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First Choice delivers hope for unplanned pregnancies

July 27 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Emotional shockwaves rolled over many Americans when an undercover video surfaced that revealed a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the organization’s practice of selling aborted fetal parts. Again many were stunned when a second video showed former president of the Planned Parenthood Medical Directors’ Council negotiating prices for baby organs.
 
“I wasn’t surprised,” said Amber Lehman, chief executive officer of First Choice Pregnancy Solutions, a faith-based organization in Wake Forest dedicated to supporting those affected by unplanned pregnancies.
 
“Whether they are donating or selling the fetal parts is really a non-issue to me,” she continued. “The problem is that there’s a human child being destroyed …
 
“It should awaken our senses” that Planned Parenthood is harvesting hearts, livers and lungs “because those are the organs of a person.”
 
First Choice cares about people – babies and mothers alike. “We believe that every life is precious, including the mother,” said Lehman.
 

Offering real choices

The goal of First Choice is to communicate accurate and truthful information to those affected by an unplanned pregnancy and to provide them with physical, emotional and spiritual support, according to its website. Staff members do not pressure pregnant women into doing anything they do not want to do, Lehman specified. “We provide a safe haven for her to be able to work through her pregnancy decision.”

 
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Amber Lehman

A “decision tool” is used to help pregnant women determine – in their own handwriting – what they want, whether they’re faced with a decision to abort their pregnancy, decide which obstetrician to use, determine where to live or whether to stay in a relationship with a child’s father.
 
The clinic encounters some women intent on aborting. “We ask the question of each of them,” Lehman explained, “If your circumstances were different, what is your heart’s desire?” First Choice has only encountered one woman who wished to abort, no matter the circumstances; the rest wanted to carry their child to full term. First Choice says to these women, “If that’s your heart’s desire, that’s our heart’s desire too.”
 
Pregnancy centers like First Choice are often characterized as manipulative and not concerned about the interests of mothers. The clinics can be perceived as anti-choice. Lehman contends the opposite is actually true.
 
“You hear woman after woman say her heart’s desire is to have her baby, but she doesn’t know how,” Lehman said. “She doesn’t see how she can do it. Her boyfriend isn’t supportive, or her mom is threatening to kick her out, but she’s saying, ‘I don’t want to abort.’
 
“We’re accused of taking away choice but we actually give women the space and the resources to choose what they really want to choose instead of what they feel trapped to choose.”
 

Helping women overcome obstacles

Of the pregnant women that came to First Choice for help so far in 2015, approximately 50 percent of them were considering abortion but decided to carry the pregnancy to full term. Another 36 percent – whose life circumstances suggested they were likely to abort – decided to carry the pregnancy to full term as well. The remaining 14 percent includes abortion-minded women and pregnant women that were not considering abortion, but came to First Choice for testing, ultrasound and support services.
 
When a pregnant woman visits First Choice, they meet with a nurse, receive a test and ultrasound to determine pregnancy. Nurses educate clients on procedure risks and fetal development, said Lehman. Clients are also assigned a care coordinator that oversees initial and ongoing visits. Staff members begin assessing her “heart’s desire,” risk factors and major obstacles to carrying the pregnancy to full term. These obstacles are often financial, relational, related to housing or the loss of a dream or goal, according to Lehman.

 
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First Choice mobile clinic

“Often times they are faced with utilities being cut off, rent not paid or close to being evicted,” said Lehman. So, First Choice begins providing various kinds of support to help the client overcome each of the obstacles, starting with what’s important to the client.
 
First Choice wrote a check recently for more than $900 to keep a client from being evicted because she was nearing her due date and facing a housing crisis, according to Lehman.

First Choice also operates a daily mobile clinic that visits regions with high abortion rates. The two- or three-person unit is also available to women who seek medical services but cannot travel to the office clinic.
 
Lehman said the mobile clinic recently drove from Wake Forest to Durham at 6:30 a.m. to meet a woman – at her request – before her scheduled 9:30 a.m. abortion appointment. She cancelled the abortion, according to Lehman. “We deploy any hour that we need to.”
 

Taking the next steps

Most First Choice workers are paid medical professionals, said Lehman. “We have to have high levels of training; we need the best of the best.”
 
They also depend on volunteers for many non-medical aspects of their work. “Our volunteers usually engage in ongoing mentoring called ‘Next Steps,’” Lehman said, which offers workshops on childbirth preparation, infant safety, parenting skills, money management, basic car care and meal planning.
 
Other consultation services include post-abortion care. First Choice also provides sexually transmitted disease and infection testing, by hosting Wake County Health and Human Services on site. The organization faces a daunting task in its community.
 
“Well, we always need money,” said Lehman, when asked how others can help. “The abortion industry is a multibillion dollar industry … our competitor is a big competitor. Filling a baby bottle with some change is not enough. There has to be some sacrificial giving into all of the pregnancy centers.”
 
“We also need prayer,” Lehman said. “This is not an easy work. My staff members see children on an ultrasound machine screen, and they confirm the death of that child. That’s part of their job, and that’s hard to live with.”
 
Another difficult aspect of the ministry, according to Lehman, is counseling women who regret having an abortion.
 
The organization also receives slanderous attacks from those who oppose the ministry. Lehman said their staff had recently been reported to the Board of Nursing for investigation. The case was open and closed in the same day, she added, because First Choice medical staff members are certified medical professionals. “Nonetheless, we need discernment, wisdom and perseverance.”
 
One of the pressing issues, she continued, “is for the local church to rise up in support of these girls after they choose life.” The help a local church offers one pregnant woman can become known throughout her community.
 
“When her neighbor becomes pregnant, she says ‘You know what? My neighbor got help from these people – I think they’re called Christians – maybe they’ll help me too, and I don’t have to abort.’”
 
Lehman believes churches must “leave their apathy and silence. Talk about the issue. … Take a woman into your home. Help her get on her feet. It is hard but it is worth it.”
 
Visit firschoicenc.org for more information. To see a list of pregnancy centers across North Carolina visit cpcflink.org/member-directory.php. For more resources go to brnow.org/life.
 

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Obama admin to ‘review’ Planned Parenthood, CMP

7/27/2015 12:45:09 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



Obama admin to ‘review’ Planned Parenthood, CMP

July 27 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

The Obama administration has agreed to “review all the information” surrounding two videos that show Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of baby parts obtained through abortion. The administration also said it will not agree to defund America’s largest abortion provider.
 
On the 2016 presidential campaign trail, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton defended Planned Parenthood as providing “essential services for women.”
 
Meanwhile, two Southern Baptists – a Colorado pastor and a Texas seminary administrator – have offered theological perspectives criticizing Planned Parenthood.
 
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said of the controversy July 22, “I’m aware of those matters generally from the media, and from some inquiries that have been made to the Department of Justice, and again at this point we’re going to review all the information and determine what steps, if any, to take at the appropriate time,” The Hill reported.
 
The promise to investigate came after Senate Republicans sent a letter to Lynch requesting an investigation of Planned Parenthood. House Democrats also sent a letter requesting an investigation of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the group which filmed and released the videos.
 
An NPR report said Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry Nadler and Yvette Clarke wrote to Lynch requesting an investigation of CMP and calling the group’s investigation of Planned Parenthood an “elaborate scheme” using “fake identification” that did not obtain appropriate approval from the personnel who appear on video.
 
In a separate letter, 48 senate Republicans and one Democrat – Joe Manchin of West Virginia – asked Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to investigate Planned Parenthood.
 
Some observers have suggested Lynch’s investigation could focus on CMP more than Planned Parenthood. Politico reported July 23 that Lynch will “look into whether the group that released the sting videos obtained the footage legally.” The Federalist similarly reported, “The U.S. Department of Justice announced plans to investigate the group that produced undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood employees admitting that they harvest and sell organs ripped from the bodies of aborted babies.”
 
The Department of Justice did not respond before Baptist Press’ (BP) publication deadline to a request to clarify the focus of the investigation.
 
CMP also did not respond to BP’s request for comment before its publication deadline but released a statement July 22.
 
“Planned Parenthood [is] trying to use the power of their political cronies to shut down free speech, to silence the freedom of the press, to persecute [senior investigator] David Daleiden, and to save their half-a-billion in taxpayer money and avoid accountability to the law and the American people,” said the CMP statement, which appeared to be written by Daleiden.
 
“Planned Parenthood and their political allies know our investigation has revealed the truth about the gruesome and horrific practices of partial-birth abortions and selling baby parts taking place throughout their organization,” the statement said. “They will attack me and my organization all day long, but that does not change the facts about what our investigation has uncovered and what the American people now know – that Planned Parenthood is engaged in an enterprise-wide operation that traffics and sells baby body parts.”
 
A reporter asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest July 20 whether the administration would reconsider its stance that federal funding should not be withdrawn from Planned Parenthood. Earnest responded, “No,” and turned away from the reporter, according to a video of the exchange posted online.
 
Earnest said July 17 he had not viewed the first CMP video or spoken with President Obama about it. Earnest said he “did read news reports,” adding, “Planned Parenthood said they follow the highest ethical guidelines,” LifeSiteNews reported.
 
Clinton defended Planned Parenthood during a campaign stop July 23 in South Carolina.
 
“I don’t have all the facts but Planned Parenthood has apologized for the insensitivity of the employee who was taped and they will continue to answer questions for Congress and others, but for more than a century Planned Parenthood has provided essential services for women,” Clinton said according to LifeSiteNews. “Not just reproductive health services, including access to affordable family planning, but cancer screenings, for example, and other health checkups.”
 
Clinton continued, “I think it is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood has been the object of such a concerted attack for so many years and it’s really an attack against women’s rights to choose, to make the most personal, difficult decisions that any woman would face based on her faith and her medical advice that she is given. So I am hoping that this situation will not further undermine the very important services that Planned Parenthood provides.”
 
Boyce College professor Denny Burk responded to Clinton’s comments in a blog post, “Secretary Clinton defends an organization that routinely kills babies in utero, harvests their body parts, and sells them to buyers. The only moral outrage she musters is against the people who produced the video. This is the indifference toward innocent human life that must end. Any politician who cannot summon the resolve to oppose the barbarism of Planned Parenthood is not morally serious.”
 
At least eight states have launched investigations of Planned Parenthood along with two U.S. House committees.
 
In related news, two Baptist commentators have drawn parallels between Planned Parenthood’s actions and events recounted in the Old Testament. Calvin Wittman, pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in the Denver area, contrasted the lack of moral outrage in America with the Israelites’ reaction in Judges 19 when a woman was cut into 12 pieces.
 
“It is a sad day when this kind of evil does not get people up in arms,” Wittman told BP in written comments. “In Judges 19 a woman was cut up and her body parts were sent throughout all of Israel. But even Israel, during the time of the judges, when every man did what was right in their own eyes, was incensed and punished the persons responsible. Can it be that America is worse off morally than Israel was during the time of the Judges?
 
“All Americans should be disgusted and incensed by the revelation of this evil,” Wittman wrote of Planned Parenthood’s organ trafficking.
 
“Christians should not only be outraged, we should also be brokenhearted that our country has become so desensitized to evil,” he noted. “Clearly we can see what more than 40 years of ‘abortion rights’ have done to the moral fiber of our country: they have robbed us of the understanding that life is precious.”
 
The sale of body parts from aborted babies, Wittman said, “is the direct result of a naturalistic worldview that has intentionally absented God from the scene. This is what happens when you teach a generation that humans are just another animal; that human life is no more valuable than that of a dog or a cat. We can never truly know who we are [until] we know who God is. Only in light of who He is can we see ourselves, not only as sinners, but as those endowed with sacred life, as those who are created in His image.”
 
Wittman called for prayer for America and an aggressive gospel witness “amidst the moral decay.”
 
Charles Patrick, vice president for strategic initiatives at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, called the abortion industry “a modern day Molech,” referencing an ancient Ammonite deity who required child sacrifice.
 
In biblical times, “a couple sacrificed their firstborn by burning the child on a metal idol of Molech, believing that Molech would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children,” Patrick, a former research scientist in the field of tissue engineering, wrote in an online commentary. “The Israelites were strictly forbidden to practice this form of worship (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5; 2 Kings 23:10; and Jeremiah 32:35) as it is in stark contradiction to the sanctity of life espoused throughout the Bible. Today’s Molech is the abortion industry, sacrificing babies for the idol of financial greed, veiled in the hopes of the development of new cures through biomedical research.”
 
Reacting to the first video released by CMP, Patrick said most biomedical research is “ethically sound.” But research associated with harvesting parts from aborted babies “is ethically, morally, and biblically wrong.”
 
Watching a Planned Parenthood doctor “casually eating her meal while she describes the grotesque manner in which organs and body parts are harvested illustrates the supply and demand economics of the [abortion] business” and “how Planned Parenthood knowingly is skirting if not breaking the law.”
 
Patrick continued, “The modern day Molech should be well pleased – in addition to the untold millions received in selling aborted baby organs and body parts, Planned Parenthood receives over $500 million from U.S. taxpayers from government grants and reimbursements.”
 
The church must “destroy the idols” and “take down the high places,” Patrick wrote, through prayer, appropriate legal action and upholding the sanctity of life.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

 

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7/27/2015 12:38:28 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Planned Parenthood media coverage critiqued

July 24 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

The mainstream media’s coverage of two undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of baby parts obtained through abortion has been criticized by some Christians as generally minimal and slanted.
 
“The media’s political correctness is standing in the way of what should be a moral outrage,” said Calvin Wittman, a Colorado pastor and former television news anchor.
 
Wittman, pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in the Denver area and a Dallas TV news anchor from 1985-6, told Baptist Press media bias is exhibited both in whether outlets cover a story and how they cover it. While the media “has covered” the Planned Parenthood controversy, he said, “their spin is clearly visible in their reporting.”
 
All journalists report based on their worldviews, Wittman said, but much of the reporting about Planned Parenthood evidences a secular agenda. He cited the emphasis of some media outlets that Planned Parenthood allegedly did not sell baby parts for profit as a case in point.
 
“Is it okay to own slaves as long as you don’t do it for profit?” Wittman asked. “Is it okay to wave the Confederate flag if you don’t do it for profit? Are there things that are morally wrong irrespective of whether or not you make a profit off them? The media is inconsistent in that.”
 
A July 21 News Busters article criticized the three national broadcast television news programs for devoting only 9 minutes and 11 seconds to coverage of the Planned Parenthood videos the week of their release, with ABC giving just 46 seconds to the story. News Busters contrasted that with 31 minutes and 11 seconds spent on Planned Parenthood by ABC, CBS and NBC in 2012 the week Susan G. Komen temporarily stopped funding America’s largest abortion provider.
 
News Busters added that all three networks “censored the word ‘baby’” from their coverage of the videos “and instead used the term ‘fetal tissue.’ Similarly, from the beginning of their coverage, ABC, NBC and CBS labeled the makers of the videos as ‘anti-abortion activists’ rather than use the ‘pro-life’ label.”
 
Roger Alford, communications director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and a former Associated Press correspondent, said the mainstream media has taken “a wide variety of approaches to this coverage.”
 
Alford noted the contrast between a pro-life USA Today op-ed by Kirsten Powers calling the videos “stomach-turning” and “damning,” and a New York Times editorial criticizing the Center for Medical Progress’s undercover video campaign as “a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal.”
 
Television networks, Alford said, face a dilemma related to graphic descriptions of abortion used in the videos.
 
“The content is beyond disturbing,” Alford said. “The dismemberment of unborn babies isn’t a subject most Americans can tolerate while downing a quick bowl of corn flakes in the morning.” The networks’ decision “to describe the videos rather than show them speaks to the horror of the content.”
 
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway published a July 16 article titled “The Bad, Worse, & Ugly: Media Coverage of Planned Parenthood’s Organ Harvesting Scandal,” in which she criticized major media outlets for being slow to report on the first video and biased in their coverage.
 
“The video immediately lit up social media” upon its publication at 8 a.m. Eastern Time July 14, Hemingway wrote. “Unlike most significant stories about major hot-button social issues, however, no major media reported on the news until 4:30 p.m. that afternoon. Some are still working on (or working on hiding) their coverage of the story.”
 
Hemingway acknowledged initial reports by the Washington Post and CNN were “fair,” but she critiqued a litany of media outlets, including the Post, for slanting their stories toward Planned Parenthood.
 
Terry Mattingly, a Christian journalist who blogs about the media’s coverage of religion, said The Times has incorrectly claimed in multiple articles that the Center for Medical Progress released the full version of its initial video after Planned Parenthood complained of misleading editing. In reality, the full version was released 21 seconds after the edited version, Mattingly noted.
 
Hemingway has requested corrections by The Times at least twice to no avail, Mattingly wrote at the Get Religion blog.
 
Some Southern Baptists took to Twitter to express their frustration with media coverage of the controversy. Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, tweeted July 14, “Sadly, if Planned Parenthood @PPact was selling body parts of puppies, not aborted babies, the mainstream media would actually cover it.” As of July 23, his tweet had been retweeted 1,500 times.
 
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, tweeted July 20, “There are still so many unanswered questions. Why aren’t reporters asking them?”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

7/24/2015 2:42:34 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



New video shows PPFA doctor negotiating prices

July 22 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A second undercover video released July 21 by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) appears to show a Planned Parenthood doctor negotiating the price of baby parts obtained through abortion and discussing the possibility of varying abortion procedures to harvest intact organs.
 
At one point in the video, a woman identified as Mary Gatter, former president of the Planned Parenthood Medical Directors’ Council, speaks of using “a less crunchy technique” of aborting babies to preserve “more whole specimens.” She also jokes, “I want a Lamborghini,” when negotiating the price of baby parts, though she also says, “We’re not in it for the money” and “we don’t want to be in a position of being accused of selling tissue.”
 
Gatter appears to settle on a price of $100 per “specimen” but says she wants to investigate what other abortion providers are receiving. The video includes text stating it was shot Feb. 6 by investigators posing as a fetal tissue procurement company.
 
David Daleiden, senior investigator for the Center for Medical Progress, told LifeSiteNews CMP’s latest video suggests Planned Parenthood violated federal laws that prohibit profiting from the sale of human remains and altering abortion techniques to obtain tissue.

 
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“As we all know by now, Planned Parenthood does not want to be accused of anything and will steadfastly maintain their innocence even in the face of the most shocking evidence,” Daleiden said. “The prices are pure profit that go far and above any real or imagined costs [Planned Parenthood] might have in handing over aborted babies to another company’s technician.”
 
The video opens with a clip of Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, denying that her organization profits from the sale of fetal tissue in response to the release by CMP last week of a separate video showing a Planned Parenthood doctor discussing the sale of baby parts. The latest video then cuts to Gatter negotiating the price of fetal tissue.
 
Owen Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., wrote in a blog post that Gatter’s statement about “a less crunchy technique” may be “the worst” thing he has ever heard.
 
“She says it without emotion,” Strachan wrote. “She herself does not look like a monster. If you walked past her on the sidewalk, you wouldn’t think she was involved in diabolical work. But she is. The banality of evil is real. Ordinary people do terrible things. They speak openly and without any shame of the bodies of little children. Their desire is not to protect and cherish these bodies, but to break as few bones and body parts as possible in order to get maximum bang for the buck.
 
“Behold depravity,” continued Strachan, who also serves as president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. “Behold original sin, bubbling to the surface. Behold the heart of darkness, which we all have.”
 
Christians must share the gospel with pro-choice activists during this “moment of decision for Americans who support abortion,” Strachan wrote. “The lid has come off. The work is exposed. Will [abortion supporters] put a pillow over their conscience? Will they suffocate it? Or will they allow it to live, breathe and function once more?”
 
Other Southern Baptists took to Twitter in response to the latest CMP video. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., tweeted, “Why aren’t ALL Christians crying out re: the barbaric, Nazi-like actions of #PlannedParenthood re: selling aborted babies & their organs?”
 
David Prince, pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., tweeted, “Folks, if you had removed evil from your vocabulary – it should return.”
 
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, responded to a Planned Parenthood tweet claiming, “The extremists behind the #PlannedParenthood videos spent 3 years creating a shell company, built a phony nonprofit [and] may have broken tax law.” Burk replied, “Please note that Planned Parenthood does not dispute killing babies in utero and trafficking baby body parts for pay.”
 
Two U.S. House committees continue to investigate Planned Parenthood along with seven states – Arizona, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio and Georgia.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

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7/22/2015 1:05:14 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Planned Parenthood tops Twitter trends

July 17 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Christians took to social media en masse when news broke July 14 that Planned Parenthood allegedly sold baby parts gained through partial birth abortions.
 
The hashtag #PlannedParenthood trended in the top three nationally July 14, social media expert Marty Duren said, with the online analytics site Topsy.com noting more than 57,000 tweets using the hashtag between Tuesday morning and midday Wednesday. That total does not include tweets on the same subject that did not employ the hashtag.
 
Response to the Planned Parenthood news “was all over my Facebook feed all day,” said Duren, manager of social media strategy for LifeWay Christian Resources. “... It covered up Twitter.”

 
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The social media dustup was provoked by a video released by the nonprofit medical watchdog group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) showing a Planned Parenthood Federation of America executive discussing the fetal parts business with an undercover investigator posing as a potential buyer. Planned Parenthood claimed they donate the body parts for scientific purposes and do not receive monetary benefit, but CMP countered by publishing an advertisement delivered to Planned Parenthood abortion clinics by a biomedical company stating that supplying tissue is “financially profitable.”
 
Duren said he did not see any Christian posts in social media defending Planned Parenthood.
 
“This was very unified,” Duren said. There was “an amount of anger or outrage” associated with “virtually every single comment, every single tweet.”
 
Among the most active participants in the social media response was Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). He tweeted on the topic more than 25 times in 32 hours. In one day, a commentary he wrote condemning Planned Parenthood’s actions was shared 22,000 times on Facebook and 4,000 times on Twitter, according to the ERLC.
 
One of Moore’s Facebook posts was blocked for several hours, with Facebook displaying a message stating the post “include[d] content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.” ERLC spokesman Daniel Darling said, “Thankfully, Facebook admitted the error and responded back to Dr. Moore through ... one of their top executives.”
 
Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, received 1,300 retweets in 16 hours when he tweeted, “Sadly, if Planned Parenthood @PPact was selling the body parts of puppies, not aborted babies, the mainstream media would actually cover it.”
 
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Denny Burk tweeted more than 30 times related to Planned Parenthood, sharing statements on the controversy from Republican presidential candidates and telling major media outlets, “The Iran deal is not the top story today. This is.”
 
At least six Southern Baptist Convention entity heads tweeted about Planned Parenthood. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Daniel Akin commented, “Killing babies for profit in America. Read this and weep.”
 
Among pastors, Bart Barber of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, tweeted that Planned Parenthood “finally found a use for prenatal ultrasound that they don’t oppose.”
 
Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., tweeted, “It’s like Nazis on how to profit from body parts of Jews. Evil.” Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., tweeted, “This is beyond belief.”
 
Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., tweeted a link to Moore’s commentary with the note “stop and read.” J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., retweeted the statement, “It should bother us as a society that we have a use for aborted human organs, but not the baby that provides them.”
 
Among the broader evangelical community, pastor and author John Piper called via Twitter for Christians to pray and fast about abortion July 15. Author and cultural commentator Eric Metaxas tweeted, “Your children and grandchildren will ask you: When the Planned Parenthood video came out, did you do anything about it?”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

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7/17/2015 11:46:24 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Planned Parenthood defense unfounded, CMP says

July 16 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Planned Parenthood is lying in defense of its dispensation of aborted fetal parts through its nearly 70 U.S. clinics, said a nonprofit medical watchdog group that has conducted an undercover investigation of the abortion provider.
 
The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released video footage July 14 of a Planned Parenthood executive meeting with a CMP investigator who posed as a fetal parts buyer, in which the costs, procedures and regulations in the procurement and transportation of a wide range of fetal parts were discussed.
 
In its defense, Planned Parenthood said it “donates” fetal tissue for scientific research “with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards,” and that “there is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood.”
 
Planned Parenthood’s claims of gaining patient consent, not receiving monetary profit and following the law in its dispensation of aborted fetal tissue are all false, CMP said within hours of Planned Parenthood’s statement.

 
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“Planned Parenthood makes two key admissions in their statement today: 1) aborted fetal parts are harvested at their clinics, and 2) money is exchanged in connection with this. They also tell several lies: 1) That proper consent is obtained from patients, 2) That Planned Parenthood does not make money off the body parts, and 3) That everything is legal,” CMP said in a press release posted at centerformedicalprogress.org.
 
“None of this is standard across the mainstream medical field,” CMP said, “but it is standard across Planned Parenthood’s insular and unaccountable abortion field.”
 
But Planned Parenthood, in an official statement July 15, maintained its propriety in the face of growing allegations from political leaders and others.
 
“These outrageous claims are flat-out untrue, but that doesn’t matter to politicians with a longstanding political agenda to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood Vice President of Communications Eric Ferrero said. “Women and families who make the decision to donate fetal tissue for lifesaving scientific research should be honored, not attacked and demeaned.
 
“Our medical practices and guidelines in this area are clear, and we do this important work just like other high-quality health care providers,” Ferrero said, “with full, appropriate consent from patients, under the highest ethical and legal standards, and with no financial benefit for the patient or Planned Parenthood.”
 
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Planned Parenthood’s practice is indefensible.
 
“The horror of this story should be shocking to the consciences of all Americans. And Planned Parenthood’s response to this video is as chilling as it is unconvincing,” Moore said in a July 15 press release. “Let’s be clear about what is going on. It is not only that infants, in their mother’s wombs, are deprived of their lives, but also that their corpses are desecrated for profit. This is not only murderous; it is murderous in the most ghoulish way imaginable.
 
“Is it not clear at this point that these are not health care providers but pirates and grave-robbers of those who have no graves?” Moore said. “The Department of Justice and the United States Congress should undertake a thorough investigation of this.”
 
CMP posted on its website a link to an advertisement from StemExpress, LLC, that promotes doing business with the California-based biomedical company as financially profitable. StemExpress supplies human cells, fluids, blood and tissue parts to research laboratories.
 
“[StemExpress] advertises four different times the financial benefit that Planned Parenthood clinics can receive from supplying fetal tissue, with the words: ‘financially profitable,’ ‘financial profits,’ ‘financial benefit to your clinic,’ [and] ‘fiscal growth of your own clinic,’“ CMP said. “The advertisement carries an endorsement from [Mar Monte] Planned Parenthood Medical Director Dr. Dorothy Furgerson.”
 
The advertisement quotes Furgerson, who directs clinics in middle California and northern Nevada, as saying, “Our partnership with StemExpress is beneficial in a number of ways. First, it allows us to contribute to life-saving research that is advancing diagnostic and medical care. Second, StemExpress has a Plug-in Solution that allows us to add additional clinics quickly. Lastly, I feel confident that our patients’ anonymity is secure through their strict protocols and practices.”
 
Planned Parenthood in a July 14 press release described CMP as “a well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and service.”
 
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner released a statement July 15 calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices.
 
“I have asked our relevant committees to look into this matter. I am also calling on President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to denounce, and stop, these gruesome practices,” Boehner said. “When an organization monetizes an unborn child – and with the cavalier attitude portrayed in this horrific video – we must all act.”
 
Moore requested an investigation of Planned Parenthood in letters to Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell July 14, and has encouraged continued efforts to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars in funding abortions.
 
“If we have learned anything from the Kermit Gosnell horrors of years past,” Moore wrote, “surely we have learned that vulnerable women and children should be protected from this sort of abusive profiteering.”
 
In his press release, Moore also called on presidential candidates to address the atrocities shown in the undercover video.
 
In related news, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the states of Texas and Louisiana have launched investigations of Planned Parenthood, the Washington Post reported.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

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7/16/2015 11:40:38 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Planned Parenthood accused of selling aborted fetal parts

July 15 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A woman identified as a Planned Parenthood executive is shown in an undercover video released July 14 negotiating the sale of baby parts gained through partial birth abortions performed at Planned Parenthood facilities.
 
After the video surfaced, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) defended the action of donating such body parts, but said no monetary benefits are gained, other than the reimbursement of costs incurred in the delivery of the body parts.
 
“In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different,” Eric Ferrero, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of communications, said in a press release posted on the PPFA website. “At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does – with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.

 
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Screen capture from YouTube
The nonprofit medical watchdog group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released the video showing a woman identified as Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America senior director of medical services, discussing the PPFA fetal parts business with an undercover investigator posing as a potential buyer at a July 25, 2014, lunch meeting.

“There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood,” he said. “In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.”
 
In the video, Deborah Nucatola explains Planned Parenthood’s supposed baby parts business and discusses in detail the care Planned Parenthood locations take to ensure the delivery of intact body parts of aborted babies.
 
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver,” she said in the transcript posted on the Center for Medical Progress website, “... so I’m not gonna crush that part. I gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
 
Nucatola noted, “I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they know where they’re putting their forceps.”
 
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, noted the video appears to be credible, based on his inquiries among “respected figures in the pro-life community ... who confirmed the accuracy of the video,” he blogged at Moore to the Point.
 
“If this does not shock the conscience, what will? It is not only that infants, in their mother’s wombs, are deprived of their lives, but also that their corpses are desecrated for profit,” Moore blogged. “This is not only murderous; it is murderous in the most ghoulish way imaginable.”
 
Moore, among many who have fought to stop the funding of abortions with taxpayer dollars, called Planned Parenthood “pirates and grave-robbers of those who have no graves.”
 
He called on the church to recommit itself to protecting the most vulnerable among us.
 
The church of Jesus Christ should recommit ourselves to speaking out for human dignity. What we see in this instance is what has always been true of Planned Parenthood: Mammon worship in collision with the image of God, and the image is sacrificed on the altar of profiteering,” Moore wrote. “This does not go unnoticed to God. He has said, ‘Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice, and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey’ (Isaiah 10:1-2).”
 
Nucatola, who has served in her Planned Parenthood position since 2009, maintains an office in Los Angeles. Planned Parenthood’s media office in New York did not return Baptist Press’ message requesting a comment.
 
The CMP video was obtained through its Human Capital project, a 30-month journalistic investigation documenting Planned Parenthood’s fetal parts business.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

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7/15/2015 11:06:32 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Pro-life laws stymied by courts in 4 states

July 1 2015 by Baptist Press staff

Pro-life regulations in Texas, North Carolina, Kansas and Iowa have been stymied in court challenges.
 
Affected are a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to qualify as ambulatory surgical centers and for abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges; a North Carolina law requiring doctors to show pregnant women ultrasound images before performing an abortion; a Kansas law banning dismemberment abortions; and an Iowa Board of Medicine ban on “webcam” abortions.
 

Texas

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued a stay of House Bill 2, which was slated to go into effect July 1, until the justices can consider whether to take up a challenge to HB 2 after their summer recess.
 
The Supreme Court stay, in a 5-4 vote, prevents HB 2 requirements from going into effect requiring abortion clinics to qualify as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) and for doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges.
 
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 8 that the two requirements are constitutional and can be enforced.
 
According to Texas Right to Life, “The justices ruled that the provisions in question will effectively remain on hold and unenforced until the abortion businesses file a full appeal of the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and until the justices return from summer recess in September” at which time “the justices will either agree to hear the abortion industry’s arguments against HB 2 or deny the request. …
 
“If the request is denied, HB 2 will go into effect immediately, and the abortion industry will have exhausted all legal resources to further stall or overturn the law,” Texas Right to Life stated. “However, if SCOTUS agrees to hear the case, the stay would most likely not be lifted until the court’s final opinion was issued.”
 

North Carolina

The Supreme Court refused June 15 to take up an appeal from North Carolina in which the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned a law requiring abortionists to show ultrasound images to clients so that the women would understand what happens during the procedure.
 
The lower court had ruled that the 2011 law violated abortion practitioners’ free speech rights and was “ideological in intent.” North Carolina legislators passed the measure overwhelmingly, even overriding a veto from then-Gov. Bev Perdue to put it into effect.
 
Federal appeals courts have upheld similar laws from Texas and South Dakota, according to The New York Times, which noted that such divergent rulings often prompt the Supreme Court to enter a case. Various other abortion-related ultrasound laws have been passed in more than 20 states, The Times reported.
 
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, told WORLD News Service, “In any other medical procedure, doctors would have a duty to disclose all of the relevant information and, yet, a procedure as destructive and life-changing as abortion is held to a lower standard.”
 

Kansas

A Kansas district court judge granted a temporary injunction June 24 blocking the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, WORLD News Service reported.
 
Kansas was the first state in the nation to ban the dilation and extraction (D&E) procedure, the most common form of second-trimester abortions. Signed into law in April by Gov. Sam Brownback, the law was slated to go into effect July 1.
 
The Center for Women’s Health, an abortion facility in Overland Park near Kansas City that carries out abortions up to 21.6 weeks, filed a lawsuit June 1 challenging the ban. District court Judge Larry Hendricks, in issuing a temporary injunction, ruled that the Kansas constitution guarantees the right to abortion. The state’s lawyers will defend the law when Hendricks hears the full case later this year. In the meantime, dismemberment abortions will continue in the state.
 
“Certainly we are disappointed,” National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said. “The Kansas constitution doesn’t say you can kill babies in this manner. But we think there is ample evidence from previous Supreme Court rulings to uphold a ban on this type of abortion.”
 

Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a ban on “webcam” abortions in the state June 19, stating that it placed an “undue burden” on women.
 
Iowa’s webcam, or “telemed,” abortions had enabled doctors to prescribe the RU-486 abortion pill regimen by teleconference. Rather than meeting a doctor in person, women at rural clinics have a virtual consultation with doctors in Des Moines or Iowa City. After doctors prescribe the drugs, women take one pill at the clinic and a second at home. If they have bleeding or severe complications, local emergency care is needed.
 
The Iowa Board of Medicine agreed to outlaw the practice in 2013 for safety concerns, but its decision was placed on hold while Planned Parenthood fought the decision in court. Last year, an Iowa district judge upheld the ban. But on June 19, six of the Iowa Supreme Court’s seven justices ruled the medicine board’s ban unconstitutional because it made abortions too difficult for women to obtain.
 
The plaintiff in the case, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, has performed 7,200 webcam abortions since 2008.
 
Iowa was the first state to launch a webcam abortion system. Planned Parenthood executives there began planning the system in mid-2007 as a way to perform first-trimester abortions at rural clinics where it was too expensive for them to keep a doctor on staff. Iowa law requires abortion drugs to be prescribed by a physician.
 
“The Iowa Supreme Court has approved a dangerous medical practice banned by 16 other states,” said Tom Brejcha, president of the Thomas More Society, which supported the ban. “There is a grave danger that telemed abortion may be assumed by abortion activists to render obsolete their need for on-site abortion providers across the country, greatly increasing the health risks for women who undergo medical abortions in remote areas.”
 
According to The Des Moines Register, the decision was thought to be the first time in 40 years the Iowa Supreme Court has weighed an abortion case.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Adapted and used by permission from WORLD News Service, with reporting by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston. WORLD news Service is a division of WORLD Magazine, on the Web at worldmag.com.)

7/1/2015 12:20:11 PM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Hearing heartbeat saves lives, Stowe leader says

June 29 2015 by S. Craig Sanders, SBTS Communications

The donation of an ultrasound machine to Southern Baptists in Columbus will help pregnant women in Ohio’s largest city to hear the heartbeat of their unborn child and choose to give birth, said area leaders.
 
“For mothers who have this unintended pregnancy, once you have the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat, the Lord does a lot – it helps connect for the women that what’s inside of you is real,” said Cindy Irizarry, development director of the Stowe Mission of Central Ohio and executive director of its pregnancy medical clinic.
 
“It’s a [window] to the soul for mothers to see and hear,” she noted.
 
As part of its Psalm 139 Project, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) presented the gift of the portable machine to the Stowe Mission Center, an outreach of the Metro Columbus Baptist Association (MCBA), June 14. The presentation was made during morning worship services at Southern Baptist church plant Veritas Community Church, where ERLC President Russell Moore preached on the Gospel and racial reconciliation.
 
ERLC’s communications director Dan Darling made the presentation with Irizarry and Michael Brooks, Stowe’s president and CEO.

 
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“One of the things that impressed us about Stowe is the sense of mission and holistic health services they’re providing to low-income and underprivileged people,” Darling said, referencing Stowe’s urgent care, dental clinic, eye clinic, HIV/STD testing and mental health screening. “They have a great mission not only to apply the gospel to the soul but also the body. We’re very proud to partner with them.”
 
According to the ERLC, 78 percent of women who see and hear their unborn child carry their pregnancy to term. The donation of the ultrasound to Stowe is important, because the city of Columbus provides few alternatives to abortion for unplanned pregnancies, resulting in staggering rates of infant mortality and abortion.
 
For the first quarter of 2015, the infant mortality rate in Columbus is 8.8 per 1,000 live births, a 44 percent increase from the previous quarter, according to statistics from Columbus Public Health. Infant mortality rates are calculated from the number of babies that die before their first birthday, often due to socio-economic factors, pre-term or low-weight births and sleep-related deaths.
 

A great avenue of ministry

Irizarry has served as the director of Crossover, the evangelistic event prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, each of the past two years. At the request of Rich Halcombe, director of missions for MCBA and chair of the board for Stowe, Irizarry and her husband Arnaldo moved from Baltimore to Columbus in October 2014. During discussions with Halcombe and Brooks about how prostitution, fatherlessness and poverty are bringing many young pregnant women through Stowe’s doors, Irizarry and her husband decided to stay in Columbus and direct the mission’s new pregnancy clinic.
 
“This could be a great avenue for saving mothers and fathers spiritually and saving babies physically,” said Halcombe.
 
Prior to her work with Crossover, Irizarry opened two pregnancy centers in Miami and was the development director for a pregnancy center in Baltimore.
 
An unplanned pregnancy in college led Irizarry to choose an abortion, but she says the death of her unborn child later helped her find new life when she professed faith in Christ in 1995. Irizarry says she hopes Stowe’s mission will not only extend to the neighborhoods around Stowe but to students at nearby Ohio State University who think a pregnancy spells the end of their aspirations.
 
“We live in an era where women can do everything, but it’s kind of a conflicting message when you’re told that a child is going to limit you,” Irizarry said. “There’s hope; a baby doesn’t end your life, and that’s what I hope to share with others.”
 
For area pastors like Nick Nye, lead pastor at Veritas Community Church and board member for Stowe, the ERLC’s gift of the sonogram to Stowe enables churches to respond to abortion more effectively.
 
“The gospel compels us to handle it on two fronts,” Nye, an alumnus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said. “We can provide a deeper reality of what’s going on when a woman is pregnant, seeing the baby, but also we’re doing a lot more with adoption as a church and engaging with foster care.”
 
The MCBA has more than doubled its number of churches to 119 since 2004. In addition to its free medical services, Stowe’s ministry also served nearly 165,000 meals last year, and provides tutoring, job training and clothing distribution.
 
For more information on the ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project ministry go to, psalm139project.com/.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – S. Craig Sanders is manager of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)
 

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6/29/2015 12:04:01 PM by S. Craig Sanders, SBTS Communications | with 0 comments



N.C. ultrasound law loses at the Supreme Court

June 22 2015 by Leigh Jones, World News Service

North Carolina abortionists will not have to describe to mothers ultrasound images of their unborn babies.
 
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that overturned a 2011 law requiring abortionists to show women the ultrasound images so that they would fully understood what happens during the procedure. The lower court ruled the law violated abortionists’ free speech rights and was “ideological in intent.” North Carolina legislators passed the measure overwhelmingly, even overriding a veto from the governor to put it into effect.
 
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, said the measure was intended to provide women with life-saving information.
 
“In any other medical procedure, doctors would have a duty to disclose all of the relevant information, and, yet, a procedure as destructive and life-changing as abortion is held to a lower standard,” she said.
 
Three other states – Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin – also require abortionists to describe the ultrasound image to women. Twenty-one states require abortionists to offer or provide women the opportunity to view their ultrasounds. Courts upheld Texas’ ultrasound law, but struck down the law in Oklahoma.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Leigh Jones s the managing editor of WORLD's website.)

6/22/2015 11:21:53 AM by Leigh Jones, World News Service | with 0 comments



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