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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Daffodils and Dildos: American Cancer Society in (Flower) Bed with Planned Parenthood

(continued from here, please comment back at original post, thanks):

[Now keep in mind, I consider this priest an extremely close personal friend. He feels the same toward me. He referred me to Rachel's Vineyard Retreats, is prolife and is very supportive of trying to make our parish and diocese more so, despite the spoiled, politically correct, "NIMBY" demeanor of way too many of our parishioners (this is Fairfield County, after all, in a very blue state). But we don't even have a prolife representative in our parish, even though I've volunteered to be same for over two years. My own bishop is becoming more and more opaque, even to his own priests, and also has refused my offers to promote awareness and substantive prolife action. The diocese even cancelled the busses to take parishioners to the March for Life this year. That's how apathetic we are as a diocese.

By contrast, I found this article on the ABC link in the Philadelphia Diocese's Catholic newspaper. This would never be printed in our diocese's paper. The Diocese of Fargo, ND, is another which is speaking up on this issue. Unfortunately, our diocese brings out the prolife message twice a year—January and October, Respect Life Month—and neatly folds it up and stores it away most of the time. There are some parishes who are living it daily, weekly and monthly, but they’re few and far between.

It is not through the fault of my priest friend that this is the case in our parish or in our diocese. As one of the best priests I know, I still find that—because he is a priest in this diocese—his hands are tied, by our diocese’s own indolence.]

Getting back to my ACS silent protest story:
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY'S RELAY FOR LIFE: On the evening of May 9, I quietly stood about 30 feet from the registration tent, well out of the path of incoming participants. I held a sign that said, "WHO SAYS THAT ABORTION INCREASES BREAST CANCER RISK? (While American Cancer Society Denies It)?" The sign listed 27 studies (including 13 in the U.S.) plus 42 other respected breast cancer-specialists and medical associations, INCLUDING ONE WHO IS PRO-CHOICE.

An ACS representative came over, saying, "I'm going to have to ask you to leave now." I replied politely, "Sorry, but I am allowed to stand here. I called the Police Captain earlier and spoke with his Lieutenant. As long as I am not obstructing anyone's movements, I can stand here."

She sniffed, "OK. Freedom of speech. I guess you have that right. But if you hand out anything, you will leave." I said, "That's not true either. If anyone wants this literature, they can have it." She said, "If there's a disturbance, you will be made to leave." I replied that if that happened, it would not be caused by me and that the police were aware of this. She answered, "If a large crowd comes over, you will leave then." I said, "Regardless, I am allowed to stand here. It's public property and the police said that if that's what I'm doing, I am doing nothing wrong."

She replied angrily, "We HIRED the police for this; we'll call them and see about that!"

They never spoke to me again, but they did take five photos of me and my sign. I spoke with a detective and the police chief himself later that evening, who understood I was exercising my freedom of speech and who were very surprised to learn that the ACS had tried to violate that freedom.

At least 200 people read the sign, about half of whom were teen girls. Several took the literature and asked me why the ACS, a cancer-fighting agency, would deny women the truth about the increased cancer risk from abortion. (The National Cancer Institute denies the truth too.) I replied that that is exactly what the American Cancer Society and NCI should be asked, by all of us.

As pro-choice researcher Dr. Janet Daling said, in the NCI's own journal in 1994, "If politics gets involved in science, it will really hold back the progress we make. I have three sisters with breast cancer, and I resent people messing with the scientific data to further their own agenda, be they pro-choice or pro-life. I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid and our data is accurate. It's not a matter of believing. It's a matter of what is."
My priest friend replied last week, asking if my encounter with representatives of ACS was just them “defending an organizational policy, or [did they have] personal opposition to [my] presence?” He asked if we should ignore the chance to join in much good national work because of a relatively local bad response?

I replied, "It isn't a "local bad." It's happened other places." I gave him this excerpt about the same thing happening to people one year before (scroll to “American Cancer Society Objects To First Amendment Rights”). And if any ACS people are "defending an organizational policy," then that is precisely the problem. They are flatly lying (or being told to lie) to women when they deny that abortion is proven to increase breast cancer risk, and they ought not do so anymore.

The ACS also legally has harassed those trying to make us aware of this problem. Already there have been two lawsuits won by women who said that their abortion providers did NOT warn them of these potential risks before they had their abortions.

I told them of people carrying signs—peacefully as I did—at Relays in many cities: Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, St. Louis, Edmonton, Toronto.

My friend, the YG Director, replied on Thursday, but the assistant youth director didn’t, nor did she even contact the YG Director. He felt, and I agreed, that the right thing was to notify and challenge the ACS invited speaker as to her awareness and/or policy re: the misinformation and past abuse of rights. If she couldn’t suggest that ACS is open to dealing with the issue, he said we’ll cancel their Sunday visit. He wanted to “continue to be a force for increased awareness among the teens, rather than a watchdog who swoops in and protects them from controversial issues.” I agreed with all of that, and said I never wanted to shield or coddle them, but to make them aware and to help the ACS change its policy.

The monthly youth council meeting was that same night, at which we discussed this with teens and parents. We all agreed that we would ask the ACS 1) did they still hold the position of denying that this ABC link exists even though it’s backed up by 16 statistically significant worldwide scientific studies? and 2) would they allow our YG to do the Relay while having a poster at our overnight tent that made people aware of the fact that abortion could increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer? We also all agreed that if they said no to either or both, then we would not participate in the Relay. All said they were OK with this plan. The teens and most of the parents knew of my background and have been wonderful, loving and supportive of me. Some even have used my story as inspiration in standing up for their prolife beliefs at high school and college, saying to themselves, “What would BANNO do?” and acting accordingly. I’m very proud of them all.

I never heard another thing until Saturday morning, the day before the event. The assistant youth director wrote me in an email that she’d talked with the ACS speaker, who told her that “85% of the money goes back to our local towns, benefiting those with cancer directly: rides to chemo, support groups etc.” She asked me to come “with an open mind” and said that several teens spoke to her after the ACS talk at the high school, saying they “see the good that’s done and want to get involved with the Relay.”

I started to worry. What about the questions she was supposed to ask, and their answers, I wrote her back. Did she even ask them? I wondered if she had made up her mind to have the speaker come. She seemed to not have an open mind herself about “the bad” that is done and didn’t seem to want the teens to know either. It smacked of “hearing what she wanted to hear.”

I asked her about the fact that our state’s ACS gives out 10% discount coupons for Planned Parenthood when they sell daffodils every spring as a fund-raiser. And I found that in our very own Catholic publication, "Our Sunday Visitor" magazine.

I asked her to ask if any of the monies the ACS (locally or nationally) receives are donated to Planned Parenthood, as the Susan G. Komen foundation does? If they do, I said, then the 15% of our dollars that don’t benefit us locally could be going to pay in part for Planned Parenthood to perform 244,628 abortions and dispense 774,482 Morning-After and birth control pills, which do cause early abortions if women are pregnant (their own 2003 numbers).

I also told her that ACS, Susan G. Komen, and Planned Parenthood signed their support of “a May 13, 2003 commentary published in The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York). The commentary, written by a local physician, Patricia Numann, labeled biological evidence for the link and 29 peer-reviewed, epidemiological studies reporting risk elevations as ‘misinformation.’ She asserted that, ‘The scientific research does not support the theory that abortion causes breast cancer.’”

I suggested we could do fundraising for St. Jude's Children's Hospital instead, to be sure ALL our dollars are going to help the neediest with cancer, the children.

I told her our teens ought to know that along with 85% of the good that’s done, there’s still harm being done: women are being led blindly into believing that something doesn't double or triple their risk of breast cancer when it does, and they are unaware this is being categorically denied by the very organization trying to prevent and cure cancer.

No amount of good is enough, in my opinion, when some OTHER people are left in the dark to contract an avoidable disease, especially when most of those other someones are African-American and Hispanic women.

Did not hear back from her. Not even when I saw her Sunday morning, or when I arrived at the Open Rec Sunday night. She acted like there was nothing I'd asked her to address whatsoever.

At the Open Rec, when group discussion time came at the end of basketball and volleyball, the teens and parents gathered in a circle on the gym floor. The ACS reps presented their fun, cutesy, wowing video, showing teens dancing to live rock and rap music, clowns making balloon animals and a party atmosphere, plus the moments of candle-lighting silence memorializing those lost to cancer. The cancer survivor/speaker talked of her experience (while the actual ACS staffer looked on), how she’s the honoree for this year’s Relay, and a father of a parish teen with cancer spoke of how much the ACS has helped them and his son is managing a partial remission. He choked up toward the end of his comments.

Our priest/YG Director then brought “it” up. He said that some words are emotionally charged, getting people’s attention and sometimes eliciting intense reactions. Words like “sex,” “gay,” and also, “abortion.” He said after viewing the video and hearing all the good done by ACS, who wouldn’t want to be part of the Relay? But there are some things we may not know, that there is some bad with the good, and we need to decide, based on our Catholic faith, what’s the right, best thing to do.

He mentioned that I’d had a bad experience at the hands of ACS two years ago (never saying what that was exactly, however), and discussed the research showing the ABC link and his belief that I’d done my homework and was to be believed in my bringing this to their attention. He even gave the teens the actual details, about the sudden changes in estrogen after an abortion, affecting the mammary cells, turning those cells cancerous, that’s believed to be the mechanism by which the cancer risk is increased.

I’m not sure, but I think it was at this point, that the honoree/speaker literally gathered her things and raced out of the gym, chased by the ACS staffer. Both looked distraught, the honoree possibly angry. Shortly, the ACS staffer returned alone.

The teen who’d asked herself “What would BANNO do?” whispered to me, “I wonder why she ran out like that?” I said, “Because we brought this subject up. Because the ACS denies that this problem really exists.” I passed her a small slip of paper with the contents of what my sign held two years ago: the list of those who say the ABC link exists, while the ACS denies it.

Our priest said that we wanted to participate, that he had done the Relay before, even gave the opening blessing once, and would continue to do it in honor of his father, but we want to know if ACS still says that no such ABC link exists, and we would like to have a poster making people aware of the fact that we believe it does.

Their response was that we could all meet with “ACS’s researchers” to discuss the issue. I knew that would mean they would tell us why they don’t believe the link exists, quoting the Danish Melbye study they tout on their website, whose many flaws have already been severely criticized twice in the NEJM.

Our priest asked if I’d like to say something. I told them my own mom died of ovarian cancer almost 20 years ago to the week. It had been horrible. I watched her die. I’ve been there. I’ve got nothing but great respect and daily prayers for cancer victims, true cancer fighters, survivors, families and caregivers. But women have a right to know if something doubles or triples our cancer risk. I have a friend who got breast cancer at 31 and who blames it on her abortion at 20. I told the ACS woman, "I want to support the ACS in helping cancer victims—EXCEPT—when doing so helps you allow some OTHER groups of people to develop cancer needlessly. How can you help one group of people, and allow harm to another group by not warning them of this?"

I was crying. Suddenly the 20-year anniversary of my mom’s death hit me, a ton of bricks. And the sense that this whole discussion was already moot became overwhelming. All but one of the teens and all the parents were gung-ho already.

The ACS woman expressed sympathy for me, my mom, my friend, and said all the “right things.” She promised we would have a meeting to discuss the issue with ACS. I said to her, “We don’t need to talk to your researchers. We need to know the answers to our two questions.” She said she wasn’t in a position to decide, but would get us to those who are.

My son, the one lone teen dissenter, was so angry he even got up and left the gym. He knew what was happening too. I found out later he was so upset that he punched a concrete block wall in the foyer with his fist and may have broken a knuckle.

Then, without being asked by ACS even, our priest spoke directly to the ACS people and volunteered to not use the "emotionally-charged word abortion" on our poster, then said that "we don't want to come off looking like anti-abortion people who'll do and say anything even if it's not true just to prevent any abortion." He actually said something about us not trying to prevent all abortion.

He used the exact same rhetoric as our local liberal newspaper and others who are pro-abortion when they call us “anti-abortionists.” We are SOOOOO far from such a definition like that, and I was incensed that he even brought up that same term many prochoice advocates often derogatorily label any prolife people. He unknowingly parroted the exact message from Planned Parenthood’s own webpages: "Studies have shown that abortion is not associated with breast cancer. Undaunted by the absence of compelling evidence, anti-choice extremists insist on making the connection anyway. Once more they are using misinformation as a weapon in their campaign against safe, legal abortion."

His choice of using their own rhetoric just played right into their hands. He’d discredited my experience and my values by **acknowledging** the ACS's "anti-abortion, anti-choice" rhetoric. That was totally unwarranted and unnecessary.

Then as an afterthought, he looked at me and said, "Of course, I'm not talking about you, Annie."

I believe he meant it but it was too damn late, since what he said just confirmed what the ACS woman's bosses undoubtedly had warned her about.

I was incensed and disgusted, and got up, got my things, met my son in the lobby and we left, before the final group prayer. I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard.

In an email late that night, I reminded him that I’d earlier informed him that our state’s ACS is in bed with the US's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, via its daffodil fundraiser, and asked, “By using the word ‘anti-abortion’, who exactly is using emotionally charged words now?”

He replied that he felt he’d accomplished his mission for the talk, to validate my experience 2 years ago, to give the youth the information about the ABC link, and to model for them “a method for moral decision making and investigation.” He wrote that, because "both the honoree and you walked out on me, I will pursue the matter, but not with either of you.”

I replied that the honoree probably walked out because she has had an abortion herself in her past, prior to getting breast cancer. Depending on how much of what he said about the cancerous cells and estrogen that she heard, it may have dawned on her how her risk was increased, but she’ll probably be in denial about this, perhaps forever. After all, this same group is honoring her. How can she turn on them now?

I told him I walked out because he spoke of not trying to prevent all abortions and because he started talking like the ACS and PP talk, and by so doing, validated for them their worst fears and discredited me and/or us unwittingly.

He doesn’t know all that I know, from my reading and knowing all the stories out there. I told him he’s dealing with ACS powers-that-be that are controlled by something evil. No, of course not in the person of the honoree nor the ACS woman, but evil nonetheless.

I told him I’ll not be mentioned in the same breath as "anti-abortionists," by him or anyone. I will not compromise with evil. That is what he’s dealing with.

I said they won't let us have a poster that even mentions "terminating pregnancy." I said, "They’ll be 'nice' to us only because they want our money. They will parade researchers in front of us, and you and the Assistant Youth Director pushing for this will believe what they tell you because you all want to, even though I’d given you the defense against this already."

I said I already know when the truth that I have studied extensively is not that important in the "decision" and it wasn't from the beginning. I said that they all want to do the Relay, and they're compromising. They were going to anyway, it seems.

I told him that by doing so, they're helping some people with cancer but also helping an organization lie to and deceive others who will get cancer because they were not warned by this very organization.

If no one holds their feet to the fire, it will never change, I said.

The Assistant Youth Director took the Director’s side, thinking he was “fair in his presentation of the facts.” She admitted there was a lot of researching to do on her part still (she’d earlier admitted she didn’t read several of my earlier emails pointing her to such research, however). She thinks I had my mind made up before coming to the meeting, saying “the honoree and the ACS woman are not the enemy, they are cancer survivors hoping to make a difference.”

I replied that she had her mind made up to do the Relay before the meeting, hoping that there’d be “evidence” that what I’d brought up wasn’t true.

They have no idea how bad this is, what they’re dealing with here, I wrote them:

Planned Parenthood does these four things for children (among many others):
1. runs an annual conference for children as young as nine, coaching them on how to have sex and giving them nine reasons to have abortions.
2. has a website for kids called which links to a company selling sex toys (much more detail on this and worse found here),
3. and which offers a section called "All About the Anus" in which they tell kids that they can "preserve the woman’s virginity" by having anal intercourse (any age kid can read the entire website).
4. sells a ruler for kids with the question, "Does Size Matter?"

And our state’s ACS offers 10% off coupons for Planned Parenthood every year, inviting them into this mess.

93% of all pregnancies seen by PP end in abortion. PP says that "easy, cheap access to contraception reduces unwanted pregnancies." Yet PP delivered 3,097,597 ways of preventing pregnancies in 2003 (birth control, EC, reversibles for men and women), while also delivering 6.1% MORE abortions and did 9.6% FEWER adoption referrals than the year before. (from their annual report and this post.

I asked them to tell me it's something they both want to be involved in, after spending some time on Planned Parenthood's website.

I then reminded my friend, the YG Assistant Director, that the ACS woman gave us the rah-rah "I'm a Cradle Catholic" talk and that my friend wanted to believe it. I didn’t though, because in the next breath, she’d also said, "I stand by everything the ACS stands for." I know--and so does she in all likelihood-- that the ACS stands for the denial position about what we brought up that night.

The ACS woman gave herself away, I said. She may not "be the enemy" but she works for powerful people who represent an enemy in this pro-abortion stand and who are telling her what to say and do.

It’s now the third day since. I don’t know where it stands, and am wondering if I’ll even be told.

I would rather “be wrong.” And I don’t need to be told “you were right.” I don’t need thanks from anyone if they DYOR and conclude what I’ve concluded. I don’t need my priest’s or my friend’s approval. I believe I already have my thanks and approval from the only One who matters.

I believe I’ve done just what my God asked of me: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” The right definition of “shrewd” in this case being “astute, perceptive, discerning.”

I may have risked the loss of many very close and dear friendships, maybe even a parish, but I strongly feel I’m just trying to “do for all the least of His brothers and sisters,” not just some of them, or even most of them.

Please pray, for all of us.
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NATIONAL REVIEW Online's The Corner ~ Kathryn Jean Lopez links to Ap blog, 1/22/07

Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle: Banno On Boxer and the Illegal Abortion Deaths Urban Legend

San Diego Union Tribune: more Boxer Urban-Legend-Debunk coverage

Ellen Goodman retraction impetus: Aa blog initiates The Straight Dope coverage...and is listed in National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru's book The Party of Death, p. 255, Chap. 3 Endnote #11,   4/2006

NY Daily News: "Atheist's Site Is All The Rave

"After Abortion, by Emily Peterson and Annie Banno, two women who had abortions in the 1970s, ...tries to avoid the political tug-of-war that tends to come with this turf. They concentrate instead on discussing the troubling personal effects of abortion on the mothers." ~ Eric Scheske, Godspy contributing editor, in NC Register's "Signs of Life in the Blogosphere", 2/2006

"Godbloggers could, in the best of worlds, become the new apologists...[including] laymen with day jobs: Emily Peterson and Annie Banno, for instance, at the blog After Abortion..."~ Jonathan V. Last, The Weekly Standard online editor, in First Things's "God on the Internet", 12/2005

Amy Welborn, at BeliefNet, links to AfterAbortion blog's Crime & Abortion Series

Catholic News Service: Silent counterprotest at the March For Choice

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"I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion...[many are] aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and [do] not doubt that it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace...You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child..."

Hope after Abortion
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Obama On Abortion: A Summary 1990-2009

1) Obama Is 2nd-Highest-Paid Politician by Fannie Mae, Taking $126,346 in only 4 years as Senator; Now Derides GOP/Bush for Allowing Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac To Do Business, When It Was Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter Who Passed The Law Requiring Fannie & Freddie To Give Out Bad Subprime Loans To Those Who Couldn't Afford Them, Which Caused The Entire Financial Meltdown … 2) Jim Johnson (Obama VEEP vetter and former Fannie Mae executive who made millions there) Backpedal … 3) Obama's hiring, connection, support of ACORN, which supported that very law and whose staff have been involved in voter fraud … 4) Rezko's Favor A "Boneheaded" Mistake … 5) Jeremiah Wright Backpedal … 6) Fr. Michael Fleger Backpedal … 7) NAFTA Backpedal … 8) Campaign Financing Backpedal … 9) Mr. "Negotiates-With-Terrorist-States" … 10) Bittergate … 11) Hamas' Chief Political Adviser Hopes BO Will Win Election … 12) Banning Handguns Backpedal … 13) Who Exactly Are "The Rich" He's Going to Sock it to? … 14) Flag Pin Backpedal … 15) Once Open to School Vouchers That Work, Now Deadset Against … 16) Now OK with residual force in Iraq...up to 50,000 troops. … 17) First voted against a law protecting babies who survive an abortion procedure, then lied saying he didn't, then finally forced to admit that he did vote to deny such born babies protection. 18) … "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." ~ MO

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