Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 14
No. 2
April, 2020
 
Message from PNCI

To valued friends of PNCI, 

We hope that you are staying well during the coronavirus pandemic and all the changes implemented to save lives.

As governments around the world address the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives PNCI recommends the U.S. government’s Center for Disease Control’s coronavirus website with valuable resources and information Coronavirus.gov. The World Health Organization has a COVID-19 dedicated website that includes country and technical guidance, daily situation reports, and general advice.

Recently Pope Francis recognized the critical responsibility of those serving in public office during this crisis. After the announcement by the Italian government of latest measures it deemed necessary to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Pope Francis stated that government authorities "must make decisions and many times they have to decide on measures that the people do not like. But it is for our own good."

He urged, “Let us keep praying together for the ill, their relatives, for parents with children at home, but most of all I would ask that you pray for authorities.”

Recognizing that government authorities can "feel alone, not understood" Pope Francis prayed, "Let us pray for our governing leaders who have to make decisions on these measures, that they feel accompanied by people's prayers."

At this time we join in this prayer and remember especially all elected and appointed government officials, lawmakers, staff, religious leaders, and organizations who consistently work to protect life at all stages of life from conception to natural death as they face new challenges to the protection of the innate dignity of life.

These challenges have increased exponentially during the COVID-19, exacerbated by pro-death activists who view the pandemic as an “opportunity” to advance access to abortion and euthanasia and to even make judgments as to whose life has greater value if medical treatment has to be rationed.

 

Defending Life
U.S.: Abortion Funding Kept Out of Coronavirus Aid Act

President Trump signed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law providing a massive $2.3 trillion for financial relief for individual Americans and small business owners. Efforts by Democrats, including Speaker Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, to secure funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers by allowing them to access the small business loans were defeated during negotiations. The long-standing Hyde Amendment was included several times in the bill to protect hundreds of billions of dollars from funding elective abortion and elective abortion coverage.

Pandemic Concerns Halt Some Abortions

In the challenge to prepare for the anticipated health needs as COVID-19 spreads, non-essential surgeries and medical procedures have been stopped to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) needed by health professional on the front line of treating patients and to ready hospitals for the influx of coronavirus patients.

Surgical abortions have been stopped in many states in the U.S. and chemical abortion induced by abortion pills have also been stopped in a number of states. Not surprisingly, abortion groups including Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, The ACLU, among others, have swiftly challenged Executive Orders in Texas, Alabama, Ohio, Idaho, Iowa, and Oklahoma. In Texas, they sued that the executive order was a “blatant effort to exploit a public health crisis to advance an extreme, anti-abortion agenda.” 

At this point, federal judges in Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio have ruled to block the orders from going into effect. Ohio is appealing the decision.

In Texas, an immediate appeal was filed after a federal judge blocked the Executive Order. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit the overruled the decision and restored the Governor’s order. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton explained that the Executive Order applies to all health care facilities in order to ensure equipment and resources are available for fighting COVID-19 and that abortion centers were seeking special treatment. “All Texans must work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. My office will continue to defend Governor Greg Abbott’s Order to ensure that supplies and personal protective gear reach the hardworking medical professionals who need it the most during this health crisis,” said Paxton.

Abortion providers in Indiana have opted to just ignore Governor Eric Holcomb’s Executive Order halting services of all non-essential healthcare including abortion services. Whole Women’s Health attempted to justify the continuation of services that they are “only” providing medical abortions.

Physicians Declare: Abortion is Not Essential Healthcare

Representatives of over 30,000 physicians decried the call to continue elective abortion during the COVID-19 crisis issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) which falsely characterizes elective abortion as essential healthcare.

The statement by representatives of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), the American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the Catholic Medical Association, and the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons calls out the abortion industry for continuing “with business as usual” despite the directive to cease all elective medical procedures to save limited healthcare equipment.

 The pro-life statement decries the statement by ACOG “with several other traditionally pro-abortion medical organizations” that “made the preposterous claim that ‘abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care’ for women, even though elective abortion treats no disease process.”

They point out that over 85% of practicing obstetricians and gynecologists do not perform elective abortions and state that if elective abortion was an “essential component” of women’s health care, “it would be a part of every obstetric and gynecologic practice”. During the current pandemic they explain that currently “services that do constitute essential health care for women, including routine Pap smears, mammograms, and pelvic exams, are being postponed in order to reduce everyone’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, and to conserve scarce medical resources.”

Concern is expressed that elective abortion, both surgical and drug induced, “generates more patients to be seen in already overburdened emergency rooms. Most abortion providers instruct women to go to an emergency room if they have any concerning symptoms after the abortion. Approximately 5% of women who undergo medication abortions will require evaluation in an emergency room, most commonly for hemorrhage. Surgical abortions can also result in hemorrhage. Emergency room personnel – who are already struggling to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic – will be further strained to provide care to these women.”

The organizations through their representatives “call for all elective abortions to be suspended in accordance with the current CDC recommendations pertaining to elective procedures and office visits.”

Pro-Life Leaders Seek Abortion Clinic Compliance

Pro-life leaders in the U.S., including Fr Frank Pavone, wrote a letter to Alex Azar, Secretary Department of Health and Human Services, asking him to ensure that abortion facilities are complying with the government directive that medical facilities only perform medically necessary procedures. The letter explains, “By ceasing both surgical and chemical abortions now, Planned Parenthood will free up much needed medical equipment and decrease the demand placed on ER’s due to complications from both medical and surgical abortion. This will protect women who will, without doubt, need follow-up care, including infection treatment and transfusions, from the nation’s emergency care centers and hospitals.”

The letter includes, “While we are in a hectic race to save lives, Planned Parenthood and other powers in the abortion industry remain insistent on taking the lives of innocent unborn children. While surgery centers postpone elective and diagnostic procedures, abortion centers are churning out surgical and chemical abortions and putting women, especially the poor, at risk. Their continued operation depletes sorely needed personal protective equipment and leads to complications that will further overwhelm already overextended emergency rooms.”

Pro-life leaders asked that government officials ensure that emergency response funds are not diverted to the abortion industry; urge the abortion industry to cease operations and join healthcare providers in donating their PPE and other equipment to coronavirus response; ensure that telemedicine abortion is not expanded during the crisis and maintain FDA limits on dispensing of chemical abortion; continue actions to stop illegal mail-order sale of chemical abortion; and promote medically accurate and supportive information for women “that counters the inaccurate and exploitative messaging coming from an abortion industry all too happy to use the current pandemic to scare women and families into abortion”.

U.S.: Disability Community Must be Protected

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a bulletin to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination in HHS-funded programs, including in the provision of health care services during COVID-19.

The OCR announced that it is “particularly focused on ensuring that covered entities do not unlawfully discriminate against people with disabilities when making decisions about their treatment during the COVID-19 health care emergency.”

US disability advocates, including parents of children with Down syndrome, have been especially disturbed by guidelines published by the state of Alabama which state that “persons with severe mental retardation, advanced dementia or severe traumatic brain injury may be poor candidates for ventilator support” and that “persons with severe or profound mental retardation, moderate to severe dementia, or catastrophic neurological complications such as persistent vegetative state are unlikely candidates for ventilator support.”

OCR Director Roger Severino explained the rational for the bulletin: “Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism. HHS is committed to leaving no one behind during an emergency, and helping health care providers meet that goal. Persons with disabilities, with limited English skills, and older persons should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies.” 

A bipartisan bicameral letter to protect individuals with disabilities during the pandemic was led in the House by congressional pro-life caucus co-chair Rep. Chris Smith (R) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D) and signed by twenty-seven members of the House of Representatives and five Senators. They called upon Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar and U.S. Attorney General William Barr to expeditiously issue guidance to states that they cannot authorize or promote any form of disability discrimination that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Our nation cannot leave behind Americans with disabilities or pre-existing conditions during this crisis. The Department of Health and Human Services should immediately clarify that states may not respond to the coronavirus emergency by denying individuals life-sustaining treatments solely on the basis of disability. As a nation, we have to stick together, and this includes the disability community and their families,” said Rep Smith.

Read more here.

 

International Pressure for Abortion
Pandemic Viewed by Pro-Abortionists as an Opportunity
Ipas, which declares on its website that it is the only international organization focused solely on expanding access to abortion and contraception working across Africa, Asia and Latin America to train abortion providers, inform women on how to procure abortion and to advocate to changes to law and policies regulating and restricting abortion states in a fundraising email that the coronavirus pandemic provides “opportunities for innovation in how abortion care is delivered”.
 
The “opportunities” it claims it will work to advance are expanding access to abortion-inducing pills for abortions at home; incorporating abortion with pills into telemedicine programs; and enabling over-the-counter pharmacy sales of abortion drugs.
Attorneys General Seek Mail Order Abortion Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar are being petitioned by a coalition of 21 attorneys general to lift restrictions on Mifepristone, the only approved abortion drug in the U.S., the first drug in the RU 486 regimen which starves the unborn child to death. The attorneys argue that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic women should not have to leave their homes to obtain abortion-inducing drugs. They are demanding a change in current Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), that require a woman (1) be handed the Mifepristone at a clinic, medical office, or hospital under the supervision of a healthcare provider; (2) the healthcare provider must be registered with the drug manufacturer; and (3) the patient must sign a “Patient Agreement” form confirming that she has received counseling on the risks associated with Mifepristone.
 
The letter, on the letterhead of Xavier Becerra California Attorney General, begins, “We write to request that you increase access to reproductive healthcare, including safe and legal abortion, during this pandemic.” The attorneys want the REMS on Mifepristone to be waived so the drug can be ordered through the mail stating that this would allow certified prescribers to use telehealth for abortion. The letter cites agreement from pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that the REMS are “outdated and substantially limit access to safe, effective medication,” and should be removed.
 
The attorneys claim time is of the essence because of actions by states including Texas and Ohio that restrict abortions as “nonessential” healthcare and would take a back seat to other medical issues.
Northern Ireland: UK Enacts Abortion on Demand Amid Pandemic
The UK has published the new abortion regulations for Northern Ireland, ushering in abortion on demand. The regulations implement legislation passed in July 2019, Section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act, which obligated the UK government to legalize abortion in Northern Ireland if the national government was not reinstated by October 2019. Despite the fact that the Stormont was restored in January and the country is battling the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government moved forward with the guidelines effective March 31, 2020.
 
The new law in Northern Ireland will allow abortion “without conditionality” for the first trimester, up to 24 weeks gestation where there is a risk to the mother’s physical or mental health, and up until birth in cases of fetal anomaly. Abortions can be performed by doctors, nurses and midwives. The statute states that providers have the right to conscience objection, with the exception for when “the participation in treatment is necessary to save the life or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of a pregnant woman or girl.”
 
Leading pro-life group Precious Life is urging MLAs to repeal the law through the “Repeal Section 9” campaign and circulating a petition that already has thousands of signatures across NI. Additionally, Precious Life is urging the Department of Health of Northern Ireland to focus its efforts on the pandemic efforts and saving lives rather than implementing this new policy that will end them.
Northern Ireland: Struggle to Stop DIY Abortion
Not only has legalized access to abortion been imposed on Northern Ireland by the United Kingdom, but pro-abortion activists are pressuring the government to allow the use of abortion-inducing drugs at home for so-called do-it-yourself (DIY) abortion. Precious Life reports that “in the middle of a national crisis, and as nations unite to protect the most vulnerable, under a shared understanding that all human life is precious, abortion campaigners are accelerating their efforts to ensure more unborn children are killed through abortion.” 
 
The organization is seeking letters to the Health Minister Robin Swann who has the power to decide. According to Precious Life’s Bernadette Smyth, “DIY abortions are notoriously dangerous. Not only is the developing baby in the womb killed in early pregnancy, but women are placed at increased risks. At least 24 women worldwide have died because of adverse effects of the abortion pillAliance for Choice are calling for public access abortion pills via telemedicine (i.e., an online consultation without having to physically see a doctor).”
 
“Abortion is NOT healthcare.” 
 
PNCI notes that concern that DIY abortion can lead to the need for critical medical care is supported by the Mayo Clinic which lists the potential risks of the “medical abortion” procedure with a warning that women should not attempt to induce abortion with pills if they can’t make follow-up visits to their doctor or if they don't have access to emergency care. The warning includes not using abortion pills if a woman is pregnant for more than nine weeks or if certain medical conditions are present including bleeding disorders; certain heart or blood vessel diseases; severe liver, kidney or lung disease; an uncontrolled seizure disorder; or have a suspected pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy). Complications can include: incomplete abortion, which may require an ultrasound scan followed by surgical abortion; heavy and prolonged bleeding; infection; and fever.
UK: DIY Abortions No Longer Banned
The UK Department of Health has changed its abortion guidance to allow women to induce abortion at home with drugs after speaking with a doctor and being sent the RU 486 abortion regimen. Pro-life organization SPUC John Deighan, SPUC Deputy Chief Executive, explains SPUC's possible legal challenge“Let it be crystal clear: any medical professional must act in compliance of the law. SPUC is therefore contesting home abortion pill use which heightens physical and psychological dangers for women, and as trivialising the taking of human life by abortion.”
 
“It is unbecoming of the pro-abortion groups to take advantage of our current crisis to pressure the government and threaten further strain on our NHS resources. The evidence that abortion pills raise the level of complications for women is clear. Our health service does not need the pressure of dealing with emergencies arising from women self-aborting at home.”
 
Telemedicine for abortion
Telemedicine- the practice of a healthcare provider connecting remotely with a patient-has long been a goal of pro-abortion activists. With the need to protect patients from the coronavirus by asking them at stay at home, telemedicine is increasingly being employed as a way to diagnosis and offer treatment to patients and abortion activists want to see abortion included. An article in Mother Jones, The Coronavirus Is Making the Case for Abortion Via Telemedicinedetails the push to allow abortion to be “treated” remotely. It quotes Dr. Daniel Grossman, director of the research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, who called telemedicine “the perfect solution” for women looking to terminate early pregnancies. He said, “Unfortunately, it’s burdened by the restrictions in 18 states that completely ban telemedicine abortion care and then it’s also restricted due to the risk evaluation and mitigation strategy for mifepristone, which limits the possibility of doing direct to patient telemedicine”, referring to the FDA regulations on Mifepristone which only allow the drug to be obtained from select health providers in person.
South Australia: Abortion Activists Seek Telemedicine Abortion
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, abortion minded groups in SouthAustralia are seeking legal changes to allow access to abortion drugs through telemedicine. A bill is currently underway to change the criminal code to allow greater access to abortion but the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition (SAAC) does not want to wait for the legislative process followed by a conscience vote in Parliament. Current law requires women seeking medication abortion to see two doctors in prescribed facilities. 
Focus on the United Nations
CSW Declaration Disappoints Pro-Abortion Activists

The normal two week session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), attended by tens of thousands of women from around the world, was reduced to a one-day procedural meeting attended only by New York-based delegations and NGOs due to the coronavirus. The 64th CSW was slated to mark the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing with pro-abortion activists seeking to use the event to advance universal access to abortion.   Instead, the Political Declaration adopted by delegations omitted any reference to “sexual and reproductive health”. In response, Countdown 2030, a coalition of pro-abortion NGOs based in Europe, including IPPF, issued a statement explaining that it was disappointed that “sexual and reproductive rights are non-existent, so much so, that they are not even cited in the statement.”  

It credits the exclusion of the broad term used to advance abortion to “pressure from various countries led by the United States.”

An alternative Beijing +25 Feminist Declaration demonstrates the radical pro-abortion agenda NGOs sought to advance at CSW including to “decriminalize, destigmatize and increase access to abortion for all people who can become pregnant, including by expanding their capacity to self-manage abortion, guaranteeing the right to accurate and quality information on abortion, and eliminating barriers to abortion, including by limiting the ability of health care providers to refuse services on the grounds of conscience.”

 

Legislative News
Democratic Pro-Life Leader Loses Primary
PNCI extends a heartfelt thank you to Democrat Rep Dan Lipinski for his pro-life service and leadership as a Member of the US Congress and co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus. Rep Lipinski lost in the primary for Illinois’ 3rd district last week to a pro-abortion candidate who targeted him for his pro-life stance. Lipinski reflectedon his loss and his dedication to the unborn in the face of a changing Democratic party:
 
“The pressure in the Democratic Party on the life issue has never been as great as it is now. Over the years, I’ve watched many other politicians succumb to pressure and change their position on this issue. I have always said that I would never give up being pro-life and standing up for babies in the womb. Judy [his wife] and I, and tens of millions of Catholics, hold and live this belief. But it is not just based on religious belief. It is based on science, which shows us that life begins at conception. Knowing this, I could never give up protecting the most vulnerable human beings in the world simply to win an election. My faith teaches, and the Democratic Party preaches, that we should serve everyone, especially the most vulnerable. To stand in solidarity with the vulnerable is to become vulnerable. There is no higher calling for anyone.”
UK: New Report Reveals Unborn Babies Feel Pain Earlier
A new report from the UK All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (APPPG) and their secretariat at Right to Life UK points to evidence that unborn babies can feel pain from even earlier in pregnancy than was previously thought. The report features an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics of an article “Reconsidering Fetal Pain.” by Dr Stuart WG Derbyshire. Dr Derbyshire asserts that recent developments in neuroscience indicate the possibility for “an immediate and unreflective pain experience mediated by the developing function of the nervous system from as early as 12 weeks.” Co-author John C Bockmann PA contends, “Fetal analgesia and anaesthesia should thus be standard for abortions in the second trimester, especially after 18 weeks...”
 
The APPPG report recommends that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 2010 policy dismissing the need for any sort of anesthesia for abortion be revised to reflect the scientific advances and make the option of analgesia available abortions from the start of the second trimester and should be required from at 18 weeks gestation. Lord David Alton points out that the last time a study was done on this was 1996. “The science and our knowledge has moved on considerably since then. The case for prudential safeguards and protection of the vulnerable is now overwhelming,” said Lord Alton.
Canada: New Bill Would Ban Sex-Selective Abortions
MP Cathay Wagantall from Saskatchewan introduced a bill in the House of Commons to ban abortions performed on the basis of the baby’s biological sex. MP Wagantall says she hopes the private member’s bill opens a discussion on sex-selective abortion. The legislation was inspired by a recent poll that found 84 percent of Canadians think abortion should not be permitted on the basis of preference for a specific sex. “We value human rights highly in this country and equality between men and women. This issue, as I say, impacts that equality,” said Wagantall.
 
 
India: Lower House Votes to Extend Abortion Limit to 24 Weeks
India’s Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, approved legislation to extend the permitted limit for abortions from 20 to 24 weeks. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 makes abortions more available for “special categories of women” including victims of rape, incest, minors and handicapped. Abortions up to 20 weeks gestation require the approval of one doctor, any after that point require approval by two physicians, one of whom must be a government doctor.
New Zealand: Parliament Votes to Legalize Abortion
Abortion is now legal in New Zealand after the Abortion Legislation Bill passed its third reading in Parliament. The bill, approved by a vote of 68 to 51, removes abortion from the Crimes Act. The new law permits abortion on demand up to 20 weeks of pregnancy with consultation with a doctor, and after 20 weeks women seeking abortion will need to meet a statutory test. Previously, the law required that two doctors had to approve an abortion and determine the woman had a “serious danger” to her mental or physical health. An attempt to include “safe zones” in the bill was removed after a voting mix-up and attempts to reinsert it were rejected. 
Executive News
Argentina: Plans to Legalize Abortion on Hold Due to COVID-19

Argentinian President Alberto Fernández’s plans to legalize abortion have stalled amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Fernández had announced earlier this year that legalizing abortion would be the top priority of his new administration and had plans to introduce legislation the last week of March. As attention has rightfully shifted to combatting COVID-19, abortion activists remain focused on it coming to fruition. “Argentina has influence over public opinion in the region,” said Catalina Martínez Coral, the regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “If the bill in Argentina passes, it will influence other countries to start thinking about this.” Abortion groups continue to campaign, specifically Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Catholics for the Right to Choose), which seeks to remove religion from the issue of abortion.

 

Judicial News
EU: Court of Human Rights Denies Conscience Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled against the right to conscientious objection in a case that could apply to the entire medical profession. Ruling in the case of Grimmark and Steen v. Sweden, a panel of three judges decided against Swedish midwives who petitioned to have their conscience rights protected. The Swedish midwives had been told they must participate in abortions despite their opposition to it. Instead, the judges ruled that abortion is an ordinary medical act and not subject to personal preference or conviction. The decision was issued as a “decision of inadmissibility”, which is considered final. The ruling is the latest in a global push to eradicate conscience rights and is of great concern since the ruling sets a precedence that can be applied to all medical professionals.

 


 
 
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

In This Issue

 

Defending Life

Abortion Funding Kept Out of Coronavirus Aid Act

Pandemic Concerns Halts Some Abortions

Physicians Declare: Abortion is Not Essential Healthcare

Pro-Life Leaders Seek Abortion Clinic Compliance

Disability Community Must be Protected

International Pressure for Abortion

Pandemic Viewed by Pro-Abortionists as an Opportunity

Attorneys General Seek Mail Order Abortion Drugs

Northern Ireland: UK Enacts Abortion on Demand amid Pandemic

Northern Ireland: Struggle to Stop DIY Abortion

UK: DIY Abortions No Longer Banned

Telemedicine for Abortion

South Australia: Abortion Activists Seek Telemedicine Abortion

 

Focus on the United Nations

CSW Declaration Disappoints Pro-Abortion Activists

Legislative News

Democratic Pro-Life Leader Loses Primary

UK: New Report Reveals Unborn Babies Feel Pain Earlier

Canada: New Bill Would Ban Sex-Selective Abortions

India: Lower House Votes to Extend Abortion Limit to 24 Weeks

New Zealand: Parliament Votes to Legalize Abortion

 

Executive News

Argentina: Plans to Legalize Abortion on Hold Due to COVID-19

 

Judicial News

EU: Court of Human Rights Denies Conscience Rights

 


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www.PNCIUS.org has been updated with expanded information on Human Dignity and critical issues including: Abortion, Bioethics, Child Mortality, End of life issues, Infanticide, Maternal mortality and Sex-selective abortion.
 
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