Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Tokyo to the African Plain: Babies Bring Joy

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Thomas Balm├Ęs’ documentary Babies chronicles the first year in the lives of four babies and their families, Bayarjargal from Bayanchandmani, Mongolia, Hattie from San Francisco, United States, Mari from Tokyo, Japan and Ponijao from Opuwo, Namibia. The film offers a refreshing perspective on life as a beautiful adventure full of curiosities, love and familial support and care.

Without narration or even much in the way of dialogue, save for lots of baby coos, the audience journeys with the children and their families from birth through learning to walk and talk. Through the rich, captivating images we see that regardless of our individual geography or level of affluence we humans share much in common, and life for new parents and little people new to the world is a stunning, joyous experience full of discovery and growth.

The film left me with the overwhelming feeling that life is both marvelous and mysterious – a beautiful and miraculous gift from God. Though it abstains from overtly promoting any particular moral agenda, as someone who embraces the pro-life ethic I found myself encouraged by the message of hope and the joy of living I’d seen communicated onscreen. Did you see this movie? How do you think its positive depiction of babies, parents and life will impact the viewer? Do you feel the film conveys a message that Inspires Life?

Elise Pino is Center Services Manger at Care Net

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pregnancy Center Referral Could Have Prevented Forced Abortion

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On June 4th ABC news reported the story of Caitlin Bruce, a twenty-year old woman who recently filed a lawsuit against abortionist Abraham Hodari of the Feminine Health Care Clinic in Flint, Michigan. Caitlin went to the clinic seeking an abortion, but claims that as soon as she felt Hodari start the abortion procedure, she changed her mind and begged him to stop. Instead of stopping, she alleges that Hodari and his staff pinned her down, covered her mouth to muffle her screams, and forcibly aborted her baby. Of course, Hodari alleges that Caitlin changed her mind too late and that he had no choice but “to finish what he started.”


As I read Caitlin’s story, I was gripped not only by the horror of her experience in the abortion clinic, but also by a fact no one denies—no one helped Caitlin choose life for her baby, though she desperately wanted to do so.

Caitlin was only 18 when she became pregnant. She was dating a significantly older man, unemployed, and without a high school diploma, but was trying to make a life for herself. It was Caitlin’s father who convinced her to have the abortion. ABC News reported that Caitlin “had doubts about the abortion from the beginning, describing her emotions after finding out about the pregnancy as excited and nervous at the same time.” She told ABC News, “I was really confused, asking everybody else what I should do. Everybody told me, ‘You were too young.’ What I really wanted to hear was, ‘We'll help you out.’” How sad for Caitlin that no one she knew was willing to help her.

After she viewed a sonogram of her six week old unborn baby in the abortion clinic, her doubts about the abortion intensified. “I sat in the room for like five minutes and cried,” she said. Soon after her abortion, Caitlin fell into severe depression. At one point she even drove to the top of a hill and prepared to kill herself by driving her car over the cliff. A timely call from her mother saved her life, but even today she still struggles with depression.

Caitlin’s story reflects what we in the pregnancy center movement know all too well—that no woman truly wants and an abortion. Instead, they often feel pressured into abortion by others, and quite likely lack accurate information about fetal development or about the physical and emotion consequences of abortion. Women can also experience severe depression following an abortion, a fact recently recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart.

While I am horrified to hear of Caitlin’s experience in the abortion clinic, I am equally troubled that Caitlin ended up in the abortion clinic in the first place. Caitlin’s story is particularly tragic because less than a mile from the abortion clinic was a pregnancy center that would have told Caitlin the one thing she desperately wanted to hear: “We’ll help you out.”

The statement “We’ll help you out” reflects the very essence of pregnancy centers. All too often, pregnancy centers are the only ones women can turn to for help. They affirm a woman’s decision for life and assure her that no circumstances should force her into having an abortion.

Just as Caitlin expressed, this is all women need to hear. It is no wonder that 95% of all pregnant women who walk into a Care Net pregnancy center choose life for their baby! But, it is tragic that Caitlin never found a center. I am convinced that had Caitlin been referred to her local pregnancy center, she never would have undergone her horrid abortion experience. She would have been confident in her decision for life long before she ended up on the abortion table.

I hope that Caitlin’s story will encourage others to offer help and support to women facing unplanned pregnancies so that no other woman has to share in Caitlin’s experience. Care Net and Heartbeat International jointly operate a 24/7 call center called Option Line that is designed to assist women like Caitlin. You can do your part by memorizing the Option Line phone number, 1-800-395-HELP, and encouraging any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy to call and receive help.

Jeanneane Maxon is General Counsel for Care Net.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Telemedicine: The New Wave for Abortions

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In Iowa, a local Planned Parenthood is using telemedicine to administer RU-486, otherwise known as the “abortion pill.” A remote doctor “meets” with the client via webcam, and, with a click of his mouse, remotely opens a drawer to dispense the pills to the client. The pills then have to be taken in front of the webcam so that the doctor can observe.

The Iowa Planned Parenthood says that affiliates from all over the country are calling them to find out how they can implement this new technological strategy. The whole idea came about because clients living in rural areas don’t always have access to doctors in their area. So, instead of a Planned Parenthood doctor having to travel all across the state “for one abortion pill patient,” they can now administer the drug via webcam.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well, for one thing, there is evidence that RU-486 has the potential of being an extremely dangerous drug for women. Since the introduction of this drug in America until 2006, the FDA has acknowledged that there have been six deaths, nine life-threatening incidents, 232 hospitalizations, 116 blood transfusions, and 88 cases of infection. These reports are based on the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS), which is a voluntary system experiencing underreporting.(1) However, from the reports they did receive, let’s read just one experience from taking RU-486.

(Warning, the following is an unedited report that contains graphic descriptions associated with the effects of medical abortions.)

Event of January 1, 2000, reported September 27, 2000, one day before the approval of Mifeprex (RU-486): “I was issued RU-486 in effort of obtaining an abortion. I followed directions exactly, and after taking the ru-486, I was in excrutiating physical pain, for at least 12 hours straight and I was bleeding extremely excessively. I was bleeding through my pants but was in so much pain I couldn’t even clean myself. It was the worst physical pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. This extreme pain was constant the whole 12 hours, it did not let up at all the whole time. I vomited continuously but couldn’t even hold my head up. I had unbelievable abdominal pains, I can’t even put in words. I couldn’t speak, eat, drink, sit up, and had difficulty breathing. The only thing I could do was lie on the floor and pull my hair to deal with the pain. I couldn’t clean myself or go to the bathroom, I thought I was going to die. After about 7 hours of this, I really wanted to die because I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I wanted to call the hospital but I was hours from any hospital because I went to our cabin in a remote area to have privacy during this time. The administering clinic was closed since it was the weekend…. I was not informed of the extent of these side effects, I was told it would be just like a menstrual period. I never would have taken this had I been properly informed, even of the possibility of those effects…I was not told that this drug was experimental and not approved by the FDA…I believe they outright lied to me…when I returned to the clinic after the abortion was complete, they were not very attentive or interested in me, I explained to them my pains even though they didn’t ask me any questions. I filled out a questionairre that they gave me before I took the drug and they said I have to do the questionnaire ever couple hours during the abortion, but when I offered it to them upon return, they didn’t even want the questionaire, they didn’t take it.”(1)

Interestingly enough, Planned Parenthood wants to disperse this drug via telemedicine to women who live in rural areas, namely the ones who don’t have easy access to a doctor. However, in the personal account above, this woman was also hours away from a hospital, meaning that she had to experience these side effects alone - without the care of a physician. So, why then would it be a good idea for a doctor to administer this drug remotely without easy access to provide care for the woman who has these adverse side effects? Health care providers are NOT required to report these problems to the FDA, however, women who experience adverse side effects can report directly to the FDA.

The Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest has already expanded this telemedicine to Soldotna, Alaska, and they are looking to spread into other rural areas of the state. How far will this go until there are enough adverse reports to have this pill taken off the market? Until that day comes, please find out how you can help Inspire Life in your own community.

(1) Letter from David W. Boyer, Assistant Commissioner for Legislation, Food and Drug Administration, to Hon. Mark E. Souder, Chairman, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources (May 2, 2006) (on file with Subcommittee).

Kay Sanford is the Fundraising Manager for Donor Relations at Care Net.  She can be reached at ksanford@care-net.org.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Take the REAL Quiz about Pregnancy Centers!

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NARAL Pro-Choice America is continuing their old tactics of spreading false accusations about pregnancy centers. In fact, their latest gimic is a quiz being circulated on the Internet which specifically targets Care Net.

Find out the truth for yourself! Spend two minutes and take Care Net's "REAL Quiz about Pregnancy Centers" - then forward it to your contacts!

The best way to respond to this negativity is to initiate a postiive, pro-active communications strategy in your community. Help get out the truth by sharing the Inspire Life website with a friend or joining our conversation on Facebook.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 14, 2010

CARE NET RESPONDS TO ANTI-PREGNANCY CENTER 'QUIZ' FROM NARAL, RELEASES THE 'REAL QUIZ ABOUT PREGNANCY CENTERS'


LANSDOWNE, VA -- The following statement was released by Care Net in response to NARAL Pro-Choice America's anti-pregnancy center "quiz":

"Abortion advocacy groups like NARAL have been working hard this year to perpetuate the 'boogeyman' idea that the work of pregnancy centers is harming women," said Kristin Hansen, Care Net's Vice President of Communications. "Every day, there’s a new blog post, video, 'undercover report,' or now, here’s a flashy quiz to help build an email list and raise money. These scare tactics are riddled with false accusations and are meant to deter women from visiting pregnancy centers for help. That's why Care Net has released the 'REAL Quiz about Pregnancy Centers' to counter NARAL's negativity with the truth.

"If you take a closer look, you see that the negative information about pregnancy centers comes from the same people who are usually a staff person, volunteer, or member of an abortion advocacy group. The complaints do not come from actual clients, who regularly give high approval ratings of the pregnancy center they visited.

"As an affiliation group of more than 1,100 pregnancy centers, Care Net is proud of the amazing work of pregnancy centers that strive to serve individuals with excellence, integrity, and compassion. It’s hard, thankless, volunteer work, but incredibly rewarding and life-giving. Those serving in pregnancy centers should be thanked and supported.

"Despite these ongoing attacks from NARAL, a growing number of people are getting excited about the compassionate work of pregnancy centers. Care Net sees wonderful doors opening this year as more community leaders are stepping up to open new pregnancy centers in cities where there are few or none. Every day, someone’s heart is touched with the vision of reaching out to women facing unplanned pregnancies with practical help and emotional support. There's no new mean-spirited quiz or negative campaign that can prevent the growth of this positive movement in the hearts of volunteers across America."


Kristin Hansen is Vice President of Communications at Care Net.