Taking our responsibility to save lives and educate voters seriously

April 25, 2018

A special message from IRTL President and CEO Mike Fichter

Recently I was surprised to learn of the sharp criticism of Indiana Right to Life’s political activities from the leader of another organization in Indiana. While I fully respect the rights of others to share their opinions, I do feel such public criticism requires a public response.

The author criticized Indiana Right to Life for being single issue. We are unapologetically single issue, and that issue is life. We make no pretense to be anything else but single issue. It is the hallmark of whom we are. It is this focused approach that has made us highly respected by both friends and foe alike at the Statehouse, as well as in the public square. Other organizations have full ability to choose which battles they will fight; Indiana Right to Life will remain focused on protecting life.

We were also criticized for endorsing 100% pro-life incumbents over challengers. Indiana Right to Life has a long-standing endorsement policy of endorsing pro-life incumbents in recognition of the fact that they have consistently voted for pro-life legislation. Legislators know, understand and respect our pro-life incumbent endorsement policy. More than a few legislators now serving at the Statehouse were subject to this policy when running as challengers; now they receive our endorsement as incumbents.

Exceptions to our pro-life incumbent endorsement policy include situations such as incumbents declining to complete surveys or when extenuating circumstances apply. There are several pro-life incumbents in this year’s primary, for example, who did not receive endorsements in contested races because they did not complete the pro-life surveys mailed to them.

The most notable example of an extenuating circumstance resulting in the denial of an endorsement is Rep. Curt Nisly (Indiana House District 22), who misleadingly replied on his survey that he would oppose legislation that would eliminate current abortion regulations in Indiana.  This is exactly what his House Bill 1097 does, as interested voters can see for themselves by reading the bill here. Providing a liberal judge with a bill that proactively strikes all Indiana abortion regulations passed since 1973 would be detrimental to our focused mission of protecting life.

Indiana Right to Life is consistent in its pro-life incumbent endorsement policy, even when it comes to challengers with previous relationships with our organization. On more than one occasion I have informed large donors choosing to run for public office of our pro-life incumbent policy, only to see their financial giving to Indiana Right to Life cease as a result. This year is no exception.

We are likewise criticized for not making more multiple endorsements such as the three-way endorsement of Mike Braun, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, for U.S. Senate. This criticism is particularly puzzling due to the multiple endorsements made by the Indiana Right Life PAC in Congressional Districts 4 and 6, as well as in multiple state legislative races. In every race in which more than one candidate is endorsed, there is no pro-life incumbent, for the seat being sought in the race. Endorsements in such races are made based on a wider array of factors including the strength of completed surveys, previous voting records in other offices, proven track records of involvement on life issues, and more.

Finally, I must address the assertion that Indiana Right to Life failed to endorse pro-life challengers in contested primaries against pro-abortion incumbents.  I have asked the author of this criticism to identify the races in question, yet as of this writing, I have received no response. The most likely reason for a non-endorsement in such cases is a candidate’s failure to return a completed survey, or a candidate returning a survey so weak on the pro-life position that it does not rise to the level of receiving an endorsement.

Indiana Right to Life takes its responsibility to educate voters seriously.  This is why, in addition to making PAC endorsements, we produce an extensive voter guide providing voters with candidate replies to 16 questions covering a broad range of pro-life topics. This is in great contrast to voter guides based on subjective grading systems, or surveys consisting of two questions. We encourage every voter to exercise the right to vote and to choose for themselves which candidates to support.

Indiana Right to Life’s political endorsement process may not be perfect, but I am not aware of any organization whose process is. We do the best that we can, surveying over three hundred candidates, compiling results, taking into account pro-life voting records and incumbency, and informing pro-life voters in a consistent and civil manner.

Is our process successful? The number of children killed by abortion in Indiana has dropped for eight straight years, with 3,642 fewer children aborted in 2016 alone versus 2008. Four abortion facilities have shut their doors. We credit much of this success to the pro-life policy advances we’ve made at the Statehouse through the hard work, and the votes, of candidates we’ve endorsed. We’re not concerned with criticism. Our concern is on saving lives. And there are children alive today in Indiana because of the work we are doing. That’s where our focus will remain. Because unborn children have a right to life.












Planned Parenthood Sues over New Abortion Complications Reporting Law

April 23, 2018

Fichter: Does Planned Parenthood Have Something to Hide?

INDIANAPOLIS – Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against Indiana’s new abortion complications reporting law, Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 340.

“Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit is sadly predictable,” said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “Almost every time Indiana lawmakers pass legislation to protect women’s health and safety, the abortion giant runs to activist judges to block the laws.

“Indiana’s new law, SEA 340 on abortion complications reporting, brings needed transparency to the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood likes to claim that abortions never harm women. If that was the case, why do they oppose this common sense law? Their lawsuit begs the question, does Planned Parenthood have something to hide?

“We are confident that Indiana’s new abortion complications reporting law will be found constitutional. In 1995, the legislature passed an informed consent bill to benefit women seeking abortions. The law was tied up in the courts for years thanks to Planned Parenthood. Once the law was found constitutional and enacted, we saw the abortion rate decline. We believe the same thing will happen here. SEA 340 helps women and unborn children in Indiana.”

According to reports, the lawsuit specifically challenges the abortion complications reporting requirements and the yearly inspection requirement.

Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion.


Women Continue to Abandon Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky

April 23, 2018

Five protests in Indiana this Saturday Will Demand an End to Taxpayer Funding of Planned Parenthood

INDIANAPOLIS – A recent review of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky’s (PPINK) 2017 annual report shows that clients continue to abandon the abortion business. PPINK’s client base has been cut nearly cut in half over the last decade and total visits are down 22 percent from 2016 to 2017. Only .004 percent of Indiana and Kentucky’s populations are seen by PPINK.

In 2017, PPINK had 48,888 unduplicated patients, compared to 91,168 in 2008. Unduplicated patients are down 5 percent from 2016. Those patients made 91,235 total visits to PPINK in 2017. Total visits are down 67 percent over 10 years and down 22 percent from 2016. (Note: Numbers from 2008 do not include numbers from Kentucky because the organizations had not yet merged.)

Ten years ago, there were 35 Parenthood facilities in Indiana. In 2017, there were only 17 facilities in Indiana and two facilities in Kentucky.

The majority of PPINK’s procedure numbers, excluding abortion, are drastically down over the last decade. For example, in 2008, Planned Parenthood did 46,932 pap tests, compared with 4,384 in 2017. Contraceptive numbers are also down over 10 years. Oral contraception is down 85 percent, emergency contraception is down 91 percent and condoms/spermicides are down 68 percent.

In 2017, PPINK did 5,230 abortions. This number is down 3 percent from 2016, but up 5 percent from 2008. Abortion remains a core part of PPINK’s business model.

PPINK also continues to see fewer clients in poverty. Ten years ago, 74 percent of its clients were at or below 150 percent poverty. In 2017, that number dropped to 52 percent.

“Women are abandoning Planned Parenthood in record numbers because they know they can receive quality care elsewhere,” said Sue Swayze Liebel, Vice President of Public Affairs at Indiana Right to Life. “Despite declining patient and procedure numbers, Planned Parenthood refuses to recognize that women don’t want to visit an abortion business for health services. Planned Parenthood suffered a major blow to its reputation when the Center for Medical Progress videos showed the abortion chain’s unethical dealings in the baby body parts market. Women deserve better. Taxpayers deserve better. It’s time to defund Planned Parenthood.”

Indiana has more than 3,600 federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, Medicaid providers and Title V clinics, located throughout the state’s 92 counties.

Pro-life Hoosiers concerned about Planned Parenthood will gather this Saturday, Apr. 28, in five Indiana cities as part of the national #ProtestPP movement. Protests are planned for Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Merrillville and Mishawaka. This is the third annual nationwide protest designed to expose Planned Parenthood as the nation’s largest abortion chain and to call on Congress to end all taxpayer funding to it. More details at: www.protestpp.com.

Planned Parenthood’s annual fiscal year reports are available here: www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-indiana-kentucky/about/annual-report

For an infographic and more information on PPINK’s declines, visit www.irtl.org/PPINK.

Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion.

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Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Against Unborn Children

April 20, 2018

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Urged to Appeal to the Supreme Court
CHICAGO – In a Thursday decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the civil rights protections for unborn children in HEA 1337, in the Dignity for the Unborn Act. The law prohibited abortions solely because of a child’s sex, race, national origin or a potential disability, like Down syndrome. The decision also blocked the requirement that abortion facilities treat human remains with dignity and respect, instead of throwing the bodies of these unborn children in the trash with common medical waste. The lawsuit was brought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. It was first blocked by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who has a record of siding with the abortion industry.

“This is the civil rights battle of our time,” said Sue Swayze Liebel, Vice President of Public Affairs for Indiana Right to Life. “While the Seventh Circuit Court’s ruling is a setback, it provides great opportunity to bring this case to the Supreme Court. Previous Supreme Court decisions that give states authority to regulate abortion give us great hope that the justices would side with Indiana’s right to recognize civil rights protections for children in the womb. Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has a strong track record of vigorously defending laws that protect the most vulnerable, the unborn and their mothers. We urge AG Hill to appeal the Seventh Circuit Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court.”

The Seventh Circuit Court’s ruling was a 2-1 decision. In Senior Judge Daniel Manion’s dissent regarding the fetal remains portion of the law, he wrote, “That part of Indiana’s law rationally advances Indiana’s interests in protecting public sensibilities and recognizing the dignity and humanity of the unborn.”


Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion.

Endorsements Made for State-Level, Contested Primary Races

April 11, 2018

Fichter: “We urge pro-life voters to use their vote on May 8 to protect life.”

INDIANAPOLIS – Today, Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee (PAC) released its list of endorsements in state-level races. Indiana Right to Life PAC only is endorsing in contested primary races. Endorsed by Indiana Right to Life PAC prior to the May 8 Primary Election:

Jack Jordan, State Representative, District 17
David A. Wolkins, State Representative, District 18
Garen T. Bragg, State Representative, District 29
Jerry Torr, State Representative, District 39
Beau Baird, State Representative, District 44
Jess L. Norton, State Representative, District 44
John T. Young, State Representative, District 47
Christy Stutzman, State Representative, District 49
Ben Smaltz, State Representative, District 52
Richard Hamm, State Representative, District 56
Ryan Lauer, State Representative, District 59
Matt Hostettler, State Representative, District 64
Bruce Ungethiem, State Representative, District 64
Mike Bowling, State Representative, District 66
Joseph VanWye, Sr., State Representative, District 66
Jim Lucas, State Representative, District 69
Steve Davisson, State Representative, District 73
Joe Zakas, State Senator, District 11
Travis Holdman, State Senator, District 19
Mike Gaskill, State Senator, District 26
Mike Delph, State Senator, District 29
James W. Merritt, Jr., State Senator, District 31

“The Indiana legislature has made incredible policy advances to protect the unborn and their mothers, as evidenced by eight consecutive years of drops in the state abortion rate,” said Mike Fichter, Chairman of the Indiana Right to Life PAC. “With the right candidates elected in the Primary and again in November, Indiana will be poised to make more pro-life advances at the Statehouse. We urge pro-life voters to use their vote on May 8 to protect life. Our endorsed candidates are committed to the important work of defending those who cannot defend themselves, the unborn.”

The Indiana Right to Life PAC makes its endorsements based on its focused mission of protecting the right to life, especially of the unborn. Factors considered when making endorsements include incumbency, voting records on abortion-related issues in the legislature and survey responses.

Indiana Right to Life PAC works to elect pro-life candidates to public office for the purpose of enacting public policy that protects the right to life of all persons, including the unborn. Indiana Right to Life PAC believes that the issue of life is paramount to all other issues because without the right to life, all other freedoms are without meaning.

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