Life Advocacy Briefing

September 29, 2008


Senate Acts to Help Some Parents Resist Abortion Pressure / Staying the Course
/ Standing Up in a Tight Place / Sen. Biden Wanders into the Weeds /
Protecting Minors & their Progeny / Speaking Truth to Power
Stop the Killing – Stop Funding Planned Parenthood

Senate Acts to Help Some Parents Resist Abortion Pressure

THE U.S. SENATE PASSED A BILL LAST TUESDAY OFFERING “scientifically sound information and support services,” reads the official Congressional synopsis, “to patients receiving a positive test diagnosis for Down Syndrome or other prenatally and postnatally diagnosed conditions.”

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) with bipartisan co-sponsors including Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA). There was no recorded roll call, as S-1810 was passed by unanimous consent.

Its companion bill, HR-3112, is sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and bipartisan co-sponsors including Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). It moved from subcommittee to the full House Committee on Energy & Commerce last April but has seen no action in the full committee.

The proposal would give parents a place to turn when prenatal genetic diagnosticians advise them to abort their possibly disabled children. With Congress recessing at the end of last week, its ultimate fate is uncertain, but Senate passage is encouraging toward future success.


Staying the Course

THE U.S. HOUSE ADOPTED AN OMNIBUS CONTINUING RESOLUTION Wednesday to keep government agencies running until next March without specific appropriations measures being approved for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

With no language appearing to have been inserted into the 350-page resolution to damage the pro-life appropriations riders enacted in the 2007 session, spending restrictions such as the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City Amendment, prohibitions on covering abortion as a fringe benefit in the Federal Employees Health Benefits package and on forcing military facilities to offer abortions, remain in place though no votes on those policies occurred in the House this year.


Standing Up in a Tight Place

IN A STARTLINGMOMENT during raunchy MTV’s video music awards program, host Russell Brand, “a British comedian whose style of hosting the awards has been termed ‘x-rated,’ took shots at the Jonas Brothers,” writes Jenna Murphy for, “a group of three brothers who are well known in the entertainment industry for wearing chastity rings and for being vocal advocates of premarital chastity.”

Life Advocacy Briefing will not quote his crude remarks; the more noteworthy remarks came from another featured performer, and the best part of the story comes in the wake of her retort.

When last year’s winner of television’s American Idol program, Jordin Sparks, was brought centerstage for an MTV award presentation, reports Ms. Murphy, she “shot back from the podium, ‘I just have one thing to say about promise [chastity] rings. It’s not bad to wear a promise ring, because not everybody – guy or girl – wants to be a slut.’”

The best part: Writes Ms. Murphy, “[Miss] Sparks’s comment at the [award program] was met with an audible cheer from the crowd and elicited a sheepish apology from the show’s host. ‘I didn’t mean to take it lightly,’ [Mr.] Brand said about purity rings. ‘I don’t want to [offend] teenage fans.’”


Sen. Biden Wanders into the Weeds

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI’s INCREDIBLE CLAIMS about her church’s doctrine defining when life begins have drawn much attention. But she is just one in a line of self-defined Catholic lawmakers who find their claimed faith incompatible with their perceived political need to pander to the abortion industry.

Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joseph Biden (DE) is now under scrutiny for his own confusing remarks on the killing of innocent prenatal boys and girls. Appearing Sept. 7 on NBCTV’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Biden was asked when, as a Roman Catholic, he “would say” life begins, Sen. Biden declared such a question “a personal and private issue. For me as a Roman Catholic,” he said, according to the program transcript, “I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church. But let me tell you, there are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths – Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others – who have a different view. … I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception, but that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.”

He was then pressed by panelist Tom Brokaw, “But if you, you believe that life begins at conception, and you’ve also voted for abortion rights” and was interrupted by Sen. Biden, “No, what I voted against, curtailing the right, criminalizing abortion. I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it’s at moment of conception.” Then Sen. Biden wandered into the Pelosi thicket of discussing the alleged history of Catholic confusion on the topic of the beginning of life, moving on to the NARAL mantra, “This is a matter between a person’s God, however they believe in God, their doctor and themselves.”

He concluded by claiming he and his running mate – the radically pro-death Mr. Obama – would be “spending our time … making sure that we reduce considerably the amount of abortions that take place by providing the care, the assistance and the encouragement for people to be able to carry to term and to raise their children.”

The Biden remarks drew a strong public response from, among others, the Knights of Columbus, the nation’s leading organization of Roman Catholic laymen.

The Knights sponsored a full-page ad Sept. 19 featuring an open letter to Sen. Biden from Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and appearing in USA Today, the Washington Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Delaware News Journal.

Mr. Anderson appeals to Sen. Biden “as a Catholic who acknowledges that life begins at conception, to resolve to protect this unalienable right [to life].” We publish the full text of Mr. Anderson’s letter near the conclusion of this week’s Life Advocacy Briefing.


Protecting Minors & their Progeny

FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL PUBLISHED A STUDY in mid-September demonstrating the effectiveness of laws requiring involvement of parents before abortions on minors, reducing the minor abortion rate in a state passing such laws by an average of 13%.

Perhaps even more significantly, the study by Dr. Michael New, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama, found that parental consent laws have a significantly greater effect, reducing the abortion rate among minors by an average of 19%. And laws requiring the involvement of both parents rather than just one reduce the minor abortion rate by 31%.


Speaking Truth to Power

Sept. 19, 2008, open letter to Sen. Joseph Biden from Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus

I write to you today as a fellow Catholic layman on a subject that has become a major topic of concern in this year’s Presidential campaign. The bishops who have taken public issue with your remarks on the Church’s historical position on abortion are far from alone.

Sen. Obama stressed your Catholic identity repeatedly when he introduced you as his running mate, and so your statements carry considerable weight, whether they are correct or not. You now have a unique responsibility when you make public statements about Catholic teaching.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” you appealed to the 13th Century writings of St. Thomas Aquinas to cast doubt on the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion. There are several problems with this.

First, Aquinas obviously had only a medieval understanding of biology and thus could only speculate about how an unborn child develops in the womb. I doubt that there is any other area of public policy where you would appeal to a 13th Century knowledge of biology as the basis for modern law.

Second, Aquinas’s theological view is in any case entirely consistent with the long history of Catholic Church teaching in this area, holding that abortion is a grave sin to be avoided at any time during pregnancy. This teaching dates all the way back to the Didache, written in the 2nd Century. It is found in the writings of Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine and Aquinas and was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which described abortion as “an unspeakable crime” and held that the right to life must be protected from the “moment of conception.” This consistent teaching was restated most recently last month in the response of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Statements that suggest that our Church has anything less than a consistent teaching on abortion are not merely incorrect; they may lead Catholic women facing crisis pregnancies to misunderstand the moral gravity of an abortion decision.

Neither should a discussion about a medieval understanding of the first few days or weeks of life be allowed to draw attention away from the remaining portion of an unborn child’s life. In those months, even ancient and medieval doctors agreed that a child is developing in the womb.

And as you are well aware, Roe v. Wade allows for abortion at any point during a pregnancy. While you voted for the ban on partial-birth abortions, your unconditional support for Roe is a de facto endorsement of permitting all other late-term abortions and thus calls into question your appeal to Aquinas.

I recognize that you struggle with your conscience on the issue and have said that you accept the Church’s teaching that life begins at conception – as a matter of faith. But modern medical science leaves no doubt about the fact that each person’s life begins at conception. It is not a matter of personal religious belief but of science.

Finally, your unwillingness to bring your Catholic moral views into the public policy arena on this issue alone is troubling.

There were several remarkable ironies in your first appearance as Sen. Obama’s running mate on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. His selection as the first black American to be the nominee of a major party for President of the United States owes an incalculable debt to two movements that were led by people whose religious convictions motivated them to confront the moral evils of their day – the abolitionist movement of the 19th Century and the civil rights movement of the 20th Century.

Your rally in Springfield took place just a mile or so from the tomb of Abraham Lincoln, who in April 1859 wrote these words in a letter to Henry Pierce: “This is a world of compensations, and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.”

Lincoln fought slavery in the name of “a just God” without embarrassment or apology. He confronted an America in which black Americans were not considered “persons” under the law and were thus not entitled to fundamental Constitutional rights. Today, children of all races who are fully viable and only minutes from being born are also denied recognition as “persons” because of the Roe v. Wade regime that you so strongly support. Lincoln’s reasoning regarding slavery applies with equal force to children who are minutes, hours or days away from birth.

The American founders began our great national quest for liberty by declaring that we are all “created equal.” It took nearly a century to transform that bold statement into the letter of the law and another century still to make it a reality. The founders believed that we are “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable rights” and that first among these is “life.”

You have a choice: You can listen to your conscience and work to secure the rights of the unborn to share in the fruits of our hard-won liberty or you can choose to turn your back on them.

On behalf of the 1.28 million members of the Knights of Columbus and their families in the United States, I appeal to you, as a Catholic who acknowledges that life begins at conception, to resolve to protect this unalienable right. …

Respectfully, Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight


Stop the Killing – Stop Funding Planned Parenthood

July 9, 2008, special order speeches in the U.S. House; source: Congressional Record. Please note: Despite the futility of seeking to defund Planned Parenthood in the current Congress, Life Advocacy Briefing salutes the House Members who participated in the series of educational speeches promoting the Pence Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood, and we are publishing the “special order” speeches as a compelling tool for educating the American people about the injustice in the massive subsidies taxpayers are forced to remit to Planned Parenthood. This week’s speech is by Rep. Paul Broun MD (R-GA).

REP. BROUN: … I served on a board of directors for a crisis pregnancy center in the inner city of Atlanta. We were geared towards trying to save babies of African American moms in the inner city of Atlanta.

I’m a medical doctor. And the whole crux of this discussion comes to the decision of when life begins. I introduced the Sanctity of Human Life Act of 2007 that defines scientifically that life begins at fertilization. And it’s described when the cell of the spermatozoa enters the cell wall of the ovum site and forms a one-celled human being called a zygote. And my bill gives the right of personhood to that one-celled human being, whether they’re black or white or any people group.

And I know, as a medical doctor, that that’s when life begins. And we have to save life. If a nation will not protect the most innocent of human beings, what will it protect? And we are killing 4,000 babies every day, black and white. There are more black babies being killed than there are white babies proportionally, and that’s the reason why I was on that board of directors for many years. And thankfully, we have it open and we’re serving the inner city of Atlanta right now with that crisis pregnancy center.

But we’ve got to stop the killing of these children, black and white, of all colors, because God cannot continue to bless America while we’re killing 4,000 babies every day and while we’re funding an organization like Planned Parenthood. We have to stop the funding of that organization. And I just encourage all my colleagues of this House to understand that life begins at fertilization, and we’ve got to stop the killing as a nation.


Permission granted to quote with attribution. Reproduction rights granted only by express authorization.