Life Advocacy Briefing

For the week of February 19, 2007

Remembering George W. / Lethal Discrimination / House Committee Voting Record /
/Tiller Off the Hook / Portuguese Ho-Hum on Abortion Legalization Bid /
/ Rep. Norwood, R.I.P. / March Speeches / House Debate

Remembering George W.

THIS THURSDAY, FEB. 22, IS THE ANNIVERSARY of the birth of the Father of our country, President George Washington, without whose courage and faith America would have not won independence from the British Empire and without whose wisdom we could not have maintained our liberty.

Lethal Discrimination

A FIGHT IS BREWING over the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, pending in the Senate as S-358 and in the House as HR-493. The seemingly well-meaning bill would bar insurance companies and employers from discriminating against individuals and their families on the basis of adverse genetic indicators.

The hitch comes in the definition of “family member,” which, in the measure’s original language, does not include children before birth, nor does it clearly include children whose adoption is in process. Those flaws continue in S-358, which has already been advanced from committee.

HR-493 underwent markup in the House Committee on Education & Labor last Wednesday. After intense lobbying, panel chairman Rep. George Miller (R-CA) offered a substitute amendment which, among other changes, added fetal children. Though gratified that such an amendment was adopted, pro-life lawmakers are still concerned that embryonic children are not included and that the inadequate language related to children being adopted into a family was not touched by the chairman’s proposal.

Representatives Pete Hoekstra and Tim Walberg (both R-MI) offered an amendment to close the discriminatory loophole. The two were joined, according to a Capitol Hill source, by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) and Delegate Luis Fortuno (R-Puerto Rico) in making excellent comments favoring the amendment, which lost on a vote of 27 to 20.

The bill must still undergo mark-up in the Committees on Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce. Life Advocacy Briefing will attempt to notify our readers when HR-493 is scheduled so that appropriate contacts can be made to the committee members. Fixing the loophole in committee would be preferable to attempting amendment in the full House.

House Committee Voting Record

TUnofficial committee roll call on the Hoekstra/Walberg amendment to close loophole excluding embryonic children and children in process of adoption in HR-493 – Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act – in House Committee on Education & Labor – Feb. 14, 2007 – Failed 20-27 (Democrats in italics; new Members in ALL CAPS)

Voting “yes” / pro-life: CA/McKeon; FL/Keller; GA/Price; IN/Souder; LA/Boustany; MI/Ehlers, Hoekstra, Kildee & WALBERG; MN/Kline; NY/Kuhl; NC/Foxx; PA/ALTMIRE; PR/Fortuno; SC/Wilson; TN/DAVID DAVIS; TX/Marchant; UT/Bishop; WA/McMorris-Rodgers; WI/Petri.

Voting “no” / anti-life: AZ/Grijalva; CA/Davis, George Miller, Linda Sanchez & Woolsey; CT/COURTNEY; DE/Castle; HI/HIRONO; IL/Biggert, Davis & HARE; IA/LOEBSACK; KY/YARMUTH; MD/SARBANES; MA/Tierney; NH/SHEA-PORTER; NJ/Andrews, Holt & Payne; NY/Bishop, CLARKE & McCarthy; TX/Hinojosa; OH/Kucinich; OR/Wu; PA/SESTAK; VA/Scott.

Not Voting: PA/Platts & SC/Inglis.

Tiller Off the Hook

THE KANSAS SUPREME COURT GAVE NOTORIOUS ABORTIONIST GEORGE TILLER an early Valentine last Tuesday, ruling that the criminal charges filed against him last year by then-Attorney General Phill Kline (R) could not be reinstated without a fresh procedure to charge him.

Atty. Gen. Kline, whose record demonstrates true heroism in the cause of Life, had appointed a special prosecutor, Don McKinney, to continue the case when it was apparent it could not be pressed before he left office in January. His successor, Democrat Paul Morrison, fired the special prosecutor upon taking office and asked the high court to dismiss Mr. McKinney’s request that the Supreme Court reinstate the charges, which had been dismissed in December by a district judge.

“[Mr.] Kline had alleged 30 misdemeanor charges” against Wichita’s late-term abortion specialist, writes Associated Press (AP) reporter John Hanna, “saying the doctor performed 15 illegal late-term abortions in 2003 on patients ages 10 to 22.” The Tiller charges stemmed from an investigation undertaken by Mr. Kline after receiving documentation from Texas-based Life Dynamics, which has systematically investigated and exposed dangerous, illegal practices in hundreds of abortuaries across America.

The AP reporter characterized the court’s action last Tuesday as “routine” in dismissing “a case that someone no longer wishes to pursue. … [Mr.] Kline and other abortion opponents have predicted,” writes Mr. Hanna, “that [Mr.] Morrison won’t prosecute Tiller, given that Tiller helped finance tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of anti-Kline advertising last year.”

Mr. Morrison’s office claims the new attorney general will “review the evidence [Mr.] Kline gathered,” reports AP. But Mr. Kline countered with a charge that Mr. Morrison “had successfully dismissed criminal charges,” writes Mr. Hanna, “against a major political supporter after two independent judges found probable cause to believe crimes had been committed. ‘This is not a proper action by the state’s chief law enforcement officer,’ [Mr.] Kline said” in the AP story. “‘We have the fox guarding the hen-house,’” he said, “‘and he’s just eaten one of the hens.’”

Portuguese Ho-Hum on Abortion Legalization Bid

THE VOTERS OF PORTUGAL HAVE SAID ‘NO THANKS’ to the prime minister’s referendum to legalize the killing of unborn children, but Socialist PM Jose Socrates “declared victory,” reports Elaine Sciolino for the New York Times, “and said he would ask Parliament, where his party enjoys a comfortable majority, to change the law” anyway.

The vote showed the importance of citizens exercising their franchise even when they might sense intimidation or when it’s rainy. Not enough purple index fingers were raised in defense of Portugal’s next generation in the Feb. 11 referendum – not when the government is led by a man who evidently has no regard for the law.

Portuguese law holds that in order for a referendum question to be considered adopted by the people, it must receive not only a plurality but a plurality among at least 50% of eligible voters. The last time such an abortion liberalization referendum was held in Portugal, a narrow plurality disapproved.

This time, the split in the vote was 59.25% in favor and 40.75% opposed, but the turnout, reports Ms. Sciolino, was “slightly less than 44% of the 8.8 million eligible voters.” The result, writes Ms. Sciolino, “was not considered valid because of [the] low voter turnout. …

“Opponents of a change in the law,” reports Ms. Sciolino, “said that the referendum’s failure to attract at least half the electorate meant that Mr. Socrates was wrong to call for a change in the law.”

One of the prime minister’s chief political opponents, Jose Ribeiro e Castro, whom Ms. Sciolino identifies as “head of the center-right Partido Popular,” told a television interviewer, “‘[Jose] Socrates will be responsible for this sad chapter in Portugal’s history for insisting on a political move that has split Portuguese society.’ … He added,” reports the New York Times, “that the low voter turnout confirmed that for the Portuguese, [legalizing] abortion ‘was not a critical issue.’”

Current law in Portugal, writes Ms. Sciolino, “allows abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy in case of ‘mental and physical risk,’ until 16 weeks in case of rape, until 24 weeks in case of a malformed fetus and at any time if the woman’s life is in danger.” The proposed change, which Mr. Socrates described as “ ‘embrac[ing] modernity,’” would legalize killing unborn children in their first 10 weeks of gestational life and, reports the New York Times, “would have allowed women to openly seek medical support from the state-run health system.”

The apparent apathy of the voters may indicate the difficulty in motivating the electorate to defend Life after the right to Life has already been compromised with legal loopholes.

Rep. Norwood, R.I.P.

WITH SADNESS WE NOTE THE PASSING OF REP. CHARLIE NORWOOD (R-GA), who, since beginning his career in Congress in 1995, exhibited a consistent respect for the right to Life. He succumbed to lung cancer last Tuesday and will be missed.

March Speeches

Life Advocacy Briefing continues our publication of speeches from the Jan. 22, 2007, March for Life with speeches by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). The “ethical embryonic stem cell research bill” to which Rep. Bartlett refers is the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act, now filed as HR-322, which endorses federal funding for research – including on embryos – that does not require harm to human subjects, pursuing a theoretical ethical alternative to the utilitarian experiments being pushed by the labcoat lobbyists. 

REP. PENCE: I’m Mike Pence. This is my wife Karen, who is a national board member for National Right to Life. We’re from the state of Indiana, and we are fans of the AFC championship Indianapolis Colts. And we are unapologetically pro-life.

It is the 22nd of January again. On this cold anniversary of the worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott, all across the land, because of the prayers and compassion of every one of you, springtime is breaking forth in the battle between abortion and life. Although the abortion movement is gathering strength in this city of compromise, Washington, DC, is still the only city in America where life is losing.

In the quiet counsels between mothers and daughters, sisters and friends, the truth about abortion is being told, young women are being warned, and life is winning in America. Despite the best efforts of the abortion rights movement, 34 years since Roe v. Wade, more Americans embrace the sanctity of life than ever before. And while life may have taken a hit in last year’s election in the [Capitol] building behind me, I will say to you, in big cities and small towns, American women are listening and learning. They are hearing it is not a choice, it’s a baby. And American women are choosing life. Every day, every hour, compassion is overwhelming convenience. Life is defeating despair and hope, a lifetime of regret.

To you gathered here who labor in the cause of life, we say press on. Our nation has moved and Heaven smiles. Your labors on behalf of the unborn are not in vain.

To you who look on and wonder what all the fuss is about, I say, before you choose, listen to your hearts. Listen to the truth, and know if you face an unwanted pregnancy that help is just one phone call to a crisis pregnancy center away. And to those who’ve been victimized by the laws and mores of the nation, who convinced you to make a wrong choice, I say as those brave women standing around us say with their lives every day, join us in this cause. Grace and compassion await you in a movement that most cherishes our wounded leaders. And to our opponents, Americans all, who remain fixed in their determination to see this harvest continue, we say with confidence, the time of your ascendancy in the law is coming to an end.

Soon even Washington will acknowledge what America knows, and the laws of this land will answer the call of every unborn heart and say with our founders, in America as Americans, we choose liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the unalienable right to life.

I’m Mike Pence, and I’m pro-life. Thank you, and God bless you.

REP. BARTLETT: I’m Maryland’s only pro-life vote. I want to welcome our Maryland attendees. Maryland, where are you? Thank you!

I came to the Congress 14 years ago, and every year since then I’ve been here, and in those 14 years, we’ve made steady progress. In recent polls, fully 70% of America’s people are opposed to abortion for birth control. That’s a pro-life position; we’re winning.

Because of our enormous respect for life, even the nascent life in those frozen embryos in the fertility clinic, we have appropriately been opposed to destroying any of these embryos to develop new stem cell lines. That’s resulted in two things; with the argument that some of these will ultimately be discarded anyhow and why not get some medical use from them, we’ve unfortunately lost for this issue several of our good pro-life Members in both the House and the Senate. And we have lost on this issue the support of about 70% of the American people, who believe that we’re standing in the way of embryonic stem cell research that may have huge benefits in medical care.

Our President supports ethical embryonic stem cell research, and he is anxious to sign the Bartlett/Gingrey bill. This bill passed the Senate in the last Congress 100 to 0; it got 273 votes in the House, but because of the procedure under which it was brought up, it didn’t have the two-thirds margin. This bill is filed again this year, and the President is anxious to sign the bill. Please, if you are represented by a pro-choice person, call them and tell them to make responsible embryonic stem cell research a medical reality rather than a political issue.

Thank you very much for what you are doing for America and all of our people. Thank you.

House Debate

The Jan. 11, 2007, House debate on HR-3 – the legislation to force taxpayers to subsidize embryo-killing experimentation – brought forth effective, persuasive appeals on both sides of the ethical divide. We are publishing excerpts from the Congressional Record transcript of that debate from the various pro-life speeches given, and we urge readers to attend carefully to the arguments made in opposing HR-3. We continue this series of speech excerpt transcripts here.

REP. JEFF FORTENBERRY (R-NE): Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin with a story. Several weeks ago, I was reading some of our national publications, and I came across a very small article that reported how Swiss scientists were taking amniotic fluid from preborn children, children who had been diagnosed in the womb with heart disease, and they were taking adult stem cells from that amniotic fluid and beginning the process of growing heart valves that would inevitably be placed in those children because of that heart disease.

Mr. Speaker, my spirits lifted. I had hope again. You see, my daughter Kathryn is six years old, and she suffers from complete atrial ventricular septal defect, a severe form of heart disease. She has had three open-heart surgeries thus far. We are probably looking at a fourth in the coming months, and in that surgery it is likely she will need a mechanical valve which further complicates her difficulties.

You see, adult stem cells from bone marrow sources and umbilical cord sources and now amniotic fluid are showing real therapeutic value in the treatment of 72 diseases currently, and this avoids the ethically divisive issue of the destruction of unborn human life, the destruction of unborn human embryos.

Embryonic stem cell research has shown no therapeutic value to date, is highly controversial, and many taxpayers do not wish to have their money spent here. So, Mr. Speaker, I say, why not? Why not invest our limited resources in adult stem cell research that is showing great promise and giving real hope? This is good public policy. This is the right thing to do.

REP. DAVE WELDON (R-FL): … If this bill becomes law, it will establish a new precedent for our government. For the first time, we will be funding researchers who are knowingly destroying human embryos in the course of their research, and that is really what this debate is essentially about. …

Now the advocates for this legislation assert that this is necessary because of the great potential of embryonic stem cells, and I rise essentially as a physician and a concerned American to challenge that notion based on my understanding of embryonic stem cells. And by the way, we have heard it said repeatedly that embryonic stem cells have only been studied for eight years. They have been studied for 25 years in the mouse. Eight years in the human model, but 25 years in the mouse.

All embryonic stem cells form tumors. All of them. Indeed, if you are in the research lab, that is how you determine you actually have an embryonic stem cell. You put it in an animal, and it forms a tumor called a teratoma.

They have never been shown not only to be really good and therapeutic, but they have never been shown to be safe. Before an embryonic stem cell therapy could ever be approved by the FDA, it would have been shown to be both effective, which embryonic stem cells have never been shown to be, and as well, safe. And the very nature of embryonic stem cells renders them unsafe.

So why is this such a critical debate? Why is this such an important debate? It is simply because this is not necessary, and it is morally wrong. It is morally wrong, because it takes us down a path where we will be saying certain forms of human life are expendable and can be discarded. And it is totally unnecessary, because they have never been shown to be therapeutically useful.



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