|TWIN CITIES — Number of abortions in the state at record lows, the closing of the abortion clinic at Regions Hospital and the continued move of more people to the pro-life position. These and a host of other factors give Minnesota’s pro-life leaders encouragement for the movement and its future.
Two of the state’s most well-known and effective pro-life groups—Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) and Pro-Life Action Ministries (PLAM)—have played key roles in advancing pro-life legislation and providing prayer support for the pro-life movement.
While the two groups take different approaches in their work—MCCL working more on the legislative side and PLAM focusing on activism and prayer—both groups’ leaders are encouraged by the events of the past year and hopeful about the future of the movement.
In late November, Regions Hospital announced that it would no longer perform abortions inside its facility, beginning Dec. 9. The hospital had come under continued criticism from pro-life groups for its unwillingness to cease its abortion services.
Brian Gibson, executive director of PLAM, said Regions was the only hospital in the state that had its own abortion clinic inside its facility.
Gibson and PLAM had spent many years outside Regions Hospital, providing prayer and vigil for the end to its abortion services.
“It was God who did it,” Gibson said of the closing of the abortion clinic. “It was because people came out and prayed persistently. We did seven 40 Days for Life events in the last three and a half years in front of Regions Hospital. As many as 500-plus [people] showed up for one prayer event alone. We had more than 3,500 Christians who came during that period of time to pray at some time.”
PLAM held a celebration service on Dec. 9 in front of the clinic, something Gibson hopes the group will do more of in the future.
Even though the closing of the abortion clinic at Regions was good news for pro-life groups, it also highlighted what Scott Fischbach, executive director of MCCL, referred to as a “consolidation” of abortion services in Minnesota.
“Regions shutting down was good,” he said. “But it’s kind of like the corner grocery store that you had for years and then a big Cub moved in and now the corner grocery store is kind of a waste of time. Regions should have never been involved in abortions. They are a hospital. There’s been a consolidation that we’ve seen in the abortion reports that come out every July. There has been a consolidation in the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood’s numbers continue to go up and up and up. Everybody else’s are going down.”
While Regions removed itself from performing abortions, Gibson and Fischbach both see Planned Parenthood—and its new facility in the Twin Cities—as becoming the main resource for those looking for abortions.
Webcam and chemical abortions
This past summer, published reports indicated that Planned Parenthood’s satellite office in Rochester, Minn., was performing medicinal abortions, which typically involve the drug RU486, a particularly unsafe drug according to some.
“RU486 is an extremely dangerous drug,” Fischbach said. “Fourteen women have already died from taking it. It’s kind of a drug cocktail; it’s a two drug process. You take the initial RU486 drug, which cuts off all the nutrients to the baby. That drug in itself is dangerous because of what it’s doing inside your body. And that of course will kill the baby.”
Fischbach said a second drug is then taken, which causes contractions in the mother.
In addition, webcam or telemed abortions, where a doctor uses the Internet to examine a patient, are also becoming more widespread, according to Gibson.
Fischbach and MCCL plan to lobby at the legislature this year to ban webcam abortions and add more protections against RU486. The group also wants the state to add inspections and regulations of abortion clinics, something Fischbach said abortion clinics presently do not have.
People becoming more pro-life?
Numerous polls and surveys over the last decade have indicated that the general public is becoming more pro-life. Most of these surveys do not indicate a majority of support for the pro-life position, but a plurality of people now generally support a more life-centered philosophy.
Gibson said he has seen the increased support on the streets, where PLAM is most active.
“The numbers of people coming out and the willingness to get out and be a part of the pro-life activities on the street are at an all-time high right now in the history of our movement,” he said. “The interest continues to grow. The Church is starting to mobilize and rise up.”
Gibson has also noted the increased support with college students.
“At [local colleges in the Twin Cities], there are students for life … organizations that have grown up on these campuses that are dynamic,” he said. “Part of what they do … is actually coming out and praying in front of the abortion facilities.”
Fischbach has noted the same movement, particularly among young people.
“I think you are seeing, as the younger generation now matures, that they’ve lived through their friends and their brothers and sisters having gone through or experiencing close at hand people who have suffered from abortions,” he said. “And they know it’s not the route to take.”
One of the reasons for the movement toward more pro-life support, Fischbach believes, is the advancement in technology.
“When Roe v. Wade was decided, we didn’t have the neo-natal intensive care units, we didn’t have the 3-D ultrasounds, we didn’t have the audio of the unborn child’s heart beating, we didn’t have all of these studies of all of these women for the last 40 years who we now can study the effects that having had an abortion has,” he said. “When you begin to put all of that together and you see the effects, different people, different arguments, different facts are going to bring people to the movement.”
With the successes of the past year, Gibson believes there is something significant happening in the pro-life movement right now.
“God is doing something,” he said. “There is a significant happening, a move of God taking place. We have just witnessed the most significant event in the pro-life [movement] in Minnesota in its history [the closing of the abortion clinic at Regions Hospital]. Our presence is saving lives.”
ACTIONPOINT: For more information about Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and its annual March for Life on Sunday, Jan. 22, visit www.mccl.org. For more information about Pro-Life Action Ministries, visit www.plam.org.