Coerced Abortion

Posted on April 16, 2024 By

 

by Sarah Terzo

An Attempt to Ban Coerced Abortion

A bill passed in Kansas would’ve made coerced abortion a crime, had it not been vetoed. Bill 2436 banned:

Threatening to harm or physically restrain an individual or the creation or execution of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause an individual to believe that failure to perform an act would result in financial harm to, or physical restraint of, an individual;

Abusing or threatening abuse of the legal system, including threats of arrest or deportation without regard to whether the individual being threatened is subject to arrest or deportation under state or federal law;

Knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing any actual or purported passport or other immigration document . . .

Facilitating or controlling an individual’s access to a controlled substance . . .

Sex traffickers whose victims are undocumented couldn’t use victims’ immigration status to blackmail them into unwanted abortions.

Examples of “financial harm” in the bill included predatory loans with unfair interest, illegal conditions placed on wages, extortion, or “any other adverse financial consequence.”

Many women have come forward with stories of coerced abortion.

Inspired by Her Own Story

Kansas Rep. Rebecca Schmoe introduced House Bill 2813, a precursor to 2436. Her own experience inspired her. Her doctor spent an hour trying to bully her into an abortion when she was pregnant with her son, who is now 21. The doctor told her the pregnancy would kill her.

Schmoe says, “I was called selfish at least 10 times, then I stopped counting.”

In her testimony before the legislature, she says the doctor told her:

Why are you being so selfish? How dare you make your parents watch you die? . . . Your selfish decision to even try to carry a baby will result in your parents having to pick out a coffin for their own daughter. Why would you do that to them? . . .

It’s not even a big deal, just an outpatient appointment. Don’t your parents deserve that? No one even has to know. You’ll never even have to think about it again. Or you can go ahead and die a slow painful death and destroy your parents life.

The baby is half dead already. You aren’t saving anyone. The baby is going to die inside you and take you with it. It is selfish to put your family through this.

You have to make the appointment right now. You can’t leave the office without making the appointment.

Rebecca Schmoe

Women Forced into Abortion by Clinic Workers

One woman described a forced abortion at Planned Parenthood. She changed her mind on the abortion table:

I told them that I did not want to do this. I had changed my mind … The doctor began to tell me that I didn’t need a baby and that I had my whole life ahead of me.

I began to cry harder, and they strapped me down. I asked them to please unstrap me and let me leave. The anesthesia was administered, and I fell asleep to the sound of their laughter.

Catherine Glenn Foster, now president of Americans United for Life, was 19 when she endured a forced abortion:

I said “please let me up. Let me off this table, out of this room. I don’t want this anymore.” I said, “I can’t do this. This is wrong and I feel really bad about this. Just let me go. You can keep the money.”

And they shouted for more people, and I had four people holding me down. One—a nurse—and a staff member on each arm. The doctor aborted my child. I’m screaming.

Another young woman named Crystal wanted her baby, but her boyfriend insisted on an abortion. She says, “I was never asked what I wanted to do about the baby, he decided for me.”

On the operating table, Crystal changed her mind and told the abortionist to stop, but he ignored her:

As I lay back on the bed, I started sternly saying no several times. That’s when the doctor had the nurses hold me down…

I yelled, “STOP! I can’t do this!” That is when the doctor told me, “Don’t scream, you’ll scare the other patients.” I felt violated and threatened, both physically and emotionally.

She said the abortion was “excruciating.”

Catherine Glenn Foster

 

Pressured into an Abortion by Others

In other cases, parents pressure teens. Layla was 15 and wanted to keep her baby. But when her father learned about her pregnancy, she said, he “went ballistic”:

[T]he father who had once called me his little princess relentlessly beat me down…My father never let up day in and day out. I was in a torture chamber. Only the prison cell was my home . . .

Her father told her he’d commit suicide unless she aborted.

This terrified Layla. She said, “I was being asked to make a horrific choice: the death of my child, or the death of my father.”

Layla gave in and aborted.

Lorijo and her husband were poor when she became pregnant. She didn’t want an abortion. He did and threatened to leave her. But the most serious coercion came from her caseworker at the welfare office.

The caseworker berated Lorijo and threatened her, then called Planned Parenthood and made her an abortion appointment. Afraid of losing her benefits, Lorijo had the abortion.

The first time Mary became pregnant, she was happy and wanted to keep the baby. But when she told her abusive boyfriend, he “flew into a terrifying rage.”

He demanded she abort and ignored her pleas. She agreed to go to an abortion facility and speak to someone. She said:

I was crying my eyes out . . . I knew it was impossible for me to stand up to my boyfriend on my own, but I thought that this “counselor” could support me and perhaps help him see reason.

Instead, she sided with him. I now had two people haranguing me. I was saying over and over that I wanted to have the baby, but the two of them just bulldozed over me completely. I felt cornered. I was sitting down, and they were both standing over me. I had once received training in how to close a sale, and I felt that this “counselor” must’ve been to the same sales training seminars.

She finally gave in.

The abuse escalated after the abortion. Pregnant again, she was “so conditioned to being under his control” she didn’t resist a second abortion. She had one more abortion before breaking free from her abuser.

Opposition to Protecting People from Coerced Abortion

One would think a law against abortion coercion wouldn’t be controversial. After all, aren’t pro-choice people, well, pro-choice? Nevertheless, politicians opposed the law.

Representative Jo Ella Hoye worried about husbands who threaten to divorce their wives if they refuse abortion. She speculated these men could be convicted, even though there is nothing in the bill to indicate this. She says:

If you don’t agree on a pregnancy outcome for abortion, I do think that should be able to be cause for divorce. I don’t think that we should create a crime that would charge somebody if they just said, ‘Hey, if you don’t get an abortion, we’re going to get divorced.’ I think that does go too far.

Hoye is fine with men threatening their pregnant wives with divorce and wants to protect them. She would kill the bill in its entirety, leaving women to be coerced into abortion in the most egregious ways.

Rep. Ford Carr, a Wichita Democrat, also defended men who leave their pregnant partners when they refuse to obey them about aborting. He says:

Quite honestly, oftentimes they’re scared at the sound of, you know, ‘There’s going to be another life that is going to be a part of this and I’m not ready for it. I had dreams, and I had aspirations, and this wasn’t part of it. Then, you’re welcome to go that direction on your own, but I don’t want to.’

Could a vindictive mother, could she then enact this and say that this was a definition of coercion? I think this is just a bridge too far.

Since in all cases a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, a “vindictive mother” would still have to prove her case in a court of law.

Carr also said, “I just see how this could turn into a real, real sticky situation for a lot of young people.”

He doesn’t seem to care about the “sticky situation” for the pregnant person.

The bill was vetoed by Governor Laura Kelly.

According to the Kansas City Star, Kelly said that “threatening violence against someone else is already a crime.”

They quoted her saying:

I am concerned with the vague language in this bill and its potential to intrude upon private, often difficult, conversations between a person and their family, friends, and health care providers.

This overly broad language risks criminalizing Kansans who are being confided in by their loved ones or simply sharing their expertise as a health care provider.

Is the language of the bill, quoted above, really “overly broad”? Regardless, unless the veto can be overruled, women in Kansas won’t be protected from coerced abortion.

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For our posts on similar topics, see: 

The Back Alley and the Front Alley

Abortion Facilitates Sex Abuse: Documentation

abortion


How Caring for the Earth Fits into the Consistent Life Ethic

Posted on April 9, 2024 By

by Christina Yao Pelliccioni

I was in high school the first time I realized that what humans are doing to the environment is affecting the most vulnerable among us. I went to an environmental conference at another high school, willing to do anything I could to go on an extra field trip. Looking back on it, this was really the first conference I ever went to, aside from being dragged to Church conferences with kids that annoyed me. But the other students at this conference inspired me – they were serious about helping the earth! One group had even snuck into their cafeteria and stolen all the styrofoam, forcing their school to have more sustainable materials. My teenage brain simultaneously feared and adored those who would risk getting in trouble to make the point that sustainability was important.

The most important thing I learned from the conference, however, was that climate change was leading some groups of people to leave their homelands. It was affecting impoverished people halfway around the globe who hardly caused much pollution at all. I knew that human-made climate change would cause devastation eventually (I mean, WALL-E had come out pretty recently), but I had no idea that how we are living here in the US could affect someone on another continent whose lifestyle was way more sustainable than ours.

This memory was prominent in my mind when I was wondering how to best frame environmentalism in the Consistent Life Ethic. I came to the conclusion that more than anything, environmental justice is a topic that needs to be stressed when we talk about how to best live out the Consistent Life Ethic. I first heard about the concept of environmental justice in college, I believe in relation to a group of children in Baltimore City not wanting a trash incinerator in close proximity to their school.

I looked to find a succinct definition for environmental justice, but had a hard time doing so. According to the EPA, “Environmental justice means the just treatment of all people, regardless of income, race, color, national origins, Tribal affiliation, or disability, in agency decision-making and other federal activities that affect human health and the environment…” The Natural Resources Defense Council says that environmental justice is “an important part of the struggle to improve and maintain a clean and healthful environment, especially for communities of color, who have been forced to live, work, and play closest to sources of pollution.”

Despite the differences I found in definitions, the main theme of environmental justice sounds very much like the Consistent Life Ethic: each person, regardless of their circumstance, especially if they are in a particularly vulnerable circumstance, deserves protection from harm and an opportunity to thrive. Just because a child is born in poverty does not mean the child has any less of a right to clean water, air, or food. No one should have to suffer hardships because of climate change or endure poor health because of pollution.

I look forward to sharing more about environmental justice and how it relates to the Consistent Life Ethic, throughout Earth month and beyond!

=========================

For more of our posts that include environmental justice, see:  

Stewardship and the Consistent Life Ethic

Climate Change and the Consistent Life Ethic: An Opportunity to Connect Issues

Lethal from the Start: Uranium Mining’s Danger to the Most Vulnerable

Threats to the Unborn Beyond Abortion

 

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Resilient Rigidity

Posted on March 26, 2024 By

by Rachel MacNair

Debate and Switch on a Comedy Show

Jimmy Kimmel is a late-night comedian who frequently has innovative person-in-the-street interviews with questions or approaches others may not have thought of. Recently, he had a 4-minute segment where people known to be Trump supporters were asked what they thought of Joe Biden making a certain remark. Then the interviewer switched – it was actually Donald Trump who made the remark.

The Trump supporters were disgusted with the remark when they thought Biden made it. But when the interviewer apologized that her notes were mixed up, asked to re-ask, and made clear it was Trump who made the remark, the interviewees immediately switched to justifying the remark or expanding on the point in a more positive way.

We’re talking about the exact same people on the exact same occasion turning on a dime. They changed their perspective in a matter of seconds.

Jimmy Kimmel graphic

Jimmy Kimmel show graphic for this segment

Of course, the show only uses the best answers for their purpose. They undoubtedly did a large number of interviews, and then selected out the three that were most unambiguous.

Still, these three people were all intelligent and gave reasoning for their sudden switch. I think they surely had to be aware of what they were doing, though not all observers would agree. And they all three had to have signed permission to allow the video of them to be used, so they were willing to have this publicly portrayed.

Also, I watch enough of anti-Trump punditry that I knew it was actually Trump who made the remark as soon as the interviewer offered it. The interviewees mainly didn’t. So we’re dealing with intelligent people who support Trump without having previously heard some of the more awful things he said, yet not fazed about it when they hear that it was he who said it.

But I say this with complete confidence: if someone were to design a set of interviews that instead took some horrifying quotations from Biden and went to Biden supporters and attributed them to Trump at first and then corrected themselves, they’d be able to find some interviewees that would do the exact same thing. It’s not which candidate a person supports that causes this. It’s the fact of being dead set in favor of a certain candidate. See a Saturday Night Live satire on this, in which interviewees strain to support undesirable candidates simply because they’re Black.

I found this fascinating. The position is rigid, but the explanation for it is so very resilient precisely because the position is so very rigid. I think there are plenty of applications of this all over the consistent life ethic and its component issues.

Political Psychology: The Inherent Bad Faith Model

Psychologists have long known about the ability to switch whether something is good or bad, based entirely on your predispositions about who did or said it. In a classic case, in 1962 a study by Ole Holsti looked at the “information processing” of John Foster Dulles (President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State) which showed that any information that came to him about the Soviet Union was filtered through a negative lens.

I recall in my 1970s peace studies classes reading of studies where American and Soviet students would be shown such things as trees planted by a highway. They’d be told their own government planted them and asked why, and they would come up with reasons such as shade, beauty, and  soil stabilization. Then they’d be shown a similar picture and told that the other government had planted the trees in their country and asked why. And they’d give reasons such as to hide tanks.

How this underpins wars and conditions that lead to wars isn’t hard to figure out. Nor is it difficult to see how it applies to conflicts where two sides just won’t listen to each other.

Consistent Life Gets Hit

Back in the 1980s when our predecessor group, Prolifers for Survival, was going strong, we tried to join the anti-nuclear-weapons coalition Mobilization for Survival (Mobe). A local Mobe chapter put out a letter in response saying that all pro-lifers were “racist, classist, misogynist anti-choice reactionaries.” We put that on t-shirts and sang it with conga lines, the absurdity of it being so obvious to us. But we could see that these are people that can’t be reasoned with. From their understanding, we couldn’t exist. Therefore, we didn’t.

For a coalition where we had an all-hands-on-deck need for urgent policy, and where the fact that it’s a coalition already means you’re deliberately cooperating with people you disagree with on other policy, their unshakeable stand did harm to their own cause.

But the understanding of peace activists as Soviet stooges was also of long standing at that time – the Mobe chapter was surely aware of this. Trying to simply make a reasonable case of what was wrong with nuclear weapons, and how unwise nuclear strategy was, was constantly hitting the brick wall that saying so made you an unpatriotic person.

So we joked that as pro-life peaceniks, we were communists on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and we were fascists on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and we took Sundays off.

Facing this intransigence against us, either for an individual issue or for the consistent life ethic as a whole, has been a bane of our existence all along. So badly do we ache to explain ourselves, hoping that we can find just the right way to articulate it in the hope of being convincing. But more than persuasion on intellectual points is needed. Which leads to:

Questions

Did any of Kimmel’s interviewees watch themselves on national television, even if it’s a show they didn’t ordinarily watch? If so, what happened to the thinking of the three interviewees, once they saw themselves on Jimmy Kimmel, heard the audience reaction, and saw how Kimmel framed it? There hasn’t been follow-up, at least as shown by Kimmel, on how that went.

Would people who engage in this kind of bad-faith model of thinking be less inclined to do so if the model were explained to them? Would they be less inclined to do so if they saw how it worked on an issue where they see the problem before being applied to their own situation?

Would techniques such as de-Martian-izing and getting back to the comfort zone help in dialog with those who have otherwise unshakeable stereotypes? Would one-to-one personal dialog make a difference?

What more do we need to do when simple attempts at persuasion dash up against the rocks of such resilient yet rigid reasoning?

====================================

 For more on the dynamics of dialog, see:

 Tips on Dialogue

Two Practical Dialogue Tips for Changing More Minds about Abortion

Dialog on Life Issues: Avoiding Some Obstacles to Communication

For more on psychological dynamics, see:

The Mind’s Drive for Consistency

Explaining Belligerency

Where Violence Begins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized


Maryland March for Life 2024

Posted on March 19, 2024 By

Christina Yao Pelliccioni

by Christina Yao Pelliccioni

On Monday, March 11, Maryland had its annual March for Life. It was the first time I had gone since COVID started, and the first time I brought my husband and son along. In fact, it was the first time I had gone since I had gotten married or had a son! The March had been smaller when the COVID pandemic was worse, but now was happening in full capacity. I wore my Consistent Life t-shirt, brought our banner, and was ready to go!

My husband and son came to pick me up early from work to hit the road for an hour’s drive to the state capital of Annapolis from my work in the DC suburbs. My son of course fell asleep in the car, but was so excited when he woke up and we were right on the water at St. Mary’s Church. We went to the mass before the march (CLN is a secular organization, but I am Catholic) and it was jam packed! A kind couple scooted over so that I could sit down with my son on my lap, but of course we did not last in the pew for very long. One good thing about pro-life events is that no one ever seems to mind screaming children! From the way back of the church I was able to make out a bit of the petitions, and was delighted that along with prayers for an end to abortion, there were prayers for an end to racism and the death penalty.

Husband  Ethan Pelliccioni and son Nathaniel, 2 years old

We then went on the short March from the church to the capitol building and back, with my son carrying a sign the whole way. He was so excited! My husband, who is Jewish, was glad to meet representatives from the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation, who had traveled all the way from Pittsburgh. We also met people who had come the other direction from Virginia to show their support for pro-life legislation in Maryland.

This has been a crucial year for Maryland, since this November we’ll vote on a state constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion as a “right.” That was put on the ballot by the legislature..

There is hope, however, because we had an Assisted Suicide bill that never got out of committee. What a relief!

It was wonderful to see member groups the American Solidarity Party and Democrats for Life at the March. It was wonderful to connect with those I hadn’t seen in a few years, all coming together to protect life in Maryland. I look forward to next year’s Maryland March for Life, as well as other pro-life events in and outside of our great state!

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Previous reports: 

The Marches of January (2017)

Progressive Prolifers at the Progressive Magazine 100th Anniversary Celebration / Mary Krane Derr

Roe Anniversary Protests, 2019

Uncategorized


Kate Cox and D&E Abortion

Posted on March 5, 2024 By

by Sarah Terzo

This is Part 2 of 2.  Part 1 last week covered children with Trisonomy 18

Kate Cox, who was pregnant with a baby with Trisomy 18, sued the state of Texas to obtain a legal abortion. Many media outlets covered her story. Cox demanded a Dilation & Evacuation, or D&E abortion. She was denied an abortion in Texas but had one elsewhere. Cox’s child was over 21 weeks old.

Cox was falsely told that her daughter couldn’t survive, and that there were no treatment options available. She had an abortion partly because “I didn’t want her to suffer. I felt it was best for her . . . ”

Cox also claimed that, because of two previous caesarian sections, having her daughter would destroy her future fertility and make her unable to have more children. A Live Action News article challenged this claim and pointed out that D&E abortions can also jeopardize fertility.

The D&E Procedure

Ironically, through the D&E, Cox’s daughter likely suffered far more than she would’ve if Cox had given birth. In a D&E, the preborn child is dismembered and pulled out piece by piece.

In this video, former abortionist Kathi Aultman describes the procedure

Sometimes, abortionists inject the baby with the drug digoxin to kill her before dismemberment occurs. But digoxin takes hours to kill a baby and fails between 5-10% of the time. And many abortion facilities don’t use it because it renders the baby’s body parts useless for research and they can’t be sold.

Potassium chloride is also sometimes used. This is the same drug used in executions. One woman considering abortion, who worked in the prison system, chose life because she didn’t want her child to die the same way death row inmates do.

A Former Abortionist Describes the D&E

Abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino described a D&E.

He described the Sopher Clamp, the instrument used to dismember the child. It is:

about thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At one end are located jaws about two inches long and about an inch wide with rows of sharp ridges or teeth. This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go.

Once the cervix is dilated and the amniotic fluid suctioned out, the abortionist reaches into the woman’s uterus with the Sopher Clamp. Levatino says:

Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard—really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg … Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length.

Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart, and lungs.

The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head … You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see a pure white gelatinous material issue from the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull in pieces.

If you have a really bad day like I often did, a little face may come out and stare back at you.

Levatino finishes his description by saying, “Congratulations . . . You just made $600 cash in fifteen minutes.”

A Witness to the Procedure

Nurse Brenda Pratt-Shafer worked in a late-term abortion facility and witnessed several D&E abortions before quitting. One was committed under ultrasound, and she saw the baby being aborted on the screen. She saw the child trying to escape the forceps after one leg and an arm had been torn off:

Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabbed one of the fetal legs with his forceps. He clamped down hard and, with a twisting and tearing motion, ripped the leg from the little body. He brought it out and threw it in the pan beside me. I stood in horror as I looked at that little leg in the pan with perfectly formed toes…

The next time he went in, he tore off an arm with hands and little fingers!

I could see the fetus on the ultrasound screen trying to get away from the forceps! Then I no longer saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen.

The ultrasound’s sound was turned off so the mother couldn’t hear her dying baby’s heartbeat. The abortionist had turned the screen away from her as well.

Pratt-Shafer watched the abortionist tear off the remaining arm and leg, pull out the intestines, and crush and remove the baby’s head.

The baby was conscious and alive after being partially dismembered. He was still trying to escape. The child would’ve experienced intense physical pain. There is a great deal of research showing that babies in the womb feel pain by 20 weeks, or even earlier.

A Preborn Baby’s Awareness

This baby reacted to a physical assault. But witnesses have reported that preborn babies also react when foreign objects are put into the womb and come near them, even when they aren’t actually touched.

Diagnostic sonographer Sarah Cleveland assisted in an amniocentesis done under ultrasound guidance. In amniocentesis, a doctor inserts a needle into the uterus to withdraw amniotic fluid for testing. It isn’t an abortion procedure. The target of the needle isn’t the baby.

The baby having the amniocentesis was 18 weeks old. Before the doctor inserted the needle, Cleveland says the baby was “kicking, playful, and happy.”

But when the needle was inserted:

I saw Baby dart away from where we were in the uterus and move as far away as possible to the other side of the womb. He stopped kicking and playing … His little heart rate skyrocketed. He was scared. In fact, I am convinced he was terrified.

After the needle was removed, she watched the baby’s heart rate decelerate and saw him “come out of the corner” where he’d retreated.

The baby reacted to a needle that never touched him, and Cleveland witnessed what she interpreted as fear and distress. It is impossible to know what the child was truly feeling, but he was clearly aware of the needle.

D&E abortions are brutal to preborn children. They’re never the kinder option.

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For more of our writings on the Kate Cox case, see

Kate Cox and Stories of Trisonomy 18

The Kate Cox Case in Texas

For a similar post on cruel procedures see: 

What’s Cruel for the Incarcerated is Cruel for the Terminally Ill

For a post on alternatives, see: 

A Process of Tender Understanding and Loving Closure when Life Ends

 

 

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Kate Cox and Stories of Trisomy 18

Posted on February 27, 2024 By

by Sarah Terzo

This is Part 1 of 2. We will run Part 2 next week, explaining what a D & E abortion entails as the proposed alternative to giving birth. 

Kate Cox sued Texas for permission to abort her baby, who had Trisomy 18. Cox’s doctor told  her that her baby was “incompatible with life.” When Cox asked how long her daughter could survive in the “best case scenario,” the doctor said a week at most. Cox lost her case but traveled to another state to abort her daughter, presumably through a D&E dismemberment abortion.

Cox’s doctor gave her false information, whether due to medical ignorance or willful deceit. There’s no cure for Trisomy 18, but these children can live into their teen years and beyond.

Numerous media outlets gave the statistic that only 5-10% of children with Trisomy 18 reach their first birthday. What they didn’t say was the reason – most hospitals won’t treat these children. Given proper care and needed surgery, 90% of these babies survive.

 

Trisonomy 18

Bridgit Nora, from the Trisonomy 18 Foundation

John Hart Mack, from the Trisonomy 18 Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nora

Lauren’s daughter Nora, who had Trisomy 18, lived to be fifteen and a half. Lauren says:

Nora was exceptionally sweet and happy, and loved people, snuggling, holding hands, playing in water, school (especially her one-to-one aide, Ms. O, who was with her from kindergarten . . . and was like another mother to her) and she was a favorite with staff and students alike.

She especially loved music, and silliness made her squeal with laughter, especially if my mother-in-law or children would dance around and sing . . . She liked to give hugs and kisses . . .

Nora was comfortable, content, and loved.

She describes Nora as “cute as a button, with wild curly hair and the longest eyelashes imaginable, framing deep, wise brown eyes.”

Some children with Trisomy 18 must be tube fed, but Nora could eat by mouth and, according to Lauren, “loved food.On Thanksgiving, Lauren said, Nora got to be “the center of attention” and “couldn’t get enough of all the different things to taste.”

People with disabilities have inherent worth and value by virtue of their humanity, and who they are, not by how they affect the lives of nondisabled people. Nevertheless, Lauren says that having Nora in their lives changed her entire family for the better:

We all are more patient, less judgmental, and accepting of others due to having her, and know the value of interdependence rather than fierce independence. We are comfortable asking for help and offering help in ways I don’t think we’d be if she hadn’t come into our lives.

Lauren says:

We didn’t know how to care for a medically fragile, differently-abled child, but we didn’t really know how to care for our first healthy child either!

In many ways, Nora was our easiest. She never had friend drama, jealousy, or anger. She never felt let down or left out. She was just happy to soak in whatever was happening around her and be a part of things.

Lauren wants people to know, “All people have inherent value. Their quality of life isn’t measured by what they can or can’t do.”

Verity

Beverly Jacobson wrote an article for Newsweek about her daughter, Verity, who is about seven.

According to Jacobson, Verity is “living an amazing life with Trisomy 18,” and her other children “adore their little sister.”

Jacobson argues that Verity has the same value as any other child. She says:

I don’t know how long Verity will live. But I do know she is not in pain. She is not suffering. She is a joyful and happy child. She is not a “drain” on our family. She is our most precious blessing! . . . I thank God for her.

Verity inspired Jacobson to set up Verity’s Village, an organization that helps families with children with Trisomy 18.

Faith

Faith Smith has Trisomy 18. In honor of her twelfth birthday, her parents sent a postcard to all the doctors they’ve seen – both the ones who treated Faith and those who refused.

The postcard said:

Faith is loud, happy, sweet, and well-loved. She gives the tightest hugs, best kisses, and has the craziest dance moves of us all. She loves swimming, horseback riding, balloons, and playing the piano. Faith’s quality of life is the envy of all that know her.

Faith’s sister Grace wrote:

As much time as Faith has spent in a hospital, she’s spent much more than that traveling, laughing, and loving her life… She loves walking around museums and going on Starbucks runs. Her life is full of fun.

Doctors told Faith’s mother that her other children would be harmed unless she aborted Faith. But Grace says, “It is my complete honor and joy to spend every day caring and spending time with her. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Tabitha

 

Tabitha Ensmnger, from KTBV Facebook page

KTBV News featured the Ensminger family and four-year-old Tabitha, who has Trisomy 18.

Tabitha’s older sister, Esther, mentioned Tabitha in her graduation speech, saying, “My baby sister Tabitha has a superpower. She has Trisomy 18, which means she is the happiest and the most lovable baby ever.” Esther told KTBV News, “[J]ust to see her smile every day, seeing her face – it’s just been awesome.”

Tabitha’s mother Sandy said, “Tabitha is just a ray of sunshine all the time. She’s just so precious and, like, her smile is contagious. As soon as she starts smiling, watch out, everybody’s got a smile.”

The Ensmingers regularly give support to other families beginning their Trisomy 18 journey. In response to the family’s activism, Governor Brad Little declared March Trisomy 18 Awareness Month.

The Ensminger’s goal is to educate people, including medical professionals, about the value of children with Trisomy 18 and the fact that they can survive with proper care. Together, Tabitha and her family are giving hope to others and fighting against the misconceptions about Trisomy 18.

The family is involved in promoting Simon’s Law. Simon’s Law is named after a Kansas child with Trisomy 18 who died after being refused medical care. Simon’s Law, which has been passed in several states, forbids doctors from refusing medical care to children with disabilities.

Sandy says, “I want people to know that there’s hope and [Trisomy 18 is] not something fatal… Hopelessness is fatal.”

===================================

For more of our coverage on the Kate Cox case specifically, see: 

The Kate Cox Case in Texas

For more more our coverage on children with disabilities, see: 

Bigotry against Babies with Down Syndrome (United States)

Bigotry against Babies with Down Syndrome: International Experiences

A Lawyer’s Turnaround on Baby Doe with Her Own Down Syndrome Baby

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Testimony Opposing the End-of-Life Options Act

Posted on February 20, 2024 By

Tom Taylor recently offered this testimony in opposition to the End-of-Life Option Act (HB403/SB443) in the U.S. state of Maryland

 

This legislation puts Maryland’s most vulnerable populations at risk – including individuals with disabilities, minorities, those experiencing poverty, individuals being treated for or having a history of mental illness, our veterans, and those suffering from prescription or other drug addictions.  The legislation lacks strong safeguards to protect these vulnerable groups.

I am particularly concerned about the following:

  • Assisted suicide violates medical ethics to save lives and do no harm.  Major medical associations oppose physician assisted suicide.  Just last November, the American Medical Association reaffirmed its opposition to physician-assisted suicide: “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.  Instead of engaging in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life.”  Similarly, the American College of Physicians (ACP) Code of Ethics states: “The College does not support legalization of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.  After much consideration, the College concluded that making physician-assisted suicide legal raised serious ethical, clinical, and social concerns.” 
  • Maryland’s leading disability rights groups recognize the many dangers the bill poses to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as falling prey to undue influence from doctors or family members. This results in a lack of true informed consent. Disability groups are fighting physician assisted suicide because it says their lives are not worth living.  The CDC website reports that suicide ideation is higher among people with disabilities, and cites research showing that “the prevalence of reported mental distress, which is a risk factor for suicide, was 4.6 times higher among people with disabilities.”
  • There is no requirement that a person receive a psychological evaluation before a life-ending prescription is written. As an example from another jurisdiction (Washington state), just 4% of individuals who died from physician assisted suicide were referred for a mental health evaluation before being prescribed lethal drugs (Washington State Department of Health, Death with Dignity Act Report 2019).  In Colorado, drugs have been prescribed for eating disorders, which is a treatable disease (Colorado Sun, March 14, 2022).
  • Individuals report pressure to die via physician assisted suicide as opposed to getting treatment for cancer, mental health needs, dementia, or even because they were homeless or suicidal.
  • A Nevada physician who treated patients from Oregon and California has reported cases of insurance abuse connected to physician-assisted suicide. In a commentary in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he wrote:

“Sadly, such real abuses are already being witnessed in states where PAS is legal. Since PAS became legal in California and Oregon, I have experienced firsthand the abuses that PAS incentivizes.

       I cared for two patients in my hospital in Northern Nevada who were seeking transfers to their home states of California and Oregon for lifesaving treatments. With these particular treatment options, both patients had an excellent chance of cure.  Without the treatments, both would likely die from their diseases.

  When I spoke with the medical directors of the patients’ insurance companies, both of them told me they would cover assisted suicide but would not approve coverage for lifesaving treatment. Neither the patients nor I had requested assisted suicide, yet it was readily offered. Instead of the best treatment options, my patients were offered the cheapest option — a quick death through lethal medications. This was perfectly legal to do in those states but certainly unethical.”   (Dr. T. Brian Callister, M.D., Feb. 9, 2019)

  • Assisted suicide encourages people to feel like a burden to their families. According to data from Oregon and California, about half of those dying by assisted suicide reported that they did not want to be a “burden” on their families or caregivers.
  • Loneliness and isolation are recognized as significant problems in today’s society. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of the influential book Bowling Alone, has identified declining social capital as a concern in America as well.  Does this increasing isolation lead to worries about being a burden?  And should we be making greater efforts to foster inclusion and engagement for our aging citizens to counter worries about becoming a burden?  Do those facing end-of-life circumstances feel disconnected due to breaches in community life, or to our society’s strong emphasis on usefulness?  Our focus should be more centered on solutions to this isolation and disconnect, and on fostering stronger community association, rather than on promoting assisted death.
  • The legislation lacks real safeguards to protect people. Where assisted suicide is legal, safeguards like waiting periods are being shortened or waived.
  • Assisted suicide sends a confusing message that suicide is OK, even as the state engages in systemic efforts to prevent suicides among the general population through the Maryland Office of Suicide Prevention. States that have legalized assisted suicide have experienced increased suicide rates in general.  Young people are particularly susceptible to suicide.  Among youth and young adults (ages 10–24), the CDC website reports that “suicide rates for this age group increased 52.2% between 2000-2021.” The CDC also reports that suicide rates are higher among veterans: “Veterans have an adjusted suicide rate that is 57.3% greater than the non-veteran U.S. adult population.  Veterans account for about 13.9% of suicides among adults in the United States,” according to the website.  Assisted suicide sends a conflicting message to these vulnerable groups, just as it sends a message of less worthiness to those with disabilities, as identified in an earlier point above.
  • There is no way to accurately diagnose life expectancy. Individuals can request physician-assisted suicide if diagnosed with a terminal illness and given six months or less to live.  However, medical prognoses are based on averages that often prove incorrect, and people frequently outlive these projections.

In considering this legislation, we must ask ourselves if the terminally ill might consider assisted suicide in part because of a decline in a sense of community in our society, leaving many aging individuals feeling lonely and isolated, and questioning their meaning in a society that stresses usefulness to such a high degree, and that perhaps pays too little attention to the lifelong wisdom they have gained.

For these reasons, I strongly urge an unfavorable report on HB403/SB443.  Instead, we should give maximum attention to making sure that quality palliative end-of-life care is readily available to all Maryland residents who need it.  As a former president of the American College of Physicians (ACP), the medical association named earlier in this testimony, stated: “As a society, we need to work to improve hospice and palliative care, including awareness and access.”

Let us set our sights, therefore, on accompanying terminally ill persons with high-quality palliative and medical care combined with human closeness and a strong sense of community connection that assures them of compassion and meaning throughout the final stage of life.

The previously-cited ACP official well describes the path forward that Maryland, in particular, and society, in general, should follow:

“Through effective communication, high quality care, compassionate support, and the right resources for hospice and palliative care, physicians can help patients control many aspects of how they live out life’s last chapter.”

Please give an unfavorable report on HB403/SB443.  Thank you for your consideration of my views.

Tom Taylor (left) and John Whitehead (right) holding our banner at the March for Life 2016

 

==================================

For more of our posts on euthanasia, see: 

Figuring out Euthanasia: What Does it Really Mean?

MAID in Despair

Grieving for John

A Process of Tender Understanding and Loving Closure when Life Ends

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Creating a Loophole on the Life of the Mother Exception

Posted on February 13, 2024 By

by Sarah Terzo

Pro-Lifers and Abortions to Save the Mother’s Life

Mainstream media outlets are full of stories about pregnant people whose lives are endangered by their pregnancy and need an abortion.

Individual cases vary, and there are legitimate cases where a person’s life can be endangered by a pregnancy. Many times, premature delivery instead of abortion is an option. Direct killing by dismemberment isn’t a requirement. Live Action News discusses how a premature delivery, even when a child has no chance of survival, is different from an abortion.

The media often casts pro-lifers as the bad guys when we require confirmation of a life-endangering pregnancy or put ground rules in place for abortions to save a woman’s life. But there is a very good reason pro-lifers want (and need) to do this.

Pro-abortion activists are trying to create a loophole. They want to give one doctor, the abortionist, the authority, with no oversight, to claim that not having an abortion endangers the pregnant person’s life. Some knowledge of history is needed to understand why this is so problematic.

A Loophole in the Law

Before Roe, there was far more support for legalizing abortion among doctors than among laypeople. In a 1968 poll, 86.9% of doctors were in favor of liberalizing abortion laws, including 94.6% of psychiatrists.1 In 1965, 89% of psychiatrists said they would recommend abortion if the mother’s emotional health was endangered by the pregnancy.2

Therefore, many doctors were committed to giving women abortions on request. Yet abortions could only be done legally to save the mother’s life. So, doctors created a loophole. If a woman threatened suicide because of her pregnancy, then this meant her life was in danger. Thus, an abortion could comply with the law.

Dr. Allan Guttmacher, who would become the director of Planned Parenthood, stated in 1958:

At Mount Sinai, our rules are specific. The law says that one may abort to save the life of the mother, and therefore we insist that suicidal intent must be present in the psychiatric patient in order to validate the abortion.3

These women were often carefully coached on what to say.

From 1952 to 1955 there were 57 abortions performed at Mount Sinai Hospital, and 47.3% were on healthy mothers, done on grounds of averting suicide.4 From 1951 to 1953, 37.8% of abortions committed in New York City were done for this reason. This was up from only 8.2% in 1943.5 Between 1960-1962, it was 61%.6 In 1943, in Buffalo, New York, only 10% of abortions were justified by the risk of suicide. By 1963, this percentage had increased to 80%7, and the overall number of abortions increased considerably.

Sometimes, the pregnant person simply told the abortionist that she was suicidal. In other cases, the abortionist enlisted a psychiatrist to meet with the woman and certify that she was suicidal. He would write a letter or fill out some paperwork, and the abortion would be done.

Doctors Admitted to Dishonesty

Many in the medical field openly admitted that these “consultations” and certifications were a sham.

Two authors writing in 1973 stated:

Some liberal minded psychiatrists admit frankly that they sometimes must stretch their definitions of life-threatening mental hazards a bit, because they know that their approval is the only chance a woman may have of obtaining a legal therapeutic abortion.8

They quoted Dr. Leon Eisenberg of Harvard admitting, “I write letters recommending abortion that are frankly fraudulent, because I am satisfied to be used so that someone may obtain what our society otherwise would deny to her.”9

These weren’t pro-life authors. In their book, they compared abortion to “removing a wart from the side of the nose.”10

Dr. Pietro Castelnuovo Tedesco, associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA, said in 1972:

[P]sychiatrists would testify that a woman would probably commit suicide if she didn’t get an abortion … We were fudging on behalf of the patient for humanitarian reasons. It may have been for a good cause, but it was still fudging on psychiatric standards and on scientific truthfulness.11

In the documentary Voices of Choice produced by Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, abortionist Dr. Mildred Hanson described how she coached women who appeared before committees at hospitals for permission to get abortions before Roe:

We had a system put into motion so we could almost assure the patient that the process would go forward. I would coach her that she must convince the psychiatrist that she was indeed suicidal. How when she crossed a bridge she would think, “I’m just going to crawl over the top and jump over.”

Is that unethical to coach a person? Is that lying? Maybe … But when you are between a rock and a hard place you do what you have to do.

A Doctor Gives Pregnant Women Advice

Dr. Robert E Hall wrote A Doctor’s Guide to Having an Abortion in 1971. Hall wrote the book for pregnant women, as a guide on how to get abortions.

Hall writes:

A surprising number of hospital abortions are being performed in the 34 states with … laws which still require a threat to the woman’s life. Somehow the medical profession has always managed to bend these laws as it has seen fit, and right now many doctors in legislatively unreformed areas are openly responding to the growing demand for safe abortions…

Many practice in the most famous medical centers, where they can actually use the reputation of the hospital to protect them from the law. Most pretend to adhere to the law by going through the motions of having a psychiatrist friend certify their patients as suicidal.12

He then instructs:

Most of you will not qualify for an abortion on medical or fetal grounds. Without these qualifications, then, you must convince the doctor that you are suicidal. Some doctors will be satisfied with evidence that you are terribly upset…

[Y]ou will probably have to dramatize your symptoms. Tell your doctor how agitated or depressed you are, that you can’t sleep at night, and that you’re thinking of doing away with yourself…

I don’t mean that you have to lie to these men. Just spell out your fears, your fantasies, and your thoughts of self-destruction. Almost every unhappily pregnant woman has them. Emphasize them – make the most of them. And if the doctor is at all sympathetic to your plight, he will exaggerate your story until, by the time he asks for official approval of your abortion, you will sound like a raving maniac.

There is a certain element of theater in all of this, but it is founded on fact, and you must play your role in order to get an above-board abortion in an unreformed state.13

Actual Suicides Were Rare

Even before Roe, actual suicides among pregnant people were rare. In fact, according to a 1965 study, the suicide rate for pregnant women was one-sixth that of nonpregnant women.14

Of course, this didn’t matter to the doctors.

A More Recent Example

As recently as the 2000s, the suicide subterfuge was still going on.

Alice Eve Cohen wrote a 2009 memoir called What I Thought I Knew about her journey through a pregnancy with a disabled child. Doctors had told Cohen she was infertile, and she was taking estrogen. She didn’t realize she was pregnant until the 26th week. After testing, doctors said that her daughter was intersex, had limb deformities, and might have a fatal disease. Cohen sought a third trimester abortion.

She went to a late-term abortionist named William Raushbaum, who is now deceased. This was their conversation:

‘I don’t want to have a baby. I’m depressed and terrified. I had no prenatal care for the first six months, and the baby was subjected to drugs and x-rays, a CAT scan –’

‘Yes, and?’

‘– And she’s female, but she has a penis, and she might have CAH, a fatal salt-wasting –’

‘Yes, and?’

‘–And I’m scared I’ll go into labor any day and the baby will be premature and severely disabled and–’

‘Yes, and?’

‘Why do you keep saying ‘yes, and?’

‘Is your life in danger?’

‘What do you mean?’…

‘I don’t have time for stupidity. Why are you in my office? I can’t legally put words into your mouth. Exactly how depressed are you?’

‘I think about killing myself.’

‘Thank you! I’m sorry you’re so unhappy, but that’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Since you’re contemplating suicide, the mother’s life is in danger, which is the only way you can get a legal abortion. Not in New York State, which has no exception to the 24-week limit.

You could, however, have an abortion in Wichita, Kansas … Do you want me to call the abortion clinic in Wichita right now?’

I nodded. He called Wichita and scheduled an abortion for Tuesday, in one week.16

She was over 27 weeks.

In the end, Cohen chose life. She and her partner named the baby Eliana. Eliana was born with a physical disability but learned to walk, run, climb, and ride a scooter. Cohen went through a long and difficult battle with postpartum depression but came to love her daughter dearly.

Footnotes

  1. Jane E. Brody “Abortion: Once a Whispered Problem, Now a Public Debate” New York Times January 8, 1968
  2. Leslie Aldrich Westoff and Charles F Westoff From Now to Zero: Fertility, Contraception and Abortion in America (Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Co., 1971) 133 – 134
  3. Quoted in Mary S Calderone, MD Abortion in the United States (New York: Paul B Hoeber, Inc., 1958) 139
  4. Ibid. , table 6-13, p. 93
  5. Ibid. , table 6 – 10, p. 84
  6. American Journal of Public Health 964 (1965). Cited in David Granfield The Abortion Decision (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1971) 100
  7. K Niswander, R Klein, and C Randall “Changing Attitudes to Therapeutic Abortion” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 28 (1966) 124
  8. Jules Saltman and Stanley Zimbering Abortion Today (Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas Publisher, 1973) 49-50
  9. Ibid. , 50
  10. Ibid. , 15
  11. Quoted in Clifford E Bajema Abortion and the Meaning of Personhood (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1974) 70
  12. Robert E Hall MD A Doctor’s Guide to Having an Abortion (Bergenfield, New Jersey: New American Library, 1971)
  13. Robert E Hall MD A Doctor’s Guide to Having an Abortion (Bergenfield, New Jersey: New American Library, 1971) 22-23
  14. Ibid. , 24-25
  15. Ajay Rosenberg, et al. “Suicide, Psychiatrists and Therapeutic Abortion” California Medicine, 102:407, 1965
  16. Alice Eve Cohen What I Thought I Knew (New York: Penguin Books, 2009) 44-45

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For posts on similar topics, see:

Is an Embryo More Important than a Woman?

The Back Alley and the Front Alley

The Kate Cox Case in Texas

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The Safety of Incredibly Dangerous Things

Posted on February 6, 2024 By

by Rachel MacNair

 

A common method used to try to justify violence is to make comparisons to innocent-sounding things, saying that the violence being justified is actually safer than things that people don’t normally fear much. Here are three examples

Nuclear Weapons and Radiation

In my youth, when we were opposing nuclear weapons as mass destruction and nuclear energy as a bad environmental practice, nuclear energy proponents would commonly make the claim that the overall radiation in the area of Denver, Colorado was higher than it was around most nuclear power plants. They claimed this was because Denver was so very high above sea level. So if radiation levels around nuclear power plants were lower than radiation levels caused by higher elevations, they must not be so bad.

They left out a crucial point: near Denver was the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant (since closed). It made nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, something that produces far more radiation than mere energy production would.

Death Penalty and Humane Methods

Lethal injections were supposed to be a more humane way of carrying out executions. It seemed more like a medical procedure, in which drugs are meant to perform a specific task. Yet executions keep being botched, leading to torturous outcomes. As recently as January 25, 2024, an execution by nitrogen hypoxia – which euthanasia proponents have proposed as one method for a gentle way of ending life – lasted 22 minutes and was horrific. Being humane and executing someone don’t make a good match.

Abortion Pills

The claim is made that mifepristone, the first part of the two-part abortion pill regimen, is “safer than Tylenol.” Statistics show that more people have to go to the hospital emergency room because of Tylenol than because of mifepristone. Since Tylenol is well known for its safety, they argue that must make abortion pill awfully safe.

The first thing wrong with that point: way, way more people use Tylenol than mifepristone. So of course more people have problems with what more people use. It’s not the raw numbers, but the rates – how many per 1,000 people that use the drug end up in the hospital – that make an accurate comparison.

The next problem is that the vast majority of people who get into trouble with Tylenol do so because they overdosed. Overdosing is a danger with all drugs – that’s part of what makes them drugs. If there weren’t a danger of overdosing, it would be something other than a drug. Mifepristone, on the other hand, can send you to the hospital when used as prescribed.

But most importantly, any other drug causing miscarriages would have that as a mark against its safety. With mifepristone, a miscarriage is the whole point. Already you have a problem with defining safety in a way that can be compared.

But worse: any other drug that caused days of cramps and bleeding, even if it did so just a small portion of the time, would be taken off the take-at-home market immediately. There are no other legal drugs to compare mifepristone to, because if any of them did a small bit of what mifepristone does regularly, they would be reserved for monitored situations where treating diseases like cancer might be worth the side effects. They wouldn’t be allowed for simple prescription at all, certainly not for taking in unmonitored situations at home.

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Racism and Planned Parenthood: Documentation

Posted on January 23, 2024 By

compiled by Rachel MacNair

More documentation, including the court documents for individual lawsuits, can be found at Problems at Planned Parenthood. That website has an index page for specific problems – in addition to racism, there are health code violation documents, malpractice suits, 911 calls, sexual abuse, employee rights, etc.

Planned Parenthood itself offers detailed information on its own racist history:

The History & Impact of Planned Parenthood

Articles

from sources who otherwise favor Planned Parenthood’s mission

Employees Are Calling Out Major Reproductive Rights Organizations for Racism and Hypocrisy

by Ema O’Connor, Buzzfeed, August 21, 2020

employee Tweet in response:

Planned Parenthood employee

 

 

Dozens of Black Employees Said They Faced Racism at Planned Parenthood, An Internal Audit Found

by Ema O’Connor, Buzzfeed, October 9, 2020

Excerpt:

(NEW YORK) — A former Planned Parenthood employee is suing the organization, alleging the reproductive healthcare nonprofit retaliated against her and ultimately fired her for speaking out against its treatment of Black women.

Plaintiff Nicole Moore, the former director for multicultural engagement at Planned Parenthood based at the national headquarters in Manhattan, New York, claims in the complaint filed on Wednesday that Planned Parenthood has perpetuated a culture of racism where Black women within the organization are discriminated against through unequal work distribution and opportunities for promotions.

“[Planned Parenthood] has blatantly ignored reports by dozens of its Black employees of systemic unequal hiring and promotion, more work for lower pay, overt hostility, and trafficking in stereotypes by leadership,” according to a copy of the complaint obtained by ABC News.

Moore, who says she served in the role from Jan. 13, 2020, through Nov. 2, 2021, also claims that “Black-centered campaigns were deprioritized and under-resourced.”

 

Ex-Planned Parenthood Employee Says Racist, Toxic Culture Sent Her to the ER

by Emily Shugerman and Brianna Sacks, The Daily Beast, October 19, 2022

 

Former Planned Parenthood Employee Sues Organization, Alleging Racism And Mistreatment Of Black Women

KSRO Talk Radio, October 20, 2022

 

Open Letters from Planned Parenthood Employees

 

New York: General Open Letter, June 18, 2020

Excerpt:

Racism and Weaponizing of the Work of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Against Staff

Planned Parenthood was founded by a racist, white woman. That is a part of history that cannot be changed . . .  After years of complaints from staff about issues of systemic racism, pay inequity, and lack of upward mobility for Black staff, highly-paid consultants were brought in three separate times to assess the situation. Each time, employees of color were brutally honest about their experiences, but nothing changed . . .

When diversity and equity are weaponized to make changes that are harmful to staff it diminishes the value of these very important areas of change. We know that Planned Parenthood has a history and a present steeped in white supremacy and we, the staff, are motivated to do the difficult work needed to improve.

Decimation of Institutional Knowledge Due to Unprecedented Rates of Staff Turnover

McQuade’s time at PPGNY has been defined by constant staff departures. Under her leadership, 23 members of senior staff have quit or been forced out. Many of these colleagues had 10-20+ years of experience with our affiliate. Others were people hired by McQuade directly to newly created positions who left mere months into their roles. This high amount of turnover has had a destabilizing effect on the organization. The loss of institutional knowledge is so profound as to be detrimental to every aspect of the organization . . .

New York: Supplemental Open Letter: On Equity, June 18, 2020

We write this — as a group of both current and former BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) employees of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York — to expand on the issues of racism and anti-Blackness in our workplace mentioned in our general open letter to the PPGNY Board . . .

PPGNY, under the leadership of CEO Laura McQuade, has effectively gaslit and silenced their marginalized staff thus creating a toxic work environment. While we stand together as people of color, we also stand firm in our commitment to acknowledge that anti-Blackness is a critical and specific fulcrum of white supremacy.

The PPGNY Senior Leadership team, despite the visual appearance of diversity, has repeatedly weaponized the language of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Rather than using their true definitions, senior leaders and upper management have used these terms to manipulate and silence those with differing opinions and perspectives. They have leveraged identity politics by putting Black and other people of color in positions of leadership who actively participate in harming Black staff and other staff members of color below them.

At this point, PPGNY’s attempts to present itself as a diverse workplace have been carefully orchestrated and superficial at best. PPGNY repeatedly tokenizes their Chief Equity and Learning Officer, a Woman of Color who is not of African descent, as the “voice” for BIPOC staff. The decision to hire a non-Black person in this role exemplifies the ways in which white-led organizations use non-Black people as a buffer to actually confront and uproot anti-Blackness within organizations . . .

The class tensions are made clearer when the BIPOC leadership were also complicit in the decisions to furlough/terminate 28% of staff. This included the closing of health centers in the Bronx and Queens, as those areas were being devastated by COVID-19. Additionally furloughed staff, many of which are BIPOC women, remain unclear when they will be called back to work and left with no official information regarding when their health insurance will be terminated.

With multiple attempts by the BIPOC staff to bring these concerns to our supervisors, we continue to be invalidated and marginalized. White and non-Black employees are still given more pay and more advancement opportunities than their Black colleagues. Blanket statements are used to overshadow our grievances, while only exacerbating the problem. Black staff are further disheartened when our white and non-Black colleagues use their privilege to amplify our concerns, and find they, too, are challenged and manipulated into silence.

 

Pennsylvania: Save Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates (PPPA)

On November 24, 2020, employees of Planned Parenthood released an open letter alleging racism and poor management of severe budget cuts. It was signed by the entire staff. The letter demanded the resignation of Executive Director. She resigned on December 1, 2020.

 

=============================

For more of our posts on Planned Parenthood, see:

Medical Dangers, Sex Abuse, Labor Problems, Racism: Documenting Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood Staff Revolt

Does Planned Parenthood Reduce Abortions by Preventing Pregnancies?

“But I was Empty”: The Story of a Doctor Who Left Planned Parenthood

 

For some of our posts on topics about racism, see:

Racism and the Death Penalty

Historical Black Voices: Racism Kills

Racism Kills: Several Perspectives

Movies with Racism Themes: “Gosnell” and “The Hate U Give”

Police Brutality to the Preborn

 

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