This is another abortion clinic horror story with a happy ending. Following exposure of its sloppy practices, the Rockford, Illinois Women’s Aid Clinic voluntarily closed its doors a few weeks ago.
The Associated Press (AP) is to be commended. Following the revelation of the “house of horrors” run by late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania, the AP filed a Freedom of Information request regarding inspection of Illinois abortion clinics. What the AP learned is that some Illinois abortion clinics had not been inspected for 15 years! The AP reports the clinic closing “…when the owner decided to surrender its license rather than pay a $36,000 fine or endure an expensive legal fight with the state. The fine was for violations including the clinic’s failure to perform CPR on a patient who died after a procedure. Its owner told the AP her clinic was safe and she felt victimized by the surprise inspection after 15 years.”
At Gosnell’s Pennsylvania clinic, “..late-term abortions were routinely performed by untrained staff, and viable newborns died by having their spinal cords cut with scissors,” reports the AP. As grisly as the Gosnell story is, it has resulted in numerous states, including Pennsylvania, tightening up lax inspection standards. This is very good news for women and babies — especially when it leads to abortion clinics closing their doors.
You may wonder why Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) backed by the National Right to Life Committee and Wisconsin Right to Life is introducing H.R. 3803, the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Why this bill and why in the District of Columbia?
First, Article I of the Constitution established the District as the national seat of government and states that Congress would “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases, whatsoever, over such District.”
Second, several abortion clinics in the District perform the latest of late-term abortions. One clinic located not far from the Capitol Mall and the White House advertises abortions for any reason up to the beginning of the seventh month of pregnancy. You can obtain one by paying with a credit card — sorry, no checks or money orders accepted. The method of abortion advertised is D&E, a procedure in which the abortionist grabs the living baby’s arms and legs and twists them off, essentially dismembering the baby.
Another DC abortionist advertises abortion even in the seventh and eighth months of pregnancy. The method of death uses ultrasound while a needle is thrust into the heart of the baby and a lethal substance is injected into the heart. “This service” is “not inexpensive,” the abortionist says, and “payment can only be made by a bank electronic transfer.” Show me the money.
Third, and most importantly, there is ample scientific evidence indicating that the baby experiences pain. Certainly the pain of dismemberment, but also the pain of a needle in the heart, and injection, which results in the baby’s cardiac arrest.
Within H.R. 3803, Congress would declare that at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, an unborn child has the capacity to experience pain. The bill would prohibit abortions within the District of Columbia after that time. National Right to Life President Carol Tobias reports that “the bill is coming under fierce attack from pro-abortion forces and in the liberal news media. Congressman Franks is also being made the target of harsh personal attacks.”
This bill presents a strong opportunity to shut down late-term abortion in yet another part of the country where the District of Columbia would join Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Alabama and Oklahoma, states which have already passed similar laws. It is also an excellent opportunity to educate the public on the humanity of the unborn child and her ability to experience the pain of abortion.
Today’s scientific understanding of the unborn child is far beyond what it was in 1973 when the United States Supreme Court handed down its infamous Roe v. Wade abortion decision. Thirty-nine years ago, the unborn child virtually did not exist in medicine. But over those decades, medical science has exponentially expanded our knowledge about and understanding of the unborn child’s development.
For example, it wasn’t until the late 1970s when ultrasound made it possible to see the unborn child that the eyes of many were opened and the concept of the unborn child as a patient was born. It was the beginning of a sub-specialty that we know today as fetal medicine.
It is amazing how far prenatal medicine has come in such a short time. For instance, the ever increasing development of ultrasound has allowed doctors to see smaller and smaller details of the unborn child’s anatomy, and enabled physicians to perform surgery on unborn children.
1981 marked the year of the world’s first open fetal surgery, performed at the University of California. Once highly experimental, surgery on unborn children is now a frequent occurrence at several hospitals around the country.
Due to the ever-increasing resort to fetal surgery, physicians were able to observe unborn children experiencing pain during the surgery. This led them to study the pain of the unborn child. Subsequently they began to recommend that anesthesia be administrated when the unborn child has achieved 20 weeks of development, which is at about the start of the sixth month.
Because of this new interest, there is now substantial medical evidence which demonstrates that pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body and that nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks.
We also know that by eight weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. And that after twenty weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that, if applied to an adult human, would be recognized as painful. For example, you can see the child recoil from the painful stimuli.
As mentioned, we know that fetal anesthesia is administered when surgery is performed on unborn children. As a result there is an associated decrease in stress hormones as compared to the level when painful stimuli are applied without such anesthesia.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will be introduced in several state legislatures this year. If passed in those states, it would protect pain-capable unborn children from being killed by abortion. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is grounded in a moral empathy that resonates loudly with the American people: “You don’t kill unborn children who are capable of feeling pain.”
Five states–Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma and Alabama–have passed this law, and it is now illegal to kill pain-capable unborn children in those states. To date no serious legal challenge has been mounted to any of these laws.
And we know that the law works. The abortionist who did late abortions in Nebraska no longer does them in Nebraska. He was thinking of going to Kansas, but has not set up shop there. Why? Because both those states passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
Pro-abortionists forever tell us that pro-lifers want to “take us back.” In fact what makes the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act so dangerous to Roe is that it demands precisely the opposite. Rather than freezing our understanding of fetal development at what was available to the U.S. Supreme Court 39 years ago, the bill says, “Come, let’s see what we know now what we didn’t know then.”
“Let us look into the window to the womb.”
Mary Spaulding Balch, State Legislative Counsel, National Right to Life
On the anniversary of the January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the National Right to Life Committee unveiled a major new piece of legislation. The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, authored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.),would prohibit abortions after a child has the capability to feel pain, at approximately 20 weeks gestation.
Commenting on his bill, Franks said, “It would address the pain and suffering of children who have done nothing wrong. It will emphasize the humanity of the child and the inhumanity of what is being done to them.”
Abortion proponents are gearing up to fight this bill which is in prime position for a fast track to the House floor since Franks is chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee which will process the legislation, and because two powerful committee chairmen — Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) of Judiciary and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of Oversight — are co-sponsoring the measure.
The bill is based on model legislation drafted and promoted by the National Right to Life Committee, the parent organization of Wisconsin Right to Life. Similar state bills have already passed in Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma and have avoided court challenges. Wisconsin Right to Life strongly supports this initiative and will be assisting with its passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Read the Washington Post article on the bill here.
In an audacious assault on revered conscience rights, the Obama Administration stated on January 20 that it would not alter the Obamacare “contraceptive mandate” issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August to require all insurance providers to cover all FDA-approved drugs and devices. This mandate covers not only contraceptives but the morning after pill, Ella, and sterilizations. Can RU-486 and abortions be far behind? We think not.
This means that Catholic schools, hospitals and churches will be required to insure these drugs, devices and procedures which violate the teachings and principles of the Church. The so-called “exemption” the Obama Administration has carved out is ludicrous. An institution is exempt from the mandate if it hires and serves only Catholics. This means that any Catholic institution that cares for sick non-Catholics, serves the non-Catholic poor, or allows non-Catholic students in its schools and universities would have to abide by the mandate. HHS gave one caveat — a one year postponement for religious groups to implement the mandate.
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is irate. At the infamous and controversial Notre Dame commencement speech in 2009, President Obama made a commitment to respect conscience rights. Dolan met personally with President Obama in November and believed that Obama would keep his word. Dolan responded to the mandate as follows: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences. To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.” He added, “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs.”
By Executive Order, President Obama has relaxed legal enforcement of conscience rights. His administration denied a sex trafficking grant to the Catholic church last year, even though the Church proposal was rated more highly than other entrants. The Catholic Bishops are now at war with the Obama Administration. How will individual Catholics view this frontal assault on Catholic principles and religious liberty? It will be an interesting 2012 election.
Every January 22, we stop to ponder the enormous shadow cast on our nation by the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision. With sheer emotion, we feel depression, anger, a sense of loss, grief, and, most overwhelmingly, a sadness that knows no limit. How could our great country built on liberty, equality, opportunity and hope jettison over 54.5 million people to a deplorable and violent death with the blessing of the law?
Abortion is a disgrace — a blot on our proud heritage; a cultural nightmare which gives birth rights to some and not others; a societal shift resulting in fewer young people to carry us into the future; and the loss of all of the gifts and talents of 53 million American brothers and sisters. Everyone knows someone who has had an abortion. We have felt the grief of a mother who recognizes long after the act what a terrible decision she made. Of a father who had no say in the abortion. Of grandparents who are inconsolable in their mourning. We envision empty chairs at gatherings and holidays which should be filled with loved ones who deserved to fulfill their unique destinies.
As difficult as it is, the annual observance of January 22 is as important today as it was 39 years ago. We can never, never forget. We must allow those whose only earthly existence was in their mothers’ wombs to inspire and motivate us every day to save lives, and to work for the enlightened time when abortion becomes unthinkable.
Not coincidentally, the Netherlands Parliament is debating whether to allow senior citizens to have assisted suicide if they are “tired of life,” part of the ever expanding Dutch culture of death. From the Radio Netherlands Worldwide story:
The lower house of parliament will debate a controversial bill that expands existing euthanasia legislation at the end of January. “I’m 81 years old and still reasonably healthy. However, if I start to decline I want to be able to determine whether not I have treatment. Hospitals are frequently a lot of pain and suffering for a few extra months of life, and I want to decide whether or not I have treatment. It is my life, after all.” That is an excerpt from one of the letters sent to politicians in the hope of convincing them that something has to be done for senior citizens who wish to end their lives. The letters are in support of a private initiative by the pressure group A Free Choice (Uit Vrije Wil) that has already attracted 117,000 signatures. The petition will be presented to the lower house of parliament’s security and justice commission on Tuesday.
…These two stories are the consequences of terminal nonjudgmentalism afflicting society and are simultaneous symptoms of a profound moral collapse occurring at varying speeds, in my view, throughout much of the West. Don’t look down. It’s a long drop.
Earlier this week, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a Texas law which requires that an abortionist display an ultrasound image of a mother’s unborn child before she has an abortion. This decision is being hailed by Wisconsin Right to Life, National Right to Life, and our colleagues at Texas Right to Life as a giant step in ensuring that a mother has full information about her unborn child before making a decision to kill her child.
The Texas law also requires that the abortionist allow the mother to hear her baby’s heartbeat and provide information about the development of the unborn child. According to Attorney Mary Spaulding Balch of National Right to Life, ‘This breakthrough decision from the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes, in the words of the Court, ‘the physicians obligations to display the sonogram images’ of the unborn child before an abortion. In practice, an ultrasound law that does not require the ultrasound to be displayed can become almost meaningless because virtually every abortion facility will slip a waiver form into the stack of papers mothers are asked to sign.” Laws similar to the Texas law passed in North Carolina and Oklahoma are also being challenged in court.
Pro-abortion groups argued in court that requiring abortionists to display ultrasounds and heart beats violates their free speech rights by “compelling speech.” This argument was rejected by the court which noted the plurality opinion by the Eighth Circuit in the 1992 Planned Parenthood of SoutheastPennsylvania v. Casey decision which concluded that “the giving of truthful, nonmisleading information ‘which is relevant…to the decision’ did not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right to an abortion.’”
The pro-abortion spin is that ultrasound laws are “cruel.” Why is it “cruel” to give women complete information about the child she is about to destroy? But then, pro-abortion groups always object to any requirements or restrictions on abortion and have never met an abortion they would stop.
This morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a wonderful front-page story about Green Bay Packer Ryan Pickett, wife Jennifer, and their six children (one in utero). Ryan and Jennifer Pickett serve as Trustees of the Wisconsin Right to Life Veritas Society media campaign. The Picketts attended the 2010 and 2011 Green Bay Veritas benefits and immediately offered their help. They are especially concerned about the high number of African-American abortions.
The story reveals the “soft” side of a fierce defensive lineman. Ryan Pickett, in person, displays much heart and depth of soul. He is a gentle man who loves family, life and humanity. Jennifer is the talker — delightful and passionate. They are expecting their sixth child! It is an honor to know them and feel their deep compassion for the unborn. They are excellent role models for a beautiful, loving family. Bravo, Ryan and Jennifer.
A progression of events in UK is bringing the country closer to legalizing doctor-prescribed death. Just a few years ago, the House of Lords defeated a measure to legalize. Not able to accomplish legalization in Parliament, proponents have turned to other means. A highly-publicized lawsuit was successful in that prosecutors were ordered to publish non-prosecution guidelines. Two years ago, landmark guidelines were established essentially telling prosecutors they could use discretion in determining who should be prosecuted for assisting a death. Police still investigate cases, but there have been no prosecutions under the new guidelines.
Now an “independent” Commission on Assisted Dying (a term used and favored by proponents of doctor-prescribed death) has issued a one-sided, recommendation in favor of legalization. The Commission finds the situation which does not allow doctor-prescribed suicide “very distressing” for families, “uncertain” for health workers and a “deeply challenging burden” for police and prosecutors. The Commission recommends that legal death be available for patients who are at least 18-years old, are “terminally ill” and who have only 12 months to live. As with all measures supported by proponents, “safeguards” will be implemented to protect patients.
Here is the reality. Safeguards don’t work and are widely ignored in places where doctor-prescribed death is legal.
In Oregon, almost all suicide deaths are facilitated by Compassion and Choices, the largest promoter of doctor-prescribed suicide. A report released in 2008 reveals that 26% of Oregon patients were depressed but were not offered the psychiatric evaluation required by law.
Also in Oregon, Barbara Wagner was denied chemotherapy drugs under the Oregon Health Plan, but was offered prescribed death even though she didn’t ask for it.
Most of the cases of British citizens traveling to Switzerland to be assisted with death did not involve terminally ill patients, but ones with disabilities. One family took their son who was quadriplegic to Switzerland to die. The woman who brought the lawsuit regarding prosecution guidelines isn’t terminally ill but has multiple sclerosis.
Predicting the time of death as occurring in 12 months is an art form, rather than a predictable event. And, would the death occur with or without treatment?
The UK has a perfectly good law which makes assisting a death punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment. The non-prosecution guidelines essentially ignore the law. Outright legalization would leave patients in an even sorrier state where supposed safeguards are ignored, and those who would benefit financially from a patient’s death have extra incentives to ensure that death occurs sooner rather than later.