It’s hard to believe that one year ago, we were in the midst of a highly controversial and heated presidential race. The 2012 election ushered in a second term for Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history. Needless to say, the results were discouraging to the pro-life cause. Obamacare loomed in the future with its pro-abortion policies and anti-life measures for the elderly and chronically ill. It was clear that Planned Parenthood would once again have an ally in the White House to help secure over a half-billion dollars in taxpayer funding. In fact, Obama became the first sitting president to speak at a Planned Parenthood event. In his speech, he stated, “Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere.” He also proclaimed, “God bless Planned Parenthood.” There’s no question where his loyalties lie. In the shadow of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the unfortunate truth was we would not see that deadly ruling overturned under President Obama. It appeared that pro-abortion advocates had all the right conditions in their favor.
However, appearances can be deceiving.
Their post-election celebrations were soon cut short. When the gruesome case of late-term abortionist, Kermit Gosnell emerged, it served as a catalyst exposing atrocities that put the entire abortion industry on trial. Inside this legal abortion mill, women were subjected to ghastly “back-alley” conditions, with unsanitary facilities, filthy and broken equipment and body parts from aborted babies kept throughout the building. Gosnell was convicted of first degree murder in the deaths of three babies by severing their spines following botched abortions. He was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of abortion patient, Karnamaya Mongar. His convictions forced pro-abortion advocates to try to defend the indefensible. They wanted Gosnell to be treated as an anomaly and this issue of public opinion on abortion to go away. But the revelations of this trial exposed that squalid abortion mills and illegal late-term abortions are more common than people think.
After the verdict, Planned Parenthood was backed into a corner and had to issue a statement, “This case has made clear that we must have and enforce laws that protect access to safe and legal abortion, and we must reject misguided laws that would limit women’s options and force them to seek treatment from criminals like Kermit Gosnell.” Although Planned Parenthood tried to separate itself from Gosnell, it faced its own allegations of negligent and fraudulent practices.
In Wilmington, Delaware, a Planned Parenthood facility sent five women to the hospital following botched abortions in just a five-week time period. Former abortion workers, Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich and Joyce Vasikonis described, “a meat-market style of assembly-line abortions where the abortionist refused to wear gloves, surgical instruments were reused without being cleaned, and ‘bloody drainage’ remained on abortion tables between procedures exposing women to blood-borne diseases.” This development raised an important concern—abortion-giant Planned Parenthood is supposed to represent the highest degree of abortion service providers, yet they’re operating with corrupt practices and substandard care. By exposing these violations of care, Planned Parenthood is forced to do damage control. And that’s not the kind of publicity Planned Parenthood wants.
Planned Parenthood is also feeling the pressure legally. Lawsuits against the abortion giant are popping up across the country. These cases not only threaten Planned Parenthood’s public reputation, they are costing them financially. In a suit against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, former employee Karen Reynolds uncovered expansive and detailed Medicaid fraud through improper billing practices. The Texas Attorney General’s Office determined Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast must repay $4.3 million to resolve the Medicaid fraud issue. Similar lawsuits are also pending in Iowa and Washington.
This pattern of fraud hasn’t gone unnoticed by authorities. The Government Accountability Office announced in August that it would conduct an investigation of Planned Parenthood. In the last fiscal year, Planned Parenthood received a record $542 million dollars in federal taxpayer funding. Now, through this federal investigation, we’re hopeful they will be held accountable for how those dollars were spent. The findings could result in the passage of new legislation that would prevent funding from going to organizations that perform abortions. We should be encouraged; this is a pivotal time that may ultimately lead to the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
In the meantime, states have taken the lead on forging new pro-life legislation. More pro-life laws have been passed and enacted in the past two years than in any other time period since Roe v. Wade. In fact, it’s projected that 2013 is on pace to be a record-breaking year. Pro-life legislation is working. For example, the state of Nebraska reported that abortion rates fell to a 20-year low as pro-life laws took effect. Many of the laws are ensuring abortion facilities meet basic clinical standards. Others have required abortionists to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. These are measures that simply ensure quality of care, yet they are met with objections by pro-aborts. The truth is being exposed—many of these abortion facilities would rather close than take the precautions necessary to ensure their practice meets the basic health standards.
The evidence is building that, while abortion activists claim to be advocates of women’s health, their actions reveal otherwise. Consistently, they’ll choose to protect their abortion business over the lives of women and children. Their defense of late-term abortion has become more extreme. Only four countries in the world permit abortions after 20 weeks—Canada, China, North Korea and the United States. (I encourage you to read Dr. J.C. Willke’s perspective in his column.) In an effort to protect these unborn children, a bill was introduced in Congress called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. While the measure passed in the House, it’s been impeded by the Senate and would face certain veto from President Obama. This piece of legislation was based upon the scientifically proven evidence that babies at that stage of development experience pain. (Although, research indicates babies can actually feel pain far earlier than five months.) According to University of Toronto neurologist, Dr. Paul Ranalli, the unborn child has more pain receptors per square inch and does not possess the pain suppressing mechanisms that infants and adults have. Consequently, a child aborted at 20 weeks is not only capable of feeling pain, but the experience is more excruciating than a child born at term or an adult. Unwilling to face the facts, abortion proponents deny the research and call it “insufficient evidence.” The “pro-choice” position is not on the side of science and as a result, their base is weakening.
While they continue to cling to the rhetoric that this is an issue of restricting women’s rights, women’s voices are increasingly pro-life. Polls consistently report that the majority support pro-life laws limiting abortion. One national poll reported that over 60-percent of women are in favor of restricting abortion after 20 weeks. In fact, women are more likely than men to approve these types of protections. The perception that women are supportive of abortion is a myth. As the disconnection between pro-abortion advocates and women grows, it can only further advance the pro-life cause.
Many states have taken the initiative and enacted their own fetal-pain abortion bans. This summer, the state of Texas took center stage with the passage of its bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. This was a hard-fought battle that exposed the worst in pro-abortion behavior. In the first session, after an 11-hour filibuster attempt failed, chaos broke out in the capitol gallery. The loud chanting mob was encouraged by none other than Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, who tweeted the message of “Make some noise—louder!” It was utter lawlessness, even escalating into violence. When a second special session was held, their efforts reached extreme desperation. In order to ensure a large and outspoken presence, Planned Parenthood decided to pay demonstrators. As much as $1,300 to $2,200 per month was offered for individuals willing to “expand global reproductive rights.” Allegedly, Planned Parenthood also aligned with Occupy and the Socialist party in order to have bodies present to represent their cause. The result was radical and profane behavior from obscene signage to shouting “Hail Satan!” At least 12 protestors were arrested for dangerous and unlawful behavior. This stunt was an eye-opener for many, as it publicly showcased the extremism of Planned Parenthood and its cohorts.
Time and again, when challenged, pro-abortion advocates have proven to be disorderly, disjointed and desperate. In Michigan, pro-lifer Rebecca Kiessling shared with lawmakers how she was a child conceived in rape. As she advocated for pro-life measures, the pro-abortion legislators literally laughed at and mocked Rebecca. It’s despicable behavior in any context, but particularly disgraceful by elected officials. Pro-abortion activists have emerged with extreme positions that are alienating them from the mainstream population. They’re advocating a position of “free abortion, on demand, without apology.” It’s not enough to have abortion legal. They want it unrestricted—available anywhere, any time and for any reason. And they want abortion completely funded by taxpayers. This is not a position that most Americans support, which only creates further detachment from the “pro-choice” stance.
It’s obvious that those who advocate for abortion are losing ground, quite literally. Planned Parenthood has closed 24 facilities in 2013. Only 6 of the closures represent facilities that do medical or surgical abortions, which means that Planned Parenthood is consolidating its business. Instead of growing the number of facilities, efforts are now focused on building mega-abortion complexes to be more efficient and cost-effective. Nationwide, an estimated 42 abortion facilities have closed in 2013. This is the result of legislation, funding cuts, decline of business and a lack of doctors willing to do abortions. With our continued due diligence, these closures will mean the lives of women and babies are being saved.
Those in favor of abortion may have enjoyed victory in the 2012 presidential election and with the passage of Obamacare. Even so, they’ve been largely unsuccessful at advancing their cause. Abortion advocates have since faced major opposition and have not fared well. In fact, in many instances they’re only hurting themselves with their actions. The battle to protect the unborn still rages and we must remain vigilant. Let’s recognize the momentum that we have and continue to seize the opportunities on the horizon.
Heather Gims serves as Director of Communications with Life Issues Institute. In addition, she is Field Producer for the pro-life TV program, Facing Life Head-On and Editor of the Life Issues Connector newsletter.