Life Advocacy Briefing

August 16, 2010

Taking a Break? / Wolf Wearing Wool? / Stop This Abortion Subsidy!
/ Ethical Science Scores Again / Derelict in Duty? / Gold Standard? Hah! /
Senate Debate on Kagan Confirmation

Taking a Break?

ANTICIPATING THE POSSIBILITY OF A LATE-NOTICE TRIP, our editor asks our readers to expect that we might suspend publication for a week. If you do not receive a Life Advocacy Briefing next week, please do not fret.


Wolf Wearing Wool?

AMONG THE EXTREMIST AGENDA ITEMS which could be awaiting action either after the August recess or after the election in the planned lame-duck session is the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), sponsored in the Senate by Sen. John Kerry and 31 co-sponsors, under the number S-2982, and sponsored in the House by Rep. William Delahunt and 118 co-sponsors, under the number HR-4594.

As is typical of radical legislation, the bills bear a politically appealing title, but a look at the contents reveals a less appealing effect. Warns Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council in his FRC Washington Update, “S-2982 would actually promote violence – against the unborn.

“Among other things, IVAWA would directly support the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),” notes Mr. Perkins, “despite its financial partnership with countries like [Red] China that encourage forced abortion and sterilization.

“What’s worse,” he writes, “IVAWA uses the guise of ‘women’s rights’ to push for the ratification of extreme treaties like CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which would pressure countries to perform abortions in violation of their deep moral beliefs or traditions.”

What’s not in the legislation, though, is any proscription on promoting “activities like prostitution and sex trafficking,” writes Mr. Perkins, “two industries that clearly lead to violence against women.”

The lurking legislation began to stir before the August recess, but Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) prevailed in his efforts to delay a Foreign Relations Committee hearing at least until after Labor Day.


Stop This Abortion Subsidy!

STUDENTS FOR LIFE OF AMERICA is campaigning to free University of North Carolina (UNC) students from being forced to subsidize abortions with their health insurance premiums.

The pro-life student group (STFLA) discovered a week ago, writes James Tillman for, “that … university-mandated health insurance included coverage for abortion.” Students could avoid the Board of Governors’ new policy only if they could afford their own private health insurance.

In less than a week of campaigning, STFLA had achieved a modification of the board’s policy, permitting students to opt out of abortion coverage for themselves, but STFLA executive director Kristan Hawkins stressed, quoted by Mr. Tillman, “‘This is not a victory’ as there was no proof that students opting out in their own plans will not still foot the bill for other students’ abortion coverage.”

Mrs. Hawkins vowed, reports Mr. Tillman, “to ‘keep the drumbeat going through the weekend and into the next,’” expressing concern that “the UNC’s statement might be meant only to lift the pressure pro-lifers had put on them.”

Readers who wish to back the STFLA effort may contact Board of Governors chairman Hannah Gage via electronic mail at [email protected] and/or sign a petition at a new Internet website established by STFLA at


Ethical Science Scores Again

ILLUSTRATING AGAIN THE BOON OF ADULT STEM CELLS in treating patients, a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota have successfully treated 10 children since 2007 who suffer with a painful, deadly genetic skin disease, RDEB (recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa). “All of the children,” reports David Prentice PhD, senior fellow for life sciences at Family Research Council (FRC), “have responded to the therapy to varying degrees,” reports team co-leader Dr. John E. Wagner.

“‘To understand this achievement,’” said Dr. Wagner, quoted by Dr. Prentice on the FRC weblog, “‘you have to understand how horrible this disease actually is. From the moment of birth, these children develop blisters from the slightest trauma, which eventually scar. They live lives of chronic pain, preventing any chance for a normal life. My hope,’” said this respectworthy scientist, “‘is to do something that might change the natural history of this disease and enhance the quality of life of these kids.’” Most such children, writes Dr. Prentice, “do not live past their 20s;” one can only imagine how challenging those lives are.

It appears the discovery could have other applications as well. “‘This discovery is more unique and more remakable than it may first sound,’” said Dr. Jakub Tolar, Dr. Wagner’s co-leader, also quoted by Dr. Prentice. “‘What we have found is that stem cells contained in bone marrow can travel to sites of injured skin, leading to increased production of collagen, which is deficient in patients with RDEB.

“‘Bone marrow transplantation is one of the riskiest procedures in medicine,’” remarked Dr. Tolar. “‘Yet it is also one of the most successful. Patients who otherwise would have died from their disease can often now be cured. It’s a serious treatment,’” he said, “‘for a serious disease.’” Hallelujah!


Derelict in Duty?

HOW MANY TIMES will the Florida Board of Medicine suspend the license of notorious abortionist James Pendergraft before he has earned revocation? That’s what Floridians are wondering after learning that the board has suspended the Orlando “doctor’s” license for the fourth time on Aug. 7. He was fined $10,000 this time and ordered to take a course on record-keeping; the one-year license suspension is to be followed by three years of probation.

This suspension came, reports, after the board “found that [Mr.] Pendergraft allowed an employee to administer narcotics to patients without a license, and, although [he] knew the employee had a drug problem, allowed her to order drugs under his name and prescribed steroids to her for no apparent reason.”

Past suspensions have been for infractions including botched abortions, illegal late-term abortions and dispensing drugs without a license. His most recent suspension was in January 2010.

“‘Here is a proven quack that has served three previous license suspensions, yet continues to offend,’” said Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, quoted by LifeSite. “‘Even a stint in prison hasn’t helped [Mr.] Pendergraft amend his ways,’” said Mr. Newman. (He went to prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to impeding justice while he was being investigated for extorting local officials.)

Even the chairman of the University of Central Florida’s Dept. of Health Management & Informatics declared the board’s apparent leniency “‘a wake-up call for us all when we have an individual who is allowed to practice medicine in a way that draws question as to both his credibility and capability.’” Aaron Liberman made the comment, quoted by LifeSite, in a Central Florida News 13 television report on the action.

“‘The Board will allow this man to continue the practice of medicine,’” said Mr. Newman in the LifeSite story, “‘after he serves his fourth suspension. It isirresponsible to place women at repeated risk from this guy. Enough is enough!’”

While under suspension, Mr. Pendergraft continues to profit from abortions at five mills he owns in Florida, employing at least one abortionist who has also undergone repeated license suspensions. Operation Rescue’s Mr. Newman declared the Pendergraft abortuaries “‘a menace to the public,’” reports LifeSite. “‘They should be closed, and perhaps if he was in another state they would be,’ said [Mr.] Newman. ‘It is simply outrageous that these people who have proven that they cannot comport themselves within the law are allowed the opportunity to continue to prey on an unsuspecting public.’”


Gold Standard? Hah!

SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG at San Francisco’s Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG).

The board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, reports Kathleen Gilbert for LifeSiteNews, citing The Bay Citizen as source, voted in early August “to revoke their trademark from the affiliate. Karen Ruffato, PPFA vice president of affiliate services,” writes Ms. Gilbert, “said PPGG was not meeting our standards for administrative and fiscal management.’” Imagine that!

PPGG operates seven shops in California, reports LifeSite, and indicated it would continue functioning at every site, but apparently did not state under what name it would conduct business.

“The group is known for its advertisements geared towards promoting contraception to teens,” writes Ms. Gilbert. The ads, she notes, “have been criticized by Christian and pro-life advocates for mocking religion and depicting violence against pro-life demonstrators.” It was PPGG, she notes, that “tried to shut down pro-life advertisements by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops,” pressuring local radio stations not to run the spots.

According to Jim Sedlak of American Life League, writes Ms. Gilbert, “PPGG was also among several PP clinics found to have conducted clinical trials on minor girls as young as 13.”  Mr. Sedlak, writes Ms. Gilbert, “noted that the nature of the trials was suspect, as it would mean the abortion chain was aware of the minor girls’ possible sexual activity with an adult, making PP liable to report it as sex abuse,” a duty which PP has been caught widely ignoring.

But the San Francisco branch of Planned Parenthood is perhaps most notorious for the RU-486 death of 18-year-old Holly Patterson, who, Ms. Gilbert reminds us, “experienced severe cramping, bleeding and vomiting but was only encouraged to take more painkillers by the PP clinic’s hotline.” After she called PP again, notes Ms. Gilbert, “the clinic encouraged her to go to the emergency room if the pain continued; an emergency room doctor simply prescribed more painkillers,” writes Ms. Gilbert. “[Miss] Patterson died three days later.”

The deceased victim’s father filed a lawsuit against PPGG and “in a 2009 interview,” writes Ms. Gilbert, “insists that his daughter was not adequately informed by Planned Parenthood before taking the dangerous drug.”


Senate Debate on Kagan Confirmation

Excerpts from selected Senate floor-debate speeches citing Elena Kagan’s radical positions on Life issues

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): … Solicitor General Kagan’s experience is not necessarily the experience we would prefer, but it is the experience that we have to go on. And as I look through this professional experience, I see plenty of reasons to be concerned about the philosophy that she would bring to the bench.

In particular, I want to highlight her experience as a policy advisor. From the Presidential campaign trail in 1988 to the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Clinton White House, she has spent a great deal of time working on tough, highly contentious issues. In each of those cases, I think it is clear that she favors the kind of judicial activism that has concerned me throughout my time in the Senate. Her views and the policies she has supported endorse a role for the courts that I find very troubling. And let me be clear, whether or not I agree with her views on any particular issue, I am most concerned about the way those views will shape her still-emerging judicial philosophy.

For example, let’s take a look at the Life issue. As an advisor in the Clinton White House, Ms. Kagan led efforts to preserve partial-birth abortion. Obviously, I disagree with that position, as do most Americans, but that is the role that advisors often play inside the White House. Unfortunately in this case, however, the evidence shows Ms. Kagan manipulated arguments about the need for a partial-birth abortion ban and whether such a ban is constitutional. When a draft scientific statement from a medical association threatened to undermine the policy she supported, Ms. Kagan seems to have rewritten that statement in a way that did not reflect the considered medical judgment of the association but was more in line with the policy she supported. Her explanation that she was merely helping the association state its own views more accurately does not bear scrutiny. This should be a red flag for Senators considering confirmation of someone to the Supreme Court. Without a judicial track record to evaluate, I am concerned about how she would apply her personally held views on similar matters if she is confirmed. …

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): … Ms. Kagan … told us to examine her service in the Clinton Administration, a period during which she has said she acted as a policy advisor rather than as a lawyer. She was, for example, a key player behind the Clinton Administration’s extreme abortion policy, including its defense of the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. In a 1996 legislative strategy memo, she labeled as a disaster a proposed statement by a key medical group that there exists no circumstances in which partial-birth abortion is the only option for doctors to take. That was the organization representing the obstetricians and gynecologists. She drafted – and persuaded that group to adopt – language with a much different political spin. At her hearing, Ms. Kagan offered the implausible claim that she was merely trying to ensure that the medical group accurately expressed its own medical opinion. In other words, the disaster she identified was a PR disaster for the medical group, not a political disaster for the Clinton Administration. That is too hard to believe, especially in light of evidence that Ms. Kagan also sought to persuade the American Medical Association to change its similar conclusion that partial-birth abortion is not medically necessary. Political objectives appear to have trumped medical science.

Let’s understand what partial-birth abortion is, this barbaric practice. It is where they turn the child around, even a child capable of living on its own outside the womb, until its head is coming first. Then they ram scissors or some other sharp instrument into the back of the skull, suck out the brains, then pull the baby out and say it is not a human being. I don’t know anybody who should not consider that tremendously offensive and barbaric.

In May 1997, after Pres. Clinton had vetoed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Ms. Kagan wrote a memo recommending that he support a sham ban offered by Democratic Senators. Everybody here knew it was a sham. She argued that this step might attract votes from Senators who otherwise would vote to override Pres. Clinton’s veto. Since the substitutes would not pass – she knew they would not – partial-birth abortion would remain legal. Whether you are for or against abortion, most people find that practice barbaric.

Significantly, however, Ms. Kagan noted that the Office of Legal Counsel had concluded that these substitute bans were unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. There is not indication that she disagreed with this conclusion. The point is that Ms. Kagan urged a purely political position on abortion that was at odds with what the Clinton Administration then believed the Constitution required. That is something that really bothered me, and I do not think she was forthcoming about it at the hearing. It especially bothered me because it looked once again like politics trumped the law.

Ms. Kagan’s hearing did nothing to temper the activist picture that emerges from her record. She chose an approach to answering questions that was far different from what she once argued was necessary for the Senate properly to evaluate nominees and educate the public. I asked three times, for example, if she had written the 1996 memo I discussed a minute ago. Mind you, the memo has her name on it and includes a page of her own handwritten notes. After three tries, Ms. Kagan would say only that it was in her handwriting, which I suppose leaves open the possibility that it was forged. …

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