Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Missouri legislature opens pro-life special session

Abortion | Lawmakers plan to overturn a city ordinance granting protected class status to abortion supporters
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 6/19/17, 09:59 am

Missouri legislators are one step closer to adopting a law that would encourage state inspections of abortion centers and overturn a St. Louis ordinance pro-life groups are battling in court.

The state Senate passed the measure 20-8 on Thursday in a special legislative session called by Gov. Eric Greitens, who is encouraging legislation that protects the unborn and pro-life groups.

“These are pro-life organizations that offer medical care, housing, food, and support throughout pregnancy and for years after a baby is born,” Greitens wrote on his Facebook page after a pro-life rally last week. “I was proud to stand with the people of Missouri and urge our legislators to act boldly to protect the life, health, and safety of Missourians today.”

Legislators struck from the bill Greiten’s requested ban on abortion centers asking ambulance drivers to approach without lights or sirens. But it does require abortion centers to send aborted fetal tissue samples to pathologists, who must then submit a report to the state, and grants the state attorney general the authority to enforce the new reporting laws.

It also strikes down the St. Louis ordinance that creates a protected class for women who have had an abortion or who support abortion, banning employers, lending agencies, and landlords from discriminating against them. Pro-life groups and individuals filed suit against the ordinance, saying it violates constitutionally protected free speech and religious freedom.

Sarah Pitlyk, a lawyer with The Thomas More Society, which filed the suit, said in a statement the organization is “very interested in the special session, of course, but won’t presume to assess the effects of any legislation until it actually passes.”

The measure heads to the state House for a vote sometime this week.

In addition to Missouri, Texas will hold its own special legislative session in mid-July to address restroom access for transgender students in public schools as well as several pro-life bills.

Live Action Live Action

Planned Parenthood: Abortion only

The pro-life group Live Action released two new videos last week showing audio transcriptions of Planned Parenthood workers telling women they don’t offer prenatal care or adoption referrals.

One video shows workers at Planned Parenthood centers in Arizona, North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, and New Mexico—just a few of the 97 facilities Live Action called—telling women the only service they offer is abortion.

When a female caller asked a worker at a Planned Parenthood center in Winston-Salem, N.C., if they do ultrasounds, she responded, “Only during a termination, ‘cause that’s the only service that we do. We don’t do any prenatal care or adoption here.”

Another worker at a Dover, Del., center tells a caller it doesn’t offer adoption referrals: “You should go online and Google adoption agencies, okay?”

Of the 97 facilities Live Action called, only five offer prenatal care.

In the second video, former Planned Parenthood facility manager Sue Thayer describes what used to pass for “options counseling” at Planned Parenthood: Women handed a booklet on adoption and prenatal care but told not to bother reading it if they didn’t want to.

In January, Live Action released another video showing employees at Planned Parenthood centers telling women to look for prenatal care elsewhere. —S.G.

Investigation re-opened in boy’s organ-harvesting case

Los Angeles police and the district attorney’s office are re-investigating the death of an 8-year-old boy, amid claims an anesthesiologist may have given him a fatal dose of fentanyl so the hospital could quickly harvest his organs.

Cole Hartman, born with a genetic disorder known as fragile X syndrome, suffered severe brain trauma after almost drowning in 2013. Paramedics revived his heart, but the boy was left in a coma and on a ventilator. His parents decided to remove life support and donate his organs. But when staff unhooked the ventilator, the boy allegedly began gasping for air. Judith Brill, his anesthesiologist, gave him 500 micrograms of fentanyl.

Denise Bertone, a coroner’s investigator, noted at the time the high dosage of fentanyl and persuaded the coroner’s office to put fentanyl poisoning as a cause of death.

Hartman took 23 minutes to die, and organ donation is time-sensitive: Bertone claimed Brill hastened his death with such a high dose to ensure successful organ harvesting. But the chief medical examiner at the time disregarded her claims of manslaughter and said near-drowning caused the boy’s death. Bertone has since convinced the new interim examiner to reopen the case. —S.G.

California prescribed death for 500 in first year

California doctors prescribed euthanasia drugs to 504 people in the first year the practice was legal, according to the pro-euthanasia group Compassion and Choices, which applauded the statistics as “a huge success.” Others disagree.

Aaron Kheriaty, director of UC Irvine's medical ethics program, noted the law doesn’t require a psychiatrist to evaluate patients seeking euthanasia.

“Would they feel differently or would they pursue a different course of action if they felt that they had the familial or the social support or the support from healthcare professionals that they needed to walk through the process?” he asked. —S.G.

Southern Baptists want Planned Parenthood defunded

During its annual meeting last week, the Southern Baptist Convention urged Congress to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider. The resolution called for the total defunding of Planned Parenthood, as “God abhors the shedding of innocent blood and requires His people to do all in their power to rescue persons from such acts.” But not all religious groups are opposed to Planned Parenthood’s grisly work.

Groups including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options, and the United Methodist Church signed a letter along with 155 other groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to protest the potential repeal of Obamacare and revocation of Planned Parenthood funding. —S.G.

A life lived with dignity and purpose

Steven Lee Mitchell, an avid Duke University men’s basketball fan born in 1954 with Down syndrome, died on June 4 following a stroke. His lifelong connection to the Duke team helped raise awareness for the dignity and worth of those born with disabilities. When a new coach’s popularity made tickets hard to get, Mitchell’s brother-in-law negotiated a ticket right behind the Duke bench. Every season since, Mitchell wrote a brief note to Coach Mike Krzyzewski to ask permission to sit behind him again. Coach “K” always said yes. Mitchell once saved his sister from a seizure-induced drowning accident, an act that earned him the Governor’s Award for Bravery and Heroism. —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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  • Ben K
    Posted: Thu, 06/22/2017 07:18 am

    This is excellent news that I'm not seeing other places. Thanks!