Life Advocacy Briefing

November 10 , 2008


Rough Ride Coming / ‘Change’ Comes to Capitol Hill / Referendum Losses / Obama Book / One Win / Reactions to the Obama Election / Early Warning on Likely Obama Supreme Court Pick / Payback Time: What Planned Parenthood Expects from Obama

Rough Ride Coming

MUCH IS BEING WRITTEN AND CAN BE SAID about last Tuesday’s election, and we’ll quote some of it in this Life Advocacy Briefing. The bottom line is, the 2008 election made our work much tougher and a steady, principled, strategic advocacy for Life all the more urgent.

Besides the obvious challenges presented by the election as President of the most ardent advocate of abortion and infanticide ever to serve in office, the Congressional elections also bring new challenges.

Fasten your seatbelt, pro-life advocate. Get ready for a rough ride.


‘Change’ Comes to Capitol Hill

THOUGH G.O.P. LOSSES IN THE HOUSE & SENATE were not quite so numerous as predicted, the new line-up for the 111th Congress is bad enough for the cause of Life. Leftish House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) both enter the new Congress with increased majorities.

Pro-life GOP Senators John Sununu (NH) and Elizabeth Dole (NC) lost their re-election bids to backers of decriminalized abortion; pro-life GOP Senators Wayne Allard (CO) and Pete Domenici (NM) are being replaced, upon their retirement, by abortion advocates. Pro-life GOP Senators Saxby Chambliss (GA) and Norm Coleman (MN) emerged ahead on Tuesday night, but their races are not yet settled.  Sen. Coleman is subject to an automatic recount; Sen. Chambliss must face his leading opponent in a run-off election. Another GOP Senator who lost, Oregon’s Gordon Smith, was an occasional but unreliable pro-life voter.

As bad as the House has been in the 110th Congress, prospects for pro-life legislation or even for defeating the abortion lobby’s own agenda are even more bleak in the upcoming 111th. Major efforts will need to be undertaken by pro-life citizens to persuade the Senate Minority Leadership to organize the GOP Senators to stand together to block such radical legislation as the Freedom of Choice Act. And major efforts will need to be undertaken to enlist Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu (LA), who is elected from a pro-life state, and Ben Nelson (NE), who claims a commitment to the cause of Life, to join the pro-life side in such filibusters.


Referendum Losses

PRO-LIFE BALLOT INITIATIVES did not fare well last Tuesday. California’s parental notice initiative lost narrowly. A “personhood” amendment to the Colorado Constitution, which was not supported by two leading Colorado pro-life organizations, failed. And South Dakota’s compromise abortion ban initiative – also opposed by certain key pro-life groups – fell short.

Voters in Michigan approved a ballot measure repealing the ban on taxpayer-subsidized experiments requiring the sacrifice of embryonic human beings. And votes in Washington State approved an abetted suicide law patterned after the atrocity in neighboring Oregon.


Obama Book

NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE HAS POSTED AN ON-LINE BOOK documenting Barack Obama’s radical record and positions on abortion. Though the last section presents a comparison between Mr. Obama and his just-vanquished opponent, the first nine chapters of the book, including some 37 original source documents, appear to us to be a valuable guide to what pro-life citizens can expect from the new Administration.

The document was still posted when we checked last Thursday; check it out at Readers who do find it might wish to print out a hard copy for future reference.


One Win

A FEW WEEKS AGO, we asked readers to contact Choice Hotels about discounts being offered abortuary customers by two New Jersey Choice franchisees. You did, thank you, and you made an impact.

In an electronic mail response to those who had sent e-messages to the corporate headquarters, Choice Hotels International, Inc., vice president Mark Weiner, insisted such “rates and promotion programs … are set locally.”

But it appears the franchisor does have influence with its local affiliates.  Mr. Weiner went on to say, “As a result of inquiries like yours, the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, upon reflection, has ended this practice of offering special rates to patients of the Cherry Hill Women’s Center” abortuary in western New Jersey, near Philadelphia.

Mr. Weiner claimed the corporation had “been advised by the Quality Inn in Maple Shade (New Jersey) that any assertions of a similar discount at that hotel are false.” We don’t think so, given the source, but we’re willing to hope that the discount there, too, has ended with its exposure.

“Thank you again for alerting us to this important issue,” wrote Mr. Weiner. “We hope you can now feel more comfortable about staying at our hotels.” And we, Mr. Weiner, hope your firm will now be vigilant about the “locally set rates and promotion programs” of your franchisees.


Reactions to the Obama Election

Excerpts from various news release statements

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life: “Americans have made a grave mistake in electing Barack Obama to the Presidency. He said during the campaign that he does not know when a human being starts to have human rights. How can one govern from that starting point of ignorance? Governing is about protecting human rights; to do it successfully, you have to know where they come from and when they begin. The President-elect has already failed that test miserably.”

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman: “These setbacks will only energize us. We will continue to work to inform the public with our fleet of Truth Trucks, expose abortionists and close abortion clinics. We will continue to work through every available legal means to stop abortion. The person occupying the White House will not diminish that work, nor will other perceived political setbacks. We trust in God that He has His hand on the affairs of men and that one day there will be justice for the pre-born. Now is not the time for discouragement but a time to roll up our sleeves and continue the fight, having peace knowing that the results are in God’s hands and, ultimately, victory is assured.”

40 Days for Life national campaign director David Bereit: “We have every reason to be optimistic about the profound pro-life shift that is beginning to take place below the radar.  … More than 540 times during this fall’s [40 Days for Life prayer-at-abortuaries] campaign, women who were arriving for abortions changed their minds and decided to keep their babies as a direct result of the 40 Days for Life volunteers praying outside the abortion center. We are also aware of a number of clinic employees who experienced a change of heart and quit the abortion business … and many abortion centers cut back hours or closed for entire days during 40 Days for Life. … The winning Presidential candidate ran on a nebulous platform of ‘change,’ but 40 Days for Life provides something far more powerful – hope.”

Gary Bauer, president of Campaign for Working Families and former domestic policy advisor to Pres. Ronald Reagan, in a memo to CWF supporters: “The bottom line is clear and distressing. The country has just elected an untested, far-left candidate to the Presidency of the United States. From the sanctity of life to our national security, the implications are more than disturbing. … I’m sure many of you are depressed and dispirited. I understand. I am down, too. But I urge you not to spend your time wallowing in defeat. Some may choose to waste their energy pointing fingers and forming circular firing squads. That’s not what Ronald Reagan did in 1976 [after losing the GOP nomination to Gerald Ford], and petty vindictiveness does not build up effective coalitions or win elections. … After 2000 and 2004, the radical Left did not fold up and go away quietly. It immediately redoubled its efforts to defeat us. Leftwing groups organized, raised money, registered voters and finally … succeeded. Will we be as tough and committed as they were? Or will we sink away demoralized and defeated? I have already made my decision. I intend to fight! I intend to do everything I can to save innocent unborn children and preserve normal marriage. … I am counting on not being alone.”


Early Warning on Likely Obama Supreme Court Pick

Nov. 6, 2008, Friday Fax by Piero A. Tozzi for Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-Fam)

Douglas Kmiec, the “pro-life” law professor whose outspoken stumping for Barack Obama dismayed former allies, recently speculated that the President-elect would likely tap Supreme Court Justices in the mold of David Souter and Stephen Breyer, both supporters of the Roe v. Wade abortion decision. Kmiec’s list includes Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh, a name also on other pundits’ short lists.

Given the ages of certain Justices – Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens are 88 and 75, respectively*, followed by Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, both 72 – it is likely that a first-term Obama Administration will get to nominate at least one jurist to the top bench and likely more.

A Koh nomination would revive debate over the importation of “transnational” social norms on contentious issues like abortion and “gay rights,” as well as over the concept of sovereignty. In his academic writings, Koh has redefined sovereignty as “a nation’s capacity to participate in international affairs,” blurring any distinctive nation-state identity. Koh goes on to say that the way a nation exercises sovereignty responsibly is to accept all United Nations documents and the UN human rights review process. Besides being a law professor and dean, Koh was a high-ranking State Dept. official during the Clinton years and likely advised in such controversial conferences as Cairo+5 and Beijing+5.

This past term, the Supreme Court took a step away from transnationalism in the case Medellin v. Texas, holding that domestic constitutional principles outweighed a World Court directive. Given the current composition of the Court, with four solid “conservative” votes – Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Scalia – replacing Scalia could tip the balance in future cases. So too could the loss of Kennedy, who joined the Medellin majority and remains a swing vote.

Debate over the applicability of foreign norms has been most pronounced in death penalty jurisdiction. A 2004 case holding the execution of the mentally retarded to be unconstitutional referred in passing to the overwhelming disapproval of the practice by the world community. In that case, Atkins v. Virginia, Koh authored an influential “friend-of-the-court” brief arguing for the incorporation of international norms.

Koh’s efforts bore full fruit in the 2005 case Roper v. Simmons, where the Court cited international opinion as confirming the unconstitutionality of state juvenile death penalty statutes. Its reference to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights earned a rebuke from Scalia, noting that the United States never ratified the CRC and made a reservation upon ratification of the ICCPR protecting individual states’ rights to impose capital punishment upon those aged 16 to 18 who commit murder.

Substantively, more worrisome to social conservatives, however, is the importation of abortion and homosexual “rights” by the Supreme Court. In Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court overturned state statutes criminalizing sodomy, referencing evolving international norms.

Koh is perceived as championing abortion and homosexual rights, pointing to developments in other jurisdictions as indicating a shift in world opinion that should be reflected in constitutional law. This past October, he chaired a panel discussion on “Transnational Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Rights” at a Yale conference which predicted “dramatic changes in the near future” in Supreme Court jurisprudence in these areas.

If nominated, the prolific Koh would be the first Asian-American jurist to be tapped for the Supreme Court.

*Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: Actually, Justice Stevens is the elder.


Payback Time: What Planned Parenthood Expects from Obama

Nov. 6, 2008, PRI Weekly Briefing by Steven Mosher and Colin Mason for Population Research Institute

The decades-long love affair between Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood has reached its political fruition. Obama will soon be ensconced in the Oval Office, with all the people who helped put him there lined up outside for goodies. At the head of the line will be Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. What will they ask for?

The three things that they want from a Pres. Obama are more money for their contraception and sterilization programs, an end to any and all restrictions on abortions, and taxpayer funding, including funding for abortion itself. Judging by what Obama has said over the course of the campaign, he will be happy to grant their wishes.

First of all, Barack Obama has pledged to pay for abortions with our tax dollars. According to his own website, he is an original co-sponsor of the “Prevention First Act,” which will “increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.”

What this reasonable-sounding language disguises, of course, is the ugly reality that the Prevention First Act would actually force insurance companies to fund, doctors to prescribe, and pharmacies to dispense abortifacient contraceptives. “Providing compassionate assistance to rape victims,” when translated into plain English, means forcing you and I [sic] to pay for morning-after pills and abortions.

Second, Obama has also promised – in the strongest possible terms – to sign the radical Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would prohibit the states from “interference with a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy or … after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.” It would also prohibit so-called “discrimination … in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services or information.” If passed, the Freedom of Choice Act would nullify any and all restrictions on abortion, from parental consent laws to waiting periods to informed consent provisions and the like. All of the hard work of pro-lifers over the past three decades would be swept away.

Third, and potentially most damaging in the long run, Obama has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices based on their friendliness to his agenda and not their qualifications as impartial arbiters of the law. In Obama’s own words, he will surely appoint people of like mind, assuring us that he wants to put “people on the bench who have enough empathy, enough feeling for what ordinary people are going through.” So much for the Constitution.

As it stands now, the Supreme Court is currently effectively deadlocked on the Life issues, with Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas reliable pro-life votes, and Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens and Souter equally reliably pro-abortion. With at least two justices getting on in years and another reportedly expressing interest in retiring, the next President may have ample opportunity to appoint more than one judge to the land’s highest court.

In the face of Obama’s expected onslaught against Life, what can we do? Those with pro-life convictions must continue to act on those convictions. We must continue to be a presence outside of abortion centers in order to let women know that there is a “choice” beyond abortion. We must continue to help women who come to our crisis pregnancy centers with counseling and baby cribs. We must let our remaining friends in the House and Senate know that we expect them, although outnumbered, to stand and fight for Life. Unless the Party of Abortion can muster 60 votes in the Senate, the Freedom of Choice Act will be a dead letter.

Finally, we must redouble our efforts to expose the abortion movement for what it is: An anti-child, anti-woman movement that has cost America 50 million lives and counting.


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