do abortions at all.

Let’s peel back this myth layer by layer.

First of all, Planned Parenthood disagrees with their own talking point. Their president, Leana Wen, frankly admits, “Our core mission is providing, protecting and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care.”

There you have it. Their mission is not just providing abortion, but expanding abortion. Every Planned Parenthood affiliate operates at least one abortion facility, and every Planned Parenthood facility does abortion referrals. This should be case closed, but let’s dig deeper.

Wen’s statement agrees with their own publicly-published annual reports. In 1998, Planned Parenthood saw 2.4 million clients, and did 167,928 abortions. They hit an all-time high of clients in 2005; they saw 3.1 million clients and did 264,943 abortions. In their most recent 2017-2018 annual report, they saw 2.4 million clients and reported 332,757 abortions. The trend is unmistakably an expansion of abortion.

Take a look at their other services in that timeframe. In 1998, they gave contraceptive services to 1,848,106 women. By 2017-2018, that number was 1,870,664; practically no change. In 1998, they did 1,122,175 manual breast exams (not mammograms!). By 2017-2018, their “breast care” services had plummeted to 296,310. Those numbers make it clear their priority has been expanding abortion, even as abortion numbers decline nationally. It’s worth noting that in their 1998-1999 fiscal year, they received $176.5 million in tax funding. By 2017-2018, that number has exploded to $563.8 million.

They receive triple the tax dollars and provide double the amount of abortions while serving no more clients overall than they did 20 years ago. Those numbers speak for themselves.

Let’s dig a little deeper though. If Planned Parenthood keeps doing more and more abortions while serving fewer and fewer clients, how does abortion perpetually remain “three percent” of their services? In short, clever accounting.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t count their “services” as a clinic visit, but a “discreet clinical interaction.” What is a discreet clinical interaction? Let’s use an example.

If you went to your doctor for a well-woman exam, you’d probably say you received one service from your doctor. However, at a Planned Parenthood, that visit is at least 4 “discreet clinical interactions,” if not more. In their latest annual report, Planned Parenthood lists the well woman exam itself, the “breast care,” pap test, and STI test all as separate services. If they gave you a free condom on the way out, it’s 5 services. Do you get the picture? That’s how 2.4 million clients can receive 9.7 million services during 4 million visits, according to Planned Parenthood’s report.

So, a Planned Parenthood “service” is whatever they want it to be. What if your oil change shop counted services that way? Each tire pressure and fluid check could be a “discreet automotive interaction,” leaving the oil change only a small part of their automotive services.

Every year as Planned Parenthood’s clients and actual services decline, they invent new service categories in their annual report or duplicate them to always keep the number of abortions at three percent of their “services.” It’s very clever accounting, though utterly dishonest and misleading to people who won’t take an hour to read through a few years of their annual reports, especially members of the media.

The simplest and clearest method to figure out how much of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions is dividing their number of abortions by their number of clients. According to their 2017-2018 annual report, 14% of the clients were abortion patients.

Another way to measure their abortion mission is through the pregnancy tests they provide. How many people go to Planned Parenthood to confirm a pregnancy if they aren’t considering an abortion? Probably very few. Considering they provided 1,074,952 pregnancy tests in 2017-2018 and had 2.4 million clients, then as many as 45% of their clients are abortion-minded.

Yet another way to measure it is by looking at what their organization does as a whole, including their budget. Planned Parenthood isn’t just a medical clinic, but a highly political organization that involves itself in elections, lobbying, and various educational and public relations projects to advance abortion. Sadly, Planned Parenthood’s annual report doesn’t explain what is and isn’t an abortion expense. Some things are easy to figure out, like the $45 million spent on “public policy” in their 2017-2018 report. Unless Planned Parenthood chooses to be open and transparent about that, we’ll never know.

Finally, let’s look at the overall impact of Planned Parenthood’s abortions. It’s all well and good to argue about annual reporting methods, but we’re talking about taking the lives of innocent human beings through an act of very real violence. Abortions at Planned Parenthood are the number three cause of death in America. This is the important bottom line that prolife people shouldn’t be distracted from.

Planned Parenthood’s 321,384 abortions in 2016 would rank third in the Centers for Disease Control’s 2016 mortality statistics, behind heart disease (635,260 deaths) and cancer (598,038). Their abortions rank them ahead of the next two causes of death combined: unintentional injuries (161,374) and chronic lower respiratory diseases (154,596). Think of every cause of death conceivable, and only heart disease and cancer take more human life than Planned Parenthood.

Above, we compared Planned Parenthood’s client statistics from 1998 to 2017. In those 20 years, that “three percent of services” amounted to the deaths of a total of 5.63 million children in the womb. It’s immoral and unjust to describe such a massive loss of life as a small issue that should be ignored—or even celebrated.

As the leader of the abortion movement—culturally and legislatively—Planned Parenthood shares great responsibility for every abortion in America. The Guttmacher Institute estimated 926,200 abortions occurred in the United States in 2014, making abortion the number one cause of death in America.

Planned Parenthood’s core mission is abortion, and their mission intentionally takes more human life than anything else in this country.

Myth Series:
#10: Late-term abortions are only for health problems 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

2019 Youth Award Winners

2019 Winner: Leah Streifel, Gaylord Right to Life

Leah is a passionate voice for the unborn in the prolife movement. She has been a part of the Gaylord Teens for Life group for many years, and has served as their treasurer, vice president, and is now the president of the group. Leah is also very involved with Gaylord Right to Life events. For the past three years she has coordinated the “Baby of the Year Contest,” a fundraiser teens host at the Gaylord Right to Life banquet. She has assisted in several other prolife fundraisers including car washes, pop-can drives, chili cook-offs, and raised hundreds of dollars of sponsorships in Gaylord Right to Life’s Ride for Life event. In Spring 2018, Leah worked with Gaylord Teens for Life to place a prolife billboard on I-75 that read “Choice or Child? There are alternatives to abortion.” Additionally, Leah has actively supported her local prolife pregnancy center, New Life Pregnancy Resource Center. She has helped organize a “Diaper Raid” for the center. As a committed prolife student, Leah has participated in many other prolife events including the National March for Life, Right to Life of Michigan’s Legislative Day and State Conference and Protect Life Michigan’s Conference. She won first place in the 2019 Gaylord Right to Life Oratory Contest and will participate in the State Contest on April 27th. She plans to continue her prolife work through Right to Life of Michigan and Protect Life Michigan after she graduates high school and will always be an advocate for the unborn.

Leah's Essay:

I believe that in order for this generation to portray and advance a positive pro-life message, we need to first remember what abortion and other pro-life issues mean to us. We need to first make sure that the passion burning inside of our own hearts is still ablaze. How can we affectively reach others if we are not in the right place ourselves? How can we expect a change in others if we are not truly changed ourselves? We must stay eager and true to what we believe in order to reach our peers and others around us.

Secondly, if we as a generation want to portray a positive pro-life message, we have to show that we care. We have to show the world that we care about the unborn, the euthanized, the bullied, the mistreated, the single mothers, the un-adopted children. We have to be a generation that shows the world the love that we have towards other people. If we are pro-life, then we will also be pro-love. If I did not love what the pro-life cause stands for, I would not be zealous about it. Some say that actions speak louder than words, but I think they have to go together to be affective. If I say I am pro-life, I need to show it, and one of the best ways that I know how to do that is through love. In order for this generation to be effective at representing a pro-life message, we have to have love for other people, because after all, we live today because of the love that our Heavenly Father showed us.

The last thing that I believe we as a generation need to do in order to show the world just how pro-life we are is that we need to be willing to stand against the crowd. We cannot sit back while millions of babies are being aborted. We cannot sit and watch while medical professionals are assisting people commit suicide. In a world that turns their head the other way, this is our time to stand up and say what we believe. Wear the shirt that speaks out against abortion. Ask the girl why she is pro-choice. Be bold in action; and with God on our side, we will win. If we refuse to back down, we will be able to show the world how precious life truly is.

Runner-Up: Haili Gusa, Huron County Right to Life

Haili is a passionate prolife advocate. She has been involved with Huron County Right to Life as a Youth Advocate since 2013. She has helped with several of Huron County Right to Life’s events, including the Baby Bottle Boomerang Fundraiser, the memorial service, youth rally, fair booths, and their annual spring dinner. She has also organized a prolife apologetics training event, protested at Planned Parenthood, and contacted legislators about prolife issues.

From Haili’s essay: “Members of the prolife movement, regardless of age, need to respect and care for all life they meet. Genuinely loving all life, including your own, promotes a positive message and understanding of our movement…If my generation stays true to the message of the prolife movement in our words, actions, and posts, then we will have success in promoting the positivity of the prolife movement.”

Honorable Mention: Marie Krueger , Grand Traverse Area Right to Life

Since 2014, Marie has been involved with the prolife group at her school, St. Francis Teens for Life. In 2017, she became the Vice President of the group, and has been the president since the start of the 2018 academic year. She has supported her local prolife pregnancy center by participating and helping with their Deck the Dresser Supply Drive and has made it a priority to visit Planned Parenthood weekly to pray for the unborn. She has participated in many prolife events such as the National March for life, the local Life Chain Sunday event, and Right to Life of Michigan’s Legislative Day. Additionally, she has helped with Grand Traverse Area Right to Life’s Focus on Life dinner for many years, and in 2018 she was featured as a speaker to talk about the St. Francis Teens for Life group.

From Marie’s essay: “We are learning more and more about the child in utero. With new technological advances every day, we are reaffirmed that life does indeed begin at the moment of conception… Our prayer is that our country reverses Roe v. Wade, and begins to truly acknowledge and value the sanctity of human life.”

Honorable Mention: Anna Henke, Grand Rapids Right to Life

Anna is a strong advocate for the prolife movement in her community. In 2017, she began a prolife student group at her high school: Protect Life at Plymouth Christian. Through this group, she has helped host apologetics trainings, speakers, a school prolife-week, and coordinate service projects. She also helped begin the Pre-Born Justice Coalition, a community group in Grand Rapids. Their goal is to generate conversation about the injustice of abortion with the general public. She has been involved with Protect Life Michigan as a part of their Heroes Leadership Academy and has worked with Grand Rapids Right to Life on several occasions, including raising funds through their coin drive.

From Anna’s essay: “Abortion is the greatest human injustice of our time and it must be stopped and made utterly unthinkable. No one may remain silent on this issue as thousands of babies worldwide are slaughtered every day under the guise of ‘reproductive rights.’ Young people today have a duty to stand up and fight effectively against abortion through education and action, in opposition to those who believe abortion is acceptable.”