Life Advocacy Briefing

April 6, 2020

Dr. Coburn, RIP / Predictable but Preposterous / Ready in Utah
Vigilance Warranted / A Fight that Should Not Be Necessary
Overt Hypocrisy / On the Life of Tom Coburn

Dr. Coburn, RIP

ON THE OCCASION OF HIS PASSING after a lengthy battle with cancer, we ask our readers to remember with affection and appreciation the legacy of Dr. Tom Coburn, who served honorably in the House and then the Senate, from the state of Oklahoma, leaving office in 2015 to return to his medical practice and to pursue his cancer battle.  

Along with many Americans we appreciated throughout his career Dr. Coburn’s commitment to responsible budgeting and limitations on the size and reach of government, and we especially valued his lifelong commitment to Life, both in his career as a public servant and in his career as a devoted obstetrician.

And we had deep admiration for Dr. Coburn’s outstanding Capitol Hill staff, who worked tirelessly for America – particularly for his chief of staff, the late Michael Schwartz, the man to whose memory each edition of Life Advocacy Briefing is dedicated (see above) as our founding editor. Michael has been missed these seven years, and now his outstanding Senator will be as well.

We conclude this Life Advocacy Briefing with the tribute published by Family Research Council in the words of its president, Tony Perkins, clearly another admirer of this dedicated patriot.



Predictable but Preposterous

AT A TIME WHEN PLANNED PARENTHOOD SHOPS SHOULD NOT EVEN BE OPEN in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outfit is trying to raise money on the crisis, asking for donations supposedly to cover personal protection equipment for its killers and their teams.

Planned Parenthood Keystone in Pennsylvania posted an appeal on the Internet, reported by Live Action: “‘In uncertain times like this, Planned Parenthood is as committed to patients as always,’” reads the ad. “‘We will provide as many people as possible with the critical sexual health care they need to stay safe and health. In order to help us do this, please consider donating hand sanitizer, home-sewn masks, shoe covers and surgical hats to protect our medical staff as they continue to provide care in our communities.’”

The Pennsylvania outfit, reports Live Action, “has … indicated online that they are not offering ‘family planning,’ leading some to conclude that the only thing they are currently offering is abortion. They are still open in several locations, and each of the facilities listed offers abortion.’”

Pennsylvania Family Institute president Michael Geer was quoted by Live Action: “‘This is unacceptable. Planned Parenthood is now 100% abortion – willing to put further strain on our health system and risk increasing the spread of this virus so they can still profit from their main service revenue stream of elective abortions.’”

Live Action reports also a mass e-mail issued by Sun Dunlap, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood LosAngeles, which “reads in part, ‘In order to continue to meet the needs of the women, men, families and communities who rely on Planned Parenthood … . In order to keep our patients, staff and sites moving through this emergency, we need all of the same supplies you are hearing about on the news. As gloves, masks and medications run low, we are doing all that we can to procure supplies for the essential care our community is depending on us to provide.’”

We find another section of Ms. Dunlap’s e-mail, reprinted by Live Action, to be sickening (although predictable, considering the source). “As the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency escalates, the work we do and the way in which we meet our patients’ needs, is changing quickly – even as it fundamentally stays the same. First and foremost,” she claims, “care continues. Last week, we received more than 7,000 calls asking for help, information and appointments, and our health centers were busy.” This at a time when LosAngeles residents have been asked to shelter in place. “On just one day,” she added, “our incredible doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and providers took care of more than 1,100 patients. This is happening in LosAngeles,” she noted, “a city whose residents are being asked to stay home, and at a time when moms, dads and families are unable to send their kids to school.”


Ready in Utah

UTAH GOV. GARY HERBERT (R) HAS SIGNED a bill banning most abortions, which, notes Calvin Freiburger for, “will be automatically ‘triggered’ once Roe v. Wade is overturned or otherwise negated. … Because they don’t take effect until after Roe falls,” notes Mr. Freiburger, “‘trigger laws’ like SB-174 are not subject to the usual lawsuits facing pro-life legislation and are unlikely to impact future abortion deliberations at the Supreme Court.” But they do, he adds, “prepare state law to ban abortion as soon as a favorable nationwide ruling occurs.”

Also on March 28, Gov. Herbert signed a second law, effective now, requiring humane treatment of the remains of aborted babies, requiring abortion facilities to either bury or cremate the bodies of their victims; absent this law, many abortionists treat fetal remains like medical waste.

An abortion trigger law like Utah’s was filed early last month in Ohio, whose state senate is scheduled to meet April 22, with the House scheduled to meet April 29. Whether or how those schedules will be kept remains to be seen.


Vigilance Warranted

March 26, 2020, news release from Children of God for Life, based in Clearwater, Florida

            In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical companies are racing to provide a vaccine to prevent further spread of the disease. Unfortunately, Moderna, the company that has been recently touted in news headlines for the developing mRNA-1273 vaccine to fight the virus, uses aborted fetal cell lines.

            Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director of Children of God for Life, a pro-life organization whose mission is to end the use of aborted fetal material in vaccines and medicines, said her suspicions were raised after checking Moderna’s patents and in particular, the use of the Spike (S) protein. The idea behind using this Spike protein in a vaccine with messenger RNA (mRNA) is to teach the patient’s immune system to produce its own protein antibodies to block and destroy the virus so the person will not become infected. Unfortunately, Vinnedge said her heart sank when she discovered that Spike protein was produced using HEK293 aborted fetal cells.

            “It was detailed in several science publications,” she said. “And in light of the public fear and panic, I did not want to be the bearer of bad news.” Vinnedge said the heavy burden of revealing that knowledge made her dig further into others’ research. That’s when she found another well-known pharmaceutical company had a better solution.

            Enter Sanofi Pasteur, which is using its own recombinant DNA platform to produce a Covid-19 vaccine. According to the Dept. of HHS Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority (BARDA) reports, Sanofi is using the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform, which is also used in their licensed Flublok Quadrivalent vaccine.

            As in most seasonal flu vaccines, the need to produce large quantities of vaccine quickly has been a problem for many years as pharmaceutical companies used chicken eggs to cultivate their viruses. It takes several months and millions of eggs to produce the vaccines, and so many companies began to turn to other cell lines for faster production.

            One such company was Protein Sciences, whose recombinant DNA platform is based on insect cells. Their Sf9 cell line comes from the fall armyworm and is highly effective as a rapid growth medium. It has been used for several years in producing influenza vaccines. In 2017, Sanofi Pasteur bought Protein Sciences and is using this same platform for their newly developing COVID-19 vaccine, which will allow them the flexibility to make millions of doses of vaccine quickly.

            “This is great news for millions of people world-wide who are concerned with the use of aborted fetal material in life-saving treatments or vaccines,” stated Ms. Vinnedge. “There is a multitude of moral options that are safer and, quite frankly, utilize a more modern technology.”

            Vinnedge said she was particularly annoyed to see a recent article in the Washington Post trying to assert that Pres. Trump’s ban on the use of aborted fetal tissue was blocking important research and treatments for COVID-19 virus.

            “That accusation is laughable at best and nothing more than a political maneuver,” stated Vinnedge. “In fact, we have morally produced treatments for patients who are already infected, notably Hydroxychloroquine or Plaquenil. And there are more promising treatments on the way to prevent infection entirely. Pres. Trump has done a great job of promoting morally responsible research ensuring that all Americans can have the protection they need.

            “It is deplorable that anyone would want to exploit the remains of aborted babies for financial profit, especially when so many people will refuse to use those products because of their deeply held religious, moral and pro-life convictions?” she added. “We applaud the efforts of companies such as Sanofi Pasteur who are providing morally acceptable options.”


A Fight that Should Not Be Necessary

March 25, 2020, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            “We 100% plan to stay open,” one abortion center in Northeast Ohio vowed. Well, not if pro-lifers have anything to do with it. National leaders from Family Research Council to Susan B. Anthony List and more are doing everything they can to stop groups like Planned Parenthood from profiting in a time of coronavirus – even if it means asking the Trump Administration to intervene.

            “While we are in a hectic race to save lives, Planned Parenthood and other powers in the abortion industry remain insistent on taking the lives of innocent unborn children,” a coalition of more than 50 pro-life leaders wrote to Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “While surgery centers postpone elective and diagnostic procedures, abortion centers are churning out surgical and chemical abortions and putting women, especially the poor, at risk. Their continued operation depletes sorely needed personal protective equipment and leads to complications that will further overwhelm already overextended emergency rooms.”

            It’s time, we wrote, to stop the abortion industry from “compounding one crisis with another.” In states like Texas and Ohio, where governors have put the brakes on elective abortions, the message was clear: It’s time for everyone, including the Planned Parenthoods of America, to “cease operations and join healthcare providers in donating their [personal protective equipment] and other equipment to coronavirus response.”

            Already, some parts of the industry have been putting women at risk by nudging them toward chemical abortions, which, as FRC’s Patrina Mosley warns, are almost as dangerous as back-alley abortions. The last thing we need is to tie up hospitals with life-threatening complications from drugs like mifepristone. If the Trump Administration would agree to put abortions of every kind on hold, not only is the health industry spared, but mothers who – without a doubt – will need “follow-up care, including infection treatment and transfusions, from the nation’s emergency care centers and hospitals.”

            It’s time to follow the lead of places like Mississippi, whose leaders insist: “We’ll take whatever action we need to protect not only the lives of unborn children but also the lives of anyone who may contract this particular virus.”


Overt Hypocrisy

March 25, 2020, news report/commentary by reporter Calvin Freiburger

            As policymakers debate the wisdom of forcing millions of Americans to stop working indefinitely in the name of halting the spread of the coronavirus, some politicians have taken to employing rhetoric at odds with their most divisive stances.

            Pushing back against the notion that lockdowns should be halted soon due to the threat they pose to the economy, former Vice President and Democrat Presidential frontrunner Joe Biden declared that “no one is expendable” regardless of age, and that “no life is worth losing to add one more point to the Dow.”

            In a similar vein, pro-abortion New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressed that “we will not put a dollar figure on human life.”

            These politicians’ odes to the sanctity of human life struck an odd tone to many observers in light of their opposition to virtually any limits on sacrificing human life in abortion. Biden is running on a platform that includes direct taxpayer funding of abortion and federal action to block states from enacting even modest abortion restrictions, including parental notification requirements, ultrasound laws and waiting periods.

            Beyond abortion, Biden’s declaration of solidarity with the elderly might not sit well with his own health advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who wrote in 2014 that “living too long” (defined as past age 75) renders people “faltering and declining” and that a “younger person who has yet to live a complete life” should “certainly” be prioritized for “vaccine or any antiviral drugs” during a pandemic.

            Cuomo, meanwhile, is the governor who infamously signed last year a law codifying a “right” to third-trimester abortions, erasing the state’s recognition of preborn babies as potential homicide victims, removing abortion from the penal code entirely, and allowing non-doctors to commit abortions. …


On the Life of Tom Coburn

March 30, 2020, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            If there’s one thing everyone admired about Sen. Tom Coburn, it’s that he was a fighter. He fought for America, for what was right and – since he was 28 years old – for his life. The longtime doctor lost his battle over the weekend, finally succumbing to the cancer he’d managed to beat so many times before. At 72, he lived 40 years longer than most people gave him. But then, the biggest mistake anyone ever made was underestimating the gentleman from Oklahoma.

            “If you’re ever seriously ill,” [columnist] John Fund writes, “Coburn’s life is itself an inspiration. He contracted melanoma when he was 28 and working as manager of his family’s optical lens factory. He was given only a 20% chance of living. He beat the melanoma, and his struggle convinced him to enter medical school and become a doctor. Years later, he contracted colon cancer and conquered that, too. In 2008, he had brain surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. Then in 2013, he was told he had a rare form of prostate cancer, one that only one in 100,000 prostate cancer patients suffer from. While the disease convinced him to retire from the Senate in early 2015, he remained optimistic.” He told a local newspaper that if his treatment worked, he’d live another “five or ten years.” He lasted almost seven.

            Beloved for his limited government, debt reduction crusade, Sen. Coburn was the voice of reason when no one else had the spine to be. Famous for his annual “Wastebook,” a collection of absurd pork projects that highlighted trillions of misspent government dollars, the three-term Congressman and two-term Senator “blocked more bad ideas and lousy legislation,” the Wall Street Journal once wrote, “than most Americans will ever know.”

            A fearless champion of the family, even serving a stint on the Family Research Council board, Tom Coburn spent decades bringing babies into the world as an obstetrician and five terms protecting those who weren’t yet born in Congress. He was a tireless advocate of parents, marriage, religious freedom and conscience. And he did it all by putting his convictions ahead of political gain. While other Members of Congress would do anything to get re-elected, the Senator once told [journalist] Tim Carney that he believed in “holding the office with an open hand.”

            But despite his fierce beliefs, Sen. Coburn never lost sight of what was most important. When he was asked how he worked with people he disagreed with, Tom replied simply, “You need to separate the difference in political philosophy versus friendship. How better to influence somebody than love them?”

            Our prayers go out to the entire Coburn family, as they mourn the loss of a true conservative giant. May they be comforted in the tremendous legacy he’s left behind.