Pick of the Web 12/13/13

Help yourself to a weekend’s worth of links!

A terrible auto collision on I-89 a few days ago has highlighted once again the crying need for a fetal homicide law in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Union Leader reports here on the deaths of two adults and a preborn child who were killed when a man attempted suicide by driving into oncoming traffic. The suicidal man survived the wreck and is facing charges. Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) has introduced a fetal homicide bill for consideration in 2014; more on that here on the blog next week.

I love March for Life’s suggestions for what to do with a bored Member of Congress. Not every suggestion requires being an elected official, so look them over and see what inspires you.

South Africa’s Nelson Mandela has died at age 95. A leader of immense persistence and influence, his renunciation of political violence unfortunately did not extend to a rejection of abortion. Dr. Alveda King recalls him with respect and candor in “How I Failed Nelson Mandela.”

The latest annual report from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is out, showing that PP benefited from half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding in the most recent fiscal year. The Susan B. Anthony List has prepared a fact sheet about the report, and National Right to Life’s Dave Andrusko writes about Five Takeaways From PPFA’s Annual Report.

Anyone who thinks Pope Francis is going to put aside Catholic teaching on respect for life needs to catch up on some reading. Yesterday, he called human trafficking “a crime against humanity … whoever uses and exploits the person, even indirectly, makes himself an accomplice of this abuse.”  Last Sunday, he challenged “throwaway culture” (cultura di scarto). “The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings – the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people… who are in danger of being ‘thrown out,’ expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs. This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.’

The European Parliament narrowly rejected a nonbinding policy that would have promoted abortion as a “right.” The matter is sure to come up again.

Southern New Hampshire food pantries and soup kitchens need our help. You can find opportunities to donate and volunteer at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, Corpus Christi food pantry in Nashua, New Horizons in Manchester, and the New Hampshire Food Bank.

Abortion industry wages, high and low

Scripture has it that laborers are worthy of their hire. Even abortion workers get paid. But how much?

Jill Stanek, pro-life blogger, activist, and nurse, published a post this evening about a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Pennsylvania. In a column headlined “Slave wages and astronomical insurance premiums,” Stanek reports that Planned Parenthood Keystone (PPKEY) offers its employees working 30 or more hours per week a health insurance plan requiring biweekly payroll deductions of $512.60.

Stanek goes on:

I’m told that PP Keystone workers other than clinic managers and clinicians make only $10-11/hour and are limited to a 35-hour work week. These people include receptionists, medical assistants and “front end and back end staff,” according to my source….How a PP employee making $11/hour, or $1,540 a month, could afford insurance for his or her family is beyond me. [Full post here.]

This insurance plan reportedly went into effect November 1, meaning it’s Obamacare-compliant. Maybe PPKEY, like PP of Northern New England, is an Obamacare “navigator” that can help people sign up for subsidized insurance. If so, they already have clients in-house.

The contrast between part-time pay and the cost of health insurance (even under Obamacare) doesn’t shock me. I’m accustomed to seeing figures like that. I’ve had my share of jobs that saw most of my pay going to insurance. Stanek’s post is about more than insurance , though. She contrasts the wages of the lower-paid employees with that of PPKEY’s CEO Kim Custer who, according to Stanek, made $133,165 in 2012. (I have been unable to verify that figure, although I did find that Custer is listed in 2012 annual reports as interim CEO at the Keystone affiliate and full CEO at a larger PP affiliate nearby.)

How does that compare to what goes in in my own back yard? The PPNNE executives’ pay for tax year 2012 is a matter of public record on IRS form 990. Steve Trombley, who has since left the organization, enjoyed base compensation of $243,669 as CEO. Meagan Gallagher’s base salary as Senior Vice-President for Business Operations was $147,069; she has since succeeded Trombley as CEO. The medical director earned $219,616; the vice-president for development settled for $145,017.

That’s three-quarters of a million dollars for four employees, out of $19.6 million in total expenditures for PPNNE in 2012 (see PPNNE’s most recent annual report here). There are at least three other employees with six-figure compensation, according to the form 990. One is the highly effective public policy director with whom I cross paths regularly at the State House. It’s a competitive world out there, and the executive salaries reflect that.

(But remember: whenever there’s a cut in government funding to PP, actual or threatened, it’s the cancer screenings that feel the pinch, not the executive salaries. At least, that’s what PPNNE’s representatives told the public after they lost a state family planning contract in 2011. But I digress.)

I don’t know what the rank-and-file workers earn. You know – the ones who have the most contact with clients and patients. How much are the people making who greet patients at the door? How about the intake workers who talk to abortion-minded women? The workers who clean up the “procedure” rooms? The providers who come under contract to do abortions? The security guard I met outside PP in Manchester during 40 Days for Life?

The numbers might be comparable to those in similar industries. The top-to-bottom wage disparity may simply be the free market in action. It would be interesting to know what value a free market assigns to the people standing next to a woman as her child is “terminated.”


40DFL leader visits Manchester NH for midpoint rally

Steve Karlen got off a plane in New Hampshire Tuesday afternoon and was on Pennacook Street in Manchester by 1:30. He was due to be in Greenland, an hour away toward the Seacoast, at 4. Later, he was expected in Haverhill, Massachusetts. His trip will take him to southern New England and finally to Schenectady, New York, before he gets to go home to Wisconsin. That’s what it’s like to be North American outreach director for 40 Days for Life.

Bob Melnyk, Manchester's 40DFL coordinator, with Steve Karlen

Bob Melnyk, Manchester’s 40DFL coordinator, with Steve Karlen. Ellen Kolb photo.

(Yes, “North American.” 40DFL has gone global.)

Midpoint message: “stand strong”

Bob Melnyk photo.

Bob Melnyk photo.

Steve’s whirlwind tour of New England comes at the midway point of the current 40DFL campaign, which began September 25.  He enjoys his field work. As he told participants outside Manchester’s PP facility today, “This is where the action is taking place. You may be the only thing standing between Planned Parenthood and a post-abortive woman, or between Planned Parenthood and children who are particularly vulnerable to abortion.” He’s aware that the 40-day twice-a-year campaigns can be challenging; his own involvement with 40DFL dates back to the second-ever campaign in the spring of 2008. “Zeal may be giving way to exhaustion. Stand strong; you are the light of Christ here.”

Praying outside PP in Manchester (E. Kolb photo)

Praying outside PP in Manchester (E. Kolb photo)

I was present today to hear Steve as he spoke to about twenty people (who didn’t look the least bit exhausted) in front of the Pray for Life center across the street from PP. Then, as we did last night during a midpoint evening vigil, we crossed the street to pray quietly in front of PP. The office, while open for business, seemed dormant. The local 40DFL regulars have told me that the big-traffic day is Thursday weekly, when surgical abortions are done.

What are they hearing?

Last night’s vigil brought thirty of us together for prayer at 7 p.m., as PP was closing for the day. A lone security guard was posted at the entrance to the parking lot. He regarded us with curiosity as we prayed while walking in line, doing circuits between PP and the Pray for Life center. I brought up the rear. As I drew level with the guard, he remarked, “If this is all you’re going to do, I’ve got it made.” We chuckled as I proceeded on my way.

Think about that. What was he told to expect? 40DFL is an expressly peaceful effort. What are PP employees telling people? I have to wonder if something Steve said today is a factor: “Abortion centers are closing at a pace unprecedented since Roe v. Wade.” This coincides with the 40DFL campaigns beginning in 2007. Bad for business, I guess, leaving no room for kindness (or accuracy?) when describing 40DFL to employees and clients.

Pastor Colageo of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Manchester, reading from Psalms at 40DFL vigil. E. Kolb photo.

Pastor Colageo of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Manchester, reading from Psalms at 40DFL vigil (E. Kolb photo)

Building a strong campaign

Before Steve spoke to the gathering this afternoon, local coordinator Bob Melnyk asked him how he had established a consistently strong 40DFL effort back home in Madison, Wisconsin. “A lot of time on the phone, bulk emails, all building the base.” He gave credit to his local team, acknowledging “many hands make light loads.” What’s a lot of time on the phone? “Calls two or three hours a night, four nights a week.”

Wow. This guy could get someone elected. But Steve and his team, and Bob with his Manchester team, are doing something even more elemental to the culture than engaging in politics. They’re publicly and peacefully witnessing to the value of life, reaching mothers and fathers at a critical moment, and even reaching abortion workers who see the consistent presence of pro-lifers.

A story about that: Steve recalled how in the early days of his 40DFL involvement in Wisconsin, a late-term abortion practice was in the planning stage, with shameful cooperation from the local university. Pro-lifers started praying outside the medical building where the abortions were to take place. Months went by. Daily prayer continued. The abortion project was put off again and again. Finally, after a year, the plan was scrapped. Later, Steve and his fellow volunteers heard from some members of the university’s medical staff and faculty. There had been sharp division within the medical staff’s ranks, with the conscience rights of pro-life staffers under attack from colleagues. The pro-life staff members “lived through some dark days and great pressure.” One later told Steve that the concerned staffers took heart from the consistent and peaceful pro-life witness going on outside.

Evening prayer outside PP Manchester. Bob Melnyk photo.

Evening prayer outside PP Manchester. Bob Melnyk photo.

“Between 2 and 200,” says Bob when asked how many people are present during 40DFL hours in Manchester (7 a.m. – 7 p.m.). He told Steve about the Pray for Life center and about the new pregnancy support center nearby, both opened by volunteers who pray regularly in front of PP.

A few informal conversations on the sidewalk, a brief talk, a few minutes of prayer, and then Steve was off to meet the volunteers in Greenland. 40DFL has grown far beyond what he expected when he joined his first campaign. Now, his outreach means traveling all over the country, witnessing what he calls the “miraculous fruits” of 40DFL. Serves him right for stepping out in faith.

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More on Komen, a TX win, young pro-life leaders: Pick of the web, 7/29/13

What Really Happened at the Komen Foundation reveals never-before-publicized information about the tangle among the Susan G. Komen For the Cure breast cancer charity, Planned Parenthood, and a handful of women within Komen who tried to separate the two. This article was published last month in the online magazine Crisis, produced here in New Hampshire.

The abortion facility in Texas where Abby Johnson used to work has announced that it is shutting down. 40 Days for Life has the story here. Remember, it’s not too late to sign on with New Hampshire’s upcoming 40 Days campaign in Manchester; find more information on the Leaven for the Loaf Facebook page for July 23. (You can go to this blog’s sidebar and click on the Facebook emblem to follow the Leaven page, which includes items that don’t make it into the blog.)

Students for Life of America announced this week a pair of fellowships for high-school and college-age students, which will help prepare future pro-life leaders to get the pro-life message out to campuses as well as the larger community. Congratulations to SFL for a great initiative.



By the Numbers 5/29/13

Ten top pro-life things you can do this summer is a list of ideas from LifeSiteNews.com, geared to young people. Click on the link for some inspiration. Some of the suggestions apply to everyone, such as #6, the “diaper drive.”

Four: the number of votes from U.S. Supreme Court justices it would have required for the Court to hear a case involving Indiana’s attempt to block state Medicaid funds from going to abortion providers. Yesterday, the Court refused to hear an appeal of a lower court decision striking down the Indiana law. (The Court only agrees to hear an appeal if a minimum of four Justices vote to do so.) The Los Angeles Times reports on the case here. The Indiana law was challenged by – you guessed it – Planned Parenthood.

All Girls Allowed logoOne organization to discover: All Girls Allowed. The founder, Chai Ling, was moved to action by China’s one-child policy, which combined with a cultural preference for having boys has led to what All Girls Allowed calls “gendercide” (an apt term). The group is based in Boston. Check the web site to learn about their “37 Seconds of Silence” program. Follow on Twitter: @AllGirlsAllowed.

“Planned Bullyhood” author running for U.S. Senate

Karen Handel, candidate for U.S. Senate from Georgia

Karen Handel, candidate for U.S. Senate from Georgia

Interesting news from Georgia: Karen Handel is running for U.S. Senate. Handel was once an executive with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I wrote on the blog last year about how big-time pressure from Planned Parenthood led to Komen reversing a decision that would have discontinued Foundation grants to PP. Handel was thrown under the figurative bus as part of Komen’s effort to pacify PP.

Basic book alert! If you haven’t read Planned Bullyhood, Handel’s account of the whole sorry PP/Komen chain of events, I recommend it. Anyone concerned with women’s health and public policy ought to hear from Handel. (The book was published in 2012 by Howard Books; ISBN 978-1451697940.)

Handel’s campaign page is here, FYI.

So – what Senate race do you think the abortion-advocacy PACs & 527s will target most heavily next year? Until today, I would have thought protecting Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s seat would be their #1 concern. Not anymore.

The President’s recent shout-out to PP, in full


On Twitter, columnist J.D. Mullane summed it up: “In time, video of Pres Obama invoking God to bless nation’s largest abortion provider during #Gosnell trial will stun.”

Almost as stunning, I hope, will be today’s casual and mendacious conflation of “abortion” with “health care.”