Author archives: Jeanne Monahan

What Can You Do to Save One Life?

by Jeanne Monahan

September 25, 2012

A few weeks ago at FRC’s Values Voter Summit, I had the honor of moderating a truly all-star panel of pro-life speakers. Our theme was “One Life” — incorporating both the somber reality of reflecting upon the 55 million unique lives that have been lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, as well as the urgency of doing everything we can moving forward to save each and every precious life.

Our distinguished panelists included Melissa Ohden, who as a developing baby survived a saline abortion. Melissa has recently come under much attack for a beautiful ad she made promoting life. We also heard from Dr. Michael New, author of research on the impact of state laws with regard to reducing the number of abortions. Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation, also gave an incredibly inspiring and engaging presentation about his own personal story and the importance of doing everything we can to save lives, each of which are filled with wonderful potential.

Lastly our panel included David Bereit, founder of 40 Days for Life. David spoke about what every person can do to make a difference in saving a life. This group has seen very fruitful returns on the investment of time, patience, love and prayer. In fact, the most recent 40 Days for Life campaigns begins tomorrow.

For those of us who have ever asked what we can do to make a difference in the culture wars, what we can do to help protect and defend life, I highly encourage giving one hour to 40 Days for Life during this campaign between Sept 26-Nov 4. You will not regret it!

Eye Opening Data and Information on Abortion and the African-American Community

by Jeanne Monahan

September 25, 2012

Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend an extremely moving educational forum on the general topic of abortion in the African American community. Hosted by the National Black Pro-life Coalition (NPBLC) and Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), the afternoon included a dream team panel addressing issues including the safety of abortion, the economic impact of abortion, a history of the disparate abortion data impacting the African-American community and much more.

Recall that abortion disproportionately impacts the African American community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that black Americans had a staggering 42% of all abortions in America in 2008 (the most recent year for which abortion data is available) yet according to the Census Bureau, African Americans composed only 12.6 percent of the total population. The presenters all discussed different nuances of this horrific problem within the Black community, and I am told that the NPBLC will soon release the presentations electronically (keep your eye on their website!).

In the meantime, here are a few notes from the eye-opening afternoon:

** Catherine Davis delved in state specific abortion data, including Mississippi, where black babies make up an astounding 78% of the abortions.

** Pastor Stephen Broden discussed three studies indicating the sad fact that abortion clinics are located primarily in black areas.

** Dean Nelson addressed the ugly truth that black women are two and a half time more likely than white women to die from abortion.

** Freda Bush, OB-GYN, further delved into the topic of abortion and women’s health, and how when a neutral party reviews the data, abortion clearly is not a positive thing for women’s health.

** Rev. Walter Hoye provided excellent remarks on the topic of the impact of abortion on the economy.

But this is only a small sampling of the comments and speakers. I highly encourage you to review these powerful presentations on an astounding human right issue that has received a profoundly inadequate amount of attention!

Abortion and Women’s Health

by Jeanne Monahan

September 7, 2012

With all of the talk this week at the DNC about abortion and women’s health, it might be worth asking the basic question: Is abortion good for women’s health? What does the research show? What can science tell us?

Two studies published this week actually show a connection between abortion and higher mortality rates for women.

Similarly, according to the CDC, since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, at least 450 women have died in the United States as a result of abortion complications. Keep in mind that this number is definitely a low estimate because many states do not report abortion data to the CDC, including California whose abortion rate is so high as to account for approximately one fifth of all abortions in the country. The CDC data also only uses information from 1973-2007 — later reports are not yet available.

What data do we have on the safety of chemical abortion? According to the Food and Drug Administration as of April, 2011 (10 and a half years after RU-486 was approved in the U.S.), there were a whopping 2207 adverse event reports on file with the government. Of these, there have been 612 hospitalizations, 339 blood transfusions and most sadly, 11 deaths directly related to the use of chemical abortion. See for yourself.

There is so much more to be written on this topic. There is much research on abortion and psychological problems. There is also a wealth of information on abortion and non-death physiological consequences. The science and research tell the facts. I just wish we could move away from the dangerous and false rhetoric that abortion is good for women’s health. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Casualties of the Healthcare Law

by Jeanne Monahan

August 30, 2012

As we close out this historic month of August, 2012, I cant help but comment on a very sad day that marked the start of a new moment in American history. The infamous contraceptive mandate began its implementation stage on August 1, 2012, and on this day the landscape of the separation of Church and State as we have known it in the United States was drastically altered. On that day groups were forced to violate religious dictates and consciences on such matters as insurance coverage of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Those who have been following this debate will well remember that one year ago, the department of Health and Human Services used its regulatory power to mandate that the full range of Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptives be included in all health insurance plans, minus a very small group of religious employers, namely places of worship.

A massive public outcry ensued this decision, resulting in the Obama Administration announcing a purported accommodation last February (one that is yet to be worked through in any level of detail) as well as a one year safe haven for certain religious employers while they worked through the logistics of violating their consciences.

Organizations that do not fulfill the safe haven criteria include businesses, and groups that must not have provided any kind of contraception coverage before the February 10th regulation was issued. A number of lawsuits have been filed in response, including many asking for immediate injunctions against the mandate set to begin on Wednesday.

So who are the first casualties of the healthcare law? One such group is Weingartz Supply based out of Ann Arbor,Michigan. The organization provides supplies for lawn-mowing and snow removal. Until now the business, owned by a Catholic has not included contraception coverage, but now will be required to do so. Representing Weingartz and a Catholic business organization, Legatus, the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan filed a suit asking for an injunction from the mandate, but a hearing has not yet been set despite a May filing.

Similarly, a family-owned heating and cooling business in Colorado, Hercules, sought and received a temporary injunction the Friday before the mandate was to be implemented. But the injunction is specific to their family business, other groups are not covered.

Other casualties of the healthcare law include insurers and participants in the individual market who must to comply with the HHS Mandate as well as schools that have already removed health insurance coverage because of the HHS Mandate. To date this includes Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio as well as Ave Maria University in Florida. Note the irony, given that the goal of the healthcare law was to have more people covered, not less.

By far the vast majority of religious groups impacted by this mandate will feel the pinch once the safe harbor period (and the election) is over.

As we reflect upon this defining moment in history where HHS has in essence used regulatory power to redefine Church and State relations, I can still find comfort in the balance of power existing in our U.S. democratic system. The constitutionality of this regulation will ultimately be decided by the courts, where approximately 50 suits related to the HHS mandate currently wait to be heard.

NBC Chief Medical Advisor Sees Abortion as Science and a Means of Preventing Disease

by Jeanne Monahan

June 27, 2012

On Friday, June, 8, NBCs Today show ran a panel interview on the topic of prenatal testing and abortion. The primary interviewee was NBCs Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

Sadly, during the clip Dr. Snyderman advocated for aborting babies that receive a poor prenatal diagnosis. When questioned by host Savannah Guthrie about the ethics behind such a decision, Dr. Snyderman shockingly responded that such use of abortion can be a means of disease prevention.

Dr. Silvermans eugenics approach —- eliminating certain populations of people because they have a disease or disability —- is not unlike a social experiment that Demark has undertaken. The country is currently seeking to abort all babies with Down Syndrome, aiming to eradicate the disease.

Im not entirely sure how professionals such as Dr. Silverman or the government of Denmark make peace with the reality that they are eradicating entire populations of people, not diseases. Any elementary school science student can easily decipher the difference between a disease and a person.

Persons have dignity, not because of what they accomplish or how well they cognate, but simply because they are persons. Prenatal testing must be used in a way that respects the dignity inherent to each individual. In the same way that science is at the service of the human person, prenatal testing is good only insomuch as it leads to a path of treatment and support respectful of the mother and infant patients it seeks to serve.

Family Research Council has co-hosted a few events over the past year in an effort to educate and inform on this most critical topic. The first event was an afternoon lecture, which included phenomenal scientific research on the intellectual treatment for Down Syndrome (wouldnt it be wonderful if ABC reported on this great news?). The second event included a day-long conference geared towards medical professionals on treatment and support available after receiving a poor prenatal diagnosis.

Rallying for Religious Freedom in New Jersey

by Jeanne Monahan

June 11, 2012

On Friday, June 8, I had the privilege of participating in a rally for religious freedom in Trenton, New Jersey, sponsored by Right to Life of New Jersey. The rally was one of many held around the country in protest of the HHS Mandate violating religious freedom. The June 8 date was significant because on that day in 1789 James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights to Congress.

As I took the train up to New Jersey I was excited to be with like-minded people on Friday, but nothing could have prepared me for the enthusiasm, courage and faith that I would witness in those few short hours. It began with a mass at 10:30 at the Cathedral, St. Mary of the Assumption. Even though it was a work-day, literally every seat was taken with well over 1000 people in attendance. Over 30 priests celebrated mass alongside Bishop OConnell, former President of Catholic University. The Bishop received a standing ovation after he encouraged those in attendance to be courageous, persistent and continue to pray for religious liberty.

Following the mass, those in attendance processed from the Cathedral to the state capitol, where we met up with many others from different religious and secular backgrounds outside of the New Jersey state capitol. It was a true honor to speak to this crowd and the whole experience reminded me of the role of the people of faith in overturning Communism in Poland. It was the faith, courage, energy and persistence of the Polish people, especially during masses and other outdoor events when the newly elected John Paul II visited, that began the demise of Communism and the road to restored religious freedom in that country. And so it will be here in the United States. Despite the heat and strong sunlight, the rally went on well over an hour and a half.

Emergency Contraception: We need an unbiased review of the facts

by Jeanne Monahan

June 7, 2012

Earlier this week, the New York Times published an article by science writer Pam Belluck titled Abortion Qualms on Morning-After Pill May Be Unfounded. The research piece that had been long in the works and its release was strategic, given our national focus on the Administrations contraceptive mandate. Belluck focused on the mechanisms of action of Emergency Contraceptives (EC), or what exactly happens when ECs are used. Bellucks thesis? ECs do not prevent implantation and therefore are not abortifacients. Unfortunately, in the process of trying to prove her theory Ms. Belluck left out a lot of critical information that astute readers have every right to know.

Dr. Donna Harrison, a board-certified OBGYN, responded to Bellucks piece yesterday, NYT Convolution of Facts. I highly recommend reading this piece in its entirety but additionally I am highlighting a few key points below and including quotes from both articles.

1) The research question at hand is specifically Plan Bs potential to prevent implantation. Dr. Harrison explains the science behind how Plan B works and then connects this to the heart of the debate. Plan B is a progestin, a type of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that must be in a womans body for her to be able to allow the embryo to implant and develop the placental connections between the embryo and the mother. But Plan B is a very large dose of progesterone, higher than the womans body would normally make. It is the effect of that high dose which is under debate.

2) Conflicting Research. There are a number of studies indicating that Plan B prevents implantation and more recently a few studies that do not support this. Unfortunately, however, for Ms. Bellucks readers, her piece makes it sound as though one can act with certainty that Plan B does not prevent ovulation. But Richard Doerflinger associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had a nice quote responding to Ms. Belluck, I would be relieved if it doesnt have this effect….So far what I see is an unresolved debate and some studies on both sides. He also noted that because of difficulties in ethically testing the drugs on women, its not only unresolved, but it may be unresolvable.

3) Collapsing Plan B and Ella. Plan B and Ella are completely different drugs with very different modes of action. Ms. Belluck created confusion by conflating these two drugs in her piece and made broad claims that would extend to all ECs. According to Dr. Harrison, lumping together two very different drugs and calling them morning-after pills allows for clever confusion of what is known about the mechanism of action of each drug, and the role of progesterone in helping the embryo to implant and sustain the pregnancy.

4) Studies show that Ella can cause an abortion pre and post implantation.

Dr. Harrison noted the following:

Ella is a second-generation derivative of the abortion drug RU-486, and is equipotent with RU-486 in blocking the action of progesterone at the level of the ovary and endometrium, one of the facts I explain in my paper on this topic. Indeed, if taken before a woman ovulates, Ella will interfere with progesterone action and prevent the egg from being released. But the critically important question is what happens when you take Ella after ovulation. And the answer is clear. Ella blocks the action of progesterone at the level of the ovary, and blocks the action of progesterone at the endometrium, both of which interfere with implantation.

5) Dr. Trussell is, err, chameleon-like. Dr. James Trussell is quoted as a major researcher in the NYT piece and his research is key to the Department of Health and Human Services ASPE brief on the cost effectiveness of the contraceptive mandate. Dr. Trussell conveniently changes his message about the drugs efficaciousness to fit with the abortion industrys goal du jour. Dr. Harrison makes the following comment, [a]nd here, abortion proponents speak out of both sides of their mouth. The quote from Trussell in theNYT article was particularly amusing. If you read his previous research papers, sometimes he claims over 90 percent efficacy from Plan B, and sometimes he claims around 50 percent efficacy. Why these differences? Well, as he so readily admits, you cant get numbers of 90 percent efficacy without some sort of post-fertilization effect. So when the issue of mechanism of action is raised, suddenly the efficacy for Plan B gets adjusted to what would be expected from a drug with no post-fertilization effect. But, when issues of funding arise … well Plan B becomes much more effective.

6) Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) prevent implantation. Well here is one point that I will give to Ms. Belluck. She acknowledges that certain copper IUDs (yes, included in the contraceptive mandate) can prevent implantation of a newly fertilized embryo. scientists say, research suggests that … the copper intrauterine device (also a daily birth control method), can work to prevent pregnancy after an egg has been fertilized.

In the end, this conversation requires caution and continued unbiased research. The difference between preventing and destroying life is immensely significant to women who choose to take these drugs. Women have the right to know about all of the scientific research, not merely the research supporting an individual ideology.

Notes from the PRENDA Debate

by Jeanne Monahan

May 30, 2012

This afternoon on the House floor, debate was lively regarding HR 3541, the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” (PRENDA).

A number of women spoke out in support of the bill. “A vote against PRENDA is a vote for gendercide,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, TN. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, NY, said that “Sex selection abortion is the ultimate war on women”…and “if we don’t allow women the right to be born, they are denied all other rights.” Rep. Sandy Adams, FL, also spoke favorably towards the bill.

Interestingly, while the Democrats dropped their favorite rhetorical phrase “War on Women” (or, in the case of Rep. Hank Johnson, GAWOW”) with some frequency during the debate, only one Democratic congresswoman was willing to go on the record and speak up in opposition to the bill, Rep. Barbara Lee, CA.

Rep. Cliff Stearns, FL, clearly shocked that people would not support the bill, spoke about the serious nature of voting against sex selection abortion, regardless of political affiliation.

A vote is scheduled for tomorrow.

Secretary Sebelius on Religious Freedom Protections

by Jeanne Monahan

April 26, 2012

This morning in a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee, HHS Secretary Sebelius was questioned by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on the topic of religious liberty. Specifically, Rep. Gowdy questioned Secretary Sebelius’ statement in her testimony indicating the careful consideration she undertook to “balance” religious liberty protections with preventive services in making the decision about the contraceptive mandate (which includes drugs that can cause abortions).

Rep. Gowdy asked the Secretary about the specifics of her “balance”. In doing so he explained three tests for legal balance, depending on the content and issues being weighed. He explained that because religious liberty is a fundamental right any decision that might violate it would require the strictest scrutiny.

Under oath, the nation’s HHS head stated that in making this decision and taking into consideration religious liberty issues, she relied on the expertise of HHS General Counsel. When questioned further about the counsel she received, the Secretary reported that guidance was provided entirely in discussion, and no legal memo was written on the topic. When asked further about her knowledge of the most significant cases related to relgious liberty that have been decided by the Supreme Court, the Secretary responded that she was unaware/unfamiliar with these cases. It is a telling moment.

The full video is a must-see and just over five minutes:

The War on Little Women

by Jeanne Monahan

April 24, 2012

Abortion is profoundly anti-woman,” said Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. “All of the mothers and half of the babies are victims.”

However, it is fact that in some countries baby girls are aborted at a much higher rate than 50 percent. India, China and other countries would fall into this category. In such countries it usually has been the case that when, through utrasound, it is detected that a pregnant mother is carrying a female, the developing female baby is much more likely to be aborted than a male baby. Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt recently reported on the long-term negative demographic impact of such gender-specific abortion in these countries.

But the war on little women has now taken a different sinister twist. An in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic in Washington State is blatantly advertising in Canadian magazines about the possibility to “create” the gender you’d like through modern technology. They leave out the unsettling detail that the other embryos created are then usually destroyed.

A fertility clinic in Washington state has been targeting Indo-Canadians in British Columbia with an ad encouraging them to ‘create the family you want: Boy or Girl.’ The ad features a picture of an ethnic boy and girl attired in traditional Indian garb. A website address in the ad directs parents interested in sex-selection to the Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine where they learn that preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is the clinics preferred method for selecting an embryo of known gender facilitating family balancing.

Sabrina Atwal, project director for the Indo-Canadian Womens Association in Edmonton said she was ‘appalled’ by the ad and that it was indicative of the devaluation faced by women and girls in Indo-Canadian communities.

Girls are fighting for their lives before theyre even born,’ she said.”