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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Federal court says NY allowed to ban ‘Choose Life’ plates as ‘patently offensive’

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By Ben Johnson

ALBANY, NY, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pro-life message can be classified as “patently offensive,” a federal appeals court ruled last week. The new opinion came as a three-judge panel ruled that New York state was right to reject a “Choose Life” license plate on the grounds that it may grate on New Yorkers' political sensibilities.

The judges split on whether New York could deny a pro-adoption group the right to have its own license plate, although the state has in the past allowed plates endorsing political causes associated with the liberal viewpoint, such as environmentalism.

Judge Rosemary Pooler, who was appointed by President Clinton, wrote that the state's denial did not harm anyone's right to freedom of expression, because drivers “may display a ‘Choose Life’ bumper sticker — or even cover every available square inch of their vehicle with such stickers. That message will resonate just as loudly as if vehicle displayed a ‘Choose Life’ license plate.”

Judge Debra Ann Livingston, a President George W. Bush appointee, wrote in her dissent that “a proposed custom plate depicting a sun and two smiling children, and bearing the words, ‘Choose Life’ [thought] to be ‘patently offensive’” was “surprising.”

“Pro-adoption organizations should have the same speech rights as any other organization. While the district court affirmed this basic freedom, the circuit court denied free speech in favor of government censorship,” said Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel at ADF. “The state doesn’t have the authority to target The Children First Foundation specialty plates for censorship based on its life-affirming viewpoint.”

The ruling is the lastest round in a legal battle that has raged for more than a decade and, pro-lifers say, seen state officials repeatedly suppress their First Amendment rights.

The Children First Foundation applied for the specialty license plate in 2002, but state officials say the message and design was “too controversial.” In 2004, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on CFF's behalf.

New York's Department of Motor Vehicles repeatedly denied the “Choose Life” license plates on the grounds that the message was “patently offensive.”

The same appeals court rejected an effort to suppress the plates made by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and agreed that Albany officials denied the plates based on viewpoint discrimination.

In 2006, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals noted that CFF “specifically alleges that defendants denied the picture-plate application ‘based on their disagreement with [the] life-affirming viewpoint expressed on the plate.’”

“On a motion to dismiss, we must accept this allegation, and all reasonable inferences drawn from it, as true,” the judges ruled.

Spitzer, a Democrat who strongly supported abortion-on-demand and gay “marriage,” served as governor beginning in 2007 but resigned his office in the midst of a prostitution scandal only 15 months later.

In November 2011, a federal court ruled that “New York has run afoul of the First Amendment by giving the Commissioner unbridled discretion to engage in viewpoint discrimination.”

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Yet the case has dragged on through the appeals process.

“The state has wrongly gotten away with speech discrimination against our client for more than 10 years,” Tedesco said after last week's ruling.

He said ADF is considering its next legal move.

As of this writing, “Choose Life” license plates are available in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

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Michael Coren stands outside St. James Anglican Cathedral as he prepares to be received into the Anglican Communion on April 19, 2015. Anglican Diocese of Toronto / Facebook
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‘Official’ Catholic newspaper defends running pro-abortion piece by Michael Coren

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MUENSTER, Saskatchewan, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- The Prairie Messenger, described as the "official Catholic newspaper for western Canada," is defending the publication of a piece last week in which ex-Catholic author Michael Coren openly advocates for abortion in the case of rape while saying the notion of “criminalizing abortion” is “repugnant.”

In his piece titled "Seamless garment," Coren — who recently left the Catholic Church to join the Anglican Communion over Catholic teaching on homosexuality — writes that the 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who seized international headlines after becoming pregnant by rape should be legally allowed to abort her baby.

“A terrified little girl victimized by those around her and forced by a government to give birth to the child of her rapist? That is not justice, that is not life, that is not right. God must be weeping,” he writes.

Criminalizing abortion, Coren writes, would “give state legitimization and authority to a minority view and what is to a very large extent a particular religious teaching.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes a different position, however. In paragraph 2273, it states that “as a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights." Catholic teaching holds that every human life is sacred since it comes from God. There is no exception for rape. 

For many years, Coren was one of the most prominently pro-life broadcasters in Canada. Calling himself a “journalist for life,” he wrote a column for The Interim, Canada’s life and family newspaper, and was a frequent paid speaker at pro-life events. The Prairie Messenger column appears to be the first time that he has publicly renounced his pro-life position.

Prairie Messenger: “We live in a diverse society where the challenges of daily living cause people to be confronted with difficult circumstances in a world where nothing is black and white."

Rebecca Kiessling, founder of Save The 1, told LifeSiteNews that she was disgusted to see an article in a Catholic newspaper that supports abortion. Kiessling, who was conceived by rape, is a public advocate for those targeted for abortion because they were conceived in rape.

“We are also told in Deuteronomy not to punish a child for the sins of the father and we are not to shed innocent blood. Doing so goes against every concept of justice. I did not deserve the death penalty for the crimes of my biological father. There is a misplaced compassion when anyone wants to kill the innocent child. Punish rapists, not babies,” she said.

Monica Kelsey, who was also conceived in rape, told LifeSiteNews that she was “deeply saddened to hear about Christians standing for the killing of an innocent child.”

“We all agree that this is a situation that deeply saddens us all, but killing this young woman’s child is not going to unrape her. It will further victimize her and, in the process, kill an innocent child.”

“As a child conceived through a brutal attack and rape where my birth mother almost died, I am deeply saddened that Mr. Coren is making an exception for this precious child's life, simply because his father is a rapist. God can get this 10-year-old child through this tough time, but why compound the issue with an abortion? This girl needs us to walk beside her, loving her and helping her make an adoption or parenting plan,” she said.

"This is a life, this is justice for this child. Saving this pre-born child's life is the right thing to do,” she added.

Dolores Castellanos, the doctor who is monitoring the 10-year-old girl in Paraguay, has confirmed that the pregnancy is developing without affecting the health of the infant or the little girl. Nevertheless, the international abortion lobby has latched onto the case as an opportunity to force the small South American country to change its pro-life constitution which currently protects life from the moment of conception.

Prairie Messenger is a weekly Catholic newspaper published by the Benedictine monastic community at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan. The Diocese of Saskatoon, the Archdiocese of Saint Boniface, and the Archdiocese of Regina are among those that promote the newspaper.

When LifeSiteNews asked Prairie Messenger News Editor Rev. Peter Novecosky, OSB, why it ran a piece from an ex-Catholic who advocates for positions at extreme odds with clear Catholic teaching, spokesperson Maureen Weber responded: “Because we have much to gain by listening to the voices of others.”

“To carry only Catholic columnists who repeat the catechism would mean never hearing and acknowledging the voices of those who are living the hard realities of life on the peripheries, as Pope Francis puts it. Other columnists present other viewpoints that reflect these difficult life issues. Our readers can address these issues when they are presented and, as thinking adults, they need to do more than repeat rote answers.”

Weber said that the editors of Prairie Messenger “refuse to see abortion as a single issue, but rather, as a seamless garment of protection for all of life, both the unborn and the born, support for women, for work toward alleviating the poverty that leads so many women to make desperate decisions, restorative justice rather than harsh sentences with no possibility of rehabilitation, defence policies, health care, policies on the disabled, the aged, euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

“We live in a diverse society where the challenges of daily living cause people to be confronted with difficult circumstances in a world where nothing is black and white,” she said.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized in 2013 those who champion the Church’s moral vision as a “seamless garment” while ignoring actual occasions of real injustice.

“The ‘seamless garment’ image was used to great effect to root the Church’s response to various moral issues — from nuclear proliferation to poverty — within the overarching teaching on the sanctity of human life, from natural conception to natural death,” he said.

“Unfortunately, however, it is also true that the image of the ‘seamless garment’ has been used by some theologians and Catholic politicians, in an intellectually dishonest manner, to allow or at least to justify turning a blind eye to instances of abortion, contraception, or public funding for embryonic stem cell research, as long as these were simultaneously accompanied by opposition to the death penalty or promotion of economic development for the poor - issues which are also part of the fabric of Catholic moral teaching,” he said.

The Prairie Messenger, which acts as the newspaper for a number of dioceses in Western Canada, has faced criticism in the past for opposing Catholic teaching.

In a July 2004 Catholic Insight article titled “A flawed stewardship,” Joe Campbell of Saskatoon, SK, called the Prairie Messenger’s editorial stance “disappointing” for taking what he called a “cafeteria approach to teachings on faith and morals, accepting some while rejecting others.”

Campbell criticized then-editor Rev. Andrew Britz, OSB, for failing to support Church teachings on issues such as the male priesthood, contraception, fornication, and homosexuality.

“Not only has Fr. Britz failed to support certain teachings, but he has repeatedly challenged them. He has managed this in three ways: through his editorials; through regular columnists he has retained; and through unbalanced coverage of certain events and issues,” he wrote at that time.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews that a Catholic publication should publish what the Catholic Church teaches.

“Why they would allow this to be published is certainly beyond me. I think it behooves a Catholic publication to stand-up for what the Church actually teaches. Without some counter argument in defense of Church teaching right along side this piece, I think it's wrong to run something like that,” he said.

Contact info for respectful communcations:

Diocese of Saskatoon (home of Prairie Messenger) 
Bishop Donald Bolen
Ph: 306-659-5824 ext. 824
Email: [email protected]

Prairie Messenger 
Rev. Peter Novecosky, OSB
Ph: 306-682-1772
Email: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Saint Boniface
Most Rev. Albert LeGatt, DTh
Ph: 204-237-9858
Email: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Regina
Archbishop Daniel Bohan
Ph: (306) 352-1651
Director of Communications
Bobbi Yanko - ext 230
Email: [email protected]

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BREAKING: Dutch bishops’ aid group funding Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes

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By Lisa Bourne

May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cordaid, the Dutch arm of the Vatican’s charitable umbrella Caritas Internationalis, is openly promoting contraception and says access to birth control is vital for the good of women in developing countries. The group has also given money to leading international abortion providers Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International.

Cordaid defended itself when questioned by LifeSiteNews. Calling itself a “proud member” of Caritas Internationalis, a representative said that “access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

A new report by the Lepanto Institute details evidence of numerous violations of Church teaching from Cordaid's own website.

In 2012 Cordaid started a program called “Making sexual and reproductive health services work for the next generation” in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cordaid: “Access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

“There is a clear need for sex education and contraception in the African Great Lakes region,” Cordaid wrote of the program. “Its aim is to provide a better future for young generations, reduce childbirth mortality among women through more effective family planning and alleviate poverty among families.”

It began another contraception program the following year in Burundi, Congo, and Rwanda. A Cordaid program distributed condoms in the Congo in 2012, and another worked to provide condoms and other contraceptives in Malawi in 2013, while a third provided condoms in Sierra Leone in 2011 and 2012.

The Cordaid website also shows that it gave the Philippines Planned Parenthood affiliate €220,491 in 2013 for a teen sex ed program, and partnered with another affiliate in Sierra Leone in 2013 and 2014. Cordaid gave a Marie Stopes affiliate over half a million Euros in 2013 to provide birth control, including sterilization.

Cordaid is not only a member but also a co-founder of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican’s coalition of Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations. There are 165 members in some 200 countries and territories across the world, and Cordaid is Caritas Internationalis’ local affiliate for the Netherlands.

The head of Caritas Internationalis was released from her position in 2011 amidst internal changes requested by the Vatican, prompted by concerns over the development agency’s Catholic identity. The following year Pope Benedict XVI ordered a reform of Caritas Internationalis.

The Lepanto Institute’s Michael Hichborn criticized Cordaid’s open flaunting of its membership in Caritas Internationalis while obviously disobeying Church teaching.

"With Cordaid boasting its proud membership in Caritas Internationalis while simultaneously fully admitting to dispensing contraception and funding Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International, Caritas has an obligation to expel Cordaid from its rosters," he told LifeSiteNews.

Responding to LifeSiteNews’ inquiry into the report’s specifics, in addition to stating that women benefit from “family planning” services and expressing importance in reducing “unwanted pregnancies,” Cordaid insisted it is not involved in providing abortion.

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“Cordaid's instruments of family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare do not include abortion,” the relief group said.

Cordaid also said it had the esteem of those with whom it collaborates. “Our partners, governments and our funding partners respect the way we, as a proud member of Caritas Internationalis, fulfil our role to build bridges between faith based and non-faith based organizations in north and south.”

“The catholic social teachings are the fundament of our identity and work,” the group added. “The fundamental elements of the catholic social teachings, subsidiarity, solidarity, bonum com unum and human dignity, inspire and guide us in our mission to build flourishing communities in the world’s most fragile and conflict affected areas.”  

LifeSiteNews sent inquiries to Caritas Internationalis regarding Cordaid’s activities in conflict with Church teaching, and did not receive a response before press time.

Hichborn decried the thought of Catholics in the Netherlands funding anti-Catholic initiatives. "Are the bishops of the Netherlands aware of what Cordaid is doing?” he asked. “Do Catholic parishes in the Netherlands take up collections for Cordaid? The Catholic faithful need to be made aware of what is happening in our Church."

Cordaid’s full statement to LifeSiteNews:

As a Catholic organization, Cordaid has long experience in healthcare in developing countries, especially sexual and reproductive healthcare.

In our programs one of our aims is to build bridges between citizens and governments, partners in the North and partners in the South, and bring together both religious and non-religious organizations.

Our long experience has taught us that good, complete and timely information and access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies. Cordaid's instruments of family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare do not include abortion.

Our partners, governments and our funding partners respect the way we, as a proud member of Caritas Internationalis, fulfil our role to build bridges between faith based and non-faith based organizations in north and south. The catholic social teachings are the fundament of our identity and work. The fundamental elements of the catholic social teachings, subsidiarity, solidarity, bonum comunum and human dignity, inspire and guide us in our mission to build flourishing communities in world’s most fragile and conflict affected areas.   

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