LIFE DIGEST: Planned Parenthood flourishes
The Alabama Department of Public Health placed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Birmingham on probation for violations of state law, it was reported Feb. 11 by the pro-life organization Live Action. Among the infractions it uncovered, the department reported that Planned Parenthood failed to have underage girls in nine of nine sampled cases to authenticate in writing the signatures providing consent for abortions were actually those of their parents.
Hidden-camera investigations by Live Action, which is led by college students, have caught Planned Parenthood employees in Alabama, Arizona, California, Indiana and Tennessee seeking to cover up alleged child sexual abuse, prompting some state investigations. Undercover video released in December showed a counselor at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin providing erroneous information about fetal development.
Meanwhile, however, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has opened another "abortion supercenter," as pro-life advocates refer to the new clinics. The latest one opened Feb. 14 in Portland, Ore. Other new, large Planned Parenthood buildings have opened in recent months or years in Houston; Denver; and Aurora, Ill.
Planned Parenthood also stands to gain more funds under President Obama's 2011 proposed budget through Title X, the federal government's family planning program. The proposal would increase Title X funding by $10 million to $327 million, according to Focus on the Family Action.
While Title X funding is barred from paying for abortions, "it frees up other money that [Planned Parenthood] can then use for abortion or other things that people would disagree with," said Carrie Gordon Earl of Focus on the Family Action, CitizenLink reported.
Though Planned Parenthood continues to expand with the benefit of government money, other abortion clinics are not faring as well, according to research by Operation Rescue (O.R.). The activist, pro-life organization reported in December that two-thirds of the country's abortion clinics have gone out of business in the last 18 years. Five more have closed in the last two months, O.R. said Feb. 15.
"It is very clear that the only abortion group expanding its business is Planned Parenthood, and the only reason it can do so is with the help of our tax dollars," O.R. President Troy Newman said in a written statement.
"This news emphasizes the need to defund Planned Parenthood nationwide. Without being artificially supported with our tax dollars, Planned Parenthood would be closing clinics, not building new ones."
PPFA's latest annual report showed its affiliates received about $350 million in grants and contracts from federal, state and local governments.
Planned Parenthood's affiliates performed more than 305,000 abortions in 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
COUNTY HALTS ABORTION FUNDING -- Wake County in North Carolina no longer will underwrite most abortions its employees undergo.
Board of Commissioners chairman Tony Gurley said Feb. 11 the county has cut off funds for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest and a threat to the mother's life, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The town of Apex also recently stopped paying for elective abortions.
The Wake County action was based on a 1981 North Carolina Supreme Court opinion that supporters of the ruling said barred public funding of elective abortions. "By no stretch of the imagination can we consider medically unnecessary abortions as 'essential to the health and welfare' of the recipients," the high court said, according to The News & Observer.
State Rep. Paul Stan, a Republican, brought the lawsuit in that case and urged Apex and Wake County to stop paying for elective abortions.
"During the debate over health care, the Obamacare bill, this question came up repeatedly," Stam said, the newspaper reported. "In early December, we discovered our own town and county was doing it."
Suits may be brought against North Carolina counties that continue to fund employees' elective abortions, Stam said, according to The News & Observer.
NORTH AMERICANS DIFFER ON EUTHANASIA -- Canadian support of euthanasia outdistances American backing for the practice by 25 percent, according to new polls.
The public opinion surveys showed 67 percent of Canadians support legalizing euthanasia, while 42 percent of U.S. residents back its legalization. The polls by Angus Reid Public Opinion showed only 23 percent of Canadians oppose euthanasia's legalization, while 36 percent of American disapprove of it becoming legal. Ten percent of Canadians are unsure, while 22 percent of Americans are in that category.
The survey was conducted by means of online interviews.
Euthanasia, which involves the administration of drugs to kill patients, is legal in Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. Switzerland allows physician-assisted suicide, which involves a doctor prescribing but not administering the lethal drugs.
ABORTION CLAIMS MOTHER -- A mother of four died Jan. 25 after she was injured during an abortion at a Queens, N.Y., clinic.
Alexandra Nunez, 37, of Plainfield, N.J., started bleeding severely during an abortion at A1 Medicine and was taken to a hospital, according to the New York Daily News. One of her arteries was accidentally cut, and Nunez went into cardiac arrest, police sources told the newspaper.
"I'm upset because I never got a chance to say goodbye," said Nunez's oldest daughter, Daisy Davila, 19, the Daily News reported.
"We're not angry. We just want to know what happened," said Davila, who contended her mother was opposed to abortion.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.