Month Archives: December 2011

A Great Day for Life in Virginia

by Family Research Council

December 30, 2011

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell yesterday approved new regulations that “will make it more difficult for clinics providing abortions to operate and potentially close down most of the states 22 facilities” http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/capital-land/2011/12/mcdonnell-approves-sweeping-abortion-changes/2045296#ixzz1i3AQv7Gd.

The new health rules are not onerous: They require that facilities that perform abortion “to comply with standards for surgery centers constructed after 2010 from expanding the width of hallways and the size of operating rooms to providing covered entrances and increasing the number of parking spaces at a facility … They also will require increased medical staffing and allow for unannounced inspections of the clinics and reviews of individual patients’ records” http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/virginia-politics/2011/sep/15/25/pro-choice-anti-abortion-advocates-address-regulat-ar-1312067/.

The necessity of these standards is demonstrated by the news that two physicians who practiced at a now-shuttered abortion clinic in Maryland have been “charged with multiple counts of murder under the states viable fetus law” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2-doctors-accused-of-performing-late-term-abortions-in-md-arrested-and-charged-with-murder/2011/12/30/gIQAfhXOQP_story.html). The Washington Post reports that “the two doctors were indicted by a grand jury after a 16-month investigation (which) began in August 2010 after a botched procedure at Brighams Elkton clinic. An 18-year-old woman who was 21 weeks pregnant had her uterus ruptured and her bowel injured, and rather than call 911, Brigham and Riley drove her to a nearby hospital, where both were uncooperative and Brigham refused to give his name, authorities said. A search of the clinic after the botched abortion revealed a freezer with 35 late-term fetuses inside, including one believed to have been aborted at 36 weeks, authorities said.”

Christians need to be involved in all facets of culture: The arts, media, enterprise both large and small, church ministries, charities - and also politics. Under former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the State Board of Health - the majority of whose members are appointed by a sitting governor - would never have approved the new regulations. The nine McDonnell appointees to the Board approved them, to a person. The regulations themselves would never have been enacted unless first passed by socially conservative majorities in the Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate. And if Gov. McDonnell and State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had been defeated by their pro-abortion rights opponents in the 2009 election, the regulations would have been stultified in a never-land of litigation and/or inaction.

Politics cannot transform culture nor the hearts of those who compose it. However, politics can encourage public virtue and constrain public evil. That’s why elections matter. Bob McDonnell and his pro-life colleagues in Virginia prove it.

Planned Parenthood Releases Latest Annual Report

by Family Research Council

December 30, 2011

On December 27, 2011 Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) released it latest Annual Report for 2009-2010.

Here is some of the information included in the report:

- PPFA performed a total of 329,445 abortions during this time period.

- PPFA provided 841 adoption referrals during this same time (therefore for every adoption referral there were 391 abortions performed).

- PPFA had a total budget of 1.0482 billion dollars.

- PPFA had an excess of revenue over expenses of 18.5 million dollars (in other words, this billion dollar non-profit organizations profited 18.5 million during that time).

- 46 percent of the total PPFA budget comes from tax payer dollars in the form of government funding.

I encourage you to take time to read through the report in its entirety at: http://issuu.com/actionfund/docs/ppfa_financials_2010_122711_web_vf?mode=window&viewMode=doublePage.

Planned Parenthood Releases Latest Annual Report

by Family Research Council

December 30, 2011

On December 27, 2011 Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) released it latest Annual Report for 2009-2010.

Here is some of the information included in the report:

  • PPFA performed a total of 329,445 abortions during this time period.
  • PPFA provided 841 adoption referrals during this same time (therefore for every adoption referral there were 391 abortions performed).
  • PPFA had a total budget of 1.0482 billion dollars.
  • PPFA had an excess of revenue over expenses of 18.5 million dollars (in other words, this billion dollar non-profit organizations profited 18.5 million during that time).
  • 46 percent of the total PPFA budget comes from tax payer dollars in the form of government funding.

I encourage you to take time to read through the report in its entirety at: http://issuu.com/actionfund/docs/ppfa_financials_2010_122711_web_vf?mode=window&viewMode=doublePage.

A Summary of CDC’s Most Recent Abortion Surveillance Report

by Family Research Council

December 28, 2011

On November 25, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its annual report with the most recent data and statistics on abortion in the United States, Abortion Surveillance —- United States, 2008.

The CDC has reported on abortion-related data annually since 1969. Generally these reports are very helpful and informative in terms of tracking and understanding larger trends and actual numbers related to abortion in the United States. The 2008 report is dense with information ranging from the ethnic background and age of the mother to the age of the baby when aborted, as well as the kind of abortion that took place. However, because states are not required to provide abortion data to the CDC, while the surveillance report offers important information and numbers about abortion in the U.S., it does not provide a complete and thorough depiction of abortion data in the U.S. By way of background, until 1998, every state annually reported abortion-related data to the CDC. But beginning in 1998, combinations of states began to refuse to submit abortion-related information to the CDC. Over the years non-reporting states have included California (1998-2008), New Hampshire (1998-2008), Oklahoma (1998-1999), Alaska (1998-2002), West Virginia (2003-2004), Louisiana (2005), and most recently, Maryland (2007-2008). Missing any state’s information is problematic, but in particular, because California has the most abortions in the U.S., not including their data significantly skews the overall picture.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that states that do submit data to the CDC may pick and choose which information they provide. “…the level of detail that CDC receives on the characteristics of women obtaining abortions varies considerably from year to year and among reporting areas….because the collection of abortion data is not federally mandated, reporting areas can develop their own forms and do not necessarily collect all of the information that CDC compiles.” (page 2) Since the CDC’s abortion surveillance reports have incomplete numbers, policy-makers and other interested groups and people must rely on the Guttmacher Institute’s statistics and analysis. However, research neutrality comes into question because Guttmacher was originally founded as the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, although they have since formally separated.

The CDC report reads “CDC is unable to obtain the total number of abortions performed in the United States. During 1999—2008, the total annual number of abortions recorded by CDC was 65%—69% of the number recorded by the Guttmacher Institute, which uses numerous active follow-up techniques to increase the completeness of the data obtained through its periodic national survey of abortion providers.” (page 6)

Also as reported last year, the report is again missing the abortion fatality rate. Page 5 reads, “Although national case-fatality rates (the number of abortion-related deaths per 100,000 reported legal induced abortions) have been published for 1972—1997, this measure could not be calculated with CDC data for 1998—2007; because a substantial number of abortions have been documented in states that did not report to CDC during 1998-2007.”

One might consider that most statistical conclusions in the abortion surveillance reports since 1998 lacked some form of U.S. data. Therefore the claim that the abortion rate can not be estimated as other statistics have been does not appear to be reasonable. It would seem that the abortion rate should be able to be computed with the same limited information obtained by the states that other statistics are computed. The report has also not updated its latest abortion-related deaths from the previous report (with 2007 data).

Last year it was reported that for the states that reported data, in 2007, six women died in the U.S. as a result of complications related to abortion. (page 5) The updated 2008 number has not yet been released. However, while some information is missing, there is still much to be learned from what the data that is included in the report. Below are some basic statistics and numbers on abortion-related information in the U.S. in 2008.

More children were aborted in the U.S.(in reporting states) in 2008 than in 2007. “Among the 49 reporting areas that provided data for 2008, a total of 825,564 abortions were reported.” (page 3) In 2007, the total number of abortions as reported by the CDC was 810,582, an increase of close to 15,000.

Most abortions were performed on women in their 20s. “Women aged 20-29 years accounted for the majority (57.1%) of all abortions in 2008. In 2008, women aged 20-29 years also had the highest abortion rates (29.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20-24 years and 21.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 25-29 years). (page 3)

The report states that the majority of abortions are performed early in pregnancy. For 2008, the majority (62.8%) of abortions were performed at 8 weeks gestation, and 91.4% were performed at 13 weeks gestation. (Page 4) Few abortions (7.3%) were performed at 14-20 weeks gestation, and 1.3% were performed at 21 weeks gestation. (page 4)

In 2008, approximately 14.6% of women used RU-486, the dangerous abortion drug, and that approximately 75.9% of abortions

were surgical (“curettage”) for abortion done at 13 weeks or earlier. (page 4)

Non-Hispanic black women accounted for 35.5% of all abortion while making up approximately only 12.6% of the population according to the Census Bureau); Hispanic women accounted for 21.1% of all abortion, while making up 16.3% of the population according to the Census Bureau. Non-Hispanic white women accounted for 37.2% of abortions, while making up 72.4% of the population according to the Census Bureau. (page 4) The CDC annual abortion surveillance reports are very informative and helpful, albeit incomplete, to those interested in women’s health - both those women who are born, and those women (and men, too) who are unborn.

Home for Christmas: The General Resigns His Commission - Annapolis, December 23, 1783

by Robert Morrison

December 23, 2011

Its the Generals Highway in my hometown of Annapolis. Few of the Christmas shoppers at the Mall probably stop to read the roadside marker. But it is so called because its the route that General George Washington took in 1783 to resign his commission to the American Congress. Congress had been meeting in Marylands capital city. The members had been run out of Philadelphia for failure to pay the troops. Some things dont change. A handsome flag, Americas first peacetime flag, was hanging from the Old State House where Congress was sitting.

Congress was eager then, as now, to get out of town. Christmas was fast approaching.

But this was important business. George Washington would appear before the civil authorities that had given him his power and voluntarily lay it down before the representatives of a free people. Eight long years of war had brought them to this point.

Few Americans dreamed of such a long war when Massachusetts Minutemen stood up to their red-coated British masters and fought for their liberty. That was in 1775.

Poets would later memorialize that day in stirring lines. School children in America used to memorize Ralph Waldo Emersons Concord Hymn.

By the rude bridge that archd the flood/Their flag to Aprils breeze unfurld/Here once the embattled farmers stood/And fired the shot heard round the world.

Washington had assumed command of the grandly named Continental Army in that year.

Chosen unanimously by the Continental Congress, this wealthy Virginia landholder was called His Excellency throughout the war. And, though he bombarded Congress with pleading, sometimes petulant letters, he never once hesitated to obey its orders or showed contempt for its endless dithering. Washington wrote of his men leaving bloody footprints in the snow, starving, and ill-clothed. He wanted Congress to meet its responsibilities to his brave men.

At Newburgh, New York, earlier in that year of 1783, His Excellency strode onto the stage in front of a hastily called grievance meeting of army officers. This was a point of maximum peril. Many a revolution had dissolved into mutiny and sedition at such a point. Grumbling against Congress had reached a high pitch. Uninvited, Washington nonetheless appeared, unarmed, before this embittered gathering. How easy it would have been for some young revolutionary to assassinate Washington on the spot and seize power at the head of an armed force. Knowing all this, Washington dramatically took his eyeglasses from his pocket to read a Congressmans letter to them. The letter would provide answers to their demands. Most of them had never seen the general wearing glasses before. Long a student of the theater, Washington paused, dramatically, then said quietly above the hush: You will pardon me, gentlemen, for I have grown not only gray but nearly blind in the service of my country.

Hardened veterans of many battles wept openly. The incipient mutiny collapsed and America was spared a bloody civil warright at the start.

Now, Washington was to appear before that very Congress. His appearance was no casual thing. He did not tell Congress he would address them. He asked to be permitted to speak. A committee that included Thomas Jefferson carefully prepared Congress response. Members would be seated, wearing their hats. The General would stand before The United States in Congress Assembled. In doing this, Mr. Jefferson thought it important to reverse the practices of the British House of Commons. Washington was no king. There would be no more kings in America.

Marylands Old State House was packed with congressmen, guests, young Army officers,

and ladies and gentlemen of Annapolis. Washington had not flinched when he faced British cannon at Princeton, but now his hands shook as he read his prepared text.

Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty…I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence. A diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

Again, he emphasized, his gratitude for the interposition of Providence. When you have been shot at, had bullets pierce your hat and coat, had horses shot out from underneath, you have an appreciation of Gods Providence that perhaps exceeds that of ordinary men. In the presence of such a Power, its not surprising that Washingtons hands shook.

Everyone on the floor of Congress, it is recorded, wept. So, too, did all the visitors, including fine ladies, in the gallery. The President of Congress, Thomas Mifflin, delivered the response, drafted for him by Jefferson.

And then the General was off. He was in a hurry to get home to Mount Vernon for Christmas. It would be his first Christmas with his family in eight years. We can think this Christmas of all our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who are standing duty defending us. They march along the Generals Highway, too.

When King George III, Washingtons enemy, heard that he planned to resign his commission to Congress, the king exclaimed: If he does that, he will be the greatest man on earth. He did and he was.

More Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Approved by NIH Director Collins for Christmas

by David Prentice

December 22, 2011

Just in time for Christmas, NIH Director Francis Collins has approved more human embryonic stem cell lines for taxpayer funding, bringing the total number of hESC lines at the federal trough to 142. Today’s approval is not all that surprising—the four new lines, from the University of Queensland, were recommended for approval by the Stem Cell Working Group at the December 9, 2011 meeting of the Director’s Advisory Committee. The Stem Cell Working group had also voted not to approve six lines from China.

The four new hESC linies that have been approved are not for clinical use, however. Subsequent to the meeting and before the latest approvals, NIH also approved two other hESC lines, from Mt. Sinai Hospital in Canada. Those two lines are also restricted:

NIH-funded research with this line may only be conducted at Mount Sinai Hospital and other Canadian laboratories affiliated with the Canadian Stem Cell Network for further research or potential clinical use.”

In the meantime, the current and future patient benefits of adult stem cells continue to be ignored.

CMI on the War on Christmas

by Family Research Council

December 22, 2011

The Media Research Centers Culture and Media Institute (CMI) recently posted an article about the war on Christmas, documenting how some in the media ignore or demean attacks on Christmas as phony and fake. One of the attacks on Christmas that they list comes from JP Duffys experience at a U.S. Post Office in Silver Spring, MD.

CMI fellow Erin Brown writes, Even our tolerant Federal government is playing the Grinch card this year. According to FoxNews.com, A group of Christmas carolers was thrown out of a U.S. Post Office in Silver Spring, MD, after the post office manager told them they were not allowed to sing Christmas carols on government property.

Brown documents a long series of attacks over the last couple of years, as well as the reactions of numerous liberal media types that ignore or mock the war on Christmas.

These days, the war on Christmas is fought by the Christian right … [Catholic League President] William Donahue and Rupert Murdochs New York Post, traditional combatants in the war on Christmas, have trained their Yuletide guns on someone, not for railing out put the Christ back in Christmas, but for failing to worship Santa Claus, Keith Olbermann accused on his old MSNBC show Countdown in November of last year.

If youre not convinced that theres a war on Christmas, check out the page, and a few of the attacks it documents:

In upstate New York, one school district has declared that Christmas and Hanukkah will no longer be celebrated in classrooms. According to FOX/WROC, The Batavia City School District will no longer allow decorations for either holiday to appear in classrooms as well as teachers are discouraged from writing or saying Merry Christmas. In Fairfax County, Va., grade-schoolers are treated to winter celebration. In Texas, another school district has declared war on Christmas this time, classrooms are not allowed to celebrate Santa Claus or exchange gifts.

Some attacks on Christmas are downright weird. The Huffington Post has the Skeleton Santa story, which Brown also documents in her article.

Thankfully, this hopeful time of year isnt built on the backs of Christmas displays shimmering on lawns and in storefronts. Its founded on the birth of hope: Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hard But Necessary Choices in 2012

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 22, 2011

It is human nature to want to avoid hard choices, and to get angry with those who would compel us to make them.

In a new piece in Forbes, Bill Frezza wisely observes that the era of what he calls “both/and” is drawing to a crashing close: “The era of both/and was a magical time when the elected representatives running city, state, and national governments never had to make hard choices. To be sure, partisanship wasnt eliminated, but political compromise could always be found. This allowed incumbent politicians from both parties to deliver enough goodies to their constituents to assure themselves reelection.”

Whenever a politician suggests that people be allowed to invest some of their Social Security Trust Fund money into private accounts, or that private sector solutions to health care might be preferable to federally-directed ones (which solve nothing, ultimately, except the unemployment of eager bureaucrats), or that Washingtons menagerie of departments, programs, agencies, and line items be streamlined into some form of reasonable coherence, he is vilified as heartless, a tool of big business, a mendacious and reactionary primitive.

Re-election is a politicians stock in trade. To be a statesman, one must have an ample quantity of moral courage and the wisdom to know when to act boldly. Thus, given that few politicians have the strength and insight to behave in a statesmanlike way, we can anticipate that desirable change will be at best incremental. And, despite our protestations, we want it that way.

We want governments benefits without its costs. We want its protections without its intrusions. We want its presence in our need and its exclusion in our perceived abundance. We are kidding ourselves, which is to say we are human.

As Frezza argues, we are now at the beginning of an era in which refusing to make hard choices is no longer possible:

… in bad economic times tax revenue craters, leaving massive shortfalls as government spending not only fails to decline alongside revenues, but goes up to pay for safety net expenses, which more people tap into as they are left out of work. This has happened both in California and at the federal level. Even more threatening than these oscillations is the fact that the underlying trend line in federal revenue has gone flat as federal spending entered an unprecedented period of exponential growth. To top it off, the Baby Boomer generation has started its massive wave of retirements, calling in the chits on those unfunded entitlement liabilities. And just when you thought things couldnt get any worse, GDP growth hit its deepest and broadest rut since the 1930s, where it remains mired for the foreseeable future.

We resent it when policymakers, speaking to us like adults, offer necessary and painful choices about policy priorities. Thats why we have long lived in an era of self-delusion and rewarded those who have given it to us.

We cannot abort our progeny and anticipate economic growth. We cannot experience liberty, in its fullness, if we disavow a willingness to fail. We cannot corrode the family unit through divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, and homosexual unions and say we care about our childrens future. We cannot secularize our society without destroying the unspoken Judeo-Christian moral consensus that always has been the firm foundation of our republic.

It doesnt take a Ph.D. in economics to understand that borrowing from the future will increasingly become not just inadvisable but outright impossible. The future has arrived, and it isnt pretty, Frezza says. He is right.

Americans have long been a brave people. We like to talk about the heroic conduct of our armed forces, and well we should. But just as our men and women in uniform show courage in their sphere, can we show it in ours? It is now time for us to see if we can still summon the personal virtue and political courage without which no economy, or nation, can long endure.

This will mean hard choices. Let us steel ourselves to them, with the concurrent commitment that through the non-governmental institutions of family, church, synagogue, not-for-profit charities, professional associations and small and large corporate enterprise, we will address the needs our sagging Leviathan cannot.

How Does Your State Rank on the Issue of Child Sex Trafficking?

by Family Research Council

December 21, 2011

The State Department annually releases a “report card” evaluating countries’ work and progress on combating the heinous crime of trafficking of human person for either labor or sex slavery. In 2010, the United States was included in the ranking and evaluation for the first time, scoring in the highest tier, although its narrative showed much room for improvement in this area where all can agree that one exploited person is one too many.

On that note, in late November Shared Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of sex trafficking through education and public awareness, released a domestic version of the report, “The Protected Innocence Initiative,” grading individual states on their efforts to combat child sex trafficking.

In their words, “The Protected Innocence Initiative is a comprehensive strategy to promote zero tolerance for child sex trafficking. In partnership with the American Center for Law &Justice, Shared Hope International conducted a comprehensive analysis of each states existing laws. The Protected Innocence Legislative Framework solely evaluates a states existing laws and does not evaluate enforcement or implementation.

The methodology was vetted by experts in the anti-trafficking field including Ambassador Mark Lagon (U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 2007-2009) and directors from the following organizations: the National District Attorneys Association; American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law; the Protection Project at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; ECPAT-USA; Children at Risk, Houston, Texas; and A Future Not a Past, Atlanta, Georgia.”

Criteria used to evaluate states’ grades included criminal provisions addressing traffickers, demand and facilitators, protections for child victims, and criminal justice tools for investigation and prosecution, among others.

According to the report, the worst ranking states in the U.S. include Virginia, Michigan, Maryland, and Colorado, to name just a few. Some of the best states were Missouri, Washington and Texas.

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