Auditing Planned Parenthood
Government agencies are auditing Planned Parenthood for dubious financial practices that cheat taxpayers and enrich Planned Parenthood.
The Washington Department of Social and Health Services audited Planned Parenthood Spokane and informed the group that it owes the taxpayers more than $629,000 due to overbilling. The audit found that Planned Parenthood has dispensed prescriptions and billed the government for drugs without substantiating documents. When people came in for a simple injection or to pick up a prescription, Planned Parenthood allegedly recorded their visits as face-to-face consultations to charge the taxpayers more.
It also allegedly overcharged the government to reimburse for condoms, billed for a pregnancy test that was not medically necessary, and engaged in "unbundling"-meaning that instead of billing the government for abortion-related services in one package, Planned Parenthood made more money by billing the government for post-abortion antibiotics separately. Planned Parenthood has responded by appealing every one of the charges. The attorney general's office is also auditing Planned Parenthood Western Washington.
In California, a former Planned Parenthood vice president-now a federal whistleblower-has filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, asking it to reinstate his lawsuit after a federal district court dismissed it. Whistleblower P. Victor Gonzalez claims that Planned Parenthood overcharged California taxpayers by at least $180 million.
Shift in tactics
For the first time, a governmental body is telling pregnancy centers how they must advertise what they don't do. Responding to accusations from pro-abortion groups that pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) mislead women about the services they do-and do not-provide, the Baltimore City Council passed a measure that would fine CPCs $150 a day if they fail to post signs stating they do not "provide or make referral for abortion or birth-control services."
Pro-lifers insist that the measure unfairly targets them since it has no similar provision for abortion providers. In a statement applauding the regulation, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland said that CPCs give out "false and misleading information in an effort to discourage women from seeking abortion or using contraception."
Jeff Meister, director of administration and legislation at Maryland Right to Life, said the ordinance shows a shift in tactics targeting CPCs. Lawmakers in several states-Oregon, Texas, West Virginia, New York, and Maryland-have tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation regulating CPCs. Meister believes that abortion advocates are now first targeting local areas where they have more support, to build a precedent of public officials passing legislation that implies CPC dishonesty.
Abortion by force?
Caitlin Bruce is accusing Michigan abortionist Abraham A. Hodari of performing a forced abortion on her. In a civil complaint, Bruce said that after she decided she didn't want the abortion, Hodari had one of his assistants restrain Bruce and cover her mouth, starting the abortion while Bruce screamed, "Stop, stop, I don't want this."
Bruce has filed a civil suit against Hodari, and Operation Rescue has filed a separate complaint asking for a criminal investigation into Hodari's practices. Bruce said she has since suffered severe emotional distress and anguish, along with loss of wages, and charges Hodari with gross medical negligence.
Hodari claims in turn that he had already started the abortion and that stopping would have endangered Bruce's health. Hodari has come under scrutiny before-having paid a $10,000 fine for a 2003 abortion death and having faced charges for the illegal disposal of medical records. His license is due to expire at the end of January 2010.
In early 2007, Rasheedah Dinkins, then 20, visited Metropolitan Medical Associates, an abortion clinic in Englewood, N.J. The clinic botched the abortion. Dinkins later passed out and was rushed to another hospital, where physicians removed her ruptured uterus. The hemorrhaging made her left lung collapse: She suffered a stroke and went into a coma for three weeks.
Her case led state inspectors to briefly close the facility, which performs tens of thousands of abortions a year, but it reopened in March of 2007. In December of 2009, Metropolitan Medical Associates agreed to a $1.9 million settlement with Dinkins for the botched abortion.
Last year the LGBT Center at Princeton University sponsored a lecture about learning to "embrace and cultivate our erotic power," along with a lecture by an "anal sexpert" who made the case for "open relationships." Despite allowing a campus center that promotes a libertine sexuality, for the second year in a row the university has refused to allow students to open a Center for Abstinence and Chastity.
Joel Alicea, administrative chairman of the Anscombe Society and one of the students lobbying for an abstinence center, said establishing the center would lend institutional support to students struggling to remain abstinent in the university's "hook-up culture." While only a minority of students may be interested in pursuing an abstinent lifestyle, Alicea reasons that the number of LGBT students is also small.
In a letter to students who were petitioning to open a center, Princeton President Shirley Tilghman told students that their argument "implies that the Women's and LGBT Centers are there to support a non-chaste or non-abstinent lifestyle, which is not the case, and would be considered offensive by both centers."
A bio-pharmaceutical company is advertising that it has used fetal skin tissue to develop an anti-aging cream-saying it uses cultured fetal skin cells to create an "optimal, naturally balanced mixture of skin nutrients." The company, Neocutis, claims that the fetal tissue used to develop the cell line came from a single aborted pregnancy deemed "medically necessary." It claims the unborn baby could not have survived to term.
But Debi Vinnedge, executive director of Children of God for Life, argues that while one abortion may have started the cell line, the company has also mentioned "years of research" to develop the technology: "They don't tell you about the hundreds before that, before they perfected the cell line." At some point, the cells will die and will have to be replaced, presumably with more cells developed from fetal skin tissue, she said: "After 15 years, then what?"
Mark Lemko, president of Neocutis, said the company "expects to have no further need ever for a new or additional cell line" and that this single donation will provide some 900 million biological bandages for severe wounds and burns.
The U.S. State Department has released the latest data on foreign adoptions, and the number has continued to decline for the fifth year in a row, to its lowest level since 1996.
The decline isn't quite as worrisome as it sounds, though, says Bill Blacquiere, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, the largest adoption agency in the United States. He says the declining number of foreign adoptions reflects a positive trend in countries that used to provide the United States with the highest number of adoptive children. China has relaxed somewhat its one-child policy to encourage more domestic adoptions. Russia is also encouraging domestic adoptions.
Guatemala, however, has still refused to ratify the Hague Treaty, so the number of adoptions has declined from 4,122 in 2008 to 756 in 2009. Bethany Christian Services' foreign adoptions have declined, from 497 foreign adoptions in 2008 to approximately 400 in 2009. Its adoptions overall have declined from 1,700 in 2008 to 1,500 as of November 2009.
Blacquiere adds that while countries like China are emphasizing domestic adoptions, most of the families choose young and healthy children. Older children, special-needs children, and sibling groups still need foreign adoptive homes.
Thanks to a loophole in Virginia law, it looks as though investigators will not be able to charge a woman with killing her newborn child. The woman gave birth to the baby on Dec. 11, later telling investigators that she had covered the baby with bedding while it was still living, moving, and breathing. The new mother told investigator Tracy Emerson that she never wanted the baby, and when he asked if she would have helped her baby breathe if she could do things differently, the woman said, "No. I would have left it there again."
Emerson said the medical evidence and the mother's own statement would be enough to charge her with homicide, but there's one catch: The baby was still connected to the mother by the umbilical cord. Because Virginia case law requires the baby to achieve an "independent and separate existence apart from its mother before its death" to be a murder victim, the baby is not considered to be a separate person and the mother cannot be charged.
Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee have made similar rulings, but the loophole may not last in Virginia. According to Emerson, several state legislators have promised to call an emergency legislative session to close the loophole.
Despite pro-abortion rejoicing at the beginning of a Democratic presidency, Planned Parenthood has had a bad year. STOPP International reports that in 2009, only 11 Planned Parenthood clinics opened and 38 Planned Parenthood offices closed-a record number of closures. It seems that shrinking state budgets can take credit, since Planned Parenthood relies on taxpayer funding for 34 percent of its revenue.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana, for example, announced that it was closing six clinics due to the loss of a state-administered federal grant. All seven Planned Parenthood clinics in El Paso, Texas, have closed as well, citing financial pressure as the reason. Planned Parenthood of Augusta, Ga., is cutting its hours in half-blaming the lagging economy-after pro-life activists held a 40 Days for Life vigil.
Abortion in Britain
The rest of the world should note what Britain is doing to combat teen pregnancy and abortion-and should perhaps do the opposite. Britain now has the highest rate of abortion in Europe, with the abortion rate for teenage girls increasing by nearly a third over the past decade, and half of teenage pregnancies ending in abortion. The government is responding with calls for more sex education, making sex education mandatory at age 15 although the legal age of consent in Britain is 16. Parents are no longer allowed to have their children opt out of sex education, and faith-based schools are now required to teach it.
A pro-baby wave | Optimistic signs point to a changing abortion debate | Marvin Olasky
Learning to wait | Denied federal funds, abstinence educators plan next moves | William McCleery
'Look after orphans' | Twenty ways to become an adoption-friendly church | Paul Golden
Chemical reaction | The drug RU486 gives women the option of abortion in privacy | Alisa Harris
Eyewitnesses | Ultrasound technology is one reason more Americans are becoming pro-life | Alisa Harris
Finding searchers | Pregnancy centers buy Google real estate to reach abortion-minded women | Emily Belz
Higher learning? | Catholic colleges have become training ground for pro-abortion politicians | Anne Hendershott
Called to a cause | The pro-life movement won over Marjorie Dannenfelser, and now she's working to help it win over Congress | Marvin Olasky
'It all clicked together' | How one Christian volunteer found herself in the right place at the right time at a crisis pregnancy center in Texas | Susan Olasky
The telltale protests | The abortion issue did not die after Roe v. Wade | Andrée Seu