by Steven Ertelt
July 19, 2007
Billing Records Show Fred Thompson Lobbied for Pro-Abortion Group
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — After the Los Angles Times came under fire for a possibly bogus story on former Sen. Fred Thompson lobbying for a pro-abortion group, a New York Times article on Thursday claims billing records prove it to be true. The Times reported that Thompson spent nearly 20 hours in 1991 and 1992 lobbying for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association to get the Bush administration to drop its policy preventing taxpayer funding of groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations. He spent 20 hours working for the group as an attorney at the Arent Fox law firm and most of the time was spent on the phone with the organization’s director. Thompson’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, told the Times that Thompson simply worked for clients of the law firm as a practicing attorney there and that the work was the kind Thompson would have undertaken for any client as a good attorney. “The firm consulted with Fred Thompson,” he said. “It is not unusual for a lawyer to give counsel at the request of colleagues, even when they personally disagree with the issue.” Despite his lobbying or legal work for the pro-abortion group, Thompson voted consistently in the Senate during his tenure for pro-life bills and left with a 100% pro-life voting record on abortion-related issues. In recent months leading up to a potential candidacy for the GOP nomination for president, Thompson has repeatedly said he is pro-life and supports the reversal of Roe v. Wade so states can once again prohibit abortions. The firm’s current chairman, Marc Fleischaker, told the Times that “Fred was being a good colleague by helping out one of the firm’s partner.” Thompson himself has responded to the controversy saying an attorneys work must not be misinterpreted for his personal views and beliefs.
House of Representatives Defeats Effort to Stop Tax-Funding of Planned Parenthood
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life lawmakers tried on Thursday to get an amendment to a federal budget spending bill that would have stripped federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business. Rep. Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican, put for the amendment to remove the funds from the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act which funds the agencies for fiscal year 2008. However, the House defeated his amendment on a 231-189 vote. According to their own 2005-2006 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood received over a third of their income–$300 million–from government funding. Although the government monies are prohibited by law from being used for abortions, that funding still helps Planned Parenthood in its overall operations. Pro-life lawmakers said the money the abortion business receives is fungible and essentially allows it to operate abortion centers without spending as much of its own funds. Pro-life groups backed the amendment, with the Family Research Council telling members they wanted to “stop the flow of taxpayer money that is being funneled to the nation’s largest abortion chain.” Although the Pence amendment was defeated, the bill retains previous pro-life provisions that prohibit direct federal funding of abortion in a variety of circumstances.
Survey Finds Majority of Americans Favor Conscience Clause for Pharmacists
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — A new poll finds that a majority of Americans believe pharmacists should be given a conscience clause to protect their moral and religious views. The results of the poll come at a time when abortion advocates are stepping up pressure on pharmacists and hospitals to dispense the morning after pill and other drugs that many pharmacists find objectionable. The Baraga Interactive polling firm conducted the survey for Pharmacists for Life International and found that a majority of Americans favor optional coverage of so-called "birth control," and favor pharmacists being able to enjoy freedom of conscience when to not fill or counsel for drugs. Sixty-one percent support no health insurance covering treatments such as so-called "birth-control pills," and 65 percent support a pharmacist’s right to decline to fill or counsel for prescription drugs which may violate their sincerely held religious, moral and ethical beliefs. The survey confirmed the results of other polls such as one conducted by Medscape in 2005 with 1,249 adults which showed that 69 percent support a pharmacists’ conscience clause. In a statement accompanying the poll, PFLI said abortion advocates “deniers claim pharmacists should essentially abandon their beliefs at the pharmacy counter and that well documented abortifacients such as Plan B do not terminate human life.” The organization say that states such as California, Illinois and Washington have mandatory laws that force pharmacists to dispense all drugs, including those that could cause an abortion in limited circumstances. Such laws, the group says, “essentially lowering the cognitive services of pharmacists to the level of fancy order takers.” Meanwhile, states such as Arkansas, Georgia, South Dakota and Mississippi have laws that supports the pharmacist’s right to opt out of dispensing drugs that violate their moral or religious views.
Terri Schiavo’s Brother Says Media Outlets Continue to Misreport Facts of Her Death
St. Petersburg, FL (LifeNews.com) — In an editorial column Bobby Schindler published on Friday, the brother of Terri Schiavo said the media continues to misreports the facts surrounding his sister. He said the media is playing a game of revisionist history by declaring the disabled woman to have been in a PVS state and saying she had no hope of recovering from her incapacitated situation. “One can’t help but wonder if perhaps the mainstream media are feeling a growing sense of uneasiness regarding Terri Schiavo’s death,” Schiavo writes. “In the two years since my sister died, I have witnessed an increasing determination on their part to convince the public that she was ‘hopeless’ and in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). I believe this is happening because of the increasing number of questions being raised as to the veracity of the PVS diagnosis, which was the litmus test used to kill Terri – a litmus test still being used to justify the killing of others who are said to be in this condition.” Schiavo pointed to new research last month that LifeNews.com reported on showing how about 40 percent of patients are wrongly misdiagnosed as PVS. In addition, scientists are developing new technology that takes better images of brain function. “Much to the surprise of researchers, some of these images taken on people that were thought to be oblivious to their surroundings show that they have some level of consciousness,” he said. There have also been well-publicized cases of people diagnosed as being in "vegetative" conditions, predicted by doctors to never to regain consciousness, who have unexplainably awakened. Schindler pointed to the cases of Terry Wallis, Sarah Scantlin and Patricia White Bull, all of whom recovered after so-called PVS state diagnosis of 16 years or more. “What’s common to such stories is the fact that the mainstream media report them with the oft-repeated, almost frantic disclaimer that ‘of course this should not be confused with Terri Schiavo’s case,’” Schindler said. “Why do the media goes to such extravagant lengths to distance Terri’s case from anything that might connect her to a positive development or outcome? Perhaps it is because they realize just how culpable they are in her death.” He concluded saying he expects the media to continue to trumpet the cause of euthanasia backers and to follow their lead on declaring patients hopeless and labeling those who recover as being dissimilar to Terri.
Pro-Life Rep Pleased House Adopted Ethical Stem Cell Research Provision
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — One of the leading pro-life members of Congress says he’s pleased the House of Representatives adopted a provision he added to an appropriations bill that would boost funding for a national program that promotes ethical forms of stem cell research. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republica, joined with Artur Davis, an Alabama Democrat, to add the amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill FY08, which is expected to pass the House on Thursday. Passage of the amendment means the federal government will now allocate $15 million in FY08 to the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI), bringing the program’s budget to the level authorized in the law Smith authored. "Stem cells taken from umbilical cords are already being used in research and are saving lives,” Congressman Smith told LifeNews.com. Approximately 8,000 patients have received cord blood treatments for over 70 diseases, including Leukemia, Sickle Cell Anemia and Hurler disease in the last two years alone. With a proven track record such as this, it is imperative that the federal government continue to support this innovative, life-saving program.” Smith noted that without the amendment, the NCBI would be shortchanged at a critical time in the program’s development. "The NCBI-created in 2005-now gives us the opportunity to turn medical waste into medical miracles. Without passage of this amendment, the current grant recipients would need to dramatically scale back their cord blood banking initiatives just as they’re ramping up to treat more patients. However, by appropriating the full $15 million, we can triple this year’s collection number," Smith said. The bill originally included only$4 million for the program, which falls far short of the $15 million authorized by Smith’s 2005 law. In total, Smith’s "Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005" authorized $265 million dollars for umbilical cord blood collection and storage and for reauthorization of the National Bone Marrow Registry. The law created the NCBI, the first national inventory to collect the needed units of blood and make them readily available. Smith’s law authorized the collection of 150,000 units of cord blood for the NCBI, with a focus on genetic diversity that is expected to meet the needs of 90% of all patients. These units will be made available through an open registry that will link public cord blood banks nationwide to simplify a physician’s search for a blood match for stem cells.
Germany Bioethics Council Favors Ending Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Berlin, Germany (LifeNews.com) — Germany is moving closer to overturning a five year ban on any embryonic stem cell research conducted there. The nation’s 24-member National Ethics Council voted by a small majority to overturn the law the nation’s parliament put in place in 2002 which bans the use of any embryonic stem cell lines created after 2001. That made sure the nation, which is still reeling from the bizarre experiments and human rights abuses under the Nazi regime, would not support the destruction of human life to obtain stem cells. Pro-life advocates in the German parliament support stem cell research but favors types that involve adult stem cells and don’t require the death of days-old unborn children to obtain. However, scientists in the European nation say the law hinders their studies and puts Germany behind other countries in terms of scientific progress. While Germany prohibits the research, most other nations, including European Union member states, do not. The majority of the council — 14 members — say that they agree with the view that Germany needs to allow the controversial research. "If the current rules remain, German science will be hopelessly sidelined," said Horst Dreier, one of the members in the majority. Despite the council’s vote, any decision on whether to overturn the ban rests with the Germany parliament, which I set to debate the issue later this year.
Florida County Commissioner Resigns as Head of State Stem Cell Research Group
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — County Commissioner Burt Aaronson has resigned as the chairman of a group he founded to advance a ballot proposal next year to make taxpayers pay for embryonic stem cell research. Aaronson says he wants to focus on his re-election campaign and does not want to raise funds for it as the same time he would have raised funds for the stem cell group. He founded Floridians for Stem Cell Research and Cures in 2005 to collect signatures for a proposal on the 2008 ballot that would have the state spend $200 million over 10 years on embryonic stem cell research, which upsets pro-life advocates because it involves the destruction of human life. The group has to collect 610,000 signatures by February 1 in order to get the proposal on the ballot but it is currently well short of that goal. The organization has only obtained the signatures of 71,000 state residents but is set to hire a national firm that specializes in ballot proposals to reach the 2008 goal. With Aaronson stepping down, the committee’s board unanimously chose Shawn Friedkin, a Boca Raton resident and founder of the nonprofit group Stand Among Friends, as its new chairman. Aaronson’s resignation as its head comes after an ethics complaint was filed with the state citing potential conflicts of interest and concerns that the large donations the group is trying to secure would influence his vote on the county commission.
Colorado Board Drafts Language for Pro-Life Amendment Banning All Abortions
Denver, CO (LifeNews.com) — New language has been drafted for a possible statewide constitutional amendment in Colorado that could go before voters in 2008. The amendment would define a human being and the beginning of life as starting at fertilization and would result in full legal protection for unborn children from that point forward. As a result, the amendment would have the effect of banning all abortions in the state. A three member title board representing the Secretary of State held a hearing on the amendment on Wednesday. It worked with attorney Mark Meuser to come up with language "defining the term ‘person’ to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as ‘person’ is used in those provisions of the Colorado Constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law." During the hearing, Kara Veitch, a lawyer for pro-abortion groups, said she opposed the amendment’s wording claiming it does not cover a single subject as required by state law but affects three sections of the state constitution. Deputy Secretary of State William Hobbs and the other board members disagreed, according to a Denver Post report, and said the subject of the amendment only deals with affording human rights to babies before birth. Both sides have a week to appeal the board’s language. If the language stays put, Meuser’s group Colorado for Equal Rights has to collect 76,000 signatures to get it on the ballot. Abortion advocates promise to wage an intense war against the ballot proposal if it appears before state voters. "The proponents of this initiative have been clear. Their intent is to destroy the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision which legalized abortion," Planned Parenthood president Vicki Cowart told the newspaper.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick Wants $1 Billion for Stem Cell Research
Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is asking the state legislature for $1 billion for stem cell research, but the funding will include the kind of embryonic research that upsets pro-life advocates because it involves the destruction of human life. The bill would have the state borrow the money and dispense grants to scientists there over a 10 year period. Patrick will announce the plan during a meeting of the state legislature to honor University of Massachusetts Medical School Nobel Prize-winning researcher Craig Mello. Patrick made an announcement with Mello in May that he would put together a combination of state bond funds, tax credits and other financing to come up with $100 million over the next 10 years to advance stem cell research in Massachusetts. Governor’s office officials would not describe the funding mechanism to get to the $1 billion figure but said part of the legislative proposal would be unveiled at the announcement today. Under the plan, new research facilities would be developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and would include a new stem cell bank to store and distribute stem cell lines from researchers across the world. House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi strongly backs Patrick’s proposal and has set up a Biotechnology Caucus with fellow lawmakers to try to get it through the legislature.
Louisiana, Massachusetts Governors Veto Abstinence Education Programs
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The governors of Louisiana and Massachusetts have upset pr-life advocates in the respective states by vetoing funding for abstinence education programs. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco last week vetoed a provision in the state budget that would have provided $500,000 for the Louisiana Governor’s Program on Abstinence. According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, Rep. Gary Beard added the provision to the bill and it would have taken effect only if the governors program stopped receiving federal funding. Abortion advocates in Congress have been trying to cut funding for abstinence programs and give it to sexual education programs instead. Blanco said the vetoed the measure claiming it would have forced cuts to other state health department programs. Meanwhile, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick vetoed a provision in that state’s budget to accept a $700,000 federal grant for abstinence education. Either other states have rejected the funding as well because it requires that sex ed curriculum promote abstinence until marriage. Another 12 states are considering not applying for or rejecting the grant. Patrick’s administration cited a study commissioned by pro-abortion members of Congress and rebutted by abstinence educators that claimed students who participate in abstinence-only programs are as likely to have sex as students who do not participate in the programs. Other studies show results that are diametrically opposed. As a result of the governor’s decision, the Massachusetts-based Health Futures abstinence education program will lose $500,000, or about half of its annual budget, as a result. That means about 7,000 middle school students will no longer be able to participate in the program. Rep. Brad Jones (R) said he will call on the Republican leadership in the Legislature to attempt to override Patrick’s veto, but Gov. Patrick could still decide not to apply for the grant if his veto is overridden.
FEC Concedes Pro-Life Groups Ad Was Genuine in Campaign Finance Challenge
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Federal Election Commission has admitted that an ad Wisconsin Right to Life tried to run just before the 2006 elections was a legitimate issue ad as opposed to one advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. The distinction is important because WRTL challenged a provision of the McCain Feingold campaign finance law that prohibits groups like WRTL from airing campaign ads mentioning the name of a candidate in an election even thought the was not political in nature. Today, the FEC filed a joint motion asking the D.C. district court to enter judgment against the FEC and in favor of Wisconsin Right to Life ("WRTL") in its as-applied challenge to the "electioneering communication" prohibition regarding a 2006 broadcast ad WRTL wanted to run. This motion will resolve WRTL v. FEC back in the district court after the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the case This motion is significant because it establishes that "genuine issue ads" (those ads that are not subject to the “electioneering communication” prohibition) may (a) state the position of the named candidate on an issue and (b) criticize or praise the candidate’s position on the issue. The High Court held that the “electioneering communication” prohibition was unconstitutional as applied to three anti-filibuster grassroots lobbying ads that WRTL wanted to run. This was so because the ads were not "susceptible of [a] reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate." Now, the FEC and intervenors have conceded that WRTL’s "Child Custody Protection Act" ("CCPA") ad is a genuine issue ad and is constitutionally protected. James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for WRTL, told LifeNews.com: "In two cases now, the FEC and the campaign finance ‘reform’ lobby have conceded that the government may not silence groups who state and criticize or praise politicians’ positions on issues. This recognition indicates the profound change that occurred when the Supreme Court decided Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life.”