Life Advocacy Briefing

December 8, 2014

Back to the Fray / Inch by Inch, Progress / Waste? Fraud? Abuse? O My!
ObamaCare Mandate Draws Another Injunction
Our Action Needed on the Funding Crunch

Back to the Fray

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS HAVE RETURNED to Capitol Hill for their post-election session. The power shift which the voters sought in November will not officially occur until January, but the election’s consequences are already beginning to shape up.

Who would have expected, for example, that such die-hard liberals as Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) would be making statements regretting their party’s approach to America’s healthcare system? Yet both did exactly that last week. (We hasten to add, their comments related to political strategy and did not indicate regret related to substance, but we do believe voters’ vocal distress over ObamaCare – including its impact on freedom of conscience and on abortion-subsidy policies – has had some influence on the two liberals’ choice of ObamaCare as the policy they are now lamenting.)

The greatest challenge facing Congress in this lame-duck session appears to be moving the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations package forward by this week’s deadline, which was established last fall when Congress adopted a Continuing Resolution to “fund the government” until Dec. 11.

Though voters clearly cast their ballots in favor of change – turning the Senate over to the GOP while strengthening the Republican Majority in the House – the lawmakers who are churning through this process now are the same as those who have served during the balance of this 113th Congress (since January of 2013). Pro-life policies are at stake. We urge our readers to carefully review the commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing, as it presents the dilemmas facing Congress and closes with an appeal for action, with which we concur.


Inch by Inch, Progress

on abortion statistics last week, showing a decline in abortion’s baby death toll as of 2011.

Excluding California, Maryland and New Hampshire – which do not report such tragic statistics to the federal agency – abortions nationwide in 2011 totaled 730,322. What is more, the rate of abortions per thousand women of child-bearing age, has fallen to 13.9, which, notes National Right to Life’s research director Randall O’Bannon PhD, “is lower than any rate recorded by the CDC since abortion became legal in the US in 1973.

“Granted, abortions from California or other states missing since 1998 might have given us somewhat higher rates,” writes Dr. O’Bannon in the Dec. 1 NRL News Today. “When numbers from California were available, the abortion rates for the US were about two-to-three points higher than those calculated without them. But that does not change that the 2011 abortion rate of 13.9 has dropped by nearly half (44.4%) from what it was at its high point in 1980: 25 abortions per thousand women of reproductive age.”

Dr. O’Bannon celebrates also a drop in the abortion rate as expressed by the number of abortions for every 1,000 live births. The current figure is 219, he reports, “a historic low.” The high, he notes, was “359.2 abortions for every 1,000 live births in 1980.”

Further analyzing the CDC report in last Tuesday’s NRL News Today, Dr. O’Bannon notes a drop in the share of abortions undergone by teens. “Teens accounted for just 13.9% of all abortions” in 2011, notes Dr. O’Bannon. “Thirty years ago, in 1980,” he adds, “teens represented 29.2% of the total. In raw numbers,” he says, “the drop is even more dramatic. The 29.2% share of the nearly 1.3 million abortions the CDC reported in 1980 represented some 378,000 abortions. Though some teen abortions from California, Maryland and New Hampshire are missing from current totals,” he notes, “the 13.9% of the CDC’s 2011 total equals [fewer] than a hundred thousand (89,613)!”

Asking himself why, Dr. O’Bannon opines: “While changing public attitudes about abortion, the outreach of pro-life pregnancy care centers and legislation like waiting periods, ultrasound and right-to-know laws have impacted abortion totals across the board, the influence of parental involvement laws on this particular group should never be minimized.”

He attributes “a generational attitude difference” to the troubling report that “abortion rates for women [aged] 35 to 39 went up 1.4%, and women over 40 experienced a 7.7% increase in their abortion rate.” It could, he says, “be part of a generational attitude difference, reflecting more pro-life attitudes among the younger population. Or it could be the result of increased pre-natal genetic testing, with couples aborting upon receiving a negative diagnosis,” more common in babies conceived in older moms.

Dr. O’Bannon concludes his analysis with concern about mothers’ safety. “The abortion industry has assured us for years,” he writes, “that abortion is safe and getting safer every year, but the CDC numbers,” he notes, “do not reflect that. Despite huge drops in the numbers of abortions over the past 20 years, women are still dying from abortion in America. Ten women are known to have died in 2010 (CDC abortion mortality figures are always an extra year behind). This makes the eleventh year in a row that at least six women have died from abortions. … The risk of death from abortion figures reported by the CDC for the past decade,” writes Dr. O’Bannon, “[is] actually higher than it was for the previous one.”

And in every “successful” abortion, at least one baby dies.


Waste? Fraud? Abuse? O My!

A COMPREHENSIVE AUDIT OF MEDICAID-FUNDED AGENCIES is drawing fire from Planned Parenthood and other “family planning” outfits in Wisconsin, as GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s administration turns toward reducing state spending by rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the state-aided government medicine industry.

“Investigators with the state’s Dept. of Health Office of Inspector General (OIG) say that two family planning agencies alone have charged the Medicaid program more than twice their allowable cost for birth control,” writes Ben Johnson for, “overbilling taxpayers by millions of dollars a year.” The two cited facilities are not connected to Planned Parenthood, but the abortion behemoth – with its traditional access to the media – is screaming loudest about the audits.

“A spokesman for Planned Parenthood Wisconsin admitted,” reports Mr. Johnson, “if the state will demand that they follow the law as written, it would have to shut down its locations across the state.” Looks like a confession to us!

The two family planning outfits cited so far, according to Pro-Life Wisconsin’s Matthew Sande, quoted by Charlie Butts in, are “Family Planning Health Services, Inc., of Wausau and Oconto-based NEWCAP, Inc.” Wausau is a Milwaukee suburb; Oconto is a small town about 34 miles north of Green Bay. The two facilities, reports Mr. Johnson, “charged $3.5 million in fees they were not due for distributing contraception. Under state law, officials declare, the facilities may only charge taxpayers for the actual cost of the drug, plus a small distribution fee. Instead,” writes Mr. Johnson, “facilities paid $12.61 a pack for the abortifacient contraceptive Yaz, or $13 for Lutera, but charged the state $26.” The audit covered a year dating from 2010 to 2011.

The Wausau outfit, though not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, does “partner with the ACLU, RH Reality Check, Catholics for Choice and Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,” reports Mr. Johnson, showing that the “clinic” is an outpost of the abortion lobby though it does not itself commit abortions.

Journalist Kate Golden of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, quoted by LifeSiteNews, quotes Beth Hartung, whom she identifies as “president of the Wisconsin Family Planning & Reproductive Health Assn.” admitting, “‘My hunch is that if any one of us were audited it would come out the same way. … We’re all operating the same way. It would mean, quite frankly, that we would all close.’ [Ms.] Hartung admitted,” writes Mr. Johnson, “the profits from those drug distributions underwrite the costs of other services offered at local facilities. Some,” he notes, “perform abortion.

“Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin [PPWI], the state’s largest recipient of such monies,” notes Mr. Johnson, “would be the most affected.” The LifeSiteNews writer quotes the PPWI public policy director, Nicole Safar, saying “if the OIG launches audits of its businesses, it would trigger ‘clinic closing’ actions statewide.”

Pro-Life Wisconsin’s Matthew Sande, quoted by Mr. Johnson in the LifeSiteNews story, offered no sympathy to Planned Parenthood or the other publicly funded pill pushers catching the OIG’s attention. “‘I serve on the board of a nonprofit health clinic … in Madison,’ which offers medical care for the indigent and teaches natural family planning,” [Mr.] Sande told LifeSiteNews. ‘We don’t get a dime of taxpayer dollars. We raise a lot of money from private donors,’” he said, “‘and we thrive. Being a member of that board, I don’t have any sympathy for Planned Parenthood,’ he said, ‘if they can’t figure out how they can go out and do their own private fundraising like we do.

“‘If Planned Parenthood want to be considered legitimate healthcare providers,’” Mr. Sande told LifeSiteNews, “‘they should conduct [business] in accordance with the laws of the state, as others are.’”

That, though, could prove difficult. “In a report on Planned Parenthood fraud released this July,” writes Mr. Johnson, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) noted, “‘Improper practices by Planned Parenthood and state family planning agencies have already resulted in losses to the American taxpayer of more than $115 million, as a minimum, in Title XIX-Medicaid and other healthcare funding programs.’ . . .

“A 2012 report accused the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, of using various forms of mislabeling to maximize its take of taxpayer funds,” writes Mr. Johnson, “including overbilling and ‘unbundling,’ in which services provided as part of an abortion procedure were billed separately, as though they were unrelated services.

“‘In New York alone during one four-year period,’ the 2012 report stated,” quoted by LifeSiteNews, “‘it appeared that hundreds of thousands of abortion-related claims were billed illegally to Medicaid.’

“In Texas, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast paid a total of $4.3 million in reimbursements to Medicaid after the state accused PPGC of fraud,” notes Mr. Johnson. “Shortly after the settlement,” he continues, “a whistleblower accused the chapter of bilking Medicaid for 10 years by conducting unnecessary medical procedures on incarcerated teenagers, most of them from a minority background.”


ObamaCare Mandate Draws Another Injunction

ANOTHER MINISTRY HAS WON PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIVE RELIEF from the ObamaCare abortifacient contraception mandate.

U.S. Magistrate Don Bush, based in Frisco, Texas, granted the injunction in an early round of a lawsuit brought against the US Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) by Insight for Living Ministries, reports Liberty Institute in a Nov. 14 news release. As a result, the IFLM will not be subjected to fines while the ministry’s lawsuit makes its way through the federal courts. The potential fines ($100 per day per employee) are the same crippling penalty as HHS sought to impose on Hobby Lobby before the US Supreme Court acted last summer to uphold the Christian-owned retailer’s religious conscience rights.

IFLM is an international Bible-teaching ministry led by Pastor Charles Swindoll, chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary.

“‘We are very encouraged by this outcome,’ said Matthew Kacsmaryk, Liberty Institute’s deputy general counsel,” quoted in the release. “‘This is an important victory for faith-based ministries that seek to provide life-affirming healthcare insurance for all their employees.’  Mr. Kacsmaryk explained,” quoted in the release, “‘IFLM believes it is a religious imperative to provide healthcare insurance and defend unborn human life. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the federal government cannot force IFLM to choose between these two religious beliefs.’”

Let us hope the federal courts – all the way up – concur with his conclusion.


Our Action Needed on the Funding Crunch

Commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in his Dec. 1, 2014, Washington Update

If there’s one thing Republicans are anxious to wrap up this Christmas, it’s Democratic control. Conservatives were hoping to put a bow on the failed Majority of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in a more relaxed atmosphere, but thanks to a perfect winter storm of executive orders and funding debates, Members are bracing for a flurry of activity over the next 10 [now four] days.

As usual, the two parties put themselves in a holiday jam by kicking the government funding bill to this month, when peace and goodwill are sure to be in short supply. Instead of in-depth conversations on each agency’s needs, Sen. Reid has almost never allowed spending measures to come to the floor – forcing both chambers to pass short-term patches to keep the lights on.

And while the House has done its work, carefully rolling appropriations bills into one big omnibus, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is facing a new political reality: the outrage over the President’s dictate on illegal immigration. Suddenly, conservatives are looking for any weapon to blunt the White House’s decision to grant amnesty to as many as five million undocumented Americans [aliens] – and stripping money from Homeland Security seems to be a logical place to start.

But that strategy has its pitfalls too, not the least of which is a long, drawn-out showdown that could be politically costly to both sides before the new Congress starts. Republicans [had] plenty of time to float ideas [last Tuesday] at their meeting in the Capitol basement. Some Members [were] rallying around a two-track approach, where the entire government – except immigration enforcement – would be renewed until September 2015. That means Congress would carve out the spending necessary for the President’s amnesty order and roll it into a short-term plan that would give Republicans an opportunity to tackle the issue first thing next year, when they control both chambers.

Regardless of which path conservatives take, pro-lifers are fighting to make ObamaCare a priority in all of them. While liberals are busy pretending taxpayer-funded abortion doesn’t exist in health care, one state is quite proud to admit it: California. The country’s biggest state also took the biggest step in passing off abortion costs on locals under an August rule that orders health insurance companies to cover it – regardless of their objections or their policy holders’. Several members of Family Research Council’s pastors network are leading the charge against the mandate, which affects everyone from religious institutions to churches and universities.

And while the Golden State’s policy obviously violates federal law, the Obama Administration has no interest in enforcing it – let alone abiding by it. That’s why conservatives are doing everything they can to attach language to the spending bills that would give Californians the ability to beat back the attack on their First Amendment rights. Congressman Dr. John Fleming (R-LA) tried to fix the West Coast problem earlier this year by introducing the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act [ANDA] to make the ban on taxpayer-funded abortion permanent in every state – and to add a private right of action so it could be enforced. Ultimately, the House combined it with Rep. Diane Black’s (R-TN) Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which took aim at the HHS mandate. Despite being included in the Labor/HHS spending bill, it was never acted on.

In the next two weeks, pro-lifers have a unique opportunity to kill California’s anti-conscience scam by attaching ANDA to a must-pass piece of legislation. Encourage your Member to do exactly that! Contact them and tell them to give taxpayers an early Christmas present: No taxpayer funding for abortion! [Capitol switchboard: 1-202/224-3121]