- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Abortion comic

Author Matthew Lickona, whose first work was titled “Swimming With Scapulars: True Confessions of a Young Catholic,” is playing up the horrifying nature of abortion in a new comic book series in hopes of provoking dialogue about the procedure.

The protagonist in “Alphonse: Untimely Ripp’d” is an aborted fetus who survives the procedure and then sets out to extract revenge against his mother.

Mr. Lickona acknowledges, “It’s something of an outlandish premise,” but he sees the unborn child as comparable to the murderous Misfit in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”

The pictures in the mostly black-and-white comic are not for the faint of heart. Alphonse resembles a stark drawing of a Chuckie doll, with vacant eyes. The opening scenes take place in an abortion clinic, where the aborted fetus says, “Surprise, doctor,” before escaping.

Mr. Lickona describes “Alphonse” as “drama tinged with fantasy and the grotesque” and says the reaction from the pro-life community has been supportive although hesitant.

“People who are pro-life are pleased to see a fetus presented as a person — and more than that, a character. But it’s not like he’s lovable or innocent — the ordeal of crisis pregnancy has taken a toll on him, and he is both wounded and enraged,” Mr. Lickona said. “That has thrown some people off.”

The first of eight planned issues, “Alphonse: Untimely Ripp’d” is available on indyplanet.com for $2.99. Profits from the first issue will be used to produce the other seven issues.

Planned Parenthood

An abortion provider in Spokane, Wash., has been ordered by state officials to pay back more than $629,000 it overbilled Medicaid for condoms, contraceptives, doctors’ fees and other services.

The Department of Social and Health Services conducted an audit of Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest and found that $629,142.88 in excess payments were made to the organization because of errors in billing and record keeping.

The audit found the Planned Parenthood affiliate had dispensed contraceptives without prescriptions or other required documentation, billed Medicaid for face-to-face doctor consultations when patients were only picking up contraceptives, and committed accounting errors.

State law requires that Planned Parenthood bill Medicaid “at cost” for oral contraceptives and condoms, but auditors found that condoms were marked up improperly in all 13 condom bills they reviewed.

Auditors discovered that Medicare was billed 25 cents each on several occasions for condoms that the clinic acquired for 7 cents.

PPINW also is accused of “unbundling,” by charging Medicaid separately for antibiotics to prevent post-abortion infection that should have been included as part of the fee for the abortion.

The audit was first obtained and made available on the Internet by the pro-life blog abortionstate.blogspot.com, which claims to be “shining the light of truth on Washington’s abortion industry.”

Anna Franks, chief executive officer of PPINW, said the audit was routine and that “PPINW is strongly considering an appeal of the audit findings.”

While PPINW mulls an appeal, P. Victor Gonzalez, a former vice president of finance and administration at Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, is pursuing a whistleblower lawsuit against PPLA on grounds that he was fired for speaking out about “illegal accounting, billing and donations practices of Planned Parenthood.”

He is seeking $1.2 million in damages and says he has evidence that PPLA overbilled the state close to $180 million.

A state audit released in 2004 of Planned Parenthood of San Diego lends some credence to Mr. Gonzalez’s allegations. It found the state made $5.2 million in overpayments in 2003.

National spokesmen for Planned Parenthood declined to comment on Mr. Gonzalez’s lawsuit or the audit of PPINW, noting that Planned Parenthood Federation of America is made up of 95 independent affiliates.

Catholic conflict

There’s a growing rift among Roman Catholics over whether to support President Obama’s health care reform plans because of ambiguities over the status of abortion services in draft versions of the bill.

Bishop Robert Vasa, of the Baker, Ore., diocese threw down the gauntlet in an interview published at Lifesite News on Tuesday. “There ought to be no support for the reform at all unless and until these very critical matters involving the care of pre-born human life are satisfactorily resolved,” he said.

Bishop Vasa’s comments appeared to be pointed at Catholic organizations, such as Catholic Charities USA, that have been criticized by some pro-lifers for saying health care reform should be passed immediately and not voicing strong opposition to abortion-related provisions in the legislation.

Catholic Charities USA President Larry Snyder said in a statement issued July 31, “These attacks appear to be politically motivated by opponents of health care reform. They are distortions of the truth and disingenuous. Catholic Charities USA will continue to work to reform health care in a way that is consistent with the teachings of our faith.”

The Hyde Amendment forbids Medicaid from funding abortion. The bills moving through Congress, which would greatly expand federal funding of health care, are much less clear. Democrats have rebuffed efforts to attach Hyde Amendment language to the bills, though one has a provision that requires that the federal government be reimbursed afterward for any abortions its new insurance programs fund.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at Acarpenter@washington times.com.

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