Life Advocacy Briefing

March 31, 2008

Remembering Terri / Ethics? What’s That to Planned Parenthood? / Another PP Financial Scandal? / PP Back on Virginia Dole / Weldon Amendment Stands, Even in California Step Forward / Common Sense Comes to Ohio / Baby Protection Bill Gets Boost Advocating for Life: The March for Life Rally

Remembering Terri

TODAY IS THE ‘INT’L DAY of PRAYER & REMEMBRANCE for Terri Schindler Schiavo,” marking the third anniversary of the young Florida woman’s March 31 passing after more than 13 days of forced starvation and dehydration. Her death was ordered by Florida probate Judge George Greer at the behest of her estranged husband Michael Schiavo.

The commemoration was established by Priests for Life and the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation as a way not only to remember the life and tragic passing of Mrs. Schiavo  but also to honor and stress the human dignity of “all our vulnerable brothers and sisters,” according to the Foundation.


Ethics? What’s That to Planned Parenthood?

EYEBROWS WERE RAISED ON CAPITOL HILL last Wednesday, reports Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in FRC’s Washington Update, when Planned Parenthood brought television actress and PP Advisors Board member Kate Walsh to lobby lawmakers against abstinence education.

Citing PP’s receipt of nearly $300 million in taxpayer funds – as well as PP’s official “non-profit” status – Mr. Perkins notes the outfit “tried to lure in a big crowd [to hear Ms. Walsh] by offering a free lunch. Under the new ethics rules,” Mr. Perkins points out, “it’s unlawful for non-profit groups to provide meals to Congressional Members or staff.

“How is it, then,” he asks, “that Planned Parenthood is able to violate government rules? In light of the organization’s latest scandals, which span everything from fraud, criminal cover-ups and clinic deficiencies,” writes Mr. Perkins, “I think we’d all agree that Capitol Hill’s time is better spent investigating the group than promoting it.”


Another P.P. Financial Scandal?

PLANNED PARENTHOOD SUSPENDEDBUSINESS in earlyMarch at two abortuaries in southeast Florida, reportedly because of “deficiencies” and financial irregularities which may be at the root of four board member resignations, several staff layoffs and the resignation of the executive director. Planned Parenthood of South Palm Beach & Broward Counties has been operating on a budget of $3.9 million, of which $441,000 came from taxpayers, “mostly from the Children’s Services councils of Palm Beach & Broward counties,” according to Leon Fooksman and Bob LaMendola of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“Financial issues at the Boca Raton office came to light in June,” reports the Sun-Sentinel, “when a former employee filed a wrongful termination letter with the agency demanding $500,000 in back pay and damages, said Samuel Lopez, an attorney who represents the former employee. As part of the complaint,” write the Sun-Sentinel reporters, “[former] employee Nedezda Martinez asserted that the organization’s 2006 annual financial statement was inaccurate, [Mr.] Lopez said. The board then ordered an audit, he said. [Mr.] Lopez and [attorney and former PP chief executive Marilyn] Krantz said they were told by Planned Parenthood officials,” reports the Sun-Sentinel, “the board was checking, among other issues, whether money was missing.”

We reported in the March 18 Life Advocacy Briefing on a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, brought by the PP affiliate’s former finance chief, stemming from the agency’s 2004 audit and presenting financial papers from as far back as the late 1990s documenting what the plaintiff – as in Florida, a former employee claiming wrongful termination upon whistleblowing – claims constitutes “‘a criminal plot,’” Operation Rescue reported in a news release, “‘to fleece state and federal taxpayers out of more than $180 million over the course of at least six years.’”


P.P. Back on Virginia Dole

JUST WEEKS AFTER THE VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE WITHDREW its steady diet of taxpayer-funded grants from its affiliates of the nation’s chief abortion cartel, the General Assembly has decided to restore funding to the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, reports Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in his Washington Update. Despite Planned Parenthood’s official non-profit status, the outfit is robust in lobbying activities both on Capitol Hill and in the states and local governments, and its political action arm is deeply entrenched in America’s political campaigns at all levels.

 “Until state and federal government hear from you,” Mr. Perkins advises his pro-life/family readers, “taxpayers will continue to fund groups like Planned Parenthood, regardless of their targeting of minority communities,” regardless, we at Life Advocacy Briefing add, of their financial scandals, shoddy “clinic” conditions or refusal to comply with state laws on reporting sexual abuse of minors.

A proposal at the desk of Pres. George W. Bush would reinstate Reagan-era regulations barring co-location of abortuaries with federally aided “family planning” activities; the regulation was rescinded by Pres. William J. Clinton, who also mandated abortion referrals by agencies not participating directly in baby killing.

“Please call your local legislators and the White House today,” urges Mr. Perkins. “Tell Pres. Bush you want co-location and mandatory abortion referrals to end. The White House comment line is 1-202/456-1414.” And urge your lawmakers to defund Planned Parenthood.


Weldon Amendment Stands, Even in California

THE FEDERAL CONSCIENCE CLAUSE HAS WITHSTOOD a legal challenge brought by the State of California in federal district court. But the judge’s decision is not definitive. The law protecting health care workers from having to commit abortions or participate in other procedures violating their consciences could come under litigation attack again and probably will unless the radicals who run California government back away from their statute forcing “any hospital or clinic to perform an abortion in an ‘emergency,’” reports California Catholic Daily (CCD).

The State of California was plaintiff in the lawsuit dismissed March 18, claiming, reports CCD, “the Weldon Amendment could cost California as much as $37 billion,” reports CCD, “if the state enforced its own law.”

The State had argued, reports CCD, “that the amendment violates California’s sovereignty and a woman’s right to obtain an abortion [sic]. But Judge [Jeffrey] White never reached those issues,” reports CCD, “because, he said, the lawsuit was based on hypothetical events that may never actually happen. In order for the issue to be considered by a federal court, said the judge, there would first have to be a situation in which a woman was denied an abortion and not referred to an abortion provider and, as a result, the federal government cut off funding to the state because the state then ‘discriminated’ against those who [were] denied services. ‘However, until then, and because it is not clear that such an unfortunate situation would ever occur,’” said Judge White in the CCD report, “‘this matter is not yet ripe.’”


Step Forward

THE UNICAMERAL NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE HAS PASSED legislation to bar public funding of “research that creates or destroys embryos for stem cell research,” reports, which further notes that Gov. Dave Heineman (R) “quickly signed” the new law.

The law is not ideal but is a dramatic improvement over the bill as introduced and could dampen the appeal of Nebraska to Frankensteinian scientists; ethically questionable “research” at the University of Nebraska has long been a contentious political issue in the largely conservative state.


Common Sense Comes to Ohio

OHIO GOV. TED STRICKLAND (D) HAS SIGNED legislation directing abortionists to offer customers the opportunity to view sonograms of their prenatal children, provided the ultrasound images have been produced.

The governor’s record on Life issues, in the state and in Congress, shows him generally to be an opponent to the cause of Life, but the ultrasound bill is clearly a benefit for expectant mothers and an application of the standard medical practice of “informed consent” to the largely unregulated business of abortion. We thank and congratulate the Ohio legislature and the governor for this policy advance.


Baby Protection Bill Gets Boost

PRO-LIFE ETHICIST WESLEY SMITH HAS AUTHORED A COMMENTARY in the Weekly Standard newsmagazine endorsing S-1810, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) with the backing of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA). The Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, as introduced, would require health care providers to furnish “up-to-date, scientific, written information concerning the life expectancy, clinical course, and intellectual and functional development and treatment options for a fetus diagnosed with or child born with Down syndrome or other prenatally or postnatally diagnosed conditions.” It would also establish a registry of families willing to adopt a prenatally diagnosed child, should the parents be unable to face the challenge.
The legislation has been reported from committee in the Senate along with a substitute amendment, whose text has not yet been released.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Smith’s commentary: “With the development of prenatal genetic diagnosis, the drive toward eugenics has returned with a vengeance. Americans may heartily cheer participants in the Special Olympics, but we abort some 90% of all gestating infants diagnosed with genetic disabilities such as Down Syndrome, dwarfism and spina bifida,” writes Mr. Smith.

“Not only that,” he goes on, “but a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2005 found that of the approximately 5,000 babies born with Down Syndrome annually, only about 625 were born to mothers who knew of their baby’s condition before birth. Together, these figures suggest that under the regimen of universal prenatal genetic testing urged upon us by the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the number of Down Syndrome babies born each year could plummet below 1,000.”

Mr. Smith goes on to quote excerpts from British sportswriter Simon Barnes, recounting his family’s experience in the Times of London as an example of the potential impact from the Brownback bill as it would make available to families struggling with a prenatal Down’s diagnosis the testimonies of parents of born children affected by Down Syndrome.

“‘I am writing of love not as a matter of grand passions,’ [Mr.] Barnes wrote,” as quoted by Mr. Smith, “‘or as high-falutin’ idealism or as religion. I am writing about love as the stuff that makes the processes of human life happen: the love that moves the sun and other stars, which is also the love that makes the toast and other snacks. …

“‘What is it like to have Down Syndrome?’” asks Mr. Barnes, quoted in Mr. Smith’s commentary. “‘How terrible is it? Is it terrible at all? It depends, I suppose, on how well loved you are. … I can’t say I’m glad that Eddie has Down Syndrome or that I would wish him to suffer in order to charm me and fill me with giggles. But no, I don’t want his essential nature changed. Good God, what a thought. It would be as much a denial of myself as a denial of my son. … I am here to tell you that Down Syndrome is not an insupportable horror for either the sufferer or the parents. I’ll go further,’” writes Mr. Barnes. “‘Human beings are not better off without Down Syndrome.’”


Advocating for Life: The March for Life Rally

Transcripts of Congressional speakers, March for Life in Washington, DC, Jan. 22, 2008, transcribed by Life Advocacy Briefing from televised coverage

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI): Thank you. I know it’s pretty bitter, cold weather out here, and some of you might be inclined to offer up your suffering for the unborn. [cheers] But as you do, factor in one blessing that you have been granted: It is so cold in Washington, the politicians’ hands are in their own pockets. [laughter]

It is an honor to be here with you today, to stand in your presence. For you are not a political movement; you are a moral movement. [cheers] You are the heirs of the abolitionists, who saw the inhumanity of slavery and against all odds fought to ensure that every person in the United States, regardless of their race, was given their God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

You face a similar challenge today. Against you are those who believe that people should be able to pursue the destruction of innocent human life. And yet you stand today to ensure that we honor our duty to make sure there is a protection of innocent human life.

With the habits of the heart, you know you are right. And with the decency and the goodness inherent in the vast majority of Americans, you will prevail. For while we live in interesting times, times of medical miracles and moral abominations, a time when the human hand can reach into the womb to heal or to kill, we have made our decision. We stand for Life, we stand for the culture of Life, and we stand for the inherent dignity and sanctity of Life. And we will never flag, falter or fail in our pursuit of justice for the unborn. God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America. [cheers]

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO): Thank you. Thank you all for being here. I’m Congressman Akin from the state of Missouri. [cheers]

I would remind you that it was not all politicians but it was the courts, the courts who made the decision that black people were property; it is the courts who want to take away God from our Pledge; it is the courts who want to take the Ten Commandments out of our schools, and it is the courts who will rip the lives out of the children inside of their mothers. And this last, the most heinous of American moral mistakes. But it will not stand. [cheers] The fact that you are here is just one of many evidences that it will not stand.

The battle for the American conscience is being won, and you should take satisfaction in all of the evidences that point to the fact that America one day will no longer tolerate this evil.

One of the evidences [is] conversions – all the people that used to do abortions, that had an abortion, that used to support abortions but no longer. Now how many people do you know that used to be pro-life who are now pro-choice? No examples there.

There [is] also a dirty little secret that the abortionists have, and that is, they’re having a lot of trouble finding enough doctors without hearts to do their dirty procedures. [cheers] As well, technology makes it more and more obvious what we’re dealing with in this moral crisis. And most of all, the youth that are here and the vigor after years. The American conscience is waking up. You are waking it up.

Now I have unfortunately been in politics for too many years, but one thing that I know: As much as I am thankful for your being here, your real work begins back home, where you begin that conversation with your neighbors and your friends, and one day we will celebrate a time when the bitter evil of abortion passes like a bad dream. By the grace of God, may it be thus. God bless you all. [cheers] Thank you 

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