Meg T. McDonnell

Planned Bullyhood

Meg T. McDonnell
By Meg McDonnell
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September 18, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - On January 31 this year the Associated Press broke the news that Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization dedicated to ending breast cancer, would no longer be writing grants to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States and a self-described leader in women’s health care.

For the pro-life camp, the news of the break between the two organizations meant a relief from the boycott of Komen in which many pro-lifers had participated. From the pro-abortion camp, the break brought an outcry alleging that Komen no longer really cared about women. The spilt between the two women’s groups created a media furor, and at the time, a public relations nightmare for the Komen Foundation. The result was that, three days after the AP story broke, Komen reversed its decision. Meanwhile, basic facts of the parting of ways were overlooked.

To begin, Komen had been funding Planned Parenthood for some 20 years, but at the time of the break their grants totaled roughly $700,000 a year, a notably small portion of Planned Parenthood’s annual one billion dollar budget.

Secondly, Planned Parenthood grants were being cut largely because they were “crappy grants,” as one Komen employee characterized them—”crappy” not because of what Planned Parenthood was doing, but because of what they were not doing.

At the time they ceased funding Planned Parenthood Komen was working on a grant strategy overhaul. Their new grant focus was direct screening and intervention—in other words, mammograms and treatment—neither of which Planned Parenthood offers; it was using Komen grants to offer referrals for these services. This meant two things: one, there was no way to be certain that grant money was directly used for the fight against breast cancer, and two, there was no way Planned Parenthood could follow up to see if women were actually getting breast cancer treatment. This is what made Planned Parenthood grants “crappy” in the eyes of some in Komen.

Then, there was the pesky fact that the Komen grant contract specifically stated that organizations under investigation—at the state or federal level—could not receive grants. Other organizations had had their Komen grants revoked under this clause, yet Planned Parenthood had not, though their organization faced numerous investigations at the state level, and a federal investigation had recently begun. Some Planned Parenthood affiliates had even had their state funding removed—a further disqualification. In short, Komen was acting well within the bounds of its own rules. But that didn’t stop Planned Parenthood, their supporters, and many members of the media from ignoring the facts and declaring war.

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According to a new book, Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, written by former Komen vice president, Karen Handel, the reproductive health giant breached a “gentle-ladies agreement” with the breast cancer charity and incited a media firestorm surrounding Komen’s decision to halt their Planned Parenthood grants. The relentless pressure from the pro-abortion movement resulted in a reversal of Komen’s decision, despite the pro-life movement’s best efforts to support Komen by donating to their organization, sending supportive emails, and buying the Komen pink paraphernalia which pro-lifers had long resisted out of principle. Subsequently, Handel, a newer hire and a pro-lifer (which was publicly known due to her former political career) stepped down from her post at Komen.

In this tell-all, Komen insider book, among the many insights Handel offers, one point is made startlingly clear—the Komen vs. Planned Parenthood debacle was a calculated battle, instigated by Planned Parenthood as a tactic in the trumped up “War on Women” strategy. This “war” is a constructed narrative which says that anyone who doesn’t support unequivocally abortion, free contraception at the cost of religious freedom, or any other reproductive technology must not really care about women—a claim that is patently absurd. Yet that is the narrative Planned Parenthood and friends seem to think is necessary.

In fact, as Handel explains, what should have been an easy decision to cut off Planned Parenthood was complicated by the politics and opinions regarding Planned Parenthood among even Komen members who were sympathetic to the influential women’s group. “Komen’s new communications vice president noted that Planned Parenthood was ‘under the gun,’” Handel explains, “and that if Komen ended the grants, our organization would deal Planned Parenthood ‘a body blow.’” This is a startling claim considering both how little Komen grants contributed to Planned Parenthood’s large budget and the fact that other organizations had be cut off by Komen for less severe violations of its rules.

But the fact of the matter is that Planned Parenthood was under intense national scrutiny because of the recently begun federal investigation, a sizable and growing young pro-life movement, and continued gains in legislation to inform mothers and protect the unborn child. A recent exposé, coordinated by pro-life activist, Lila Rose, caught Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards lying when she claimed to offer mammograms to women. Even so, Komen wanted this break between the two women’s groups to go smoothly, without accusations of political bias or media furor for either organization.

Because of such wishes, prior to the media blitz launched by Planned Parenthood, Komen worked closely with Hilary Rosen, a communications and media consultant at a firm called SKDKnickerbocker, and Brendan Daly, a PR consultant from a firm called Ogilvy. As Handel explains, both these consultants had close ties with Planned Parenthood and many of their political friends. 

Rosen’s partner at SKDKnickerbocker is Anita Dunn, former head of communications for the Obama Administration. Many within Komen were well aware of Rosen’s “heavy hitter” status in DC, her frequent meetings at the White House and her close relationship with Planned Parenthood. For Daly’s part, he had worked with Cecile Richards, at Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office, and identifies himself on his resume as a Democratic strategist.

According to Handel, though many in Komen saw these connections as beneficial in the navigating of this break—“Komen never saw Planned Parenthood as our enemy”—these consultants may have aided the coordinated attack Planned Parenthood launched.

“Much was made about me being a conservative and that my personal views drove the decision within Komen, which was not true. But if my personal beliefs were fair game,” she continues, “why weren’t those who had views on the other side of the aisle subject to the same scrutiny?”

Her reporting and support of the facts of Komen’s decision make it clear that it was not beliefs regarding abortion that dictated Komen’s funding decision with regard to Planned Parenthood. Though Handel was painted by the media and others as a staunch pro-lifer, Georgia Right to Life declined to endorse her in her previous run for Georgia governor primarily because of her acceptance of in-vitro fertilization, along with her acceptance of abortion in the case of rape and incest.

Importantly, Handel’s telling of her story adds to another growing narrative in America—that women’s views on these issues are not as easily categorized as Planned Parenthood and friends would like to claim.

The Women Speak For Themselves movement—which I have been assisting from its early days—is another example of this push-back against the narrative that unequivocal support for abortion, contraception and reproductive rights on demand defines a person who cares about women. WSFT members are as diverse as they come in age, religion, socioeconomic background, and positions on contraception, abortion, and other related issues (though as an organization it’s unwaveringly pro-life). But they are united in insisting that women can think for themselves and speak for themselves on these issues.

Handel’s description of the bullying tactics we are up against, and her fighting spirit will strike a chord with the many women who are sick of being “spoken for” by the reproductive health political establishment. As Handel says: “Planned Parenthood brought Komen to its knees, counting on no-one having the guts to stand up to them. Well, what Planned Parenthood didn’t count on is me.”

Meg T. McDonnell is the Communications Director for the Chiaroscuro Foundation. The Chiaroscuro Institute, an independent public charity related to the Chiaroscuro Foundation, has partnered with Karen Handel and her publisher in promotion of her book. This article reprinted from Mercatornet.com under a Creative Commons License.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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