Life Advocacy Briefing

January 12, 2009


Nasty Beginning / Planned Parenthood’s Treasury Raid Underway / Who’ll Be First to Cross the Line? / Another Poll Shows Backing for Pro-Life Policies / Passing the Torch / Abortion & Intolerance: Constants of the Left?

Nasty Beginning

THE 111th CONGRESS IS NOW IN SESSION, 435 House Members and 98 Senators having taken the oath of office last Tuesday. Of those numbers, 257 House Members are Democrats and 178 Republicans; 41 Senators are Republicans and 57 – expected to swell to 59 – are Democrats. Senate seats from Illinois and Minnesota continue to be vacant because of controversies related to the appointment in Illinois and the election recount, now a legal challenge, in Minnesota.

One of the first actions taken in the new Congress came in the House, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) pushed through a rule-change package reverting the House to the authoritarian days before Republicans took control of the House in the 1994 election and made rule reform their top agenda item in the 104th Congress.

The “archaic procedures” pushed through by Mrs. Pelosi, writes Citizenlink editor Jennifer Mesko, were intended “to silence conservatives.” The full House last Tuesday passed the new/old rules by a vote of 242 to 181.

“The changes limit the GOP’s ability to use procedural rules,” writes Ms. Mesko, “like the Motion to Recommit, which is the last opportunity for the minority party to amend a bill before it passes.”

Said Missouri GOP Rep. Roy Blunt in a statement, writes Ms. Mesko: “‘The new rules consolidate power in the hands of a few and attempt to silence Republican input on key policy debates, in addition to making a mockery of the Democratic leaders’ promises of presiding over an open Congress.’” The ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee, Rep. David Dreier (CA), “called [Mrs.] Pelosi’s changes an ‘act of pure cynicism,’ according to the Washington Times,” writes Ms. Mesko. “He said the changes will create ‘the most closed Congress in history.’”

A further rule change takes the House back to the old days of entrenched fiefdoms, repealing the 1995 rule limiting committee chairmen to three terms in charge of their panels.


Planned Parenthood’s Treasury Raid Underway

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV) HAS ALREADY FILED what could become one of the major abortion lobby initiatives of the new Congress.

The text of S-21 is not yet available, but its title is listed as “A bill to reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions, and improve access to women’s health care.” That, based on legislation Sen. Reid backed last year, is code language for handing more tax money to Planned Parenthood.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA). Ranking Republican on the committee is Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY). Currently, the committee’s focus is on confirmation hearings for several cabinet nominees proposed by the President-elect.

Co-sponsoring S-21 with Sen. Reid are Senators Barbara Boxer & Dianne Feinstein (both CA), Thomas Carper (DE), Daniel Akaka & Daniel Inouye (both HI), John Kerry (MA), Carl Levin & Debbie Stabenow (both MI), Max Baucus (MT), Frank Lautenberg & Robert Menendez (both NJ), Hillary Clinton (NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Patty Murray (WA). All are Democrats.


Who’ll Be First to Cross the Line?

NATIONAL DEMOCRATS APPEAR TO BE COMPETING over who will get the “credit” for throwing open the US treasury to the Frankensteinian scientists who pick apart embryonic boys and girls to pursue their experiments.

“Democrats are debating,” writes Carl Hulse in the New York Times, concerning “whether to overturn federal restrictions through executive order or by legislation when they assume full control of the government this month.”

The dilemma centers on whether President-elect Barack Obama “should quickly put his stamp on the issue by way of Presidential directive,” writes Mr. Hulse, “or [whether] Congress should write a permanent policy into statute.”

The outcome of such a “legislative fight … is certain,” writes Mr. Hulse, “given solid majorities in both the House and the Senate for expanded embryonic stem cell research.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) strongly endorsed taking the legislation route, the New York Times reports. “In the end,” writes Mr. Hulse, “Ms. Pelosi and representatives of the incoming Obama administration say it is likely that Mr. Obama will move quickly to roll back the Bush policy, with Congress following with a comprehensive initiative that addresses a more far-reaching federal provision limiting the scientific work.”

But “moderate” Democrats like Sen. Ben Nelson (NE) are counseling caution. “‘It is a very divisive issue,’” he said, quoted by Mr. Hulse, “‘and it is a tough way to start. You don’t want to stumble out of the box.’” Nor, evidently, does Sen. Nelson want to choose between “stumbling” out of step with his colleagues or breaking with Nebraska’s pro-life electorate, who have appreciated Sen. Nelson’s exceptional stand for Life.

“In addition, many of the Democratic gains in Congress, particularly in the House,” writes Mr. Hulse, “have come in more conservative areas, with strategists estimating that up to 70 Democrats could find themselves in competitive races in 2010. Those potentially vulnerable lawmakers provide another consideration for leaders weighing whether to set an early test vote on what for some is a politically sensitive subject back home.”

These cautionary notes could be an interesting indication that the pro-life community is making headway in helping voters understand the stakes in what has long been seen as a cause célèbre among the scientific elite. The pro-life movement has always seen the issue as drawing a defining line between those who cherish life and those who equivocate at best.

“Pro-Life members in both caucuses will fight strongly to preserve sanctity-of-life ethics,’ said Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) in the New York Times report. “‘If they [Congressional liberals] force it by legislation,’” he said, “‘those will be the votes the pro-life community will score to educate the voters as to where Members stand on these issues.’” And there is no ethical room for equivocation.

Despite years of wrangling over the financing of what the labcoat lobby euphemistically calls “embryonic stem cell research,” not a single cure or therapy has been developed from cells harvested from human sacrifice, but some 73 cures or therapies have been found through adult stem cells, including bone marrow and umbilical cord cells. (See for sound, up-to-date information.)

“Democrats … say they hope to reduce the divisiveness of the debate,” writes Mr. Hulse, “by framing the stem cell policy as more of a healthcare issue with the potential to provide new treatments and less of a fight that spills over into the abortion arena.” So what, we at Life Advocacy Briefing would ask the New York Times, is new about that? That has been the liberal line all along. And it is one that active, informed pro-life citizens will continue to reject in favor of justice and mercy for “the least of these,” the most vulnerable of all the vulnerable unborn.


Another Poll Shows Backing for Pro-Life Policies

THE U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS HAS RELEASED RESULTS  of a poll showing strong public support for what Catholic News Agency (CNA) characterizes as “significant restrictions on abortion.” The USCCB-commissioned survey was taken Dec. 10-12 by Harris Interactive, interviewing 2,341 US adults.

Some “11% of the poll respondents thought abortion should be illegal in all circumstances,” reports CNA.  “Only 9% oppose all restrictions on abortion.”

“‘But that is precisely,’” noted Deirdre McQuade, a spokesman for the USCCB’s Pro-Life Secretariat, quoted by CNA, “‘the current state of abortion law under Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the 1973 US Supreme Court decisions that made abortion legal throughout the nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason.’”

Turning to poll respondents’ opinions on potential legal protections, CNA reports, “about 95% favored laws requiring that abortions be performed only by licensed physicians, while 88% favored informed consent laws. Around 76% favored conscience protection laws for pro-life doctors and nurses, while 73% approved of parental involvement laws in cases where a minor is seeking to procure an abortion.

“Laws against partial birth abortionwere favored,” reports CNA, “by 68% of respondents, while 63% favored laws preventing the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.”

Some of those protections have been enacted into law in various jurisdictions, noted Ms. McQuade in the CNA report. But, she cautioned, “‘These same widely supported, constitutionally valid measures, some of which have been proven effective in reducing abortion rates, are now seriously threatened by abortion advocates and their allies in Congress,’” principally by their campaign to enact the radical “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA). “‘On behalf of children and their mothers,’” declared Ms. McQuade, quoted by CNA, “‘we will have to fight to keep such laws in place.’”


Passing the Torch

TWO GIANTS OF THE INTELLECTUAL SIDE of the pro-life movement passed away in recent days.

The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the journal First Things, lost a lengthy battle with cancer at age 72 last Thursday. Economist and natalist Jacqueline Kasun, 84, passed away on Jan. 1; she is best known in the pro-life community as author of The War Against Population: The Economics & Ideology of World Population Control. Both will be missed.


Abortion & Intolerance: Constants of the Left?

With the 111th Congress now in place and the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, we take this opportunity to reprint the Dec. 22, 2008, PRI Weekly Briefing from Population Research Institute, written by Carlos Beltramo, PRI’s correspondent in Spain. Always remember: America’s radical abortion policies were imposed by fiat, never enacted by law. Could the Spanish past be prologue to the American future?

Spain is now undergoing Socialist Party president Zapatero’s second term. These past years have seen the rampant growth of anti-Catholic and anti-Life positions in the government, positions that seem often to go hand in hand.

Right now the Spanish congress, dominated by Zapatero’s party, is debating a liberalization of Spain’s abortion laws. Abortion is supposedly legal only for cases of rape, “fetal defect,” and danger to the mother’s physical or psychological health. In the case of rape and fetal defect, the law allows abortions between 12 and 22 first weeks of pregnancy. For the “health” exception, however, there are no time limits. But the socialists want more.

Zapatero’s party commission was able to proceed without any problems until the testimony of Eduardo Hertfelder, the president of Spain’s Institute of Family Policy. With the aid of detailed diagrams, Hertfelder showed how abortion has actually increased in Spain over the last 10 years, to more than double its original rate. He also showed how abortion is the principal cause of death in Spain and of violence against women. The evidence showed that 97% of abortions are performed because of a “risk to the woman’s psychological health,” which essentially allows abortion to be performed at any time.

Based on these findings, Hertfelder showed that abortion has increased so much in Spain that, calculating only until December 2006, 1,225,000 abortions have been performed in Spain. The Socialist argument – that liberalized abortion laws will lead to fewer abortions – rings hollow in the face of the numbers. The fact of the matter is, the law is already flexible enough to allow abortion on demand, but the abortion rate still increases and increases.

The Socialists also argue that they want to be equal to other European nations, insisting that the rest of Europe is more liberal than Spain on the topic of abortion. But Hertfelder demonstrated with numbers and data that this is simply not the case. The two countries that allow abortion by risk of the health of the mother, without any time limits, are Spain and Greece. As for the rest, two out of three of the rest of the [European Union] nations require abortion to be justified by stricter standards. Many of them have instated waiting periods and required consultations before granting permission to abort.

Thus, the Socialist argument collapses on a second count: Not everyone in Europe has laws as permissive as the ones the Socialist Party wants to implement in Spain.

At the end of Hertfelder’s exhibition, the Socialist leader of the congressional commission accused Hertfelder of manipulating the data. This accusation is ridiculous, because the information is readily available on the Internet, as well as being officially used for years by the European Parliament. The accusation represented an enormous breach of congressional protocol, and the opposition party expressed anger and disappointment with Zapatero’s authoritarian attitude.

After his presentation, Hertfelder said, “I got the impression that the Socialist deputies were very nervous. This attitude demonstrates that the Socialist Party does not want a debate. They are rooted in ideological sectarianism and only interested in hearing that which supports their theses.”

In order to support his words, Hertfelder showed that while in France the abortion rate increased to 5% and in England 9%, in Spain the increase was 53%. In addition, according to a survey published by the newspaper The World, 57% of Spaniards do not want a more liberal abortion law. But listening to the people is not the style of Zapatero or his government.

The near future can be very well described by a quote from Jim Hoagland in a Washington Post column, where he said that “If Obama needs a European to ride shotgun, as Tony Blair did with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Zapatero might be the one.” If this is the case, the battle for Life over the next several years will be clear.


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