Category archives: Life & Bioethics

Targeting the Vulnerable: Euthanasia in Nazi Germany

by Arielle Del Turco

January 27, 2021

Today, January 27, is commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the innocent people murdered by the Nazi regime—mostly Jews, but also Roma, Germans with disabilities, Slavic peoples, and others. Among those the Nazis targeted for extermination were the most vulnerable in society, through a vile program often neglected by our history books—Aktion T4.

On the fourth floor of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there is a small exhibit featuring an old hospital bed, hospital gown, and straps used to hold patients down in their beds.

An image behind the exhibit depicts a psychiatric clinic in a residential area. From the clinic rises pitch-black smoke normally associated with the Nazi death camp crematoriums that disposed of the murdered victims of the “Final Solution.” This clinic was not an extermination camp, but a place where the sick would go seeking help and healing. However, a horror similar to that of the camps was unfolding at this clinic.

Rather than receive medical care, hundreds of thousands of patients who visited institutions like this one in Nazi Germany were murdered. Designed to eliminate what eugenicists considered “life unworthy of life,” the Nazi euthanasia program targeted both children and adults with psychiatric, neurological, or physical disabilities. The Nazi’s vision to create an Aryan “master race” required the removal of “undesirable” individuals—those they callously determined to be burdens on German society.

Codenamed “T4” after Tiergartenstrasse 4, the location of its Berlin office, an immense bureaucracy involving doctors, nurses, social workers, professors, and others was established to quietly murder approximately 250,000 people with disabilities. Beginning in October 1939, the program was in effect until May 29, 1945, when 4-year-old Richard Jenne became its last victim.

The euthanasia program targeted institutionalized patients with disabilities or mental illness. Questionnaires asked if such patients had non-Aryan blood, regularly received visitors, or had the capacity to work. Three-physician panels determined whether the patients would live or die based on the answers.

Gassing was used to kill the victims until the Nazis changed tactics and either gave purposeful overdoses or allowed victims to starve or die of neglect. Physicians oversaw the killings, lending the veneer of medical procedures.

The program’s large scale made it impossible to hide from the German people and attempts at concealment were often clumsy. Officials might write to inform loved ones that their institutionalized family member had died of appendicitis, despite their appendix having already been removed years prior. Such tragic accounts often made their way to Catholic and Protestant leaders, who spoke out against the brutality on several occasions.

Notably, Cardinal August von Galen, Bishop of Munster, gave an exceptionally bold sermon condemning the euthanasia program on August 3, 1941.

If it is once admitted that men have the right to kill “unproductive” fellow-men—even though it is at present applied only to poor and defenseless mentally ill patients—then the way is open for the murder of all “unproductive” men and women: the incurably ill, the handicapped who are unable to work, those disabled in industry or war. The way is open, indeed, for the murder of all of us when we become old and infirm and therefore “unproductive”…

Woe betide mankind, woe betide our German people, if the divine commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” which the Lord proclaimed on Sinai amid thunder and lightning, which God our Creator wrote into man’s conscience from the beginning, if this commandment is not merely violated but the violation is tolerated and remains unpunished!

Thought to be too popular to punish harshly, the Cardinal was placed under virtual house arrest. Yet, his sermon was widely distributed across Germany to the outrage of Nazi officials.

By pursuing a “perfect” society, Nazis destroyed something infinitely valuable—human life.  Such a society could never have been ideal—it would have lacked the value that would have been added by the individuals they worked to destroy. For those who have family members with disabilities, it is often easy to see how they make the lives of those around them better.

Humans are flawed, and a utopian society cannot be forged by human willpower in a world corrupted by sin. As Cardinal Galen suggested, if we were to eliminate all imperfect people, everyone would be a target because we are all imperfect. At the same time, every person is made in the image of God—inherently valuable and deserving of love and care. Members of society who need more assistance ought to be protected and empowered, not eliminated. 

National Disabilities Day Should Be a Celebration of ALL Human Life

by Mary Szoch

December 3, 2020

On this National Disabilities Day, I’m struck by a great paradox. Today, in the United States and in many countries around the world, people with both physical and intellectual disabilities have more opportunities than ever before. Mass institutionalization of people with disabilities is a thing of the past. Workplaces have anti-discrimination policies that protect people with disabilities from unfair treatment. Sports for people with disabilities have become a worldwide norm. Universities are developing programs for people with intellectual disabilities. The “r-word” is largely recognized as derogatory and dehumanizing. And yet, while our society has come so far in its treatment of people with disabilities who are born, we have utterly failed to protect these people’s most basic right—the right to life.

A few weeks ago, an article titled, “The Last Children of Down Syndrome” appeared in The Atlantic. The article stated that because 95 percent of women in Denmark who receive a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to abort, only 18 babies with Down syndrome were born in Denmark last year. The article noted that in the United States, 67 percent of children pre-natally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. In 2018, a press release from the government of Iceland noted that because of pre-natal screening, only 2-3 babies with Down syndrome are born in Iceland each year. While our society has recognized that people with disabilities who are already born have countless gifts to offer—we’ve missed the most basic point. People, regardless of what they can or cannot do, deserve to live.

My older sister, Marita, has multiple physical and intellectual disabilities. While she does not have Down syndrome, she has a genetic disorder very similar to it. Her life, though certainly not an easy one, is filled with joy. She has had more surgeries than I can count. Tying her shoes and cutting her food are mountains she climbs daily. Getting out a thought sometimes takes her several minutes. Marita struggles to do the things most people take for granted with one major exception. Marita does not struggle to love. No, loving is something Marita does better than anyone I know. If you walk into the room with a smile on your face, you are immediately her friend. About five minutes after meeting you, she’s likely to give you a hug and tell you she loves you. If you wrong her, it’s forgotten the moment you apologize. If you do something to make her feel special—she’ll remember it for life. 

Marita loves so well and so easily not in spite of the disabilities that have made her life so challenging but because of them. To love, we have to be vulnerable. For most of us, that requires breaking down walls and building trust. It’s a process that takes time and effort and can easily be destroyed. For Marita, being vulnerable is just part of being Marita, and consequently, loving is just part of being Marita.

That is what Denmark is missing, that is what Iceland is missing, and that is what the United States will be missing if we do not recognize that people with disabilities have dignity and worth beginning in the womb. By their very being, these people teach us how to love, and that’s something this world could certainly use more of. On this National Disabilities Day, let’s pray for a greater understanding of the gift people with disabilities are to our world. Let’s pray for a greater appreciation of those who teach us to love.

Mary Szoch is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Pro-Life Until Natural Death

by Hayden Sledge

August 21, 2020

As medical technology evolves, doctors have been able to utilize new medicines that help to prolong life. At the same time, however, there has been an increase in the desire to end life in a more “peaceful” or “dignified” manner. Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) has grown in popularity due to an ideological shift and the personal experiences of numerous individuals. According to The Hastings Center, “Dying patients who see their lives being destroyed by illness sometimes come to view death as the only way to escape their suffering, and therefore view it as a means of self-preservation—the opposite of suicide.”

The original intent of PAS was to alleviate prolonged suffering for individuals with a terminal disease or sickness. Unfortunately, peoples’ ideas of what warrants PAS has become more ambiguous and subjective. It has become clear that there are those who would like PAS to become more accessible to everyone and not just those who are terminally ill. This would imply that individuals who are disabled, handicapped, or have poor quality of life could legally end their lives through PAS.

In The Oregonian, Erin Hoover Barnett tells the story of 85-year-old Kate Cheney with dementia. Cheney’s daughter, Erika, wanted her mother to choose PAS. However, before Cheney was permitted to choose PAS, she saw two psychologists. One found her unequipped to make such a difficult decision. The other found that her decision was heavily influenced by her daughter Erika. Despite these concerns, Cheney was able to choose PAS and died only a week after her last psych evaluation.

There are more stories like Cheney’s, but it can be challenging to learn and analyze the consequences of PAS. Dr. Katrina Hedberg from the Oregon Department of Human Services explains why there is not enough substantial research about PAS: “We are not given the resources to investigate [assisted-suicide cases] and not only do we not have the resources to do it, but we do not have any legal authority to insert ourselves.” Researchers have been unable to gather in-depth information about PAS due to the harsh law restrictions. It is evident that there are several loopholes in the PAS process.

For example, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund says that someone who has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder should be deemed incompetent to make the decision to end his or her life through PAS. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act Annual Reports found that between 2011-2014, “only 3% of patients (or fewer) were referred for psychological evaluation or counseling before receiving their prescriptions for lethal drugs.” This shows that people are not mandated to have a psych evaluation before the prescription of lethal drugs that end their life. Numerous Oregon psychologists have shared that they cannot diagnose someone with major depressive disorder after just one visit. A single appointment cannot determine the mental stability of an individual, especially in regard to that patient choosing PAS.

To ask psychologists to deem a patient mentally competent enough to choose PAS in just one visit is requiring those psychologists to neglect their responsibility to their patients. Psychologists recognize that mental health takes time to diagnose and time to heal. Even the most renowned psychologist cannot make a clear and accurate assessment of a patient in one session. 

Death with Dignity, a pro-PAS activist organization, claims that one should end their life, “when the quality of life has decreased to an unacceptable or intolerable level, and all that is left are days of suffering.” This creates a convoluted standard of what it means to have “quality of life.” It is impossible to predict someone’s death. PAS could lead to an unnecessarily premature death. Advocates of PAS are suggesting that quality of life is decided by each individual, with no set standard of quality of life. This means that people can end their lives based on relative standards, decreasing the cultural value on human life and dignity, which creates more issues.

It is important to recognize that there are individuals who are experiencing intense terminal suffering. There is no doubt that many people contemplating PAS are in deep agony and desire relief from that pain. However, physician-assisted suicide should be illegal because the standards for qualifying are vague and are not adequately supervised. Further, even death is not the answer to life’s worst sufferings. The intentional premature killing of those who are terminally ill devalues human life and robs relatives of precious time they could have spent with their dying loved one.

Scripture continually speaks of the inherent value of human life, whether that is of an unborn child or an elderly person. God’s hand is evident in every stage of life. Instead of ending lives, God calls us to celebrate life and trust Him during times of suffering. As Christians, we know that “suffering produces character” (James 1:2-4), and we can hold fast to God’s promise and spread the good news to nonbelievers that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Even in our most desperate times, He is sovereign. In our greatest sufferings, He is with us.

Hayden Sledge is a Coalitions intern at Family Research Council.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of May 10)

by Family Research Council

May 16, 2020

Here are “The 7” trending items at Family Research Council over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “The Dog Days of COVID

Americans are getting a good look at their leaders as everyday people – especially after Senator Lamar Alexander’s napping Spaniel Rufus stole the show at Tuesday’s Senate coronavirus hearing. More importantly, Americans got an honest picture of something else: where the country really is in the fight against COVID-19.

2. Washington Update: “A New Twist on an Old Tradition”

Nothing about the National Day of Prayer was conventional, but for Americans hungry for hope in dark times, that didn’t matter a bit. Whether standing through sunroofs, sitting on asphalt, or just bowing their heads in their cars, a record number of Americans dedicated time on May 7th to praying for the nation.

3. Washington Update: “Hack to the Future: China’s Online War”

China is attempting to hack into U.S. labs and steal America’s coronavirus vaccine and treatment research. Tom Cotton, U.S. Senator for Arkansas and Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Armed Services Committee, joins Tony Perkins to discuss China attempting to hack and steal American coronavirus vaccine and treatment research.

4. Blog: “Nigeria’s Christians and their Endless Persecution”

In recent months, the tempo of attacks on Nigeria’s Christians has accelerated. We must pray for Nigeria and our Christian brothers and sisters in the faith who are endlessly and brutally mistreated.

5. Blog: “Amidst a Global Pandemic, California Legislators Seek $15 Million for Transgender Hormone Therapy and Dance Classes”

It seems inconceivable that during a crisis caused by a global pandemic that California Legislature would even consider investing $15M into a transgender hormone therapy and dance class, yet they are doing just that. Nearly 70,000 Californians have become infected with the novel coronavirus and nearly 2,800 have lost their lives. This program reflects misplaced priorities and is an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars.

6. Washington Watch: Sen. Mike Braun gives his take on Tuesday’s hearing with members of the Coronavirus Task Force

Mike Braun, U.S. Senator for Indiana and Member of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, joins Tony Perkins to discuss the May 12th Senate hearing with members of the Coronavirus Task Force.

7. Washington Watch: David Closson unpacks the survey that shows most Christians don’t have a purely orthodox worldview

David Closson, FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview, joins Tony Perkins to discuss understanding your life’s purpose and how FRC’s Biblical Worldview Series helps Christians apply the teachings of the Bible to the difficult questions in life.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

Good News for Women and Life: Kentucky’s Ultrasound Law is Here to Stay

by Katherine Beck Johnson

December 11, 2019

On Monday, the Supreme Court denied cert in EMW Women’s Surgical Center v. Meier. By denying cert, the Supreme Court allowed Kentucky’s ultrasound law to stand, as the Sixth Circuit held the law was constitutional this spring.

Referred to as H.B. 2, the law requires an abortion provider, prior to performing an abortion, to perform an ultrasound; display the ultrasound images for the patient; and medically explain the development of the unborn child. In April, the Sixth Circuit upheld Kentucky’s law, holding that because the law “requires the disclosure of truthful, nonmisleading, and relevant information about an abortion, we hold that it does not violate a doctor’s right to free speech under the First Amendment.”

Kentucky is far from alone in regulating ultrasounds prior to an abortion. Twenty-six states have an ultrasound requirement. Fourteen states require abortionists to display and describe an ultrasound image before an abortion. Nine states require that the abortion provider offer the woman an opportunity to view the image. These ultrasound laws allow women to be more informed about the life growing within them, rather than keeping women in the dark. Ultrasound images are powerful tools that illustrate and humanize the life within the woman. Pro-choice advocates claim they are for women’s choice, yet they fight laws that would properly inform women about the very choice they are making.

The appellate courts are still divided on these laws. In January 2012, the Fifth Circuit upheld Texas’s ultrasound law. In Texas, abortion providers are required to show the women an ultrasound and provide a medical explanation of the size of the unborn child along with the development of the child. After April’s ruling in favor of Kentucky’s ultrasound law, the Sixth Circuit now joins the Fifth Circuit. In 2014, the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina’s ultrasound law, holding that it violates the free speech of abortion providers. The Supreme Court did not grant cert in that case.

It is a triumph for life that the Sixth Circuit’s opinion was allowed to stand. This is a welcome victory that allows the women in Kentucky to see their children in the womb and understand the medical aspects of the life within her. Women will now be better informed, and there is no doubt that life will be chosen more often thanks to H.B. 2. 

Introducing Lecture Me! - A New Podcast from FRC

by Family Research Council

October 15, 2019

We all need to be lectured sometimes.

Family Research Council’s new weekly-ish podcast Lecture Me! features selected talks by top thinkers from the archives of the FRC Speaker Series. Our podcast podium takes on tough issues like religious liberty, abortion, euthanasia, marriage, family, sexuality, public policy, and the culture—all from a biblical worldview.

Listen with us to the lecture, then stick around afterward as we help you digest the content with a discussion featuring FRC’s policy and government affairs experts.

The first three episodes are now available. They include:

  • Nancy Pearcey: Love Thy Body

FRC’s Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview David Closson joins Lecture Me! to discuss Author Nancy Pearcey’s lecture about her book Love Thy Body, in which she fearlessly and compassionately makes the case that secularism denigrates the body and destroys the basis for human rights, and sets forth a holistic and humane alternative that embraces the dignity of the human body.

  • Military Mental Health Crisis

Currently, an average of 21 military veterans are taking their lives each day. FRC’s Deputy Director of State and Local Affairs Matt Carpenter joins the podcast to discuss Richard Glickstein’s lecture as he shares the compelling evidence that proves faith-based solutions reduce suicides, speed the recovery of PTSD, and build resiliency.

  • Repairers of the Breach

How can the conservative movement help restore America’s inner cities? FRC’s Coalitions Senior Research Fellow Chris Gacek joins the podcast to discuss Robert L. Woodson, Sr.’s lecture on how the conservative movement must identify, recognize, and support agents of individual and community uplift and provide the resources, expertise, and funding that can strengthen and expand their transformative work.

Lecture Me! is available at most places you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Castbox.

What the New Guttmacher Report Tells Us About Chemical Abortion

by Patrina Mosley

September 20, 2019

Abortion research hub the Guttmacher Institute has released its latest report on the trends and incidence of abortion in the United States. This abortion surveillance report covers abortion occurrences from 2014-2017 and documents what we’ve seen consistently: abortion rates are in decline, but the percentage of chemical abortions continues to rise.

The trend continues, with the abortion rate dropping to its lowest point since 1973 at 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women for 2017, dropping eight percent since 2014. In 2014, the abortion rate was 14.6.

The estimated total number of abortions for the year 2017 was 862,320, and 339,640 of those were chemical abortions, which means they accounted for approximately 39 percent of all abortions. That’s a 25 percent increase in the use of chemical abortions (the report refers to them as “medication abortions”) from 2014!

Unsurprisingly, abortion advocates and Guttmacher have attributed the steady decline of abortions to contraceptive use, abortion facility closures, and pro-life protections – never to women choosing better options and rejecting the disempowerment of abortion. But this report added a second layer to their reasoning: “[I]ncreases in the number of individuals relying on self-managed abortions outside of a clinical setting.”

What does that mean? It means that Guttmacher is attempting to account for women who are performing their own chemical abortions at home. This type of abortion cannot, for obvious reasons, be accounted for through traditional methods of abortion reporting.

The report admits that the majority of “medication abortions” were seen in clinics for the year 2017. But the percentage of abortion clinics reporting that they “had seen one or more patients for a missed or failed abortion due to self-induction” increased from 12 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2017.

The questionnaire used to collect this data changed from the year 2014 to 2017. The 2014 survey question asked whether “any patients had been treated for missed or failed abortions due to self-induction and if so, how many?” For 2017, the questionnaire removed the yes/no screener and only asked for the total number of patients treated for missed or failed self-managed abortions. Only 55 percent of abortion facilities (808) responded, but the report states that 106 facilities (seven percent) answered, “I don’t know.” The survey concluded that an “I don’t know” response meant the facility was unsure what they were treating – self-induced abortions or miscarriages – so the data here is sure to be incomplete.

It is also not unheard of that illegal abortion pill peddlers have encouraged women to lie and say they’ve had a miscarriage when going to an emergency room or clinic for follow up on complications.

According to one study, women who undergo chemical abortions experience roughly four times the rate of complications compared to women who underwent surgical abortions.

So, if 18 percent of these women were seeking follow-up care at an abortion clinic, then the question is: where were these women getting abortion pills in the first place?

It is reported that some Texas women have walked over the border to Mexico to purchase one portion of the abortion pill regimen, misoprostol, which is available without a prescription there.

What is even more shocking from this report is the implied support for the sale of illegal abortion pills from outliers like Aid Access:

More recently, drugs similar to those used in the U.S. medication abortion regimen—a highly effective combination of mifepristone and misoprostol—have become available on the internet, as have websites providing accurate information about how to safely and effectively self-manage abortion using drugs obtained outside of a clinical setting. In particular, Aid Access, an international organization that provides medication abortion pills via mail order to people living in the United States, launched their website in March 2018 (after the study period) and reported filling 2,500 prescriptions in that year. The majority of patients obtaining abortions are poor or low-income, many lack health insurance that will cover the procedure, and many live in states with numerous abortion restrictions.

These factors, along with the increased accessibility of resources to help individuals safely self-manage their abortions outside of a clinical setting, likely account for some of the decline in abortions that we have documented.”

This is the same Aid Access that the FDA instructed to cease dispensing abortion pills and comply with their drug safety procedures through the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), which essentially prohibits the distribution of the abortion pill regimen by mail or online.

Aid Access has pursued a lawsuit against the FDA. Aid Access is no doubt just another pawn of the abortion industry in their efforts to get the REMS lifted and have abortion pills accessible over-the-counter.

The abortion pill carries severe risks such as hemorrhage, infection, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death. An incomplete abortion can occur up to 10 percent of the time; a chemical abortion is nothing to play with and should not be “self-managed.”

A total of 4,195 adverse effects from chemical abortions were reported from 2000 to 2018, including 24 deaths, 97 ectopic pregnancies, 1,042 hospitalizations, 599 blood transfusions, and 412 infections (including 69 severe infections). These are just the adverse events reported to the FDA, so the data is certain to be incomplete.

In spite of these devastating realities, the abortion industry proudly admits that their ultimate goal for the future of abortion in the United States is “self-management.”

Abortion advocates claimed that legalized abortion would eliminate “do it yourself” abortions! Now they want to return to the days of “back-alleys,” this time with “chemical coat-hangers.” This business model places the heavy burden and liability of abortion on the women and not on the abortion industry themselves.

At first, Guttmacher seems to suggest that the apparent decrease in abortion rates is not a true decrease at all, but rather an increase in unreported, self-induced abortions. But after dedicating an entire section of the report to analyzing what it calls “medication” and “self-managed” abortions, Guttmacher concludes the report by backtracking its earlier assessment, saying it is “unlikely” that unreported abortions could account for most of the decline.

No matter what the abortion industry’s propaganda might say, the real reason abortion rates are in decline is that women are choosing life, and pregnancy resource centers providing life-affirming care—often at no cost to the women—are prevailing.

Ross Douthat Exposes the Abortion Hypocrisy of the Left

by Quena Gonzalez

September 18, 2019

The inimitable New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently wrote a column titled, “The Abortion Mysticism of Pete Buttigieg: How the party of science decided that personhood begins at birth.” Read the whole thing here. It’s a master-class in opinion writing.

In a single, cohesive essay, Douthat pulls together several disparate threads to demonstrate the Democratic Party’s abortion extremism, including Pete Buttigieg’s recent comments that perhaps “life begins with breath,” the recent firing of Planned Parenthood’s Leanna Wen over the politics of abortion, and last weekend’s revelation that Buttigieg’s hometown abortionist had stored over 2,200 dead unborn children in his home.

The only thing I might add is that Democrats do not actually draw the line on abortion when, as Buttigieg suggested, the baby draws his or her first breath. Witness Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the Democrat state legislators who in 2019 undid or blocked protections for abortion survivors in New York, Illinois, and North Carolina, and came harrowingly close to doing so in Virginia and New Mexico. Witness the House Democrats who may soon vote for the 100th time to block protections for abortion survivors. When it comes to abortion, no baby is safe from the Democrats unless he or she is wanted by his or her mother.

While the destructive force of the sexual revolution rolls on to enthusiastic cheering from the Left, its unfortunate casualties—both unborn and born children—are discarded.

House of Horrors 2: 2,246 Bodies of Unborn Children Shows Need for Fetal Dignity Laws

by Katherine Beck Johnson

September 18, 2019

The horrendous discovery of jars containing thousands of aborted baby body parts at deceased abortionist Dr. Ulrich Klopfer’s home reaffirms the horrors of abortion and underscores the need for laws that provide for the dignity of the unborn.

Klopfer performed over 30,000 abortions in Indiana before his license was suspended in 2016 for various violations. His egregious acts included performing an abortion on a ten-year-old girl who had been raped by her uncle. He then sent the girl back to her family without notifying the authorities. Now it is abundantly clear that his misdeeds didn’t stop there.

After Klopfer’s death, his family discovered medically-preserved remains of 2,246 unborn children in his home. The horror of this discovery strikes at the very core of a fetal dignity law that was passed in Indiana and affirmed by the Supreme Court. Although his license was suspended for other reasons, there appears to be no Illinois state law barring him from harboring the remains of thousands of unborn children in his Illinois home.

In 2016, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a state law that required the burial or cremation of fetal remains. Designed to honor the human dignity of unborn children in death, the statute specifically prevents the incineration of fetal remains together with surgical byproducts. The law was challenged and eventually made its way up to the Supreme Court, where it was affirmed in Box v. Planned Parenthood. The Court held that the State had a legitimate interest in the proper disposal of fetal remains and that the requirements were rationally related to that legitimate interest, a principle that the Court noted in City of Akron v. Akron Ctr. for Reprod. Health.

Many other states followed Indiana’s example and enacted laws that affirm the dignity of the remains of the unborn. Texas, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Idaho, Arizona, Florida, Arkansas, and Wyoming all passed fetal dignity laws that provide various protections for the remains of the unborn. A number of other states introduced bills that would have provided similar protections but failed to pass them. Such laws refuse to treat the remains of the unborn as mere surgical byproducts, and instead, acknowledge the humanity and life lost with each abortion.

Klopfer’s storage of thousands of baby body parts should shock the conscience of Americans. In Box, Planned Parenthood challenged the Indiana fetal dignity law that would have outlawed Klopfer’s actions, claiming the law was unnecessary and an attack on women’s rights. However, Klopfer’s collection of unborn remains debunks the myth that there is no need for fetal remains laws.

Atrocities from the disgraced abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s infamous House of Horrors and the recent discoveries at Klopfer’s residence highlight the need to regulate the abortion industry in ways that keep women safe and care for the remains of unborn babies. In June, Illinois proudly expanded abortion access when it enacted the Reproductive Health Act. The law is one of the most sweeping pro-abortion laws in the country: it removed restrictions on the abortion industry and required that insurance providers cover abortion procedures. While the Illinois legislature and Governor were proudly lifting many restrictions on the abortion industry, Klopfer was harboring thousands of unborn remains in his Illinois residence. This stark contrast emphasizes precisely why the industry must be strictly regulated.

Had Indiana’s law been in place when Klopfer was performing abortions, he would have been legally required to surrender the remains for burial or cremation within ten business days. He also could have been charged with transporting a fetus out of Indiana as a Class A misdemeanor, as well as intentionally acquiring fetal tissue as a Level 5 felony. Had Indiana’s law been in place when Klopfer was performing abortions, 2,246 unborn babies might have never been stored in a house like some perverted trophies. There is a crucial need for fetal dignity laws to affirm the unborn and prevent people from perpetrating heinous acts like Klopfer’s. It appears Gosnell’s case is no longer as isolated as we once thought, and there must be legal protections to prevent these types of atrocities.

Our laws must protect the most vulnerable in our society. Indiana’s fetal dignity law and similar laws in other states are crucial steps towards recognizing the humanity of the unborn even in death. Dr. Klopfer, Gosnell, and others have shown what the abortion industry is capable of, and they must not be allowed to disgrace the bodies of their unborn victims howsoever they wish.

Katherine Beck Johnson is the Research Fellow for Legal and Policy Studies at Family Research Council.

Pregnant Women Aren’t Foolish. So Why Do Pro-Choicers Treat Them Like They Are?

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 12, 2019

Those dedicated to the pro-life movement understand that there are two people in need of defense in an unplanned pregnancy—the woman and her unborn child. The child’s undeniable right to life is an obvious subject of focus among pro-lifers, but the women carrying these children need attention too.

No sensible person would think that poverty and other adverse life circumstances render a person foolish or less dignified. So why does our society often treat women with unplanned pregnancies like they’re ignorant? Why do we treat these women like they need a savior to rescue them instead of like the dignified grown women that they are?

In 2017, while volunteering for a pregnancy resource center (PRC) called ABC Women’s Center in Middletown, Connecticut, I witnessed for myself the abhorrent savior complex of pro-abortion advocates. On an early Wednesday morning, our staff got word of a protest that was co-organized by NARAL Pro-Choice CT and Lady Parts Justice League as a part of the “#exposefakeclinics” campaign. What NARAL did not consider was that since we served many single mothers, and that since it was the summer when kids are not in school, the mothers always took their kids with them to come for parenting classes and other services at ABC. We didn’t want them or their children to be forcefully exposed to that kind of hurtful rhetoric. But when the mothers asked why we were asking them to reschedule, we told them the truth—and they were angry. Very angry.

And then something amazing happened: our clients asked to come and peacefully counter-protest the anti-pregnancy center protest. And we listened. We bought signs, markers, and water bottles, and our coalition of mothers and ministers were ready when NARAL arrived.

Oftentimes in the abortion debate, we talk about giving women with unplanned pregnancies a voice where they previously did not have one. That’s exactly what happened at the ABC Women’s Center in Middletown—these women spoke for themselves. But instead of listening, Connecticut’s pro-abortion activists are covering their ears. They targeted pregnancy centers again this past month with a dangerous piece of legislation aimed at undermining PRCs.

On June 6, HB7070, “An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers” thankfully failed in the Connecticut State Senate after it was not called on for a vote by midnight. One of the most frustrating aspects of this debate was that the proponents of the bill could not cite a single complaint filed against any pregnancy center in the state. This clearly shows that these kinds of actions from the Left do not concern the safety and flourishing of women; they are instead focused on advancing their own agendas at any cost, even if it means stifling the voices of real women with real unplanned pregnancies.

The Left’s narrative is that “deceptive advertising” is used by pregnancy resource centers and that low-income women of color must be protected from the wicked snares of white conservative Christians. This narrative is a lie. Women with unplanned pregnancies already have individual, dignified, worthy voices—and trust me, they have plenty to say. The problem is that we are not listening.

The mothers from ABC came on that scorching day in 2017 so that the liberal elitist voices wouldn’t drown out theirs. One pro-abortion woman dressed in a superhero outfit spoke into a microphone about giving voice to the voiceless—while the very women she claimed to defend stood in front of her expressing exactly what they need and want.

Women who are facing unplanned pregnancies are not stupid, so let’s not speak for them. Let’s listen to them and to the men and women who work with and for them.

Pro-choicers have created a narrative that says that a pregnant mother’s choice to accept help to carry her unplanned baby to term isn’t a worthy choice. This is not “pro-choice”—it’s pro-abortion.

Pro-choice activists cannot continue to berate pro-lifers for “not doing anything” when the work that pro-lifers are doing to help mothers to make an informed choice is being jeopardized by legislation and activism from the same group who claims that “choice” is everything.

Bailey Zimmitti was an intern at Family Research Council.

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