Denise J. Hunnell, MD

Feeling the heat, abortion industry attacks pro-life crisis pregnancy centers

Denise J. Hunnell, MD
By Denise Hunnell MD
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November 18, 2011 (HLIAmerica.org) - The abortion industry is clearly feeling the heat. Planned Parenthood has been defunded in several states, workers from the infamous Kermit Gosnell abortion facility have pleaded guilty to murder, and the Commonwealth of Virginia is providing a model for other states with newly enacted and strict standards for abortion clinics.

The North Carolina chapter of National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro Choice has responded to this pressure with a report lambasting crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in the Tar Heel State. In its press release, NARAL claims to have conducted an undercover investigation of 66 of the 122 CPCs in North Carolina. The actual report reveals that this “investigation” involved visiting only 27 of the centers, while the rest of the information was gleaned from 47 CPC web sites and from 40 phone calls. This small sample size would be enough to question the usefulness of any conclusions, but as it turns out, there are bigger problems in the report than its very limited scope.

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NARAL’s criticisms are four-fold. First, they object to the assertion made by CPCs that abortion is linked to breast cancer, claiming in response that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) states that there is no association between breast cancer and abortion based on a 2003 report.

Those who have closely followed research in the area of breast cancer must be stunned by NARAL’s blithe dismissal of a huge and growing body of evidence, based on a single, highly controversial report. Prominent biologist and endocrinologist Joel Brind analyzed numerous studies in 1996 and 2005, and reported:

The findings concluded that an abortion elevates a women’s overall risk of developing breast cancer by 30 percent. The results were ‘remarkably consistent’ across population, ethnic, dietary, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors.

When Doctor Brind was barred from participating in the National Cancer Institute’s 2003 workshop, he charged that only scientists who denied a link between breast cancer and abortion were allowed to participate. His assertions, which were initially dismissed, gained credence in 2009 when the chairperson of the NCI workshop, Dr. Louise Brinton, published a paper in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, which concluded that the risk of a highly aggressive form of breast cancer increases by forty percent after a woman has an abortion. Even more surprising, two of the papers she used to support her findings had been rejected for consideration by the 2003 NCI workshop.

Clearly, NARAL is grasping at straws by basing its response on a report that has been so thoroughly discredited by the very person who chaired the workshop that led to the report.

Secondly, NARAL alleges that workers at crisis pregnancy centers warned women about “post-abortion stress syndrome,” a diagnosis not recognized by national psychological associations. While “post-abortion stress syndrome” may not be an officially recognized psychological diagnosis, there is ample evidence that abortion is linked to subsequent severe mental health problems. In September, 2011, Professor Priscilla Coleman published a paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry demonstrating tremendous increases in the risk of substance abuse, suicidal behaviors, and depression in women who had abortions. Is NARAL really suggesting that this scientifically-based information on the mental health risks of abortion should be hidden from women?

The third concern NARAL voices is that crisis pregnancy centers do ultrasounds, yet have no medical staff present. The report cites with alarm that “92% of the CPCs studied (61 of 66 CPCs) had no medical professionals on staff” and “35% (23 CPCs) provide ultrasounds on site.” In addition, NARAL is appalled that “Only 24% (16 CPCs) disclosed that they are not medical facilities.” As with the previous two charges, NARAL’s curious selection of facts and concerns raises more questions about their motives. The ultrasounds done by CPCs are not offered as diagnostic procedures; they merely give a mother a visual image of the child she carries in her womb. They are not used to assess the health of either the mother or the baby, and are given free of charge. Crisis pregnancy center volunteers may also help a woman accurately utilize an over-the-counter pregnancy test. Surely NARAL is not suggesting that licensed medical personnel must be present to offer a test that the FDA says any woman can do without medical supervision. This is in stark contrast to abortion clinics, where ultrasounds and other laboratory tests are sold as medical services, and therefore, should be performed by medical personnel. Further, if NARAL’s concern for the health and safety of women is so great, why does it oppose regulations that require abortion clinics to meet the same medical standards as other medical facilities?

CPCs are not intended to be medical clinics. They are centers of emotional and material support for women who are pregnant and are considering making a life-changing, and life-ending, decision. CPCs should not be required to publicly disclose they are not a medical facility any more than Planned Parenthood should be required to disclose it does not provide free diapers and maternity clothes.

The final charge by NARAL against CPCs is that they make religious arguments against abortion. In fact, the NARAL report considers it objectionable that CPCs encourage women to avoid sexual activity outside of marriage! They express outrage that “More than half of the 66 CPCs (59%) investigated are affiliated with Christian organizations and many use biblically-based arguments to encourage people to refrain from sex until marriage.” In some cases this may be true, but so what? Many crisis pregnancy centers are outreach ministries of religious groups. The First Amendment protects the speech of crisis pregnancy workers when they offer faith-based reasons to oppose abortion. It is unconscionable to suggest that such speech be silenced.

The word hypocrisy barely begins to describe NARAL Pro-Choice of North Carolina’s grossly misleading report, as it tries to paint crisis pregnancy centers as purveyors of inaccurate information. It is NARAL who offers half-truths and questionable-at-best information in its attack on the not-for-profit challengers of the abortion industry. In going after CPCs, NARAL seeks to take away alternatives to abortion. The attack fails ultimately because it cannot rely on truth to make its case, Unlike NARAL, crisis pregnancy centers care about the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of women. They want women to have the whole truth about abortion and to see the wisdom and beauty of choosing life.

Denise Hunnell, MD, is a Fellow of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. She writes for HLI America’s Truth and Charity Forum.

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Louisiana judge orders state to recognize gay ‘marriage’

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By Kirsten Anderson

A Louisiana judge on Monday ordered state officials to recognize the out-of-state “marriage” of a lesbian couple and allow one of the women to legally adopt her partner’s child.

Angie Costanza and Christy Brewer were “married” in 2008 in California, but Louisiana’s marriage protection amendment, passed by 78 percent of voters in 2004, prevented the state from recognizing the couple’s union.  The pair sued in 2013 to overturn the law, in part because Costanza wanted to be listed as a parent on Brewer’s son’s birth certificate. 

Initially, Judge Edward Broussard dismissed the case without a hearing, but the couple appealed.  On Monday, Judge Edward Rubin took their side, ruling that Louisiana’s marriage protection law is unconstitutional in three ways:  According to Rubin, the ban on same-sex “marriage” violates the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.

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Rubin’s decision comes just weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman declared Louisiana’s marriage protection law constitutional – the first federal judge to decide in favor of a same-sex “marriage” ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year. “There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage,” Feldman wrote in his decision. 

However, because this case is being tried in the state courts, Rubin’s decision will take precedence over Feldman’s, pending appeal.

The state plans to appeal Rubin’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, the federal case is also moving forward.  Ultimately, it is expected that the question of whether statewide bans on same-sex “marriage” are constitutional will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in 2015. 

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New archbishops in Chicago and Madrid: Ratzingerians out, ‘inclusiveness’ in

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Chicago's Archbishop-elect, Blase Cupich

Pope Francis announced Saturday that he is appointing as archbishop of Chicago a prelate best known in pro-life circles as the man who ordered his priests in 2011 not to participate in local 40 Days for Life prayer vigils. The media and Church watchers describe him as “progressive,” “inclusive,” and “left-of-center.”

The appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich, current head of the Spokane diocese in Washington, to America’s third most prominent see – an appointment which Vatican watchers predicted would signal the pope’s priorities for the direction of the U.S. Church – has been widely praised by liberal Catholics and opponents of Church teaching but met with concern by many Catholic activists.

The archbishop-elect gave a sense of his approach to the U.S. “culture war” in an interview Sunday with Chicago’s CBS affiliate, in which he suggested he would be open to giving Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians and a person wearing a button in favour of same-sex “marriage.”

“As long as they’re in church, are willing to hear the word of God, be open to Christ’s call of conversion for each one of us, then I think that that’s sufficient for me,” he said. “We cannot politicize the Communion rail and I just don’t think that that works in the long run.”

Cupich will replace the ailing Cardinal Francis George, known in the US as a “Ratzingerian” for his strong defense of Catholic orthodoxy, particularly on issues of sexual morality, but who is suffering from cancer and is overdue for retirement at age 77. The archbishop of Chicago is also normally granted the “red hat” and made a cardinal, which would make Cupich eligible to vote in upcoming papal conclaves. Cupich is scheduled to be installed in Chicago November 18.

The Chicago appointment mirrors that of another outside the US in recent weeks. Rome announced August 28 that Carlos Osoro Sierra, 69, will be installed as the new archbishop of Madrid, Spain’s capital city and largest archdiocese. But the story in Madrid has less to do with the new appointee and more to do with the would-be appointee who was demoted.

Until just before the appointment, most Vatican watchers expected the prominent post to be given to 68-year-old Vatican Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, dubbed the “little Ratzinger” for his orthodoxy in line with Pope Benedict XVI.  When LifeSiteNews interviewed Cardinal Cañizares in 2009 at the time of his appointment as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, he noted that denying communion to pro-abortion politicians was a charitable act.

Leaving his Vatican post, he was considered a natural for the Madrid spot. But instead it went to the archbishop of Valencia, and Cañizares is to fill that vacancy instead.

The former archbishop of Valencia is known for his strong “liberal” leanings and he will be replacing Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, 78, who, like Cañizares, is also known for following the lead of the retired Pope Benedict XVI.

El Pais wrote of the new appointee that Catholics of the Madrid archdiocese, accustomed to the “hieratic” Varela, will be seeing “an entirely different model.”

“Shortly after the announcement of his appointment, the most repeated words to define his figure were ‘dialogue’ and ‘moderation.’”

“During the 12 years he has been the head of the Catholic Church [in Madrid], Rouco Varela has too often mixed faith and politics, with an overdose of intransigence. Defending the (exclusively traditional) family and attacking laws that recognize the right of women to abortion are the main workhorses.”

Catholic News Agency’s Vatican-watcher, Andrea Gagliarducci, wrote that the appointment marks a “new course for Spain’s bishops.” He is described in the Spanish press as “affable,” “friendly,” and “extremely gregarious.” 

As for Cupich, David Gibson of Religion News Service described him as “a prelate closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing.”

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Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo, author of the “Whispers in the Loggia” blog, wrote that the appointment is “the most shocking major move the American hierarchy has seen in the last decade and a half.” Another Vatican veteran, John Allen Jr., wrote for the US Catholic online magazine Crux that Cupich so closely mirrors Pope Francis’ theology and style that he could be called the “American Pope Francis in Chicago.”

On his blog, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, known for his icy relations with the pro-life movement, shared his excitement over the “new breeze” brought by Cupich’s appointment. The bishop noted that Cupich “admires deeply the ecclesiology and vision” of leftist prelates such as former San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn and former Galveston-Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza.

The news of Cupich’s appointment was met with praise in the mainstream press. According to The New York Times Francis has “set the tone” for US appointments by “replacing a combative conservative with a prelate whose pastoral approach to upholding church doctrine is more in keeping with the pope’s inclusive tone.”

It has also been praised by dissident Catholic groups such as the homosexual activist group New Ways Ministries. Last year, the group issued a roundup of evaluations of the various leading members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who were set to elect a new president. New Ways praised Cupich for his intervention in the 2012 debate leading up to a referendum on “gay marriage” in Washington State. Cupich’s only intervention was a pastoral letter in which he asked voters to uphold traditional marriage, but also called for a “more civil and honest conversation about Catholic positions on equality.”

“I also want to be very clear that in stating our position, the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility toward homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity,” Cupich wrote.

Cupich stood out from his fellow US bishops in his response to the abortion-funding Obamacare. Though he joined his other bishops in condemning the Obama administration’s mandate that Catholic employers cover abortifacients and contraceptives, he encouraged Catholic Charities in his diocese to act as an Obamacare navigator and help people sign up for coverage that could fund the destruction of unborn life.

He also condemned the line of other US bishops when they threatened to shut down Catholic social services. “These kind of scare tactics and worse-case scenario predictions are uncalled for,” Cupich wrote in a letter to diocesan employees. “I am confident we can find a way to move forward.”

Today the anti-Catholic organization Call to Action issued a press release saying they are “relieved” at the appointment. “At a time when numerous U.S. Bishops are choosing to fight ideological battles, Pope Francis’ selection of Cupich demonstrates a desire for a humbler, more pastoral church.”  

Call to Action, like New Ways Ministries, works to overturn Catholic doctrine, particularly on sexual matters, from within the Church, and has received the censure of the US bishops for their activities. They wrote, “The choice of Cupich shows promise for a church which can be closer to the people. Catholics in Chicago and beyond yearn for a faith rooted in the Gospel call of love and justice over rigid orthodoxy.”

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Rick Perry: Joan Rivers’ death shows Texas is right to require abortionists to have admitting privileges

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By Kirsten Anderson

In the wake of the high-profile death of comedienne Joan Rivers due to complications from throat surgery at an outpatient clinic in New York City, Texas Gov. Rick Perry pointed to the tragedy as an example showing the necessity for his state’s one-year-old law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers.

"It was interesting that when Joan Rivers -- and the procedure that she had done, where she died -- that was a clinic,” Perry said at a Texas Tribune event on Sunday. “It's a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive.”

Many observers have criticized the governor’s remarks, noting that Rivers’ surgery was performed in a fully licensed ambulatory surgical center by a doctor with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as is the current standard for abortion facilities in Texas, but died anyway.  However, the painstaking investigation into what may have gone wrong at the New York City clinic reveals that while all surgery carries risks, ambulatory surgical centers are required to take every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients, in contrast to more loosely regulated abortion clinics, where injuries and deaths are rampant, and often covered up.

While 32 separate medical associations have signed a joint agreement stating that anyone “performing office-based surgery must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a transfer agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital,” abortion businesses have fought such regulations tooth and nail, arguing that requiring abortionists to maintain admitting privileges is too burdensome and will cause clinics to close their doors.  

Abortionists have also opposed tougher safety restrictions forcing them to adhere to the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers, arguing that upgrading their substandard facilities to meet hospital-grade requirements is costly and unnecessary.  But proponents of such regulations point out that the tiny parking lots, narrow hallways, and lack of elevators common to most abortion facilities are serious impediments to getting lifesaving help to women in case of emergencies, delaying paramedics who can’t park their ambulances or maneuver gurneys through such buildings.  In addition, licensed ambulatory surgical centers must have and properly maintain state-of-the-art resuscitation equipment, and train employees in their use – something abortion clinics have repeatedly been cited for failing to do.

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