Life Advocacy Briefing

April 13, 2009


Redeem the Recess / Don’t Blow It Again, Senators! / The Heat Is On at Notre Dame / Winning for Life in Illinois / Recommended Book / Notable Quote / Phoney Baloney / Petitioning Notre Dame’s President

Time to Protest ‘Conscience Rule’ Repeal

THE U.S. SENATE IS IN RECESS FOR TWO WEEKS, offering an opportunity for pro-life citizens to contact their Senators in their home states. Top priority “conversation” topics for such encounters: Urging rejection of the nominations of Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS), David Hamilton as 7th Circuit Appellate Judge and Dawn Johnsen as Chief Legal Counsel in the Dept. of Justice. (Location and telephone numbers of Senators’ in-state offices should be available through the reference desk at any local library.) These three nominations are particularly critical to the cause of Life.

Dawn Johnsen is a radical ideologue on a range of issue concerns, including advocacy of unfettered abortion; she is being appointed to a highly strategic office which issues legal opinions across the entire executive branch. Illustrative of the Dawn Johnsen problem are these notable quotes from a Johnsen-authored amicus brief in the Webster case before the Supreme Court, quoted by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List in an SBA news release: “‘Abortion restrictions “reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers”’; ‘The argument that women who become pregnant have in some sense consented to the pregnancy belies reality, … and others who are the inevitable losers in the contraceptive lottery no more “consent” to pregnancy than pedestrians “consent” to being struck by drunk drivers’; ‘The experience [of abortion] is no longer traumatic; the response of most women to the experience is relief.’” As we reported last week, more than 60 US House Members have taken the extraordinary step of sending a letter to the President requesting him to withdraw the nomination. Stopping her confirmation in the Senate is a somewhat likelier goal.

David Hamilton, as a district judge in Indiana, has handed down some of America’s wackier judicial edicts, including invalidating an abortion waiting period law which tracked language already upheld by the US Supreme Court. He is best known as the judge who forbade prayers offered in the name of Jesus – while giving a nod to prayers to the false god Allah – in opening ceremonies of the Indiana legislature. In nominating him, the White House described him as indicative of the “moderate” nature of the judges whom this President would nominate. Apparently fearing public backlash as news of the Hamilton record spreads, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) put his appointment on the fast track for committee clearance just two weeks after the nomination was filed. (Under Pres. George W. Bush, notes Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins in his April 2 Washington Update, “Senators had an average of 166 days to prepare” for appellate court confirmation hearings.) “At the last possible minute,” Sen. Leahy further, reports Mr. Perkins, “moved the hearing away from the Senate office building (where they are traditionally held) to a tiny room off the Senate floor where he knew the proceedings couldn’t be [telecast on the Internet]. The location – in addition to being video-prohibitive – was too small to accommodate members of the public.”

Kathleen Sebelius, as governor of Kansas, has repeatedly demonstrated affiliation with the abortion industry, even feting notorious late-term Wichita abortionist George Tiller in the governor’s mansion and repeatedly vetoing pro-life legislation, including efforts to police scandalously filthy conditions in Kansas abortuaries. Her appointment to head the Obama Regime’s healthcare policy bureaucracy is more than ominous. Though the Sebelius nomination had been expected to advance before the Easter recess, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) – bless him! – placed a hold on her confirmation vote in the Senate Finance Committee until after Congress returns April 20.


Don’t Blow It Again, Senators!

PRO-LIFE LEADERS WERE DISMAYED BY THE SILENCE of Senate Finance Committee members with respect to Kathleen Sebelius’s record on abortion during the panel’s hearing April 2 on the nomination of the Kansas governor to head the HHS Dept.

The president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List was particularly vocal about the failure of what Marjorie Dannenfelser called “the deep bench of pro-life heroes” on the committee to raise a single question about Gov. Sebelius’s “blind eye toward women’s health and regulating abortion clinics.

“The one Senator who had access to deep knowledge about happenings in his own home state [GOP Sen. Pat Roberts] said nothing,” she said in an SBA news release. “This is a matter of life and death. The tradition of Senatorial courtesy would not have been violated with the asking of one question. Maintaining good relations is not the ultimate value in the abortion debate,” Mrs. Dannenfelser chided.

“Americans deserve to know,” she said, “why Kansas women were denied tougher safety standards in abortion clinics when [Gov.] Sebelius vetoed legislation to improve conditions. One Topeka abortion clinic even stored fetal remains next to food. And yet, [Mrs.] Sebelius continued to block tougher safety standards.

“This,” said Mrs. Dannenfelser, “is why Americans lose faith in their elected officials. They elect candidates who share and articulate well their ‘deeply held’ beliefs. Then when the candidate becomes an incumbent,” she said, “he or she fails to effectively act upon those beliefs when given a chance to do so.

“Fortunately, pro-life Senators have one last chance,” said Mrs. Dannenfelser. “They can raise the issue of Gov. Sebelius’s blind eye toward women’s health … when her nomination comes to the Senate floor for her final confirmation vote. I remind these Senators, millions of pro-life Americans are watching and waiting,” she stressed, “and they strongly urge you to fulfill your duty to thorough public debate over the Sebelius nomination.”


The Heat Is On at Notre Dame

THE CAMPAIGN IS ADVANCING to persuade Notre Dame University to withdraw its invitation to Pres. Barack Obama to receive an honorary doctorate at the venerable institution’s May 17 commencement ceremony.

A coalition of a dozen organizations – including student groups at Notre Dame – have mounted the campaign at the behest of the conservative Cardinal Newman Society and established an Internet website at and have posted a petition on the website More than 250,000 people have subscribed to the petition, which is directed to the Rev. John Jenkins CSC, Notre Dame’s president. We publish the text of the petition at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing.

At the campus itself, more than 400 students, faculty and others rallied in prayer on Palm Sunday, the first public demonstration on the campus since university administrators announced the invitation to the most radically pro-abortion President in history. Keynote speaker at the rally was attorney Harold Cassidy, joined by Notre Dame philosophy professor Alfred Freddoso, who outlined the Obama record against protecting innocent human life.

“Calling to mind the example of suffering set by Our Lady of Sorrows and the founder of Notre Dame, Father Edward Sorin CSC,” reports Kathleen Gilbert for, “[Prof.] Freddoso concluded: ‘May these examples inspire us all to rededicate ourselves to the proposition that Catholic universities have the most to offer our culture when they are not afraid to be distinctive, when they do not accept the facile assumption that intellectual excellence and fidelity to Christ need to be balanced off against one another, when they do not value worldly glory and prestige more than the truth that sets us free.’”

“Our objection is not a matter of political partisanship,” explains the coalition website, “but of Pres. Obama’s hostility to the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life at its earliest stages. Further, the university’s decision runs counter to the policy of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops,” reads the website, “against honoring pro-choice politicians. We cannot sit by idly while the university honors someone who believes that an entire class of human beings is undeserving of the most basic of all legal rights, the right to live.

“Additionally, Fr. Jenkins has put some of his students into a position of moral dilemma,” notes the website legend, “as to whether they should attend their own graduation. Many pro-life seniors, along with their families, now feel personally conflicted about participating in the commencement. The lack of concern for these devoted sons and daughters of Notre Dame, who love this university and the Catholic principles on which it was built, is shameful.”


Winning for Life in Illinois

TWO PRO-LIFE VICTORIES CAME OUT OF – OF ALL PLACES – ILLINOIS last week, victories that should cheer and could inspire pro-life advocates throughout the country. One was in court; the other, in the state legislature.

“The state circuit court in Springfield has issued a restraining order,” reports Alyssa Farah for (WND), “against the governor of Illinois, barring him from enforcing a 2005 administrative regulation that forced pharmacies to dispense Plan B and other abortion-inducing drugs.” Thus the loathsome legacy of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich – who started the conscience trampling campaign now being furthered by the Obama Regime – is beginning to ravel.

And in the Illinois General Assembly, a state-level “Freedom of Choice Act” was sent back to the Rules Committee – essentially burying HB-2354 – when its sponsor failed to muster the required votes even though the more liberal of the two major political parties holds a strong majority in the House. Resistance to the bill by grassroots pro-life citizens and by churchgoers throughout the state was organized by an ad hoc coalition of various Illinois pro-life groups, which posted a joint-venture Internet website HB-2354 became so notoriously controversial that eight of its co-sponsors removed their names before it folded. Two of those legislators – one a Democrat and the other a liberal Republican – had been targeted by demonstrations in front of their district offices and by two powerful videos posted on YouTube. Those videos, produced by a local pro-life organization in the county where the two lawmakers live, can still be viewed as of this writing via the Internet website, placing the phrase “Pro Life Plea Against HB2354” and the phrase “Illinois HB2354 FOCA” into the search window.

Another effective video against the Illinois edition of the radical Freedom of Choice Act is available by typing “Stop Illinois FOCA” into the YouTube search window; this last video, which includes action prescriptions, features Mary Louise Kurey of the Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese Respect Life Office, who gives a media savvy outline of the major objections to the measure.


Recommended Book

PRO-LIFE LEADER THOMAS GLESSNER HAS AUTHORED a primer on the cause of Life, current developments and historical jurisprudential insights, titled The Emerging Brave New World, available at the Internet website

The editor of Life Advocacy Briefing has read the book and recommendsit to those well versed in the right-to-life cause as well as to those who are exploring the issue. It is designed for Sunday School or small-group discussion, with helpful study questions ending each chapter.

Mr. Glessner heads the National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA), which coordinates and helps equip pro-life pregnancy centers as medical resources for expectant mothers. He was an early advocate of the availability of professionally administered ultrasounds in pregnancy counseling.


Notable Quote

Excerpts from remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepting the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, quoted by the news website “It was a great privilege when I was told that I would receive this award. I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision. … And when I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I am really in awe of her. … The 20th century reproductive rights movement, really embodied in the life and leadership of Margaret Sanger, was one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race. It has changed the lives of tens of millions of women. It has changed attitudes and perceptions about women and our roles in society. It ushered in demographic and social changes that have brought us closer to gender equality than at any time.”


Phoney Baloney

March 30, 2009, FRC Washington Update commentary by Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council

… Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has cast a number of pro-life votes during his career, was interviewed at a breakfast meeting with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, when the subject of national health care and abortion came up. A reporter present noted that the founder of Sojourners, the Rev. Jim Wallis, an early and consistent supporter of Pres. Obama, had recently said that the inclusion of abortion in healthcare reform would kill the legislation. The reporter asked [Sen.] Reid whether he agreed with that assessment and would vote against a health reform if it funded abortion. [Mr.] Reid initially gave a long answer in which he emphasized his support for funding contraceptives and cited his cooperation with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton but avoided answering how he would vote. Asked by the reporter again after the breakfast ended, [Mr.] Reid replied that he “could” vote for a national health plan with coverage of abortion.

Reached later on, [Sen.] Reid’s press spokesman insisted that his boss is “strongly pro-life” and that the question on health care was an instance of partisan bias on the reporter’s part. For the record, the reporter works for The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine edited by Bill Kristol. [Sen.] Reid may have a chance to re-establish his pro-life bona fides shortly … . The Senate Majority Leader should clarify his position on health care and abortion promptly, and he might ask Gov. Sebelius to do the same.


Petitioning Notre Dame’s President

Text of petition posted on the Internet website and signed by more than 250,000 and counting

It has come to our attention that the University of Notre Dame will honor Pres. Barack Obama as its commencement speaker on May 17. It is an outrage and a scandal that “Our Lady’s University,” one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honor on Pres. Obama, given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage.

This nation has many thousands of accomplished leaders in the Catholic Church, in business, in law, in education, in politics, in medicine, in social services, and in many other fields who would be far more appropriate choices to receive such an honor from the University of Notre Dame.

Instead Notre Dame has chosen prestige over principles, popularity over morality. Whatever may be Pres. Obama’s admirable qualities, this honor comes on the heels of some of the most anti-life actions of any American President, including expanding federal funding for abortions and inviting taxpayer-funded research on stem cells from human embryos.

The honor also comes amid great concern among Catholics nationwide about Pres. Obama’s future impact on American society, the family, and the Catholic Church on issues such as traditional marriage, conscience protections for Catholic doctors and nurses, and expansion of “abortion rights.”

This honor is clearly a direct violation of the US bishops’ 2004 mandate in “Catholics in Political Life.” The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

We prayerfully implore you to halt this travesty immediately. We do so with the hope that Catholics nationwide will likewise call on you to uphold the sacred mission of your Catholic university. May God grant you the courage and wisdom to do what is right.


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