Weekend reading, 4/15/16

Every Friday, I’ll offer you links to three posts of the week from other blogs and news sources to take you into the weekend. My favorite writers, a fresh take on a familiar topic, or just plain interesting stuff: look for the cream of the week’s crop right here (after you read Leaven’s posts, of course). 

Anika Smith on David Daleiden: “Courage is a good word when the abortion industry funds the campaign of the attorney general of your state.” (stream.org)

“Last year I met David Daleiden, the investigator behind the Center for Medical Progress videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of human body parts from aborted babies. He had just received an award from The Federalist for his courageous journalism and told his eager audience that this was only the beginning: Season 2 of CMP’s ‘Human Capital‘ web series would be on its way in 2016.

“What Daleiden was doing was brave, and we all knew it. He was already the subject of harassment and lawsuits. And he also understood the risks and took them with clear eyes.” Read the rest of the post…

Reggie Littlejohn on the Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Act: “Can we credibly say that we stand for women’s rights without standing against the sex-selective abortion of future women?” (deaconforlife.blogspot.com)

According to a U.N. expert, up to 200 million women are missing in the world today due to gendercide, sex-selective abortion.   This number is greater than all the casualties of all the wars of the twentieth century combined.  This is the true “war on women.”

Sex-selective abortion is the ultimate violence against females.  Aborting a baby just because she is a girl is the ultimate act of gender discrimination.  It says that females are so worthless we don’t deserve to be born, to draw breath on this earth.  Can we credibly say that we stand for women’s rights without standing against the sex-selective abortion of future women?

Sex-selective abortion is strongly related to forced abortion.  Some say sex-selective abortion is protected by a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy for any reason.  This view ignores the crushing social, economic, political and personal pressures that trample women carrying girls in cultures with a strong son preference.  All too often, women in these cultures do not choose to abort their daughters.  They are forced. Read the rest of the post…

Massachusetts Citizens for Life: Dr. Mark Rollo speaks on abortion pill reversal (masscitizensforlife.org)

One of the more technical, but also most hopeful, presentations at our 2016 convention came from Dr. Mark Rollo, who enlightened the audience to the latest developments concerning abortion pill reversal. Dr. Rollo described new protocols to help women reverse RU-486 chemical abortions, a technique which uses two drugs: mifepristone (AKA RU-486) and misoprostol. In many cases, Dr. Rollo said, if massive dosages of progesterone are given after the mifepristone, but before the misoprostol, it is possible that the mother can bear the baby to term with no ill effects. Read the rest of the post…

New CMP video questions “consent” for fetal tissue donation

Recordings and other materials belonging to David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress were seized this week by agents for the California Department of Justice. Shortly before the seizure, CMP released this video regarding a Planned Parenthood consent form to be signed by women obtaining abortions. The form claims that donated “fetal tissue” “has been used to treat and find a cure for such diseases as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and AIDS.” On the video, even a PP-supporting doctor couldn’t swallow that.

See more investigative footage on the CMP web site.

The Attorney General in charge of California’s DOJ is Kamala Harris, whose political campaigns have benefited from contributions from PP and other abortion advocacy agencies to the tune of $81,000, according to LifeNews.com. Harris is running for a U.S. Senate seat this year.

House committee ties 8-8 on abortion funding bill; gives thumbs down to abortion facility licensing

A measure to prohibit the use of public funds, employees and facilities in assisting or performing abortions will go to the New Hampshire House floor this week without recommendation after the Judiciary Committee tied 8-8 on HB 1684.

The House will convene on March 8 and 9 to deal with an extensive calendar including bills on buffer zone repeal and restrictions on mid- and late-term abortions, as well as bills described below on abortion facility licensing, human trafficking, abortion-inducing drugs, and commercialization of the remains of aborted children.

“Insulate taxpayers who object to having to fund a procedure they do not condone”

The funding bill has seven sponsors, led by Rep. J.R. Hoell. If passed, it would go into effect in 2017.

Judiciary Committee member Rep. Mark McLean wrote a statement for publication in the House calendar expressing support for an Ought to Pass motion on HB 1684. “While the right to an abortion is guaranteed following the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, the current public disagreement on the matter has led to the barring of federal and, in many cases, state funds to pay for abortion. These restrictions on funding have been held up as constitutional for almost 40 years. New Hampshire, like 32 other states, follows the federal standard established by the current version of the Hyde Amendment and bans the use of Medicaid funds to pay for abortions except in limited cases. This bill expands the funding ban from Medicaid to all public funds and it eliminates the involvement of state employees and facilities in abortion except in the case of preserving the life of the mother. Abortions are currently performed in over a dozen facilities throughout the state, all of which are private hospitals or clinics. As a result of this fact, a large portion of the committee felt that this bill would not limit a woman’s access to abortion, but that it would insulate taxpayers who object to having to fund a procedure they do not condone.”

Against the bill: “would prevent public employees from fulfilling their responsibilities”

Rep. Charlene Takesian provided a statement in favor of ruling the bill Inexpedient to Legislate, warning that the state would lose funds for “cancer screenings” if taxpayers were to divest from the abortion industry. “This bill would restrict the use of public funds for abortion when in fact the use of public funds for abortion is already limited to very rare and narrow circumstances. It also would disqualify New Hampshire from receiving nearly $750,000 per year in federal family planning funds and funds for preventive care like cancer screenings, access to birth control and annual well-woman exams. This bill would result in the defunding of family planning providers such as community health centers who provide critical and important care that actually reduces unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion. It also would prevent public employees from fulfilling their responsibilities when working with teens in foster care or female inmates, all who may need information about pregnancy options and providing such information or support would be outlawed under this bill.”

Abortion facility licensing gets negative report, despite committee member plea that “women deserve the protection that clinic licensing would provide”

A bill to require licensing of abortion facilities has a bipartisan panel of ten sponsors including two state senators. Chief sponsor of HB 1399 is Rep. Kathleen Souza.

The Judiciary Committee voted 14-5 to send the bill to the full House with an Inexpedient to Legislate report. Rep. Larry Phillips wrote on behalf of the majority: “There are procedures done in unlicensed physician’s offices that are not as safe as abortions. Although facilities may not be licensed, medical professionals who work in them, including abortion clinics, are.”

Rep. Kurt Wuelper wrote for the committee minority, mindful of documented deaths of women in other states at abortion facilities. “Women across our country have died because of inadequate facilities at abortion clinics. Women have died because of blocked exit doors, hallways not wide enough for emergency equipment and other difficulties with the physical facilities. This bill left the Department of Health and Human Services to decide what requirements would be. We think New Hampshire women deserve the protection that clinic licensing would provide.”

Unanimous “ought to pass” for bill against sex trafficking of minors

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee voted 12-0 on an Ought to Pass motion for HB 1628, which would make it a crime for a person to pay to engage in sexual contact with a person under the age of 18. It also would makes it illegal to observe a sexually explicit performance involving a person under the age of 18. Rep. Brian Gallagher is the lead sponsor; the bill has five sponsors altogether.

HHS Committee skeptical of heeding FDA protocols for abortion drug use

HB 1662, an abortion-inducing-drug safety act, goes to the House floor with a 16-1 Inexpedient to Legislate vote from the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee. Rep. Thomas Sherman wrote for the majority. “Without demonstrating a compelling need, this bill would set several precedents in addressing abortion including requiring use of FDA guidelines rather than the medical standard of practice, requiring admitting privileges for an outpatient procedure and requiring a contract with her physician to handle procedure complications. Furthermore, it would apply criminal penalties for activities under the jurisdiction of the Board of Medicine.”

The bill’s eight sponsors including lead sponsor Rep. Kurt Wuelper were responding to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England advertising chemical abortion up to 63 days into pregnancy, when FDA protocols recommend a maximum of 42 days. The text of HB 1662 cites FDA recommendations for administration of the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone, along with an FDA report about “adverse events” occurring to women taking the drug.

New Hampshire Right to Life sought for several years under a Right to Know request to find out if PPNNE, a state contractor, was properly licensed by the state of New Hampshire to distribute abortion-inducing drugs. A Strafford County judge ruled last year that the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services should not have delayed responding to the RTK request. At that time Jane Cormier of NHRTL said, “New Hampshire DHHS broke the law when it did not enforce a simple right to know request. By doing so, they gave Planned Parenthood the ability to redact important information regarding RU-486 protocols, which Planned Parenthood was legally required to fully disclose.”

10-8 “inexpedient to legislate” vote on bill to bar trafficking in fetal remains

The Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 to recommend that the full House kill HB 1663,  prohibiting buying, selling, and experimenting on unborn infants or bodily remains resulting from abortion.

In the wake of the Center for Medical Progress videos, Rep. Kathleen Souza had no trouble finding nine other legislators to co-sponsor the bill. Clearly, other legislators were untroubled by the CMP revelations.

Rep. Linda Kenison in her majority report took issue with the bill’s title, which she called “misleading.” “The true impact of this bill would be to ban the voluntary donation of fetal tissues by abortion patients and to ban any fetal tissue research taking place in this state. The committee heard no evidence that the sale of fetal tissue was occurring in New Hampshire. In fact, we heard testimony to the contrary. Fetal tissue research has the great potential to continue to advance clinical knowledge and treatment options for life-threatening and chronic diseases. The majority of the committee feels that voluntary fetal tissue donation should remain an option for women.”

Unfortunately, no minority report was provided in time to meet the deadline for the House calendar.

The House will convene March 9 at 9 a.m. and is likely to meet on March 10 as well. The sessions will be livestreamed via the House web site.

Another video seeks to “change the abortion debate”

Before David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress, there was Lila Rose with Live Action. Live Action began undercover investigations of Planned Parenthood affiliates in 2007, later releasing video and audio recordings documenting (among other things) some employees facilitating sexual trafficking.

Live Action has just released a new video, featuring a physician who used to perform abortions now explaining what’s involved in a second-trimester abortion. Need I warn you? – the content is disturbing.

In a Facebook post accompanying the release of the video, Live Action says “This video may just change the abortion debate.”

One can only hope. What I expect is that those already committed to the dignity of human life at all stages of development will remain so committed, and that those who defend abortion will continue to use words like “edited videos,” “tragic fetal anomalies,” perhaps even “sensationalism,” with a figurative swipe or two at the doctor.

The late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a founder of NARAL, became pro-life around the time that I first got involved in the movement. He made a groundbreaking video called The Silent Scream, which may viewed today via YouTube. It showed ultrasound images of a preborn child during an abortion procedure. I was naive enough to think that those images would settle the issue once and for all.

As you and I know, they didn’t. Clump of cells. Not a person. My choice. One recent comment for The Silent Scream on its YouTube page: If they feel pain then drug the little bugger before you scoop him out.

Nathanson, Rose and Daleiden did public service with their work – and I hope Rose and Daleiden keep it up. I’ll share their work where I can. The truth matters.

Yet no matter how intensive the investigation, no matter how many physicians turn away from abortion and tell the truth about what they did, there will always be what Dr. Nathanson called “the averted gaze” – averted from distasteful images, from a sordid industry, from the fact that without the right to life no other right can make sense.

I’m glad Live Action is doing its job. As for changing the debate, I recall seeing The Silent Scream more than thirty years ago. Did it change the debate? Perhaps. End it? No.

More on NH House vote to kill de-funding resolution

Part Two: the Debate

(For Part One: the Vote, click here.)

Note to anyone speaking to the New Hampshire House: do not compare the deaths via abortion of millions of preborn children with World War II’s Holocaust. You’ll be gaveled to a halt. That’s with the Republicans in charge. Perhaps a Democratic Speaker of the House would have ruled differently. You can never tell when a human rights discussion will hit a nerve.

The prelude

HJR 3, the resolution seeking to investigate abortion providers and to keep taxpayer dollars away from them, got a unanimous thumbs-down from the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs (HHS) committee. 16-0, no dissent. That puts a bill on what’s called the consent calendar, when it’s voted on in a bloc all at once with other “non-controversial” bills.

That didn’t work. It only takes one legislator to request that a bill be removed from the consent calendar in order to get more careful attention. Five did so for HJR 3, according to a message I received before the session from a legislator.

Next move: an attempt to table the bill. That didn’t work, either. As the roll call was slowly taken (the electronic voting system being temporarily out of commission), it became obvious that supporters of Planned Parenthood’s abortion business were solidly against tabling the bill. They apparently thought – correctly, as it turned out – that they could kill the bill outright while scoring a political win. Supporters of the resolution were split. No doubt some wanted to table the bill until more support could be mustered. Others just wanted a recorded vote. Well, they got it.

Hanging in the background of the proceedings was the indictment handed down earlier this week by a Texas grand jury against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress. Whatever the merits or defects of the indictment, Planned Parenthood and its supporters are, incredibly, treating it as irrefutable proof that the CMP videos are bogus at best and a criminal enterprise at worst. PP is riding high.

The committee report of “inexpedient to legislate”

Once the preliminaries were out of the way and the bill finally came up for debate and a vote, the motion on the floor was to adopt the HHS report of “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL). In other words, a “yes” vote on the motion was the same as voting “no” on the resolution.

Here’s the report from the HHS committee. While it was written by Rep. Lucy Weber (D-Walpole), a staunch PP defender in all circumstances, she was explaining its 16-0 vote from a bipartisan group that included pro-lifers:

“Committee members voted to ITL this resolution for a variety of different reasons. Concerns expressed by committee members were as follows. Some committee members were concerned about joining investigation and defunding in one resolution. If investigation turns up no wrongdoing, there would be no need for defunding. Some believe that a resolution calling for action by Congress is of little practical effect. Some believe the resolution unnecessary because Congress and the NH Attorney General have already conducted investigations or investigated complaints and the NH Attorney General determined no further investigation was necessary. Some believe that the allegations in the resolution are untrue and object to the tone. Not all committee members agree with all of these reasons, but all agreed that this resolution should not go forward.”

The speakers: five for the resolution, one opposed

Rep. Weber (D-Walpole), asked to speak to the full House in support of the ITL motion. She decried attacks on PP, saying they were based on “innuendo” and “allegations.” She also warned that taking tax money away from abortion providers could mean taking tax money away from hospitals.

By the way, Rep. Weber also said, “We’ve all seen the videos.” Here’s hoping she’s right.

Five other reps signed up on the other side: for the resolution, against the ITL. Those five were Reps. Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford), Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester), Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien (R-Derry), and Warren Groen (R-Rochester).

We know how the vote went. The ITL was adopted on a 227-100 vote, killing the resolution decisively. We’re left to speculate on how many votes were swung by the speeches. Perhaps all minds were made up before the session, and it was merely a gracious act by the Speaker to give these reps their say (or most of their say, as we shall see).

So what did some of the supporters of HJR 3 have to say?

“We need transparency. There is no transparency without an investigation.”

Rep. Souza is a member of New Hampshire Right to Life, the organization that has sought in federal and state courts to get information about Planned Parenthood’s funding and its dispensation of prescription drugs . She knows how tough it can be to get disclosure about PP activities.

“I’m against the committee report, because we need transparency. There is no transparency without an investigation. We don’t know what’s happening here.”

She reviewed for her colleagues the way Planned Parenthood secured its Pennacook Street location in Manchester. Souza said that Jennifer Frizzell – then as now a PP spokeswoman – assured neighbors that PP’s office would be no different from that of a general practitioner. “That was not an honest assessment,” Souza noted.  (Read about how PP came to Pennacook Street.)

“Now, the same person from Planned Parenthood sat before our committee on Health and Human Services just last week. She stated Planned Parenthood of Northern New England does not engage in the sale of body parts. She called it ‘tissue donation.’  However, after [a] Freedom of Information Act [request from NHRTL] and a court case, which Right to Life won …we find that in Planned Parenthood’s application to the federal government for federal funding in 2011 … there is listed a  tissue donation program. I submit we need this investigation. They didn’t tell the truth when they came to Pennacook Street. We don’t know if they’re telling the truth now. But they told the federal government they’ve got a fetal tissue donation program. The only way to know what they’re doing with taxpayer money is to do an investigation.

“And for the second part of this resolution, the defunding, I don’t think we should be giving them a penny. No matter what they’re calling the activities they’re doing, they’re reprehensible and disgusting. They don’t deserve our money.”

The honorable heritage of investigative reporting

Rep. Prudhomme O’Brien was aware of the indictments against two people who made the CMP videos revealing PP’s body-parts business. She sees parallels between the CMP investigation and earlier investigative journalism projects.

“I think we can all appreciate the value of investigative journalism to our society. We think about Nellie Bly and how she exposed the abuses of the mental health hospitals of her time. We can remember Upton Sinclair and how he also exposed many abuses in the meat industry. I think this is in the same category.

“Some people say that the Center for Medical Progress edited some of their videos…. [T]hey’re edited for brevity, but not for deception. I believe that to be true because if you go to the Center for Medical Progress’s web site, you can see the entire video in full if you enjoy watching people sitting in waiting rooms and walking down halls. But do your own research. I think that the matters this bill addresses are serious enough for us to investigate.

“A few days ago in Houston, a grand jury charged the Center for Medical Progress investigative journalists with using fraudulent licenses. I believe that the same grand jury, if they were to hear the case against Nellie Bly, for example, would probably charge her with theft of services for spending time in mental institutions pretending to be a patient so that she could get to the bottom of that.”

The H word  and the “Eisenhower tour”

Reps. Wuelper and Notter made straightforward pitches for investigation into finances of abortion providers. Souza called for transparency overall, in view of the troubling history of one particular provider. Prudhomme-O’Brien reminded us that some abuses can only be brought to light by undercover investigations. It was left to Warren Groen to say something that prompted the Speaker of the House to use his gavel.

“It so happens that today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today is the day that the Auschwitz camp was liberated in World War II….Eisenhower felt it was important to see [the death camps]. He went in and saw it himself. General Eisenhower required members of the local village and towns to come up to the camps and tour the camps. ”

Down came the gavel of Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson). “The member will suspend. You are way off the subject of the bill. I ask you to confine your remarks to the proposed legislation and not to the history of the Holocaust.”

Groen paused but was otherwise unfazed. He resumed: “Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d better move away from that holocaust to the modern-day holocaust.” He hurried on with his remarks, forestalling further use of the gavel.

“In the [HHS] committee hearing, both of the abortion organizations that were there asked the committee ‘please come and visit us, please come and check us out.’ I think that’s a great idea… for everyone in the House that either doesn’t care about abortion, or that supports it. Go visit. Don’t take the nickel tour. Take the Eisenhower tour…There was an actress in New Jersey who filmed her abortion because she was so proud of it. There might be a woman in New Hampshire that’s proud of it, and even let you come in and watch her abortion. And then when the nurse is putting all the little pieces together, to make sure they got all of it, look over the nurse’s shoulder and watch as she reassembles the baby. Don’t take the nickel tour. Take the whole Eisenhower tour. That would be a real investigation.” 

What does defeat of the resolution mean?

Nothing the House did on HJR 3 changes or undoes the Executive Council’s August 2015 denial of a contract to PPNNE. It’s the Council that awards contracts, and a dead piece of legislation has no bearing on its actions.

So New Hampshire is still one of the states that has “de-funded” PP, if one torques “de-funding” PPNNE into being synonymous with “denying a $638,000 two-year contract to a $20 million organization.” That hasn’t changed.

What defeat of the resolution does mean: It means a PR win for abortion providers. It means a majority of the NH House members are untroubled by ongoing court cases involving abortion providers, including cases that have cost the taxpayers money. It means that a majority of NH House members (remember, Rep. Weber said “we’ve all seen the videos”) must either have no problem with the activities documented by the Center for Medical Progress or think the videos are altogether fabricated. It means that the bill’s sponsors and the HHS committee didn’t spend enough time together before the bill came up for a committee vote; if they had, there wouldn’t have been a 16-0 vote to kill the thing. It means that de-funding abortion providers is not a priority for either party, including the one with a pro-life plank in its platform.

Perhaps that sounds good to you; perhaps not. Either way, it means that even with the First in the Nation presidential primary looming, it’s the local- and state-level elections in November where the fate of resolutions like HJR 3 will be decided.