Author archives: Samuel Lillemo

Pennsylvania Governor Exploits Coronavirus Crisis to Push Telemedicine Abortions

by Samuel Lillemo

April 2, 2020

On Saturday, March 28, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) announced a massive expansion of telemedicine in response to the coronavirus. By not explicitly excluding chemical abortions in the announcement, he is attempting to hijack this legitimate coronavirus telemedicine response in order to strip away safety-nets around chemical abortions that continue to cause the deaths of pregnant women. Telemedicine expands civilians’ access to timely health care in crisis situations, but it should never be used for non-emergency procedures that can potentially put a patient’s life at risk without a doctor present.

In the midst of a national reckoning with the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer, is trying to capitalize on the emergency situation to promote the use of chemical abortions through manipulating an upcoming telemedicine bill. He has vowed to veto SB 857, a bill to expand the use of telemedicine as a response to the coronavirus, unless language requiring a doctor to administer the chemical abortion pill in person is removed.

Politicians like Governor Wolf argue it’s ethically responsible to give these chemical abortion pills to women without the supervision of a trained physician and in the middle of a global pandemic already stretching hospital resources. What’s the harm in allowing women in remote areas or without access to a trained physician to take the abortion pill on their own?

Few legal drugs wreak havoc on the human body like the chemical abortion pill. If a doctor doesn’t thoroughly examine the pregnant woman seeking the abortion pill for complicating conditions, the patient is at an incredible risk of the extreme bleeding that has become the pill’s life-threatening signature. One condition of special concern is ectopic pregnancy.

Statistically speaking, two mothers out of every 100 women who become pregnant in North America will have an ectopic pregnancy, meaning the baby develops not in the vaginal canal where it’s supposed to, but in one of the fallopian tubes. Considered one of the chief causes of maternal mortality in the first trimester, ectopic pregnancy becomes exponentially more lethal for the mother when paired with the chemical abortion pill taken at home, because it is one of the conditions that must be screened for by a trained physician.

The FDA has also released a report documenting adverse results from the use of the more potent drug in the abortion pill regimen Mifeprex’s chemical cocktail, Mifepristone. The report estimates that 3.7 million women in the United States used the abortion pill between September 28, 2000, and December 31, 2018. Over that 18-year span, 1,042 women were hospitalized by the drug, 599 bled so extensively that blood transfusions were required to save their lives, 412 developed infections (69 of which were considered severe), and 12 women died from conditions likely induced by the chemical abortion.

The FDA’s own report shows that Mifeprex endangers women’s lives even with available emergency medical care. Complications arising from this pill, like internal hemorrhaging and extreme bleeding, require intensive blood transfusions and professional medical care to overcome, and despite modern medical advances, women continue to die from it.

As American hospitals are quickly becoming overwhelmed, this drug becomes exponentially more dangerous by leaving women at the mercy of life-threatening complications that their health care system may not be able to intercept. With COVID-19 response taking top priority among medical professionals, government leaders have an ethical obligation to protect their constituents from additional medical harm, especially vulnerable pregnant women, during a time of crisis.

Samuel Lillemo is a Policy/Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

Religious Minorities in China Are Losing a Deadly Game of Hide and Seek

by Samuel Lillemo

January 16, 2020

Open Doors released its 2020 World Watch List report yesterday, highlighting the fact that the most populated country in the world has now become a surveillance state, and this widespread invasion of privacy is being used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities in China.

The report details the massive expansion of a facial recognition software used to track people’s movements. Independent reporters also released an article describing the systematic monitoring of social media by police forces, often resulting in raids and spontaneous interrogations of students and public servants. The implications of such developments, however, cut more deeply than merely having a Beijing helicopter parent.

A systematic ethnic cleansing campaign, mounted by the communist party against ethno-religious groups it feels threaten “national unity,” has brought many vulnerable minorities (Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, other Muslim minority groups, and practitioners of Falun Gong) into the crosshairs of one of the 21st century’s most brutal regimes. The expansion of technological tracking makes the Chinese authorities nearly inescapable. Robbed of their ability to hide, and with both ancestral ties and economic needs tying them to the region, China’s minorities now have little recourse but to brace for the onslaught of state-sponsored deprogramming.

Recent revelations of living conditions for ethnic and religious minorities under China’s current communist regime, especially for Uyghurs, suggest that, for some, death may be preferable to what they endure. Either violently abducted or coerced by threats against family members, individuals born into these groups are often forced into vehicles and taken to what the Chinese government cheerfully calls “re-education camps.”

Sayragul Sauytbay (pronounced Say-ra-gul Saut-bye) was a prisoner in one of the camps who managed to escape to Sweden. Her testimony was summarized in an article in The Week:

Twenty prisoners live in one small room. They are handcuffed, their heads are shaved, every move is monitored by ceiling cameras. A bucket in the corner of the room is their toilet. The daily routine begins at 6 a.m. They are learning Chinese, memorizing propaganda songs, and confessing to invented sins. They range in age from teenagers to elderly. Their meals are meager: cloudy soup and a slice of bread. Torture — metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks — takes place in the “black room.” Punishment is a constant… [t]hey are the human subjects of medical experiments… Women are routinely raped.

While Sayragul’s experience hopefully represents only the extreme of camp brutality, Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, explains, “I think it’s fair to describe everyone being detained as being subject at least to psychological torture, because they literally don’t know how long they’re going to be there.” Such is not merely the fate of a few thousand dissidents or “terrorists,” as the communist government of China has grown fond of calling them. Scholars estimate that at least 1 million people have been kidnapped into brutal conditions after the communist Chinese regime felt threatened by their religious beliefs. 

To comprehend the magnitude of these internments, briefly consider that the U.S. population in 2015 included 1.1 million medical doctors. Now imagine every physician across the nation being rounded up and sent into prison camps, and you have an idea of the raw scale of China’s program. In the name of “fighting terrorism,” the current Chinese regime has abandoned the role of guardian and become a tormentor of its own people.

Governments, by nature of their authority and scale, have the unique ability to create an organized system of protections for their people. This same power corrupted, however, allows a regime to coordinate its hulking machinery for large-scale atrocities against truly helpless citizens. The evil we confront today is not simply the lawless violence of sectarian warfare across the plains of Kenya and Nigeria, but also technologically advanced regimes like China that have become factories of human suffering, churning out organized misery upon those proclaiming religious faith.

Religious Freedom Day, recognized on January 16, marks the 234th anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, wherein Thomas Jefferson took up a cry that was soon after echoed by every other American state: “No man shall… suffer, on account of his religious opinions or beliefs.” In a masterful brushstroke, Jefferson lead the Founding Fathers in establishing the absolute necessity of equal rights for all people under the state, regardless of their faith tradition.

This protection embodies one of the foundational virtues of the Western democratic tradition, but is far from the norm for people of faith across the world. As the U.S. celebrates its fundamental commitment to religious liberty, we must work harder than ever to raise awareness that the need for freedom of conscience still exists in the world.

Don’t miss our Speaker Series event today at 12 p.m. as we host Jewher Ilham, the daughter of a Uyghur scholar and social advocate who is tirelessly working for her father’s release from China’s prisons.

Samuel Lillemo is a Policy/Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

Archives