Why Catholic schools should not participate in March of Dimes fundraisers

By Rita Diller

American Life League often receives requests for information about March of Dimes when Catholic schools are asked to participate in fundraising events to help “the babies” or to help fight birth defects. Those are things most everyone would want to do. But there are deep-seated, long-existing problems that parents and school administrators should know about when it comes to March of Dimes.

The history of March of Dimes is riddled with a commitment to eugenics. Randy Engel, head of the Michael Fund, points out that commitment 

was evidenced by the plethora of openly pro-abortion speakers on the MOD circuit, by the addition of known eugenicists to its various National Advisory Committees, by the eugenic writings found in their Original Articles Series, by their energetic funding and promotion of mid-trimester, non-therapeutic prenatal diagnostic research, clinical testing, and by their provision of seed monies to expand eugenic services at university-based medical centers throughout the United States. 

Once the key officials of the NF/MOD accepted the fundamental premise of eugenics—that there are certain people who never should be born, and that it is a positive act for families and society to ensure that such persons are not born—the fate of the March of Dimes was chiseled in stone.

The Michael Fund is known as the pro-life alternative to March of Dimes. It was cofounded by highly distinguished geneticist Dr. Jerome Lejuene in 1978 to promote ethical, loving, life-affirming, therapeutic research and intervention for children with Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders. 

Engel is also an investigative reporter who, after four years of exhaustive research, exposed the atrocities that the March of Dimes has funded. She enumerates a litany of grisly experiments funded by the March of Dimes, including live fetal experimentation, and says:

A number of MOD grantees have used aborted babies as a source of spare parts or fetal blood:

Peter A. J. Adam used the severed heads of live aborted babies between three to five month gestation in his fetal brain fuel metabolism experiments conducted at the University of Helsinski, Finland.

Dr. John F.S. Crocker used 60 pairs of human embryonic kidney obtained from “therapeutic” abortions after five to twelve weeks gestation in his renal research program.

Dr. Stanley J. Robboy used the reproductive tracts of baby girls aborted by D&C and prostaglandin in his DES experiments.

Dr. G. Cunha used the reproductive tracts of male and female aborted babies in similar experiments dealing with the teratogenic effects of certain drugs on developing human organs.

Dr. A de la Chapelle of the University of Helsinki received a MOD grant to develop a non-evasive, simple and safe early prenatal test to replace mid-trimester amniocentesis—thus shifting the abortion timetable from the second trimester to the first trimester. He obtained cells sources from maternal blood samples and the open-heart puncture of healthy ten week aborted fetuses.

During the 1970s and early 1980s it was MOD’s private foundation monies that permitted these researchers and many others including Drs. Blanch Alter, David Nathan, Haig Kazazian, Yuet Wai Kan, and Mitchell Golbus to bypass the government ban prohibiting the use of federal funds for such non-therapeutic, lethal experimentation on live human fetuses. A virtual international “medical underground” was created to supply fresh human fetal tissues, blood, or organs to “needy” researchers both in the U.S. and abroad. 

It is impossible to believe that an organization with such a grisly history would somehow reform itself and change its entire philosophy and policy to the extent that Catholic schoolchildren should be involved in promoting and raising funds for it. STOPP research conducted this week confirms that there are still glaring problems with March of Dimes.

In a recent letter to the editor of the Charleston Post & Courier, a member of the board of directors of the March of Dimes South Carolina Chapter seeks to distance the organization from Planned Parenthood. He says, “The South Carolina Chapter of the March of Dimes does not fund any Planned Parenthood activities nor does the national office of the March of Dimes.” Yet an examination of the March of Dimes Foundation IRS Form 990 for 2013 (the latest that is available) shows that the March of Dimes Foundation gave a grant to Virginia League for Planned Parenthood in Richmond in the amount of $24,360 for “community services.” That was not a grant from a local chapter, but from the March of Dimes Foundation itself. MOD Foundation’s 2011 and 2012 Forms 990 show similar grants to Virginia League for Planned Parenthood. While the Form 990 lists grantees, it does not get into specifics about any research or activity that was conducted with grant money.

The MOD 2013 Form 990 also shows that Jennifer Howse, president of the March of Dimes Foundation, received over half a million dollars in compensation in 2013—a total of $508,707. Nine other top executives were compensated a total of 2.7 billion dollars in 2013 alone! 

In addition, March of Dimes is a member of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, whose board includes Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Its task forces have been home to the likes of the board chair of Catholics for a Free Choice (now known as Catholics for Choice) as recently as 2006. The National Campaign’s “sister” site, Bedsider, provides “bed-rocking sex tips,” birth control reminders, and “badges” for such things as “Lusty Ladies of History” and “Think Kink.” Its Frisky Fridays provides, in blog fashion, things teens (and adults) never needed to know about sexual topics, such as Guiness records on penis and vagina size and strength.

In the light of March of Dimes’ grisly history, its associations, it board make-up, its top officials’ bloated salaries, and its grants to Planned Parenthood, could it be a good thing for a Catholic school to participate in raising funds for March of Dimes? I would answer that question with a resounding NO! School officials should have all this information on hand before making a decision to participate. You can make a difference by sending a link to this commentary to your local school officials.

Rita Diller is the national director of American Life League’s Stop Planned Parenthood International.