Life Advocacy Briefing

May 25, 2009
Memorial Day

Recess Appointment? / House Panel Votes Down Help for Mothers & Babies
/ Looking at Gallup / Life on the March in Kansas / Speaking Up for Life
/ The Trouble with the (Notre Dame) Fieldhouse /
House Floor Speeches on Dawn Johnsen / House Committee Voting Record

Recess Appointment?

THOUGH ENJOYING HUGE PARTISAN MAJORITIES IN BOTH HOUSES of Congress, Pres. Barack Obama (D) may resort to a “recess” appointment to install wacko-radical Dawn Johnsen into the Justice Dept. Office of Legal Counsel, a prospect raised last Wednesday by Congressional Quarterly (CQ) in a story by staff writer Kathleen Hunter.

The House and Senate are taking a recess to observe Memorial Day. Members are not expected back in the Capitol until June 1. During this week, Pres. Obama has the power to name the controversial Ms. Johnsen to the critical legal policy post, bypassing Senate confirmation. Should he do so, the seemingly unconfirmable leftist would hold the post until the 110th Congress expires in January 2011.

Hill Republicans, writes Ms. Hunter, “warn that such a move would escalate partisan tensions. ‘That would send a pretty bad signal on other nominees,’ said [Dr.] Tom Coburn (R-OK), a member of the Judiciary Committee,” quoted by Ms. Hunter. “‘I wouldn’t advise him to do that,’” said Dr. Coburn in CQ. “‘Patience is what I would recommend.’

“Such a move could be particularly contentious,” observes Ms. Hunter, “as the White House prepares to announce its pick for a coming Supreme Court vacancy.”


House Panel Votes Down Help for Mothers & Babies

GIVING PRES. OBAMA AUTHORITY TO SET UP his “Office of Global Women’s Issues,” the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last Wednesday first voted down an amendment by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to “ensure,” writes Kathleen Gilbert for, “that the office would not implement the radical abortion agenda espoused by both Pres. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

The amendment would have “authorize[d] the Women’s Issues office to act as an instrument,” writes Ms. Gilbert, “for initiatives to help women globally but without promoting abortion or harming unborn children. [Rep.] Smith’s amendment,” she writes, “would have involved the Office in the establishment of pregnancy care centers and included the explicit goal to fight the practice of forced abortions and sterilizations, and sex-selective abortions.

“In general, [Mr.] Smith proposed that the Office recognize,” writes Ms. Gilbert, “that ‘it is the policy of the United States Government not to lobby sovereign countries, including through multilateral mechanisms, to change their domestic laws and policies to legalize, fund or promote abortion except in cases of forcible rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.’”

The committee voted down the Smith amendment 22 to 17, along party lines. We publish the committee voting record at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing.


Looking at Gallup

COMMENTARIES CONTINUED DURING LAST WEEK on the stunning Gallup Poll results showing 51% of Americans now call themselves “pro-life.”

Said Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman in an OR news release, “The polling data shows clearly that Obama is out of step with the majority of Americans on this most critical moral issue of our time. … Obama,” he predicted, “will have to reconsider appointing [to the Supreme Court] a fire-breathing abortion supporter that will now face heavy opposition as the Senate adjusts to its new pro-life constituency.”

(We at Life Advocacy have less confidence than Mr. Newman that the majority in the US Senate are ready to turn on their campaign financiers and fellow travelers in the abortion lobby and industry, regardless of the views of the American people, though we’re cheered by the direction and movement shown in the Gallup data.)

Former Reagan domestic policy adviser Gary Bauer wrote in his May 19 End of Day memo to the supporters of his Campaign for Working Families: “For the first time since Gallup began asking Americans whether they were pro-life or pro-choice, a majority of Americans (51%) identify as ‘pro-life,’ while 42% identify as ‘pro-choice.’ One year ago, the numbers were 44% pro-life and 50% pro-choice – a 15-point swing. While 51% is just a bare majority,” Mr. Bauer noted, “Gallup probes further in its survey and finds that 23% believe abortion should be illegal and 37% would keep abortion legal “only in a few circumstances.” That means 60% of Americans want major restrictions to the nation’s existing abortion regime, which allows the destruction of an unborn baby even in the last months of pregnancy.”

(Ah, but the rub here is, the American people, by and large, do not know the radical nature of the current law, a point which Life Advocacy stresses in our Winning with Life candidate coaching seminar; as Americans learn how out of synch our laws are with both the tradition of American jurisprudence and with common sense, they increasingly choose the vocal pro-life candidate as the one who will bring reform; the abortion lobby relies on the ignorance of the public.)

From Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America: “Ironically, Obama’s radical abortion policies and nominees may have helped make America more pro-life. … This dramatic shift of more people becoming pro-life did not happen in a vacuum.” So true.

Commented Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List: “Americans are now seeing through the PR-generated label ‘pro-choice.’ Sonograms and real-life experience have deemed this label hollow. … GOP leaders across the nation should take note of both this week’s poll and last week’s Pew research that show the pro-life position is strengthening the Republican Party,” said Mrs. Dannenfelser. “It’s time to abandon the ‘blame pro-lifers first’ approach when the GOP loses. If Republicans want to improve their electoral performance, standing on the side of Life is one of the best decisions they can make.” (Indeed, we at Life Advocacy maintain that Life is a winning issue for any political candidate who is willing to project a reasoned, principled, commonsense, confident stand.)


Picking Up on Polling Plus

GEORGIA REPUBLICANS ADOPTED A RESOLUTION at their May 16 state convention calling for just such an amendment to the state constitution, “making clear,” reports Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) in a news release quoting the resolution, “that the protections under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution apply to unborn children … .”

A November 2008 poll by Strategic Vision, according to GRTL, “asked Georgia voters if they would be in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade; 57% of the voters said yes.”

GRTL president Dan Becker noted, “‘These polls show us that as the public is educated about what abortion really is, that public opinion is shifting in favor of Life.’”


Life on the March in Kansas

THE DEPARTURE OF KATHLEEN SEBELIUS AS GOVERNOR has not reduced the controversy over abortion in Kansas.

Indeed, the legislature has passed an amendment, advanced by State Sen. Tim Huelskamp (R), to defund Planned Parenthood, whose Kansas/Mid-Missouri branch awaits trial on more than 100 counts of committing late-term abortions, tampering with evidence and, writes Pro-Life Pulse blogger Jill Stanek, “other typical PP offenses.” The Huelskamp reform has been sent to Gov. Mark Parkinson (D), who succeeded Mrs. Sebelius from his office as lieutenant governor when the elected governor was confirmed for a federal post.

Mr. Parkinson’s intentions were unknown at the time we went to press, but what particularly caught our eye was Mrs. Stanek’s report on the “rally” cobbled together by the abortion industry to protect PP’s funding, which amounts to some $300,000 annually just from Kansas taxpayers.

Calling for the rally were four groups, according to a leftwing Kansas blogger quoted by Mrs. Stanek: Kansas NOW, the ACLU, the Kansas Equality Coalition and, of course, Planned Parenthood of Kansas/Mid-Missouri. “‘We need a strong showing,’” wrote the blogger, quoted by Mrs. Stanek, “‘to oppose this attempt by right-wing legislators to hurt the women of Kansas.’”

Despite the nice weather, reports Mrs. Stanek, rally attendance, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal, totaled a “whopping … 20,” writes Mrs. Stanek, “through the combined efforts” of the four supposedly formidable leftish groups. Though the Kansas City Star tried to boost the total to 30 in its reporting, photos published by Planned Parenthood on its Internet Facebook page and reprinted by Mrs. Stanek documented the full protest crowd as exactly 20, in sharp contrast, notes Mrs. Stanek, to the 1,500 pro-life citizens who rallied on the same capitol steps in January. America, it is only a matter of time.


Speaking Up for Life

PRES. OBAMA MAY HAVE BEEN GREETED by a disturbing level of enthusiasm for his speech at Notre Dame University’s commencement a week ago, but not everyone was happy. Besides the students who gathered for an alternative ceremony and their supporters in the cause of Life, another kind of dissent was heard while the President was speaking.

As he began speaking about abortion, reports Edwin Mora for Cybercast News Service (, “the distinct sound of a baby crying broke out in the capacious basketball arena” and could be “heard in television broadcasts of Obama’s speech.”


The Trouble with the (Notre Dame) Fieldhouse

May 19, 2009, BreakPoint with Chuck Colson, copyright Prison Fellowship Ministries.

On Sunday, Pres. Obama delivered his controversial and much-awaited speech at Notre Dame.

I found little surprising about the speech itself. Not that I agreed with it – far from it. What I mean is that the speech was what I and anyone who has followed the President’s political career should have expected. He has repeatedly affirmed the position that a woman’s right to an abortion takes precedence over the unborn child’s right to life.

Nothing he said contradicted this. The closest he came to saying something “new” was his frank acknowledgment that while we should be working together to reduce abortions, at the root level, the pro-life and pro-choice positions are, in his words, “irreconcilable.” True.

While I was neither surprised nor disappointed, some of the President’s Catholic supporters were. Michael Sean Winters of the Jesuit journal America dismantled the President’s comments about doubt and humility. After giving the President an “F” for his “impersonation” of St. Augustine, Winters added that, contra Obama, “it is not doubt that invites humility,” it is faith.

Winters is right. Between his comments and the position Obama took on the sanctity of human life, I can’t help but wonder if the President really understands Christian teaching.

In any case, my issue was not with the speech itself, it was the appalling sight of the fieldhouse filled with faculty, students and parents wildly cheering. Now of course they should be respectful of the President and applaud appropriately. But no applause or chanting was warranted when he took positions that flatly contradict Catholic teaching and the Gospel.

Notre Dame, after all, is the most prominent Catholic university in America. Its mission statement speaks of the “Catholic vision” in Notre Dame’s scholarship, research and service. It speaks of “God’s grace [prompting] human activity to assist the world in creating justice grounded in love.”

As Pope John Paul II and others have made clear, an important part of “creating justice grounded in love” is working to end abortion. Catholics pray for this every Sunday. For Catholics, abortion is an “intrinsic evil” that “must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned … .” The sanctity of life, in fact, in Catholic teaching, is part of the Gospel itself.

So while the President was being consistent, the wildly cheering crowd was not. Obama never claimed to belong to a church that calls abortion an “intrinsic evil.” But they do.

Now the real problem this creates for all of us is that the average observer will conclude Christians were wildly cheering a pro-abortion President. So we pro-lifers must be the lunatic fringe. The whole church is weakened.

This is why a century ago J. Gresham Machen warned that there is no such thing as liberal Christianity. There is Christianity, and then there is liberalism. What we saw in the auditorium Sunday was, for the most part, a crowd of what Machen would call cheering liberals – that is, people who claim to be Christian but deny the essential teachings. The true Christians were on the outside, protesting. Be sure your friends and family know the difference.


House Floor Speeches on Dawn Johnsen

May 20, 2009, Congressional Record

REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R-NC): The President has said we should find common ground on the issue of abortion, but his nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head up the Office of Legal Counsel is amongst the most controversial of his nominees.

Johnsen, who formerly worked for NARAL and the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, has compared pregnancy to involuntary servitude. She has described pregnant women as “losers in the contraceptive lottery.” She criticized then-Senator Clinton for claiming a need to keep abortions rare. Some of her positions encompass questionable legal arguments, including the assertion that abortion bans might undermine the 13th Amendment, which bans slavery.

I quote her here: “Statutes that curtail a woman’s abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the 13th Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the State’s asserted interest.”

A quote again: “Our position is that there is no ‘father’ and no ‘child’ – just a fetus. Any move by the courts to force a woman to have a child amounts to involuntary servitude.”

I and millions of other women do not feel this way. We cherish the opportunity to have borne a child.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA): I rise today with deep and growing concern over President Obama’s nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head up the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. My worry isn’t merely her position on the question of Life. It’s that she routinely has taken hard-line stances and made extreme statements that cast doubt on her fitness to manage the power entrusted to her in a responsible way.

Ms. Johnsen has claimed that abortion restrictions “reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.” Her arguments have compared pro-life advocates to the KKK and pregnancy to slavery.

The Office of Legal Counsel does not need an activist. It needs someone with a temperament to accurately inform the administration on the legality of policies being contemplated. I encourage Members of the Senate, including my Senator from Virginia, Sen. Webb, to vote against this nomination.


House Committee Voting Record

Smith Amendment to Office of Global Women’s Issues to redirect the Obama creation to aid mothers and protect their babies – Failed 17-22 – May 20, 2009 – in the House Committee on Foreign Relations

Voting “yes” / pro-life: Jeff Flake (AZ), John Boozman (AR), Elton Gallegly, Dana Rohrabacher & Edward Royce (all CA); Gus Bilirakis, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen & Connie Mack (all FL); Donald Manzullo (IL); Dan Burton & Mike Pence (both IN), Jeff Fortenberry (NE); Chris Smith (NJ), Bob Inglis & Joe Wilson (SC), Michael McCaul & Ted Poe (both TX), all Republicans.

Voting “no” / pro-abortion: Eni Faleomavaega (Amer. Samoa*); Gabrielle Giffords (AZ); Howard Berman, Barbara Lee,  Brad Sherman & Lynn Woolsey (all CA); Ron Klein & Robert Wexler (both FL); David Scott (GA); Bill Delahunt (MA); Russ Carnahan (MO); Shelley Berkley (NV); Donald Payne & Albio Sires (both NJ); Gary Ackerman, Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel, Michael McMahon, Gregory Meeks (all NY); Brad Miller (NC); John Tanner (TN); Gerald Connolly (VA), all Democrats. *Territorial delegates vote in committee.

Not voting: Mike Ross (D-AR); Jim Costa & Diane Watson (both D-CA); Keith Ellison (D-MN); Gene Green & Sheila Jackson-Lee (both D-TX); also Ron Paul (R-CA) & J. Gresham Barrett (R-SC).


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