Denise J. Hunnell, MD

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Mifeprestone: a pill that kills

Denise J. Hunnell, MD
By Denise Hunnell MD

(Zenit.org) – I started to feel pain in my abdomen unlike anything I had ever experienced.  Then the blood came.  It was gushing out of me…I sat there for hours…bleeding, throwing up into the bathroom trashcan, crying and sweating.

These are the words of Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood clinic director and now pro-life activist, describing her abortion using the drug RU-486, also known as mifepristone. She recovered from this horrendous ordeal after eight weeks of severe pain, bleeding and exhaustion.

Unfortunately, her experience is not unique. Even the National Abortion Federation, a pro-abortion advocacy group, admits that such side effects are the rule, not the exception, for abortions using mifepristone, commonly also referred to as medical abortions. Nausea, severe pain, heavy bleeding, diarrhea, fever and chills are part of the process. The known but less universal side effects are bleeding severe enough to require a blood transfusion, infection and/or death.

This brutal option for first trimester abortion was developed in France in the 1980s. It works by blocking progesterone, a key hormone that maintains the lining of the uterus to support the developing fetus. In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of mifepristone in the United States under a fast tracked approval process normally reserved for unique life-saving therapies. This allowed the marketing of mifepristone without holding it to the usual standards of safety and efficacy. South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint soundly criticized the process:

Defining pregnancy as a life-threatening illness was a thoroughly political, not scientific, decision. Any reasonable person committed to protecting the health and safety of women should conclude that the approval process for RU-486 deserves an independent review.

RU-486 is marketed under the brand name Mifeprex.

Such critiques notwithstanding, there continues to be an expansion of the availability and utilization of mifepristone. The 2008 Center for Disease Control (CDC) surveillance report on abortion indicates that 14.6% of abortions were medical abortions, meaning they used mifepristone. This is in comparison to 3.4% of all abortions in 2001, the first full year after the FDA approved RU-486. By April, 2011, the FDA reported 1.52 million women in the United States had chosen to abort their children using mifepristone. Internationally, the use of mifepristone is also expanding. The United Kingdom Department of Health reported in 2009 that 40% of all abortions performed in England and Wales were accomplished using mifepristone. In Scotland, 80% of abortions done prior to nine weeks gestation and 74% of all abortions use mifepristone. Mifepristone is widely used throughout Europe with the exceptions of Ireland and Poland. It is also used extensively in Australia, New Zealand, India, China and Taiwan.

With nearly two decades of worldwide use of this abortion facient drug, what do we know about the safety and longterm effects of mifepristone? In the United States, the FDA post-marketing report of adverse events associated with mifepristone had 2,200 cases of significant side effects including blood loss requiring transfusions, serious infections, and death. It is important to note that reporting of these adverse events is entirely voluntary so they do not represent a comprehensive documentation of bad outcomes associated with mifepristone. Fourteen deaths in the United States have been linked to mifepristone. The FDA has also received reports of five mifepristone-related deaths in foreign countries. Half of these deaths were related to severe infections. In fact, of the 256 cases of mifepristone-related infections reported to the FDA, roughly 20% were deemed severe because they resulted in death, hospitalization for two or more days, or required intravenous antibiotics for at least 24 hours. A correlation between mifepristone use and infections has been detailed by Dr. Ralph P. Miech, Professor Emeritus at Brown University School of Medicine, who published an article in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy postulating that the immunosuppressant properties of mifepristone contributed to the development of septic shock in women who underwent a medical abortion.

An extensive review of adverse effects of mifepristone users in Finland was published in the October 2009 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The authors reviewed the medical course of 22,368 women who underwent a medical abortion with mifepristone and 20,251 women who underwent a standard surgical abortion. The complication rate was four times higher among women who used mifepristone. A significant finding in this review was that 6.7% of women who underwent a medical abortion required further treatment because they had an incomplete abortion. This means they did not completely expel the fetus and placenta. Failure to remove this retained tissue can result in septic shock and death.

The incidence of incomplete abortion was even more pronounced in a Chinese study of mifepristone use. Published in 2011 in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, this study found that 20% of medical abortions required subsequent surgical intervention because of retained fetal tissue.

In addition to the risks of severe hemorrhage, retained fetal tissue, and life-threatening infections, a medical abortion can obscure the presence of an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy located outside the womb. There were 58 cases of mifepristone use with an ectopic pregnancy reported to the FDA, including two deaths. An ectopic pregnancy is a contraindication for medical abortion, but the prescribing guidelines for mifepristone do not include the routine use of ultrasound, which is the only way an ectopic pregnancy can be excluded. Unfortunately, the cramping and bleeding expected with mifepristone mimic the signs and symptoms of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. This causes women with undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies who use mifepristone to delay seeking emergency treatment and risk death.

Clearly the potential for life-threatening complications underscores the need for mifepristone to be used under close medical supervision and with comprehensive medical follow-up. Yet this is exactly the opposite approach taken by Planned Parenthood and others seeking to make abortion more available. The National Abortion Federation reports that 87% of all counties in the United States have no abortion provider. Therefore, Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates are seeking to bring abortion to these counties via “telemed abortions.” In this controversial procedure, a nurse or other midlevel medical practitioner examines the patient. After the initial examination, a doctor conducts a video interview of the patient, then presses a button which remotely opens a drawer containing the mifepristone and so that the patient may self-administer the mifepristone. Obviously, the doctor providing the medical abortion does not intend to deal with the potentially lethal consequences. The local medical facility and physicians that do not provide abortions are left to care for the patient with complications brought on by a medical abortion initiated by a doctor that may well be hundreds of miles away. Fortunately, five states (Arizona, Kansas, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Tennessee) have banned telemed abortions. Hopefully, more states will join them in preventing what has been termed “hit-and-run” abortions.

The loss of 1.5 million children in the United States alone through medical abortions is an unspeakable tragedy. This tragedy is compounded when the mothers of these children suffer and sometimes die from a medication that Planned Parenthood claims is natural and makes an abortion more akin to a miscarriage. The bypassing of normal FDA clinical safety trials for RU-486 and the advancement of telemed abortions in spite of the real risk of deadly complications make it clear that the abortion industry is more concerned with its own profits than it is with the health and welfare of women. Those who promote abortion, whether surgical or medical, are waging the real “war on women.”

This article appeared on Zenit.org and is reprinted with permission.

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A Planned Parenthood facility in Denver, Colorado
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Colorado judge tosses suit alleging Planned Parenthood used state funds to pay for abortions

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

Alliance Defending Freedom "will likely appeal" a Monday court decision dismissing their suit alleging Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains illegally used state funds to pay for abortions, an ADF lawyer told LifeSiteNews.

The ADF lawsuit claims that $1.4 million went from state government agencies to a Planned Parenthood abortion affiliate through Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Denver County District Court Judge Andrew McCallin dismissed the case on the basis that ADF could not prove the funds paid for abortions. But ADF maintains that funding an abortion facility is indirectly paying for abortions, which violates state law.

ADF senior counsel Michael Norton -- whose wife, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, filed the lawsuit – told LifeSiteNews that "no one is above the law, including Colorado politicians who are violating our state’s constitution by continuing to fund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business with state taxpayer dollars."

"The State of Colorado even acknowledges that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate. The Denver court seems to have agreed with that fact and yet granted motions to dismiss based on a technicality," said Norton.

According to Colorado law, "no public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion." There is a stipulation that allows for "the General Assembly, by specific bill, [to] authorize and appropriate funds to be used for those medical services necessary to prevent the death of either a pregnant woman or her unborn child under circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each."

According to court documents, the Colorado law was affirmed by state voters in 1984, with an appeal attempt rejected two years later. In 2001, an outside legal firm hired by Jane Norton -- who was lieutenant governor at the time -- found that Planned Parenthood was "subsidizing rent" and otherwise providing financial assistance to Planned Parenthood Services Corporation, an abortion affiliate. After the report came out, and Planned Parenthood refused to disassociate itself from the abortion affiliate, the state government stopped funding Planned Parenthood.

Since 2009, however, that has changed, which is why the lawsuit is filed against Planned Parenthood, and multiple government officials, including Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to ADF legal counsel Natalie Decker, the fact that Planned Parenthood sent funds to the abortion affiliate should have convinced McCallin of the merits of the case. "The State of Colorado and the Denver court acknowledged that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars, in addition to millions of 'federal' tax dollars, flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate," said Decker.

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"Without even having the facts of the case developed, the Denver court seems to have granted motions to dismiss filed by the State of Colorado and Planned Parenthood on grounds the term 'indirectly' could not mean what Ms. Norton and Governor Owens said it meant in 2002 when they defunded Planned Parenthood."

"That, of course, is the plain meaning of Colo. Const., Art. V, § 50 which was implemented by the citizens of Colorado, and the reason for Ms. Norton’s lawsuit."

Decker told LifeSiteNews that "Colorado law is very clear," and that the state law "prohibits Colorado tax dollars from being used to directly or indirectly pay for induced abortions."

She says her client "has been denied the opportunity to fully develop the facts of the case and demonstrate exactly what the Colorado tax dollars have been used for." Similarly, says Decker, it is not known "exactly what those funds were used for. At this time, there is simply no way to conclude that tax dollars have not been used to directly pay for abortions or abortion inducing drugs and devices."

"What we do know is that millions of Colorado tax dollars have flowed through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that those tax dollars are being used to indirectly pay for abortions."

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains did not return multiple requests for comment about the lawsuit.

The dismissal comes as Planned Parenthood fights an investigation by the state's Republican attorney general over a video by Live Action, as well as a lawsuit by a mother whose 13-year old daughter had an abortion in 2012 that she alleges was covered up by Planned Parenthood. The girl, who was being abused by her stepfather, was abused for months after the abortion.

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Steve Weatherbe

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Fledgling high-tech pro-life group marks 2,000 babies saved: 2-3 saved per day

Steve Weatherbe
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Online for Life, the Dallas-based pro-life marketing agency, saved its two-thousandth unborn baby earlier this year and is well on its way to saving its three thousandth by 2015.

“We are getting better all the time at what we do,” says founder Brian Fisher. “It used to be one baby saved every four to six weeks and now its two or three a day.”

But the most significant save? “It was the very first one,” he says, recalling the phone call from a crisis centre a month after OFL’s 2012 startup.  “And for me personally it was just a massive turning point … because [of] all the work and the money and testing and the volunteers and everything that led up to that moment. All the frustration of that was washed away in an instant because a child had been rescued that was about to be killed.”

Though increasing market savvy has led Online for Life to expand offline, the core of the non-profit, donor-financed operation remains SEO -- search engine optimization -- targeting young women who have just discovered they are pregnant and gone onto the Web to find the nearest abortion clinic.

Instead, they find the nearest crisis pregnancy center at the top of their results page. Since OFL went online it has linked with a network of 41 such centers, including two of its own it started this year, in a positive feedback loop that reinforces effective messaging first at the level of the Web, then at the first telephone call between the clinic and the pregnant woman, and finally at the first face-to-face meeting.

“Testing is crucial,” says Fisher. “We test everything we do.” Early on, Online for Life insisted the clinics it served have an ultrasound machine, because the prevailing wisdom in the prolife movement was that “once they saw their baby on ultrasound, they would drop the idea of having an abortion.” While the organization still insists on the ultrasound, its own testing and feedback from the CPCs indicates that three quarters of the women they see already have children. “They’ve already seen their own children on ultrasound and are still planning to abort.” So ultrasound images have lost their punch.

OFL has had to move offline to reach a significant minority who have neither computers, tablets, or cell phones.  Traditional electronic media spots as well as bus ads and billboards carry the message to them.

As well, says Fisher, “unwanted pregnancy used to be a high-school age problem; now that’s gone down in numbers and the average age of women seeking abortion has gone up to 24.” By that age, he says, they are “thoroughly conditioned by the abortion culture. Even before they got pregnant, they have already decided they would have an abortion if they did get pregnant.”

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What they need—and fast, in the first two minutes of the first phone call—is sympathy, support, and a complete absence of judgement. Online for Life is always gathering information from its network on what responses are most effective—and this can vary city to city. The organization offers training to clinic volunteers and staff that stresses a thorough knowledge of the services on tap. “Any major city has all sorts of services—housing, education, health—available,” says Fisher.

The problem that OFL was designed to address was the crisis pregnancy centers’ market penetration. Three percent of women with unwanted pregnancies were reaching out to the CPCs, and seven per cent of those who did reach out were having their babies. “So about 2.1 children were being saved for every 1,000 unwanted pregnancies,” says Fisher. “That’s not nearly enough.”

So Fisher and two fellow volunteers dreamed of applying online marketing techniques to the problem in 2009. Three years later Fisher was ready to leave his executive position at an online marketing agency to go full-time with the life-saving agency. Now they have 63 employees, most of them devoted to optimizing the penetration in each of the markets served by their participating crisis centers.

The results speak for themselves. Where OFL has applied its techniques, especially with its own clinics, as many as 15-18 percent of the targeted population of women seeking abortions get directed to nearby crisis pregnancy centers. “It depends on the centres’ budgets and on how many volunteers they have to be on the phones through the day and night,” he says. “But we are going to push it higher. We hope to save our 2,500th child by the end of the year.”

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Shock: UK mom abandons disabled daughter, keeps healthy son after twin surrogacy

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By Pete Baklinski

A UK woman who is the biological mother of twins born from a surrogate mom, has allegedly abandoned one of the children because she was born with a severe muscular condition, while taking the girl's healthy sibling home with her.

The surrogate mother, also from the UK — referred to as "Jenny" to protect her identity — revealed to The Sun the phone conversation that took place between herself and the biological mother over the fate of the disabled girl.

“I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a f****** dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child,’” she said.

Jenny, who has children of her own, said she decided to become a surrogate to “help a mother who couldn’t have children.” She agreed to have two embryos implanted in her womb and to give birth for £12,000 ($20,000 USD).

With just six weeks to the due date, doctors told Jenny she needed an emergency caesarean to save the babies. It was not until a few weeks after the premature births that the twin girl was diagnosed with congenital myotonic dystrophy.

When Jenny phoned the biological mother to tell her of the girl’s condition, the mother rejected the girl.

Jenny has decided along with her partner to raise the girl. They have called her Amy.

“I was stunned when I heard her reject Amy,” Jenny said. “She had basically told me that she didn’t want a disabled child.”

Jenny said she felt “very angry” towards the girl’s biological parents. "I hate them for what they did.”

The twins are now legally separated. A Children and Family Court has awarded the healthy boy to the biological mother and the disabled girl to her surrogate.

The story comes about two weeks after an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son in Thailand after he was born with Down syndrome, while taking the healthy twin girl back with them to Australia.

Rickard Newman, director of Family Life, Pro-Life & Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Lake Charles, called the Australian story a “tragedy” that “results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.”

“Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation,” he said. 

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