Month Archives: August 2010

Response to New York Times Article on RU-486

by Family Research Council

August 13, 2010

On July 31st, the New York Times published an article on RU-486, the abortion drug, by Nicholas Kristoff. Earlier this week my colleague, Chris Gacek, posted an excellent blog refuting many of the erroneous claims made by Kristoff. In an attempt to properly educate the public on the dangers of the drug, FRC submitted a letter to the editor to the NYT on August 2nd, but to date it hasn’t been published. Below is the letter that was submitted.

Nicholas Kristof’s July 31st column on the abortion drug RU-486 does not acknowledge the facts behind the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of RU-486 and its serious health implications.

In 2000 the FDA approved RU-486 as the first-and only-abortion pill in the U.S. Because it suppresses a woman’s immune system, making her more prone to infection and bleeding, only doctors trained in blood transfusions and located within close proximity to a hospital could distribute it.

By the spring of 2006 the FDA acknowledged six deaths, nine life-threatening incidents, 232 hospitalizations, 116 cases involving the need for blood transfusions, and 88 cases of infections, with a total of 1,070 adverse events reports.

Kristoff writes that the drug is “revolutionizing abortion around the world, especially in poor countries.” But given results in the medically sophisticated U.S., shipping this to developing countries would be a recipe for disaster.

(1) Letter from David W. Boyer, Assistant Commissioner for Legislation, Food and Drug Administration, to Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources (May 2, 2006) (on file with Subcommittee).

Heartbeat, International Response to 12th and Delaware

by Family Research Council

August 13, 2010

Earlier this week I blogged on the new, controversial documentary, 12th and Delaware, on an abortion clinic and pregnancy resource center (PRC) located in Ft. Louis, Florida. I have now learned of some excellent resources created by Heartbeat, International, including a viewing guide, and document addressing frequently asked questions (FAQs). Be sure to visit the following link to learn more about the documentary.

Kristofs Misguided, Blithe Endorsement of Misoprostol Abortions

by Chris Gacek

August 13, 2010

When a prominent New York Times columnist endorses a particular type of chemical abortion it is worth a review of the facts. (See Kristof op-ed.) In the papers August 1st edition, Nicholas Kristof wrote a paean to the potential of misoprostol-only abortions. Referring to misoprostol as Another Pill that Could Cause a Revolution, he essentially argues that abortion pills will be impossible to control and will become ubiquitous eventually. Thus, there is little that can be done to control them or to enact laws that restrict abortion laws.

Of course, Kristof ignores the destruction of human life that abortion brings about in his piece, but it should never be forgotten.

Even on his own terms, however, it is stunning what liberals will advocate especially for women in lesser developed nations. The reason the worldwide abortion movement favors chemical abortions in poor nations is that they dont have the facilities and the doctors to perform abortions. So, do-it-yourself abortions are the way to go. This should strike anyone with a modicum of common sense as highly problematic.

Some Background on Abortion Methods

Currently, there is one FDA-approved chemical abortion method in the United States. It involves the use of RU-486 followed by a second drug, misoprostol. (I advise those with a deeper interest in this topic to read Section II of Politicized Science, my FRC pamphlet on the FDAs approval of the RU-486/misoprostol regimen.) Mifepristone blocks the progesterone receptors in the lining of the uterus. Progesterone prepares the uterus for the implantation of the embryo and plays an essential role in maintaining a pregnancy thereafter. As I wrote:

RU-486s blockade of progesterone receptors leads to the deterioration of the uterine lining in which the embryo is implanted. As this deterioration worsens, the uterus is no longer able to sustain the pregnancy and the embryo is destroyed.

However, RU-486 by itself was not able to stop embryonic development and cause the uterus to empty its contents. That was a big problem. Mifepristone-only abortions worked less than 80% of the time a failure. Hence the need for misoprostol an anti-ulcer medication that, when given to a pregnant woman, almost immediately produces intense uterine contractions. In combination, the two drugs were barely adequate for the abortionists purposes. The American clinical trials demonstrated that this regimen, which the FDA would later approve, was only successful in 92% of pregnancies within 49 days LMP, 83% at 56 days LMP, and 77% at 63 days LMP. (LMP = days after the onset of last menstrual period before fertilization.)

Kristof Advocates a Dangerous Abortion Regimen

It is interesting that Kristof mentions that this regimen is used out to nine weeks in the U.S. because it fails over a fifth of the time. That is, it leaves either an incomplete abortion or an ongoing pregnancy. Typically, women need a surgical procedure to stop bleeding or infection when this happens. In the article, however, Kristof announces that the misoprostol-only abortion is the revolutionary approach to be used in other parts of the world.

He isnt as curious as he ought to be about why the progesterone-blocking chemical is the lynchpin of Western abortions, but is not needed for poor women in poor countries. He does note that [r]esearchers are finding that if women take misoprostol alone, effectiveness drops to 80 to 85 percent. As noted above, the FDA-monitored trials produced much lower rates of effective use, but lets give Kristof his estimates. He is admitting that these women will have a failed abortion up to 20% of the time that is, ongoing pregnancy or incomplete abortion. They will be subject to hemorrhage and infection.

Section III of the FRC pamphlet on mifepristone-misoprostol abortions describes data gathered by Doctors Harris and Gary that yielded these insights about chemical abortion:

The FDA informed Chairman Mark Souder that 116 cases of severe bleeding requiring transfusions had been reported to the FDA by March 31, 2006. Gary and Harrison reported that 237 of their 607 [side-effect reports submitted to FDA and obtained via the Freedom of Information Act] reported hemorrhage and that 42 cases were life-threatening. All of the patients who experienced life-threatening bleeding would have died had they not received timely access to medical and surgical services.

This is not a game, and women who do not have access to modern emergency rooms will become very ill and may die if they have chemical abortions. Chemical abortions require more oversight to be performed safely — not less.

Its too bad Mr. Kristof didnt know about the story of one pro-choice womans experience with chemical abortion published in Marie Claire. Her story wasnt about revolutionary pills it was about being made sick for many months by the mifepristone-misoprostol regimen (I Was Betrayed by a Pill). To be blunt about it, Kristofs article reads like an amalgamation of talking points from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Marie Stopes.

There is another side to the story that accurately reflects the dangers involved in these procedures. It is the information presented by groups like the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists who have had much to say about chemical abortions (see this link). Perhaps, someone can help pass some good information to Mr. Kristof.

Trader Joes gives money to Planned Parenthood?

by Family Research Council

August 12, 2010

While it appears that Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) will no longer be publishing their annual report, we do know from PPFAs most recent 990 tax paperwork that the abortion giant received approximately $105,535,832 in 2008 in grants and contributions —- a time of serious recession in the U.S. economy.

What businesses contributed to PPFA, one might wonder?

Visit the following website to find a newly updated list of groups that give money to the abortion group. Included in the list are Trader Joes grocery stores, AOL internet company, and Walt Disney. Also included are groups that partner with PPFA, including March of Dimes and Girl Scouts, to name just a few.

Check it out for yourself here.

…and to the republic for which it stands…

by Robert Morrison

August 12, 2010

The fashion columns and the political news seem to have joined efforts to comment on First Lady Michelle Obama’s vacation trip to Spain’s fabled Costa del Sol. The blogs show our elegant and stately First Lady having her hand kissed by King Juan Carlos. How charming. How wrong.

First, in defense of Mrs. Obama, let it be noted that she did not bow to the king. It’s not as bad as what her husband did when he bowed to the odious King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia last year. President Obama then became the first U.S. President in history to bow to a monarch. Americans should bow to no king, but nobody should bow to that king.

Second, while it’s not that bad, it’s still bad. We have been told endless times how highly educated the President and the First Lady are. That they are highly educated and highly intelligent there is no dispute.

But they could both use some basic lessons in how to represent the Great Republic on the world stage. To be seen bowing to kings and having your hand kissed by royals is wholly contrary to America’s republican spirit. Small “r.”

When Thomas Jefferson was presented to King George III in London, after American independence was assured, the king turned his back on the author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson waited patiently for 16 years. Then, when King George’s ambassador to Washington came to the White House to present his credentials, President Jefferson received him wearing a dressing gown and down at the heels carpet slippers. Probably, Mr. Jefferson’s pet mocking bird was in attendance to record the scene. Jefferson’s point was not vengeance, it was to play down all pretentions to monarchy.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was happy to take Prime Minister Winston Churchill to church with him on New Year’s Day, 1942. They attended worship services at Christ Church in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.Roosevelt had requested “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” be sung. Note the republic in the title.

Churchill, the lifelong monarchist, loved the tune. He immediately requested that it be included in his own funeral ceremonies—and it was in 1965.

But FDR was making an important point for the American people. Many of our people were very distrustful of kings and queens and the very idea of monarchs and empires. They grew up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, including the line :’…and to the republic for which it stands.” Americans in those days did not all attend Harvard Law School, but they did know what a republic is.

And they understood why Americans don’t bow to kings—or have their hands kissed by them.

Our First Family needs to spend more time with Americans. Pensacola, Florida, has plenty of Spanish history and culture. It has beautiful beaches. It has a great Navy aviation museum to rival Washington’s Air and Space Museum.. It would have been the perfect place for our First Family to go on vacation. And better still, it’s full of Americans.

Adult Stem Cells Treat Kids with Deadly Skin Disease

by David Prentice

August 12, 2010

Adult stem cells have been used successfully to treat children with a deadly skin disease known as recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB; one of the most severe forms of epidermolysis bullosa, a set of genetic skin diseases.) EB affects the skin and lining of the mouth and esophagus. It causes skin to blister and scrape off with the slightest friction. The blistering, peeling skin also leads to recurrent infections, and an aggressive form of skin cancer. Most children with EB do not live past their 20’s. Previously, there was no treatment and it was considered incurable.

Now University of Minnesota researchers led by Dr. John E. Wagner and Dr. Jakub Tolar, along with international colleagues, have used adult stem cells from donor bone marrow or donor umbilical cord blood to treat EB successfully. Since 2007, they have transplanted a total of ten children with the most aggressive forms of EB; all of the children have responded to the therapy to varying degrees. Wagner said:

To understand this achievement, you have to understand how horrible this disease actually is. From the moment of birth, these children develop blisters from the slightest trauma which eventually scar. They live lives of chronic pain, preventing any chance for a normal life. My hope is to do something that might change the natural history of this disease and enhance the quality of life of these kids.”

This is the first time researchers have shown that bone marrow stem cells can home to the skin and upper gastrointestinal tract and alter the natural course of the disease.

Tolar said:

This discovery is more unique and more remarkable than it may first sound… what we have found is that stem cells contained in bone marrow can travel to sites of injured skin, leading to increased production of collagen which is deficient in patients with RDEB.

Bone marrow transplantation is one of the riskiest procedures in medicine, yet it is also one of the most successful. Patients who otherwise would have died from their disease can often now be cured. It’s a serious treatment for a serious disease.”

Added Wagner:

This discovery expands the scope of marrow transplantation and serves as an example of the power of stem cells in the treatment of disease.”


The paper is published in the New England Journal of Medicine

12th and Delaware

by Family Research Council

August 10, 2010

In the past few weeks, a number of media outlets have written about a new-ish documentary on an abortion clinic and a pregnancy resource center (PRC) in Ft. Pierce, Florida, “12th and Delaware”.

Featured on HBO on August 2nd, the movie was hailed by groups such as NARAL Pro Choice America, who encouraged its followers to organize 12th and Delaware viewing parties. Although the movie is strongly advocated by abortion-rights groups, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the producers who also produced the movie Jesus Camp - make the (hard-to-believe) claim that the documentary is neutral and unbiased.

In truth, the movie appears to be another attempt to antagonize and attack the positive and life-affirming work of PRCs. The producers have a strong anti-life agenda and were not honest, nor transparent about their plans with the participants from the Pregnancy Care Center in Ft. Pierce. Reportedly Anne Lotierzo, Executive Director of the PRC that was filmed, was not shown an accurate version of the documentary as was promised, nor was she told that the abortion clinic across the street would also be filmed for the documentary. See Human Life International’s press release for more information

Care Net, a group representing over 1000 life-affirming PRCs issued a release on the movie, including the following quote: if you watch the film, we challenge you to take notes and do your own research. Visit your local pregnancy center and find out about their work for yourself. Perhaps youve been a client of a pregnancy center yourself what did you experience? We encourage you to share your story and let the truth be told.

For the real story behind the heroic work of PRCs, visit A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life.

Tony Perkins on CBS’s Face the Nation

by Jared Bridges

August 9, 2010

FRC President Tony Perkins appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday (8/8/10) to discuss the implications of the federal court ruling striking down California’s “Proposition 8.” Here’s a clip of the interview below, followed by links to other media coverage of the interview:


Same-Sex Marriage Decision: “Far From Over” (CBS)

Family Research Council compares Prop. 8 to Roe; says fight not over (The Hill)

Perkins: We hope ‘sanity will reign’ on gay marriage ban (Politico)

Activists Gear Up for Next Round on Gay Marriage (CQ Politics)

Gay-Marriage Ruling Should Be Upheld, Ex-Solicitor General Ted Olson Says (Bloomberg)

Prop 8 attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies say judge’s ruling is ‘constitutionally sound’ (NY Daily News)

Olson backs gay marriage ruling (Boston Globe)

August 9, 1974: Why Nixon Fell

by Robert Morrison

August 9, 2010

When Richard Nixon became the only president in our history to resign his office, 36 years ago today, there were many analyses of the Watergate crisis that led immediately to his ouster from office. Of course, the readiness of the House of Representatives to vote yes on articles of impeachment was the reason Nixon had to go.

Nixon had for several years been alienating large parts of his political base. When he got into deep trouble over Watergate, very few politicians in his party were willing to step forward to defend him. Unlike Bill Clinton twenty-five years later, Nixon the loner had no one to run interference for him.

First, Nixon had offended the economic conservatives. We are all Keynesians now, Nixon announced to the horror of all those who had read F.A. Hayeks classic work, The Road to Serfdom. Nixon tried to deal with rampant inflation by instituting a wage-price freeze. It was a disastrous failure—as all such moves have been, as ObamaCare will be.

Second, defense conservatives were Nixons lifetime base. He had built his career on anti-Communism. He was always more an anti-Communist crusader than he was a conservative.

And, he kept his word about Vietnamizing the conflict in Southeast Asia. In the 1968 presidential campaign, Nixon promised to pull U.S. ground troops out of South Vietnam, to get our POWs out of prison in Hanoi, and not to lose South Vietnam to the Communist invaders of North Vietnam.

When Nixon took the oath as President of the United States on January 20, 1969, there were more than 500,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam. Casualties in 1968—that annus horriblis—had risen as high as 300 dead a week. By the time Nixon was sworn in for his second term—January 20, 1973—there were only 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground, the POWs had come home, and the shaky peace accords with Communist North Vietnam were holding. U.S. aid to South Vietnam and our continuing military control of the air and the sea helped shore up a fragile peace.

Despite these great achievements, Nixon betrayed our alliance with Taiwan by going to Beijing and toasting Mao Zedong, the mass murderer of millions of Chinese. Anti-Communist conservatives like William F. Buckley, Jr., were depressed by Nixons realpolitik. It seemed so devoid of principle—because it was. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger later wrote in his memoirs that no ally ever deserved Americas ingratitude less than loyal Taiwan, but he had to do it. No he didnt, said the defense conservatives. And they challenged Kissingers amoral world view. What, exactly did the U.S. get from its alliance of convenience with Communist China?

Finally, the social conservatives were dropped by Richard Nixon. He said he was anti-abortion.

But three of his four appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court voted for the radical Roe v. Wade ruling of January 22, 1973, and his nominee, Harry Blackmun, actually wrote it. Nixon had previously appointed a Presidential Commission on Population, chaired by a Rockefeller, which recommended liberalizing abortion laws and putting the weight of the U.S. government behind population control efforts here. Nixon rejected abortion, or so he said, but he signed the Family Planning and Reproductive Health Act of 1970. That subversive law continues to fund Planned Parenthood activities around the country to this day.

(When President Eisenhower, under whom Nixon served as vice president, was asked in 1959 if he believed the federal government should set up so-called family planning centers throughout the country, Ike memorably replied he could not think of an activity more inappropriate for the federal government!)

Nixon also named a pornography commission. Its liberal membership assured its conclusions: Pornography is no big deal. Many of those returning POWs—all of whom were men who had been around Navy ships and Air Force squadrons—said they were shocked to find the America of 1973 awash in pornography. This, too, must be a part of Nixons checkered legacy.

Perhaps the worst thing for Richard Nixon came when his embattled legal defense team released hundreds of hours of expurgated White House tapes. Nixon was certainly not the first president to tape conversations in the White House. FDR and JFK were said to have taped, but selectively. We have long, damaging tapes from the LBJ White House that show him to have been a wheeler-dealer of the first order.

But Nixon taped everything. And his people had to go through and cut out all of the gutter language he used regularly. Americans—especially Nixons church-going voters in the South and Midwest—were horrified to find every other line contained the damaging words [expletive deleted]. JFK used locker room language, but never pretended anything else. He kept his public comments chaste. Eisenhower, it was said, could turn the air blue with barracks denunciations of shoddy staff work. But Ike was careful in public never to cross the lines of propriety.

Those tapes that were released a full year before Nixon was finally driven from office destroyed him with his own base. He was revealed as a foul-mouthed and small-minded man. For one who had genuine intellect and who worked harder than anyone else to get to the White House, it was a tragic loss.

This fall, many campaigners will try to don the mantle of FDR or JFK. No Democrats will claim Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter as their models. Many a Republican will try to appropriate the Reagan magic. But nobody will promise to return us to the good old days of Richard Milhous Nixon.

Playing Politics with Stem Cells

by David Prentice

August 8, 2010

The political science (as opposed to real science) has dominated in the stem cell debate, especially regarding promotion of human embryonic stem cell research. In the stem cell debate, claims for human embryonic stem cell research advanced a political agenda — legitimizing and guaranteeing federal funding for ethically contentious research. For the same political reasons, the increasingly strong evidence of actual therapeutic benefits to patients from ethically non-contentious adult stem cell research was distorted or concealed. For example, the patterns of behavior promoting public funding of human embryonic stem cell research show extreme politicization of the science involved—selective use of data, manipulation of the peer review process, demonizing colleagues who questioned the prevailing orthodoxies and appeals to a bogus scientific “consensus,” among others. Those who questioned this supposed “consensus” were dismissed as scientifically ignorant and accused of playing politics with science.

For a lengthy discussion, see this article in The American Thinker.

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